Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sorry about your loss, wheres the restroom?

When someone dies they have a visitation followed by the funeral. Then afterward everyone usually ends up at a church or someones house for green bean casseroles, ham sandwiches, deserts, chips and a barrage of 2-liter sodas.

Death doesn't care if someone is a Christian or an Atheist. And green bean casseroles will give anyone the runs. So what are the differences if any between an Atheist funeral and a Christian funeral?

If you talk to most Christian Preachers they will tell you that they never feel comfortable doing a funeral for someone who wasn't a Believer. It's hard for them to be encouraging or to comfort the dead persons family and friends.

The Apostle Paul tells the Thessalonian church that it's OK to grieve for those Christian loved ones we have lost. (Grieving is normal), but he says not to grieve like those who have no hope. I've heard or read that verse many times. I've heard it at many funerals as well. For a Christian, I understand it's meaning. But I never thought about what it might mean to those who don't believe they will ever see those dead people ever again?

1 Thessalonians 4:13 brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who have fallen asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.

What does this verse mean to you if anything?

Thanks, feeno


  1. It means Paul was a jerk.

    If I were a Christian, I would mourn a non-believer twice over. How could you not have sympathy for a soul in hell? It doesn't matter that the person "did it to themself" or "deserved" it, the idea is still very depressing, especially if you were close to that person.

    If anything, you ought not mourn dead Christians, because they're in heaven. That's way better than this place.

    Clearly, the message is: distance yourself from the non-believers, do not pity the hellbound, for they are evil and their absence on Earth is a blessing.

    Strange... because Jesus hung out with sinners and brought people back to life who did not even believe in him.

    Like I said: Paul was a jerk.

  2. 'Sup Geenks

    Paul certainly would be a jerk if he meant we shouldn't mourn over the "hellbound". However, he's not saying that.

    Maybe he should have just said: mourn until your hearts content, but don't forget you will see them again. It was Paul who also told the Corinthians this "To be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord".

    Most Christians do mourn over the "hellbound" more than fellow Believers for the reasons you have mentioned. That's why most Preachers will struggle at a lost persons funeral. At a Christians funeral they can at least take solace in the fact that the Christian is now with the Lord.

    be right back, feeno

  3. Maybe this will help?

    I once heard a story about a man and his son and his son's friend who went on a deep sea fishing trip together. The man loved his son very much. The man and his son were both Christians. The boys friend was not. So when the boat hit rough waters and tossed the kids overboard the dad threw the only life preserver on the ship to his sons friend even tho he knew it would mean his son would drown.


  4. I lost the last of my grandparents a couple of months ago. Alzheimer's hadn't left her with much, so there was a general sense of relief.

    Anyway, she wasn't religious, and nor was her late husband or her sons. Her one daughter was, but her eldest son (my father) arranged the funeral and gave most of the eulogy. The funeral director made one token mention of God. The rest was all about Granny herself: the incredible life she had led in India, Scotland and Australia, and just enough mention of her final illness to impress that it was over.

    That's where the comfort came from, and that's what preachers need to emphasise if they have to do non-religious funerals: the short-term reassurance that the deceased no longer suffer from whatever ailed them, and the greater celebration of their lives as a whole.

    The preachers may personally think that the deceased are now in hell, but their funerals are a time for them to keep that opinion to themselves.

  5. LX

    Sorry about your Granny. And I agree with everything you wrote.


  6. Hey All!

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  7. Say now! That's not so bad, is it? Yes, it is wee tiny, but it does help "flesh me out" a bit.

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    That explains a lot, doesn't it?


  8. I have been to Jewish funerals, and I actually liked them. They take awhile, but you walk out feeling as though you actually learned more about the life of the person. They start with your life, and all of the really important people in your life are the ones who provide the narrative. The more orthodox, the more talk about God.

    I have a question Feeno.... Why would a non believer want a Preacher to bury them? I really do not get that. If I died, I would not want my partner to get anyone religious to do the service. What would be the point?

  9. I wish I could donate my body to cannibals or necrophiliacs, you know, so I can still bring joy to others even in death. Damn laws... you know you also can't have a Tibetan sky funeral, either? "Land of the free" my ass.

  10. Honestly, Paul's message holds no meaning for me.

    I have lived in a predominantly Buddhist culture for six years now, and Buddhism is an ancestral religion focused on death. The funeral rights, the grieving passage, and the closure is so much more fulfilling than in Christianity.

    This doesn't mean it's better, just better suited to help people with the loss of a loved one. But I'd guess you'd have to experience it for yourself to see what I mean when I say it offers better closure and leaves you on better terms than when you began.

    With Christianity there is always this expectation to see the loved one again in heaven, or not, if they go to hell. That can be stressful for those who lost an extremely close partner, or child, knowing they are, in fact, *not going to see them again.

    Buddhism doesn't add such meaningless stress to the grief of the bereaved. It honestly has no need to lord such a contemptible threat over people's heads. It's about rights of passage, and learning to move on, and accepting the natural fact of death. It's not about trying to dodge the inevitable bullet.

    Paul was wrong--Christianity offers the one scenario where you would have no choice but to grieve as if there were no hope.

