Modern American cult of death

By Nathan Barton

Aretha Franklin was a talented, gifted, popular and influential musician.  She is missed.

McCain also seems to be missed by a whole lot of people.

Since they both died recently, we got a double serving of the modern American cult of death this last week. It was, all told, a disgusting meal.

Americans have politicized and commercialized death – perhaps to a degree not seen since Ancient Egypt.

Those men who officiated at the funeral of Gaius Julius Caesar were pikers (or amateurs) at making political hay from the death of a politician. American politicians and media figures of 2017 could teach them how to really do it.

And I dare say a lot of money was made by the workers and promoters and hangers-on for both Mz. Franklin’s and Mr. McCain’s incredibly elaborate death rituals.  Indeed, perhaps the only things missing were the massive funeral processions given to kings and queens (and unfortunately, presidents) and the huge mausoleum built for the like of Alexander the Great or Augustus, or the temple built over the ashes of the “deified” Julius. (And for American presidents: Grant’s Tomb, anyone?  Or the chapel at Abilene, Kansas, for Ike?) Oh, and the paid mourners with painted faces that featured in many ancient cultures.

And we know that the Taxpayers got soaked for McCain’s spectacular, spanning most of the nation. Just as he helped soak them for billions and billions over his years of “service.”

To say nothing of the profits, monetary (in the case of Mz. Franklin) and political (for the late Senator of Arizona), to made from exploiting their memories and legacy in the next months and years. The Mainstream Media is great at that: Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, and many, many others.

Several observers have noted that McCain spent months in planning and choreographing, the actions to be taken when he croaked. Much of that was intended to poke Trump in his nose and to influence politics in Arizona and DC after his death.

I did not watch any of these extravaganzas, but from reports, it appears that Franklin’s funeral (admittedly, just one, unlike McCain’s multiple events) had more in common with a major concert event or some sort of music awards festival than a “real” funeral. Admittedly, it all centered around that gold coffin and, of course, popular music and its industry. All paid for by the fans.

McCain’s sequence of ceremonies and all the rest are more reminiscent of the elaborate state funerals of monarchs – or of god-kings – than that expected of a pathetic military and political figure who should be known for his corruption and warmongering. His burial at Annapolis, no doubt with the interred bodies of at least a few who died from his stupid arrogance as a naval officer and his warmongering in the past 2+ decades, was relatively simple, mercifully.

I’m not being kind, to either, I realize.

It is not just them, of course. The entire American cult of death is also to blame for the insane and wasteful excesses of the past week for these two people, and millions more. We as a people, as a nation, have made death something even more to be feared than in past centuries, and more costly and agonizing than ever. I dare say their mortal remains will decay about as quickly in golden caskets and special vaults as the poor Rosebud or Navajo enrolled member in their pine boxes and rough box.

People who complain about the commercialization of Christmas (and other holidays) should consider what the death industry has done today.  With the eager and willing participation both of those dying AND their surviving family members and friends. Tens of thousands of dollars spent for caskets, for elaborate funerals, for memorial dinners, for transportation of mourners, and other things. Flowers, monuments, mementos, elaborate services provided by mortuaries, and more. “Money is no object.”

When it comes to the “elites” that is even more obvious. Especially of Hollywood and other media, and of course, politics and government. A big part? The elaborate rituals of death for people who died in combat. (But ONLY if they are in American uniform: who hears about the civilians, much less the “enemies” (in uniform or not) who are killed.) Likewise, and growing, the highly public and organized honors and mourning for police and firefighters who died in the line of duty.

Besides the fear of death, why do we do these things?  I suspect that part of it is an ever-increasing effort to glorify government, and to create the same sort of awe that the Pharaohs of Egypt or the deified Emperors of Rome (or of China or India or elsewhere) did in the eyes of their subjects and the nations around them.  That is certainly a large part of the effect of the ever-more-customary “honors” rendered by their fellows, politicians, and civilians, to dead police:  if you do not “support your police,” so the unspoken assumption goes, you are dishonoring the dead.  We all know, from history and sometimes personal experience, that martyrs make causes. Especially when we, like Romans and Egyptians, deify them.  And deified media figures generate revenue.  Lots and lots of revenue.

The elaborate rituals of the cult of death rendered to the castoff body of John McCain certainly seek to make him a martyr of the cause of Progressivism, Statism, warmongering – oh, and the Anti-Trump campaign of the Democratic Socialists and other parts of the Democratic Party and the worldwide Tranzi movement.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (a christian), Pahasapan (resident of the Black Hills), Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer, Evangelist. Successor to Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) at TPOL.
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9 Responses to Modern American cult of death

  1. Sunni says:

    It seems to me you’re conflating some things, Nathan. Aretha Franklin was a star, and her funeral costs were probably (I wasn’t involved, so I don’t know for sure) covered by her estate and/or her heirs. My limited understanding is that her services were typical of African-Americans’ celebration of life for a person of her renown. Taxpayers probably bore little cost for her services. *I* wouldn’t want services like that, but others do; more power to them, as long as they pay their way.

    Regarding McCain, he was a veteran. Given some of the circumstances of his service, it isn’t surprising that he got a lot of the attention/perks that he did. Being a long-serving US senator helped, but my view is that wasn’t the primary factor in his services taking shape as they did. Not saying I agree, just that I can understand why his death garnered so much attention. And why shouldn’t he keep someone he didn’t respect from participating in his services? It’s his prerogative to make such requests, and the prerogative of his surviving family to honor those wishes, or not.

