Advertising Jesus

Charles Cowling

 

We’re always struck here at the GFG by the vilification which the unchurched can heap upon those in holy orders. It never seems to happen the other way round. Almost all secular funerals are notably inclusive and hospitable towards believers.

Now that we are living in a multifaith society where any funeral audience is likely to span the spectrum of beliefs, do faith groups have a duty to take cognizance and adjust? 

Here’s some vilification. The writer is describing her grandfather’s funeral:

Let me start by saying that I understand the role of religion at a funeral. I understand that the idea that death isn’t real and permanent is a comfort to a great many people. I’m not one of them, but I won’t begrudge solace to those who are.

That said, I despise, with all I am, the time at a funeral that is spent on advertising Jesus instead of on the dead and the survivors.

The pastor was perfunctory in those bits of service that are actually service to the mourners. He read the bits of Revelations that deal with heaven without much attempt to string them into coherence. He did not, thankfully, try to pretend that he knew anything about my grandfather.

For whatever reason, the pastor wasn’t content to simply reassure those of us who believed that my grandfather and grandmother were together again in heaven–or would be together after the resurrection. He was clearly up on his theology but uncomfortable getting that specific with us; he hinted instead. No, the pastor poured his energy into exhorting us all to believe as he did.

There were bits and bobs throughout the service, but the worst of it came as a sermon after the eulogies. It was very much an “Enough about the dead; let’s talk about Jesus” moment.

Me? I had to sit there and bite my tongue… And I had to do it at my grandfather’s funeral because selling Jesus to us all was more important than focusing on those of us who were mourning.

It was the single most selfish moment I’ve seen at a funeral, and the pastor didn’t have the excuse of being distraught.

Full text here.

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Richard RawlinsonMichaelgloriamundiBruce GortonBrandon Recent comment authors

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Richard Rawlinson
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Richard Rawlinson

Michael, you’re still not getting it are you? Unblinker those eyes, read the above and see who is insulting and who is debating.

Michael
Guest
Michael

Richard Rawlinson says “sorry if I’ve insulted.”

IF !

A more acceptable apology would be to say he was sorry for his insults.

gloriamundi
Guest

Aawww, shucks…

Richard Rawlinson
Guest
Richard Rawlinson

Gloria, I love you!!! 😀

To others, sorry if I’ve insulted. I criticise and expect it back. But never any hard feelings.

gloriamundi
Guest

Easy up, there, good people!

Richard and I agree on very little, but he would, I’m completely certain, never reverse the season’s greetings in such barbaric measure, nor threaten hell-fire as a recruitment tool – and another thing is also certain – he is not a dickhead! He also introspects – read his other posts and follow-up comments!

These matters raise hackles, but behind every post on the GFG is a lot of careful thought and sincere feeling.

Let’s argue, not insult.

(Richard, does that get me off a day or two in Purgatory…?)

Bruce Gorton
Guest
Bruce Gorton

Reading the thread Richard is, to put it bluntly, one of those guys who took “Merry Christmas” and changed its meaning from one of general good will, to “F**k you.”

He is the exact kind of guy who would give a funeral for someone who has committed suicide, and focus on how that somebody is going to hell.

And then wonder why everbody from all denominations refers to him as rickhead. All this evil PC, I mean, what is freedom if it is not to use someone’s grandfather’s coffin as a handy soapbox?

Brandon
Guest
Brandon

[blockquote]The unchurched do indeed heap vilification on the religious in a way that is rarely returned in equal measure. [/blockquote] This is serious? Every study/poll done on the matter shows atheists to be the most disliked, most mistrusted, least likely to be voted for, unacceptable marital partners for one’s kids, and so on and so forth. Of course, a bit of blog nastiness is [i]so[/i] far removed from what you likely experience in the real world that I guess I can see how you can perceive atheists as being ever so mean and nasty, but you should at least attempt… Read more »

Jason Thibeault
Guest

What I don’t get is “unchurched”. What about those of us who were thoroughly churched and deconverted after intellectual soul-searching and research into the religion in question? Why do we get short shrift and are merely “unchurched” or “atheistical”?

(psst– it’s “atheist”, which is ironical 😉 ).

Jafafa Hots
Guest

Stephanie,

Captive audience.

Stephanie Z
Guest

Hello, Richard. “Bitter, selfish granddaughter” here. I’d like to thank you for not heaping any of that vilification on atheists–or I would, if that’s what you’d actually done at any point in your comments. Did you read my post? If so, I’m confused by your assertions that I wanted the pastor to leave out a vital part of the ceremony, which was not a church ceremony, by the by. I noted that the music was chosen by my grandfather (though this was the only part of the ceremony that was; he wasn’t lucid much of the time near the end).… Read more »

Simon Ferrar
Guest

Newbie on the block.

First impressions on the topic.

Self-important,religious and secular hijacking.

First impressions on the posts.

Don’t appear to have as much time………..

Vituperation – like it – triple word score?!

Jonathan – Concise

Charles – I love you.

Rupert – I’m with you.

Richard – Saturday night (for heaven’s sake)!!!!!

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

You go to a church because you want religious ritual. If you want atheism, you don’t have to go anywhere.

You go to a funeral because you respect the person in the box.

What the fuck’s religion or atheism got to do with a funeral?

