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My Faith: What people talk about before they die
January 28th, 2012
11:00 PM ET

My Faith: What people talk about before they die

Editor's Note: Kerry Egan is a hospice chaplain in Massachusetts and the author of "Fumbling: A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief, and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino de Santiago."

By Kerry Egan, Special to CNN

As a divinity school student, I had just started working as a student chaplain at a cancer hospital when my professor asked me about my work.  I was 26 years old and still learning what a chaplain did.

"I talk to the patients," I told him.

"You talk to patients?  And tell me, what do people who are sick and dying talk to the student chaplain about?" he asked.

I had never considered the question before.  “Well,” I responded slowly, “Mostly we talk about their families.”

“Do you talk about God?

“Umm, not usually.”

“Or their religion?”

“Not so much.”

“The meaning of their lives?”

“Sometimes.”

“And prayer?  Do you lead them in prayer?  Or ritual?”

“Well,” I hesitated.  “Sometimes.  But not usually, not really.”

I felt derision creeping into the professor's voice.  “So you just visit people and talk about their families?”

“Well, they talk.  I mostly listen.”

“Huh.”  He leaned back in his chair.

A week later, in the middle of a lecture in this professor's packed class, he started to tell a story about a student he once met who was a chaplain intern at a hospital.

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“And I asked her, 'What exactly do you do as a chaplain?'  And she replied, 'Well, I talk to people about their families.'” He paused for effect. “And that was this student's understanding of  faith!  That was as deep as this person's spiritual life went!  Talking about other people's families!”

The students laughed at the shallowness of the silly student.  The professor was on a roll.

“And I thought to myself,” he continued, “that if I was ever sick in the hospital, if I was ever dying, that the last person I would ever want to see is some Harvard Divinity School student chaplain wanting to talk to me about my family.”

My body went numb with shame.  At the time I thought that maybe, if I was a better chaplain, I would know how to talk to people about big spiritual questions.  Maybe if dying people met with a good, experienced chaplain they would talk about God, I thought.

Today, 13 years later, I am a hospice chaplain.  I visit people who are dying in their homes, in hospitals, in nursing homes.   And if you were to ask me the same question - What do people who are sick and dying talk about with the chaplain?  - I, without hesitation or uncertainty, would give you the same answer. Mostly, they talk about their families: about their mothers and fathers, their sons and daughters.

They talk about the love they felt, and the love they gave.  Often they talk about love they did not receive, or the love they did not know how to offer, the love they withheld, or maybe never felt for the ones they should have loved unconditionally.

They talk about how they learned what love is, and what it is not.    And sometimes, when they are actively dying, fluid gurgling in their throats, they reach their hands out to things I cannot see and they call out to their parents:  Mama, Daddy, Mother.

What I did not understand when I was a student then, and what I would explain to that professor now, is that people talk to the chaplain about their families because that is how we talk about God.  That is how we talk about the meaning of our lives.  That is how we talk about the big spiritual questions of human existence.

We don't live our lives in our heads, in theology and theories.  We live our lives in our families:  the families we are born into, the families we create, the families we make through the people we choose as friends.

This is where we create our lives, this is where we find meaning, this is where our purpose becomes clear.

Family is where we first experience love and where we first give it.  It's probably the first place we've been hurt by someone we love, and hopefully the place we learn that love can overcome even the most painful rejection.

This crucible of love is where we start to ask those big spiritual questions, and ultimately where they end.

I have seen such expressions of love:  A husband gently washing his wife's face with a cool washcloth, cupping the back of her bald head in his hand to get to the nape of her neck, because she is too weak to lift it from the pillow. A daughter spooning pudding into the mouth of her mother, a woman who has not recognized her for years.

A wife arranging the pillow under the head of her husband's no-longer-breathing body as she helps the undertaker lift him onto the waiting stretcher.

We don't learn the meaning of our lives by discussing it.  It's not to be found in books or lecture halls or even churches or synagogues or mosques.  It's discovered through these actions of love.

If God is love, and we believe that to be true, then we learn about God when we learn about love. The first, and usually the last, classroom of love is the family.

Sometimes that love is not only imperfect, it seems to be missing entirely.  Monstrous things can happen in families.  Too often, more often than I want to believe possible, patients tell me what it feels like when the person you love beats you or rapes you.  They tell me what it feels like to know that you are utterly unwanted by your parents.  They tell me what it feels like to be the target of someone's rage.   They tell me what it feels like to know that you abandoned your children, or that your drinking destroyed your family, or that you failed to care for those who needed you.

Even in these cases, I am amazed at the strength of the human soul.  People who did not know love in their families know that they should have been loved.  They somehow know what was missing, and what they deserved as children and adults.

When the love is imperfect, or a family is destructive, something else can be learned:  forgiveness.  The spiritual work of being human is learning how to love and how to forgive.

We don’t have to use words of theology to talk about God; people who are close to death almost never do. We should learn from those who are dying that the best way to teach our children about God is by loving each other wholly and forgiving each other fully - just as each of us longs to be loved and forgiven by our mothers and fathers, sons and daughters.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Kerry Egan.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Death

soundoff (4,494 Responses)
  1. Lou Poulain

    This is a wonderful piece. My brother is dying slowly and painfully, from what he refers to as "cancer of the everything." We talk about family, and love, and joys and pain and regret... and forgiveness and forgiving. He's come a long way in his heart, and he has worked very hard to mend relationships and heal wounds. I see it as the work of God's Kingdom, (although my brother might not use that kind of language) and his life is coming to a remarkable wholeness. That is spiritual health and redemption.. and grace. A real minister will listen and rejoice at the power of love, and not try to "save" him.

    February 2, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  2. Elle

    As a clinical social worker I have found the same to be true. What makes someone a "great" therapist is not their clinical knowledge but their ability to connect in an almost spiritual way with their clients - showing them dignity and respect - and listening. This was a beautifully written piece.

    February 2, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  3. Toya

    That professor was a dick. Who wants a person with a religious agenda bothering them in their last days? I'm sorry but even in a person's last days, they don't want someone reminding them that their time is running out. They want someone comforting to be there with them. But I'm sure that guy was a Bible thumper so he and everyone that laughed with him felt that members of the clergy are expected to talk about God ALL the time. Take a breath a break and be human for a minute.

    I praise this woman for being a listener in a time of sadness. Sometimes the best thing for a greiving family is someone outside the family that's willing to just sit and comfort them.

    February 2, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  4. Lana

    By the way, I thought this was a great story!

    February 1, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  5. Lana

    Some people are so bitter and have no life...... they just want everyone else to feel as bad as they do!!!!!
    I'll pray for their sad, ignorant & miserable life.

    February 1, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • James

      Lana –
      Perhaps you could reach out to those who are suffering and offer them the tangible things they most need – consolation, comfort, and support – rather than condemning them through silent incantations.

      February 3, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  6. peshwar

    Finally, from CNN! A story about life, love and God rolled into one. Isn't this what all of God's creatures wrestle with each day, only that it is magnified greatly at life's end.

    Thank You!!!

    February 1, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Ayala

      Right on! We need to live together on this earth. Do away with nuclear weapons and get along somehow, no matter how difficult it is. Those who live this way are the real heros!

      February 1, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • OhPleaseYerKillinMeSTOP

      Jesus... the baloney so many supposedly educated folks buy into thanks to fear and brainwashing and guilt. Stuff you would never believe if pitched by a salesman... and proselytizers and pulpit pounders are just that. Hey kiddies – we now KNOW where thunder comes from (vacuum around massive air/ground electrical discharges/imbalance resolutions) and satellites/databases show and predict most crop cycles. You don't need to sacrifice virgins or burn witches anymore. Just look at religion;s history and origins. NOTHING in your bibble is original... all plagiarized and edited by self-serving power mongers. You can have ethics, law, scientific progress and a great nation WITHOUT religion and without Jim&Tammy, Benni Hinn, Jimmy Lee Swaggert, Pat Robertson, and Rick Santorum. And millions of Americans would not needlessly suffer and die from diseases tht he and Dubya blocked cures for in exchange for bloc voting. Pederast priests, popes with mistresses, embezzling adulterous ministers in every US city today, Dark Ages, Inquisition, Holocaust... you can't make this shyte up. You can just, personally, at last, refuse to buy into it... and demand their real estate tax exemptions be revoked.

      February 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  7. Sojourneer

    The richest nation on earth, and the most hostile to religious belief. Not just disbelieving, but bitterly immicable, as if God has mistreated them beyond what they can bear.
    Someone said this recently: modern Americans now expect heaven on earth and are bitterly disappointed. But that false promise is their own invention, and they are choking on the stench of its decay.

    Preach to me when I am dying, speak with me of heaven and of our homecoming, when our loving will be perfect and free, when all ends well to begin anew.

    February 1, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • rick

      "The richest nation on earth, and the most hostile to religious belief. Not just disbelieving, but bitterly immicable"

      It is not the belief that draws the hostility, it is the preaching of it.

      "But that false promise is their own invention, and they are choking on the stench of its decay."

      As is all religious belief

      February 1, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Toby

      Rick. Its not the preaching, its the religion. People are born with hate in their hearts and will always find an avenue. And "false promises" are also an invention of antireligions like athiesm. Example, the false promise of no life after death. The false promise that one will not be held accountable for their actions on earth. The false promise that we are our own gods. Etc.

