An old charge refuted: 11-12-09
Patel's interfaith visions: 11-14/15-09

Fixing bad funerals: 11-13-09

A few weeks ago in this blog book column I wrote a little about Thomas G. Long's excellent new book, Accompany Them With Singing: The Christian Funeral.


In it, Long argues that Christians have caved into our death-denying culture and have moved away from traditional funerals, with the body present, toward sterile memorial services that lack theological heft and authenticity.

I think Long is absolutely right. Indeed, I'm finishing funeral preparation forms for me at my church that reflect some of his thinking.

So I'm glad to see his book getting some nice acceptance here and there. In this Mercator.Net piece, for instance, the writer says that funerals now often "leave me feeling uneasy about current trends -- not only the multiplication of eulogies with their often excruciating mixture of tragedy and levity, spirituality and banality, but even more the treatment of the body itself. Too often the funeral ends before the end, with the coffin sinking through the floor of the mortuary chapel or being carried off in the hearse with only the funeral director for company, while the assembly departs for refreshments."

As Long properly notes, the task of a Christian community is to accompany the body of one of their number to the edge of the abyss with singing and prayers and hope. It's not to hide the body and whistle a happy tune.

Christianity makes the startling claim that in Jesus Christ God has defeated death and that we may be saved from eternal death by grace. What Long asks us to do is to act like it at funerals.

* * *


Eboo Patel was right when he said in Kansas City this week that extremists and terrorists don't deserve the honor of being labeled as part of a religion. Just as the 9/11 hijackers relinquished the privilege of being called Muslims, so the man in this story from Jerusalem should not be called a "Jewish terrorist." Such people forfeit the right to be considered part of a religion whose tenets they so terribly violate.

* * *

P.S.: Until Monday, my Internet access may be unreliable. Thanks for your patience in getting your comments published. Bill.


Will Graham

Excellent points on funerals, Bill. This relates strongly to Human Dignity, and it is revealing that the atheist posters here have, more than once, dissed the idea of funerals.

Dan Barker, leader of the FFRF...and who is much revered by local atheist groups and has been to Kansas City severaal times...has some thoughts on Human Dignity.

Will Graham

Bill, for all the talk of religion and terrorism, it is not religion that has filled the world with weapons that could destroy civilization in half a day.

What about the role of scientific theories in producing terrorists?

Some horrendous events have taken place in Britain...

Just Thinking

Each person has the ability to make choices which can alter the future for us and others. That is an amazing gift from God: a free spirit with the ability to effect change through choices. We are not merely hairy bags of water who must live as wind-up machines with no choices. No, we have been blessed with the ability to change things for the better (or worse) through choices. Funerals are a time to remember that we have choices, and to remember that those choices can make a difference. Some choices lead to eternal life by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Funerals are a time to remember that each of us has the responsibility to make correct choices, starting by choosing to ask, "What is the right thing to do?" instead of asking, "What will bring me pleasure and allow me to get my way?" It's all about choices, and the unexamined life of hedonism is not worth living, and often worse.

Laziness, hedonistic selfishness in general, become excuses for wrong *choices*. They have "chemical imbalance" or "depression" or "don't feel good" or "somebody wronged them" or "they just don't have the energy" , and on and on and on. Extreme hedonism becomes so self-focused that the person will *refuse* to make right choices because they spend every waking moment thinking about themselves and what they do or do not have, and they never get around to making choices that result in selfless acts toward others.

Good choices start with choosing correct thoughts, including believing that we can overcome through God's Spirit. Good choices start with wanting to overcome. You'll never get anywhere falsely believing that your life was determined before ever living it. Our choices are NOT determined in some configuration of our molecules, and we're RESPONSIBLE for making correct choices.

The funerals I have been to are different than yours.

Bill, posted, “It's not to hide the body and whistle a happy tune.”

Yeah,… why not? Why not whistle a happy tune? Why do you need to see the dead body? I remember people close to me. I don’t need a dead body to remind me. That is morbid. Look at a dead body? What’s wrong with you?

