Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Monday, February 20, 2006

I see dead people

On Feb. 19, The Gazette ran a story about an upcoming exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The exhibit is called "Body World 2: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies." Says it all, doesn't it?

In essence, the exhibit (which opens March 10) consists of a bunch of dead, skinless folks set in various action-packed poses. Kinda disgusting, maybe, but pretty fascinating, too. Heck, I've always been pretty fascinated by anatomy and, if these exhibits were just models, I'd be completely enraptured. The fact they once were walking around at one time, and had families and friends of their own, makes me feel a little more queasy ... I wonder if the exhibit will include personal information on each of the "exhibits," and what made them tick before they became the museum circuit's most underpaid employees.

It also brings up, I'd imagine, some serious religious issues, too. Cremation is often discouraged by certain faiths and some Christian demominations. Some believe the body should naturally decay, return to the dust from which it came. Others believe in bodily resurrection -- they'll need a physical body to take part in the afterlife.

So what can one make of these plasticized corpses, theologically speaking? Are they an abomination? Or, because they'll be so much better preserved than the rest of us, are they ahead of the curve? Or does it much matter?


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