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Humanist funeral
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Boss Cat
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Joined: 15 Sep 2011
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Location: it's good here

PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 11:51 am    Post subject:  Reply with quote

Yes I know you don't understand, that was the point I was making.

In all honesty, Shaker, it is impossible to answer your post fully because I have difficulty following your logic, and we would have to go into 'but you posted...no I didn't' (the tangle over my cousin's response to the unpleasant character's funeral for a start) and I haven't wanted to involve myself in that sort of thing for decades.

Perhaps I didn't make myself clear, but the only point I am making is that funerals have different meanings for believers and nonbelievers (and I know not all non believers are humanists, indeed not all humanists are non believers but as the OP was about a humanist funeral, wasn't it? of course I wouldn't expect you, a non humanist, to know how a humanist would respond anymore than I would expect you to understand how a believer might respond.  To be fair though, you do have strongly expressed opinions on believers' responses so it is not entirely unreasonable to think you might have some kind of opinion on how humanists might respond).

Of course for you a funeral is about a slab of meat in a box and  many people feel that way.  Many more feel that way in theory, or for themselves, but not for loved relatives or friends.

To be honest, I have sometimes seen a kind of backflip for some non believers when it comes to funerals or death.  The dead person and their personality takes on more importance than they would if they were really a slab of meat.  But I understand that; I see that ritual is very important for everyone really, incredibly important and it always has been.

One question, out of interest, because I am asking for your honest belief, which you don't have to defend or justify (unless you are trying to make anyone else think that way of course!); how would you dispose of the body of an unidentified, unknown, unclaimed pauper?  How would other atheists do it and why?

Also, doesn't it matter to you a bit?  you mention tact and decency and you also think it would be 'wrong' to dispose of you with any religious ceremony.  Why does it matter to dead meat, anyway, and shouldn't the feelings of the living be more important than the personality of a bit of meat?
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boss Cat wrote:
One question, out of interest, because I am asking for your honest belief, which you don't have to defend or justify (unless you are trying to make anyone else think that way of course!); how would you dispose of the body of an unidentified, unknown, unclaimed pauper?

Cremation. It saves on ground space and since the passage of recent legislation relating to the emission of toxic gases, cleaner than it used to be. Burial isn't the 'green' option that it's so often cracked up to be.

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How would other atheists do it and why?

No idea - other atheists would be able to tell you that.

Quote:
Also, doesn't it matter to you a bit?

Disposal of remains? From an environmental point of view, certainly.   

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you mention tact and decency and you also think it would be 'wrong' to dispose of you with any religious ceremony.  Why does it matter to dead meat, anyway, and shouldn't the feelings of the living be more important than the personality of a bit of meat?

No they shouldn't - not when the bit of meat whilst alive left clear instructions about their wishes with regard to their death and funeral, no. I'm not a Humanist in the sense of belonging to the BHA but they do provide secular celebrants and I've left clear written instructions with the nearest and dearest (there won't be many left) that I want an entirely secular funeral, partly because given my not exactly swept-under-the-carpet views on religion it would be absurd for me to have a religious funeral but largely because I don't want to be seen to be supporting any religious ritual in any way, shape or form, not even as a corpse.

As I've said before on many occasions, a bog-standard C of E funeral is still largely the default option in this country: it's what happens when you do nothing and the wheels are set in motion and the death professionals take over. I know this is a fact because it has happened in my extended family - people who barely set foot inside a church in their lives die and then the relatives get the duty call from the local vicar (whom they'd never met) to try and scrape together something to say about them. There's an automatic assumption that anybody who didn't obviously belong to a different religion or didn't make explicit their requests gets the default option.

This is not entirely a bad thing since many people - perhaps most - in the immediate wake of a bereavement (most people are cremated or buried within a week of their death) don't want the added burden of trying to arrange a funeral and are probably glad that somebody else steps in to take that particular weight off their shoulders. It sits ill with me, though, that somebody who was by any yardstick not a Christian, knew nothing at all about Christianity and never gave it a moment's thought in their entire lives gets a Christian funeral. It rankles in exactly the same way that it pissed me off and still does that my elderly aunt, who knows absolutely nothing whatsoever about the most basic tenets of Christian belief, still put 'C of E' on the last census form. You wouldn't give a Jew a Catholic funeral or a Muslim a flower-strewn pyre next to the Ganges and the full Hindu bit, so why is it deemed acceptable to rope nonbelievers into the fold? To me it all reeks of some of the things that I despise most: laziness of mind, lack of thought, unquestioning adherence to tradition.

For me it's also partly a matter of statistics. In 2009 (the most recent year for which I could find figures) there were 176,600 Anglican funerals in the UK representing 38% of all deaths. Like all other C of E figures this, of course, is on a downward slide - it was 46% less than a decade earlier in 2000. Concomitantly, as people take a much more personalised and individualistic, less tradition-bound view of funerals, there has been a steep rise in secular funerals (helped along in part by the secular funerals of some well-known and well-loved celebrities). I'll be a corpse and in no position to complain if I were to be giving a full requiem mass with all the bells and smells, 40-strong choir singing William Byrd and the lot; but quite apart from the fact that everyone present who ever knew me would be left thinking how unbelievably inappropriate it would be, funerals are also a matter of national statistics and even in death I want to be and be seen to be part of the statistics for secular funerals and not religious ones. I take the view that every secular funeral is a tiny but real step towards loosening the hold of the pernicious and still prevalent idea (albeit mainly in the older segments of the population) that a religious funeral is 'the done thing.'
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northernstar
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PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just want to be burnt in the cheapest box going, should take all of five minutes, no eulogy, no hypocrisy, just dispatched as quickly as possible. Better make sure I write a will, don't want a religious service at all!
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Boss Cat
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PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply and I should have made it clear the 'what do other atheists think' bit was intended for them, not for you to answer for them.

