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Interesting experience my wife and I had…

 
fosal hossain
 
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fosal hossain
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05 April 2012 20:48
 

My wife and I went to a funeral mass yesterday for her uncle (she wasn’t particularly close to him, but it’s her mother’s big brother).  It was the first church service of any type I had been to since I realized my atheism in 2010. 

What an experience…

The purpose of the first part of the service was basically to shore up any doubts people had about god’s greatness.  The priest went on for 15 minutes or so about how all of this is part of god’s plan, Uncle Eddie wasn’t really dead (sure looked like it to us), and so on and so forth.  One part that really pissed me off was when the priest told the widow that god was with her, and she could see it by all the people who had been there for her since he died.  It made me want to puke.  How dare he minimalize the love that her family had shown her by simply saying, “Oh, that’s not them showing love for you, it’s god acting through them.”  Made me sick.

There was, of course, plenty more, but I’ll only go on about one more, but first, a bit of background…

My parents didn’t go to church, but my paternal grandfather was a Church of God preacher, so I had plenty of religion growing up (although I still didn’t believe it).  I remember a small, yet detailed crucifix in my grandfather’s church in that had Jesus in all his pain and even had drops of blood coming from the crown of thorns and from his side.  When I was young, I would look at the crucifix with curiosity and remember it well to this day.  At the church we were at yesterday, there was a huge crucifix also with a beaten Jesus on it (no blood, however).  Unlike in my youth, the only thought I had when I looked upon it yesterday was, “How morbid.”

I realized that any shred of faith I had ever had was truly gone and would never return unless god almighty stood before me.  Suits me fine.  My wife, who has only been an atheist for a short time, had a similar experience as well.  Unlike me, she used to be Catholic, and was repulsed by the same things I was, although we also shared a few laughs about some of it as well (once the service was over, of course).

 
Dennis Campbell
 
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Dennis Campbell
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05 April 2012 21:05
 

Welcome to a sometimes hard place. Hard in the sense that if people were generally aware, you’d be treated as a leper.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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05 April 2012 22:26
 

Many church leaders are well aware that weddings and funerals are the only church that an increasing number of americans will volunteer for. So they take advantage.

 
fosal hossain
 
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fosal hossain
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05 April 2012 23:48
 
Dennis Campbell - 05 April 2012 07:05 PM

Welcome to a sometimes hard place. Hard in the sense that if people were generally aware, you’d be treated as a leper.

It was extra-weird for my wife.  It was the first time she had been in church with her parents and NOT taken Communion.

 
GAD
 
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GAD
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06 April 2012 00:27
 

That’s how god and religion works, they take credit for all the good and blame you for all the bad.

 
 
MARTIN_UK
 
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MARTIN_UK
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06 April 2012 08:07
 

Weddings, funerals and christenings are always awkward, whether you are a believer or not. For me never knowing when to stand, sit, sing, or pray and when not to is a mare.
It’s even worse when you don’t buy into it all.
I understand that some pastors may take the opportunity to cash in on the captive audience, but for me the purpose of a funeral is to concentrate on the memory of the person, to celebrate them and their contribution. I don’t mind bowing my head in respect of their belief at the appropriate times, but listening to blatant proselytising is just bad taste really.
Whenever I have spoken to friends about what they prefer, they are all generally in agreement that going to someone else’s “occasion” doesn’t bother them particularly, they will play along, but try and pull that shit at their funeral and they’ll be turning in their graves.

 
saralynn
 
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saralynn
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06 April 2012 12:12
 

Sci Guy: The purpose of the first part of the service was basically to shore up any doubts people had about god’s greatness.  The priest went on for 15 minutes or so about how all of this is part of god’s plan, Uncle Eddie wasn’t really dead (sure looked like it to us), and so on and so forth.  One part that really pissed me off was when the priest told the widow that god was with her, and she could see it by all the people who had been there for her since he died.  It made me want to puke.  How dare he minimalize the love that her family had shown her by simply saying, “Oh, that’s not them showing love for you, it’s god acting through them.”  Made me sick.

Good grief (pun intended), aren’t you being a tad over-sensitive?  I mean, the guy’s a priest, the funeral is Catholic, and people are crying over a dead guy.  Whadaya expect?

I’m not an authority on Catholic doctrine, but I think love itself is supposed to be an attribute of God, which is supposedly in all people.  Except maybe Dick Cheney. That’s why Jesus said…“Don’t call me good, no one is good except God.”  (Which is puzzling since he is supposed to be God, but, that’s beside the point).  Anyway, You are interpreting the priest’s words in a cynical way, don’t you think? Was he really putting people down?  Did the mourners feel indignant?  On the contrary, it might have inspired them to make more of an effort to comfort the widow.  Who doesn’t want to be Christ-like?  Even if you are supposed to be channeling God’s love, you want to be a worthy vessel blah blah blah.

