Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Purified by FireA History of Cremation in America$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Stephen Prothero

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780520208162

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520208162.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 02 July 2022



(p.1) Introduction
Purified by Fire

Stephen Prothero

University of California Press

Death changes humans in an instant into something completely new. Spirit, soul, and mind flash away, and what was once a living body becomes a new creation. The American ways of death—burial and cremation—both accomplish what anthropologists have long recognized as the key tasks of funeral rites. The American way of burial deals with the decay of the material body via preservation. The American way of cremation confronts decay by accelerating it, not arresting it. The dominance of cremation in the West came to an end around the time of Christianity's rise. This book reports the story of cremation in modern America and examines the shifting beliefs and practices of this new American way of death. In the nineteenth century, some cremation advocates boldly predicted that all Americans were fated to become cremationists. While the American way of burial persisted, an alternative, the way of cremation, had emerged.

Keywords:   death, burial, cremation, Christianity, modern America, cremationists, funeral rites

California Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.