Skip to comments.Vicar complains of 'feeling like a lemon at pithy funerals which blare out My Way'
Posted on 10/20/2009 2:22:24 AM PDT by iowamark
Having a loved one laid to rest to the blaring strains of Simply The Best might seem a fitting tribute to assembled mourners.
But whenever the Tina Turner hit - or any other pop song now popular at funerals - booms out, it leaves one vicar feeling 'like a lemon'.
Father Ed Tomlinson, 35, said he wonders what a clergyman's role is at such services as he feels 'spiritually unwanted'.
Writing on his internet blog, the vicar from Kent lamented the decline of Christian farewells centred on a 'beautiful requiem mass'.
He said: 'The best our secularist friends can hope for is a poem from Nan combined with a saccharine message from a pop star before being popped in the oven with no hope of resurrection.
'In the last few years, it has become painfully obvious that many families I have conducted funerals for have no desire for any Christian content.
(Excerpt) Read more at dailymail.co.uk ...
Interesting commentary on the de-Christianization of funerals (and weddings) in modern pagan culture.
Original posts from Rev. Tomlinson’s blog:
“”The death of death
Little by little death slips through my fingers. This probably sounds amazing, as if I have unearthed an elixir for life everlasting, but that is not true! (Besides would immortality really wonderful if trapped for eternity in this broken world?) No, when I refer to loss of death, I speak of my involvement with the funeral trade. For, where once I trekked to the soulless Crem at least one a week, I can now go weeks even months without visitation. (Though when they do come, like buses, it is invariably three at a time and during the most hectic of weeks!) So what has caused this change?
Well it has not arisen because parishioners ceased dying, nor because I scared locals with my pointy biretta! Rather it is another significant sign of how Britain is becoming an increasingly secular society. And undeniable fact when I know that dwindling funeral syndrome is the shared experience of most every priest I speak to, save those served by undertakers of genuine faith or respect.
Across the nation then, priests are no longer in demand. Christian funerals only offered if explicitly requested. Today the norm is to place the liturgy in the hands of humanist provider or ancient crumbling cleric who will do as told, in short those who will not trouble undertakers with unavailability. This is a fact that leaves me with rather mixed emotions.
On the one hand I am saddened to discover yet another arena of life in which the church is moved from the centre to the margins. I am equally troubled that pastoral care is being left in the hands of those whose main aim is to make money. And I am further concerned that an opportunity for evangelism is slipping through our fingers.
And yet there is a positive side to this if I am honest. In the last few years it has become painfully obvious that many families I have conducted funerals for have absolutely no desire for any Christian content whatsoever. I have then stood at the Crem like a lemon, wondering why on earth I am present at the funeral of somebody led in by the tunes of Tina Turner, summed up in pithy platitudes of sentimental and secular poets and sent into the furnace with I did it my way blaring out across the speakers! To be brutally honest I can think of a hundred better ways of spending my time as a priest on Gods earth. What is the point of my being present if spiritually unwanted?
A fact which leads me to the bitter truth. Once upon a time the beautiful requiem mass would have been the norm and not the exception in my parish. Once upon a time even funerals at the Crem would have been sincerely Christian in character. But that was another England, a time when Christianity was worshipped on these shores. We must accept that, for now, such days are past and that this has inevitable consequences.
Atheists and secularists might delight in this fact but is it really the victory they imagine? After all, I am not the one who suffers. Along with my fellow Christians, I will still have the gorgeous liturgy of the requiem mass to look forward to. Whereas the best our secularist friends (and those they dupe) can hope for is a poem from nan combined with a saccharine message from a pop star before being popped in the oven with no hope of resurrection.
It might offend those who see choice as a wonderful thing, but whenever I consider humanist funerals (or hotel weddings come to that) I am only ever reminded of those words from scripture, forgive them for they know not what they do. As Britain delights in grabbing hold of its new found secular identity it seems totally oblivious to the fact that so much meaning, beauty and ultimately life is, in fact, slipping through their fingers.
Perversely then: it is as the church loses its grip on death that death itself gets stronger for the society in which we live.
“”Clarification on funerals
I just sent this reponse to the Courier which demonstrates my actual thinking:
I was somewhat saddened to read headlines suggesting I have a desire to attack those who mourn. As a priest it is my duty to care for those who grieve and, as those who have encountered my ministry will testify, it is something I do to the best of my ability. Nor was it my desire to knock peoples taste in music. It is of course quite possible, and often even fitting, to include a whole range of music (even Tina Turner!!!) within a funeral service. And I am only ever delighted if such music is a comfort to those who mourn. Please understand that when, in my blog, I attacked Tina Turner esque funerals I was actually seeking to raise a question which is important for all society what are funerals for?