Since I don’t trust your objectivity, I can’t quite be sure that the priest’s comments about the greatness of God was accurate, either.  I will, however, completely agree with you that Uncle Eddie was dead, God rest his soul.

 
Dennis Campbell
 
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06 April 2012 12:21
 

I’ll admit to anger when the Catholic priest or hospital Chaplin kept talking to my brain dead mother-in-law as though she was alive and listening, while we had to stand around; several of us left the room before one of us began talking to the Chaplin as though he were sane.  Even the nurses were rolling their eyes.

 
 
saralynn
 
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06 April 2012 12:25
 

Sciguy: My parents didn’t go to church, but my paternal grandfather was a Church of God preacher, so I had plenty of religion growing up (although I still didn’t believe it).  I remember a small, yet detailed crucifix in my grandfather’s church in that had Jesus in all his pain and even had drops of blood coming from the crown of thorns and from his side.  When I was young, I would look at the crucifix with curiosity and remember it well to this day.  At the church we were at yesterday, there was a huge crucifix also with a beaten Jesus on it (no blood, however).  Unlike in my youth, the only thought I had when I looked upon it yesterday was, “How morbid.”

Seeing Christ hanging on the cross is morbid when you are feeling robust and cheerful, but when you are in physical or emotional pain, the crucifix can be comforting.  Leaving out the “he died for your sins” stuff (which, imo, is disgraceful)  Jesus represents the universality of suffering.  At some point in our lives, whether because of death or disease or any of the other awful things that beset humanity, most of us reach a point in which we identify with him.  Of course, it’s also helpful that it has a happy ending….the Resurrection.  For some people, Heaven is the only consolation they have.

The cross can be understood on many levels.  As a child, it isn’t surprising you’d think of it as creepy.  However…“death and resurrection” IN LIFE is pretty cool.

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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06 April 2012 12:32
 

On a positive note I will say that I’ve visited a number of congregations in my local area that were very warm and inviting to outsiders. Showing real sensitivity and conversational intelligence in the face of such awkwardness. Really going the extra mile to make whatever conciliatory gestures were possible given the difference in world views. Any many of my atheist friends reciprocate handily with many new and interesting friendships as the result. Some fights are unavoidable but many are just pointless and serve to rob you of companionship.

Ok, off the soapbox now.

 
SkepticX
 
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06 April 2012 12:33
 
saralynn - 06 April 2012 10:12 AM

Good grief (pun intended), aren’t you being a tad over-sensitive?  I mean, the guy’s a priest, the funeral is Catholic, and people are crying over a dead guy.  Whadaya expect?

Sometimes when a spotlight is shown on what you already know about a large scale problem, it removes the problem from the constant background and moves it into focus, and when you see that what’s expected is so counterproductive and so intrusive and handicaps our interactions so deeply, the obvious in the shallow sense can become an outrage in a deeper sense. The fact that it is expected, known and all of the ugliness still flies under the radar, or doesn’t even register for most, is more than a reasonable basis for being upset. It’s a very up close and personal look into the Dark Side of the human condition, and there are villains and heroes and such, a lot of them are just reversed in the public perception, and again, this is what such situations bring into sharp focus, causing various kinds of negative sentiments and responses from those who are aware and open-minded enough to notice such things.

 
 
saralynn
 
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06 April 2012 12:33
 

Sci-guy: My wife, who has only been an atheist for a short time, had a similar experience as well.  Unlike me, she used to be Catholic, and was repulsed by the same things I was, although we also shared a few laughs about some of it as well (once the service was over, of course).

I hate to break it to you, but, once a Catholic, always a Catholic.  I’m assuming your wife has become an atheist of her own volition and not because you intellectually badgered her into it or she is trying to please you, but at some point, her religious indoctrination will return, although in a different form.  She may become a new-ager or something like that.  There are certain definite life events that can precipitate this.  One is motherhood. Another is crisis.  The final one is menopause.

 
SkepticX
 
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06 April 2012 12:35
 
saralynn - 06 April 2012 10:33 AM

I hate to break it to you, but, once a Catholic, always a Catholic.  I’m assuming your wife has become an atheist of her own volition and not because you intellectually badgered her into it or she is trying to please you, but at some point, her religious indoctrination will return, although in a different form.  She may become a new-ager or something like that.  There are certain definite life events that can precipitate this.  One is motherhood. Another is crisis.  The final one is menopause.

