Atheist Funerals

Hey folks. I’m back. Give me a bit to get my feet under me, and posting will resume.

One thing: it’s a truism that funerals are for the living. From my perspective, funerals exist to help the survivors come to grips with the gap that has opened up in their lives.

Different people will need different things as they learn to cope with the death of a loved one. But I have a hard time understanding the role of the southern baptist ceremony I just saw. All the talk about heaven and the repeated bouts of evangelism seem to me to miss the point. None of it helps close the hole that now exists.

(As an aside, I think that if Rabbi Hillel had been a Baptist, he would have stood on one leg are recited John 3:16 and the Great Commission, then proclaimed that all the rest of the Bible was commentary. I’m an atheist, but sometimes I think I get more from the Bible than they do.)

Madalyn Murray O’Hair got in trouble once when one of her supporters suggested that an atheist funeral was a contradiction. Chuck the body in a hole and go on. This strikes me a foolish and blind. The psychological issues that exist are very real and have to be dealt with, and where better to start than a funeral?

And honestly, I don’t think that religion helps deal with the problems nearly as well as many believers insist. More often than not it simply changes the subject. Perhaps the deceased is in heaven, but I’m still alive and I have to keep on living. How do I cope?

Which raises the question: what would a truly atheist funeral look like?

Catholic Hospital Mergers

Yes, I know that phrases like “the implications of hospital mergers” probably drive traffic away from the site, but I find this disturbing. Via a site called Mergerwatch, I find that a local hospital is merging with a Catholic hospital system, and one result is a restriction on the types of services the hospital can perform:

Northeast Health has agreed to abide by Catholic health restrictions upon completion of its affiliation with two Catholic systems, St. Peter’s Hospital (part of Catholic Health East) and Seton Health (part of the Catholic Ascension Health system). That change in hospital policy means an end to abortions, tubal ligations, contraceptive counseling and other services at Northeast Health’s Samaritan Hospital in Troy and Memorial Hospital in Albany. The impact would be particularly severe in Troy, where the only other hospital is St. Mary’s, part of the Seton Health with which Northeast Health is affiliating.

Ugh. While this won’t directly affect me, it’s going to be bad news for the greater Albany region if most of our hospitals can’t offer contraceptives, particularly with the cuts to Planned Parenthood. There’s a compromise of sorts, but it’s marginal:

The solution is the Burdett Care Center, a 20-bed maternity facility on the second floor of Samaritan Hospital. It is separately incorporated to insulate the center from the Catholic restrictions that now prevails in the rest of the hospital. As part of the state approval, the center had to be completed prior to the secular hospital’s merger with the two Catholic health systems. The Burdett Care Center consolidates all maternity services from both Troy hospitals and allows women delivering babies to have post-partum tubal ligations

“insulate the center from the Catholic restrictions” That makes it sound like Catholic teachings are some kind of EM field.

The regional Planned Parenthood is keeping an eye on things. I like and respect the people who run PP, but I don’t know how much they can do in this situation.

Is this happening in any other parts of the world? Does the Catholic Church have an out-sized role in hospital care everywhere, or is it just here?

Christian Negging?

A comic from XKCD got me talking about “negging,” the trick of using put-downs to lower a person’s self confidence so they will be more vulnerable and seek your approval. It’s associated with “pick-up artists” attempting to seduce women.

The use of insults, no matter how subtle, in order to attract someone seems counter-intuitive. Nevertheless, I’ve been told it works under certain circumstances. Which makes me think about Christianity in general and Calvinism is specific.

Is this negging?

Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock.

Granted, negging is subtle, and this is anything but subtle. Still, to me the principle seems similar: damage someone’s sense of self worth so that they turn to you for comfort.

One of the basic principles of Reformed Christianity is that all of us are horrible sinners who completely deserve to burn in hell for eternity. But wait, God is merciful! Turn to him, or rather to his representative, and do what we tell you.

Is this the same as negging, or am I off track?

Discussion: The “Race” Word

In one of yesterday’s posts, a commenter mentioned that races didn’t exist so it was unhelpful to use the term “race.”

What do ya’ll think?

Family Guy & Domestic Violence

The other night Family Guy had an episode that focused on domestic violence, and many are saying it went “too far”:

What do you think?