Who Should Go to Funerals?

I have had several dear friends and family die over the years and I have attended several funerals. Some folks showed up at the funerals who, though nearby, never visited the dead for many years — for complicated reasons. Some folks showed up who disliked the deceased but felt socially obliged to appear. Some folks were dragged along as the spouse or children of those visiting. Point is, many these folks either don’t want to be there or are there for ulterior motives. But most of them will find something polite to say and not expose their real feelings about the deceased. Films have been made exposing this circus — one of my favorites by Osōshiki (“The Funeral”) a 1984 Japanese film.  Can you think of others?

Christopher Hitchens has left us. He will be deeply missed. I heard some Christians today paying him “respect” saying they loved the fact that he was brave enough to say what he believed. Yet they also confessed that they believed that Christopher was now “burning in a lake of fire, or rotting in hell or some such horrible, well-deserved, tortuous penalty for his non-belief”. My question? Should they come to the funeral — or in this case, is it odd for them to be posting a few compliments of some aspect of Hitchens’ personality. Or, for reasons I allude to above, should they just stay away from the funeral. Are these social lies useful in greasing society or should someone yell out that the king has no clothes when this happens?

38 Comments

Filed under Philosophy & Religion

38 responses to “Who Should Go to Funerals?

  1. I agree that in many circumstances attending the funeral of an estranged acquaintance might be inappropriate, or at the very least disingenuous. It all depends on the history. In some cases, estrangement has to do with the bad blood caused by one specific event that two people are not able to move beyond. (He stole my wife; She divorced me; he sued our mom, etc.) In this case, it is a little hard to accept a person showing up at the funeral and “making nice” with a corpse when he had, say, a decade to address the issue when his enemy was still alive. in other cases, the conflict may have more to do with a general sense of unease around the person. They’re a “threat” in some way. In this case, I am potentially more sympathetic to “attending the funeral”.

    Hitchens’ persona was implicitly (or explicitly) threatening to Christians. Now that he is dead, he is literally no longer able to pose a threat. Same thing with Michael Jackson – he went from being held at cultural arm’s length to being fully embraced the moment he died, because at that moment he was no longer able to (allegedly) harm children. Note: I’m not comparing child abuse with atheism on moral grounds; only on “perception of threat” by critics.

    Of course the whole “afterlife” issue complicates matters in Hitchens’ case. I’ve never been especially critical of the “burning in hell” aspect of a Christian’s rhetorical play-book in the abstract. To me hell has everything to do with the type of person and how they argue with it. I find that many Christians seem to genuinely bristle at the notion of hell, and often play down that part of the package as the unfortunate baggage of an otherwise good deal they’re trying to sell. Others can barely contain their self-righteous schadenfreude when they speak of what is in store for nonbelievers. You know, they raise their eyebrows, cock their head and give that pursed-lipped “isn’t-it-so-sad” nod with a twinkle in their eye. I am a lot more sympathetic to the former type being warm to Hitchens now than the latter.

  2. Hitchens posed no threat to me or my convictions. What he did do was provide for me an opportunity to gain an honest civil perspective — though politely vitrioloc — from an Atheist of noteriety other than his atheism. Hitchens was a respected journalist and op-ed contributer for recognized media sources. Most other atheists are mere philosophy professors selling books, or washed up biologists trying to stay relevant content mocking from an insulated distance, and are otherwise irrelevant. But Hitchens was actually relevant to society aside from his atheism and books to people who had no interest in his theology.

    I wrote my “tribute” to him because I had personally interacted with his ideas. They did have some effect on me even if it was not his desired effect. I have read his books, I have written on his ideas, I have read his columns. Why should I recuse myself from offering a condolence for his character that I appreciated? Must I adore the man or else stay silent?

    I find it cynical to sneer at the Christians who do offer a condolence simply because they believe the man will answer his Maker without redemption. Respect enables me and others to offer politeness and condolence without personal unanimous concurance.