I think you have given an honest answer and it does make sense to me;  I don't share it, but I understand it.  Except if there were a situation where your next of kin needed a nod to God, a hymn or a prayer - would your commitment to non religion override their pain even if, being dead, it would affect you not a whit?

Also, with the pauper, would it be a simple autopsy and into a furnace with no ceremony at all?
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boss Cat wrote:
Thanks for the reply and I should have made it clear the 'what do other atheists think' bit was intended for them, not for you to answer for them.

I think you have given an honest answer and it does make sense to me;  I don't share it, but I understand it.  Except if there were a situation where your next of kin needed a nod to God, a hymn or a prayer - would your commitment to non religion override their pain even if, being dead, it would affect you not a whit?

Not in the slightest. If that was the next of kin's stated wish, that's their wish and should - I would say must - be honoured. This sort of thing works both ways: if I expect my wishes to be respected, the same applies to others who feel differently.

I'm not arguing against anybody who wants one having a religious funeral, incidentally: rather, I'm arguing that funeral wishes ought to be a matter of conscious and deliberate choice rather than the default option faute de mieux. The barrier here would be that some people don't want to think about their own death and what comes after, in the way that some people apparently have a superstitious resistance to making a will, but really that's something that grown adults just have to get over. One could argue that those who truly and sincerely believe in an afterlife should have less resistance to this sort of planning ahead than those who don't.

Then again, following this line of thinking, it could be assumed that the religious - or rather, those who believe in an afterlife - should die more easily and peacefully than those who do not, yet I've seen evidence which runs directly contrary to this.

Quote:
Also, with the pauper, would it be a simple autopsy and into a furnace with no ceremony at all?

I think it would be good to have a ceremony of some sort - wouldn't have to be a religious one - to mark the ending of a life in some fashion or, as I would prefer to see it, to celebrate the life itself. I've seen documentaries - A Life of Grime is one such although there was a documentary about funeral directors shown on the BBC not too many months ago, whose title unfortunately I can't remember - about what happens to people who die alone, sometimes violently, sometimes as a result of drink and other drugs, where there's no family or at least no known family. Sometimes people lose touch with whatever nearest and dearest they might have had: if that's not by their own choice then that's very sad, although sometimes people do deliberately choose to live this way in which case I can't see it as equally sad since they've elected for it to be like this.

In such cases funerals are tiny affairs - generally speaking there are a couple of people from the funeral company and somebody from the local council and that's about it. These people can't be said to have known or to remember the deceased in any meaningful sense because they will be the people who only enter the scene once a body is found in a filthy flat, more often than not. I still think it's a nice idea for somebody to be around to give somebody a send-off (even if it is on the cheap, as such funerals always are) and I think it's a particularly good idea for it to be the people who take over and deal with the deceased after they've died. Whatever the deceased did or had or knew in life, these are the last people who can do a nything for him or her. An entry in a book of remembrance, even if it's only a name and dates and a few words, is a nice gesture. It's not completely implausible that the deceased might have family or friends or acquaintances out there somewhere who might at a later date try to trace the person whose died and who might well feel, on top of grief at bereavement, some sort of comfort at a small and simple gesture of this kind - it does happen.
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Last edited by Shaker on Sat May 04, 2013 11:17 am; edited 2 times in total
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

northernstar wrote:
I just want to be burnt in the cheapest box going, should take all of five minutes, no eulogy, no hypocrisy, just dispatched as quickly as possible. Better make sure I write a will, don't want a religious service at all!

I know I'm not exactly Mr Man of the World but I'd like to think that if a funeral is a commentary upon a life lived, mine might take just a little longer than five minutes.
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Boss Cat
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PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2013 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Shaker I thought that a lovely and sensitive reply.

Oddly enough I don't really mind how long my eulogy - five minutes would be more than enough for me but my children's thoughts would matter more than mine I think!  As long as I have the service - preferably with decent hymns I'm OK.

Do you remember Adam, that African boy whose murdered body was found in the Thames?  I think we are all (particularly believers -in anything) diminished by his story.  But I think we are all richer because the police and other authorities made sure he had a proper decent funeral.

Oddly enough, you refer to the end of life, I came across some research about death and what is called deathbed phenomena I think.  It seems to be a peaceful experience for most of us.  I am kind of changing my view on the afterlife, although I continue to be agnostic on that one.  I have tended to think it's not important in the past but I am beginning to shift - just a bit.
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ELEVENSES81
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Joined: 18 Oct 2014
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Location: Gloucester

PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My own philosophical position is existentialist, and unaligned with either atheism or humanism or any other position for that matter. I am open to whatever the mystery at the centre of my life chooses to reveal.

Not being long for this world, my daiughter and I have already composed my secular funeral. I really enjoyed doing it. We wrote the obituary and wrote a piece each to be read out by the celebrant. Music was chosen to match the themes of our individual pieces. Having been bored rigid by the usual lazy funeral of trite prayer and hymn so many times, I think those attending will be genuinely moved by the event.

Pity I won't be there to enjoy a quiet sniffle myself..ha ha ha.

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