I cannot get my head around people who use this term, & often look at them with a confused expression when I hear 'rest in peace'. What do people mean by this, & why do they feel they need to say it? 

To me & probably all of you, its an empty phrase, meaningless. But still, its branded about more than Angry Birds.

How do you feel with this phrase? & how do you react to it socially? Are you offended by it? Have you never really thought about it? 

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"Cursed be he who moves my bones --"
-- Lassie --

I have only used it once, I think, and that was basically to let people know my father had died.  Of course, I do not think part of his consciousness is on some cloud drinking pina coladas.  I was relieved that he was no longer suffering from the illness that killed him, and that the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune could no longer bother him.  He had had a lot of slings and arrows.  

At the time I thought it was a bit hypocritical of me to say, but I had just lost my dad and wasn't thinking too critically about it.  

Is it demanded of us to think 'critically' 24/7?

I do take random holidays from it just to taste life in different ways. Then I wake up from that simple trance, with the realization that I can't really live there.

I agree, James.  I take regular holidays from it.  Without doing that, I think I'd not be able to do it very well.

My wife had a brain injury from a car accident several years ago, which seems to have interfered with her abstract reasoning, and planning. Sadly she still wants to do the family finances. When the higher functions are intermentent, fans can hit shit at times.

I have been known to use it in that vein:  "now, at least, the suffering is over."   All too many times the process of dying is so drawn out and painful that, to be honest, that oblivion and nonexistence is an improvement and they really are (okay, are not) in a better place once the death actually happens.

Unfortunately, though, that means RIP only makes a degree of sense when it was such a long-and-drawn out process (or perhaps if the whole life was a process of struggle and torment); to use it for, say, someone in their 20s who died quite suddenly in some freak and tragic accident OR for someone who deserved to die makes no sense at all.

I've always looked at is as a religious comment as well, therefore I steer clear.  I do, however say "Rest Easy"  Meaning that they are in a permanent state of rest now. Wishing them comfort in that state.  May be the same thing, but I'm more comfortable using that phrase.  Just my own thoughts...

I came for the atheist debate, but I stayed for the cat chat. Welcome to the internet!

I don't like the phrase and I will talk shit to other atheists and skeptics who use it.

It seems, and I can see why, that atheism takes away a lot of symbolism and politeness.

Let's say the world could transition over to atheism in a single day, we're going to have to rewrite the book on social rules. "My husband died". "Well, he's now rotting under ground", doesn't quite cut it in my idea of polite and sincere conversation. Social sensitivities will remain to exist.

Rest in Peace doesn't have that much of a religious connotation with me. I would think it an appropriate thing to say if the person died after a painful battle with cancer for example. No more pain, now he's in peace.

IHS on the other hand is a religious moniker that is often seen on graves as well. That is one that I would avoid and wouldn't want on my gravestone.

I know what you mean. Honesty and truth of atheism can be exchanged for the comfort of faith. Isn't that the inherent lure of religion? I would explain it as false comfort that is lost, and politeness doesn't necessarily mean you are a generally nice person or that you care or respect at all about the person you are speaking with. The Ma'am = Bitch relationship, just like 'Bless their heart' doesn't necessarily mean there is any warmth directed at a person. Being civil is important and has its moments.

When I ask people how they're doing, some say, I'm well, by the 'grace of god' or some such, which seems to most people to be warm and comforting and positive. My thought is, you mean you don't think that that spiteful bastard has caught up with you yet today. When I am asked how I'm doing I almost always say 'I'm on the right side of the dirt' which is a rather depressing position, I suppose, if that is the least positive thing you can say and still be positive.

I've always felt that in the right brain atheism can be responsible for real joy and wonder, excitement and hope for the world, the future of human beings and our potential for great things.

In the wrong brain, it could be a pretty depressing thought that no sky god cares for me after all, there is no greater meaning for my life other than what I make of it, and, as we were saying about -why- things happen. And, ending up somewhere on the spectrum of nihilism is not sunshine and butterflies.

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