  3. CRL

    For most funerals, the question of who should attend is determined by culture. For instance, in Irish families, it is not just allowable, but obligatory to attend your friend’s cousin’s brother-in-law’s great-aunt’s funeral, in order to support your friend who is supporting her cousin who is supporting his brother-in-law who is mourning his great aunt. A slight exaggeration, perhaps, but I certainly have been to quite a few funerals for distant relatives/friends of grandparents/etc. whom I had never met, and had heard of approximately twice. For a police officer or firefighter, even if not killed in duty, the “ridiculousness of relationship which necessitates funeral attendance” threshold gets even higher. The end result of which is that Irish funerals are essentially family reunions, since so small a fraction of those in attendance actually knew the deceased that there’s really no reason to be sad.

    As to celebrity funerals: it is easier to eulogize in death than to praise in life. Praising the character of a living Christopher Hitchens comes dangerously close to praising atheism. In death, he is no longer a threat. Should they come to the funeral? Sure, why not. If they truly respected him the whole time, it is truly their right (and perhaps their duty.) A few kind words from the opposition will do well to remind us of the importance of respect and courtesy in debate. If not, insincere good manners are not the most harmful thing in the world.

  4. Jen

    I suppose the question we have to ask is, “What would Jesus do?”

    I’m kidding. I have to agree with CRL that attending a funeral out of insincere civility doesn’t do a whole lot of damage. Attending as a heckler may stir up some anger as well as disrupt a natural moment of mourning, but it would do little else than reveal the character of the heckler.

  5. I feel that funerals should be limited to those who had a genuine bond with the deceased. It is they who will be mourning.

    “Yet they also confessed that they believed that Christopher was now “burning in a lake of fire, or rotting in hell or some such horrible, well-deserved, tortuous penalty for his non-belief”.”

    As a side note, even Rick Warren was not above such comments about Hitchens’ death.

    http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/homophobe-pastor-rick-warren-tweets-on-hitchens-death-twitter-responds/politics/2011/12/16/31952

  6. @Sab,
    I take it you’re looking at this from a utilitarian point of view, more or less?

    I think there is a feeling of social obligation involved for sure, even if they do ‘go to the funeral’ with a mixed bag of motivations. For that reason, I totally endorse them expressing their mixed feelings on it. It gives me more clues on how to read them and know what their motivations actually are.

    Whether I call them on that mixed bag or make a read on their mixed signals, well that depends on how threatening or trustworthy I find them…

    @Brandon,
    “Now that he is dead, he is literally no longer able to pose a threat.”

    🙂 I say this with tongue-in-cheek, but let’s let history decide. Lots of individuals in history have lost control over their legacy and social impact after their demise. Long-range consequences can get weird, especially when it comes to writers or written works.

  7. I’m not having a funeral – just so people don’t have to make this decision.
    People either love me or hate me – there are, to my knowledge, no people in the middle ground. I don’t what the haters there, I don’t want the lovers to be intimidated or disturbed by the haters, so therefore no funeral.
    I shall, I trust, be remembered in small intimate gatherings where people will say things like, “He would have had said…” and then they’ll have a laugh at my expense.
    That’s remembrance enough for me.

  8. Max

    I know the question of the post is more general, but its direct target is implicit. Should Christians be saying nice things about Hitchens at this time when they really think he is damned for all eternity? I have to defer to WWHS (What Would Hitchens Say)? I think it’s obvious he would say that anyone has any right to say any damn stupid thing they please as long as he gets his opportunity to rebut them. Since this is not allowable under the present terms of the debate I believe they should maintain a respectful silence, or else make no claims of respect for the man whatsoever. Hitchens would probably be happier if his Christian opponents (whom he was pleased to consider enemies) would eulogize him as he did the Rev. Falwell; “if you gave him an enema you could bury him in a matchbox.”

    Please, people, if you want to pay respect to Mr. Hitchens, say what you bloody well believe!

  9. @Brandon:
    Interesting thoughts about people being less of a threat when dead. Likewise, it is easier to idealize people after they die — heck, even deify them.

