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Jayson Karuna

Theo 107 004
Liston
Death
Death is an imperative part of every individual’s life. However, perspective
on death is relative to differing cultures, religions, and geographic regions. Religion
and its culture shape many of the tendencies surrounding death and the period
thereafter. Also, perception of death can be reflected through popular culture, such
as Disney movies, which is especially evident in western societies. Many external
factors play a role in how one views and copes with death. Regardless of religious
beliefs or cultural values, the concept of death is subjective to the environment.
In chapter 12, Stephen Hunt shows how different religions cope before,
during, and after someone’s death. Religion plays a strong role in dealing with many
of the problems resulting from death. In the religious context, death is a very
communal and individualistic event. Death can be very socially significant in
religions. To ensure eternal prosperity, certain measures needed to be taken
throughout one’s life until their passing. Therefore, many view death with great
importance. Before death, many religions have a call to action to ensure eternal bliss
in the afterlife. For example, in Jewish tradition, it is decreed that the deceased
should leave the world on good terms in order to truly receive forgiveness from
God. Religions also have methods used near and at the moment of death. In Buddhist
tradition, the dying’s final thoughts should be directed towards Buddha and
scripture to bring overall good to their reincarnated self. Following the actual event
of the death, religions also have dictated the proper way to dispose of the body. In
Hindu culture, numerous forms of ceremonies and rituals take place immediately
upon death. To ensure a positive afterlife, the deceased are sung sacred songs and
ultimately cremated. The religious idea of an afterlife is often the reason specific
measures are taken during the process of death. Most religions have positive and
negative consequences depending on the actions taken by an individual when they
are alive. Finally, most religions also have a methodology to deal with mourning
after death. For example, in Islam, the deceased are mourned for three days and
relatives increase their overall devotion during this period. Altogether, religion and
its beliefs greatly influence how adherers proceed with death because they all want
to ensure a satisfactory rite of passage for the departed.
In chapter 19, Gary Laderman shows how Walt Disney’s films represented
the values of contemporaneous America. Death in American society is traditionally
viewed as taboo and the reality of it is often denied or refused. Due to a rising lack of
attention towards religion and medical advances, death is often not shaped
spiritually in American culture. However, many representations of death and
cultural values can be seen in Disney movies at the time. Disney’s film history
exemplifies his fascination with death. One of Disney’s initial animated shorts was
very macabre and contained a comical personification of death. Death was apparent
in Disney’s life outside of animation as well. Disney started to completely avoid
funerals after a fortuneteller proclaimed that he would die at the age of 35. It was
also rumored that Disney had a strong interest in cryogenics, which was the process
of freezing one’s corpse until medical advances become sophisticated enough to
rejuvenate lost life. Disney was also notorious for emphasizing the sentiments of the
people of the era in his films. Disney’s movies contained many messages and values
to be instilled similar to how a religion would. Many of his film’s overlaying plots
revolve around the battle between innocent good and corrupted evil. Ultimately,
death results when that evil defeats the good. Examples of the prevailing evil forces
include men, stepmothers, and witches. Overall, through Disney’s focus on the
concept of death, he communicated his era’s fears towards it and conveyed the
virtues that could be learned from it.
