Catholic Lady Draws Ire for Saying that Alzheimer’s Disease is a ‘Purification’



About Edward Tarte

I am age 78, once a Catholic priest for five years (in the 1960's), then a math teacher for 44 years up to the present day. I became an atheist a few years ago. My hobbies are music and chess.

  • Guest

    Wow, a Catholic draws ire from a former Catholic turned atheist.  And?  That’s news how?  Oh, and my father had Alzheimers, and I didn’t see anything at all in what the lady said, simply a person dealing with things her own way.  Sorry to see the good former father can’t abide people dealing with things other than the way he does.  I, for one, and fine with it.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Yup. He’s a horrible person because you hold a different opinion. Nevermind that if you look at the video, a lot of other people hold that opinion as well. It can’t be offensive because YOU think it’s okay. 

      • Guest

        Then there are a bunch of people who seem to get bent out of shape because not everyone deals with things the way they say they should.  That’s up to them.  Me?  I say let folks deal with such things the way they must. 

        • Taxihorn

          Sure, deal with your feelings, but I don’t think it has to involve publicly trivializing the suffering of others with superstitious nonsense that presumes judgement and condemnation of Alzheimer’s victims by implying that they were somehow sullied or unworthy and in need of “purification”. The universe is indifferent and we have to deal. But if you need to peddle your nonsense in order to deal, maybe some of us have to call you on it for the same reason.

          • Guest

            I didn’t think anyone was trivializing anything.  I think that is how they saw it.  If atheists find comfort in the fact that all non-physical meaning is an illusion we create to make sense of our lives until we pass on our DNA, and eventually die and rot in the ground to be forgotten within a couple generations, that’s fine.  That’s their thing.  Hitler.  MLK.  All the same.  All ultimately void.  OK, that’s how they get by.  And if someone said that’s what it’s all about, I’d say, gee, I don’t see it that way, but I would not get bent out of shape.  And if that atheist dealt with something as horrible as Alzheimers in such a way (and Alzheimers is everything it’s cracked up to be), I’d say nothing other than I’m sorry for your loss, and I hope you find comfort in your own approach.

            • Bill

              It’s insulting to tell someone who lost someone they love in a horrible way that the disease was some favor by a loving god.  That’s just rude, stupid and completely wrong, and there’s no reason to respect a belief so outlandish. 

              What if I claim that my god sent the disease as a punishment because the deceased was an evil person in their heart? Can I post that in bereaved people’s comment threads and have it be a perfectly respectable belief, equal to all others? According to the logic you’ve established, I could.

              • Guest

                It can be just as insulting to tell a believer in God the opposite.  This is something people have to work through.  Not every issue, event, topic has to be a battle field to fight.  This is one that people who have shared in the common struggle should actually listen and understand.  We can disagree of course.  But getting all pissy about it?  Hardly.  That simply makes you a small person, not a smart one.

                • Stev84

                  Yes, because your religious feelings are more important than those of a grieving person. Yeah, right…

                • Guest

                  Or because your atheism is more important than a grieving person?

                • Bill

                   Where in the world do you see me pushing atheism on a grieving person?  The Catholic woman was the one who didn’t think of how devastating her words would be to a grieving person.

                  You’re the one defending the ignorant, horrible words of this person.

                  Don’t move the goalposts, guest! If you want to talk about who’s a small person wrapped in sanctimoniousness, look in the mirror.

            • Taxihorn

              That may be how they saw it, but I don’t see how they are not trivializing someone’s suffering. I don’t
              see how they are not assigning purpose to this suffering by negatively
              judging the afflicted. And I don’t see how Hitler and MLK are the same (they led very different lives which impacted the lives of others in very, very, very different ways long after they went to rot in the ground). And I don’t see why the everyday but oh so awesome physical reality seems to be denied meaning by yourself. And just like the indifferent universe, the atheist position on suffering is not exclusionary (as everyone has the same opportunity to suffer), so it seems too easy for you to not “get bent out of shape” by the atheist stance. There is so much irrationality in your post, I can only imagine the cognitive dissonance motivating you to post here. To help you see what your post looks like from an atheist perspective, perhaps you could imagine someone dealing with a combination of traditional and social pressures to take Santa Clause literally (rather than as a popular and accepted avatar of giving), and doing so by telling the bereaved that their suffering was a special gift from Santa to move their hopelessly naughty loved ones to the nice list. Grow up.

              • Guest

                You don’t see if because you don’t believe.  That’s fine.  If you don’t believe in a divine being, it’s impossible for it to make sense to you. 