    @ John Barron:
    Nice attempts to cut on other atheists as mere philosophy professors or washed up biologists. Didn’t work.
    Christians who feel others deserve to burn in hell for not believing what they believe, deserve to be sneered at.

    @ CRL:
    When those who deserted my Mother in her time of need showed at her funeral 10 years after never visiting her, got an earful from me. I can not tolerate such hypocrisy.

    @ Jen:
    LOL. I agree that there is something to civility. But going to a funeral yet standing off in groups whispering about how terrible a person is, certainly should not be considered civility.

    @ Ahab:
    Ah, someone understood my perverse sentiments.

    @ Andrew:
    Sometimes funerals are a great place to call people at their games — they may not be open to hearing it as clearly at any other time.

    @ fester:
    May you be remembered well even before your funeral.

    @ Max:
    Ah, someone else who understands my torment. 🙂

  10. “Christians who feel others deserve to burn in hell for not believing what they believe, deserve to be sneered at.”

    That is not an accurate representation of our belief system. We know that God is perfectly just and will give to all whatever punishment they deserve if they don’t accept his extremely gracious terms and conditions. We acknowledge that we deserve the same punishment and are grateful for his grace.

    Re. sneering: If your worldview was true, then Darwinian evolution would be 100.000% responsible for our “false” belief in the evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and for our conversions from atheism (or other belief systems) to Christianity. There could be no other cause. Therefore, I’m not sure why you would do anything but nod your head and accept the inevitable results of your belief system.

  11. Max

    @eMatters:

    Re. sneering: If your worldview was true, then Darwinian evolution would be 100.000% responsible for our “false” belief in the evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and for our conversions from atheism (or other belief systems) to Christianity.

    You’re getting into the murky waters of free-will vs. determinism here. Natural selection doesn’t mean you are a robot. The fact that you have an erroneous belief is not in itself false, it’s an unfortunate truth. Evolution has created a brain that can reason and come to understand much of the context of the world it inhabits. It has also created a propensity towards delusion and fantasy. Those who believe in free-will would say that you can choose which you want to do. Evolution has created a brain in me that has a propensity to sneer at those who obtusely insist on making the second choice.

    We know that God is perfectly just and will give to all whatever punishment they deserve if they don’t accept his extremely gracious terms and conditions.

    You’re not from North Korea are you?

  12. “Evolution has created a brain in me that has a propensity to sneer at those who obtusely insist on making the second choice.”

    Apparently you haven’t evolved to realize that evolution, if the fantasy were true, would select for survivability, not for the ability to use logic or discern truth. So you wouldn’t have grounding for your moral claims or for your claims of logic or truth.

    You “think” you can reason but that thought may be false, and you’d have no reason to know it. You concede the propensity to delusion and fantasy, yet ignore the possibility that what you think is reason could actually delusion — even in your own worldview. Most delusional people don’t think they are delusional.

    I have yet to meet an atheist who lives consistently with his worldview. Most can’t go three sentences without contradicting it.

    The Christian worldview has a clear and rational explanation for the worldview of the atheist (e.g., Romans 1) and false religions, but the materialist has no explanation for his animosity towards religion, other than blaming evolution for his animosity against the religion that others adopted because of evolution.

    Yes, we both understand the concept of free will, but your worldview has to cheat to explain it.

  13. Max

    You “think” you can reason but that thought may be false, and you’d have no reason to know it.

    That’s why we look for evidence. I concede I may have no idea what I’m talking about, but there is considerable evidence from numerous and diverse empirical sources that is in accordance with my general conclusions. You have one source that is highly suspect.

    The Christian worldview has a clear and rational explanation for the worldview of the atheist (e.g., Romans 1) and false religions, but the materialist has no explanation for his animosity towards religion

    There’s nothing rational about clinging to a few words in an ancient text translated many times from the original language and originating from an author of highly questionable credentials. Where did Dr. Romans get his or her education? Is he or she peer-reviewed?

    I do have an explanation for my animosity towards religion. It’s incredibly dangerous as it provides a foundation for bigotry, intolerance and senseless war. My atheism doesn’t make me want to invade any countries or bomb any clinics. All it does is encourage me to think objectively.

