Funeral update October 20, 2016Posted by Ubi Dubium in Events, Rants, Responses.
Tags: atheism, bible, christianity, funerals, religion
Well, I went to the funeral for my friend. And it was pretty much like I expected.
First, I want to give all due credit for the good stuff, the thoughtful stuff, the stuff that helped us all remember:
- There was a display of some of his favorite things, and favorite T-shirts in the lobby.
- There was a slideshow of years worth of family pictures playing on several screens for about an hour prior to the service.
- There was a terrific reception with tons of food provided, so that all the people there could have a chance to talk afterwards.
- There was a crowd of more than 600 people. The seats were filled and there was overflow seating set up in the lobby.
- My chorus had almost 50 people show up, and we did a really good job singing the piece we were performing.
- There were several people who spoke about my friend, and his life, and his influence on them, and especially his sense of humor. Some of his family spoke, and some of them wrote their thoughts down and had somebody else read them, which I think is great for when someone is too emotional to speak, or just too terrified of public speaking to speak.
The service was maybe 1/4 about my friend’s life, and how much we will miss him. The other 3/4 was about how religious he was, how important religion is, god, grace, god, heaven, god, bible, Jesus, and more god. Yes, he was a religious man, yes he was active in religious groups, and yes his wife’s a pastor. I’m not saying that their church shouldn’t focus so much on that, it’s their church and they should do their thing, it’s what the congregation expects.
But wow was it awkward for me as a non-believer to sit through all that.
The thing that maybe bothered me the most was the sermon. It was actually a sermon, not a eulogy. Instead of talking about the deceased, the preacher talked mostly about the biblical story of Lazarus. OK, I guess this is appropriate for a funeral, given that it’s about Jesus bringing a dead man back to life. But the pastor really focused for a bit on this sentence:
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
And what I’m thinking is, if their benevolent god actually existed, one that cared about people’s beliefs, and wanted people to be righteous and religiously observant, and to serve their fellow man, then there wasn’t a better example of a faithful follower of that ideal than my friend. My friend who died in a pointless accident. My friend who should have had at least another 20 good years. I’m thinking “If their Lord was real, and cared, this man should not have died.” But no, then he went on to talk at length about Jesus bringing Lazarus back, a thing that in our modern experience never actually happens. You know, if their god existed and actually wanted to me to believe that he existed, at that point all he needed to do was to have my friend walk into that room, in perfect health, and I’d probably change my mind.
But alas, all we get is talk about grace, and the “arms of god” and “we’ll see him again” and the happy fairy tales people tell themselves to make us feel better. On the outside I was not showing my annoyance, but on the inside here’s the version of the sermon that was going through my head:
I think my presence there was helpful for my chorus, and I think the chorus’s presence there was helpful for the family. So I’m glad that I was there for them, even if I hated most of the actual service.