      February 1, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Thomas Peters

      "The richest nation on earth, and the most hostile to religious belief. Not just disbelieving, but bitterly immicable, as if God has mistreated them beyond what they can bear."

      Gosh, I don't find this to be true at all. As to religious belief, we are vastly more religious than Europe, and generally more religious than most of the industrialized world. As to believing that we are "mistreated more than we can bear," I grant you that there is a healthy dose of that sentiment in America, but no more than the rest of the world. Most nations have a belief that they are special, and that their specialness is somehow not recognized by others, and that this is (in some sense) a form of oppression. I don't see America as being distinct in that way at all.

      February 2, 2012 at 8:31 am |
  8. Michael

    Ms. Egan, congratulations on a well-written essay on a timeless subject. I do not routinely read "religious" dispatches on any forum, CNN's or otherwise, but, while waiting for my morning coffee to brew, I scanned the headlines and inadvertently clicked on your piece. You are, obviously, a person of deep conviction. What is also striking, and a bit disconcerting, is the number of vitriolic responses, running the gamut from disbelief to condemnation. Sad to say, but we live in a world of doubters and naysayers. Many are hedonists whose largest failure is their unwillingness to take others - and even themselves - seriously, anchoring their hopes and dreams to the visceral. I have yet to see a headstone that proclaims what a good employee the deceased was and how much money he made. Godspeed!

    February 1, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Toby

      Thank you for your post. It inspires me to see that some people still have the capacity the be human. There is so much blind acceptance and blind denial on both sides of the coin today. With everyone thinking they are "right", there are few people left who will just stop talking and start listening. It is unfortunate that the characture of the ol fire and brimstone preacher has come to life, and people of all faiths, including athiesm, are spending their time telling people where theyll end up after death, instead of guiding them through life.

      February 1, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  9. CW ANDERSON

    AHOY' LOST AN OLD FRIEND LAST YEAR AND HE IS NOW UP IN THAT BIG RV PARK IN THE SKY ENJOYING HIMSELF SITING IN A LAWN CHAIR AND SMILING AGAIN AT ALL THE BEAUTY THAT WE INJOYED AS FRIENDS.

    February 1, 2012 at 6:28 am |
    • OhPleaseYerKillinMeSTOP

      I'm sure he was a fine fellow and that is your comforting fantasy... but it is simply lights out like a crushed bug. To maintain its dependency scam, revenue flow, nd unearned privileges and tax dodges, religion tries to force itself into every aspect of life when dying is a time to bask in the glow of loving human, real relationships ... and perhaps make a few apologies... like for wasting others; time with ignorant, self-servinge proselytizing.

      February 1, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Toby

      Oh please. How on earth would you know its "lights out" when one dies? Its not like weve done a scientific experiment and have proof. Youve taken one one of lifes buggest mysteries, that men have been searching for answers for thousands of years, and come to the conclusion of "lights out". And mainly because you reject religion, so you throw the baby out with the bathwater. Did you ever stop and think about how arrogant that makes you sound?

      February 1, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • OhPleaseYerKillinMeSTOP

      Let's see Tubby... relying on history, fact, and science makes me "arrogant" while disputing those, believing in tooth fairies and defending The Inquisition and Jim&Tammy makes you a saint... just like your mom and dad. Hmmmm... Sucker.

      February 1, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  10. James

    A friend of mine, a daughter of a Southern Baptist Minister, told me about this article. I am with my dying mother right now. All she has talked about is family. My grandmother's last words were, "I love all my own." I wholeheartedly believe that Ms. Egan's premise is correct. I don't really care what the naysayers say, but they could not be more wrong. The moment of death is not a time for preaching, it is a time for listening, if there ever was one.

    February 1, 2012 at 1:58 am |
    • rick

      peace be to you and your mother

      February 1, 2012 at 5:34 am |
  11. CLL3

    I believe Kerry Egan would have been welcome at my wife's deathbed while she was free of her morphine haze. She only wanted to think of her children and me. In a better frame she might have been amused by the reason given by self righteous zealots for their god to chosen her out so young. She had a bright sense of humor knowing they had no answer. She died with her family where she belonged. Thank you Kerry Egan for a balanced, truthful, and balanced look at death.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:26 am |
  12. Nate

    This is a pretty inspiring piece. Normally the belief blog leaves me bored or in disbelief at how relevant people of faith think religion is in the modern world. The responses to this article have been pretty typical, though. Religious people pushing their delusions and blind certainty of reality on others. "The article was nice, but she didn't mention how a relationship with HIM will prevent the dying individual from burning in hell for eternity. Even if its when they're taking their last breaths, they can still let Jesus in their heart." Honestly, the *last* thing I want to be doing when I'm experiencing what will be the last waking, conscious moments of life, is being worried that I didn't worship some imagined diety enough to buy me a ticket to some la-la land in the clouds.

    On the other hand, speaking with another human being who is willing to *listen* about how much I loved, who I loved, how much they meant to me, and how much i'll miss them seems like a much better use of my last moments. Leave it to religion to dictate how you should think and act, down to your last moments of life, for fear of experiencing even greater pain after death...and why shouldn't they know? A book, written by greedy patriarchal elite, re-written, edited to fit the cultural norms of the day says so....so why not buy it hook, line, and sinker? ...and this is why atheism and alternative forms of spirituality are the fastest growing belief systems in this country.

    January 31, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  13. Lily

    There is no greater love than this for a person to lay down their life for another. We can learn from our greatest master of all .... God who is love in Jesus Christ....who laid down His life for imperfect humans so that we can experience abundant life not only spiritually but here in our finite time of existence on earth by bonding with a total new family of believers and learning to love others as ourselves. By following Him, we can find peace at the end of this lifetime loving family members (believers or not) with the love of God weather they deserve it or not. Less regrets and peace not to mention assurance of where we will spend the rest of eternity....an important detail that chaplains should not leave out especially in nonbelievers death beds where they have the last chance of experiencing true love that will keep them out of hell.

    January 31, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • No. Wrong.

      No. Wrong.

      January 31, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • just sayin

      blessings

      January 31, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Keeth Urbane

      Lily-Right on!!!

      January 31, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Bill P

      Lily, You are CORRECT. Hopefully, before the "silver cord is loosed", the scoffers will come to know the truth. They are lost and need Jesus.

      January 31, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • tallulah13

      People like you disgust me. There are very few people in this country who don't know the story you want to sell. The final moments of the dying are precious and cannot be given back. Try to be a decent human being. Don't try to steal those moments for your own selfish wants.

      February 1, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • Bill P

      "The final moments of the dying are precious and cannot be given back." Tallulah – That is one perspective. Another is that a person may have spent his or her entire life, though relatively so short in time, resisting the love of God and then spends eternity regretting that. What you might consider a tragic intrusion on those last moments may be, like the repentant thief on the cross, that last chance to get it right.

      February 1, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • LinCA

      @Lily

      You said, "chaplains should not leave out especially in nonbelievers death beds where they have the last chance of experiencing true love that will keep them out of hell."
      On the off chance that I'm wrong, I would rather spend an eternity in hell than spend a day with the monster you call your god and his followers.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:00 am |
    • LinCA

      @Bill P

      You said, "Another is that a person may have spent his or her entire life, though relatively so short in time, resisting the love of God and then spends eternity regretting that."
      The odds of that proposition being anywhere near correct are so astoundingly small that is ridiculous to even consider it.

      You said, "What you might consider a tragic intrusion on those last moments may be, like the repentant thief on the cross, that last chance to get it right."
      Forcing your delusion on anyone, especially in his or her last moments, is rude and inconsiderate beyond belief. For starters it's because you intentionally inflict harm, and it will be the umpteenth time you'd be wrong.

      You are free to believe whatever nonsense you like. If you wish to believe in the Tooth Fairy or any other mythical beings, go right ahead. Stupidity isn't illegal. But I suggest that you keep it to yourself. It is much better to be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:01 am |
    • Siimon

      You obviously didn't understand what the article is about... Just the usual Christian Cliches which don't apply to real life

      February 1, 2012 at 4:14 am |
    • David B

      LinCA, you have nothing to back up your assertions. Try not to hate so much...you'll feel better.

      February 1, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • OhPleaseYerKillinMeSTOP

      Another brainwashed robot heard from... religion is a scam and you a sucker. The only real life and thus the only one worth reflecting on is the one you have made through love and errors meriting joy and apologies at the end,

      February 1, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • LinCA

      @David B

      You said, "LinCA, you have nothing to back up your assertions. Try not to hate so much...you'll feel better."

      My only assertion is that it isn't reasonable to believe in something for which there is no evidence. Do you disagree with that?

      Ask yourself why you don't believe in the Tooth Fairy anymore and, when you know the answer, apply the exact same standard to your belief in a god. Since there is equal evidence for both, they are equally likely to exist.

      Since the belief in gods is unreasonable, nobody has the right to force it on anyone against their will.

      And, by the way, no hate here. Just sheer amazement at the rampant ignorance.

      February 1, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • David B

      LinCA, I think you meant to say there's no proof, not evidence. There's lots of evidence.
      By the way, there's no evidence that you're correct in any way.

      February 1, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • David B

      OhPleaseYerKillinMeSTOP......what do you base your assertions on?

