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Absolutely superb piece. Thank you. Lots and lots to think about.

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May 10Liked by Paul Kingsnorth

... and how to apply this in our world today, and hand it down to the next generation?

This is the question that presses on me personally as a Christian and parent, and also profoundly as a teacher.

For Paul, and all of us generally, hopefully edifying and galvanizing and blessing:

https://circeinstitute.org/four-free-talks/

Christ is risen from the dead!

There is no urgency, for the victory is ours in him! But let's take it up friends. Let's take it up.

Blessed Bright Week!

-Mark Basil

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Another epic post. I have always thought of cremation as man being attacked and pulverised by his own industrial inventions. It leaves a sense of violence added to the sorrow, like one of the red shirt crewmen in Star Trek who suddenly get transformed into a white cube by an alien. But Christ has conquered all of these things and they will pass away. Machines will decay into dust.

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Here in the US to be buried in most cemeteries a body is embalmed, placed in a casket that could pass for a quality piece of furniture (and are often advertised as having a quality mattress),and sealed in a cement box that had been placed in the grave to keep the grounds from sinking as a body and casket would decay. There are some businesses growing that offer burial in a forest, direct in the ground, but since not the norm are often pricier than the standard. Many view cremation, yes, again the method an industrial invention, as just speeding up “ashes to ashes dust to dust” timeframe, and then can be lovingly placed by family to the earth or sea. Just offering an alternative perspective from where on the globe I live.

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Wow. That final paragraph is an example of why so many point to Kingsnorth when asked to identify a great contemporary writer. Of course, Paul must never believe this about himself, but it's okay for us to believe it.

A lot of this piece has Buddhist parallels: "live with death in mind", and of course "the world" and its enticements as a source of suffering. In fact, the harder one tries to make it conform to our wishes, the more suffering is created for ourselves and others.

Speaking of creating suffering, Professor Jeffrey Sachs on the bizarre state the USA has become:

https://www.youtube.com/live/vdxt23fKLIg

And Caitlin Johnstone on the bodily sacrifices that must be made to keep the US-UK-EU Moloch fed:

https://www.caitlinjohnst.one/p/the-amputated-limbs-of-children

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author

Flattery is the last thing I need when I'm trying to die to the world! But thanks anyway ;-)

That Caitlin Johnstone poem is heartbreaking.

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wow - that poem destroyed me

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Yes, it's one of those things I found myself immediately forwarding around because I just didn't want to be left alone with it. Johnstone is one of those people with enough fortitude to withstand a relentless blizzard of attacks from social media jackals and state propagandists in order to keep pointing out how outrageous all this stuff they are trying to normalize actually is. It scares me at times how few people like this are left, and how bold states in the West and beyond are becoming at brutally eliminating such voices, with most people who feel this way choosing instead to duck behind the parapet and hope somehow things get better (which is of course the point of doing what the empire is doing to people like Assange and Snowden).

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Horror is for us living this moment now.

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Living in the moment is no guarantee your emotional and/or physically-embodied state will be a pleasant one, or a horrifying one, or an interesting or dull one, or any other category of experience. It only assures you will actually be having the experience, and not merely anticipating or recalling one.

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I was referring to the Caitlin poem. We look from afar in horror. And again this morning. What is to be done?

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I could say "nothing is to be done", or suggest consumer responses like not directing money to the parties one feels are responsible (and there are *many* in on this grift, arguably the entire culture as Johnstone's poem implies), or a person could choose to go the Aaron Bushnell route (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-immolation_of_Aaron_Bushnell) and make a statement that way. Or one could do nothing, or die to the world, paying the horrors little or no mind, shutting them out. One could jujitsu the whole thing and view it as a glorious cleansing of the filth of the world rather than an incomprehensible string of atrocities.

For my part, I'm old, and having been spitting nails about this issue since the Rachel Corrie murder and having only seen it get worse, I'm done. I emigrated out of the belly of the empire so I wouldn't have this violent sociopathy in my face all day, every day. It's for the young people now trapped in America to come to terms with what they live within: as Sachs called it, "a security state", which I guess means he couldn't bring himself to call it by its true name: "a police state".

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Thanks. I am a Brit, even older I guess.

