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Atheist or Humanist Funerals
Posted: 21 March 2012 09:21 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Came across an article on my facebook wall from Alternet written by Greta Christina called “When It’s Not God’s Plan: 8 Things to Say to Grieving Nonbelievers” and it got me to thinking about Humanist funerals due to an experience I had at my grandfather’s funeral that was pretty upsetting to me. I wrote a blurb about it on my blog. If you’re interested you can see it here since I don’t want to type it all out again.

http://trevorsquest.blogspot.com/2012/03/humanist-funerals.html

Regardless of whether or not you take a peek at the blog entry, which also has a link to the Greta Christina article, I’m curious what thoughts people here have about humanist funerals. It kind of urks me to think that after I pass people might go saying a whole bunch of religious preachy things at my funeral and I wouldn’t have any power to do anything about it. Kind of makes me think that perhaps I should be thinking of leaving behind some kind of wishes and instructions. Well I’m only 39 and still healthy, so it’s no rush, but I do think on it from time to time.

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Posted: 21 March 2012 10:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Yeah, I saw that. It’s a good read.

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Posted: 21 March 2012 12:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I had this opportunity over a year and a half ago when attending the memorial service of a close friend from high school. He was a confirmed atheist for over 40 years and died of lung cancer (heavy smoker). He was cremated so there was no body to display. As he was a Harley rider, his family had his motorcycle there with pictures of him throughout his life placed in a book for us all to leaf through. They, the pictures reminded those of us who knew him well of the good times that we shared. The service was basically his friends and family remembering incidents in his life. As I had both of his kids in school I consoled them with the good times I shared with their father,and other friends and acquaintances related their experiences too. There was no preacher or funeral director to lie about him and pretend that he is in “a better place”. He would have laughed about that!  His wife ended the memorial by thanking everyone for coming and that was it. I hope to go the same way, but not now!


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Posted: 21 March 2012 03:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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One of the cool things about being a non - theist is that funerals can be whatever you want them to be. An informal gathering of friends and family, with a distinct lack of religious motivation is probably what most freethinkers would feel the most comfortable with.  Like you, I would not want some priest that I never met giving some nonsense eulogy for me! Plan ahead for these things - especially if you have a religious spouse.

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Posted: 21 March 2012 03:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Oh, but in order to go to heaven you must be buried in “consecrated” ground.  Oh what magical powers the priests have to be able to make a piece of dirt “holy”.

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Posted: 21 March 2012 05:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Three elements: aromatic smoke, tap water, and mumbled Latin phrases. LOL


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One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.

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Posted: 21 March 2012 05:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 21 March 2012 05:03 PM

Three elements: aromatic smoke, tap water, and mumbled Latin phrases. LOL


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Aromatic smoke is medicinal, don’t cha know.

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Posted: 21 March 2012 06:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Ah, yes draw me some bath water and light candles around the tub. Nirvana! I think I’d rather drink several horns of Mead, get hammered and sing my way into Valhalla! tongue rolleye
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Posted: 21 March 2012 07:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Sometimes I wonder why I care what would be said after I’m dead, but I guess I know, I just wouldn’t want to be lied about after I’m dead. I also have friends and family who are religious, and I’d want it to feel welcome to them as well. I think if the preacher at my grandfather’s future was a bit smarter and had at least picked parts of the Bible that could be interpreted as comfortable in a poetic way I wouldn’t have minded so much. I’ve been to other funerals in churches, and they didn’t bother me as much. The one thing I can take away from my grandfather’s funeral was that I read some poetry I’d written for him, so I just tried to console myself with the fact I gave what was a more true eulogy for me and probably a lot of my family. If I remember correctly even though I wasn’t religious back then I think I had one line that made a religious reference, “Sleep sweet in heaven, integrity’s child”. These days I probably wouldn’t have used that phrase, I might have said something like ‘in rest’ or ‘in silence’ or in ‘memory’ or whatever as I’m a little more conscious of what I say, even metaphorically or when I’m just repeating phrases that become second nature due to growing up in a society that has religion as part of the culture, such as “Thank God” when something happens. These days if I’m being aware of what I say I might be more likely to follow Dan Dennet’s lead and say “Thank Goodness”. Still, I’m not overly anal about such language all the time. And in some ways, I can still be comforted by it, but only in a metaphorical sense, the same way a fantasy novel makes me feel good even though I have no thoughts about the magic being real. I wouldn’t go back and change the poem line now, as it for me is a monument to what I felt when he passed away, and the writing of it is something I don’t want to go back and change years later. What is important for me is that the poem was not religious in theme throughout, and I guess I could define heaven for the purposes of the poem, as the good memories of his love, a type of special place I can go to in hard times or even in good times. And if those words comfort my religious family in a different way, so be it, as long as they are comforting. I do hope though, in my own death, that there is nothing ambiguous that comes from me if possible, so that those who aren’t religious can see there are others who lived life, had a good life and died without the religious mumbo jumbo, and I guess in a way for the religious people too, as another example of someone having a good life without god. I just want it to perhaps be, if not a comfortable experience for all who knew me, at least a thought provoking one, and ultimately a comforting one.

