“Death Cafes” Express Human Exceptionalism

Religion has always been, in part, about preparing for death. All the great religions focus on how our lives determine what happens after death comes. Indeed, the religious are very death-focused. It’s part of the program.

But what about a secularized world in which metaphysical questions about the hereafter fade in importance? We are told that we have become a death-denying culture. Perhaps. But death still looms–and denial doesn’t work. The inescapable concern with death has led to a new phenomenon; “death cafes.” From the CBS Miami story: 

There are all sorts of meet-ups for all kinds of things these days, but a growing trend in gatherings is gaining attention for the topic that many consider taboo: death. At death cafe events guests gather to sip coffee, eat cookies, and talk about death and dying. “Some of them are in public cafes. Some of them are in people’s homes,” said Death Café host Jane Hughes Gignoux. The gatherings were started to explore different people’s perceptions about the end of life. People of all ages and backgrounds join the conversations in person and online.

Secular or religious, death is the great definer of our lives, and we have to deal with it. Indeed, it is one of the unique drivers of human exceptionalism. 

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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