    Sad irony.

  11. I have a dear close friend who is dieing of cancer. He and his wife (of 40+ years) are probably the only atheists I know personally.
    We (my Christian girlfriend and I) stop in and help out and visit him several times a week. He has been pretty much bedridden for the past couple months and is half the man he was.

    I have no idea what the funeral will be like. I don't know if his wife will enlist the services of a minister or not. We do odd and inconsistent things in the times of personal crises.

    Personally, when I was a Christian, I feared death so much more than I do now as an atheist.

    As for the verse - "brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who have fallen asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope."

    If I remember correctly, the Jews didn't have an after-life. There was no old testament heaven or after-life until perhaps the book of Danial...I think. So, with regard to belief, it was a fairly recent development when Thessalonians was written.

    I guess my point is, I don't see myself as having "no hope" when I die. I see myself as not surrendering to "false hope" before I die.

    Yes, I admit that the notion of an afterlife, and seeing deceased loved ones again, is appealing, magical, and fun to ponder, but daydreaming about winning the lottery or being able to jump off the roof and fly has all those qualities also.
    I can't help but be realistic, so I don't live my life based on wishful thinking.

  12. Yes, I see death so differently now that I have become an atheist. That is it, so you better make sure that you have a good life while you are here. There is no way I would have a service done by a Minister, there is no afterlife. Jewish people do not believe in it either, but they do believe that when their Messiah returns, they will all come back from the dead. I would prefer to be cremated and have those who loved me have a day where they were happy for my life.....

    Paul has no bearing for me either.

  13. I never liked the, "this is it, enjoy it while you can" mindset. It just seems awfully susceptible to selfishness, even if it's not the intended or most common result. There is just more to life than hedonism (though frankly, I see far more Christians living lives of material excess than I do atheists).

    I think you should strive for immortality, and the only way to do that as an atheist is to do things worth remembering, to touch people's lives in a way they cannot forget, to leave a lasting legacy that outlives your frail body. You don't have to be a celebrity, either, you could something as simple as creating offspring who also make a meaningful and positive difference in the your small corner of the world.

    *Cue TMC telling me I shouldn't care about anything*

  14. Ginx- I agree with you there, and that is kinda what I was getting at. My days of hedonism are in the past.... unfortunately. LOL. And, I totally see WAY more Christians enjoying the riches of heavens on earth more than atheists. Everyone I know who is Christian lives more in tune with the material comforts of Earth than I do....

    Be careful. Crusty will talk about Social Darwinism as evolution if you bring up reproduction.

  15. Not to worry Feeno, if there is a Heaven you can be sure you'll meet up with your ole cyber-pal El SteveO. I'll make a point of looking you up, I promise. My basis for making this prediction? None other than the wisdom of Billy Graham, who proclaimed that he believed that there would be Muslims, Buddhists, and even non-believers in Heaven. No doubt this is a very distressing perspective to some Christians, but they are wrong in there understanding of what constitutes salvation and who is going to be on that Glory Bound Train.

    Here is a quote extracted from a conversation that Billy had with Robert Schuller on who is going to Heaven.:

    "Well, Christianity and being a true believer, you know, I think there's the body of Christ which comes from all the Christian groups around the world, or outside the Christian groups. I think that everybody that loves Christ or knows Christ, whether they're conscious of it or not, they're members of the body of Christ. And I don't think that we're going to see a great sweeping revival that will turn the whole world to Christ at any time. What God is doing today is calling people out of the world for His name. Whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world, or the non-believing world, they are members of the body of Christ because they've been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts they need something that they don't have and they turn to the only light they have and I think they're saved and they're going to be with us in heaven."

    Sounds good to me!!!

    So do not lament the eternal fate of the non-believers, but rather look forward to a Cosmic reunion that is inclusive. Why not?

    Peace Out, Salvation Trout,

    The Reverend Sub Cee

  16. To be honest, Paul seems to be inconsistent on this. Why should Christians mourn at all over the deaths of other Christians? The person has just entered eternal bliss and happiness. If they have any love for the person at all, they should be ecstatic! Funerals should be filled with balloons and candy and happy music and dancing and beer. Maybe a clown on a unicycle too.

    But instead, we get Christian funerals which are just as drab and dreary as everyone else's funerals. And then of course there are some pastors who will turn the funeral into an occasion to preach the gospel to try to convert people. That always ticks me off.

    But whatever. Death is a natural part of life. To mourn death or to fear it is to mourn or fear the end of a good book.

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  18. Yep!

    Nobody gets to cheat death.

    But if you're a really slick negotiater you can cut some pretty sweet deals.


  19. Meh. If there'd been another one, you wouldn't have cared. Things are just quiet.

  20. It is just the Quiet before the next Storm...

  21. I got a question: if Jehovah's Witnesses believe only something like 144,000 people are going to get into heaven, why are they going door to door to try to get more people? There's already several million JW's... so a lot of them don't seem to realize they aren't going to make it...

  22. Ginx,

    As far as I recall, they believe that only 144,000 are going to go to heaven, but the rest that are believers will still be around on the new earth that God will recreate at the end times.