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Death Cafes: contemplating the end

Death Cafes: contemplating the end

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The New York Times: Socrates did not fear death; he calmly drank the hemlock. Kierkegaard was obsessed with death, which made him a bit gloomy. As for Lorraine Tosiello, a 58-year-old internist in Bradley Beach, N.J., it is the process of dying that seems endlessly puzzling.


“I’m more interested, philosophically, in what is death? What is that transition?” Dr. Tosiello said at a recent meeting in a Manhattan coffee shop, where eight people had shown up on a Wednesday night to discuss questions that philosophers have grappled with for ages.

The group, which meets monthly, is called a Death Cafe, one of many such gatherings that have sprung up in nearly 40 cities around the country in the last year.

The church claims to know a thing or two about death and what happens afterwards. As Bruce W. Gray (@brucewgray_indy), canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Indianapolis, has suggested on twitter, congregations may be the natural homes of Death Cafes. What do you think?

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David P. Kendrick

Yes, the Church has something to contribute here. At the same time, what seems to work for these cafes is the openness and freedom of discussion. Can that atmosphere be replicated in a church building? Or would the Church’s use of these cafes need to be in a more neutral site, and avoid getting didactic?

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