Category Archives: Death

Tragedy

You may have read about the recent plane crash in Indiana. I grew up with three of the families whose loved ones were on the plane. I heard the news from a family member just hours after it happened, and memories of these loving and supportive people came flooding back.

Yesterday was a very emotional day, and I watched Facebook all day for updates on the status of the people involved. I cried many times. I had no idea what to say to the victims’ families. All the people involved are Christians. All of their families and friends are praying for them. But I’m not. I am, however, thinking of them constantly, hoping for successful surgeries, and hoping the family who lost a loving father and husband can find peace in their hearts. I let them know I’m thinking of them, but that was all I could say. I had no words to comfort because I knew that saying, “He’s in heaven, looking down on you,” would be false. All I could do was think of them – the wife, the daughter who was so close her father, and the son. I hope my thoughts are enough.

 

Final Statements of Death Row Inmates

This post poses a lot of questions. I would love to know what you think about this. Please share your thoughts, but let’s be civil to one another.

Would you like to read something creepy? The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has kept a record of the final statements of those they’ve executed since the 1980’s. They include pictures and the stories behind most of the criminals as well. Many of these people claimed innocence up to the very end. Whether they were innocent or not, we will never know. Because, you know, death is final, after all. But why do they claim innocence when they know there’s no hope for freedom? Do they truly believe they are innocent? Are they really innocent and a major injustice is occurring?

I find it interesting that one of the most (if not the most) “Christian” states in the Union has also executed most inmates than any other state. Why do these people, who claim forgiveness is possible when one turns to god, kill in the name of justice? I know there are a million arguments both for and against the death penalty, and I’m not really writing this to hash all of that out. I just wanted to share this link because it’s a reminder that these people on death row, though they committed violent crimes, are still people. They still have cares and concerns. They still love. They feel regret (many of them). Most of them have converted to Christianity out of some final grasp for hope that god will have mercy on them, I’m sure. Whether you’re for or against the death penalty, you can’t deny that these statements are profoundly sad, especially the ones that claim innocence. I began to cry about about 10 of them. Some of them count down because they know death is seconds away, and they kept talking until the end.

This one asked for forgiveness and told the victim’s family that they must forgive him to “gain the kingdom of heaven.” Then he says, “I don’t require your forgiveness, because God has forgiven me.” But then asks for forgiveness again. Death for killing a man over his wallet. Why would he justify stealing a wallet as reason to kill? It’s hard to understand.

Another interesting thing is that some of these murders occurred during robberies, and usually for no more than $500 or so, maybe a car stereo. Why are people willing to kill for such small amounts of cash? Where have they failed or who has failed them? Does it all being with parenting? Or does it go beyond that, like the whole “it takes a village to raise a child” thing? Are our cities, communities, and governments failing people? Are they just inherently evil? Do you believe people can change, even murderers?

One more interesting fact, which I hope doesn’t spark a massive debate: most of these crimes were committed with firearms.

I know this post was a little odd, but I stumbled upon that site this morning and wanted to share. It caused human feeling to well up inside me for these people, even though I know they took human life themselves. It’s such a difficult thing, to care for people who do harm to others. I think we need more of that – just caring for others and their problems and their humanity.

 

Guest Post on Parents Beyond Belief

I am honored to be a guest blogger on Parents Beyond Belief! Check out my post, Death and Secular Parenting: Overcoming the Fears. Enjoy!

So, I attended a Christian Funeral Today…

And it was awful. The grandmother of a girl I grew up with passed away last week. I remember her most from church as a kid. She was always nice to me and she hoped I’d be a good role model for my friend.

I decided go to support this friend because I know she has had a rough time lately. The service was being held at the church where I grew up, and I knew there would be a lot of people there that knew me in my evangelical Christian days. It was the worst funeral I’ve ever been to (not that I’ve been to that many, maybe five in my whole life). It was also the first organized Christian event I’ve attended since I realized that my doubts about god were more than just fleeting feelings.

The woman was a Christian, and I’m sure it was the type of funeral she would have wanted. It had old-fashioned hymns, prayers, and lots of talk about following Jesus. In fact, it had too much Jesus talk. The woman’s life was turned into a sermon, the pastor rehashing the requirements for salvation over and over again. I would think a funeral should be used to honor someone’s life, not try to persuade someone to follow a religion. Perhaps that’s what this woman wanted her funeral to be? Near the end, the pastor stated that the family had asked him to explain to people exactly how to become a Christian. Which he did. For ten minutes.

Most of the rest of the service was repetition of the fact that this woman had met her maker and that all should be happy for her because of that. Be happy that she died? Really? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Beyond the fact that almost a quarter of the ceremony time was spent asking people to subscribe to bullshit, I was asked at least six times by different people when I was coming back to church. I suddenly saw myself, 17 years old and pious as the Pope, himself, begging my friends to go to church. I saw myself judging others based on their lifestyles and condemning anyone who didn’t believe what I did. I realized, as they asked me sweetly where I go to church these days, that as a Christian, I had no concept of people believing differently than me. I had no idea I was making people feel so uncomfortable. It was one of the worst experiences of social interaction I’ve ever had.

I had to hold my tongue. I was with my own grandmother, who is a dedicated Christian woman and a respected elder in the church. I knew that opening my mouth would only break her heart, so I sang To God Be the Glory and The Old Rugged Cross with the same vibrating, church-music voice I used as a teenager. Only this time, I didn’t mean a word of it.

When the service was over, and after being asked a few more times when I was coming back to church, I was dying to get out the front door. The second I stepped into the sunshine, I felt like I could breathe again.

I was reminded today that even though my path might be rockier, there’s a reason I chose it. I am more free and liberated from my sins than those people will ever be.