05 October 2006

Bring Out Yer Dead! Bring Out Yer Dead!

A story in The New York Times entitled "Dead Bachelors in Remote China Still Find Wives" points out several ironies that are the modern China.

The overall problem here: false worship drives you to do stupid things. After all, such stuff makes the Chinese poor believe they should pay good money for dead women. Their hearts have taken advantage of the obvious procreative problem men will have when their ancestors preferred baby boys over baby girls.

The people profiled in this story are poor, but they will pay big money for brides, even dead ones for dead relatives. The cost of a female corpse to simply bury your male corpse near so that he might not remain a virgin in the afterlife is phenomenally high. I wish it were because the woman's remaining relatives prized her that much, but it is too likely that she lived with much shame, if not terrible abuse, because she did not earn that dowry while she lived and then could bear progeny for the good of the village, the family name, and the future economic health of everyone involved. Of course, she would probably have endured much abuse regardless; the status of wives in rural China seems only slightly above that of abandoned female infants.

But if you believe that the afterlife is as materialistic and base as this life, and if you believe a corpse is better than nothing, and if your village has believed that female infants should be left in fields to die, you will pay a lot of money to get any woman in the age to come. Even if it all you get is a dead Leah, you will pay your own personal Laban for the dowry he failed to collect while his daughter yet lived. Seven years? A wad of cash? But at least you can bury yourself with a smile on your face. No telling how much more it costs your soul.

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