As a priest I believe the answer is two-fold. Firstly to offer an opportunity to say good bye and secondly to offer loved ones into the hands of a living God, praying that sins may be forgiven and that they may be granted eternal life. What I often bemoan is that this latter point is slipping away, being wholly eclipsed by the former. I do not believe, as the popular poem states that death is nothing at all, rather it is a hugely important thing that can shatter lives and requires very sensitive and spiritual handling.
In my blog I also agreed with the humanist you spoke to. If there is no desire for this Christian dimension then why have the priest? It was only when speaking of this scenario that I reminisced about feeling lemon like and able to think of better uses of my time. As a priest I delight in offering any stranger the full ministries of the church, but why would I need to be present if we are only saying goodbye to someone I do not know? I am not, like the humanist, running a business and seeking financial gain from funerals. Rather I was and am ordained for the advancement of Gods kingdom on earth.
It is precisely because I do care about people, living and departed, that I spoke out. It is my passionate belief that a requiem mass and the Christian prayers of commendation and committal are not mere aesthetic choices in a market place of funeral options. Rather something real and significant is happening, on earth and in heaven, when these take place. Because I am a priest, I want to point the way to Jesus Christ. Naturally there will be those who disagree with my beliefs, I think they should have the right to exercise this choice even though I believe them to be misguided. But if this is your position, why invite me to the party?
With very best wishes””
I don't need this vicar at my funeral! I agree that a secular funeral is a missed opportunity to evangelize. However, my eternal salvation is assured and does not depend upon the attendees to pray for me. I am SAVED! I am "right" with God. The blood of Christ shed for me assures that I am already granted eternal life. As for when this salvation was secured? The Bible tells me that I was chosen "from the foundation of the world"!
Never -the -less he has a point.
I have also had ‘Another one bites the dust’ requested. And 2 embarrassing moments when the wrong tape was played. Instead of My Way we got the Smurfs. All told a better and less idolatrous song.
Why go for the current Catholic music, which is every bit as New Age-y as Tina Turner? Now, if this good priest is referring to a traditional Funeral Mass, then OK.
And, I notice it only took three posts for a Papist-hater to show up. Don’t let your children see the stuff you post; they already think you’re crazy.
If they don't, why does he conduct those funerals, then?
The blogger Reverend Tomlinson is Church of England, i.e. Protestant.
Who’s a Papist hater? I assumed he was an Anglican Vicar! My problem is with theology that robs people of the assurance of their personal salvation that Christ intended us to have. Christians were not intended to be a “sullen” lot worrying whether they had obtained sufficient favor with God to be let into His Heaven.
Peter and Paul were BOLD! There is no guesswork here. You are either in or you’re out. You either call on the name of Jesus Christ as savior and depend solely on his sacrifice on the cross for your salvation, or you are slapping God in the face. The work of salvation is due to the grace of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.
The Church of England is Established, by law it must baptize, marry and bury any who request it.
I have attended Anglican services in Paris and Versailles where the churches are preaching the Gospel of Christ. They follow in the tradition of John Stott.
I don't hate the pope, but I do defend the Gospel as robustly as I would expect a Catholic to defend the Pope.
As far as I can see this Pope seems a nice guy. Infallible? well maybe not but we won't go there....
As it happens I used to be an Anglican vicar but now minister for a local Free Church. I am a happier man.
Before this thread goes all the way off into something else:
What do you all think about pop songs and the like at a funeral, or for that matter in a church service?
OIC. Then, why did those families request him if they didn’t want a Christian funeral in the first place? The law doesn’t require that those services have to be performed solely by CoE clergies, does it?
When Cranmer constituted the Church in this way, like yourself he could not conceive of people who had no professed faith wanting to use the Churches ministrations. the world to day would have made no sense to him (and increasingly less to me)
There is a lovely quote from Cranmer on infant baptism which he supported on covenant grounds. When it was pointed out to him that lots of babies would grow into heathens he waved the point away with, “So we wet a few goats, what does that matter”
You gotta love those guys.
Anyway, it means the Anglicans have some of the most awesome(9th to 15th Century) buildings in the world.
Good for Photos.
A funeral is a gathering of Christians to honor the dead, express their hope the resurrection and join in prayer for and with the dead. They have been doing this since the first century. We are assured of salvation if indeed we are right with God. That is not necessarily the same as feeling righteous. The good—or not so good — pagans who are sent off with “ i did it my way”, likewise feel that there is no judgement after death.
If I had to listen to some of those songs, I’d kill a few people with my bare hands.
I would think these families request the local C of E in much the same way as non church goers in the USA get married in a local church or baptise their babies there. It is part of the tradition. Many churches are refusing to perform these ceremonies knowing full well that they will never hear from these people again. But human nature is such that when a ritual milestone has been reached, it is usual to give it a religious overtone. It is interesting. The Bible states that God has put knowlege of Him in our hearts, but many reject choose to reject Him. These people have a vague notion of God which is why they cling to their rites, but have clearly departed from the truth.