How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
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05-06-2017, 04:47 PM
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
I hate funerals with every fibre of my being. Pain (or any deeply-felt emotion for that matter) is something way too personal for me to share with almost anyone, and certainly not with a *bunch* of other people. And I am *definitely* not gonna be forced to go through a bunch of meaningless, often repugnant traditions and rituals when I've just lost somebody I love. I don't care if the whole world ends up thinking I'm a heartless bitch. My pain is my own, no one can really share it or even lessen it, so back off.

Like I think I said here ages ago - not only are we born and do we die alone, but we also suffer alone.

And if it's not someone close - what's the point of me being there? To prove to others I care? Not who I am, sorry.

I'll probably not go to the christening of my cousin's baby (both parents are not religious, but it's "tradition" and grandmothers insist) not because I cannot control myself, even in the face of utter stupidity, but because I don't want to listen to their shit and pretend I don't find it utterly abhorrent. Like I said, both parents are not religious, so they won't mind.

As for my "funeral" - flush me down the toilet or throw me to the wolves for all I care. I'd like to leave my body to science, actually. If science would have me, that is Blush

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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05-06-2017, 05:26 PM
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
(05-06-2017 04:47 PM)Vera Wrote:  As for my "funeral" - flush me down the toilet or throw me to the wolves for all I care.

Seriously, I have informed my wife I don't want a funeral at all, to prevent any possibility it will be hijacked by her religious family. I want to be cremated without fanfare, and family and friends informed only after the fact.
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05-06-2017, 05:27 PM
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
(05-06-2017 04:47 PM)Vera Wrote:  Like I think I said here ages ago - not only are we born and do we die alone, but we also suffer alone.
Exactly what my wife always says, and I totally agree with you both.

Nor is this a position of despair. It is just the way things are.

One might contend that my wife shares my suffering in some respects -- we both loved my late son very much for example -- but while we wept together and speak often of his passing together, ultimately, we each carry our own suffering; ultimately it doesn't really help that we care that each other suffers. The most we can do is distract each other. When we're done with that, the pain is still there. When I feel that pain, it isn't reduced by 50% because she is feeling it too. She's feeling her own pain. Ironically the best we can do is give each other space to work it out for ourselves.

Similarly ... our family used to volunteer with hospice, and it was our experience that most people died very much alone. One time, there WAS this guy who lay dying, surrounded by loving / adoring family members, who were alternately weeping and laughing at a life well-lived. That, I suppose is what we all hope will be our lot at the end of the path. And yet: he was the one doing the dying. No one was doing it for him. He was the one with the full knowledge of his own triumphs and tragedies, disappointments and regrets -- and the full knowledge that there are no more chances for do-overs. And despite that this scene seemed idyllic to me, it may be, for all I know, that just for once in his goddamned life, he wanted to have some peace and quiet and not all this noise and carrying on. ;-)

As Kafka said, "Hell is other people". That has many meanings, not least that you can't fully know yourself but for the judgments of others ... but it also means you have to live with their expectations and needs but they can't take on your burdens, or you theirs. Not really. We pretend it helps. It doesn't. The only person who has ever even partially understood me, is me. The only person who has never knowingly let me down, is me. The only person who has ever carried my burdens, or even really usefully cared about them, is me.

Maybe this is another reason for the popularity of gods, they have alleged super-powers that our fellow humans do not. Alas ... another illusion.
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05-06-2017, 05:40 PM
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
When I read the title of this thread my first response was simply...respectfully.

The rituals around death can be challenging. Growing up Catholic we were marched through the funeral home many, many times to look at dead bodies...some were people we didn't even know but there was an obligation and expectation to do so. Funerals tended to be for those closest to the deceased.

The whole process is for the surviving family and other loved ones. If you are so moved to attend then you be respectful, express your sympathy for the loss, and move on.

