1. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    Secular writings on death.

    Discussion in 'Research' started by stormcat, Oct 15, 2014.

    It seems like every quote, poem or speech made about death alludes to a God, belief system, or afterlife. I'm writing a character who was a lifelong Atheist and has to give a reading at a funeral. Now, he obviously doesn't want to read something from the bible, but even with poems and plays death goes hand and hand with god and the afterlife. Can someone direct me towards a more secular song, poem, epitaph, paragraph or any other form of writing to share with grieving mourners?

    It's also worth noting that the story takes place in 1885, so no Carl Sagan or Richard Dawkins to quote.
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Here are two poems I love. They seem simple at first but are really complex once you start thinking about them.

     
  3. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    "If-" by Rudyard Kipling...except that it wasn't published until 1910...

    However, as an atheist (small "a", there is no god to offend!) I would have no problem in reading an appropriate quotation from the Bible. After all, why should God have all the good literature? Plus, in 1885, faith was more widespread, and by avoiding a biblical quotation, I would be being disrespectful to the majority of the congregation and making a callous statement about my own beliefs, rather than giving an elegy to my dead friend.

    Unless your capitalization of Atheist is intended to indicate that his atheism is tantamount to the elevation of atheism into a religion that is intolerant of other religions?
     
  4. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    Well, he is an Atheist in an Atheist soceity. There are simply no religions to be intolerant of in this world I'm writing.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I too find the capital A in atheist to be puzzling.

    I just Googled the phrase

    secular poems about death

    and got a lot of hits, though the definition of "secular" seems a little fuzzy in some cases. For example, Auden's Funeral Blues seems secular, yes, but all those mentions of immortality in Emily Dickinson's Because I Could Not Stop For Death certainly seem to disqualify it.
     
  6. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're creating a world with no religions, you can create a world where Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins (and Rudyard Kipling) had written their inspiring words before 1885.
     
  7. Jecon
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    Jecon Member

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    “I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking.”

    -Carl Sagan, astrophysicist.

    Christopher Hitchens is just the author you need to inspire you character. He was a lifelong atheist too. He said in his death bed that if he would believe in God, his cancer already reached his brain. You can also look for Nietzsche who proclaimed that God is dead. He believes in eternal recurrence, which tells us that the universe repeats itself.
     

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