If there was proof god did not exist how will you Christians react? I have only received two honest answers, one from this blog and one outside. The only other response is in a form of another question. I will answer what if there is proof of a god. What is the problem? Insecure, like your god? He is jealous, you know. The bible says so. Jealousy is an example of insecurity. Look it up. WE ‘are’ made in his image.

Christmas is on the way. I wonder what hub-bub will be spread this year? Who will try to take christ out of ‘christ’mas this year? “More-Christ” seems to be worried if people really believe.

Elohim told noah to take all the creatures of the earth, animals, crawling things, and flying things by twos to a boat, but a little later Yahweh tells noah to take the clean animals by the 7s. What is going on here? Confusion? Hello.
Does anyone on this site ever experiment? You know, try something new for the sake to see how it works. We have tried many things. Some work, some do not. At least we are trying, what are you doing? In the same old rut? Perhaps you should try something new like believing in the real world. You know, that ROCK chasing after THAT blazing fireball known as our SUN!

Superman was a great character until he jumped out the window…

Cell Phone Use Linked to Brain Changes

Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole

Just Thinking

Everyone intuitively knows that they have free choice, i.e., the ability to make some choices which affect the future. Those choices could never be fully explained by any physical 'law' or by Science, or they would be choices at all. They'd be determined in advance. The existence of free will is equivalent to saying that there is a part of us which can alter the physical future, but which *cannot* be fully explained by *anything* in this physical Universe. That's what free choice means. And that is what spirit is: the part of us which can alter physical future, but which cannot be explained by anything in this physical Universe.

Atheists on this blog who believe that everything which will happen is determined in advance by laws of the physical Universe believe in fairy tales that no self-respecting Scientist would ever support. Scientists know that we don't live in a deterministic Universe. But worst of all, those who believe that their own actions are determined in the configuration of molecules, have no basis for morality. Morality requires that you can make choices which will alter the future, and morality holds you responsible for those choices.

Without free choice, the only morality becomes "if it feels good, then do it." After all, how can you hold anyone morally accountable if they have no ability to do anything other than what feels good. Intelligent people don't buy into such unbridled hedonistic non-sense. Intelligent people know that we have choices we can make and, so, we are responsible for those choices. Pleasure is not the only 'morality' for those who deny free will. Without choices, that's all there can be.

Everyone must think about their choices. It's expected. And, no, it doesn't always feel good to do the right thing.

Dolores Lear

What is the role of Religion in Science, and High Tech?

"Christianity makes the startling claim that in Jesus Christ God has defeated death and that we may be saved from eternal death by grace. What Long asks us to do is to act like it at funerals."

Joy instead of sorrow and grief.

High Tech Science Humans do defeat Human Death temporarily. We have done it with our High Tech today, but we do not have the Eternal Physical Human Life After Birth, like God/Us and Jesus.

God/Us and Jesus Prove in Scriptures and Myth, that there is Alive Purebred Humans, that do have Eternal Physical Life After Birth on Planets and Spaceships.

When the Adam and Eve High Tech Purebred Human Clone Society, began making Misbred Body Birth Humans, Killing and Death began.

With High Tech, Humans Know the Visible Human Living Elements at Death return to Living Invisible Elements.

At least the Fallen Humans that lost their High Tech Knowledge of Elements, did put this Knowledge into words that can be translated with High Tech Elements Science.

Our Sun Elements, are Used on a Body Birth Planet. Each Solar System has a limited number of Elements to use until Humans on Planets exhaust their Sun's Elements, like Humans have done the Past 100 years with a Population Explosion.

Then their Sun Dies, the Nova of the Sun. When enough of the Suns, and Galaxies die, then their Universe of Unbalanced Elements, collapse into a Black Hole, the Hell in Religion. The Elements Regenerate and Explode into a New Universe, called the Big Bang in Science.

The Human Species is supposed to be the High Tech Caretakers of the Life on their Planet, with High Tech Equal Birth, with Equality and Sharing their Resources on their Planet and in Spaceships.


Dolores Lear


The Human High Tech Male and Female Clone Peace Species is the Highest Form of Life on Planets and in Spaceships, called Gods in our Image, in Religion and Myth.