  14. “That’s why we look for evidence. ”

    Straw man. We look for evidence, and found it. Please spare me the false dichotomy of religion vs. science, btw.

    “I concede I may have no idea what I’m talking about, but there is considerable evidence from numerous and diverse empirical sources that is in accordance with my general conclusions.”

    Thanks for the concession. Not sure if you realize the circularity of your reasoning.

    “You have one source that is highly suspect.”

    And we say some of your sources are highly suspect. That proves nothing.

    “There’s nothing rational about clinging to a few words in an ancient text”

    The age of a document has no necessary correlation to its accuracy. One would expect directives from God to be old and timeless.

    “translated many times from the original language”

    I think we found part of the problem. You don’t appear to be very familiar with the transmission process of these texts. Go pick up any Bible and the odds are near 100% that it was translated once from the original language. Yes, it was copied many times, but even atheist textual critics like Bart Ehrman will argue strenuously about what the originals really said. When you have thousands of manuscripts throughout the centuries and throughout the world you can be very confident of what the originals said. Even the most extreme skeptic would realize the impossibility of editing all those copies.

    “and originating from an author of highly questionable credentials. Where did Dr. Romans get his or her education? Is he or she peer-reviewed?”

    Interestingly, even atheist historians of the time period readily concede that the Apostle Paul was a real person in history who went from zealously persecuting the early church to being its greatest advocate, and that he wrote the book of Romans. I highly encourage you to read it and then ask yourself if he comes across as someone who was well educated or not.

    I also encourage you to study more of what you are criticizing. I say this in a completely snark-free way, but I could challenge Christianity better than you are doing here.

    “I do have an explanation for my animosity towards religion. It’s incredibly dangerous as it provides a foundation for bigotry, intolerance and senseless war.”

    But your atheism doesn’t provide any grounding for why those things are wrong. The people that do them obviously think they are in the right. Who are you to tell them otherwise?

    “My atheism doesn’t make me want to invade any countries or bomb any clinics. All it does is encourage me to think objectively.”

    Again, a straw man and false dichotomy. Christianity applauds critical thinking (Acts 17:11, 1 Thess. 5:21, worshiping God with your mind, etc.).

    And if you study history — or even current events — you’ll find plenty of misdeeds by atheists (USSR, China, N. Korea, etc.). If you are criticizing Islam, then I’m on board with you.

  15. “My atheism doesn’t make me want to invade any countries or bomb any clinics.”

    Your atheism also can’t ground any reasons not to do those things.

    And in fairness, you shouldn’t judge an ideology by those who violate its tenets. If you want to criticize Jesus, go ahead, but if people do the opposite of what He taught then you should criticize those people, not Jesus.

    If a follower of Max did the opposite of what you taught I doubt you’d appreciate it if I blamed you.

    Re. bombing clinics — I’m on the board of directors of a Crisis Pregnancy Center and I know a “few” pro-lifers and read a “few” pro-life blogs. Not one would ever condone bombing a clinic.

    Just curious — does your atheism make you want to protect the unborn human beings who are crushed and dismembered in those clinics just because they are currently unwanted by their parents? I know the scientific fact that a new human being is created at fertilization, so I’m too pro-science to be pro-choice.

  16. Max

    Your atheism also can’t ground any reasons not to do those things.

    This was the attitude that rightly enraged Hitchens and I completely understand why. It is our duty as free-thinking human beings to construct our own morality, not have it handed to us by a “superior” being or those who would claim to represent such a being. There is no reason to assume such a morality would be any less harmful to others’ well-being than one that comes from an ancient text. If anything, recently discovered knowledge of how the brain works should help to guide us to use our brains better to interact harmoniously without fellow sentient creatures.

    If you want to criticize Jesus

    I’ve got nothing against Jesus or the Buddha or any other spiritual leader who strove to teach people how to live more wholesome and harmonious lives. I think his teachings are great for the most part. It’s the mis-interpreters and zealots who followed who I have a bit of a problem with.

