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The McKelvy House Scholars invite the campus to join a dinner discussion about death Wednesday evening.

Dinner begins at 6 p.m. at McKelvy House, 200 High Street; no reservations are required. Biology major Kaydence Cowley ’07 (Littleton, Co.) will lead the discussion at 6:30 p.m.

“I would like to talk about the way that we view death in America,” she says. “How do religion and our culture affect our views about death, specifically how American views are different from the rest of the world’s? How has technology changed our view of death and what is the modern view of death?”

Cowley asks discussion participants to consider whether they agree with the following statements, derived as a survey from Robert J. Kastenbaum’s book Death, Society, and Human Experience, to examine their attitudes about death and the funeral process:

  • Funerals are a waste of time
  • Bodies should be donated for scientific use
  • Funerals are a comfort to the next of kin
  • People are too emotional/do not show enough emotion at funerals
  • The death of a family member should be published in the newspaper
  • Most funerals are not too costly
  • The average cost of a funeral in the United States is
  • The size, length, and expense of a funeral should depend on the importance of the deceased person
  • Allowing for some exceptions, cemeteries are a waste of valuable space and should be diverted to other uses
  • It would be preferable to be buried in a cemetery/cremated
  • A funeral director should be required to give a summary of laws stating what is and what is not required before the bereaved purchase a funeral
  • Embalming the body is required
  • An open casket funeral can be held after body organs are donated

As preparation for the discussion, Cowley offers the following web sites:

BBC news article about fantasy coffins

Funeral and cremation facts and figures

Since 1962, the McKelvy House Scholars program has brought together Lafayette students with a wide range of majors and interests to reside in a historic off-campus house and share in intellectual and social activities. Sunday dinner discussions that engage the students in debate and exchange of ideas are the hallmark of the program; several Wednesday discussions have been added this school year. Most members also contribute to the annual McKelvy Papers, written on a topic of each person’s choice. McKelvy Scholars participate in activities together such as field trips to plays, concerts, and exhibits, and sponsor events for the campus as well.

Previous discussions:

Dec. 4 – Mind and brain
Nov. 21 – State of music industry
Nov. 14 – Consistent moral arguments
Nov. 7 – Privilege
Oct. 24 – Modern religion
Oct. 17 – Capital punishment
Oct. 3 – Revenge
Sept. 26 – Suicide
Sept. 22 – Sexual lust
Sept. 15 – Envy
Sept. 12 – Themes from A Clockwork Orange
Sept. 8 – Materialism, satisfaction, and poverty
Sept. 5 – Obesity in America

April 25 — Anti-foundationalist critique of philosophy
April 18 – Dark humor
April 11 — Cults
April 4 — Link between ethical behavior and intelligence

March 28 — Five Images of Man

March 7 — Idealized body forms

Feb. 22 — Countercultures

Feb. 15 — Eternity

Feb. 8 — Bisexuality

Dec. 7 — Anger toward computers and technology

Nov. 9 — “Unnecessary” crimes

Nov. 2 — Genetic alteration

Oct. 26 — Social construction of gender

Oct. 19 — Greed as an economic force
Sept. 28 — Value

Categorized in: Academic News