Funeral Misbehavior

November 19, 2010 | By | 2 Replies More

I don’t follow gossip columns, or even broadcast news. But I do read a few blogs. Yesterday FriendlyAtheist posted Tony Danza’s Funeral Outburst Makes Sense. I don’t particularly care about the actor or the author involved. But apparently he has gotten some negative press for an action that I wish I’d had the cojones to do a couple of times. He cut off a a cleric who was in full stride in a fire and brimstone recruiting speech at the funeral of a friend, to redirect focus to the friend.

Personally, I think the cleric was misbehaving, not the friend. And I wish more people would stand up at funerals and demand that the subject be of the life departed, not of the faith of the orator. Better yet, make sure the minister knows beforehand that bald propagandizing will not be tolerated.

If the deceased had been a pious person, then discussing the faith and piety of the departed meets with my approval. But using the occasion simply as a recruiting drive is too common of an occurrence. I’ve been to a few funerals where the cleric/priest/minister had nothing particular to contribute about the guest of honor, but went on and on about how doomed the rest of us were unless we took his preferred sacrament. He simply knew a captive audience and marketing opportunity when he had one. Very dissatisfying to those of us who knew the decedent.

I have also been to good memorials, where the focus was on the life as lived. My two favorite memorial services ended with a participatory kazoo performance, or recessional music by Groucho Marx. They were fully celebrations of the life departed, not dire warnings to the audience. Unless as a cautionary example to enjoy life while you can.

Here is an example of an appropriate farewell, although NSFW:

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Category: advertising, Communication, Community, Current Events, Friendships/relationships, Meaning of Life, Propaganda, Religion

About the Author ()

A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

Comments (2)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    This is going to tempt me to misbehave at my next funeral. What garbage you usually hear at a formal church funeral, where the minister usually doesn't really know much of anything about the deceased.

    Then again, the family was ultimately responsible for orchestrating the tedious ritual. I suppose that the place I'm most likely to misbehave is where I knew the deceased very well, where he/she wouldn't have wanted pontificating at their funeral, where the family went against his/her wishes and chose to have a religiously pious service and where the minister is actively proselytizing.

    The video is John Cleese at his best. Everyone must have known it was coming, based on all of the cameras. RIP Graham Chapman.

  2. Yuan Tao says:

    Unfortunately, this recently happened at my mom's funeral. I ended up leaving it feeling unfulfilled and disgusted with the church which took advantage of my mom's state near the end of her life (she contracted cancer). The feeling did not cease until we brought my mom's ashes to her hometown in China and we did a more traditional burial that was near completely secular. There I felt more that the burial was about HER rather than some stupid church.

    What religion does at funerals is despicable. Funerals should be about remembering the person who recently passed, not some abstract concept of a nonexistent god.

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