    Just curious — does your atheism make you want to protect the unborn human beings who are crushed and dismembered in those clinics just because they are currently unwanted by their parents?

    I empathize with all lifeforms who undergo needless suffering, including the unborn. I realize that there are innumerable complex factors that lead to human dilemmas such as that faced by a woman with an unwanted pregnancy and that all such cases must be analyzed individually, not by a blanket policy that assigns blame indiscriminately. That’s why I am in favor of education about abortion and contraception, not decrees rooted in ancient authority.

  17. “This was the attitude that rightly enraged Hitchens and I completely understand why. It is our duty as free-thinking human beings to construct our own morality,”

    Whoa, thanks for the concession speech! That was my point, and I usually see atheists try to rationalize away moral relativism. I sincerely appreciate your candor.

    “not have it handed to us by a “superior” being or those who would claim to represent such a being.”

    But the God-ordained morality vs. your personal opinions isn’t a question of which you prefer, but which is real.

    “There is no reason to assume such a morality would be any less harmful to others’ well-being than one that comes from an ancient text.”:

    False. The creator of the universe would be in a much better position than the created being. Whether you believe in a divine being is irrelevant to the obvious logic of that position.

    And again, trying to dismiss it as an “ancient text” proves nothing.

    “If anything, recently discovered knowledge of how the brain works should help to guide us to use our brains better to interact harmoniously without fellow sentient creatures.”

    Again, begging the question about your ability to discern truth and reason.

    “I’ve got nothing against Jesus or the Buddha or any other spiritual leader who strove to teach people how to live more wholesome and harmonious lives.”

    You have no grounding to assume those are universal moral goods.

    “I think his teachings are great for the most part. It’s the mis-interpreters and zealots who followed who I have a bit of a problem with.”

    I think that based on your other comments that the odds of you having any idea what Jesus really said are very, very low. I say that in a non-snarky way, and readily concede that many people who go to church know just as little about the Bible.

    I encourage all people to read the Bible carefully and not just throw around sound bites about it. I think you’ll find that Jesus was very “judgmental,” that He warned against Hell a lot, He said He was the only way to salvation, etc. You can go the politically correct route and say you like Jesus but not his followers, but it is intellectually dishonest unless you know what He really said.

    “I empathize with all lifeforms who undergo needless suffering, including the unborn.”

    Nothing personal, but your empathy does precious little for the 3,000+ innocent human beings who were destroyed today in the U.S. alone. If you really want to help I encourage you to tour a Crisis Pregnancy Center and consider making a donation.

    “I realize that there are innumerable complex factors that lead to human dilemmas such as that faced by a woman with an unwanted pregnancy and that all such cases must be analyzed individually, not by a blanket policy that assigns blame indiscriminately.”

    The reasons women have abortions are indeed psychologically complex: Economic pressure, greed, pressure from the father, pressure from her parents, etc.

    But you are confusing psychological complexity with moral simplicity: We don’t permit the killing of innocent human beings outside the womb for the reasons given for 99% of abortions (i.e., everything except to save the life of the mother), so there is no morally justifiable reason to kill those same innocent yet unwanted human beings inside the womb.

    I encourage you to look into Atheists for Life (they get one thing right!).

    “That’s why I am in favor of education about abortion and contraception, not decrees rooted in ancient authority.”

    Which ancient authority do you need to realize that you shouldn’t crush and dismember innocent yet unwanted human beings? If you want to know Jesus’ views I’ll be glad to share them, but pro-life reasoning is such a slam dunk that I don’t even need the Bible to refute any pro-abort argument you’ll find.

    P.S. I’m sure you realize that all your moral relativism will be ancient one day. Does that mean we can start dismissing it now? What is the shelf life of one’s made-up morality?

  18. Max

    I could challenge Christianity better than you are doing here.