      February 1, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • rick

      "There's lots of evidence." – David B

      Provide it

      February 1, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Bill P

      LinCA – "But I suggest that you keep it to yourself. It is much better to be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt." Yes, indeed, you are correct on this: "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' " (Psalms 14:1) Now, despite your protestations, I agree that a chaplain can and should serve the comforting needs of a person; however, as the writer of this blog has also admitted in one of her own comments, that chaplain could serve in the "pastoral" (i.e., spiritual) needs of a person about to meet his or her Maker.

      Perform a little introspection: ask yourself, sincerely, not with anger towards me or anyone else, why you are so angry. It would have been sufficient for you to say that you do not believe in God; as you pointed out, you do not see any "evidence" of that. However, you have to come out with an insult by equating belief in God with believing in the "tooth fairy". Ask yourself why you did that. While you may feel certain that God does not exist, yet for the very same level of available evidence, another person is absolutely convinced of the existence of God. Why is that? You, the non-believer, are obviously intelligent, and they, the believers, are “fools”? As Romans chapter 1 points out, even His "power and eternal God-head" are manifested by the things that are made (i.e., God reveals Himself through nature). Some people are able to (are willing or want to) see that; others not. But I suspect that blindness to the existence of God starts with the anger. Get rid of that, be sincere in your desire to know the truth, and it will be shown to you. No harm will come to you if you seek the truth. Despite what you say and do, God loves you. But you only have this life to make a difference with that knowledge. Eternity is too late.

      February 1, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • LinCA

      @David B

      You said, "I think you meant to say there's no proof, not evidence."
      No, I meant to say evidence. Proof is for alcohol and mathematics.

      You said, "There's lots of evidence."
      Please provide some. Any for that matter. Mind you, your book of fables only shows that a bunch of sheep herders managed to write down their fables.

      You said, "By the way, there's no evidence that you're correct in any way."
      Considering that I only dispute the believers claim based on the lack of evidence for their claims, there is no need to provide evidence. The complete and utter absence of any indication that there is a god, let alone one that is like you think he/she/it is, knocks the foundation out from under your religion. Without your god, you're entire house of cards crashes down. My odds are considerably better.

      February 1, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • LinCA

      @Bill P

      You said, ""The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' " (Psalms 14:1)"
      Yeah, real smart, quoting that to someone who obviously doesn't consider it to be of any value. How much weight do you think your circular argument carries?

      You said, "... that chaplain could serve in the "pastoral" (i.e., spiritual) needs of a person about to meet his or her Maker." (emphasis mine)
      The word "could" is key here. It is an absolute requirement that this can only occur with the express consent of the recipient.

      You said, "Perform a little introspection: ask yourself, sincerely, not with anger towards me or anyone else, why you are so angry."
      If there is any anger, it is with the incessant intrusion of religion into my life. The blatant violation of my freedom from religion.

      You said, "It would have been sufficient for you to say that you do not believe in God; as you pointed out, you do not see any "evidence" of that. However, you have to come out with an insult by equating belief in God with believing in the "tooth fairy"."
      Since you are asking me for introspect, here's one for you. Have you looked critically at what you consider evidence for your god? Is it really any different from the evidence for the Tooth Fairy?

      You said, "Ask yourself why you did that."
      It is to drive a point home. If you critically evaluate all available evidence, you'll see there is equal evidence for both.

      You said, "While you may feel certain that God does not exist, yet for the very same level of available evidence, another person is absolutely convinced of the existence of God. Why is that? You, the non-believer, are obviously intelligent, and they, the believers, are “fools”?"
      It's a simple question of merit. The claim of the existence of any phenomenon has very little, if any merit, until there is evidence in support. Until there is, all merit is with the other position, that the phenomenon is unlikely to be real.

      You said, "But I suspect that blindness to the existence of God starts with the anger."
      No, really, it starts with the ridiculous fables and the lack of evidence.

      You said, "Get rid of that, be sincere in your desire to know the truth, and it will be shown to you."
      I am sincere in my desire to know the truth. I will therefor not take anything on faith. Unless there is some coherent narrative with corroborative evidence, I won't accept it.

      You said, "No harm will come to you if you seek the truth."
      Well, some people will claim that I'll end up in hell for not suspending my disbelief and turn to their particular flavor of god.

      You said, "Despite what you say and do, God loves you."
      Non-existing entities are not capable of love.

      You said, "But you only have this life to make a difference with that knowledge."
      I don't have that "knowledge" as there really isn't any reason to believe it.

      You said, "Eternity is too late."
      Whoopsie, warning me of hell and damnation?

      February 1, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Bill P

      LinCA – I want to thank you for fully reading, then responding, to my post. You are a thinker. Now, while I believe that you have not come to the right conclusion, I appreciate your taking the time to express your thoughts. While waiting for your response, I was thinking about what you said about evidence and belief. We know that it really comes down to “faith”. I have previously posted the example of Jesus as well as the “two thieves” being crucified beside Him as kind of an example of discussing God and faith at the last moment of life. Yet, for six hours while Jesus was on the cross, there is only a small amount of record of what He said. In fact, in the discourse between the thieves and Jesus, the thieves did most of the talking. One mocked Him, saying, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” The other rebuked the first thief, saying, “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” The first thief sought earthly comfort and avoidance of punishment and rejected Jesus as the Son of God; the second understood the consequences of his actions as well as seeing that Jesus was blameless. Then that contrite thief said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Stop for a moment and consider that that person understood two fundamental things: 1) Jesus was the King; and 2) Jesus would be in His Kingdom (obviously understood that Jesus would be living in the afterlife). And Jesus told that second thief, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” To the first thief, He apparently said nothing – as far as we know. In conclusion, this is all about faith. The second thief could not see the Kingdom and had no fist-hand knowledge of the afterlife (the “evidence” that we have been discussing), yet in the midst of being crucified, He pronounced his faith in Jesus. LinCA, that is the only answer that can be provided to you. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) If I tell you that you have to get it right in this life, that eternity is “too late”, yes, I am talking about hell. That is because the source of my belief, the Bible, warns of that in dire and explicit terms. I would not do you a favor by telling you less.

      February 1, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Bill P

      Folks, here is another way of thinking about the concept of sharing God or not to during the last moments of another person’s life.

      It has been stated that it is offensive that someone would intrude upon the dying person’s last moments on this earth by imposing belief about God. To the Christian, who understands the consequences of accepting or rejecting Jesus, that person is compelled to share – not out of a desire to cause pain but to provide one more, maybe the only, opportunity for the dying person to avoid eternal punishment. It can’t otherwise be for money or for ego or for adding to a church’s membership as the dying person will shortly have nothing to share publicly. No testimonies, no monetary contributions to a church, probably not even a thank you. To the non-believer, the whole concept of “sharing God” smacks of meddling and interference and maybe even torturing the dying person, despite the likely loving and caring way God’s Word is shared.

      Now let’s consider a different scenario. You are walking along a busy street but you need to cross to the other side, and you have decided to do so in heavy, fast-moving traffic. You think that you have an opening and are about to dart across the street when you hear, “Hey, stupid, stop!” You do and avoid a large truck, suddenly changing lanes, which would have smacked you flat, probably killing you. Your reaction to the crude person that yelled at you and prevented the accident: “You saved my life. Thank you.” The reaction of the others around: “You are a hero. You save that person’s life.” No one mentions anything about style, crude language, etc. Just kudos. A life was saved. It didn’t matter about how that life was saved.

      So along comes the believer in Jesus that shares the Gospel (good news of salvation) to the dying person, and it is even done in a thoughtful, not forceful way, just sharing. Should the reaction of those around be anger?

      February 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Bill P,

      I like that news story about the Highway Dept. techs, who made one of those flashing danger signs say, "Zombies ahead. Run!"

      http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/03/21/national/main20045596.shtml
      ( there are few others too)

      February 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • David B

      LinCA and Rick, I hope you're at least considering what Bill P has to offer.

      February 1, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • EDDIE

      You will have to excuse LinCA...she is off her meds this month. And her"blog" is interesting. Got about 10 comments on it half a year. Way to set the blogging world on fire. a$$clown

      February 2, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • LinCA

      @Bill P

      You said, "We know that it really comes down to “faith”."

      Yes, I agree. But I strongly feel that that is where the problem lies. The entire process is circular. You have to have faith that there is a god (as there isn't any evidence to support the notion). Once you have that faith, it will be very easy to accept that the bible is the story of this god, which in turn will validate the initial belief.

      From the outside, the only way in would be to suspend the disbelief. That means that there is effectively no way in because the barriers to suspension of disbelief are too great. The story simply doesn't make enough sense to even be believable (if you don't already accept it). The obvious contradictions and the lack of any verifiable evidence make that leap virtually impossible for any rational person.

      You said, "... yes, I am talking about hell. That is because the source of my belief, the Bible, warns of that in dire and explicit terms." (emphasis mine)
      I suspect that for most believers, the belief in a god came first. Most likely instilled in him or her by his or her parents. Children are often taught to pray before meals and before going to bed before they can read. They are taught this before they know anything about any of the holy books. By the time they learn to read, the belief in their god is so engrained that the associated holy book will reinforce those beliefs. Those beliefs then validate the holy books, completing the circle.

      Once someone realizes this, there are a few possible paths to take. After "a crisis of faith" a common one is to simply deny it and go on with business as usual. Another is to shed the belief. If you are a regular visitor of this comment board, you'll find that a lot of the atheists that post here, myself included, are former believers (most grew up in christian homes).

      February 2, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Bill P

      You said, "To the Christian, who understands the consequences of accepting or rejecting Jesus, that person is compelled to share – not out of a desire to cause pain but to provide one more, maybe the only, opportunity for the dying person to avoid eternal punishment."

