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Burial of Otto Heino August 17, 2009

Otto Heino's ashes rest in a burial urn that he made, wood-fired with his famous yellow glaze.

Otto Heino's ashes rest in a burial urn that he made, wood-fired with his famous yellow glaze.

Otto Heino was one of the most famous potters in the world, certainly in the United States. He died in July 2009 at the age of 95. Though he and his potter wife Vivika lived and worked in California, Mr. Heino grew up and wished to be buried in Weare. His funeral was held at Holy Cross Church. The following is the homily preached by the Vicar on that occasion.


Ecclesiastes 3:1-11                                                            

John 14:1-6                                                                         

When I was in seminary, one of the books we were assigned to read was entitled Money, Sex and Power. It was sort of fun to read this book in public places – on a plane or a bus; people looked at you kind of funny. The book was assigned for our ethics class, and it pointed out that all the things people fight and struggle over in life, the things we make laws and rules to regulate, can be reduced to those three basics: money, sex and power.

These days when we read about funerals for famous people – celebrations of their lives – it is usually their attainments in terms of money, sex or power that are being celebrated. Think about Michael Jackson, to pick just a recent example. We watch  celebrity funerals on television, or read about them in People magazine, with a kind of gloating curiosity. Part of this is envy: we wish we were as rich or as beautiful or as powerful as the celebrity. But part of it is our knowledge that the celebrity’s worldly success is never the whole story; there are always shadows, dark sides. Think again of Michael Jackson. And that makes us feel better about our own sins and failures.

If life were only about the pursuit of money, sex and power, it would be a hollow thing indeed. But it isn’t. There is another triumvirate that also calls to us as human beings: the pursuit of the good, the true and the beautiful. And our lives have value in the end to the extent that they embody these three things: goodness, truthfulness, and beauty – though in worldly terms we may be poor, homely and powerless. Continue reading ‘Burial of Otto Heino August 17, 2009’