Care for a Corpse (Dignity) Coronavirus


“There has to be some dignity in this, otherwise I might as well be a garbage man,” is what the funeral director told the journalist. The photographs by Philip Montgomery that accompany this article here in the NYT about two brothers, Sal an Nick Farenga the directors of a funeral home in the Bronx, fifth generation in the family,  do more than document how they have been overwhelmed by the Coronavirus. With the grit removed, the beauty of the photographs evoke the intensity of this kind of a crisis alongside the solemn and tender dignity of the dead, the dignity of labor and workers, the dignity of a “calling,” and the dignity of the ethical action that is this final mercy that one can do for another. But what is the source of that action? If you had to choose one term, as a student of religion, I have this one hesitation, which is whether to put the word “human” or “holy” in front of the word “action.”

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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3 Responses to Care for a Corpse (Dignity) Coronavirus

  1. dmf says:

    i think i would go with reverential

  2. so... says:

    These are such terribly beautiful images.

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