      While it may be considered noble to try to warn someone of impending harm, it is entirely up to the recipient of the warning to decide whether to heed it, or not. Whether to heed a warning is often decided by the perceived risk of not doing so. The higher the perceived risk, the more likely someone is to avoid it.

      Risk is often, somewhat simplistically, defined as the cost of an event multiplied by the likelihood that the event will occur. To give an example of how this would work, imagine someone riding the subway with out paying the fare. If the cost of the fine for fare evasion is $25 and the odds of getting caught are 1 in 10, the risk for each trip would amount to $2.50 ($25 x 10%). So. if the fare is higher than this, it would be worth evading it.

      So, for a warning to carry any weight, it has to be about an activity that carries a high perceived risk. And while the cost of not "turning to Jesus" may be high (eternal damnation may qualify as such), the odds of it actually happening are virtually zero. For someone who doesn't already believe the christian story of afterlife, or you particular version of it, the warning of eternal damnation will likely be unconvincing, as the risk is virtually zero. No matter how much you nag. As an example, warning someone that there is a less than 10% chance of rain and suggesting they carry an umbrella is only going to get you laughed at.

      To complicate matters, the christian version of afterlife isn't the only one. There are hundreds of stories of gods punishing those that don't believe in them. While the likelihood of those stories being true isn't any better than the christian one, they do present a problem. Everyone is equally likely (100% to be exact) to not believe in at least one of these gods or be unable to please him/her/it. So in that scenario, everyone is fucked, no matter how deeply you believe in one of them. To continue my example from above, in this scenario you'd have to be prepared for all types of weather. Dress for -40 degrees and for 120 degrees (and every temperature in between), prepare for rain, snow, hail, tornadoes, hurricanes and no fog to dense fog, all at the same time. To do all at the same time is ridiculous, yet all events occur frequently (so there is a real risk).

      You said, "Now let’s consider a different scenario. You are walking along a busy street but you need to cross to the other side, and you have decided to do so in heavy, fast-moving traffic. You think that you have an opening and are about to dart across the street when you hear, “Hey, stupid, stop!” You do and avoid a large truck, suddenly changing lanes, which would have smacked you flat, probably killing you."
      The difference is that this is a believable scenario with actual potential harm. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that in a collision with a fast moving truck, the pedestrian is likely to lose. In your scenario the risk is high as the likelihood of the event occurring is significant and the cost high.

      You said, "So along comes the believer in Jesus that shares the Gospel (good news of salvation) to the dying person, and it is even done in a thoughtful, not forceful way, just sharing. Should the reaction of those around be anger?"
      If the recipient of the sharing is a willing participant, no. But as soon as it is made clear that it has become intrusive, yet continued, yes.

      I feel that that is really the message of the article. Deathbed comforting by a chaplain should never, under any circumstances, be about conversion to any particular flavor of religion. For those that believe it can be about reinforcing those beliefs (whether those beliefs are the same as those of the chaplain, or not). I don't get the impression that Kerry Egan is working exclusively in christian based hospice service. I would expect her to visit people of all faiths, and even those without. I would expect her to thread carefully (as she appears to do).

      February 2, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • LinCA

      @David B

      You said, "I hope you're at least considering what Bill P has to offer."
      As you can read above, I did.

      February 2, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • LinCA

      @EDDIE

      You said, "You will have to excuse LinCA...she is off her meds this month. And her"blog" is interesting. Got about 10 comments on it half a year. Way to set the blogging world on fire. a$$clown"
      Nice comment. Almost 6th grade level. Do you have anything of substance to add, or are you just here for the personal attacks?

      February 2, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • David B

      LinCA, no you didn't. You're a liberal rebelling against "right-wing" Christianity, and probably your parent's values.

      February 2, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • LinCA

      @David B

      You said, "LinCA, no you didn't. You're a liberal rebelling against "right-wing" Christianity, and probably your parent's values"
      Sorry to burst your bubble, David. I did consider what Bill and other christians have to offer. I just don't buy any of it as it is utterly ridiculous.

      But if you have an issue with any of the comments that I've made, please elaborate. Please share with us that one piece of crucial information that you obviously think I'm missing. Make an argument.

      All you have done on this thread is make unsubstantiated claims. You claim to have evidence that shows your god is real somehow, but haven't provided even so much as a link. All you seem to have is a dislike for my argument and feel you need to put me down.

      So, here is my nickel's worth of free advice to you: Put on your big boy pants and formulate your position. Make your argument. Bring your evidence. Otherwise you may just want to quit while you're behind.

      February 2, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • David B

      LinCA, funny you should feel I've been trying to "put you down". No, but there must be a reason
      you refuse to acknowledge the very real evidence of God's existence. You may not like the
      evidence, or agree with it, but it's there. I can't make a better argument than Bill P, or even close.
      But I do know you have no evidence AT ALL to support your claims against God or Christianity.
      Nothing. To discount The Bible as merely a "fairy tale", or deny the life of Jesus just doesn't cut it
      without ANY counter-evidence, so you make the convenient argument for yourself that there is
      no evidence to counter.That's pretty lame LinCA. I would like to see ANY evidence to support
      your argument that there's no God. Of course, you can't do that. You have nothing. That's why
      I have to assume your obvious hatred of Christianity is only you rebelling against your upbringing
      or parents or conservatism or whatever.

      February 2, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • LinCA

      @David B

      You said, "LinCA, funny you should feel I've been trying to "put you down"."
      How else would you like me to interpret "You're a liberal rebelling against "right-wing" Christianity, and probably your parent's values"? To me it reads as if you think that being liberal is somehow inferior to being conservative, and because "rebelling against" anything is often associated with juveniles. It also implies that "anything" having authority, makes it seem that you think I'm somehow subject to christianity.

      Whether you tried or merely came off as trying, it wasn't successful. I'm proud to be liberal and not afraid to show it. Christianity has no authority over me, least of all moral. And if it appear that I'm lashing out, it would be more apt to say that I'm railing, instead of rebelling against it.

      And I'm not rebelling against my parents either. We may not believe exactly the same, but there isn't any animosity between us about it. They don't expect me to believe what they do (never have as far as I can remember), nor do I expect them to believe as I do.

      You said, "you refuse to acknowledge the very real evidence of God's existence. You may not like the evidence, or agree with it, but it's there."
      You keep saying that, but all I've seen are versions of the circular argument that your god is real because it says so in the bible, and that the bible is real because it is the word of your god. That doesn't cut it as evidence. Harry Potter isn't real just because there are books written about him.

      You said, "I can't make a better argument than Bill P, or even close."
      That appears to be clear, and Bill P doesn't have a compelling argument either.

      You said, "But I do know you have no evidence AT ALL to support your claims against God or Christianity.
      Nothing.
      "
      But I don't claim there are no gods. I position is that they are highly unlikely to exist as there isn't a single shred of evidence to even suggest they do. Not just your god, but all thousands upon thousands of gods worshiped by men throughout history.

      You said, "To discount The Bible as merely a "fairy tale", or deny the life of Jesus just doesn't cut it without ANY counter-evidence, so you make the convenient argument for yourself that there is no evidence to counter. That's pretty lame LinCA."
      Do you believe in the Tooth Fairy? Do you believe in Pink Unicorns? Do you believe in Zeus? Do you believe in Bob the Magical Blue Sock? Do you believe in any creature for which there is no evidence, other than your god? If not, why? All these creatures' existence is supported by equal evidence, they are therefor all equally likely to exist. I have no reason to believe any of them do.

      You said, "I would like to see ANY evidence to support your argument that there's no God. Of course, you can't do that. You have nothing.".
      You seem unable to grasp the difference between:
      a) Believing there are no gods, and
      b) Not believing there are gods.
      You seem to want to put me under a), while I fall under b). I don't claim there are no gods, I simply reject yours that there are.

      You said, "That's why I have to assume your obvious hatred of Christianity is only you rebelling against your upbringing or parents or conservatism or whatever."
      See my reply on rebelling above.

      I don't hate christianity. What I hate are the actions of some christians. There are millions of decent, compassionate, hard working christians out there. Some are decent, compassionate and hard working because they are christians. Some of my best friends are devout christians. Some of them are catholic, some are mormon and some are even evangelical christians. Not all christians are evil and not all that is done in the name of christianity is evil.

      I don't hate anybody for what they believe. I do hate some of their actions that are inspired by what they believe. I hate it when religious beliefs are forced on anyone, even on those that may hold similar beliefs. I hate it when people are harmed because of the religion of others.

      The way I see it, forcing religion on others is akin to second hand smoke. While people are free to cause damage to their own health by smoking, they are not free to cause it to others. In the same vein, people are free to believe and worship as they see fit, but they don't have the freedom to impose any of it on the rest of us.

      So, I don't care if a kid prays in school. I don't care if there are prayer groups at school. I don't even care if the school provides a room for that group to assemble in, as long as they provide equal access for all groups.
      I do care when prayer is done as part of any official school event.

      I don't care if you run billboard ads or fly banners behind an airplane promoting your church or religion.
      I do care if you try to restrict others from doing the same.

      I don't care if you organize a gathering to pray for rain or an end to economic malaise.
      I do care if it is done by an elected official in his capacity as that elected official.

      I don't care if you don't like same sex marriage. You don't have to enter into one.
      I do care if you wish to restrict others from entering into one based on your religion.

