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Is calling someone 'holy' a bit much?

(45 Posts)
redheadbedhead Fri 23-Sep-11 07:53:36

Went to a funeral of DH's relative. During her life she was quite often mean and cruel to certain members of the family. However in the funeral, the vicar, a personal friend through her church, got all emotional and said she was one of the few 'holy' people he had ever met.

I thought this was a bizarre label for somebody else to credit a person with, especially under the circumstances, when half the people sitting in the church probably had this face on hmm

Made me a bit angry and sad for all the people in the room to whom she'd been vindictive, manipulative and cruel.

Also confirmed some of my feelings about religion in general often being a smokescreen/excuse for all sorts of other behaviour.

Why do certain people feel they have the right to label anyone anything? Is it the dog collar and assumed position of authority?

OpenMouthInsertFoot Fri 23-Sep-11 08:00:03

Perhaps - to him - she was a spiritual, christian person. Perhaps that's what she showed him.

My 'grandfather' died last year. At his funeral (apparently. I didn't go.) one of his sons spoke tearfully about the wonderful man, the best friend, the gentle loving soul who he loved so much...

His other son - my father - sat there with the hmm face, remembering being punched so hard he flew across the room, remembering being beaten for getting bullied at school...

His brother didn't know that man. (there's a big age gap between them and by the time his brother came along, their father had stopped drinking and nobody was getting kicked round the kitchen any more)

My point is - everyone is a different person to different people.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 23-Sep-11 08:01:38

YABU... At funerals, it's traditional to only say nice things about the deceased. The back-biting is left to the rellies after a few sherries at the wake. The vicar, being a personal, was probably blinkered to her faults. Maybe he knew her when she was younger and not so bitter? Describing someone as holy? Again... if she did a lot of overt praying or contributing to church funds, that would go down well with a vicar.

If everyone knows what she was really like, why bother about a bit of funeral flannel?

TryLikingClarity Fri 23-Sep-11 08:02:26

At funerals people say the most wonderful kind words about people who they didn't know very well. Plus, are under the impression they have to be nice as it's rude to speak ill of the dead.

I'm a Christian but would never call someone 'holy' just for the sake of it, and don't actually think we as humans can be called holy as we all do bad things and Jesus was the only person ever who did right all the time and was selfless.

The Vicar is in a position of authority, whether you agree with the religion or not. Also, everyone labels other people, not just him confused You have started a thread on MN which will no doubt have scores of people label Vicars as X, Y, Z.

Don't really understand your last two questions as I think you are also labelling her. We all label people either based on our experiences, or what we think we should say.

GwendolineMaryLacey Fri 23-Sep-11 08:03:59

I don't think he was wrong particularly. I would define holy as being very religious, devout, committed to God etc. She may well have been those things as well as a bit of a witch, I don't know. Doesn't mean she was a good Christian but, as OMIF said, that was probably the face she presented at the church and he wasn't to know any different.

It's also unlikely that the vicar would stand up at her funeral service and say "We're here to mark the passing of Marge who, as most of you know, was a hideously vindictive woman...."

TryLikingClarity Fri 23-Sep-11 08:04:47

Oh, another thing I've thought of is when famous people die.

When they are alive not everyone really bothers with them, could take them or leave them. But when they die they are written about in glowing terms in papers, their hits go back into the charts and HMV puts up the price of their last album hmm

People feel they have to be nice about the dead.

redheadbedhead Fri 23-Sep-11 08:07:25

i think the thing that bothers me is the 'holy' bit - of course, everyone is going to say nice things at a funeral, you're not going to get up and slag the woman off in front of the coffin; but to label someone 'holy'???

I don't think that right belongs to anyone really, just as you are saying TLC. I think the vicar was a nice person, and did a great job, I was just a bit worried that he felt the need to go that far verbally.

redheadbedhead Fri 23-Sep-11 08:09:54

I guess what bothers me is how are you supposed to be both 'religious, devout, and committed to God' as well as being a witch?

slavetofilofax Fri 23-Sep-11 08:11:51

I'd wonder what the vicar jusdged to be 'holy'. Would that be a kind, selfless, loving person, or just a person that made lots of cakes at his church bake sales and helped clean up the church afterwards?

It wouldn't be the first time I've known a vicar to judge someone's worth on the amount of time they spent helping the church. By church, I mean the organisation, not the congregation.

Springyknickersohnovicars Fri 23-Sep-11 08:12:08

I seems to be Death Thread Friday. That's three now. Not complaining just noticing it.

Like everyone has said the vicar isn't really going to say, "when she wasn't in church, praying, donating, she was a bit of a witch really" and different people will see different things in people.

"Holy", I just wouldn't get hung up on a word, though I did kind of go confused at the people going to the funeral to whom she had been cruel vindictive and manipulative. I take it they were people who were related and there was an expectation that they'd be there? Or there not to grieve but to support other relations?

