The psychology that gave rise to this practice is still with us today and, I would argue, it is more powerful than ever.
From the wiki:
The term sin-eater refers to a person who, through ritual means, would take on by means of food and drink the sins of a deceased person, thus absolving his or her soul and allowing that person to rest in peace. In the study of folklore sin-eating is considered a form of religious magic.
This ritual is said to have been practised in parts of England and Scotland, and allegedly survived until the late 19th or early 20th century in Wales and the adjoining Welsh Marches ofShropshire and Herefordshire, as well as certain portions of Appalachia in America (documented in the Foxfire cultural history series). Traditionally, it was performed by a beggar, and certain villages maintained their own sin-eaters. They would be brought to the dying person’s bedside, where a relative would place a crust of bread on the breast of the dying and pass a bowl of ale to him over the corpse. After praying or reciting the ritual, he would then drink and remove the bread from the breast and eat it, the act of which would remove the sin from the dying person and take it into himself.[citation needed
Do you see what I mean?*
*Update: A few Changing Agers are telling me that I am being a little too obscure. Let’s try this.
In the early 2000’s the Lords of American Finance gambled away a trillion dollars. A crash ensued and, although the Lords themselves were held blameless and made whole financially, someone had to “pay” for their sins.
Cut Medicare. Cut Social Security.
Elders are the new sin eaters.