test results and the afterlife

I remember during my clinical pastoral education studies watching a short film about a man who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I remember he had a wife and some teenaged children. In the face of his certain death he became fanatical about his belief in the afterlife and insisted that his family not be sad because he wasn’t really dying but transferring to a better place. They weren’t allowed to be sad or cry, even after he died. He insisted. We were shown the film as students because it was obvious the man was coping with his suffering by adopting a posture of denial with belief for its engine. It was sad to watch him and his family unwilling or unable to process their grief. Tragic.

A Christian pastor blogger called Pastor Mike is strongly suggesting that there be “The Christian National Registry of Atheists” in the USA. He says:

I mean, think about it. There are already national Registrys (sic) for convicted sex offenders, ex-convicts, terrorist cells, hate groups like the KKK, skinheads, radical Islamists, etc…

This way, he argues, they can be targeted by Christians for conversion to Christianity. But if they refuse conversion, then Christians can boycott their businesses so that Christians don’t inadvertently “feed Satan”.

I have an idea! Let’s force the atheists wear black armbands also. And Jews can wear yellow ones. Oh… wait…

I want to thank my friend Helen Sotiriadis, an atheist blogger as well as an amazing photographer, for making this known to me. You can read more about it at this atheist blog.

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18 Replies to “test results and the afterlife”

  1. This guy, and the fact that he gets support from other Christians scares the hell out of me.

    My dear Christian friends: You need to stand up to people like this. I can’t change the Church from the outside, that’s your job to do from the inside.

  2. Good heavens! As a hospice chaplain some of my best conversations have been with atheists and agnostics. If we look for God we can see God everywhere and learn from every encounter. One valuable lesson is what Jesus admonished-how NOT to be a child of God! He saved his rancor for those who thought they had all the answers and who used their faith to their own advantage rather than share the Good News of a loving, merciful God.

  3. Pretty sad and scary, indeed.

    It’s akin to those who don’t believe in man-made global warming being labeled as “deniers”, or “nazis”.

    There are kooks n this world, that is for sure. When they get the government behind them…then watch out. People will die.

  4. @Steve Martin –

    How did you know we were planning on burning you in ovens for being a denier? Damn, we had Obama poised to start the eradication next week…THIS RUINS EVERYTHING.

  5. Luke 10:27…‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’…and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”28 And He said… do this and you will live.”

    and, if you don’t do this aren’t you sort of “A-Thiest”?

  6. ‘”It’s akin to those who don’t believe in man-made global warming being labeled as “deniers””
    What WOULD you call them, then?’

    Many of those labeled “deniers” aren’t denying global warming exists; rather, they’re questioning it’s cause. Is it man-made or part of the earth’s natural heating and cooling cycle? We don’t have a concrete answer. Even the world’s top scientists are divided on this issue.

    As for Pastor Mike and his atheist registry, like so many other strongly religious people I’ve encountered, he’s equating religion with morality, as if, without religious belief (the right religious belief), you are incapable of possessing and living by a moral/ethical code. As a friend asked, what motivation do you have to be a good person without the fear of punishment by God for being bad? Frankly, I consider fear of divine retribution a very poor reason to be moral. Respect for humanity and the desire to make the world a better place are much better reasons, and no religious belief/affiliation is required for either.

  7. I have thought about this all morning because grief is still very acute in our house.

    Anyone who has lost a child, and ours was 18 years old, knows that this grief will never be entirely over. I did not understand this about people previously. There is an elderly couple in our congregations whose son dropped dead in gymn class at the school where the father was school principal. He was the couple’s only son (there are two daughters). This must be how many decades ago now? When all the special days come and anniversaries of this and that everything is as raw as ever. Before it happened to us I would watch this from the outside and wonder why they are still not over this. Why the hugging and crying with other members in similar situations? I truly thought that this should be over by now.

    But when someone is missing every Christmas, Easter, Birthday, death anniversary, Mother’s day, etc. they are still missing again and again, each time. The only thing is to be with people and get some distraction and companionship.

    Our dead have been burned into our heart and brain and body. Our feelings for them, the things they said and did, the cars they drove, the clothes they wore, the pleasures and pains they had, the hugs they gave, the way they smelled… It is wired into us now, somewhere in the neurons. It does not go away. It is part of us, and the pain will be there.

    It’s good to talk it out and cry it out, but it can’t be programmed.