      If we don't have freedom of (including from) religion, who is to say that your particular flavor is the one being enforced? So, unless you are willing to accept your daughters from being excluded from education, your sons from being forced to pray to Allah in school, women being second class citizens, women being sent to prison for adultery after being raped, etc., you may want to consider what it truly means to have freedom of religion.

      For everyone to be able to enjoy freedom of religion, yours has to stay out of the lives of everyone else. That is the only way to ensure that theirs stays out of your life.

      February 3, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • David B

      LinCA, you're proud to be a liberal? Interesting, since the label was such an embarrassment to your fellow liberals that they changed it to progressive. The Bible certainly does have authority over you and everyone else; it happens to be the moral foundation of Western Civilization. So unless you were born or reside somewhere else...

      It's kind of difficult to exchange ideas with you when you claim to be an atheist in one post, then say it's possible gods exist in another. Or when you equate the fiction book Harry Potter to the non-fiction Bible. It's like you change things or make things up as you go along to suit the argument you're making at the time. And lose the "Tooth Fairy" bit...it's old. Besides, not one Biblical scholar would agree with you.

      February 4, 2012 at 3:58 am |
    • LinCA

      @David B

      You said, "LinCA, you're proud to be a liberal? Interesting, since the label was such an embarrassment to your fellow liberals that they changed it to progressive."
      Just because the conservative talking heads try hard to smear the "liberal" moniker, doesn't mean anyone changed it. Progressive is merely another name for pretty much the same.

      You said, "The Bible certainly does have authority over you and everyone else; it happens to be the moral foundation of Western Civilization. So unless you were born or reside somewhere else..."
      I realize that you are so deluded that you actually think that, but just because you think that doesn't make it so. My morals are virtually indistinguishable from those of a liberal (sane) christian. Just because christians took the morals of the time and incorporated them into their doctrine, doesn't make them theirs.

      Murder was illegal long before there were christians. So was stealing. Lying was not socially acceptable long before there were christians. Same for most if not all christian moral codes. There is nothing new or unique in christian morals, although you can keep the hate and bigotry.

      You said, "It's kind of difficult to exchange ideas with you when you claim to be an atheist in one post, then say it's possible gods exist in another."
      That you are incapable of comprehending a simple distinction between agnostics and atheist, and that they are not mutually exclusive, says more about you than me.

      But let me try to explain it as simple as possible:
      Gnosticism is about knowledge. I don't know, therefor I'm agnostic.
      Theism is about belief in god(s). I don't believe, therefor I'm an atheist.

      I don't know for a fact that there no gods, but the odds they do are so ridiculously small, there is absolutely no reason to believe they do.

      You said, "Or when you equate the fiction book Harry Potter to the non-fiction Bible."
      They are both pure fiction and the biggest difference between the two is that the Harry Potter books have far fewer internal inconsistencies.

      You said, "It's like you change things or make things up as you go along to suit the argument you're making at the time."
      I'm making an argument. That you fail to understand it is hardly my fault.

      You said, "And lose the "Tooth Fairy" bit...it's old."
      Provide some evidence for you god and I will. Until then, there is no difference between the two. The fact tat the notion of the christian god is socially accepted doesn't lend it any credence.

      You said, "Besides, not one Biblical scholar would agree with you."
      They may, but until there is some evidence for your god, they are wrong.

      February 5, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • tallulah13

      @Bill P

      " "The final moments of the dying are precious and cannot be given back." Tallulah – That is one perspective. Another is that a person may have spent his or her entire life, though relatively so short in time, resisting the love of God and then spends eternity regretting that. What you might consider a tragic intrusion on those last moments may be, like the repentant thief on the cross, that last chance to get it right."

      Provide a single ounce of proof that your god, your heaven, your hell, or heck, any afterlife at all exists and maybe you'd have an argument. But there has never been any proof of that. All you have is your own baseless belief and a desire to torment dying people with it by stealing the final moments of their life for YOUR purpose. You disgust me.

      February 5, 2012 at 2:00 am |
    • David B

      LinCA: Of course liberal and progressive mean the same, so why the need for progressive, unless you're trying to portray yourselves in another light, which can only mean you're not exactly comfortable with who you are.

      So I'm "deluded" because I simply state a fact: The Bible is our moral foundation here in Western Civilization. And it originates from Jesus since he was there from the Beginning. You don't have to take my word for it. Ask your dear Christian friends, liberal or otherwise, if they're really Christian and believe in Easter. By the way, do you tell them they believe in the tooth fairy as well? What friendship that must be!

      You don't have to define atheism for me. A real atheist wouldn't talk about the possibility gods exist (even an off-chance).
      And you said you were an atheist. Your problem LinCA, is that you're "all over the map" trying to rationalize your baseless beliefs all because you hate "conservative" Christianity so much. Typical Liberal, that's all.

      Just like Kerry Egan.

      February 5, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • LinCA

      @David B

      You said, "LinCA: Of course liberal and progressive mean the same, so why the need for progressive, unless you're trying to portray yourselves in another light, which can only mean you're not exactly comfortable with who you are."
      Why would you need any synonyms, right? We could reduce the number of words significantly and make English a lot simpler. Let's start with removing either "conservative" or "moronic" as they both appear to mean the same.

      But enough with the sarcasm, it's only the right wing talking head that are trying to make their audiences think that liberal is somehow bad. They try to instill hate, and seem to be having some success. But just because these domestic terrorists try to instill fear of rational people into their idiot audiences, doesn't make them right.

      You said, "So I'm "deluded" because I simply state a fact: The Bible is our moral foundation here in Western Civilization."
      Yes, because it isn't. You may want to consider reading a history book and not rely solely on your book of fables for your "facts".

      You said, "And it originates from Jesus since he was there from the Beginning."
      Outside of your bible, there is very little evidence your Jesus ever existed. The odds that he was special, if he ever existed, are pretty close to zero.

      You said, "You don't have to take my word for it. Ask your dear Christian friends, liberal or otherwise, if they're really Christian and believe in Easter. By the way, do you tell them they believe in the tooth fairy as well? What friendship that must be!"
      If they bring up their religion, I will. But I will not bring up the subject.

      You said, "You don't have to define atheism for me."
      Somebody should, because you clearly don't have a clue.

      You said, "A real atheist wouldn't talk about the possibility gods exist (even an off-chance)."
      http://lmgtfy.com/?q=no+true+scotsman

      You said, "And you said you were an atheist."
      And I am. You just seem incapable or unwilling to understand what atheism entails.

      You said, "Your problem LinCA, is that you're "all over the map" trying to rationalize your baseless beliefs ..."
      What part of "if there isn't any evidence for a phenomenon, there is no reason to believe it", is "all over the map" or a "baseless belief"?

      You said, "... all because you hate "conservative" Christianity so much."
      No, no, no. I think conservative christians are idiots. I don't hate them.

      You said, "Typical Liberal, that's all. Just like Kerry Egan."
      You were saying something about hate?

      February 5, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • David B

      LinCA: You said you were raised in a Christian home, so your moral values came from The Bible. That's just a fact whether you want to acknowledge it or not. And you can blame others for your tainted liberal label, but it's childish to do so. And no atheist who believes the existence of God equals belief in the Tooth Fairy is going to concede the possibility of the existence of gods because there is no such possibility for the existence of the Tooth Fairy. Unless, of course, said atheist inadvertently destroys his/her Tooth Fairy argument, which you have done. So we can move on from your silly Tooth Fairy comparison, which leaves you with very little. But I'm still wondering how your Christian friends feel about you
      thinking they're "deluded", unspoken as it may be. LinCA, every sign points to your entire belief system being controlled by your sheer hatred of conservatives. But you're not alone on this board, that's for sure.

      February 5, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • LinCA

      @David B

      You said, "You said you were raised in a Christian home, so your moral values came from The Bible. That's just a fact whether you want to acknowledge it or not."
      If a thief breaks into your home and takes your stuff, do you accept that it becomes his property? If you don't than your argument is silly. If you do, then you are.

      The mere fact that christians took the morals of the time doesn't make them theirs.

      You said, "And you can blame others for your tainted liberal label, but it's childish to do so."
      You are the one who claims it is tainted. I only contend that it is being smeared by conservatives.

      You said, "And no atheist who believes the existence of God equals belief in the Tooth Fairy is going to concede the possibility of the existence of gods because there is no such possibility for the existence of the Tooth Fairy."
      Equal evidence yields equal merit. The possibility of the Tooth Fairy existing is equal to that of any gods, including yours. If you want your god to be different, all you need to do is formulate a rational argument and provide some evidence in support.

      To elevate your god from the ranks of the Tooth Fairy, Pink Unicorns or Bob the Magical Blue Sock, to the level of Santa Claus, the Abominable Snowman or Loch Ness Monster, all you need is some circumstatial evidence. Just a little.

      You said, "Unless, of course, said atheist inadvertently destroys his/her Tooth Fairy argument, which you have done."
      You asserting that without any supporting reasoning or evidence doesn't make it so.

      You said, "So we can move on from your silly Tooth Fairy comparison, which leaves you with very little."
      I'll move on from the Tooth Fairy comparison as soon as believers provide evidence of their gods, or move on from their silly beliefs.

      You said, "But I'm still wondering how your Christian friends feel about you thinking they're "deluded", unspoken as it may be."
      You'll have to ask them.

