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Jason Highley
Jason Highley
2 months ago

That last paragraph really hits home. When my son died, and we had his funeral, first there was the litany of people who were helping plan the occasion in our grief. Most insisted it was not in fact a funeral, but a “celebration of life”. Nonsense. My son lived for only months. To focus on anything else but what Jesus accomplished for him on the cross would be to COMPLETELY distill his short life’s meaning down to only those months. Contrary to anyone who insisted was I “just doing what brings me comfort”, I had put a LOT of thought into the religious significance of his death. More than anyone else in that funeral service, I’d wager. Increasingly, in life as well as death, I see Christians as the only ones truly willing to stare confidently into the abyss and ask the hard question with clear eyes.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Jason Highley

I appreciate your thoughts, but I would say religious people are among those who LEAST accept the reality of death. A young baby who dies maybe doesn’t have a great deal of individual character, but I think one of the best recent cultural innovations is putting remembrance of the dead person front and centre of the funeral service. I have been involved and read at two humanist funerals which everyone appreciated. If you think some sort of intervention is needed to ensure the ‘soul’ (which doesn’t exist) of the deceased goes to Heaven, you will no doubt prioritise holding an impersonal, purely religious service, but most of us are not believers and this doesn’t apply.

We find it psychologically difficult to contemplate our deaths, which we are aware of but can easy deny on some level, and this puts us apart from any animal. This helps to explain the invention (ok, not conscious but nonetheless human created / evolved) religious idea of ‘eternal life’. It is also vanishingly unlikely that Christians have got this right, but everyone else plain wrong. ( I would say ‘unfortunately’ but I don’t regard the decline in literal Christian belief as a tragedy).

And on a banal level, doesn’t our possible future existence in a Heaven in anything like a form recognisable as our current beings, sound indescribably boring?! If we can’t BE bored, or experience the usual panoply of human emotions in Heaven, then it what meaningful way can it be said that we live on?

We don’t spend our time worrying about what happened BEFORE we were born, so we should not fear the – sorry – absolute extinction AFTER our death; that is the way to look at it. We remember fondly our loved ones and friends, but everyone gets personally forgotten in rather a short period of time, as any stroll round a graveyard will show.

Last edited 2 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Peter McLaughlin
Peter McLaughlin
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Many people believe they will find oblivion unbearable.

Michael K
Michael K
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Spoken like a true atheist. Most of the proud atheists I met have used the exact same strategy as you do, namely arguing in a supposedly neutral, logical and humane manner, but at the same time flat-out denying the existence of a soul or mentioning the “absolute fact” that nothing happens after death.
So you believe in nothing. Ok, we got that. No need to be proud of it though, I for one have never heard of anything great being achieved due to a lack of faith.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Yes indeed what is all the fuss about?
We’ve had enough practice. Every night when we close our eyes there is no certainty that we will ever open them again, and one day we won’t.

Adriana L
Adriana L
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Excellent and brave reply, given the readership.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

If heaven is perfect it cannot be boring! You are right that many people are quickly forgotten, dwelling on those who have died would benefit neither those who have died or those who live on.
It might be worth your looking at Pascal’s wager!

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 months ago
Reply to  Jason Highley

One of my daughters died as a baby without leaving the hospital. The religious significance of the funeral meant a lot to me. However, it was nearly two years later when I was reminded of David’s grief for his son while he was ill that ended when his son died, that I fully realised that she was in heaven.
I agree that this give us the confidence to stare death in the face.

R Wright
R Wright
2 months ago

I will never forgive those that brought in the bad law that stopped me and my father from carrying my gran’s coffin and forced us to leave her body alone in essentially an empty tent, to be dealt with out of sight like a victim of some medieval siege. The ritual of the funeral has been thrown to the wolves.

William Murphy
William Murphy
2 months ago

It takes a comedian to get really serious about death. But Barry Albin-Dyer’s wonderful book “Don’t drop the coffin” combines wickedly funny anecdotes about the funeral business with desperately sad and moving stories. Barry notes the three aspects of the modern way of handling a corpse – preservation, protection (against disease) and presentation. As one embalmer noted, his careful work gets buried or burnt in a few days. But that view of the body is someone’s last image of their loved one and will probably stay with them for ever.

A staff member at the new Cheltenham Crematorium told me about that aspect of tumours needing extra cremation. Also expensive metal inserts such as artificial hips can be recycled. Cheltenham is probably stuck with both its old and new crematoria as the now disused funeral Chapel in the same cemetery is such a fine example of its kind.

A more mundane consequence of rising fuel prices. In 2010 I went to a rare open day at our local crematorium and learned that their gas bill was £50,000 a year. God knows what it is going to be now. Barry noted the supreme idiocy and inhumanity of someone objecting to putting a child’s teddy bear in the coffin – it might create extra pollution when cremated. Oddly I have not yet seen anyone objecting to cremation as it might add to global warming. But I am sure that is coming.

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
2 months ago

A vibrator! Really, this actually happens? So this is what happens when society becomes “post Christian”.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

An atheist spin on ‘I will come again’?

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 months ago

A tale from the Raj: Some years ago the Indian authorities released a large number of ‘flesh eating’ turtles into the River Ganges to consume the plethora of partly scorched bodies that were polluting the place.
Unfortunately, it now appears this was not a howling success, as the ‘locals’ soon discovered that the Turtles were quite tasty, and quickly killed and ate most of them. I gather they are now looking for a less tasty carnivore.

Last edited 2 months ago by ARNAUD ALMARIC
Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
2 months ago

Cremulator? Come on. Surely not.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 months ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

Better known as the “crusher”. Many a Golf green is strewn with its handiwork.