Spaceships are Necessary for Humans to Escape their Planet, Solar System, Galaxy, or Universe when it Collapses.

Eternal Physical Life After High Tech Birth, is recorded in Scripture and Myth, translated as 'Supernatural' Gods, by Humans without High Tech.

When a Planet's High Tech Human Species, 'in the beginning', 'Falls' to Heterosexual Body Birth and Death, they lose their High Tech Science to escape their Planet.

When Body Birth Humans Universe Collapses, their Living Elements do go through the Hell of the Black Hole. A New Balanced Universe is made from the Elements of the Collapsed Elements Universe.

So in Physical Death, No Elements are Lost, only Physical Form. The Same Elements Visible and Invisible, in a Universe also have Eternal Physical Life.

High Tech Visible Humans can Travel from Planet to Planet, to Solar Systems, Galaxies, and Universes. The Eternal Elements are used over and over for Whatever Life Forms the Invisible Elements take.

In Genesis 1,2, in Scripture, Myth, and Reincarnation, are Ways for Body Birth Humans to Save this Universe Knowledge, that is Misused for Nuclear Bombs also made from the Living Elements.

Literally, Eternal Physical Life is for the Living Humans, not the Dead. Humans are on a Learning Planet, to attain Balanced Elements, and Eternal Physical Life After Birth.

So it is Time to Rejoice on a Planet of Death, to Know the Elements are Eternal, and We Will Live Again in the Visible Elements.

High Tech Humans Do Have Eternal Life without Death, on High Tech Planets and in Spaceships. Religion and Scripture tells us so.


Bill wrote>>>>>>>>extremists and terrorists don't deserve the honor of being labeled as part of a religion. Just as the 9/11 hijackers relinquished the privilege of being called Muslims, so the man in this story from Jerusalem should not be called a "Jewish terrorist." Such people forfeit the right to be considered part of a religion whose tenets they so terribly violate.

Bill, and who is going to enforce this "not calling them" as part of religion? Are you serious?

Whatever happened to 1st Ammendment (if this person is in America) and the cherished American "let them be" idiots credo? You are not serious about this, or are you?

People have an intrinsic space alien given right to act stupid (or sin as some our Xian brothers and sisters would say) - how can you go against the "all knowing god" - he is all knowing, he has a plan, and these crazies are part of his plan.

If someone (Just Thinking?) can find a quote in the Bible where it says that god is "Not" all knowing????? and doesn't know the future. He doesn't have to "predict" it, it's already "determined" by Yahwheh - the road is there. You can convert and deconvert about 5,000 times during your life time -god knows it all and these "terrorists" who "chose" to label themselves Muslims/Jewish are just that - labels.

In reality, people "chose" whatever they want to "keep mental equilibrium" in the "survival mode" - evolutionary psychology and sociology is pretty solid on that. Multiple experiments in "group think", "administering pain", "authority complex" have demonstrated that people will do whatever to "avoid" pain themselves in general and keep "peace" in their brain.

Including being "immoral" Mulsims/Jews/Xians and atheists. However, for some reason, you don't hear about atheists in America killing people based on their atheism and invoking the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

Again, how are you going to "deny" them labeling? You will go out out of your way like Fred Phelps and will be picketing every possible Muslim related event or every mosque/synanogue every day with crazy sings "Allah hates crazy Mulsims?" or "Yawheh will send the terrorist Jews to hell?" - Jews can care less about hell anyway, unless they are "Jews for Jesus."

I am sorry my friend, you do not compute.

Dolores Lear

"Just as the 9/11 hijackers relinquished the privilege of being called Muslims, so the man in this story from Jerusalem should not be called a "Jewish terrorist." Such people forfeit the right to be considered part of a religion whose tenets they so terribly violate."

How about all Christians who violate their tenets of No Killing and Equal Resources for All, written in their Christian Bible, as Commands from their God?

What does 'thou shall not covet and kill mean? All the Christian Soldiers in the USA, should also be called Terrorists, not American Terrorists.

How do Humans Consider what is a Terrorist? When someone Kills Humans and Takes over 'their' Property, like USA Humans did to the Indians?