The main purpose of chapter 12 is to exemplify religion’s perception on
death and the processes that take place during death. There are many phases during
the process of death. Stephen Hunt depicts numerous examples of religious
practices and what they symbolize for the deceased. Generally, the event of death
has great significance and deeply affects a community in religious societies. While in
western countries, death is not viewed as important. In order to achieve this
purpose, Hunt addresses the question of how do different religions interact with
death? The most important information in the chapter is the fact that many of the
rituals engaged before, during, and after death is due to a belief in some sort
afterlife. Some religions believe in a heaven or hell, while others believe in
reincarnation. Regardless, the belief of an afterlife shapes many of the methods
performed by adherers during death. This piece of information is very important,
because it answers why many of the rituals are being performed. In order to ensure
a blissful afterlife or properly facilitate the transition of reincarnation, adherers
perform certain ceremonies and procedures. In other words, tranquility after death
can be more readily attained if the proper religious measures are taken. The main
conclusion Hunt draws in the chapter is that death is an integral part of life and
religion is ultimately utilized as a mechanism to deal with it. In order to understand
Hunt’s line of reasoning, we need to understand the significant and imperative
nature of death. Death occurs to everyone and individuals usually have to face some
form of death around them. Therefore depending on one’s cultural environment,
how one handles and copes with the effects of death differs. If we take this line of
reasoning seriously, the consequences may be that individuals start to be more
spiritual regarding death and understand its essential significance. If we fail to take
this line of reasoning seriously, individuals can be more fearful of something
inevitable, rather than deal with the situation adequately. However, Hunt does make
the assumption that a disproportionate majority of Westerners marginalize death.
This is an unfair assumption due to the fact that many westerners still hold strong
religious beliefs and view death with great significance. Western cultures still hold
funerals and processions, and also have a mourning process that many go through.
Stephen Hunt ultimately is looking at death in the religious and secular context.
Hunt perceives that secularity has marginalized the process of death, while religion
continues to showcase death as socially significant.
The main purpose of chapter 19 is to exemplify American’s sentiments
toward death and how Walt Disney depicted this preoccupation in his work. The key
question that Gary Laderman is addressing is how does Disney’s films reflect the
American view on death during his time? In answering this question, Laderman can
analyze the difference in how westerners perceive death. The most important
information in this article is that many of the themes in Disney’s movies were
relevant ideologies at the time. Death serves as a plot point in many of Disney’s
animated films. Death would result when evil would defeat good. However, most of
his films still ended in a positive note. In other words, despite living in a wicked
world, hope and bliss still prevail. In totality, the main conclusion Laderman hones
in on is that death was indeed significant in American culture. Regardless of
America’s silence towards death, it is still a thought that heavily preoccupies the
country. In order to understand Laderman’s line of reasoning, one must recognize
the period of time when the chapter takes place. Walt Disney and many of his
animated films arose from the 1930 to 1940’s. During this time period, America was
struggling and facing many woes. The economy was disparaging and the nation was
in between wars. Americans actually were facing death in a grand scale overseas
during this period. So when Walt Disney captured death and its repercussions in his
films, Americans felt a connection with the stories. The resolution to Disney films
often contained a sense of hope and certainty that American culture desired in
reality. The main assumption Laderman makes is that Americans did not view death
as taboo. In the beginning of the chapter, he refutes the fact that Americans avoided
to think about death. However in times of such grief and hardship, many individuals
may choose to avoid negativity like death altogether for the sake of optimism. If we
take Laderman’s line of reasoning seriously, we can truly understand the historical
and cultural sentiments towards one of the greatest phenomena’s. Generations were
facing 3 consecutives decades of crisis. Both World Wars were conflicts between 2
opposing forces, similar to a Disney movie plot. Disney often depicted death and
sorrow in his movies, only to conclude with an uplifting mood. Similarly, Americans
longed to find a similar uplifting sentiment after prolonged conflict. If we fail to take
this line of reasoning seriously, we would be preventing ourselves from truly
learning the westernized perception of death. Elements and themes from Disney’s
films decades ago continue to remain relevant today. Ultimately, Gary Landerman is
looking at death in the more unorthodox way. Rather than conclude that Westerners
have marginalized death, he exemplifies how Westerners embraced its components.
