burial rites

The Osama raid was a kill job from the start; Saudis were asked about Islamic burial?

The Osama raid was a kill job from the start; Saudis were asked about Islamic burial?

Yes, the article was adapted from a soon-to-be-released book, in this case that would be “Power Wars: Inside Obama’s Post-9/11 Presidency,” by Charlie Savage. 

Nevertheless, the New York Times exclusive that run under this headline -- "How 4 Federal Lawyers Paved the Way to Kill Osama bin Laden" -- was a major coup, creating lots of sizzle in Beltway land.

The content of this news feature raises all kinds of ethical and moral questions, in part because of the revelation that the operation was, basically, a kill job from the get go.

Normally, that wouldn't put this in GetReligion territory. However near the end there is one rather interesting passage that raises all kinds of religious questions, while including a major slap-your-face revelation that I sure has heckfire had not heard before. Hold that thought. Here's the buzz-worthy lede:

WASHINGTON -- Weeks before President Obama ordered the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011, four administration lawyers developed rationales intended to overcome any legal obstacles -- and made it all but inevitable that Navy SEALs would kill the fugitive Qaeda leader, not capture him.

A few lines later, there is this Times summary of the goods it has landed:

While the Bin Laden operation has been much scrutinized, the story of how a tiny team of government lawyers helped shape and justify Mr. Obama’s high-stakes decision has not been previously told. The group worked as military and intelligence officials conducted a parallel effort to explore options and prepare members of SEAL Team 6 for the possible mission.
The legal analysis offered the administration wide flexibility to send ground forces onto Pakistani soil without the country’s consent, to explicitly authorize a lethal mission, to delay telling Congress until afterward, and to bury a wartime enemy at sea. 

What jumped out at me was the "bury a wartime enemy at sea" reference.

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Yo, Baltimore Sun: Are modern 'green funerals' completely different than ancient 'traditional' religious rites?

Yo, Baltimore Sun: Are modern 'green funerals' completely different than ancient 'traditional' religious rites?

It is really, really, really hard to write a story about death, dying, funerals and burial rites without discussing, even for a few lines, the centuries of religious life and doctrine linked to those topics. However, the editorial team at The Baltimore Sun -- the newspaper that lands in my front yard -- has managed to pull off this difficult task.

The hipper than hip topic, of course, was "green funerals." This is a subject that has been covered here before at GetReligion, in this age in which rising numbers of idealistic, post-Woodstock Baby Boomers are planning their funerals or, well, taking part in them.

Are there secular or non-traditionally religious people -- seekers or even "nones" -- who are interested in "green" rites and burials? Of course there are.

But what about traditional religious believers? As I wrote, concerning an earlier almost religion-free story in The New York Times:

... Is this simple funeral trend found only in alternative forms of faith and non-faith? The story makes this trend sound like a march away from traditional forms of religious faith, as opposed to a rejection of American business as usual. That simply isn't the case.
I'm Eastern Orthodox and the simple funeral is becoming the norm, among many in my church. Then there are the various orders of Catholic monks who are making simple, beautiful, natural and very traditional caskets.
Business is, well, booming as you know what generation moves into its final decades. In other words, where is the rest of the story? Or, in the context of New York City, are simple funerals not as hip as green funerals? Maybe it was time to dig a bit deeper.

Well, this Sun report -- "Seeking a natural end in rural Baltimore County" -- is way, way, way more faith-free than that Times effort. It is so religion-free that, to my eyes, this must have been a conscious editorial decision.

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