All Humans belonging to a Government, Kill other Humans, and take over some of their land, like the USA did in Iraq.

When did God say Humans could Own Gods Land and Resources? Humans were Created as Caretakers of God's Earth and the Life on it, not Owners.

All Humans on Planet Earth are Terrorists to God. No One Takes Care of God's Planet or the Life on it, individually or in groups.

Praise God and Pass the and To the Conquering Winners goes the spoils, is not Gods Motto.

Sharing Equally is thought of as Humans in a Commune. Jesus was also in a Commune of Celibate Males, with females and children, Sharing their Resources Equally. Why was this Lifestyle changed into a Pagan Man-Made Trinity Religion in 300?

Will Humans on Earth Wake Up to what Humans have done to God/Us' Planet? They are our Human High Tech Ancestors that Colonized Earth and put High Tech Purebred Male and Female Clones in Charge.

The Clones began Heterosexual Male Body Birth of Children in the Female Helpmeet Womb, and the result today is a Ruined Planet.

Will Humans today ever Know why they were born Misbred Humans by Generation Birth, Death and Rebirth, that Kill and Die?

Dolores Lear

"Christianity makes the startling claim that in Jesus Christ God has defeated death and that we may be saved from eternal death by grace."

This was Religious teachings from 300, when Jesus was a Man-Made God Religion. Jesus, a Celibate Male, did not defeat death, Our High Tech Science Human Ancestors, in Genesis 1,2., did Regenerate Him a Celibate Male, to a Purebred High Tech Body.

He is in training to lead the new group of 144,000 Virgin Males on Earth, Saved at Judgment Day, to Populate a New Planet that our God/Us Human Purebred Ancestors are Colonizing for the new Colony.

It is our job today to Translate all Scripture and Myth with our High Tech Science to Prove there are High Tech Human Purebred Male and Female Clones, on Planets and in Spaceships, that do have Eternal Physical Life After Birth.

This was Handed Down as the Spirit Realm by Body Birth Humans, without High Tech Science.

Humans have High Tech to translate the Scriptures and Myth, and Know Jesus is Alive in a Regenerated Human Body, by the God/Us High Tech Humans that also have Eternal Physical Life After Birth on Planets and in Spaceships.

They 'did' return to Earth, in a Spaceship, and their Angels/Astronauts did Take Jesus Alive, up in the air, and out into Space in their Spaceship. This is recorded as 'Heaven' by Humans without High Tech Science.

Eternal Life After Birth, is possible for High Tech Human Celibate Males and their Female Clone Helpmeets.

God/Us High Tech Human Clones and Jesus a Celibate Male Human, prove there is Human Physical Life After Birth, in Space on Planets and in Spaceships.

adam harrison

The person posting as "" says, "However, for some reason you don't hear about atheists in America killing people based on their atheism."

Of course not, and the reason you don't is because the atheists are not in political control.

But under EVERY Officially Atheistic Government, including the one Iggy was raised under, you had Atheists killing people BECAUSE of their religious beliefs. Alexander Solzhenitsyn proved this is The Gulag Archipelago series back in the 70's, so there is no excuse for pretending not to know it.

So, KCF, since you don't want to deny people the right to "label" religious people, you are NOT going to deny me the right to label atheists.

adam harrison

Dolores, the belief in the Resurrection of Jesus was present in the first century church, long before the date of "300" that you give.

It is clear that your rejection of Chrisianity hinges on that, as you try to claim he did not defeat death but was "regenerated" by "High Tech" Science.

If you want to reject Christ, you have that freedom, but you do not have the right to misrepresent the message...or, at least, the right to misrepresent it as you do and still claim you have any integrity.


Bill, when I die I want my body to go back into the earth. The only way I know to do this is to be cremated, since, as Lynne pointed out a while back, you are no longer allowed the option of having your body placed into direct contact with the earth.

Since I think cremation services usually have to be performed within a day or two of the death, this probably means that only those closest to me will see my body before it's cremated, and then maybe those who couldn't come for that but want to commemorate me in some way, can come to the ceremony where my ashes are sprinkled, hopefully in our garden.

