May 1, 2009
How to Give an Atheist Eulogy
One of the interesting challenges about being an atheist in a culture that is suffused with Christian heritage is how to handle moments where common courtesy typically calls for a religious-y sentiment. On the one hand, you don’t want to be a hypocrite and mumble something that you don’t believe; on the other hand, those situations aren’t typically about you, and it’s awfully self-centered to start a religious debate at, say, someone else’s funeral.
Now, I don’t know anything about the religious beliefs of one of my favorite sportswriters, Joe Posnanski — I always sort of assume that American writers with undisclosed religious beliefs are generically Christian — but when I read his eulogy for a former co-worker, it struck me that this is exactly the model for how we atheists can pay our respects to those with whom we profoundly disagree.