October 28, 2010

A Tale of Two Funerals and an Skeptical Atheist

While, with my last post I briefly mentioned that there had been a couple deaths in my immediate family, I didn't really talk about them at all. I was saving it all for one post that will be a lot more intimate then my other posts (two parts). Now, while some of the specific memories have faded a few have stood out and those are the ones that I will talk about here.

In the past couple of weeks both my Grandpa's have passed away, and while they weren't in the most healthy of conditions, the sad fact remains that I will never get to see or enjoy being with them again, except in the memories that I can only roughly piece together. This is one time where I did wish the mind worked more like a video camera, because the assumptions my mind makes in the memories only takes me further away from them.

I guess a chronological order is the best way to deal with everything I'll have to say, but I'll have to provide a little context for everything to make sense. For anyone who reads my blog or noticed the big red A on the side bar they probably realized that I'm an atheist, but this post will leave no doubts of that. While, my personal atheism may have been slightly understated, my skepticism surrounding issues that have no evidence or where the evidence points agianst has been loud and upfront.

Thus I will begin with the death of Grandpa Charlie. Now the death itself, while a sad occasion and unfortunate circumstance, it was better then what he was enduring in his day to day life. So for that I reason I wasn't too saddened by the passing. My brother flew home, and my fathers brothers/sisters got together to make the necessary arrangements.

It was during this process that it was suggested that I could read a passage. I pretty sure could could guess the source of the passage, but I don't think they would have liked the verses that I would have picked out if they really forced me to read.

These are courtesy of Dumb Shit the Bible Says:

"So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son."
— 2 Kings 6:29

So why not boil Grandpa up and make some soup for the masses? or How about?

"From there Elisha went up to Bethel. While he was on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him. 'Go up, baldhead,' they shouted, 'go up, baldhead!'"

"The prophet turned and saw them, and he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the children to pieces."
— 2 Kings 2:23-24
Good thing my Grandpa had all his hair or the she-bears might have came to the funeral, but I could also go with the always classic. 

"And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished."

"Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money."
— Exodus 21:20-21

Not that I really would read those at a funeral, I wouldn't want to take the emphasis away from the person who is being remembered. That being said, I did flatly refused to read anything from the bible and didn't want to really participate in a religious ceremony, as I personally don't want to endorse or complicity endorse any religion as they cherish counter-intuitive beliefs that go agianst evidence and reason.

So I didn't have to read anything, and the wake went fine. Lots of hand shaking, while hearing how much I look like this uncle, that cousin, and even a few more distant relatives. Nothing really to eventful happened until the next day.

The day of the funeral came and I had mixed emotions, I knew that what was going to take place was something I didn't believe in. Not only that, I also knew there would also be lecturing and different varieties of thumping the bible, but I'd couldn't recall going to a funeral before so I wasn't exactly sure what was in store for me.

We gathered at 9 in the morning at the funeral home and shook a few more hands that weren't able to make it the day before. Then everyone who wasn't part of the very immediate family were ushered out and a older lady in a white robe came in. She made some small talk, then said a prayer and there was a moment of silence. During which everyone put there head down, bowed and closed their eyes. I bowed my head too, with the respect and appropriateness that the situation called for.

Family, by family we were ushered into the funeral home's chapel. My family was first, but there was just enough of us so that I could hide in anonymity in the corner of the next row. I sat there with the family of my dads brother and watched as the chapel slowly filled up.

Then it started. 45 minutes of singing, dancing and clapping for Jesus. I was called a sheep and told that Charlie would now be living with God. The lasting memories of the person's life took a backseat to the supposed spiritual journey that had been taking place. I could not sing Amazing Grace, because unlike the other wretched people I hadn't been lost, nor was I blind to what was going on.

My eyes were all to open. Instead of the sadness of the occasion, I felt the unease of being different than everyone else, and the bitterness of being preached at left a sour taste in my mouth for the remained of the day. I didn't say much as we drove to the graveyard, but I knew that, that would be the last funeral service of that kind I would be apart of. Where was the celebration of who the person was? What had they accomplished? All that took it's place was some lady talking who had no idea who he was, yet she was smiling the whole time. She could smile and tell me what happened after death, but so could my 5 year old cousin, and at least he would have had some insight from spending a Christmas with the man before.

I said little the whole day, and knew that I was the only one who had any of those kind of feelings. I couldn't stomach the sandwiches, crackers and desserts. The commonality that exists between families and the need to find out what someone else is doing because they are related to you never really appealed to me anyway, so for the most part I stood alone and thought. 

Yet, this was only be beginning....part two will tell the rest of my story.

Thanks for reading,
-the moral skeptic

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