Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

Not very long ago I attended the funeral service of a man who surpassed the century mark—quite an achievement. He was an extraordinarily talented and accomplished man in life—an artist, musician, and engineer. At his Mass of Christian burial, the local priest made passing mention of his impressive life resume, but it was pretty much a rerun of past services I have attended for decidedly different people.

Because he rarely attended church during the living years, the officiating priest didn’t personally know the guest of honor. He therefore received talking points from the decedent’s family, plugged them into a one-size-fits-all eulogy, and presto! Being in my late forties now, I don’t appreciate being treated like a fifth grader. From my adult perspective, these bon voyages are often inanely unsophisticated, with priests envisioning such silly scenarios as the deceased meeting his dead wife in heaven. In the case of this 100-year-old man, she naturally greeted him with the burning question, “What took you so long?” 

I think we merit better send-offs than this. Religious dogma, with its simplistic certainty, withers in the head winds of an unfathomable universe. Ironically, this unfathomable quality alone is enough to make a case for intelligent design of some sort. It's at least a spiritual foundation to build upon. So why not expound on this enduring mystery, which is really and truly beyond human comprehension? You know: why we live, why we die, and the reason for it all? Being told that when I shuffle off this mortal coil I’ll be hooking up with my dead relations doesn’t exactly make me feel warm and fuzzy all over. Imagine renting a banquet hall for a family tree that could wend its way back to the Cro-Magnons.

Men and women of the cloth, come clean: There’s a whole lot you don’t know. And I think you know that, because I believe that you are smarter than fifth graders (most of you anyway). Furnish the former living with farewells they deserve—with words befitting their unique, mystifying, and incredibly brief journeys here on the third rock from the sun.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed! Am thinking about getting into death coaching - for die-ers and for those around them ... we can do better!

    As to the unfathomable:
    "We are not alone. Or we are. Either way, the thought is staggering..."

    Co-edikit (I found it on a coaster. I swear!)


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