How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
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06-06-2017, 06:16 AM
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
(05-06-2017 09:42 PM)Vera Wrote:  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....
You bring up another point, which is that if you're too empathic for your own good, others "sharing" your pain only brings you more pain. My wife has this issue more than I do. It's not that I don't notice or care that she's in pain, but I don't take it on personally as if it's my responsibility, either. It does bother me though to see her suffer, even if I don't feel responsible.

Ironically, she's better than I am (perhaps out of necessity??) at not carrying around her suffering like a great big sack of shit on her back. She laughs all the time -- not out of joy, but out of a realization of the absurd. It literally cracks her up. I can't access that outlet as readily, and so it's harder to get rid of the weight of the world, and more easily builds up a backlog so to speak.

Well, as Spock said in a classic ST episode, "my personal purgatory is no worse than anyone else's". It just seems like it sometimes.

Circling back to the point of this thread, I have a pretty darn good understanding of what people are going through at a funeral, and the religious cruft is not really that relevant and even makes it worse in many ways. It's not hard for me to let people do whatever they need to do to effectively grieve, and to tolerate their nonsense in recognition of the fact they are going to regress in such circumstances.

To your point, Vera, of maintaining personal integrity, everything I said in the previous paragraph does not mean that I am going to fake-pray or do anything dishonest at a religious funeral. I can avoid that and still be respectful, always assuming of course that I actually care. Even as a believer I did not show up at funerals of people I had no meaningful relationship with.
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06-06-2017, 06:21 AM
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. I'd like to leave my body to science, actually. If science would have me, that is Blush

NEVER feed humans to wolves, it might make them sick.
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06-06-2017, 06:55 AM (This post was last modified: 06-06-2017 09:12 AM by Vera.)
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
Mordant, I would never ever be disrespectful at a funeral (pretty much anywhere, really). My post was more aimed at how much I hate funerals, not for religious reasons, but because... well, hard to explain (further) but me they do not help in my grief and, unlike a popular Portuguese saying, I don't handle the grief of others too well. That is to say, it's sometimes/often harder to bear than my own.

(There is also a lot of fake grief at funerals, at least the ones I've attended, so I might be even more biased. Then again, my grandmother's funeral, when I was a teen (as well as other circumstances surrounding it) might have fucked me up for life. And might be the reason why I tend to feel responsible (and powerless; and guilty) for the problems of others.

(Never claimed I'm not one messed-up broad Rolleyes )

Like I keep quoting: "When I’m creating at the piano, I tend to feel happy;but - the eternal dilemma - how can we be happy amid the unhappiness, of other? I’d do everything I could to give everyone a moment of happiness. That’s what’s at the heart of my music." Deep down, I feel I don't have the right to be... (At least, I think I'm like your wife. Laughter, as Gordon Lightfoot sings, has always come too easy Shy

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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06-06-2017, 07:03 AM
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
I'd really like to have be cremated, then have my ashes used as a potted plant. You can have your ashes made into diamonds/infused with soil to grow a tree, loads of things haha.

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06-06-2017, 08:32 AM
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
(06-06-2017 06:55 AM)Vera Wrote:  Mordant, I would never ever be disrespectful at a funeral (pretty much anywhere, really). My post was more aimed at how much I hate funerals, not for religious reasons, but because... well, hard to explain (further) but me they do not help in my grief and, unlike a popular Portuguese saying, I don't handle the grief of others too well. That is to say, it's sometimes/often harder to bear than my own.
I completely understand the context of your remarks, that you're a kind person and would not act out at a funeral.
(06-06-2017 06:55 AM)Vera Wrote:  (There is also a lot of fake grief at funerals, at least the ones I've attended, so I might be even more biased.
That might be more of a Catholic / European / Irish thing; wakes for example are pretty much confined to traditionalist Irish Catholics here in the US so far as I know, and I think the tradition is greatly weakened here anyway. The only people to inject drama into US funerals in my experience are people who are in genuine agony, and typical Midwestern reserve / stoicism seems to cover for that usually.
(06-06-2017 06:55 AM)Vera Wrote:  (Never claimed I'm not one messed-up broad Rolleyes )
I have come to the conclusion that we are all messed up.
(06-06-2017 06:55 AM)Vera Wrote:  Like I keep quoting: "When I’m creating at the piano, I tend to feel happy;but - the eternal dilemma - how can we be happy amid the unhappiness, of other? I’d do everything I could to give everyone a moment of happiness. That’s what’s at the heart of my music." Deep down, I feel I don't have the right to be... (At least, I think I'm like your wife. Laughter, as Gordon Lightwood sings, has always come too easy Shy
Yes I suspect you are. And she feels that same sense of not having the right to exist, because of childhood emotional abandonment mainly. I have the opposite problem, I grew up in a stable, loving and ultimately intact family of origin; add fundamentalism to that and I used to feel positively ENTITLED to exist. Now I'm merely uncertain ;-)

Seriously though, we all "know" we have as much right as the next person, it is a question of what our subconscious thinks it knows. This business of what we have a "right" to be a part of is an artifact of the notion that each person must "earn" their place at the table, that we somehow must either win or loose our personhood on the basis of performance. It is a seriously fucked up notion, as I'm sure you know. But somehow, merely knowing it isn't much help.