    I invite you to try. I don’t have to try to explain and justify atheism. It is my lack of a belief in God. There is no evidence that a supreme being exists. It would be fascinating if there was evidence, but I’m rather relieved there isn’t. According to all the hype, it would mean I am not an independent entity in charge of my own destiny, but a slave pure and simple. If I didn’t behave according to the dictates of my master I would be severely punished for all eternity. I don’t believe I would find such a situation tolerable. In fact, I am quite certain I would strive to throw off my chains. What I would do is exactly the same as if no God existed. I would follow my conscience. If this monster devoured me, so be it. I would not honor such a tyrant with obedience.

  19. Let me see if I can summarize eMatters central points:

    (a) Atheist don’t accept our god-game so they deserve eternal torment.

    (b) Atheist knowledge (due to the human condition) is flimsy, self-deceptive, and relative. Without true knowledge they can’t have a basis for morality. Christians have Revelation which is true, absolute, stable knowledge.

    (c) Christians have the right Revelation and so their knowledge and morality are secure. All other revelations are lies. All interpretations that contradict my favorite interpretation are horrible mistakes at best or lies.

    (d) Empiricism and Revelation are both valid methods of knowledge. Revelation always trumps.

    (e) Read the Bible, it is magic, it will change you. You will see I am right. If not, then you are bound to hell. Sorry, sort of.

  20. “I don’t have to try to explain and justify atheism. It is my lack of a belief in God.”

    Seems kinda cowardly to parade around explaining and justifying your worldview then pulling up the drawbridge and insisting you don’t have to do so.

    “There is no evidence that a supreme being exists. It would be fascinating if there was evidence,”

    You are right, except for the teleological, cosmological, moral, historical, archaeological, etc. Seriously, that is the ultimate concession speech of atheists. When they try (and fail) to attack the evidence that is one thing, but to declare there is “no evidence” is laughable.

    “but I’m rather relieved there isn’t.”

    Again, I really appreciate your concessions on points like that. We agree that you don’t want to be accountable for your actions. But you can pretend all you want that you don’t have bosses/teachers/customers/police/etc. to be accountable to (depending where you are in life) but that doesn’t mean you aren’t.

    “According to all the hype, it would mean I am not an independent entity in charge of my own destiny, but a slave pure and simple.”

    Ah, but if you think more carefully you’ll realize, despite all the rationalizations, that naturalism is necessarily deterministic. You have allegedly evolved to a point where you think you have free will, but of course that is just molecules in motion.

    “If I didn’t behave according to the dictates of my master I would be severely punished for all eternity. I don’t believe I would find such a situation tolerable. In fact, I am quite certain I would strive to throw off my chains”

    You are welcome to live in a fantasy world where you think you can escape that accountability.

    “What I would do is exactly the same as if no God existed. I would follow my conscience. If this monster devoured me, so be it. I would not honor such a tyrant with obedience.”

    Right. And of course, as a created being of the God who created the universe and everything in it, from the stars down to the exquisite complexity of your DNA, that you’d be in the ideal position to judge your creator.

    Cheers.

  21. @ Sabio — wow, nice straw man. Nobody light a match!

    That was a great way to summarize my time here. I appreciate the opportunity to lay out all these facts and logic, as I’m confident that those truly searching for the truth might reconsider their stereotypes. It is illuminating that after this thread that the best you can do is to deliberately distort my views.

    I do appreciate you un-masking yourself of your faux desire to reason.

    I’ll leave you two to your echo chamber now. All the best to you, and I hope in your quieter moments you realize the folly of mocking those who in your view are merely doing what their molecules in motion would direct them to do. I also hope you’ll realize just what little you know about the worldview you are criticizing. It is a sad sign of our culture that people can repeat fallacious atheist bumper sticker slogans and think that it passes for dialog.

    What is most telling is that when I point out facts about the transmission of the Bible where you were in error there is no sense of you wanting to research it to prove me wrong — or worse yet, to confirm that I am right! Even Sabio must just resort to his pathetic straw man rather than actually learning about what he is criticizing.

    Eternity is a mighty long time, and your pride will vanish in an instant when you die, just as it did for Hitchens if he didn’t authentically repent and believe. All his bluster and talent means nothing to him now.