GwendolineMaryLacey Fri 23-Sep-11 08:13:56

Well, some people are! smile You wouldn't think the two go together but some people manage it admirably. But like I said, plenty of people have two faces and he might have seen a God-fearing devout woman, family and friends might have seen a witch. I can't really comment on that, you knew her, we didn't.

redheadbedhead Fri 23-Sep-11 08:16:50

Yes Springyknickers , it was family members she'd been cruel to. Daughters etc. They all said they didn't recognise the woman being spoken about. Which I think is quite sad and strange for a family to have to deal with - the fact that she was this shining beacon of spirituality around her friends and at church, but couldn't get it together to make her daughters feel loved. confused

hocuspontas Fri 23-Sep-11 08:17:46

I think you think that holy = good person. As Gwen said, it just means devout and religious.

borderslass Fri 23-Sep-11 08:19:18

My mil died in July I didn't go to the funeral although I offered to go despite everything she did DH wanted me to take the kids and start the holiday or we'd lose it. DD1 phoned me in pieces she was so angry about it she went for her dad who wasn't going to go, his brother's and sister ignored him didn't even acknowledge him she was painted as a devoted mother and grandmother even mentioning by name all the GC except ours.

She abandoned DH as a child and he only found out she had moved from Wales to Scotland later and followed her up. I have never known so much happiness from people on hearing someone was dead she made a lot of peoples life around here hell.

redheadbedhead Fri 23-Sep-11 08:19:50

i don't think i know what holy means then. I thought devout and religious WAS supposed to = good person.

I know from experience that it doesn't but I thought that was the idea at least...

Springyknickersohnovicars Fri 23-Sep-11 08:20:31

The problem is though red while it sounds as if the Vicar has gone OTT, unless the family have said to him not to say good things about her or that they thought she was a bit of a witch and could he please drop that in too, then, it's not going to happen.

It's like a funeral protocol, be nice about the dead, it's their send off. The real legacy is what she's left in her daughter's hearts and memories and it doesn't matter what the vicar has come out with. IMO anyway.

borderslass Fri 23-Sep-11 08:22:01

Same when my dad died he was a pillar of the community no-one had a bad word to say about him but they never had to live under his dictatorship.

OpenMouthInsertFoot Fri 23-Sep-11 08:22:59

how can you be 'religious, devout, and committed to God' as well as being a witch?

well, how can you be 'religious, devout, and committed to God' and be a paedophile?

How can you be 'religious, devout, and committed to God' and beat children in your care (irish children in catholic care)

How can you be 'religious, devout, and committed to God' and blow people up?

'religious, devout, and committed to God' means fuck all in terms of determining whether you're a good person or a sack of shit.

Springyknickersohnovicars Fri 23-Sep-11 08:23:42

devout and religious can mean to a Catholic say, going to church every Sunday, Confessions once a month, and not bonking your partner before you marry them. They all get ticks in the devout and religous box. But you can still be bitchy, sarcastic etc.

Basically it's subjective I think anyway.

redheadbedhead Fri 23-Sep-11 08:25:01

well, yeah, OMIF, this is kind of why I'm an atheist. Makes no sense to me. I'm just interested in other people's opinions on it.

ElizabethDarcy Fri 23-Sep-11 08:25:03

People can be wonderful to one person and awful to the next. This is nothing about her being/not being 'religious'... people can fake anything.

I have a fil like this... and many would carry on re how wonderful he is at his funeral for sure... as I see how he is with others... and he hasn't had a conversation with me, ever (been with DH 11 years). He chooses who he is nice to.

She sounds the same. And there are many like her, sadly.

ps: I consider myself a good and decent person, do loads within the church and community... but do not consider myself holy... and would not wish to be described as such. I am just me. And I treat everyone the same way.

EdithWeston Fri 23-Sep-11 08:29:29

The vicar was speaking at a funeral, not giving a finely balanced critique in which every word has been carefully weighed, nor a reference for the afterlife.

You also do not describe his address in full - so we have no idea whatsoever how prominent this was in his eulogy, nor what other aspects of her life were included and in how much detail.

YABU - on the information given. Especially as you say you are not one of the people directly affected, and none of those who were have said anything.

And OF COURSE the dog collar has "authority" WHEN YOU ARE IN CHURCH - it's the emblem of the leader - that's a basic in most organised Christian churches and I'm amazed anyone needs to ask.

Whatmeworry Fri 23-Sep-11 08:31:10

Just shows the vicar is a naive person can't see through people.

EdithWeston Fri 23-Sep-11 08:36:34

Yes, vicars - like teachers, doctors, nurses, binmen, etc - vary.

Most are fine, a few are truly outstanding and some are dire; twas ever thus for everything, and ever more shall be so.

redheadbedhead Fri 23-Sep-11 08:37:02

Fair enough Edith - I know he has authority in I'm making the point that I don't think anyone has the 'authority' to proclaim that someone else is holy.

The 'holy' aspect was quite prominent, seemed to be the crux of his eulogy, and in fact at this point he had tears in his eyes. I am related by marriage to one of her grandsons, and she has also been incredibly rude to me in the past about my wedding plans. Quite a few people directly hurt by her in the past mentioned the 'holy' episode and said it made them feel a bit weird.


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