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Fri Apr 27, 2012, 10:40 AM

The spirituality of Hitch’s atheist funeral

AIDAN JOHNSON
From Friday's Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Apr. 27, 2012 2:00AM EDT

Last week, Christopher Hitchens was memorialized in New York. The event raised a profound issue: how to “do” funerals for those of little faith, or none. The matter is of increasing importance as more and more people turn away from religion.

Hitch was an atheist writer. In his later career, he wrote a great deal about what he called “anti-theism,” the view that faith is anti-social. As a friend of Hitch’s, I was curious to see how his family would mark his life, given that view.

Faith has always monopolized funerals. If you wanted a decent burial, the temple was the place to go, the shaman the man to pay. The arrival of scientific atheism in the 18th century only changed this somewhat. Many secularists continued to have religious funerals – for lack of other ritual, or for fear of sticking out.

The Hitch memorial solved this problem. The solution was to embrace a deeply personal truth of Hitch’s own: the idea that atheism must celebrate a secular trinity of love, human equality and art, just as much as it denies God. The celebration must feed the denial, and the denial the celebration. For Hitch, anyone who preferred denial of faith to celebration of life was merely nihilist and could not claim true fellowship with the godless.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/the-spirituality-of-hitchs-atheist-funeral/article2415234/?utm_medium=Feeds%3A%20RSS%2FAtom&utm_source=World&utm_content=2415234

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Reply The spirituality of Hitch’s atheist funeral (Original post)
rug Apr 2012 OP
cbayer Apr 2012 #1
rug Apr 2012 #2
trotsky Apr 2012 #3

Response to rug (Original post)

Fri Apr 27, 2012, 11:09 AM

1. Interesting that religion was present at the ceremony.

The article points out how it is difficult to talk of someone's passing without using religious language. In the end, it was a spiritual event. (at least according to this writer).

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Response to cbayer (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 27, 2012, 11:14 AM

2. I expect consolation was a large part of it as well.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 27, 2012, 11:24 AM

3. Of course religion was present.

Memorials are for the living, not the dead.

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