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I used to be a total anglophile in my twenties. Spent years reading the hilarious and brilliant British music press (Melody Maker/NME). Once the US imperial crime spree jumped the shark in 2003, and Blair went along with the Iraq heist/vandalization, the country seemed to lose its deniability that it was anything more than an adjunct of the US imperium.

These days Britain seems like a complete horror show. The US government may routinely pass laws that abridge speech/assembly rights but most tend not to last when they inevitably reach the courts. In the UK it seems like an authoritarian free-for-all right now with no recourse.

The USA and UK seem headed to the same (not good) place. It's not even complicated. It's like some bankers looked at BRICS, looked at the books, and instructed the politicians that WWIII would be preferable to what's coming.

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"What is to be done?" is the only question to ask. We are ruled by sociopaths, and the only question that those with power ask is "What is going to stop me?"

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Macklemore figured out something to do. This has gotten awfully popular over the last 24 hours around the world. 25 million views on Twitter alone. Might have sunk the Biden campaign right here.

YouTube trying to scare people off watching it with a warning. Yeah. A little too much truth for those corporate hoes:

https://youtu.be/fgDQyFeBBIo

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May 8·edited May 8

I've been distributing that video to anyone who will listen. I had no idea that I liked Macklemore until yesterday.

Not only did YouTube stick an age restriction on the vid, they also used the algo to make it as hard as possible to find. Twitter is awash in Zionists frantically trying to claim that Macklemore is an antisemite. I don't know and I don't care - even if the man were the unholy love child of Josef Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler, that doesn't excuse Israeli genocide.

This is as close as one gets to a true underground phenomenon, something that the corporates didn't promote and want desperately to suppress.

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“‘Children are dying.’ Lull nodded. ‘That’s a succinct summary of humankind, I’d say. Who needs tomes and volumes of history? Children are dying. The injustices of the world hide in those three words.’”

- 'Deadhouse Gates' by Steven Erickson

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Fantastic piece. Real.

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So very cathartic to read this piece this morning. Jesus said for his disciples to hate all the "worldly passions" of family and life itself. But, I can't help thinking of an underused meaning of passion - as suffering. There is beauty in the extremes of passion. Off topic, a bit, but your writing is superb and wakes me up more than coffee beans.

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Magnifique.

(It was a revelation to me when I first read about Saint Thomas's mystical vision. If the works of the greatest mind is not worth more than a straw, then what is the value of my own works ?! What is less than a straw ? What is much, much less than a straw ?)

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or much, much, more. Which I think is what Aquinas realised (about 3 months before he died).

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Welcome Paul. Welcome home. What a miraculous journey you've traveled to find yourself here. I marvel at the talent you've been given. Good to see you putting it to excellent use.

I too am a married man with children and a career and straining under the baggage we all carry. I too wondered how to 'die before I die so I don't die when I die'. So when I first visited my 'spiritual father' the (burning) question I put to him was... "Elder, how much asceticism is expected of a married man living in the world?' . He literally waved that away and said " No... your asceticism should consist only of nepsis and the prayer'. (Daily periods during which we repeat the Jesus prayer and try to restrain our mind from jumping everywhere... simple Christian mindfulness ).

The light switched on. Of course I still struggle to give myself even 20 mins a day of this exercise, but what a difference it makes even to my busy life 'in the world'. I pray that you have a good spiritual guide with the discernment to lead you skillfully along a path that is beneficial to you and ultimately to everyone who encounters you and or your work.

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I love that advice; thanks for sharing it. I am very good at guilt-tripping myself about not being ascetic enough; which, ironically, is obviously a surrender to the passions!

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Yes! My spiritual father had the same answer for me. And he added that we should never forget that parenthood (in its self-denial) is ascetic practice.

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founding

I was a strange parent. I had the maxim of trying to figure out how to find ways to give my children limits that would not punish me at the same time. It never stopped me from expressing my... passions with my children on the occasions when they drove me beyond my limits, basically because I think they needed to FEEL, physically even, my limits. The word "feel" says a lot. It has a literal, and metaphorical meaning.

I have been watching the Anglo-American scene on the issue of parenthood for a while, and think that it is not healthy. Too much trying to protect children from the realities of life, like death, which ultimately encourages our own hubris, and belief that WE can control things for THEM that we can't. All this.. protectionism makes us feel way too powerful for our own good.