I sure thought Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole's memorial service was beautiful, his ashes were scattered into the Pacific. I've given the link here before, to him singing his "Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World Medley. I just love that song so I thought I'd give the link here again. When you see the guitar standing alone, that's to signify his death, and then it goes right into his memorial service at Makua Beach.


Will, I was very sad to learn about the link between the Columbine murders and Darwinism. Just as people of faith should take a stand to condemn the acts of those claiming to be killing for Christ or Whoever they claim to worship -- so people who accept Evolutionary theory should take a stand to condemn the acts of those claiming to be weeding out undesirables in the name of Social Darwinism, or whatever philosophy they claim to be following.

Since I am a Christian who also accepts Evolutionary theory, this gives me a dual responsibility. I can see how an irrational person might see Darwinism as a mandate or license to do whatever the hell they want to people -- but of course rational people quickly realize that this attitude totally conflicts not just with morality, but even with basic self-interest.

Because if it's okay for ME to weed out everyone I think society would be better off without -- what's to stop YOU from putting the gun to MY head if you happen to think my absence would be an improvement?

This really goes hand-in-hand with how our nation was founded. I'm still reading Barak Obama's "Audacity of Hope" -- and I love how he describes "our democracy not as a house to be built, but as a conversation to be had." (p.92)

Further down on the same page, he descibes our Constitutional framework's role as that of organizing "the way by which we argue about our future." I'm realizing how much we see things in common, because I think respectful, open-minded dialog is a huge key for us being able to work out all kinds of problems, as well as to pursue the truth in our own lives.

On page 95 of "Audacity," Obama quotes Madison as describing the process of forming our Constitution as one where "no man felt himself obliged to retain his opinions any longer than he was satisfied of their propriety and truth, and was open to the force of argument."


Speaking of argument -- Just Thinking, can you please explain your assertion that the Atheists here all claim science is totally able to predict everything that will happen, and every choice that every human will ever make? I'm just wondering, because this seems to be the premise of your whole current argument about free will -- and yet I haven't been hearing any of the Atheists here saying that we're all just "wind-up machines with no choices."

I feel like you may be attacking a straw man.

Regarding determinism, there've been a few other times on this blog that I've tried to open up discussion about the ideas of (Agnostic) philosopher of science, the late Karl Popper, and (Atheist) physcicist David Deutsch. They are both INdeterminists (well, Popper is deceased).

You are right, Just Thinking, that indeterminism is a real part of science. I'd love for everyone to get really interested in this, enough to read up on it and discuss it on a deeper level. Anyone game?


In my post where I said that "This really goes hand-in-hand with how our nation was founded" -- I was talking about the whole idea that my freedom stops at the point where it interferes with your freedom. I can't remember who originally said this -- but it seems to be the basic premise of our Constitution.

So, whereas an irrational person might take off with some religious or philosophical idea, and see it as a mandate or license to harm others -- rational people think, think, think and discuss, discuss, discuss. Just as our founding fathers deliberated as they laid the framework for our constitution and our nation.

I agree with President Obama that our Constitution really is a living document. That's the wonder of what happens when a bunch of diverse people are truly willing to put their heads together and listen to one another. The ideals expressed and documented from these many hours of open-minded dialog, have taken on a life of their own, such that they are no longer limited by the personal prejudices of the imperfect humans who got the freedom ball rolling, so to speak.

Many of the early fathers seemed to think the words "all men are created equal" only applied to male Caucasians -- but as we've grown as people, we've come to see how all racism, slavery, and every form of human subjugation is totally against the spirit of our Constitution.

This is why I agree with President Obama that strict constructionism is NOT the best way to interpret the Constitution. Strict constructionism seems to be where judges and legislators try to get inside the minds of the founding fathers, and interpret the words of the Constitution according to the founding father's original vision. This seems very limiting to me, and very much like deifying and worshipping these men who were obviously brilliant, but were nevertheless just fallible humans like you and me.

adam harrison

Like I said, are a moral relativist.

Just Thinking


You wrote, 'I haven't been hearing any of the Atheists here saying that we're all just "wind-up machines with no choices."' Yes, you have seen those declarations, but you didn't understand them. No, it's not a strawman.