                • Taxihorn

                  I understand your very human desire to take these fables literally. Stories can be very powerful, and can help us reflect upon ourselves and our relationships with others and our environment. But you dismiss or even fail to read my arguments because you have reduced the obviously powerful Christian stories to propaganda. With the language of propaganda, there is no reflection or deep understanding. You might as well be reading “Drink Coca-cola”. And without reflection upon the meaning of your statements, you are enabled to casually categorize people into groups, and explain their suffering as a purification for their barbaric behaviour. How does that not belittle our fellow humans? How does your use of Christian language not automatically split the world into believers and barbarians (a world perspective that is most certainly an impoverishment).

                • Bill

                   Hey, I’m not the one who believes in something that doesn’t exist, based on a book of fables compiled thousands of years ago! :)

                  I guess if I did, I’d be brainwa– I mean, have magical powers of understanding too!

                  In the end, only one of us is right. (hint: not you)

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                  “You don’t see if because you don’t believe.”

                  BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAaaaagh*cough cough*

                  In order to believe in BibleGod, I’d have to see him and have his identity verified with not only miracles (*cough*amputees*cough*) but rigorous scientific testing. After all, there are people who think that they, themselves, are god…

                • Keith Collyer

                  no, we don’t believe because we don’t see – can you tell the difference?

        • Pollo Diablo

          Then why are you ranting in this in response to the video? Ever consider that this may be Edward’s way of grieving? how come you’re getting bent out of shape about it?

    • Muggin15

      “That’s news how?” I’m sorry, I thought this was an atheism blog, not a news website. 

      • Guest

        I didn’t say it was news in the news media sense.  There is such a thing as news that doesn’t come from TVs or newspapers.

  • Sciteach6

    Like Edward, my mother’s struggle with Alzheimers played a part in my finally moving from agnostic to atheist. My grandfather also died of Alzheimers. After his death my mother frequently said that she didn’t want to die that way. I’m sure she prayed to her Presbyterian god to spare her from that one disease. I refuse to believe that a merciful god would allow my mother to die the one way she despised the most. I came to see that AD is a disease like any other, and seems to run somewhat in families. My mother just didn’t pick her parents well :)…Life is full of joy, pain, fear, love and death. It is just the way things are. There is no guiding force except genetics and nature.  Footnote: I too was raised Catholic. I was schooled by nuns and priests for 12 years.

  • viaten

    Good video.
    “… and I was once a catholic priest, I do understand…”, I’m guessing many catholics and the lady would say Edward never “truly” understood.

  • http://twitter.com/GoodTimeFrog GoodTimeFrog

    I used to think that the definition of “public relations” is the ability to justify anything; sadly, I’ve come to realize that “religion” has the very same definition….

  • Corey

    I wanted to cry and spit. People like Annie first anger me, where a cleansing of the planet of her types is the only way I see fit to save the human race. Yet also saddens me, knowing so many people suffer with horrible disease, families and loved ones who have to deal with them. I’m both angered and saddened people like Annie actually can remove themselves emotionally from the situation. It’s text book example of a ‘sociopath’.These are they types attracked to conservative dogma/ideology.

  • Sarah

    As atheists we might understand better than anyone how difficult it can be to relinquish the fantastical beliefs which may allow people to escape a sometimes painful reality. I suspect Annie’s words were her way of rationalizing the kind of suffering that Alzheimers can bring to an individual and their family – and if this was simply her way of coping with a personal loss, that would be perfectly fine. 

    I suspect most people would agree that there is no need for someone to interrupt a grieving religious family to tell them that there is no god and their loved one is simply gone.
    To the same end, I wish that religious people would recognize that it can be equally painful for grieving non-believers to hear “he’s in a better place now” or “you’ll see her again”. At best you are demonstrating to the non-believer that you don’t understand or respect their beliefs, and at worst you are taking the opportunity of their grief to attempt to sway them to your religion with promises of an afterlife. Neither of these is a compassionate response to grief.

  • Dianne L

    Thank you for your very moving video about Alzheimer’s. My dad died of Multiple Systems Atrophy, which has many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s, including the dementia. His sister also died of this, and, I tell you (as a recovered Catholic) the stripping of the minds of people is horrible. If I had ever believed in a god, I would have stopped because of this. Yes, I too know what the Catholic idiocy is about this, and I repudiate it. Thank you so much, Mr Tarte. Dianne Leonard, Berkeley, California

  • Christopher Allen-Poole

    To be frank, the only people who have any clue as to 

  • Ignatius Antioch

    As someone who suffers from mental illness of my own, I can attest to the fact that this type of opinion is something which can be seen in all strata of society. We are blamed because we are born (or even made) deformed. We are made into caricatures because we are not understood.