There are things that we can't protect them from.

One of the most beautiful books I have ever read on this is "A Death in the Family" by James Agee.

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Very well said. You write very clearly. I see my grandchildren being raised in this manner and I feel sad that I cannot do anything about it. You have universities filled with professors and customers who were raised this way. Thanks for your comment.

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founding

Thank you, Dr. Beisler. Yes, my grandchildren are being raised in this manner too, but I am doing something about it. I do not kow-tow to it. When I feel that the little ones are overstepping their bounds, since they have a hard time FEELING THE LIMITS, I put them in their place. Firmly, most of the time. I fly off the handle, occasionally. And when I see my children trying to fix limits for them, I second my children, telling the little ones that their parents are right, so that the little ones will not think that their parents are ARBITRARILY setting limits for them. I have realized that authority is not an individual thing : you can't have, exercise, authority INDIVIDUALLY, or alone. You NEED the social body, exterior people, OTHER people to second you. That's the way human beings work, in my opinion, and why we truly need each other. Otherwise society truly falls apart, and all of us suffer from it. Greatly suffer, Dr. Beisler, even if we try to isolate ourselves, or distance ourselves from it. John Donne said a long time ago that no man is an island, and that is profoundly true.

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Yup. Unconventional (older) Midwestern parent here whose grown sons are aware of both limits and vulnerability being part of a rich life; and,

PK's writing today led me to Samuel Barber / James Agee's piece "Knoxville, Summer of 1915" on the turntable today, which stems from Agee's story.

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I had a similar experience with a priest many years ago during confession. He told me to stop comparing myself to monks and nuns, because they are not living in the world and we are. It helped and I’ve always remembered it. The trick is to not let that be an easy out, but to help you reframe how you can live an Orthodox life while still being part of this world.

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Well said!

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Superb Paul - you’ve said everything I’ve thought, but eloquently.

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Beautiful Paul - thank you .

I have just added myself as a subscriber even though I’ve been reading and listening to you for a few years now.

Your integrity has always been very moving - intense and heat emitting - often very uncomfortable - a burning inescapable light - but lately the depths and breadths you are willing to expose yourself and by default the rest of us to make your space somewhere I feel pulled to - as if I am being called here not by you but through you .

I know you don’t want flattery but how about seeing all of the appreciation (by people who are also wanting to die to the world) shown here in the comments as an indicator of the decent job of dying you are doing.

People like you are simply further along the road and shouting back to those of us behind to keep going and helping us avoid a few potholes.

From reading some of your work over the years I see that your dying process started a few years ago - as did my own.

I too left my native religion as a passionate young woman who wanted to save the world from its own evils many moons ago.

I was involved in crusade after crusade which gave my ego a great sense of importance.

I went off around the worlds spiritual traditions (mainly India like many from the west do ) gathering up all the wisdom, thought myself so knowledgeable about so much.

Only this past year i have circled back to Christianity and still a bit shocked that I am here.

It is the last thing I would have imagined. And you most definitely played a role in that.

I suspect I am not the only one too.

The last 4 years the “dying” has increased in speed and also become much harder.

My beloved mam who was beside me most every day of my 52 years here passed away last year and despite my deep faith it is still torturous.

The pain is so intense sometimes it is physically debilitating. Her death very much catapulted my own (in the sense you speak of here)

I am mother to two teenagers and I’m afraid for them in this dark and twisted world .

Our 14 year old daughter we had homeschooled all her life wanted to try school last September .

It has been a tough and eye opening experience for her and after one year she now wants to come back home to continue her education .

The toxicity of the education system - the new heavily secularised and machine orientated curriculums, particularly for teenagers is glaring to those of us who have been out of it.

But sadly after not even one year it has left it’s mark on her. I could see her transforming before my eyes - being moulded and shaped by the machine .

Our influence on her values has wained a lot since last September.

As her mother my aim now is to help her re-centre herself in simplicity in a way that does not feel like I am forcing my view of the world on her.

It will be tricky I think as I remember that rebellious instinct I had at her age and how I wanted to break free from the cage I perceived my parents were trying to lock me into !