See here they are the bruises some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. - JF
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05-06-2017, 06:10 PM
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
I'll go to a funeral in a church out of respect. But other than standing or sitting, I don't participate (no kneeling, bowing of head, responses, prayers). My siblings were watching me for cues during my FIL's funeral; I guess they don't go to church much either. Smile The priest actually got frustrated and asked if the mourners were Catholics, at one point. My FIL had a lot of friends who weren't Catholic, so not many people responded in places where audience participation is usually obtained.
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05-06-2017, 06:15 PM
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
Exactly. The day is not about me, and I'll be damned if I make it so.
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05-06-2017, 08:46 PM
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
(05-06-2017 08:01 AM)Heath_Tierney Wrote:  Nice little write-up in today's Toronto Star. Agree or disagree?

How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral

As odious and nauseating as I find Jesus to be, I call parley at a Christian funeral. I’d even call parley on the Jesus subject at a Jewish funeral.

When you are at a funeral, you behave in whatever manner will bring the most comfort to the bereaved. They just lost their child, their mother, their father, their sibling, or whoever it was that was close to them. If they say, “they’re in a better place now,” you nod your head and agree. If they say, “Jesus loves them. He loves us all,” you can reply, “I’m sure you’re right,” or “your religion must bring you such comfort at a time like this,” or whatever comment you need to make to provide support, comfort, and assurance to those who are seeking it.

Yes, you should compromise more than a little because someone else’s funeral isn’t about you.

A funeral is not the time for a religious debate, and it is not the time to give the grieving people any doubt about their loved one’s final destination. It’s not even the right time to remind them that you’re an atheist (or a Jew, or a Hindu, or a Muslim, or whatever) through any overt action on your part. Right then and there, they don’t need doubt, and they don’t need an enlightening discussion about the errors in their belief system. They need to heal, and your purpose for being at that funeral is to show love and support for those individuals who are hurting the most. If you can’t do that on their terms (which doesn’t mean you need to actively participate in their prayers or funeral liturgy), then stay home.
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05-06-2017, 09:42 PM
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
That's exactly it, mordant. Much as we may love someone and want to share their pain, we are ultimately alone in our own heads and own little worlds.

No, pain shared is not halved, not by a long shot. Actually, it might be doubled - knowing that someone else is suffering too, only adds to your pain. Knowing that someone else is going through hell isn't going to make my own journey through it easier, on the contrary, it will make it twice as hard, and if I could, I'd give my eyeteeth (*and* lie through them) to spare the ones I love pain...

Not saying that just being there for someone is completely useless; maybe the vastness of pain is only bearable - or slightly less unbearable - through love. And that's still a lot you can give someone. But ultimately, hell is not other people, but our own prison cells, that we call our mind.

And sorry about what you went through, even if it changes or helps nothing....

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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05-06-2017, 10:21 PM
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
As a lifelong atheist, I can agree totally with the thrust of the writer's argument.

This part about his atheist friends is spot on too...

We don’t talk about religion much but, judging by their lives, my atheist friends seem to believe that love is better than hate, relationships are more important than possessions, building up is preferable to tearing down, peace is more noble than war. My atheist friends are, in general, driven by a conviction that the earth is sacred, life is precious, and beauty, joy and hope should be the goals of their lives.

I attend the religion-based funerals of elderly friends and relatives out of respect and to honour them as people; people who've more often than not been a positive influence in my life. I'm not there to "honour" their religion, or to confirm its tenets by any means.

In my opinion, atheists who baulk at attending the funerals of theists are simply being stubbornly single-minded, petty, and ultimately overthinking the entire scenario. If you liked/loved/respected the person during their lifetime, why would you choose to desert them, and reject them as meaningful individuals, after they're deceased?

Of course, if you do legitimately considered them to have been total arseholes in life, then by all means don't attend their funeral. And think about this: Do you celebrate Christmas or Easter, or Pesach or Hanukkah, or even Eid Al-Fitr? If you do, and you don't attend funerals purely on religious grounds, then you're a hypocrite—cherry-picking the "good" parts of religion whilst bad-mouthing the rest.

I'm a creationist... I believe that man created God.
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05-06-2017, 10:28 PM
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
(05-06-2017 09:44 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  I dislike funerals so much that I won't even attend my own.


You could also piss off the mourners by deliberately turning up 45 minutes late. Big Grin

I'm a creationist... I believe that man created God.
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