In terms of writing, chapter 12 uses a sociological methodology, while
chapter 19 uses a more historical methodology. Hunt elaborates on the topic of
religion and death by going through numerous examples of religions dealing with
the process involving death. The chapter is then broken down to the different
phases that occur during death. Hunt focuses on how the structure of religion
results in certain practices and rituals varying from culture to culture. Sociologically
speaking it is religion that differs how cultures function and cope with inevitable
death. In other words, Hunt exemplifies the roots and origins of established social
behavior pertaining to death. However, chapter 19 follows a more linear and
historical approach. Laderman utilizes the timeline of Disney and his film career to
facilitate the connection between death and American culture. Also, Laderman
refutes the presumed preconceptions that many think Americans had during the
thirties and forties. While Hunt chooses not to pungently dictate his purpose as an
argument. Overall, Hunt’s chapter does not reinforce a truth like Laderman does. It
is already quite known that religion and death have a relationship shaped by
traditions. Religions have been incorporating their methods, values, and mindsets
for centuries. However, American culture’s relationship with death is not nearly as
evident. During Laderman’s conclusion, he does incorporate a philosophical
approach as well. The purpose of using Disney’s filmmaking history ultimately was
to conclude a rational truth about the principals of Americans. True to the
definition, Laderman theorizes like a philosopher would on one of the largest
components in life, death itself.
Although, chapter 12 and chapter 19 centrally focus on the idea of death,
both still vary in content greatly. In chapter 12, Hunt establishes that Westerners
have overall devalued death and its spirituality almost completely. It is religion that
brings death to the forefront of a community and allows for the best coping
mechanisms. Conversely, in chapter 19, Laderman establishes that Westerners are
preoccupied by death significantly. Rather than brush death off, Americans are
captivated and embraced it. Very much so, that Walt Disney’s career arguably would
not have been as successful if he did not incorporate elements of death in his
productions. Chapter 12 elaborates that through modern medicine and diminishing
adherence to religions overall, Westerners tend to mask their thoughts of death.
Modern science continues to prolong lives, especially in more developed countries.
Individuals start to receive certain procedures and make lifestyle changes all in the
hope of prolonging death. Speaking about death is usually taboo in most contexts
and children are often sheltered from the grave topic. While in the rest of the world,
death is a substantial part of life and very socially significant. Chapter 19 elaborates
that through alternative mediums, death is still a very significant topic in
Westerner’s minds. Religion may have less of an influence in Western cultures, but
Westerners still strive to make sense of death just like everywhere else in the world.
Rather than through religious teachings, Americans often look at popular culture
and mass media to help articulate their sentiments toward death. Despite the
differences between the two chapters, a major similarity encapsulates both. Death is
inevitable and something that we all attempt to derive profound meaning from.
Regardless of beliefs or differences in geography, death occurs to all. It is a concept
that has been apparent for as long as living organisms have habituated the earth.
However, it is something so perplexing, we all deduce our own ways to make sense
of it. Stephen Hunt highlights how religions influence different cultures to adapt to
death. Traditionally, religions have built customs and rituals to help prepare for the
mysterious stage after death. Furthermore, religions also create measures for
individuals to properly cope with a death around them. Gary Laderman
demonstrates how forms of media, specifically Disney movies, exemplify how
Americans perceive death and grief. Americans are preoccupied with death
regardless of religious beliefs because it ultimately creates a rupture in the status
quo. Disney and his movies helped reaffirm common fears and values displayed
during the course of life through death. In the end, death is one of the only
certainties of life, and therefore results in reflection by all able-minded individuals.
Ultimately, death is the great equalizer. Regardless of socioeconomic
conditions, location, or status it is imperative to all. Though, the physical and social
act of dying is still something not entirely understood. In order to make sense of
death, its causes, and its results, individuals turn to some sort of set of beliefs.
Regardless of belief in a particular religion or no religion at all, an individual’s
perspective on death is molded by the culture surrounding them. In areas where
religion is all encompassing, cultures establish a connection between their religious
principles and death. In areas where religion has less influence, cultures still
establish a connection between their own cultural values and the concept of death.
Therefore overall perception of the act of dying, death itself, and what occurs after
death is subjective to the person and their environment