Richard Rawlinson
Guest
Richard Rawlinson

PS The initial question was: Now that we are living in a multifaith society where any funeral audience is likely to span the spectrum of beliefs, do faith groups have a duty to take cognizance and adjust?’ There’s a difference between multicultural society and pluralist society. In society, cultures do not all mix as one homogenous whole but they should be able to coexist peacefully with their different cultures respected by others. In the same way, I’m not sure a multifaith funeral can ever toaly appeal to all, especially if one sector is talking about the duty of the other… Read more »

Richard Rawlinson
Guest
Richard Rawlinson

Quokkagirl I’m not being offensive at all. Yes, I find some atheists overly aggressive to theists, and I find some liberals ironically censorious when it comes to debate. Not all though. And I’ve been neither aggressive nor censorious. Civil funerals are great for some as are religious funerals for others. Balanced enough for you? The debate here is about making the religious ones appeal more to the non-religious. I’ve simply pointed out a few obstacles, perhaps to be overcome through discussion. A religious funeral is not religious in order to “sell” religion to those forced to listen. That is simply… Read more »

Quokkagirl
Guest
Quokkagirl

I am a tolerant soul. Non combative by nature and I don’t want to gang up but Richard, you are delivering offensive offal from a golden platter. If you are going to be offensive, let’s have it – honestly and directly. And if you’re not meaning to be offensive to those of us with differing views, then you got it wrong. Any person who is privileged enough to be involved in the great rites of human passage has a duty of honour to his fellow man. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to… Read more »

Richard Rawlinson
Guest
Richard Rawlinson

Charles, a clarification: when I said above ‘godless event’ that was not intended in a derogatory way. God is love, in our hearts and everywhere. What I meant was that a civil funeral, by an atheist celebrant and primarily for an atheist audience, is unlikely to be as spiritually nourishing for a theist as a religious funeral by a priest. The theist may witness God in the atheists’ hospitality, love and compassion, but the God-centric liturgy is absent. That same God-centric liturgy is what might offend atheists at a religious funeral. In my first blog here I wrote: “…the civilised… Read more »

james showers
Guest

Your initial response to this post, Mr Rawlinson speaks volumes about your views on civil celebrancy. It is your use of language: ie “performance” ….. “water it down to be palatable …” and the implication that a civil celebrant is driven by “consumer market forces”.
Such strong and unacknowledged belittling from your smiling face jars with my sense of ‘fun’ in this debate.
And, I do hope you do not cloak the time honoured and continuing multiple acts of atrocity that have been conducted in the name of religion as ‘revisionist propoganda’?

Richard Rawlinson
Guest
Richard Rawlinson

Hi Charles Could there be more vituperation among unbelievers towards priests when conducting funerals than there is at weddings because of the very different natures of each ceremony? Unbelievers witnessing the marriage vows of a couple may find aspects of the sacrament baffling but it’s nevertheless a happy occasion. Could the traumatic nature of confronting death perhaps lead to less tolerance towards the priest with his duty-bound focus on an afterlife with God? Some may object to being served what they perceive to be false hope of eternal salvation if this is deemed irrelevant to their lives, and their grieving… Read more »

David Holmes
Guest

Most clergymen I’ve heard officiating at funerals, do see it at least partly as a sales opportunity. And why not? They have a (usually) receptive audience, listening at what is for most of them, a time of thought and reflection.

If the family chose a religious service, then provoking thought about the chosen faith of the deceased is all part of the farewell. As a funeral director, I keep an open mind about all faiths and none.

Rupert Callender
Guest

Market forces? Consumers? Ugh Richard.

Richard Rawlinson
Guest
Richard Rawlinson

Hi Gloria Good to see you here too. Allow me to clarify a couple of points that jarred with you. I appreciate secular celebrants are fulfilled by fulfilling a need, and that financial reward is not the motivation of their service to society. By market forces, I mean many consumers demand a secular funeral, and celebrants adapt their service to their wishes in a way that liturgy-bound priests cannot. Second, we part ways when you say sticking to the prescribed ritual is more ‘concerned with recruitment’ than showing ‘love and compassion for everyone in front of him’. I needn’t expand… Read more »

Richard Rawlinson
Guest
Richard Rawlinson

Hi Charles What fun to be debating with you! I agree it’s hospitable to acknowledge one is addressing a diverse audience of believers, non-believers and inbetweeners. It’s also a pragmatic act that’s likely to make all leave feeling they’ve been included in the send-off of the deceased known to them. I believe many priests do this already when they’re addressing the congregation in their own words before embarking on the liturgy: in their welcoming introduction and homily. However, the priest has been called on to celebrate the mass, presumably by the deceased and his/her family who believe in the power… Read more »

gloria mundi
Guest

In that case Charles, please do so regularly, since you write so humanely, calmly and sensibly. I’m surprised at Richard describing someone who was deeply upset as “bitter and selfish,”and her anger as “atheistical,” as though that were a different sort of anger, perhaps a less worthy sort? How would you feel if you felt, rightly or wrongly, that a family member’s funeral had been distorted and railroaded? It seems to me that you slightly miss the point, Richard, which Charles captures rather well- the lady might have been fine with a religious ceremony, because it was her grandfather’s choice,… Read more »

Richard Rawlinson
Guest
Richard Rawlinson

Having read the full text, it seems to me the conflict of interest might be a combination of a poor communicator in the Lutheran pastor, and an bitter, selfish granddaughter venting her atheistic anger on a religious funeral chosen by her grandfather. The unchurched do indeed heap vilification on the religious in a way that is rarely returned in equal measure. People constantly libel and slander the Church out of willful ignorance and hateful bigotry. Child abuse is a distinctly Catholic evil that is less likely to occur in families or other religions. The war-time Pope was a Nazi sympathiser.… Read more »