Saturday, June 24


As of yesterday I've now been a pallbearer more often than I've been a member of a wedding, a milestone of sorts. I don't think I'll ever reach the related one, when the volume of prescribed medications overtakes the self-administered.

I don't think I bash Christians too often, mostly because I know some good and smart people who belong to that club, and I try to keep that in mind when I hear the worst coming out of that quarter. But their funerals--if they're all like the sort of stoically boring Midwestern Protestant numbers I get invited to--could make me reconsider. It's not so much that the blandishments don't match the situation, although around ten-fifteen minutes in I always start to feel like I'm floating on a cloud of pure nonsense, like watching a version of Peewee's Playhouse that isn't meant to be funny. It's that the sales pitch, or what must be, from the opposite perspective, the constant need for reassurance never seems to stop. The fact that someone you loved is DEAD is a reason to believe in God's bountiful love as revealed by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The fact that the loss hurts like hell is a reason to believe in God's bountiful love as revealed by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The answer to those eternal questions that plague your mind at times like these is...well, you're ahead of me by now. I mean, I believe in Gravity, but if I fall off a ladder I want painkillers, not some friendly words about the scientific method.

Sure, there's the Irish wake thing, but that just seems to substitute heavy drinking without the possibility of it evolving into sex, even regrettable sex, at some point.


Anonymous said...

"...heavy drinking without the possibility of it evolving into sex, even regrettable sex, at some point."

Sounds like marriage to me.

Or have I said too much?

Anonymous said...

Oh my, you write good.

I wonder if you felt the same spark of recognition as I did when I read what Pat Tillman's brother said at his memorial service.

"Pat isn't with God ... He's fucking dead. He wasn't religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he's fucking dead."

And you know, you still want to comfort him. Not with sex, regrettable or otherwise, but maybe with some drinking.


Anonymous said...

I'm posting anonymously because ya never know when someone in the family will stumble across this stuff. If you think run-of-the-mill Christian funerals are bad, you've never been to a 700 Club-style evangelical one. Same shitty, creepy rhetoric, but somehow worse. And the music.....ah, the music. My mom has sworn my brother and me to play "On the Wings of Eagles" (or something like that) at her funeral. Very. very. disturbing.

PA Action said...

But all that talk is the pain killer for the people who believe it. I know a woman whose daughter was murdered by a drug addict she (the daughter) was trying to help. When they caught him, he said that she was a user and she was killed in a deal gone bad. That got reported in the paper. It was a mess. All the mother could say to us during the whole thing from the murder through the trial was "God is good." I never heard her say anything else.

eRobin said...

Sorry - that PAAction person is me. I was in another name I'm not used to using and forgot. Grrrr.

Anonymous said...

My mother's funeral was ridiculous. The "700 Club" type minister turned it into a right-wing/family values, political pitch. I didn't know whether to laugh or puke.

Anonymous said...

Much to her credit and of high merit in my book was my other's decision to not ahve a funeral when she died. I loved presenting that information to everyone who asked, only to inquire in a very confrontational tone if they had any problem with that arrangement. Thanks for the spine, mom.

Anonymous said...

sorry for the typos... Is there no web tool that will save me from myself?

Anonymous said...

I'm 56 and there have been 14 funerals in my life in the past 15 months,including father,father-in-law and mom-in-law. But the most difficult was for a 45 y/o mother of a 6 y/o daughter. Kris was a very dear friend and my wife watched the daughter from the time she was 3 months old. Kris died of cancer from smoking. She had never been very religious,but facing death and trying to help her daughter, she started going to a_______
chruch in the neighborhood for the last few months of her life. The funeral had two ministers,one of whom mis-prounced Kris' name. The pair droned on for an HOUR!!! And they barely knew her!! It's a good thing I had some magic herb before I went. Actually, that's pretty much my timetable for dealing with any of those situations-puff first and when the puff wears off, it's time to leave.

Anonymous said...

At Christian funerals I am usually reminded of the scene of a minister standing in the ruins of a church where twenty people had just been killed by a tornado, claiming that "God's hand" had protected those who hadn't died. I guess it's good to be positive. Still, for those who truely believe, the idea that the loved one is "in a better place" making cookies for our arrival seems to be very comforting. The happiest funeral I've attended was at a convent for my aunt, the nun. It was as if she had just gotten a promotion and a corner office at headquarters.

punkinsmom said...

Funerals are for the living. If the living need reassurance that they get through the pearly gates or 20 virgins or whatever, let 'em have it. It might ease the pain they are suffering because their loved one is DEAD.

Anonymous said...

Damn, you're good. Why are you not writing professionally?

Most of the funerals I've been to (I'm only 23, so admittedly that's not very many) have been pretty decent, as far as funerals go. If it's someone you cared about, you're too distraught to care what somebody's saying, and it it's that relative you only half-knew with the fundy family, the wacky service is at least amusing in a fucking depressing, surreal way. They always sugar-coat the despair, like humans can get through life without despairing about something.

Weddings are the same way, strangely enough. It's like they have to qualify any happiness with constant reminders that they're happy about GOD! Because otherwise God won't invite them to the cool parties, or something.

Anonymous said...

The funerals are one thing, but you should try weddings and graduation services. At one Methodist wedding I attended, the preacher exhorted the couple to have sex often. The preacher used more flowery language, but it seemed that he was worried that with all the 'keep it in your pants' messages, some folks need reassurance that it's ok when they're married. It's just not a message that you usually get at a wedding...God Wants You To Fuck (if you're married)!

And the graduation at a "Christian Bible" school...I thought my eyes would never stop rolling. The worst part was when the speaker, the literature/history teacher who was retiring, said, "And at the beginning of this year, when we began studying the history of mankind, starting in the Garden of Eden..."

The best part about that graduation was when another speaker lamented the fact that 75-80% of those raised in evangelical households leave the faith (or at least the evangelicanism). That is the only statement at that whole ceremony that gave me hope in our future.

Lastly, my condolences, DR, and also my best wishes for your mother and her health.