I wonder if you or anyone else here would have some teenage friendly recommendations for Christian studies that are in alignment with Paul’s work ?

Thank you Paul for doing what you do. I am looking forward to going through more of your back catalogue now and reading your new work as it comes.

God bless you and your sacred work .

Annette

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Have you checked out CommonPlace? https://www.thecommonplacepodcast.com/podcast

A group of home schooling moms à la charlotte mason

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I haven’t but I will. Thank you Shannon.

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founding

Good luck.

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Hi Annette, I 2nd the comment on The Common Place but wanted to give a couple of other recommendations. I too have homeschooled in the Charlotte Mason tradition for the last 10 years and can attest to the humanity the rich books and method have brought to my life. I highly recommend the Ambleside Online Curriculum and Facebook group as well as classes with Angelina Stanford and Jason Baxter (also Eastern Orthodox) through The House of Humane Letters. I highly recommend getting your daughter in her fairy tales class. So beautiful ❤️. Also consider listening to Angelina’s podcast The Literary Life Podcast. The most recent episode is particularly relevant and is called The Machine Stops. But you and your daughter could read through the books they discuss like The Abolition of Man, Dracula, and Fahrenheit 451. I too have a 14?year old daughter and 4 boys behind her.

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Another enthusiastic vote for the Ambleside Online curriculum (which, incidentally, is totally free--the ministry of the advisory blesses so, so many) and for the Literary Life podcast and FB community. It's never been more important to find your kindred spirits, especially if you are a parent. I have, since the outset, been homeschooling a 14 yo, 11 yo, and 7 yo, and there is no way I would be able to do it without having curated like-minds around me, both in real life and online. I have often wrestled with the question of whether I am over-protecting them, but then I chat with my public-schooled nieces, and I can only observe that what they experience in public school to be akin to child abuse, and then I confidently march on, convinced that I am not shielding my children from the world, but rather placing my children into a community of thoughtful souls that will not yield up their children to the child sacrifice (and the sacrifice of childhood) demanded by the machine. Godspeed to all of us homeschooling mothers, many of whom live a very ascetic and self-sacrificing life to do this important work.

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Oh I’ve had my own rude awakening since my daughter went to school.

I had a notion that she could withstand the assault on her childhood due to her solid foundation . I underestimated the influence of peers.

And I very much relate to the ascetic life of homeschooling mothers.

What I’d really like is to be living in a remote island with the family and the hens and the dogs and the cat - a kind of Swiss Family Robinson vibe!

But here we are right in the middle of the madness trying to figure out how to be in the world but not of it.

Much appreciation for the reassurance and the pointers 🙏❤️

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founding

My daughter is 33 now. She went through the school system as a loner, much as her mother did. One of the reasons I came to France was to get away from the television culture in the U.S., and basically, my kids never watched television all the way through school. We read aloud to them in the evening, and our home was organized in such a way that we ate two meals together a day, AS A FAMILY, because my husband works from home. I worked from home when I was still working.

I have figured out that what made us the most marginal was working from home, and having two parents in the home for the children at mealtimes. Even when I was growing up in the U.S., I did not have the luxury of eating two meals at home with both parents, of being listened to at the dinner table, of being led to feel that my opinion was important. (Some people might question the idea of teaching children that their word, their opinion is important...)

Some people might think that this is too much family, I suppose, but I loved it, and I feel that my children got a lot out of it to counterbalance the effects of the French school system which is thought out as boot camp, basically.

I have nothing against discipline, but I look down on arbitrary discipline by adults who feel that they have to prove that they are adults all the time. They give a bad name to authority, and ultimately undermine it.

But maybe you already know that there are limits to what we can do in raising our children, because for all their lives they will be under different... influences, and none of us lives in a vacuum.

I have written elsewhere here that I question the idea of not being of the world. It is an old ideal, but these days, I feel the need to question... everybody and everything. A luxury that I allow myself ? Maybe. But I allow myself this luxury.

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Thanks so much for all this 🙏❤️

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Thank you. It's such a gift to have this offering. To know one isn't alone also. That others wrestle with such 'outdated', nebulous thoughts about meaning and faith, who we are, and what we are supposed to be doing here is truly a blessing. A holy Light in the seeming darkness.