    And at the time of death and funeral, it may not at all be the right time. Then we need every bit of strength we can muster. I refused to cry then because crying gives me headaches and a headache puts me into bed and I could not afford to be in bed. Plus, there were hundreds of mourners, many young and inexperienced people and you end up being there for them. There was no time for grieving then. And every bit of spare energy was called upon for other things.

    People looked at this and thought it was unnatural. They wanted to talk me through Kuebler-Ross. Good grief! We have all heard this a thousand times.

    When the pastor came over, we just did a liturgy from the hymn book, the Apostle’s creed, the Lord’s prayer. What a relief to just fall back on that. What a gift. That’s all that was needed. “The Lord be with you.” “And also with you.” Amen.

    Please, don’t make me cry.

    But on Monday, I cried. It was a really good cry. I was with a women I did not know well, but she also lost a child and we walked along the North Saskatchewan river and sat on a bench in the sunlight and looked at downtown Edmonton. And we shared our difficulties and I cried. There was a time and a place and person. And this also was a gift. It could not be planned.

    Others benefit from other things. I am just telling how it goes for me.

  8. Thankfully “Pastor” Mike wrote that over a year ago and hasn’t really found it catching on. And just as thankfully he is, apparently, only a pastor in his own mind and not in any real-life sense. Nutjobs abound, hard to imagine how this one gets press a year after the actual post.

    Denial is a refuge for mankind regardless of their system of belief.

  9. A year ago, and NP is just now trying to make issue of it. Interesting. Brianmpei, you said it hasn’t caught on. I would have thought NP would have caught that and not used it to stir the big pot! First I ever heard of it, and won’t waste time investigating it.

  10. fishon and brian: i agree my research on this article wasn’t as thorough as it should have been. nevertheless i am more interested in the attitude behind the idea. the attitude towards atheists is prevalent. plus the whole assumption that christians should decide as a nation what goes on inside of it.

  11. Brigitte:

    Your comments moved me to tears. You write so eloquently about a painful subject. You know something? You will always be able to be there for someone else who has lost a loved one, be it a child, spouse, brother, sister, friend. You will allow them to grieve in their own way and you will understand because you have been there yourself. Are still there, because as you so rightly stated, you relive it over and over.

    Your fourth paragraph reads like poetry. That may not be much comfort to you now, but sometime down the road, those words will be a comfort to someone who is where you are right now. They will know that they are not alone in this terrible pain. They will know they can speak or not speak how they feel and it is okay. Losing a child is the worst thing that can happen to anyone. Thank you for sharing such beautiful words from your heart.

  12. You are kind Crystal. I am glad it was meaningful. It was from my end straightforward and unpolished, as per usual.

    I do believe in the resurrection of the dead, but this is yet to come. For now we plug along.

  13. NP – my comment wasn’t meant as a reflection on your research. I was encouraged that despite this nutjob saying this a year ago it hasn’t really been picked up, even by other nutjobs. And that makes me a little suspicious of the main stream media that has tried to turn this non-story into a story.

    There are atheists who would like to see Christians rounded up but that doesn’t represent all atheists. A nutbar down in the States, similarly, doesn’t represent all or even many who want to see atheists put on a list.

    I was just saying that “the crazy you will always have with you…”

  14. nakedpastor
    August 31, 2011 | 7:44 pm
    i am more interested in the attitude behind the idea.
    —-There are a zillion goofy ideas out there in the big bad world. Though I did not look into this guy, I suspect there is an attitude of fear and a huge lack of knowledge as to what scripture says and does not say about his issue.

    the attitude towards atheists is prevalent.
    —-Personally, I don’t think so. At least, not on a large scale. Now that can change if the sign campaign going on in some cities takes off and becomes a big deal.

    plus the whole assumption that christians should decide as a nation what goes on inside of it.
    —-That movement really never went too far. Oh a few Congressmen and Senators were elected and continue to be in certain areas of our Country, but as a Nation wide move, it never really got legs under it. Some may say that Bush was elected because of the Christian vote, but if that is so, somehow that Christian vote did not reflect in enough Congressmen and Senators nation wide. And if the Christian voter as depicted by the mainstream press was so powerful, something happened to it, cause obama got elected.

    But we shall see. There is a whole new group trying to do as you fear [my fear too], the Dominionists. They will fall the way of Moral Majority too. Why? Because the vast numbers of Christian do NOT want to have authority to run other peoples lives.

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