Dear Internet Diary,
My thoughts on religion have always been that it's a socially inflicted brainwash. most that go outside the boundaries of their society are ostricized to an extent. Therefore, people who go against religion are not as socially accepted as others (at least in the U.S.). Funerals, I believe, are socially inflicted gatherings. ... if you don't go to a funeral, you are usually labeled disrespectful. Personally, i hate funerals. After speaking with other people, they concluded my views were immature and that i would "get it" when i got older. that's offensive, especially when i just "don't get" why a funeral is so important.
Funerals are religious, but most services are not. They are like Christmas: they started out Pagan, the Christians and Jews tried to make everyone believe they started it all, and then the secular world, sensible as it is, made it into a food-centered event. Not a surprise, considering Catholics dress corpses like they would a Thanksgiving turkey. It's ghoulish. But, it's what they do. It has a little bit more of a party feel in Hispanic countries, where the party continues on well after the burial. There's no way they can hide the pagan ritual in that. When you have skeleton bands dancing around with devils, it's kind of hard to hide.
Last time I went to a funeral, I felt way out of place until the son started joking through the whole thing. Rather than being offensive to everyone, it was a big relief. We were doing the Catholic thing, and some of the family was still paying lip-service to it. We had to babysit the body from morning 'til cremation.
Not all of us feel a "duty" towards a corpse. Those that feel compelled to honor someone's memory should do so. My mother-in-law, I felt, was honoring something else. Not a memory or a corpse that hardly resembled her mother at all (it looked like a porceline doll, like the pope does). She was honoring a passage in her own life.
However, not everyone that is bullied or pressured into attending these things feels a need to honor anything about the person. I think its about as disrespectful to someone's memory you could possibly get to guilt someone (who doesn't feel that need) into filling a seat, to appease a sense etiquette. Perhaps it would be better for that person to place a sympathetic phone call to grieving family members. The meaning of that gesture is caring and honest, not superficial.
But thanks for listening, diary.