The smaller more intimate museums provide for a better learning experience generally and you tend to come away with much better stories to share later around the dinner table. The Mortuary Museum did not disappoint. Bill Peoples collection was in point of fact one of the most interesting I have seen in a while. In addition to the beautiful collection of hearses, caskets, and tools we were provided a wonderful bit of American history.
Bill shared with us in a most relaxed and informative way how for hundreds of years the mortician would go to the home of the lost loved one and prepare their body for viewing in the Parlor. This required specialized tools and equipment, fans and drapes, as well as various types of viewing caskets. As time progressed the amount of equipment and preparation became too much to accomplish in a home so they shifted to having it done at what were then called Funeral Parlors.
By this time the Parlor was so associated with death and dying that people had become a bit squeamish about even using that part of their home. The Parlor, though it was to be used for far more than viewing lost loved ones, had been stigmatized and abandoned.
With the stroke of a pen this problem was solved. The Parlor would now be called “The Living Room”. The same room just a different name and purpose, a name that was inviting and comfortable. To this day we use this new name and now we know why.
Throughout God's Word we see this same story unfold. People who were dead in their sin, lost and unusable, people who were shunned by society and abandoned were transformed by God and given a new name. Abraham became Abram, Jacob became Israel, and Saul became Paul. These and many others were re-purposed and renamed as a celebration of their new life. When Jesus Christ changes us we go from death to life and our name becomes Christian. God has a new purpose for you as well.