    Shaking your fists at God and sitting in judgment of him are silly in reality and even more so if your worldview was true.

    Romans 1:18-20 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

  22. @ ematters
    You are welcome for being allowed to try and evangelize here on my site.

    Labelling my comment “strawman” does not make it a “strawman”, no matter how loud you scream or how often you repeat yourself. My brief summaries of your epistemological claims are accurate enough to see behind their simplicity. You yell “strawman” all the time — I actually appreciate the image: For I do think your god is a bit a bunch of old clothing stuffed with unsubstantial fluff (straw).

    I am not shaking my fist at a god, and Max is not arguing against a creator god, we are illustrating the fictions you choose to enthusiastically embrace. Labeling them “god” is your method of trying to make your preferences holy and untouchable. We don’t buy into that game.

    Gee, getting back to the OP theme, I hope Hitchen’s is not disapproving my frankness as he rides about the solar system in his teapot.

  23. Damn – I thought I was watching fox news there for a moment!
    eMatters is really beating that drum…

    Why do Christians like him get so upset when you boil down their arguments?

    “What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.” – Christopher Hitchens

    He will be missed.

  24. “Neither logic nor sermons convince,:” says Whitman. All the arguing I do (& love it, how else get better and good?): I’m sure I’ve changed no mind-set nor felt mine budge. Anias Nin said ” I write each day with no hope and no despair” Knowing IT is something like throwing rice at rhinos, and expecting we will all hold on, hold tight to our piece of the elephant, we can appreciate, like Sisyphus the particular boulder we roll and don’t expect to rock the world.
    This is an impressive blog! :

  25. Mixed meta force not with standing

  26. CRL

    I guess what I was trying to say was that, when a funeral gets big enough, it doesn’t matter who goes, which is why I would be fine with such Christians going to Hitchen’s funeral.

  27. @ zqtx
    Many Christians get upset with simple restatements. That is because they want to cover their nonsense in verbosity. Of course, they will not like the characterization either but rarely will they say, “Sure, that is essentially right but I may say it like this.” And then offer an equally succinct summary.

    You will note that ematters did not address the points — because they were essentially accurate. His whole theology is base on the straw-stuffed epistemological platform of revelation and anecdotal data.

    BTW, I love the Hitchens quote.

    @ CRL
    Max, at comment 12/19/11 at 1:05, understood my focus of this post is really about fundamentalist Christians complimenting Hitchens on their blogs. I used the funeral analogy to get to my point.

    But you are right, at LARGE funerals, who care who shows — everyone is annoymous there. Maybe they should stay away from the wake, then! 🙂

    @ Sam
    Welcome, but I must warn you, I am not as tolerant as the Naked Pastor is on his site (though he scolds you constantly). I have commenting policies — please read them if you wish to participate here. Rambling, attempts to be cute and self-involved posts will be ignored at best, possibly deleted or spammed. Stay focused and be sure to write so that readers know what the heck you are talking about and focus on the post, not about whatever is bouncing through your head. Last warning. [Note to readers: I see Sam’s comments all over the Naked Pastor’s cartoon site]

  28. I read your policies last summer, Sabio, commented on them, and recall you
    saying they might well be overly restrictive and that you’d already
    revised. Cute and self-involved, manic and self-indulging–these kinds of descriptions could be seen as ad hominem which your policy prohibits, but I take them as well-intended and accurate. Pretty difficult to disquise the self-involved & indulgent, at least. That accusation stands across the board, however phrased.
    I notice you “troll” xtian blogs. I “troll” liberal and conservative, republican and democrat, fundamental and lapsed fundamental, atheist and theist,
    mainstream and universalist/unitarian. I believe in argument (“arg” – the shining,Jason and argonauts) as potentially edifying; sustained converse-action. How else get better and good. Naked Pastor pitches most of his blog–cartoon and commentary–in terms of good guys against all them bad guys, victims suffering all the victimizers and then tops it off with his commerce –buy my books and prints and originals. He doesn’t like it when I go there–and either comments colorfully or removes my post. I don’t blame him: it’s his House (as you call it)–or Inn. (Fools Rush: I confess to frequencing). You’re the regulator here. It’s a beautiful and impressive and eclectic blog.
    This has nothing to do with funerals and attendance, so already I am out of line.