[ Edited: 21 March 2012 07:35 PM by TrevorC ]
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Posted: 21 March 2012 07:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Yes, IMO, the metaphors of heaven, hell, and the soul, are the legacy of a person’s life and memories of the deeds of the person.
Ghandi will forever dwell in the human mind with love and respect. He dwells in “heaven”.
Hitler will forever dwell in the human mind as a monster. He dwells in “hell”.

[ Edited: 21 March 2012 07:24 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 21 March 2012 07:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Exactly, banning the words doesn’t seem the answer, perhaps picking your places when they are appropriate or useful and those when they are not, as well as being careful of how you frame them and use them. It’s similar to how I feel about profanity in a weird way. Words themselves are not bad, they are only bad when used with the intention to hurt, though I still feel we should attempt to use them wisely, and sometimes realize that they do matter, as they can subconsciously support certain ideals. Saying something like “F**K I stubbed my toe” is a different beast than saying to someone “You are a useless F**K”.  I guess I try to take a middle of the road approach. I do want to be more conscious of my words, and sometimes I think PC speech has it’s place, but I’m not one to be anal about it at the same time.

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Posted: 21 March 2012 08:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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An A+. Awesome! I hope if I go back to University I can get some of those marks.

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Posted: 21 March 2012 08:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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TrevorC - 21 March 2012 07:41 PM

Exactly, banning the words doesn’t seem the answer, perhaps picking your places when they are appropriate or useful and those when they are not, as well as being careful of how you frame them and use them. It’s similar to how I feel about profanity in a weird way. Words themselves are not bad, they are only bad when used with the intention to hurt, though I still feel we should attempt to use them wisely, and sometimes realize that they do matter, as they can subconsciously support certain ideals. Saying something like “F**K I stubbed my toe” is a different beast than saying to someone “You are a useless F**K”.  I guess I try to take a middle of the road approach. I do want to be more conscious of my words, and sometimes I think PC speech has it’s place, but I’m not one to be anal about it at the same time.

This is why I am advocating a compendium of biblical allegories and metaphors with “translations” into non-theist humanist form. Why is it that in church, at weddings and funerals everyone carries a bible? We need a secular book which can be carried to the same type of secular congregations so that speakers or lecturers can reference to pages and excerpts when addressing and relating to a specific current event.

If you consider that monks and priests labored for centuries to write the bible with quill and parchment, with today’s computers and wordprocessors a concerted effort by psychologists, philosophers, and scientists to create a comprehensive secular replacement for theist scripture could be done in a few years. If we want to replace theisms, we must offer an alternative Book of Secular Values and Ethics.

I would buy one and keep it handy, much as I do my dictionary.  If published on the internet, such a book would go instantly viral, not only atheists, but to all agnostics and other people of reason. In another thread here on CFI, a lot of profound sayings by famous authoors and thinkers were offered. Some of those would fit perfectly in a Humanist Ethical reference book.

[ Edited: 21 March 2012 09:14 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 21 March 2012 09:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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That book sounds like a good idea. I don’t even see it necessarily needing to be limited to only one version, there could be many such books perhaps? Of course if it was well thought out and done with care, perhaps having one standard book would help, to have a go to book. I could see it going either way.

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Posted: 21 March 2012 09:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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TrevorC - 21 March 2012 09:13 PM

That book sounds like a good idea. I don’t even see it necessarily needing to be limited to only one version, there could be many such books perhaps? Of course if it was well thought out and done with care, perhaps having one standard book would help, to have a go to book. I could see it going either way.

Yes, but many reference book on fundamental Humanist truths creates a problem. There are many excellent books available by individual authors. But it would be impractical to carry a suitcase full of books when attending a lecture or an event where the wisdom of those authors may be cited.
The beauty of a single book is its portability and consistency. How easy is it to use the bible? It is a library of books in itself, with names of authors, chapters, and pertinent verse.  Therein lies the power of the bible, it is consistent (even if false) and it can be taken anywhere. Every motel has one in the drawer. I am looking for a book than can be placed alongside the bible as an alternative reference to morals, values and ethics.

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Posted: 22 March 2012 04:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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That makes sense. Let me know when it’s out.

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