I was just listening to an atheist podcast. A man called in saying that his sister convinced him to stop talking about atheism because of her Make a Wish Foundation-like ministry. She basically guilted him into stopping by pointing out that children on their death bed shouldn’t have their beliefs taken away from them; they need nothing but comfort.
I believe this: terminally ill patients should have as much comfort as is humanly possible, and that includes the dopiest drugs that have ever been outlawed and tut-tutted by Those Who Know Best.
But here’s the question: is Christian Ministry always comforting? Is Christian Ministry what these children want?
Maybe some do; I don’t really know. The immediate reaction is, “of course, they need to know they are going to heaven.”
This, to me, ignores the humanity and individuality of a person. A child, lest you forget, is an individual. A terminally ill person is also an individual.
When I talk to people who ask me, “why do you try and take away someone’s deeply held beliefs,” I first of all remind them that a belief is not something I can force from or on a person. But the real answer is I respect them as a human. I don’t automatically assume a believer is a weak-willed, fragile person who will crumple with nothing but a feather’s touch.
You know what? Neither is every person who faces death. A small child, of course, would be more likely, you would think, to be more fragile. Or not. Maybe that child has no idea what death is. Or maybe that child is like I was–I wanted the truth.
I am admittedly very bitter about my Christian upbringing. The thought of it is an automatic trigger for me, and I don’t know if I will ever come to terms with it. An adult ministering to me did not bring me comfort, ever, as much as I can remember. An adult ministering to me only brought me the thought of obligation and obedience. I had to obey, and I had to please that adult, no matter who she or he was. I had to say what they wanted to hear, because I needed his or her approval. This is how I was trained, and this is how I guess most children are trained. Hierarchy and obedience is always imposed on children from the moment they might be able to understand what it is.
Who is this sick child who is being ministered to? Does she believe in the words the minister says? Was she raised even in a similar religion, or any religion at all? Does the idea of heaven really comfort her, or does she worry that she just might not get into heaven at all? (I worried about this.) Does she feel comforted, or does she feel obligated to please the adult talking in her ear?
This kind of scenario brings to mind the children in the early 90’s who were “counciled” by therapists to say what they wanted to hear–that they were being abused by Satanic cultists. Children are trained to please adults. Why else were they conceived, if that conception was planned? I believe it was always to meet the needs of the adults who wanted them.
I will say that if I were standing by the bedside of a dying child, I just might say they will see their family again in heaven. But when am I going to be in a hospital room with a child I don’t actually know very well? When would anyone? I’ll tell you: when they are a clergyperson. Are these words going to send them to heaven in bliss, will they hold in a fear that they might burn forever, or will they hold onto the obligation to please the adult until the very end?
Yes, I have thought about death and faced the possibility in my own hospital bed. I wondered: they asked me if I would like clergy. (“No, No, No, absolutely not, I’d argue with them!”) Now I wonder, do they ask the child, or do they ask the parents what their religion is? Aren’t they really thinking their first obligation is to the parents, just as it is in school? I can’t help but think that the kids always get screwed in the end.
I guess I’m not going to stop mentioning my atheism, as a rule. It’s also a good rule to treat others as you honestly think they would like to be treated, based on as much knowledge that you have on that person at the time. It’s more complicated, it wouldn’t go on a bumper sticker, but it sure makes a hell of a lot more sense.
More from Zeena Lavey.
Hans Wurman * Chopin’s Etude in F Minor
Robbie Fulks * Dirty Mouthed Flo
The Balfa Brothers * Madeleine
Kalyanji Anandji/Biddu * If You Were Prince Charming
Tricky Dicky * Electric Coconut
Two Little Kooks
Ferrerra and Franchini * Kawaihau
Ferlin Husky * The Drunken Driver
Adrian Rollini * You’ve Got Everything
Santi Latora * Latin Soul
Bert Lawry with Orchestra and Chorus * Portland Rose Song
Sauveur Malia * Holidays Morning
Bessie Smith * I Used to Be Your Sweet Mama
Tony Campo * Freak Out
Bing Crosby with the Dorsey Brothers * Stay on the Right Side of the Road
Vincent Gemignani * Megalopolis 1000 ieme avenue
Corinne Charby * A Cause de Toi
Zito Torrie * Mobile
A two parter coming up; from back in 1989, this is an interview by Christian televangelist Bob Larson with Zeena LaVey and Nikolas Schreck, on the moral values of the Satanism espoused by Zeena’s father, Anton LaVey.
Tran Hai Quang * A Bali On Entend Le Genggong Rab Ncas
Der Gerd-Michaelis-Chor * Es Bleibt Die Sonne
Andy Loore * Water Show
Fanfarlo * If it is Growing
Glenn Miller * Pagan Love Song
France Gall * Avant la Bagarre
Cracker G * On the Run
Plastic Flesh * I Know There’s an Answer
James Clarke * Country Folk
In the Ghetto
Bill LeSage & Tony Kensey * Douglas Dilemma
Rod Rogers and the Swinging Strings * Big Weekend
Neil Richardson * Pop Go the Children
Whispering Jack Smith * There Ain’t No Maybe in My Baby’s Eyes
Denny Morris * Popcorn
Boy Crisis * Fountain of Youth
Electric Coconut * Killing Me Softly With His Song
Lady Gagarin * Klezmer Gaga
I can’t let another week go by without some predictions for 2012, the LAST YEAR EVER.
Stereo MC’s * Tomorrow Never Knows
Christian Puppets * Eat of my Body
1L * Wanna Be Startin’ Something
Tribute to Kent Hovind
Cristina * Drive My Car
Citizen King * Once in a Lifetime
Wobbly * 19999
T-Bone Wolk * Don’t Pass Me By
Garcons * French Boy
Criswell * Someone Walked Over My Grave
The Swingle Singers * Fool on the Hill
Cory Brokken * Der Mann Den Ich Will
Xiu-Xiu * All We Ever Wanted Was Everything
Johnny O’Keefe * Real Wild Child
Mae West * Criswell Predicts
Ricky Gervais on the 10 Commandments * The Invention of Lying
The Tornadoes * Telstar
Criswell Predicts Dance remix