Letters - 5 April 2019

From simple funerals to a Manchester asylum update

Simple funerals

The funeral described by G Gordon Steel (15 March) may well be simple but it is not one that I would wholly recommend as it involves cremation.

Approximately two thirds of the human body consists of water which is evaporated during the cremation process, something which requires a lot of energy. A lot of energy is also required to burn through bone. At the moment this energy comes from the burning of natural gas, a fossil fuel, so every cremation is making the problem of climate change a bit worse.

Most of us have at least one mercury amalgam filling in our teeth. When heated, the mercury, a highly toxic metal, will vaporise into the air. Most modern coffins contain resins and plastics which give off toxic fumes when burnt.

Far better than cremation is woodland burial, which uses a biodegradable coffin and can involve a tree being planted on the burial site. Instead of making climate change worse, woodland burial will alleviate it by removing carbon dioxide as the tree grows.

How the cost of woodland burial compares with that of cremation I don’t know, but the environmental cost is far lower.

Keith Bradshaw

YFGM statement

I was saddened to read the response to Young Friends General Meeting (YFGM’s) statement by the Gender Concerned Quakers Group (22 March).

Surely the call to respect the identity of others – far from being ‘a demand to abandon truth and discernment’ – asks us to recognise that certain ‘truths’, such as the existence of a neat biological binary in which everyone’s gender aligns with that which they were assigned at birth, may not be as absolute or as simple as we like to believe. It asks us to honour the truths of those whose lived experiences we may not share or indeed fully understand. As Quaker faith & practice 22.19 suggests, ‘we recognise, in love, the Friend whose experience is not our own. We pray for ourselves, that we may not divide but keep together in our hearts’.

The fundamental right to be affirmed as the person we know ourselves to be, at least in terms of our gender identity, is something that those of us who are not transgender take for granted. I do not believe that any genuine prompting of love and truth could lead us to deny this right to others.

Gwen Baines

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