      Everyone is free to believe what they want. I will not try to tell you, or anyone else what to believe, but if you display it for everyone to see, I will point out the silliness of it. Same with my friends. I will not bring up the topic of religion (or politics), and if they do, I will advise against it. But if they insist, I will share my side.

      You said, "LinCA, every sign points to your entire belief system being controlled by your sheer hatred of conservatives."
      Nope. I hate some things that is done in name of religion. These tend to be done by conservatives. The actions of these conservatives cause great harm to our society. That is why I speak out.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • fred

      LinCA
      “actions of these conservatives cause great harm to our society. That is why I speak out”
      Why don’t you speak out against the actions of the liberals that have done the greatest harm known to man. Liberals have turned our young girls over the Media God. There they learn to dress and walk about like tramps. The young girls have been Clintonized where $ex depends on what you want it to be. Never forget full applause for Clinton by his liberal posse in the Senate when walked with head held high and the trail of women he abused swept under the carpet.
      It has been 50 years now and the liberal mantra continues “safe $ex”. I can tell you there is nothing safe about it. Forget about all the STD’s, abortions, HPV. Come walk the street with me and see how our young girls are being bullied. Walk the street with me and see how the young boys are being bullied into $ex. Just how is that a better world than when religion kept a lid on it? Religion says $ex is for married adults while the liberal held a toast and proclaimed “Safe $ex” for all.
      Now, I personally am very down on religion because most have lost the truth of Christ and preach a gospel that tastes right in the eyes of men. Many religions have since the time of the first church in Corinth led people astray simply because few accept the truth of Christ and wisdom of God. It is not Gods fault as Gods plan simply allows each person to run as far they choose with their delusions. It is the liberal that constrains free choice not God. It is the liberal aligned with the Media that lures the children and brainwashes them. I understand you prefer the brain washing of the liberal media rather than some hateful religion but, you are really no different.
      Consider further that the foundation of your materialistic construct produces results that equate God with the Tooth Fairy. That alone should send off alarm bells that something is seriously wrong. I do not know of a single adult human being that has given their life to the Tooth Fairy, seen the Tooth Fairy, thinks there is a Tooth Fairy, prays to the Tooth Fairy, given new life by the Tooth Fairy, given hope by the Tooth Fairy, lived by the law of the Tooth Fairy, fought wars with a Fairy banner held high and last but not least Stalin, Mao and Poll Pot felt no need to eliminate and persecute those who held tight to the Tooth Fairy.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • LinCA

      @fred

      You said, "Why don’t you speak out against the actions of the liberals that have done the greatest harm known to man."
      And I do speak out against actions by liberals that infringe upon the right of others. But it isn't the liberals that discriminate against gays. It isn't the liberals that attempt to force their religious delusions upon others. It isn't the liberals that wage war on women's health. It isn't the liberals that are gutting the education system.

      You said, "Liberals have turned our young girls over the Media God. There they learn to dress and walk about like tramps."
      Bullshit. It is first and foremost the responsibility of the parents to raise their children.

      You said, "The young girls have been Clintonized where $ex depends on what you want it to be. Never forget full applause for Clinton by his liberal posse in the Senate when walked with head held high and the trail of women he abused swept under the carpet."
      What consenting adults do to each other is nobody else's business. You may not like it when unmarried adults have sex, but your only option is to not engage in that behavior. You don't have the right to restrict the freedom of others based on your religion.

      You said, "It has been 50 years now and the liberal mantra continues “safe $ex”. I can tell you there is nothing safe about it. Forget about all the STD’s, abortions, HPV."
      Did you read what you wrote? If they practiced safe sex, those problems wouldn't be there. I contend that it is the conservatives that are the problem. If all you do is preach abstinence, you do more harm than good. By withholding critical information from teenagers, you put their health and even their lives at risk. Just because you want them to, isn't going to stop a teenager from having sex. Keeping them ignorant isn't keeping them safe.

      You said, "Come walk the street with me and see how our young girls are being bullied. Walk the street with me and see how the young boys are being bullied into $ex. Just how is that a better world than when religion kept a lid on it? Religion says $ex is for married adults while the liberal held a toast and proclaimed “Safe $ex” for all."
      You seem to have a hard time separating the crime of sexual abuse of minors and sex between consenting adults. Abuse is not acceptable under any circumstance, but to claim that it is inflicted or caused by liberals is outrageously stupid.

      You said, "It is the liberal that constrains free choice not God."
      What the fuck are you smoking? If there is any demographic that promotes restriction of freedoms, it is the conservatives. You are, in the paragraphs above, promoting restricting what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home. You won't have to look far to find proponents of a "christian amendment" that, in effect, abolishes the first amendment and destroy freedom of religion and speech. Discrimination based on sexual preference is another of the freedom destroying "conservative values".

      If you look through history, anytime there was a major social issue, the conservatives were wrong. They were wrong on slavery, voting rights, civil rights and a slew of other issues.

      You said, "It is the liberal aligned with the Media that lures the children and brainwashes them. I understand you prefer the brain washing of the liberal media rather than some hateful religion but, you are really no different."
      Talking about brainwashing. You seem to be the poster child of it. Just because the media doesn't always spout the conservative view, doesn't mean they're liberal. While there are some media outlets with a liberal slant just as there are with a conservative one, the majority craft their position to maximize their audience. Repeating, ad nauseam, that the media is biased only shows your ignorance.

      You said, "Consider further that the foundation of your materialistic construct produces results that equate God with the Tooth Fairy."
      No, it is the complete and utter lack of any evidence whatsoever for either that warrants equating the two.

      You said, "That alone should send off alarm bells that something is seriously wrong."
      What is wrong, obviously, is that there are adults that are deemed sane but believe in beings for which there is absolutely no reason to do so.

      You said, "I do not know of a single adult human being that has given their life to the Tooth Fairy, seen the Tooth Fairy, thinks there is a Tooth Fairy, prays to the Tooth Fairy, given new life by the Tooth Fairy, given hope by the Tooth Fairy, lived by the law of the Tooth Fairy, fought wars with a Fairy banner held high and last but not least Stalin, Mao and Poll Pot felt no need to eliminate and persecute those who held tight to the Tooth Fairy."
      Argumentum ad populum. Just because a lot of people are brainwashed at a young age to believe there are gods, but are told when they run out of teeth to trade that the Tooth Fairy doesn't exist, doesn't mean gods are more likely to exist. Perpetuation of the god myth into adulthood lends no credence to it.

      Those that equate atheism with communism, probably don't understand either. Neither one requires the other (as should be clear from the fact that there are also christian communists). Just because you want to blame atheists and liberals for all that is wrong with the world, doesn't make it so.

      February 6, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • fred

      LinCA
      “Those that equate atheism with communism, probably don't understand either one requires the other”
      =>and those that equate religion with the Gospel of Christ probably don’t understand either.
      “Just because you want to blame atheists and liberals for all that is wrong with the world, doesn't make it so.”
      =>no I blame adults that allow garbage and other forms of $exualization into the mainstream. I blame adults for the way young girls and effeminate children are bullied into acting immorally before they can make clear decisions.

      February 6, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • LinCA

      @fred

      Please have the courtesy to not change what I said when you quote me. In particular, don't alter my words to make them sound like something else than I said.

      You said, "and those that equate religion with the Gospel of Christ probably don’t understand either."
      Then it's a good thing that I never did.

      You said, "no I blame adults that allow garbage and other forms of $exualization into the mainstream. I blame adults for the way young girls and effeminate children are bullied into acting immorally before they can make clear decisions."
      Yet it remains primarily the responsibility of the parents to determine what is and isn't appropriate for their children. Even so, the sexualization of society is driven in large part by commercial interests, not liberals. Whether you like it or not, sex sells. Anyone who has a product or service to sell will likely target the segment of society that is most easily influenced, and do so by appealing to their most basic instincts. Freedom of speech gives them every right to do so.

      Your argument appears to be that because liberals tend to support freedom of speech, they are responsible for all the negative effects of speech. You appear to be advocating for a nanny state where free speech takes a back seat. I couldn't disagree more. Free speech is a good thing (in general) and draconian measures to combat the negative effects are not the answer.

      You should really thank a liberal. Because without their steadfast support of freedom of speech and religion, you run the risk of ending up in a theocracy that only accepts a religion other than your own.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • fred

      The liberal that takes happy meals away is somehow better in your eyes than the conservative that wants to limit $exualization of our society by corporate interests. The Liberal wants to take away French fries and pass out condoms, abortion pills and STD testing like it was candy. Who is promoting what? The liberal has taken away free speech in public schools by removing Jesus while allowing all competing speech to continue. The liberal has taken away the basic traditional family structure through feminism forced children into Soviet like day care centers and made a mockery of traditional family life. Modern Family and the Simpsons are the child of liberal ideology.
      We have never been under threat of theocracy in America. We have been under the threat of socialism and communism that have proven to be complete failures in all but a few countries that retained historic family bonds. There is never a good reason to break family down

      February 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • David B

      LinCA, nice try with your "thievery" bit, but it doesn't change the fact that you got your morals from The Bible. Don't worry though, it's all good.

      "Liberal" being smeared or tainted...call it what you want...again, doesn't change the fact liberals trying to re-define themselves. Conservatives smeared all the time by liberals...but they don't run away from it.

      You stepped into it with your tooth fairy argument...I can't help you if you won't or can't comprehend that.