    Last, I’m not seeing the “American cult of death” that you seem to. Many, many Americans across the country are looking for less showy, and/or more natural ways to honor and dispose of the remains of a beloved person. Laws are changing to accommodate these preferences too. Caitlin Doughty (a mortician in California) is one example of a professional filling this need. She’s on YouTube and also has a web site, Order of the Good Death (run that all together and tack on “.com” at the end, and you’ll find her).


    • TPOL Nathan says:

      Dear Sunni:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I think you may be misunderstanding some of what I wrote. I appreciate you giving me a reason to explain and clarify.

      I did not say that Aretha Franklin’s funeral had a single penny paid by taxpayers’ money stolen from them by government (that I know of). But I’ll clarify that. Everything I’ve read indicates everything was paid by her estate (and therefore heirs and fans) and friends, including those who performed for her service. I am a bit familiar with typical “prominent black” funerals from times in the South, and you are right. It still does not mean that many of those people, including performers, did not take advantage of her death for their own benefit. Both of which are points supporting my statements about an American Cult of Death. Black culture has their part in that. And so does Mainstream Media (especially Hollywood). (I’ll also say that I think Ms. Franklin deserved the recognition and public mourning a lot more than McCain did.)

      As for McCain. No, I don’t think most of the orgy of “celebrating his life” was because of his status as a veteran, or even as a serving member of Congress. We bury real heroes every day. He was a fake. I have buried a fair number of veterans and a few active duty soldiers, as the survival assistance officer and a family member. I can tell you that Mr. McCain DID receive extensive and expensive services, far FAR beyond what even much more highly-decorated (and deserving) veterans and those killed in action received. He also received services much beyond what most deceased senators have received, based on stories and events in recent decades. For example, consider Senator John Glenn. He planned carefully to maximize the political benefits of his death, Certainly private people having private funerals can and should say who can come and who cannot (although I can tell you, again, from personal experience, that such wishes are routinely ignored.

      Am I being harsh of McCain? Absolutely. The man was a corrupt, warmongering, untrustworthy, disloyal snake in the grass, with (as I’ve said elsewhere) the morals of an alleycat, and who should have died in the infirmary of Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks serving out a life sentence for his treason and gross negligence.

      I realize that there are a lot of Americans who do reject the commercialization and excesses of the modern funeral industry. But they are a very tiny fraction of the population, and their activities and how they are treated actually supports what I wrote about the death cult. And the mainstream culture continues to have more and more elaborate and costly rituals.

      I was involved in a project, a number of years ago, establishing a factory (on a reservation) to manufacture simple, sturdy caskets and allow AmerInd (and others) to have inexpensive funerals and burial. In doing that, I found out just how bad the funeral home industry is, and how wrapped up people are in dealing with death and funerals. I have had to bury three family members in the last several years, and saw the industry close up, and also how friends and people in their churches expected, even demanded, elaborate and costly rituals (not supported by their religion, I add). And how government got involved. I know several funeral directors like the one you mention, that are working hard to provide alternatives. And I know how they are ostracized and attacked by the industry and lobbyists and regulators. Matters may not be as bad as a decade ago, but they are far from rejecting the cult I see and describe. I did not discuss government’s role in all this excess, but it is prominent. On the federal, state, and especially local level.


  2. J Pritchett says:

    “Money is no object..” Sorry, money is the only object.


    • tpolnathan says:

      True. I meant that is what the morticians will tell their customers – the grieving loved ones. Make sure that the dearly beloved (deceased) has a grand sendoff, regardless of the cost. From the funeral directors (as from the parasites in DC, Phoenix, etc. and whomever is running and profiting from Aretha Franklin’s estate), it is “spend everything you can,” so they can profit from it. Especially when it comes to money stolen from taxpayers


  3. Darkwing says:

    In both cases, the MSM and the people took advantage of them to speak political. Which is WRONG. They should have told the real truth about McCain, then dumped him in the trash


    • tpolnathan says:

      Excellent point, Darkwing.
      Several years ago, Demo Senator Tim J. of South Dakota retired from the Senate in 2013. Tim suffered stroke-like symptoms caused by brain bleeding from an arteriovenous malformation in 2006. I saw him several times at various meetings during that seven year period, and he was basically a meat-puppet for his handlers. Haven’t seen him since, but I assume his condition got so bad that he could no longer even pretend. Apparently, he’s “had his committees” give away much of the nearly one-million dollar campaign chest since then. And has “retired from public life.” I am actually surprised he’s survived that long. As modern Senators go, he was a good man. But all his committee is funding are pretty much Democratic Socialists and more and more rabid Tranzis of the Antifa variety.


  4. beau says:

    mccain funeral: to remind us that our rulers are deified individuals who deserve our adoration.

    my question: has anyone noted there has been no resurrection yet?


    • tpolnathan says:

      resurrection or reincarnation?


      • tpolnathan says:

        Sorry, but it took me a moment, Beau. This IS the third day, so … ya think? I mean, it is clear from all the laudatory comments that he is superior to Alexander, Gaius Julius, Augustus, AND Louis XIV all combined…


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