May 25th, 2019
Karin and I went to a funeral yesterday. The deceased, Joe, was not really a friend of ours. He was, at best, a friend of a friend of ours. I recall only meeting him once, and that was at his wedding to Anita. Anita is our friend from our old Bible study group. We went to the funeral to show support for her. We tried to share her grief, as best we could.
Joe and Anita divorced eventually, after Joe was diagnosed with dementia. I don’t know the details of the break up. All I really know is that the marriage ended. Joe and Anita followed different paths.
Karin and I got to the mega-church just in time for the start of the funeral. Traffic sucked, and we barely made it there for the service.
Let me say up front that I do not like this particular church. Not at all. It is a non-denominational, Evangelical, Baptist-tinged community. It has that fundamentalist feel to it. I don’t like the theology that they promote. I don’t like their worldview. I do believe that the people in that church are good folks with good hearts, but I don’t want to ever be part of their organization. This might all simply be ignorant prejudice on my part. Even if it is, it still exists, and I feel it in my bones.
The funeral was held in the chapel. I have been in that chapel before. It’s creepy. The room has no windows. There is a skylight, but it seems to be carefully hidden. The chapel is essentially a naked conference room with a stage and a really good sound system. There is no visual art. None. Zero. There is a bare, wooden cross, maybe four feet high, on the stage, but that’s it. There is almost nothing else in that entire room to indicate that God is present. The chapel is a place where people talk (endlessly) about Jesus, but a person never actually sees Him (or feels Him) there. It’s all in head, but not in the heart.
I found some of the funeral service to be a bit manipulative. The pastor, in his comments, kept saying, “If Joe were here, he would tell you this.” Bullshit. The pastor, who I really think is a decent guy, was using a dead man to promote his own agenda, or maybe it’s God’s agenda. It seemed unfair. The pastor obviously knew Joe much better than I ever did, but he still does not know what Joe would say. He can guess, but he can’t know. He was putting words into Joe’s mouth, and I found that offensive. The funeral was about Joe, but only to the extent that his life promoted a particular version of Jesus.
A number of people, mostly family, told their personal stories about Joe. They were honest and loving about the man, and that made it real. However, I found it difficult to listen to these testimonies. There wasn’t anything wrong with what they said. I just contrasted their words to the absolute silence that reigned at the funeral of my father in November. When my dad died, nobody said anything. There was apparently nothing good to say.
The service ended. Karin and I left.
We talked briefly to Anita. The family had a supper ready, but we didn’t want to stay for that.
We drove home.
Karin told me in the car,
“I am glad that I will get a Catholic burial. It’s not so much about the person.”