      The lengths you go with your silly arguments indicate such disdain for Christians and Conservatives that it seems to control
      your life. Maybe this will help: Christians witness to others out of love.

      February 9, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • LinCA

      @David B

      You said, "LinCA, nice try with your "thievery" bit, but it doesn't change the fact that you got your morals from The Bible."
      The morals you claim to be biblical predate the bible. They are therefor not "from the bible". The morals you claim to be biblical are merely the morals of the time, recorded in the bible.

      Just like virtually everything else in christianity, they were "borrowed" and incorporated into christianity. Just like the Jesus myth, christmas in December, the christmas tree and the Easter bunny.

      You said, ""Liberal" being smeared or tainted...call it what you want...again, doesn't change the fact liberals trying to re-define themselves. Conservatives smeared all the time by liberals...but they don't run away from it."
      You appear to think that liberals are trying to redefine themselves. Just because you think so, doesn't make it so.

      This is your straw man argument, not mine.

      You said, "You stepped into it with your tooth fairy argument...I can't help you if you won't or can't comprehend that."
      Again, your refusal to accept it doesn't make it any less valid. You still don't have a single argument to refute it. Unless and until you can provide some verifiable evidence for the existence of your imaginary friend, he's just that, imaginary.

      There is evidence for the existence of the Loch Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman. The evidence is questionable at best, but at least there is some evidence. That makes these creatures infinitely more likely to exist than your god, or the Tooth Fairy.

      Without any evidence for, or even so much as a rational argument in support of your god, or any other god for that matter, believing they exist is patently moronic.

      There is no rational argument that, if you don't already believe, will lead you to start believing. To be a believer you almost certainly have had to be indoctrinated before you were able to realize it was nonsense and be unable or unwilling to do so now.

      By the way, your dismissal of the Tooth Fairy, and with that your double standard, is duly noted.

      You said, "The lengths you go with your silly arguments indicate such disdain for Christians and Conservatives that it seems to control your life."
      While you are free to believe whatever nonsense you want, don't expect me to respect you for it. I'm just trying to make you see the light. If I can save one soul, my efforts will have been worth it. But as they say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

      You said, "Maybe this will help: Christians witness to others out of love."
      Love? Is that why they go to great lengths to force their delusions on the rest of society? Is that why they want exemptions from bullying laws? Is that why they insist on discriminating against gays? Is that why they trample on women's rights? Is that why they oppose science?

      February 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • David B

      LinCA: Your argument has nothing to do with anything! The Bible has been the Messenger. Accept it. You got your morals from The Bible, regardless of when or where YOU claim it came from (with no supporting evidence from you, I might add). Besides, nothing "predates" God. And things evolve, you know; nothing is created "through a vacuum"...your beloved Science has shown us that, so Christians accept science as well.

      The "tooth fairy" argument is simply a convenience in your feeble attempt to undermine Christianity. You can't counter with any evidence the obvious biblical evidence recorded by REAL people describing ACTUAL events of the time. Oh, it's easy being an Atheist sitting back and waiting for proof of everything. Take off your blinders, study The Holy Bible and have some Faith! (I won't be holding my breath.)

      The overwhelming majority of Christians don't force their beliefs on anybody. Devout Christians DO witness, as The Bible teaches. Equal Rights for gays? Of course, for everyone, including of course, women. Special rights? I don't think so.

      February 15, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • LinCA

      David B

      You said, "The Bible has been the Messenger. Accept it."
      The bible is garbage. It's only value is caloric.

      You said, "You got your morals from The Bible, regardless of when or where YOU claim it came from (with no supporting evidence from you, I might add)."
      You appear to have a problem with comprehension here. Whether or not the morals that I have are also found in the bible, I didn't get them from it. I formed my own.

      You said, "Besides, nothing "predates" God."
      Considering that your god doesn't exist, everything predates him/her/it.

      You said, "The "tooth fairy" argument is simply a convenience in your feeble attempt to undermine Christianity."
      Again, until you provide any evidence for your god, I have no reason to accept he/she/it exists. What is so hard to grasp? No evidence means that it is very unlikely to exist. Just like the Tooth Fairy.

      Just because you have a book written about it, doesn't mean jack shit. Just because there are books written about Harry Potter doesn't mean he really exists.

      Just because there are billions of people deluded into thinking something similar, doesn't give it any weight either. for the longest time people thought the earth was flat. They thought the sun and stars revolved around earth. And if you were born in a muslim family you'd be praying to allah.

      You said, "You can't counter with any evidence the obvious biblical evidence recorded by REAL people describing ACTUAL events of the time."
      There is no evidence found in the bible. All you have is hearsay. It was recorded decades to millennia after the supposed "facts". It was then further edited to fit the needs of the particular ruler at the time. Believing it contains factual data is truly insane.

      Oh, it's easy being an Atheist sitting back and waiting for proof of everything. Take off your blinders, study The Holy Bible and have some Faith! (I won't be holding my breath.)You said, "You can't counter with any evidence the obvious biblical evidence recorded by REAL people describing ACTUAL events of the time."
      Reading the bible is, in part, what caused me to shed the inane beliefs.

      You said, "The overwhelming majority of Christians don't force their beliefs on anybody. Devout Christians DO witness, as The Bible teaches. Equal Rights for gays? Of course, for everyone, including of course, women. Special rights? I don't think so."
      I guess it depends on what you consider equal rights then.

      February 16, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • David B

      Earth To LinCA: If you believe people in the Bible are fictional, like Harry Potter, you truly are delusional.
      If you believe the Bible is "garbage", put your big boy or girl pants on and provide the evidence.
      You formed your own morals? You truly are unique! From what?
      "Considering that your god doesn't exist, everything predates him/her/it." That's your opinion, based on nothing.
      Yeah, people believed the world was flat...until proven wrong. So what?
      "And if you were born in a muslim family you'd be praying to allah." So? You said you were born into a Christian family.
      "All you have is hearsay." Ah, but that's a hell of a lot more than Harry Potter (or the tooth fairy, for that matter).
      By the way, your so-called "hearsay" came from real people of the time. Where's your evidence to dispute them?
      "Believing it contains factual data is truly insane." Your opinion, based on nothing.
      "Reading the bible is, in part, what caused me to shed the inane beliefs." I suspect liberalism did it for you.

      February 17, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • LinCA

      @David B

      You said, "Earth To LinCA: If you believe people in the Bible are fictional, like Harry Potter, you truly are delusional."
      You can repeat that all you want, but there is no getting around the fact that there isn't a single solitary shred of evidence that even hints at the existence of your god. Without any evidence, your god is extremely unlikely to exist. Without your god existing, your bible is just a fairy tale.

      You said, "If you believe the Bible is "garbage", put your big boy or girl pants on and provide the evidence."
      You've got the "burden of proof" back wards. I'm not the one making outrageous claims about the existence of mythical beings. I simply reject yours because they are obviously insane. Your bible only proves that there were middle eastern sheep herders that could write. Nothing more.

      If you wish to convince any rational person of the validity of your bible, you'll have to come up with a little bit more than what you've got. A reasonable storyline would be a good start.

      You said, "Yeah, people believed the world was flat...until proven wrong. So what?"
      That means that just because a lot of people are delusional, their delusions don't carry any more weight because of it. Most people will accept what they are told by people they accept as authorities. Inability or unwillingness to critically evaluate the bullshit they are fed, and simply blindly accepting it, doesn't make it true.

      You said, "So? You said you were born into a Christian family."
      Yes, I was; but unlike you, I critically examined the religion I grew up in and shed the nonsense. You appear to still cling to it. But the only reason you believe the particular flavor of nonsense, you so obviously do, is because you were born into it, not because it carries any special meaning or truth.

      You said, ""All you have is hearsay." Ah, but that's a hell of a lot more than Harry Potter (or the tooth fairy, for that matter)."
      Just because the same nonsense is repeated for a couple of thousand years doesn't make it anymore sane or true. Just because we generally acknowledge that the Tooth Fairy and Harry Potter are fictional doesn't mean that refusing to do so with gods lends them any more credence.

      You said, "By the way, your so-called "hearsay" came from real people of the time. Where's your evidence to dispute them?"
      Only if the argument to be disputed is rational, is evidence required to refute it. The religious argument is so clearly nonsense that it is outrageous to accept it without evidence in support. The rational position is to simply reject it until there is evidence in support.

      None of the stories to support your god are from "real people of the time". The hearsay that you so heavily, even exclusively, rely on, is at best, from a couple of generations after the alleged "facts". At worst they are from hundreds or thousands of years later. These "witness accounts" are from believers and thus suspect.

      For these reasons alone they can, and should, be dismissed out of hand. Until there is some solid evidence in support, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to accept them as anything other than fables.

      You said, ""Believing it contains factual data is truly insane." Your opinion, based on nothing."
      Yes, my opinion based on a critical review of the evidence in support, or in other words, nothing.

      You said, "I suspect liberalism did it for you."
      But you know what they say: "Truth has a liberal bias".

      Your entire argument, and in fact your entire religion, hinges on the silly notion that there is a god. You accept that silly notion without a reasonable narrative, a rational argument or a single shred of evidence in support. But without the notion of this god, none of your religion makes any sense. Without the notion of this god, your Jesus is just a regular guy. Without the notion of this god, the entire house of cards comes crashing down. Without the notion of this god, you've got nothing.

