Though most would think funerals are not exactly the best of times, I found this one to be mighty fine.
My Uncle passed away about a year ago. Always a pretty damn happy guy with an infectious laugh. As far as I am aware, he did not attend church, but was baptized Lutheran. The services were provided by a Catholic priest; my cousins had converted.
Here I am, sitting in the atheist corner with my few atheist family members, waiting for the crazy show to begin. The priest appears and the service starts.
He opens his mouth and I almost lost it. A Vietnamese priest, who was obviously born in Vietnam, with an unbelievable accent. Now, not picking on anyone’s ethnicity or background, he had a nice musical voice, but I can hardly understand what he is saying. The rest of the attendees respond at the correct time, (I guess); indoctrination runs deep. For myself, most of the one syllable words were not coherent, and the rest could have been the greatest parody of a funeral service ever.
Has anyone seen “Dude, Where’s My Car?” If you have, just think about them ordering Chinese, where the lady server keeps saying “and then?” Same sound as the priest, though perhaps not quite as annoying. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, just do this in your head. Select the middle note of any scale and say “and,” then grab the highest note and say “then,” then grab the lowest note and say “God.” Just killing me, can hardly keep the laughter inside.
One of the best services I’ve ever heard, probably not for the same reasons the theists would pick.
After the fun, went to a luncheon, more god talk, I just let it go. I’m not here to antagonize those who have suffered a loss, just try to be polite, and of course, noncommittal. Tough considering my oldest male cousin states to my two brothers and his brother, (and of course myself), that if his dad and my mother were “looking down” at the five of us together, they would be telling each other “there’s trouble.” I guess it was a joke. Not a sound was made after that statement. First I think, does he really mean this? Then I think, is he saying this just because he believes it to be the correct thing to say? All I am thinking is this guy is fucking nuts. I stay quiet. I would think that the majority of atheists do the same, it is family and you can hardly help but love them.
There was a part of the day though that really pissed me off. Really hard holding back my comments. A family member told me how her grandson walked into the room, but didn’t go up to the casket. She asked him why, he said he “just didn’t do that.” She told him that he had to go up there, he resisted, she took his hand and dragged him up there telling him, “you have to know how to do this.” She tells us how she told him, “all you have to do is kneel, make the sign of the cross, and say a prayer, privately if you wish.”
Now, this isn’t a boy, he’s in his late teens and probably has his own thoughts of god, or has no thoughts on god. No one that I am aware of ever asked him what he might believe, or not believe. Indoctrination at its best, since even if he is not a believer, he can now fake it and get along with society.
My comment was as follows. “I thought everyone paid their respects like I do. Walk up to the casket, say it’s about fucking time, spit and walk away.”
Now, being the militant atheist I am, I must confess that the above words setup camp in my mind, but I never let them leave the tent. Never made a sound, just gritting my teeth. Couldn’t get myself to aggravate the family, though they probably were expecting something like that from, in their terms, the black sheep of the family. Never had a chance to have a private moment with the young guy, because he definitely would have heard my thoughts.
Hate that, at times, I must retreat. Not from enemy fire, but because of my lack of need to rub salt into an open wound.
Basically, failed again.