  29. Yes, Sam. Suggestion: keep it succinct and focused — especially if you can’t stay on topic.

  30. You’re one to complain about staying on topic. You routinely visit my site and steer the discussion to where you think it should have been in the first place.

  31. I was responding to the topic of your reply, warning, and suggestion. Looking up your thread: much is not succinct. Focus: attention efficiency which generates and occludes massive attention deficiency which may also be potentially a contribution to the whole. I don’t go to funerals and neither me or my wife will “indulge” in one. So the issue of attendance is moot. Nevertheless: it is always interesting to see people’s views–their intensity, their focused inclusion and broad exclusion. A revelation, really–ongoing field study in media and message: what is said. And how.

  32. Yeah, I thought you’d jump on that one John.
    But I think a simple visit to “Naked Pastors” site will illustrate my point well. I ask questions, you respond. I don’t go on and on without someone discussing with me. I ask questions about assumptions behind your posts — they are very relevant and right on topic. Easy cure: Stop talking to me and I will stop visiting.

  33. Is it useful or fair to note and turn up the (descriptive here: non-judgmental) “hostility “that seems to float around this particular back & forth (as well as these theist/atheist blog threads in general? Note: whatever the accusation: the “other” can not be wrong, and of course, defends, explains–points out the rationale and if not good, at least intelligent, intentions..
    Is what I’m saying “on topic”? Well, not quite–more about the “media” then the “message.” Like husband & wife arguing and arguing over who took out the trash last. Wife finally say: “You know, this is not about the trash: it’s about the relationship.” Husband may agree, in which case: the converse action shifts up a level. Or he may disagree–in which case it continues yes I did, no I didn’t, yes, no, DID! NOT. Etc

  34. Max

    I find an interesting dynamic as I try to watch myself in the midst of these back-and-forths, particularly when I’m on a site like John Barron’s Christian blog. Quite often I begin by taking offense at something that seems particularly stupid and feel I must inform the writer of what a butthead they’re being. Then I realize it was my ego talking and I write something more apologetic. This sometimes results in a deeper engagement, but the egoistic self is always tempted, and often yields, and the discussion again becomes pointed and argumentative. About the time I feel I’ve conclusively made my point I walk away – for a while, until I’ve had time to reflect. Then, my better side may prevail and I attempt to harmonize my perspective with that of the other(s) with an understanding that we all have different outlooks in life, and it’s a good thing we do, else it would be pretty damn boring.

  35. I liked this line from a cracked.com article: “Last week, Hitchens — known for his intellect, eloquence and insufferable arrogance — achieved his life-long goal of becoming God by ceasing to exist.”

    But despite his pro’s and con’s to his admirers and detractors, I believe it is even more arrogant to say where he is in a metaphysical sense. To say he’s in hell is more arrogant than anything Hitchens wrote or said and puts the believer who states this in the place of God… which, if I remember correctly, wanting to be God is what caused the fall in the first place.

    We believers have learned nothing.

  36. I believe that funerals are for the loved ones left behind. If you did not love the deceased or were not an important part of his life, attending his funeral is either pointless or you are attending for selfish reasons.

    According to my answer from yesterday to the question, “Who is a Christian?” I also think that making statements about someone’s faith, non-faith, and destination in the afterlife or lack of one is not for others to decide.

    Hitchens knew what he believed and completed his journey. He knows where he is or where he is not. It is not for us to speculate and criticize when his friends and family are suffering a loss. Everyone is someone’s son, daughter, sister, brother, mother, father, etc. The world would be so much better if we all tried to remember that more often.. Including myself.

  37. Great comment Jessica. Thanx

  38. Yes well said Jessica.) Time to time i also find it useful to re-prioritize with the knowledge that our own mortal lives may be cut short at any moment. Also goes for those that we love.

Please share your opinions!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s