Sunday, 24 February 2013

Proof of concept?

It has long been a theory of mine that there is a link between death denial and the status quo. More specifically, I believe there is a strong connection with our reluctance to deal with death and our inability to address some of our biggest challenges we face. And I mean the really big ones - such as safeguarding our environment, offering better care to older people and ultimately sharing our resources more equitably across the planet. 

Death Cafe is a vehicle for social change around death. We simply get together and talk about death without any intention of leading people to a conclusion, product or course of action. It is all very civilised. We drink tea and eat cake and most importantly the dialogue at a Death Cafe is always diverse and frequently beautiful. 

But do some people have an vested interest in death denial? If so then this even our 'lil old Death Cafes might present a challenge to them. And if this is the case surely there would be some sort of reaction...

The video above may be the first example of this. It was made by Alex Jones, who is a well known media figure. His wikipedia page sees him described by mainstream sources as "a conservative, right-wing, conspiracy theorist and a libertarian". Whilst he presents himself as a rebel his record leaves no doubt that he represents the forces of reaction and conservatism.

He really doesn't like what we do. In a badly-researched and flimsy piece he misrepresents Death Cafes totally. In a way it is very disappointing compared to the measured and mature media coverage that we have generally received 

But I was extremely happy. If Death Cafe is part of a movement to change the status quo, Alex Jones is exactly the kind of person I would be looking to upset.

Jon Underwood


  1. Wow. This guy is really something. I like your description of "badly-researched". There was no research at all here. The 'remote journalist', Melissa, even reads out a brief summary of the purpose of a Death Café, but doesn't analyse what she is reading out. Certainly nobody in the studio is listening to what she is saying.

    As for the shameless advertising of weight loss drugs at the end of the feature: never were so many sociological contradictions compressed into such a short piece of pseudo-journalistic crap.

  2. Yeah, you know you are getting somewhere when large, nearly immovable conservative blobs like this guy start whining about what they *think* you *might* mean to be doing! You wicked liberal upstart you! You know this already, but I'll say it anyway. Pay no attention to that wheezebag. What you have created with this effort is good, kind, important, and growing. That's what matters.

  3. I watched and listened to this and thought, "Huh?!" Besides the fact that he has no idea what Death Cafe is about, he made no points about anything at all. He comes across as a complete rambling idiot.

  4. So long as those who attend Death Cafés are gaining something that they feel is enriching and helps put into perspective that our lives are finite, then we are achieving our goal.

    These journalists would probably benefit from attending a Death Café and seeing what really happens - consider that an open invitation Alex and Melissa!

  5. Your line says it all: "If Death Cafe is part of a movement to change the status quo, Alex Jones is exactly the kind of person I would be looking to upset." Pushing the envelope makes people uncomfortable... sometimes it's a good sign you're doing what you should be. Thanks for your good work, Jon...

  6. I agree that this is an appalling rant which is taken totally out of context. However we do need to look at how we present death. To my mind we should never discuss it without also discussing life. Death is after all about how we deal with the end stages of our own life and how those we leave behind then live their lives. You can't really do anything for someone once they are dead. Practically that is. Obviously you can honour their memory but you can't physically do anything for the dead person which would personally benefit them.
    I dont think a lot of the imagery used by the Death Cafe is helpful. See my blog piece on Death and dougnuts at If we want people to look at death in a positive light we need to get away from the Medieval image of the skull and cross bones. There is nothing positive about this image

    1. Sorry Jon having read that it seems a bit harsh. I think the Death Cafe is a great institution and you have done a fantastic job with it. Im afraid I have an enormously large bee in my bonnet when it comes to skulls


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