Thursday, August 24, 2017

Science is my religion (or "your delivery sucks, man")

I am not anti god.  I am not anti religion.

Heaven or hell?  Not so much.

I don't praise god for good weather, getting into the college of one's choice, surviving a heart attack.  Neither do I blame god for tornadoes, losing the state championship, or childhood cancer.

Good shit happens, bad shit happens. People are great, or they suck.

There is life.  There is death.

To me, any religion involves drinking the Kool-Aid, which has never been my drink of choice.  I can swim but don't dunk myself in just any old river.

If religion is what floats your boat, gives you a reason for living, brings you comfort,  or helps you cope,  I'm fine with that.

Do I walk out during a Last Rites ritual? No. Do I act insensitivity when my patients ask for clergy, or say "God bless you?" Of course not.  If a patient says they will pray for me, I say "thank you".  If they ask me to pray with them, I will hold their hand.  I have even been known to say "God bless you" when someone sneezes.

I have no problem whatsoever with Nativity scenes on public town squares.  I think saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" is PC bullshit.

 I respect that this great nation was founded on Christian values.   I am fine with "one nation, under God", or "In God We Trust".  These mottos are important to the history of the US.  It's not with the Christian values that I have a problem, but with some so-called Christians.

I'm fine with talking to you (but will not debate) about your religious rituals, holidays, beliefs.  It's interesting to me.  I have a problem with people getting all judgey and assuming that theirs is the only point of view that is correct.  Usually it spills over into other aspects of their daily life and belief system, but that is a post for another day.  All I ask of anyone is that you not ram your religious beliefs up my ass.  Or want to chop off my head because I don't believe what you believe.  Mostly, I'm fine with whatever you believe as long as you keep it to yourself and don't come knocking on my door looking for donations or insist that I need saving.

Here is the point of my preamble.  One of my mother's close friends died.  At home, comfortably, with her family surrounding her.  Enviable.

I accompanied her to the funeral and the collation.  Mom is the only person I know who refers to the funeral after-party as such.  I had to look it up, thinking for sure she had misappropriated the word, but nope.  It's a word.  My mother is a Scrabble whiz at 85, and regularly kicks my ass.

If I did believe, I would probably thank god for  the end of the most excruciating homily of the most painful funeral service of my lifetime.

Her friend was a parishioner of St. John of the Autobahn, practically a four lane highway.  Very busy and difficult to park.  I hate to be late to shit, especially funerals.

 The priest was admittedly out of mothballs retirement for the Catholic Mass,  He did not know my mother's friend, and clearly never bothered to ask the family about her.  It would have helped enormously if he had even bothered to read the obituary.  Lots of good stuff there.  He could have extrapolated a minimum amount of information at least.  He never used her name.  Ever.  Not once.

It started badly.  "Funerals",  he intoned, "are the time when we should examine our relationship with God".

Um, well,  me and God broke up when I was 12 and he killed my only sister  took my newborn baby sister home to be an angel.  I just could never see a cold patch of earth in a place as dismal as a cemetery as a better place.  So consider my relationship examined, found wanting, and terminated.

The homily went on and on.  And on.  No mentions of my mother's friend, no friendly words of comfort for the family.  "You must live the life of the righteous, and the kingdom of heaven and eternal life in the house of the lord will be yours.  If you do not feed the hungry, house the homeless, and clothe the naked… will dwell forever in darkness and in sin. "

I distinctly heard a quiet, but audible, "What the fuck?', and had a moment of panic when I thought the words had  escaped my thought bubble and exited, unbidden, through my lips.  But no. It was the guy behind me, as gobsmacked as I.

Later, at the collation, the old ladies buzzed about what came to be known as the "Fire and Brimstone" incident.

I felt bad for the family, whose devout wife/mother/grandmother/aunt had done such lovely things in her lifetime had such a crummy sendoff from a church she loved.  Mom said, "She would have been pissed."


Jennifer Thorson said...

I had the same experience at my husband's grandfather's funeral. Said grandfather had been an active member of the parish for decades, but the priest was new. He spent a few minutes talking to a family member, acknowledged that he had spoken to the family member and then proceeded to lecture us about the need to pray for the deceased to get out of purgatory, and to pray for our own souls so we wouldn't go to hell.

I did not say "What the fuck!?" but I thought it pretty much nonstop throughout the homily.

Aesop said...

If I had been family for such an event, the shepherd's crook would have been the last thing Reverend Dimwit saw crossing his gaze before he was yanked, neckwardly, and obligingly and none-too-tenderly shoved outside into the great cold cruel world. Shoe-prints on the back of his vestment optional.

I would afterwards take the pulpit, refer to Dimwit as The Recently Departed, and then proceed to kick the after-party up an notch.

Funerals - for those of faith - are a time to thank God for the loan of the person in the box, and humbly ask him to take them back to himself. And for everyone, a time to rejoice at being able to share the moments of life we had with that person, and recall them fondly and lovingly.
If God or conscience comes gently knocking on someone's heart's door in consideration of their own mortality in the moment, well and good.
But I hardly think he ever needs the help of clergy present to step up to the plate as an ad hoc SWAT team to make forcible entry.
And to paraphrase Marshall Thibideaux in The Shootist, if any clergy had the impertinence during a eulogy to attempt such, "what I'll leave in the offering plate come Sunday won't pass for flowers!"

EDNurseasauras said...

Well said!