This is another frustrating aspect of life, my greater existential security just doesn't rub off on my wife or anyone else. There is an old saying, "God has no grandchildren" that applies here. In other words, enlightenment is each person's hard-won battle, no one can do it for you. Just another way we are alone with our existential issues, unfortunately. Or nearly so: I will say to you or anyone, you have every right to exist, there is nothing to earn. I can try to encourage people in their lonely battles.

Parents and other childhood authority figures who ignore / shame / fail to encourage the children in their lives really should do prison time for the lifetime of mayhem they cause ...
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06-06-2017, 08:39 AM
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
I might get back to this later, after I've thought about it (and if I decide I have anything further to say), just wanted to clarify that in my case my parents have never ever been anything but really supportive and loving. And continue to be.

Just felt I should make this clear Blush

But yeah, the conviction that unless everybody else is happy and safe and secure, you've no right to enjoy yourself and how dare you think of yourself and your own insignificant problems, in a world full of so much suffering... isn't a nice life companion, this much I can tell you....

When you do squat to actually relieve that suffering, it makes you feel like a crappy human being, on top of everything else...

But... let's not go there...

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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06-06-2017, 08:43 AM
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
(06-06-2017 08:39 AM)Vera Wrote:  I might get back to this later, after I've thought about it (and if I decide I have anything further to say), just wanted to clarify that in my case my parents have never ever been anything but really supportive and loving. And continue to be.

Just felt I should make this clear Blush

But yeah, the conviction that unless everybody else is happy and safe and secure, you've no right to enjoy yourself and how dare you think of yourself and your own insignificant problems, in a world full of so much suffering... isn't a nice life companion, this much I can tell you....

When you do squat to actually relieve that suffering, it makes you feel like a crappy human being, on top of everything else...

But... let's not go there...
Cool ... did not mean to imply any special knowledge of your childhood, just speaking to a configuration I'm familiar with in several people I've known. Not trying to generalize to you. Dog knows, there is great diversity in the ways we get into self-doubt. Or its inverse. Either way, "hilarity" often ensues.

Thanks for the convo and moving on ...
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06-06-2017, 08:58 AM
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
(05-06-2017 08:55 AM)Mr. Boston Wrote:  Sidenote: my wife is ethnically Jewish and unfortunately we've lost a lot of people on her side of the family in the last year or so. Her family isn't particularly religious but in each case we've had graveside services with a rabbi. Yarmulke's are distributed by the cemetery staff. I decline to wear them.

I feel like it would be a greater disrespect to wear one for "appearances" than to quietly decline. So far nobody has cared; they must've had bigger concerns on their minds!

Not knowing much about the Jewish religion, although I am told I am of Jewish blood, but the Yarmulke has a specific meaning doesn't it? It would be like drinking the blood or eating the body of their God when that is offered. That I passed up at a recent funeral/memorial service.
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06-06-2017, 09:01 AM
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
I don't and will not attend funerals because the last one I went to annoyed me so much. The ritual doesn't help me. I'd rather do anything else. I'm grown. I don't have to go so I don't. I don't owe it to anyone to fuck up my day.
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06-06-2017, 09:08 AM
RE: How should an atheist behave at a religious funeral?
(06-06-2017 08:58 AM)Born Again Pagan Wrote:  
(05-06-2017 08:55 AM)Mr. Boston Wrote:  Sidenote: my wife is ethnically Jewish and unfortunately we've lost a lot of people on her side of the family in the last year or so. Her family isn't particularly religious but in each case we've had graveside services with a rabbi. Yarmulke's are distributed by the cemetery staff. I decline to wear them.

I feel like it would be a greater disrespect to wear one for "appearances" than to quietly decline. So far nobody has cared; they must've had bigger concerns on their minds!

Not knowing much about the Jewish religion, although I am told I am of Jewish blood, but the Yarmulke has a specific meaning doesn't it? It would be like drinking the blood or eating the body of their God when that is offered. That I passed up at a recent funeral/memorial service.

Wearing a kippah (ie: yarmulke) has no religious significance other than rabbinic tradition. If you're Jewish (born of a Jewish mother and raised Jewish), then you'd probably wear one out of habit or respect for your culture. If you're not Jewish or you're disconnected from the Jewish community, you may choose to wear one out of respect for another person's culture, or maybe because you wish to fit in. Jews have no care or expectation if non-Jews don't wear one. It's offered as a politeness much in the same way mints are offered at a restaurant. Take one, or don't.
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