Heh ...

Now I see what’s going on ...

No caffeine yet today?

...

Eh?

 
 
fosal hossain
 
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fosal hossain
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06 April 2012 12:40
 
saralynn - 06 April 2012 10:12 AM

Sci Guy: The purpose of the first part of the service was basically to shore up any doubts people had about god’s greatness.  The priest went on for 15 minutes or so about how all of this is part of god’s plan, Uncle Eddie wasn’t really dead (sure looked like it to us), and so on and so forth.  One part that really pissed me off was when the priest told the widow that god was with her, and she could see it by all the people who had been there for her since he died.  It made me want to puke.  How dare he minimalize the love that her family had shown her by simply saying, “Oh, that’s not them showing love for you, it’s god acting through them.”  Made me sick.

Good grief (pun intended), aren’t you being a tad over-sensitive?  I mean, the guy’s a priest, the funeral is Catholic, and people are crying over a dead guy.  Whadaya expect?

I’m not an authority on Catholic doctrine, but I think love itself is supposed to be an attribute of God, which is supposedly in all people.  Except maybe Dick Cheney. That’s why Jesus said…“Don’t call me good, no one is good except God.”  (Which is puzzling since he is supposed to be God, but, that’s beside the point).  Anyway, You are interpreting the priest’s words in a cynical way, don’t you think? Was he really putting people down?  Did the mourners feel indignant?  On the contrary, it might have inspired them to make more of an effort to comfort the widow.  Who doesn’t want to be Christ-like?  Even if you are supposed to be channeling God’s love, you want to be a worthy vessel blah blah blah.

Since I don’t trust your objectivity, I can’t quite be sure that the priest’s comments about the greatness of God was accurate, either.  I will, however, completely agree with you that Uncle Eddie was dead, God rest his soul.

First, I agree with you completely about Cheney.  If there were a Hell, Satan would be afraid of losing his seat when Cheney finally checks out.

Please remember that my view is that of the nonbeliever.  Of course the priest wasn’t directly putting people down, but that’s the effect religion has on things like this. By giving credit to a nonexistent being for people’s good actions, it minimalizes their REAL love for one another. Also, of course most of the people didn’t feel indignant, because they buy into that view.

I don’t begrudge them for doing what they need to be comforted during a time like this, but it just illustrates to me how religion minimalizes positive aspects of humanity by giving the credit to god. 

As to objectivity, do you consider yourself to be more objective?  You have the bias of a believer, and I the bias of a nonbeliever.  Are either of us truly objective?  (Plus, I never really tried to duplicate the priest’s words, I don’t have the memory to do that grin )

 
saralynn
 
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06 April 2012 12:48
 

Dennis: I’ll admit to anger when the Catholic priest or hospital Chaplin kept talking to my brain dead mother-in-law as though she was alive and listening,

Was he asking her what she wanted for lunch? 

I know this isn’t the case with your mother-in-law, but I read a book once about a woman who everyone thought was in a coma, but really she could hear everything that everyone was saying and doing.  This lasted for years!  At first she had visitors, but eventually, this stopped and all she saw were hospital personnel.  Some of the nurses didn’t take care of her body appropriately and it made her angry.  That is what kept her hope alive.  Hatred.  She told herself…someday I’m going to get out of this mess and kill those bitches!

The story had a happy ending.  A student from a college was examining her and somehow determined that she was lucid.  It’s all vague now because I read the book a long time ago, but she got rehabilitation and reached the point where she could write her autobiography.  I don’t think she was well enough to murder any of the lazy nurses, but she did write a great story.  I think she got a divorce as well.

 
saralynn
 
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06 April 2012 12:59
 

SX: Heh ...

Now I see what’s going on ...

No caffeine yet today?

Hmm…you’re getting to know me, aren’t you, SX?  But you’re wrong.  I think I may have had too much caffeine.  I’m feeling rather feisty.  Besides, it’s GOOD FRIDAY!  At 3:00, clouds are going to appear in the sky.  This is what my once-a-Catholic always-a-Catholic physics major husband told me.  He claims to be speaking in jest, but I know the TRUTH!  I can make him break out into a cold sweat by making sacriligious comments about Jesus or the crucifixtion. BTW,  If you don’t see the clouds, you’re going to hell. My husband didn’t tell me this, .I just came to this conclusion myself. Me and Mario will probably see the clouds, but you heathens will not.  Don’t worry.  I will pray for you all.  If you see one, thank me.

 
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