Mississippi ranks dead last (get it, “dead” last!) in the U.S. rate of cremation. A recent Time magazine piece on the rising popularity of cremation over traditional burials or entombments pointed out that while Nevada had a cremation rate of a whopping 74 percent, the Deep South has been exceedingly slow to “warm up” (sorry, hard to stop…) to cremation.
The magazine writers offered this explanation: “The U.S.’s history has a predominantly Christian nation has arguably been the one true barrier holding cremation back. That helps explain why there are still fewer cremations in the South than any other region in the U.S. (The book of Revelation in the New Testament foretells a time when a trumpet will sound and the dead in Christ shall rise first as Jesus returns. It doesn’t say anything about the dead rising from their (urns).”
The article goes on to point out that it was only in 1997 when the Catholic Church allowed cremated remains to be part of a funeral mass and the cremation is widely considered forbidden by both Islam and Judaism.
“Even Billy Graham has said there’s nothing in the Bible that forbids it. That’s helped make the practice more acceptable in the Bible Belt, the one region where cremation has yet fully to take hold.”
Given the turn the popular culture in the country has taken, perhaps being last in cremation has some advantages. Let me remind you, gentle reader, that Season Three finale of the AMC television series “The Walking Dead” is currently the most popular show on television. The show, based on the comic book series of the same title, is the tale of as sheriff’s deputy who awakens from a coma to find himself wandering in a post-apocalyptic world dominated by zombies.
Zombies, of course, in this context are of the flesh-eating variety. But one only has to observe the staggering, halting gait or hear the guttural noises made by of the average zombie for a time to deduce that they can easily be mistaken for, in no certain order: 1) College students filing into 8 a.m. classes; 2) Late-night boozy revelers on Bourbon Street or at the Neshoba County Fair trying to navigate a path back to their places of abode; or, 3) Children called back into class from recess.
It’s not just television, either. The new Brad Pitt film “World War Z” is based on the brilliant Max Brooks fake history of a mysterious epidemic that overtakes the planet and produces zombies. But these zombies are more animated — pretend the TV show is called “The Running, Swarming Dead.”
At any rate, Mississippi’s status as the state least likely to choose cremation over traditional burials or entombments positions us perfectly for the zombie apocalypse to come — be it of the walking or running variety. Nevada, with 74 percent cremation rates, not so much.
I’ve had lots of friends buried or entombed and I’ve had several cremated. I’m hoping to see most all of them again, but I admit that I’d rather forego the zombie apocalypse and just cut straight to a heavenly reunion replete with soft clouds, harps and streets paved with gold.
I trust the good Lord can raise us just as easily from an urn shaped like a Green Bay Packers helmet as he can from one of the Batesville Casket Company’s coffins. But one thing’s for certain — if the zombie apocalypse does come, Mississippians will be all dressed up and ready to go in remarkably large numbers.
(Daily Corinthian and syndicated columnist Sid Salter can be contacted at 601-507-8004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)