“Is grandad on the moon?”

Behavioural and data scientist, author, speaker and consultant Pragya Agarwal writes for Aeon on the subject of speaking with children about death, and on children’s conception of mortality: ‘Maybe they go to the Moon. Do you think Naanaa has gone to the Moon?’ I am noncommittal even though I would like to believe that, yes, … Read more“Is grandad on the moon?”

Memento Mori Roller Coaster Ritual

Part of my practice is to find memento mori rituals in daily (and not-so-daily) activities. Whether it’s sporadic, regular, spontaneous or planned, the simple act/thought of acknowledging the reality of mortality is good medicine. A lot of that has to do with accepting loss of control. Roller coasters offer an almost unique opportunity to practice … Read moreMemento Mori Roller Coaster Ritual

“… with hope that this assemblage of rubble would become a shrine …”

This is my Summer Solstice contribution to the Artists of the Wall 2021 project. It’s a local (Rogers Park, Chicago) tradition extending back about 30 years, when residents started decorating a 600 foot long concrete bench/ barrier between Loyola Park and the Lake Michigan beach. Artists purchase the right to paint sections of the wall … Read more“… with hope that this assemblage of rubble would become a shrine …”

Cavesword: A Nontheistic Religion of Radical Death Acceptance in Gore Vidal’s “Messiah”

Gore Vidal’s 1954 dystopian satire Messiah is the story of a religious movement that forms around a charismatic undertaker named John Cave. Cave’s central message is, simply and profoundly, that people should not be afraid of death; not because they could look forward to an afterlife of eternal bliss in paradise, but rather because oblivion … Read moreCavesword: A Nontheistic Religion of Radical Death Acceptance in Gore Vidal’s “Messiah”

The House of Black and White

The fantasy cultures in George R. R. Martin’s epic Game of Thrones stories have conjured a rich diversity of religious perspectives. The journey of Arya Stark, noblewoman by birth and killer by temperament, leads her to the House of Black and White, which is the temple, headquarters and thanatorium of a cult of priestly assassins … Read moreThe House of Black and White

“Dealing with Dying” (Free Inquiry Magazine, October/ November 2007)

Free Inquiry is a Humanist publication whose Oct/Nov 2007 issue was on the theme of mortality from the Humanist perspective: Early in 2006, Free Inquiry began to solicit essays from atheists and humanists, activists and everyday folks, open skeptics and closet doubters. What had they experienced of death and dying? How had they responded? What … Read more“Dealing with Dying” (Free Inquiry Magazine, October/ November 2007)

The Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death (Online Course)

I will be teaching this upcoming online course via the Morbid Academy, starting August 25: This course explores an emergent, dynamic and positive response to the existential problem of death denial, centered on the simple philosophical premise of “mortality sapience”; that by remembering death, we can learn to seize the day. In that spirit, artists, … Read moreThe Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death (Online Course)