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Well, at least it’s Bright Week. Christ is risen!

“What I see around me would drive me insane if I did not know that no matter what happens, God will have the last word.”- St. Paisios

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Thank you Paul! I am always in need of reminding.

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Yes. It is preferable. I have stood with others and with our 17 years old son helped lower a good man into his grave. There were wild irises below the mountain and still legible names beside us at a loch side. This was not defeat or failure, though sorrow, absence and the future stood with us.

I guess it takes a village to feed a holy man in his silence to speak for us, even when the wild brings him food. The ratios can be exacting though the better for the doing.

I take your argument about life in-silico, but it takes a lot of fuel to feed that creation and time moves on the faster toward ruin ... no sooner accomplished than done for?

Exegetics or apologetics? Aquinas and Byzantium has to be of interest for whatever reasons. If I had institutional access I would read the whole of this argument https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199650651.003.0007

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https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/the-essenceenergies-distinction-in-the-theology-of-st-gennadius-scholarios/

Perhaps drive-by apologetics? A nuanced take re Scholasticism from the perspective of Gendadius Scholarius whom Byzantine Catholics honor as Saint (focus is on theology of St. Gregory Palamas but interesting sidenotes abound). Critiques of the scholastics have long existed in Catholic World, but I've yet to hear the fatal flaw argument re reformation well articulated. Sure Protestantism and its modern manifestations/degradations have persisted, but maybe only because there was no wave of Islam to supply the coup de grace as they did with the Iconoclasts in the East. The Orthodox identity calcified under definition by contrast then and continues to do so now.

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Thanks James. Christmas! 😊 I will give it overnight and try to come back tomorrow. At first skim the study you link to seems to confirm the persistence of the 'modern' dichotamous line, taken, it was said in the Abstract I linked to, by Russo Slavophiles in the early 19thC. Some further thought hovers however in my mind.

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I'm no expert, but I think Fr. Kappes is on to something- a minority Christian perspective that deserves further consideration. I don't know know precisely what perspective is presented in the text you recommend, but I would be intrigued to read it regardless.

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I picked up on Paul's reference to the negative Orthodox current view of Aquinas 'Thomism'. It seems a rather important topic where logic and reason - and argument and intellectual history - meet recurrent love!

I could only read the Abstract (see upthread); quote 'In sharp contrast with the Byzantine reception of Aquinas, modern Orthodox readings have been resoundingly negative.'

Fr. Kappes makes an interesting journey back to Byzantium! I don't want to go on too long on this thread, but minds, even by ~1340s seem to have been blown by the notion of 'infinity'? According to CS Lewis (The Discarded Image) Aristotle and the Greek mind would have found 'infinity' attributed to the universe, repugnant. And these 'energies' referred to by Fr. K that do 'the work' translate in the modern mind almost like physics? I wonder if we can make these jumps back to Byzantium or the other different countries?

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A worthy reflection, and yes, to Paul's point, we must be careful how much certainty we attribute to such a journey, where now "all neglect/ Monuments of unageing intellect."

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May 8·edited May 8

To die to the world is hard to imagine doing. However, once committed to the project for love of God and submission to the divine exhortation, there's no worry about how this dying will take place. God will deliver into your life many occasions for such dying. While one must be wary of becoming masochistic, generally one simply accepts over and over again the disappointments, frustrations, sacrifices, and calls to abandonment that drop into our path. And what for? So that we become able to rest in the divine peace that fills the silent resulting voids. We become very strong interiorly. We love in a new, unromantic, very strong way, and from this kind of love springs a quiet and constant fount of joy. That's why we do it.

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I’m speechless

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I can imagine my hands would be shredded if I had to dig a grave, I haven't used a shovel in a long time. The ground where I live is loaded with rocks, it would take a jack hammer to get down six feet. The Native Americans here would place their dead in caves and fill it over with rocks, or build a mound. Thats real life, burying someone that you know and Loved. Of all the people in the Bible I relate to the theif on the Cross the most. He was the luckiest man in the history of the world. Crucified and in his agony had enough sense to ask God to remember him, who just happened to be hanging next to him. In reality we are all that close to death, one heartbeat away.

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