    Be that as it may, I do not find the religiosity of her statement condemnable. It is not the religion that is the problem: anyone with mental illness will have encountered people (religious and unreligious) who believe that the illness is the fault of the sick person or that the sick person could “just make themselves feel better.” The religious statement was merely a misguided attempt to put a happy face on something which really is a travesty.

  • digitalatheist

    Mr. Tarte,
        Thank you for this video. Believe it or not, my own mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s during the last few years of her life was the thing that finally pushed me from my creeping agnosticism in to the atheism that I would have reached anyway. As for Annie, and her comments–and I know it is rude of me–Fuck her and the horse she rode in on. If she dared to utter that line to me, I would probably strain every muscle in my body to keep from back-handing her in the mouth.

    In her life, my mother lived through being born premature (1928) and being kept at home the whole time because the hospital wasn’t any more equipped, then polio which she survived thanks to a back woods doc who read very damn paper about polio he could get his hands on, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart arrythmia, asthma, COPD, and seeing one of the 4 children she carried to full term die at 6 years old.

    Alzheimer’s is a horrid disease, and I’m glad (and sad) that my mother died this past Dec. 27th from pneumonia instead of the years she had ahead of her of losing herself. As is, just watching her in the early stages was gut wrenching.

    Again, Fuck Annie and the horse she rode in one for her “purification” bullshit. The same to people trying to defend her. My mother was a dyed in the wool believer in “god” and “christ” who had already survived more than any normal human should have to deal with. Crap like the “purification” crap spouted by numb-nuts is what it has always been.. bullshit to try to cope with nature. There is no “god”… that is what scares some people about atheism. They know deep down they that are fooling themselves, and the harder they try to fight it, the more they spew shit like “atheism is a ‘purification’”.

    Again Mr. Tarte, thanks for the video… I’m comforted to know that I’m not the only person who went through that fire.

  • SteveS

    As usual, I really enjoyed Edward’s video – keep them coming, please. But, I saw it a different way. Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease which strips away its victims memories, reason, and their personalities. If this is a purification as this woman seems to believe, what is the soul which ascends directly into heaven? What does it contain? It cannot be the sum total of the afflicted person’s memories and experiences. So is it some kind of wisp, devoid of all memory and knowledge? Does god magically restore its life experiences? Have there ever been documented sightings of a soul? Until you can produce one in a large public venue, like the god which is supposed to make them, I will presume souls do not exist and that disease and injury are simply the inevitable fate of our finite existence.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=678146756 Erik Gaghan

    Wow, I think Annie’s comments were sad and deluded, but the responses that she received, read by Mr. Tarte were just vicious and cruel. For a woman to spout off such ridiculous babble and still have me leave feeling bad for her…

    She could have been communicated with, maybe even grown to see a sliver of why her explanation is so twisted. Instead, it seems she was pounced on by a crowd to spiteful dicks.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OAUXAA362EXWLYVMPJOKLFB5JQ Incipient Madness

     Purification? Pretty weird because sexually inappropriate behavior is a symptom of Alzheimer’s. Ran into this myself when I was helping my friend care for his wife. I remember the day he threw away her car keys and sold her car. There were two occasions she made a sexual advance toward me. Obviously, I declined as I didn’t think this was a situation of meaningful consent. She even called me by her cousin’s name, which makes me wonder that she was up to back in the day. I never told her husband about this.

    People with Alzheimer’s are broken and sometimes get stuck in loops reliving their earlier lives. They are examples of what Nietzsche meant when he said “Your soul will be dead even before your body”.

  • Robster

    Perhaps, by now, one could, quite legitimaly conclude that this god being is a bit of a dud. Really, all this worship and prayin’ stuff fails quite measurably and would seem to suggest that jesus and his dad are dismall failures at the all powerful stuff and should consider another career direction. Surely that much at least, is blindingly obvious.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    *grumble* I had the oh-so-pleasant experience of watching my grandmother (on mom’s side) slowly lose herself and waste away to nothing. I’m a little bit upset at the implications arising from the statement that Alzheimer’s somehow “purifies” a person.  I will be in the Angry Dome.

    *stalks off with a growl*

  • me

    if this woman is right and a disease like alzheimer gets you into heaven automatically, no matter what you did or believed throughout your life, then its the ultimate unjust system. all the ppl who tried to do the right things, but wont get a free pass, are screwed. (not that i actually think there is something to it.)


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