Even Tamerlan Deserves a Proper Burial

Is anyone other than me disturbed that directors of three cemeteries in Massachusetts have refused to bury Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev?  In light of the fact that the United States calls itself a Christian nation, is there something askew here?

True, the now-deceased suspect is accused of doing something heinous, something he had no right to do. But, as doctors are obligated to treat people whose actions they abhor, aren’t cemetery and funeral home directors obliged to do the same? In the end, isn’t it supposed to be God that judges, and not humans?

Peter Stefan, owner of the Graham, Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Home in Massachusetts, says the refusal of cemeteries to bury the young man is wrong.

“We buried (Lee Harvey)Oswald, we buried (Timothy) McVeigh, and (Jeffrey)Dahmer. Somebody buried them,” he said. “We saw the hearse. Who was driving? It wasn’t Mickey Mouse!” (http://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_c2#/video/crime/2013/05/05/nr-boston-funeral-director-responds-to-criticism.cnn)

The CNN report said that funeral directors were afraid of backlash from the public should they bury the dead suspect. Was there backlash when McVeigh and others Stefan mentioned were buried? If so, it doesn’t seem to have made the news.

How is it that a Christian nation can so easily bypass and ignore the lessons taught by Jesus. In  the 25th  chapter of  Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says to his disciples that “inasmuch as you have done …for ‘the least of these.’ you have done it to me.”  God sending Jesus here was supposed to teach us humans that there is such a thing called grace, and as we receive it, we should also give it.

Brennan Manning, in his book,  The Ragamuffin Gospel, writes that “we accept grace in theory but deny it in practice. Living by grace rather than law leads us out of the house of fear into the house of love.” This must sound like romantic dribble to those who support the cemetery directors’ refusal to bury Tsarnaev, but to one who loves the Gospel and the power contained within it, it is the crux of the faith so many of say we love and belong to.

Tamerlan was a mother’s son gone bad. Many mothers have been through that, but in the majority of cases, the mother doesn’t or hasn’t ceased loving her son. At the end of the day, even the mother of a convicted murderer wants her son to receive a proper burial. Parents cannot be with their children at all times; parents lose control over their children when they grow up (and some lose control before then.) All a parent can do is pray that his or her child will make good decisions, but when they don’t, the love of the parent does not disappear. The love is replaced by agony and the pain of seeing not only their child suffer but the families who suffered because of their child.

The parent grieves because he or she could not stop the child from doing wrong. And the parent grieves because he and she remembers when that now-troubled young person was an infant, and then a toddler, a child who was loved and who loved back; a child who was the delight of their eyes and souls.

Tamerlan’s parents still love him. And so does God …if, again, the Gospels we read are to be believed.

If there is not a code mandating that cemeteries bury even people like Tamerlan, shouldn’t there be? One would think so, because the code given to us by God doesn’t seem to hold much water.

A candid observation …