Thanks to Pam for pointing out this excellent article from a Lutheran perspective on funeral societies, missional church, Bonhoeffer, and death. Some excerts below, you really need to read the whole thing though.
For centuries, Christian community, organized as a funeral society of a higher order, has played on the natural fear of mortality, even hyped that fear as a motive for Christian life “so that we can go to heaven when we die.” That was the “attraction.” But with humankind’s coming of age, the jig is up. Religion cannot prey on human weakness this way any longer. . .I just wish I had the time to respond to such a stimulating article, I'll be printing it out and chewing on it some more anyway. Let me know what you think.
If we are to continue in Christianity in this religionless new age, then, we are going to have reconceive our relationship to death and understand it once again as the Pauline power that overwhelms and corrupts the creation, which in turn waits in eager longing for the redemption of our bodies in the revelation of the glorious liberty of the children of God. . .
The handful of strident, fire-and-brimstone religionists who sense this breach from our religious past and loudly still try to terrorize people into heaven above only reinforces the vast majority in their secularism. Easy, indeed, when the alternative to dying naturally is to live life now by flattering a divine Egotist who eternally tortures those who don’t pay the bribe of living “religiously.” . . .