      Believe whatever nonsense you want, just don't expect me to buy any of it.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • David B

      LinCA: Dismissing the biblical and historical evidence based on your ignorance of it doesn't work. Want more evidence? How about the Shroud of Turin...Also, you curiously skipped over the part about how you developed your own morals.

      "These "witness accounts" are from believers and thus suspect." Apostle Paul was a skeptic at the time, not a believer.

      You said your opinion is based on "a critical review of the evidence in support, or in other words, nothing." What critical review? Your opinions don't seem to be based on anything.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • LinCA

      @David B

      I didn't skip over anything. My argument is that without evidence for your god, your entire story is bunk.

      Without some evidence that your god exists, you have nothing. Did you get that? You have nothing.

      Without evidence for your god, your Christ is just a guy.
      Without evidence for your god, your apostle Paul is just another deluded Roman.
      Without evidence for your god, the Shroud of Turin is just a burial shroud (even so, what do you think the shroud proves?).
      Without evidence for your god, your entire holy book is nothing but a fairy tale.
      Without evidence for your god, your morals are just some collection of morals of the time when they were written down.
      Without evidence for your god, your entire religion is nothing but a delusion.

      Since there isn't a single shred of evidence for your god, you've got nothing. So, unless you can produce some evidence for your god (and not his alleged bastard son) you stand empty handed.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • David B

      Earth to LinCA: Study the Bible. It's all you need. And stop running from your family values. It's all good. Or you can continue to "freelance" it and sound like a kook.

      February 21, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • LinCA

      David B

      You said, "Study the Bible."
      I did. How did you think I became an atheist?

      You said, "It's all you need."
      True. There is no better way to enlightenment than reading that nonsense.

      You said, "And stop running from your family values."
      My family values are just fine. I don't lie, I don't steal, I don't cheat, I don't inflict harm to anyone, I don't hate anyone, I don't discriminate against anyone, I don't inflict unnecessary harm to the environment, I donate, I volunteer, I help those that need it, I help in my community, I work, I vote, I pay taxes, and so does my family.

      You said, "Or you can continue to "freelance" it and sound like a kook."
      Pot? Kettle?

      Just in case you were wondering, the bible proves nothing other than that there were some sheep herders that managed to write down their fables. If you wish to convince anyone that your god actually exists, you'll have to do better than that.

      February 22, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • David B

      You've studied the Bible, LinCA? Funny, but I wasn't aware of that.
      Then you of all people should know that's where your family values came from.
      Don't believe me? Ask your parents, or study until you get it.

      February 22, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • LinCA

      @David B

      You said, "You've studied the Bible, LinCA? Funny, but I wasn't aware of that."
      Now why doesn't that surprise me? There appears to be a lot that you aren't aware of. From our conversation, I gather that you are an adult that still believes in fairy tales. I shouldn't really expect you to be aware of much, now should I?

      You said, "Then you of all people should know that's where your family values came from."
      You just don't fucking get it, do you? Just because my morals, to some extend, align with those of christians, doesn't mean I got them from the bible.

      Correlation doesn't imply causation.

      Christians don't own the morals in the bible (although you can have the hate and bigotry), because you weren't the first to have them, nor will you be the last.

      February 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  14. Nick G.

    Last year, I sat with my mother as she lay dying. We are a family of faith, but we talked about our love for each other. We were already confident of God's love and she was at peace. We did not talk about God. We joked, shared smiles and sometimes just sat quietly with each other. Even as she weakened steadily, she always mustered the strength to smile and tell me, my siblings and her grandchildren that she loved us. In the last few moments of her life, I leaned down, kissed her and told her I loved her and that it was okay to go and be with the Lord. She spoke some words I couldn't make out, but I believe she was telling me one last time that she loved me. She took several more breaths and then she was gone.

    January 31, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • martint

      That was nice Nick G. thanks for sharing. I am amazed at the beauty that the end of life can bring out, sure it's sad but it is also something that happens to us all. My only hope is that I have the opportunity to die in peace and not in some horrific way, but either way I'll be just as dead. I believe you handled that with care and with a lot of love, and I'm willing you never once regretted that you didn't talk about Jesus more, did you?

      January 31, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • Claudia

      Before my husband died Christmas 2010 we had one last chance to exchange I love yous. No deep discussion on faith or Heaven. Simply "I love you". A dear friend, a faithful woman of God, a devout Christian, told me that her experience was the same. We talked about how we just did the next thing we had to do. How in the moment the experience was. We felt that God was with us, in us and around us. And that was enough. The thing that was the most important to us was that our beloved knew that we loved them. After all God is love.

      Dear, dear Kerry. You are so ministering to people's needs in their last moments on this Earth. I wish someone like you had been with me as I let me sweet husband go into the light and love of the God who loved him even more than me. Bless you.

      February 1, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  15. *frank*

    If a chaplain shows up at my deathbed, my last act on earth will be to strangle them.

    January 31, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Toby

      So you would like to commit murder just before you die?

      February 1, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • OhPleaseYerKillinMeSTOP

      Funny how Toby et al consider a picture or sculpture of a naked woman an obscenity and their elected officials cover even "blind justice" statues, but they think that a PAID SALESMAN of a dead religion tormenting a dying nonbeliever deserves no rebuke or prohibition. These are the same folks who cheered The Inquisition.

      February 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  16. Igor Sryvkov

    Learn love, experience love and show love - and you will learn and love God. As Kerry Egan said, we don't have to use the language of theology to teach and talk about God.

    January 31, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  17. George

    This woman is not acting as a minister. Dying people need to hear about God. This could be the last chance for a dying person to repent. To make chit-chat is a great disservice, and this woman will be made to answer for it before God. I am left to wonder if this woman is even a Christian. CNN loves to post either stories that smear Christianity or fluff stories like this by luke-warm Christians.

    January 31, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Kim

      George, you would be a horrible minister at the end of life. Dying people have already heard about God and have made their peace with Him one way or the other - this is why they are free to talk about love and their families. Those that have not already resolved the question about God will ask.

      January 31, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Dave

      Do you even believe? Do you not realize that to be a believer is significantly based on how we treat our fellow human being? This woman is articulate and accurate. And while it's very important to profess ones belief, it's just as important to recognize the journey we are all undertaking... To become closer to God through our love and forgiveness.

      January 31, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Some people say George is a troll pretending to be super devout. I really hope this is the case, because I lose hope in humanity when people are so hateful and close-minded.

      January 31, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Lisa

      people are so hateful and close-minded = evangelical Christians

      January 31, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • martint

      @George, Are you MAD? The LAST thing a dying person needs to hear about is god. I've been a psychologist for 30 years, I have been dealing with the dying for much of that time and with few exceptions is god the main topic of conversations with them. I think there is this fallacy that dying people all want to confess their sins and ask god for forgiveness. Everyone deals with their mortality in different ways, but almost everyone when dying thinks about the regrets he or she has for things done or undone while LIVING, not about the afterlife.

      January 31, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root post by George is an instance of the No True Scotsmen fallacy.

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/

      January 31, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Lisa

      No close-minded and hateful= those who believe that only they know the truth, refuse to listen to anyone who think differently than they do, and regularly says that people are going to he.ll unless they "convert" to their specific brand of faith. I guess I also need to add in arrogant, prideful, and self-righteous.

      January 31, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • tallulah13

      George, you are a selfish person. There is nothing more despi.cable than someone who wishes to steal the final moments of another person's life. Unless they ask you, try to be a decent human being. Listen instead of lecture, because no matter how highly you esteem yourself, it's not about you. And stop trying to foist your own selfishness on your god.

      February 1, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • Siimon

      I am looking forward to repenting to someone like you on my deathbed after a life of fantastic sin!!

      February 1, 2012 at 4:15 am |
    • Karen

      George - better a luke-warm Christian than a Luke-warm HUMAN BEING

      February 2, 2012 at 8:30 am |
  18. Cameron Powell

    Like the author, I walked the Camino de Santiago on a kind of pilgrimage. It was my mother's pilgrimage and I was there to support it. She did not talk a lot about what was not knowable to her - like God - but she did, often, talk about dedicating certain parts of the journey, including individual hills, to her family. I wish all professors could take a walk with someone who has cancer and listen to them talk. (See http://www.caminonotchemo.com for the story of our journey).

    January 31, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  19. Jennifer C

    I am not a religious person but I what you do is truly inspiring. To sit with people in some of their last hours and just listen to them talk is an amazing thing to do. I must say that the professor you talk about seemed to have missed the point of love in religion though all his years, I hope that he has found that love is religion. And to you, kudos.

    January 31, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • martint

      At Jennifer C, how true your words are. The most amazing thing I have EVER done was to sit holding the hand of my wife as she died from cancer at the age of 42. We never talked about where she was going, instead we talked about the three children we brought into the world and how wonderful they are. We talked about the homes we built, and the trips we took, and the love we had for each other. She only wanted to remember the good things in her life, and all the beauty she had seen. We talked for hours about little things like our love of cooking together, and the cats we shared our lives with over the years. She remembered things I had long forgotten, and after one day, I began to videotape our conversations. Not one did religioun or god come up.

      January 31, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  20. Joel

    I'm always amazed how a beautiful piece like the one above can inspire so much rancor.

    Aside from that...to the author: thank you for sharing this meaningful thought. After an 8-year battle with dementia and heart disease that took her into three different nursing homes, my grandmother passed away last month. This piece brought into perspective a lot of this last decade, as well as my observations of many families from the time I spent in nursing homes.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.