Sunday, December 28, 2014

Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God by Greta Christina

Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Greta Christina. San Francisco: Dirty Heathen Publishing, 2014. ebook, 60 pps.

     My father is dead. He died on Christmas Eve holding my hand. He had a long struggle with Lewy Body Dementia, succeeding in living with it for more than a decade. Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God arrived around December 14th or so without any fanfare that I was aware of. I bought it several days ago, after my week-long vigil keeping my dad company.

     I know my dad is dead. There are other things that I do not know but doubt-- stuff that my Christian friends all say they are quite sure of-- such as the absence of the ghosts of my dearly departed grandparents. Yeah, Dad had a few quiet conversations with them during the death watch. Or, his failing brain hallucinated them. I'm not sure that people of the Book should be believing in talking with dead loved ones. I remember something about a chasm that the departed faithful cannot cross over in order to warn the living about rejecting Jesus. And then that whole Judgement Day scene. Isn't that supposed to happen before the opening of the gates of heaven? 

     The other thing that my believing friends take stock in is prayer. "We're praying for you," was routinely offered as solace. I finally offered the names of other family members for them to pray over. I've had enough of that. I'd rather have Spanish rice casseroles or muffins or chocolates by way of comfort. Prayer doesn't seem to work for me. I think of myself as the anti-prayer. Oh, not because I am against it. Rather because at one time I was diligent in my praying and could find no evidence of any deities attending to my earnest petitions during that time or any other.

     But I am not unkind. I thank people for their prayers and I acknowledge their beliefs in talking dead people. After all, they are not telling me that I am a filthy atheist condemned to the salt pits or anything of that nature. Like many atheists, I prefer to deal with the here and now rather than any promised reunion in some unnamed future [pre-rapture or post-rapture, it matters not to me] date. Advising me that "He's in a better place," or "Someday you'll see him again," feels like a denial of the totality of the loss of my father even though people don't mean to discount my grief. And no, there is no wailing and gnashing of teeth for this atheist. Death is a part of life. My dad's organs failed. That's all.

sapphoq reviews says: I was delighted to read Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God. I like Greta Christina's writing style and I like that she included her wife Ingrid and late cat Lydia in the book. I like the straightforward acknowledgement that often what serves as comfort to believers doesn't feel the same to us non-theists. I like the idea that we get to create our own meaning. [I've been doing that for years now]. I like the book. It is a short book but worth the read nonetheless. Those who identify as people of faith will find much to argue with in this book. I hasten to gently point out that this book was not written for believers. Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God was written for the rest of us-- the atheists, agnostics, agnostic atheists, non-theists, free-thinkers, nones, brights. And so yes, I highly recommend Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God to those of us for whom traditional messages of comfort during grief do not work.

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