The Common Good
January-February 2001

The Grim Sweeper

by Rose Marie Berger, Susannah Hunter | January-February 2001

Making caskets is fine. But who's going to clean up this mess? Inside their light,
fragrant workshop, a handful of monks are hard at work. They're planing. They're
ripping.

Making caskets is fine. But who's going to clean up this mess? Inside their light, fragrant workshop, a handful of monks are hard at work. They're planing. They're ripping. They're joining, gluing, sanding, and finishing coffins, caskets, and urns made to order, then fitting them with shiny metal handles and discrete brass plates that say "Trappist Caskets, New Melleray Abbey."

Death is a way of life for these Iowan monks. They do everything from logging the trees on their extensive timberland to lining the caskets with white muslin. "There's nothing pretentious or false here," says general manager Sam Mulgrew. "It's straightforward—just heavy wood and slow, loving workmanship."

The Trappists (1-888-433-6934; trappistcaskets.com) offer reasonable prices and provide an alternative to the mass-produced caskets that dominate the market. The caskets are accepted by all U.S. funeral homes and cemeteries. They can be shipped on time anywhere in the country. Trappist Caskets are also suitable as low coffee tables until the time comes for their final use.

Sojourners relies on the support of readers like you to sustain our message and ministry.

Related Stories

Like what you're reading? Get Sojourners E-Mail updates!

Sojourners Comment Community Covenant

I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Sojourners online community, especially toward those with whom I disagree, even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)

I will express my disagreements with other community members' ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

I will not exaggerate others' beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

I will hold others accountable by clicking "report" on comments that violate these principles, based not on what ideas are expressed but on how they're expressed. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15)

I understand that comments reported as abusive are reviewed by Sojourners staff and are subject to removal. Repeat offenders will be blocked from making further comments. (Proverbs 18:7)