Locally we had a tragedy last week. A young lady went missing, 20 years old, and many people mobilized very quickly in trying to find her. Her name was Jenni-Lyn, and unfortunately it didn’t end well. Last Saturday they found her body in a garbage bag, and they arrested her ex-boyfriend, someone who, it seems, didn’t quite feel the same way she did about ending the relationship.
A friend of mine named Tim wrote about it in his blog, but he wrote about it with the title On Religion and Human Tragedy. In general, it was the aftermath of the event, when he went to church the next day, looking for some kind of mental peace, and instead was treated to what I’m calling the “same ol’ thing”. In other words, the person giving the sermon never mentioned the tragedy, instead going on about topics that are usually the staple of some religions.
I was feeling Tim as I was reading his post, for a slightly different reason. Three weeks ago I had a friend of mine pass away. She went for a surgery that, a week later, had complications that took her away from us. It took 10 days for her funeral, and of course my wife and I had to go.
The ceremony was going along normally. There was an opening prayer, a beautifully sung song I’d never heard before, then a parade of people who went up to the lectern and had lots of nice things to say about her. This part took a while to get through, but I learned through these people that she used to sing, that she had wanted to be a writer and actually had a poem published, and that she’d been mentoring a lot of young people over the years, even while raising her own two children.
After one more song, also sung beautifully, it was time for the reverend to give the eulogy. At first it was fairly calm and nondescript; he’d known her, and wanted to express his feelings upon hearing of her demise. I was ready for that part; I wasn’t ready for what came next.
Have you ever heard of “whooping”? It’s a style some preachers go into that, well, supposedly gets people worked up and gets the “spirit” into them. Here’s an example; you don’t have to watch the whole thing:
I’m not religious, but I honor whatever ceremony people decide to have for their services. In this instance, I didn’t think any of it was appropriate. I felt that some of the things he was saying were out of line, and that irritated me. Another friend told me later on that I shouldn’t have taken any of what this man was saying literally, but I did and I thought that, with her children, ages 16 and 18, and her husband and mother, sitting in the front row, that it was out of place and unnecessary.
My wife and I were appalled. When he said she was ready to go to heaven, we got up and left. Seems he was just getting going, as I heard later on that he spoke at least another 30 minutes.
I wondered who all of that hollering was for. Many people jumped up and answered the call, but this wasn’t a Sunday morning church service. It wasn’t his congregation; truthfully, it wasn’t even his church. It was supposed to be a funeral service for someone I liked a lot; the focus was supposed to be on her.
I can’t say that he didn’t know his audience, but what I will say is that he didn’t know that there were many people in the church not ready for what he was about to deliver. I’ve been to a few black funerals, but never anything like that. There weren’t only people there who were church folks. People came to honor her memory; his presentation only talked about her half the time. If that had been one of my close relatives service I don’t know what I’d have done.
I understand that nothing is appropriate for everyone. But some things aren’t appropriate no matter who might think it’s fine. I don’t get to write a presentation for only black people if I know other people are going to be there. I don’t get to write a business presentation only for men if I know half the audience is going to consist of women. At least I shouldn’t. It’s not supposed to be about me but about the audience, the reason people are coming.
I feel I need to add this because it begs the rest of the question of what’s wrong with people. A day after the police found the body of the young lady in the picture above, some idiots hacked into a couple of websites that had been created in her memory and altered them in negative ways. There’s no clue as to who did it, but what has happened to common decency? I know if they’re ever caught someone’s going to say “we thought it was funny”; come on people, decorum!
To relate it to blogging, I guess that’s why I write what I do here in the manner I do. I mix it up because I figure it’s for any and every body. It’s also for me, but it’s not always about me. I hope you feel the same about your blogging space.
Rest in peace Jenni-Lyn; rest in peace “Mama” Joy.