Each of the atheists posting here has claimed that there is a natural explanation for *everything* which happens. That is precisely a statement of the fact that there can be no real free choice or free will. If your choices have natural explanations, then you never had choices. Those choices were made for you because they were determined by natural processes.

If you accept that humans have free will and choices, then you *must* accept that there are no natural explanations for the choices that human beings can make. That is basic and fundamental: choices are not choices if there are natural explanations for those choices.

That's why atheists who post here are in a crisis of thinking right now. atheists here not only claim that there are natural explanations for everything which happens, but they have proudly declared that they can make choices which alter their future. Sorry, but those are incompatible ideas. That's why there is a crisis of thinking for those overzealous atheists. They consider themselves 'rational,' even pride themselves on their 'rationality,' but their most basic foundational assumptions are self-contradictory. It really is a crisis for them.

Crisis is the correct word, too. We don't which way they will *choose* to fix their illogical system of thinking. They could (a) admit that not everything which humans can do has a natural explanation (b) decide they have no free choice or (c) become overwhelmed with pride, and deny that their thinking is fundamentally flawed. It's a moment of decision. It's a crisis for them.

adam harrison

SM HARRIS says, there are no true atheists!

Dolores Lear

"Dolores, the belief in the Resurrection of Jesus was present in the first century church, long before the date of "300" that you give."

The Christianity that I reject is the False 'Christian' Religion. After Jesus went up into Space, Alive, after year 33, The Church? was a One God Jewish Christian Religion, that broke from the Accepted Man-Made Jewish Religion.

In 300 it became a Man-Made Christian Catholic Trinity Religion, with 3 Persons in the Godhead.

The Early Jewish Christians, like the Essenes, met in a commune, and did not have Church Buildings made by Human Hands.

I am not against Jesus, I accept his Celibacy, and his Peace Nature, and when I understood this, I knew he was not GOD.

When I was 50, I also became Celibate, because I still Loved the Peace Jesus. You Know how I feel about Killing each other, and our Planet in my Blog posts.

My Husband of 33 years, did not want to be Celibate, so we had a Friendly Divorce. And we were Good Helpmeets until he died.

So if I come off sounding like I reject Jesus, it is because I reject another Man-Made Religion, since I understood Jesus was not GOD, Creator of the Universes. How can a Person or Three Persons in One, create the Elements?

"If you want to reject Christ, you have that freedom, but you do not have the right to misrepresent the message...or, at least, the right to misrepresent it as you do and still claim you have any integrity."

Who is misrepresenting the message? The Peace God/Us Humans, and Jesus gave me the Free Will Right, to Protest all the Man-Made Religions on Earth, that Kill Each Other and the Planet.

God/Us, gave Humans, the Freedom to be Celibate Peace Human Caretakers, or, to Reproduce Children and Kill the Life on the Planet, which they Created/Colonized Life.

So Who 'Literally' Loves GOD Creator of the Elements, and Celibate God/Us Ancestors, and Jesus? Body Birth Humans that Kill? I do not think so.

Red Biddy

It seems to me that one of the problems with successful interfaith dialogue, are the divisions wihin the religions themselves. I'm presently reading Marching Toward Hell:America and Islam after Iraq by Michael Scheur, in which he comments on the complete lack of understanding (by America) of the historic confrontation between Shia and Sunni Moslems. Groups entirely happy - as events in Iraq have shown - to blow up one another's mosques with impunity !

I'd like to know if Eboo Patel addressed this issue as a problem within his own faith and whether in the U.S. this is still going on with his religion here, and what they are doing about it.

Seems as if (and I may be entirely wrong about this) that it is the Sunni side of Islam that is encouraging the present world wide spate of suicide bombers but not the Shia, so much, if at all.

It's always seemed to me that the Sunni/Shia split resembles in many respects the historic Catholic/Protestant split although they happened for different reasons.
Can't say that the Shia beating their backs into a pulp, as a mourning ritual for a long dead leader, is any more appealing (to me) than symbolically eating body and drinking blood in remembrance of a long dead Jesus. But there are similarites there.

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