Beyond Funny

Of course, more than one person pointed me towards The Onion’s video, “Leading Cause of Death in the US is God Needing Another Angel,” this week.  And more than one person questioned whether this would be funny to a grieving atheist parent.

All  nonbelievers  reject the sugary tropes explaining why an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving god would  allow a child to die.  But those of us who have actually lost a young son or daughter are the ones most harmed when people spout this crap.  Making up “comforting” lies about God requiring “sweet baby angels to help him paint rainbows in the sky” isn’t just silliness to us, it is a way of dismissing, derailing or simply avoiding the pain we feel and the randomness of the tragedy that caused it.

So while I understand that plenty of atheists are just having a good laugh at the way religious explanations for death would be reported if they represented actual causes of death, grieving atheist parents are watching this video with a bitter sense of familiarity.

Is it funny to us?  I can only speak for myself.

To me it went well beyond funny.  Past the rueful chuckle was a sense of relief that finally, all over the internet, people are mocking the saccharine dismissal of our loss to which we are subjected by so many believers.  And mockery is exactly what it deserves.  So watch and laugh.  Yes, I’m offended, but not by this video.

6 responses to “Beyond Funny”

  1. kristi editor says:

    Yes, Rebecca. Yes, yes, yes. Perfect.
    When I posted it on my wall, I commented: “This satire is biting, but there’s a truth in the message. Every human dies. The cause is always physical; it is never supernatural and there is never a reason directed at those left behind. Please stop to think about what you say to someone who is grieving a loss. Wishing a long healthy life to all, and comfort to those whose loved ones died too young.”

  2. Rebecca Hensler says:

    Thanks, Kristi. Glad I’m not the only one, and glad you put effort into letting people know how this makes us feel.

  3. It just makes me sad, because my mother has clung to this “comfort” very sincerely in the wake of her two miscarriages. One of the many factors that pushed me towards questioning the faith in the first place.

  4. SueBlue says:

    When my son was murdered in 2005, I was subjected to all kinds of supposedly “comforting” crap in the days, weeks, and even months following. All of my religious family members and friends, pastors, and even casual acquaintances seemed compelled to tell me how my son was “safe in Jesus”, “resting in the Lord”, “called home,” and “waiting for you in Heaven”. Their answer to the reasons for his brutal death was that ancient trope about God working in mysterious ways. One person even informed me that perhaps he had died at that particular time and place in order to save him from some “even worse” fate. As if being beaten and drowned by persons unknown while camping at a Colorado lake wasn’t bad enough. At the time I couldn’t work up the strength to come back with the retorts I can think of now; all I could feel was pain at the suggestion that somehow his life with us was worth nothing to this “God”. I’ve since written about how these religious sentiments sound to those grieving such a loss. Is a murderer just God’s little helper, doing his part to provide God or Jesus or whoever with a constant supply of “angels”? Does God delight in blessing people with precious children just to yank them away at any moment in the cruelest imaginable circumstances? Does He comfort the screaming child being tortured and murdered by a molester with visions of angelhood in Heaven soon to come? Why not prevent the whole thing in the first place? And as for envisioning my son as an angel or ghost flitting around, visiting his former digs, checking up on his family and friends – who would wish that on a loved one? How would it feel to be incorporeal, unable to communicate with your family and friends except by frightening them or leaving little cryptic clues, and having to watch, powerless to intervene, while your family suffers agonies of grief and pain?
    It’s always seemed to me that people who believe these things don’t follow their logic to its ultimate conclusion, because if they did, they would realize how cruel and untenable such a situation would be. How much better that death is a real end, without awareness or pain or suffering.

  5. Rebecca Hensler says:

    SueBlue, I couldn’t agree more. And I am so deeply sorry about your son’s murder. What a terrible tragedy. I hate that believers said such unfeeling things. The fact that they were well-intentioned just shows how messed up these ideas are. “Why not prevent the whole thing in the first place?” indeed. As I have said before, if you saw “God’s plan” on paper, you would say, “That’s a really stupid plan.”

    Sue, what you have to say is both heartbreaking and important for others to hear. if you would consider writing a blog entry or just allowing me to republish what you wrote as a blog entry, please email

  6. Ghostrider says:

    After doing a few unspeakable things for ‘Queen and Country’ – and the muppets that lead us, I had the priviledge to meet two of the most beautiful people on the planet. I married one, and her mother was the other. I’ve had 36 years with my girl, and I believe that she (and her mother) made me a far better person than I could have ever expected to be.

    I watched my mother in law die of necrotizing fasciitus, truly a nightmare disease of incredible pain and a slow agonizing death.

    My wife, I have loved and supported as, over the last five years, she has slowly suffocated of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. I doubt she will last another year, and sometimes hate myself for thinking it would be a blessing if she went earlier, and I didn’t have to see the panic in her eyes as another attack overcomes her, and she loses control of her bodily functions.

    My, almost pathological hatred of those who invented a fantasy story about an all loving, all powerful super being who has the ability to stop such things, and chooses not to do so, is joined by the utter contempt for those, in these enlightened times, who continue to spout inanities about their deity’s love and compassion and my profound pity for the children who still get fed this drivel, probably explains why I am an atheist, and an ardent one at that.

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