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i googled blessing
singapore sunset
I am fairly interested in theology. I even considered doing a masters in it, briefly. I find the history and sociology of religion fascinating. I have been to church a few times and know plenty of Bible stories. At some point in my life i used to recite the Lord's Prayer before bed each night, though i can't remember who told me to do it or why. I like visiting churches when i am on holiday. My mother went New Age in the 80s, and several of my friends and partners were into Wicca and other new religious movements, plus of course the psytrance scene is full of hippies... So i consider myself fairly well-read when it comes to a variety of spiritual stuff. But this morning i had to ask Bing, "what is a blessing?"

You see, i know blessing in the context of a parent giving a kid their blessing with regard to marriage or another big life decision. I also know blessing in the context of something a priest does to water to make it holy. But i had no idea how to respond to "do you want to send a blessing [...] which we will write on the urn". I am not a priest. I can't bless objects. How do you write a blessing anyway? I thought it was some kind of mysterious incantation that people mutter while waving around incense. I found the email from my aunt very confusing.

After looking the term up i still don't really get it. I guess a blessing is a bit like the message you write in a get well soon card? But mom is dead, she was cremated and put in a biodegradable urn. She will live on in my memories and in all of her stories and wisdom that i share with the people i know. Writing her a blessing now feels morbid and weird.

I am going to guess it's something that brings people a sense of closure, but to me it feels... dismissive. Like the email i got from my aunt R after mom passed away and it is all about spirits watching over her or whatever. Dude. Shut the fuck up about angels, my mom just died. I guess she thought it would bring me comfort - or perhaps it was bringing her comfort - but i felt it was playing down the reality.

I have been through phases in my life where i was somewhat spiritual. I mean, i wanted to believe. But i was always more or less agnostic. Like "hey, wouldn't it be nice if..." Somehow in the past few years, though, i think i have turned solidly atheist. Maybe living in mainland China has brainwashed me. I just find superstition and faith tiresome. Life is complex enough without adding more rules on top of it.

Anyway, i did not send a blessing, but of course i have been thinking about mom all day. They are burying her urn in Belair National Park, which is a place i have never been and will probably never go, but there are koalas and kangaroos and stuff. Mom loved hiking and she loved the Australian outback, so i think it's a fitting spot.

Here's a photo of her back in 2012.


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As you probably know, Hong Kong served as a kind of accidental refuge for Chinese traditional religion during the communist period. As a child there I was an aloof foreigner observing the ‘locals’ and their funny customs, and yet it was impossible not to feel the attraction of some of these beliefs. The idea of ‘luck’ giving you an edge (which is true, of course) and there being supernatural means of somehow slightly increasing your quota of luck, and of ancestors maybe helping you a tiny bit. Even though I don’t believe it, it’s still cheering to pretend. It’s so much more immediate than Christian salvation at the end of the world.

Having said that, I’m going to try and read the King James Bible in a heavily annotated academic version. I am NOT attracted to Christianity. But I feel very ignorant not knowing this book. It underlies so much European history and the English language. I feel I must read the whole thing and try to understand, at least a bit, the bewildering complexities of its translation.

I find ancestor and spirit worship quite appealing in its grassroots nature. I like that you can build a tiny shrine with an orange and a joss stick. Or a bottle of baijiu and some cigarettes. It feels like a lot less pomp and circumstance than the Abrahamic religions or even the more formal Eastern religions.

I don't begrudge people who choose to include religion in their lives. It can obviously have a psychological benefit, even if it's just a placebo, so why not? I think what irks me is having to participate in other people's rituals. But that might be more about me being introverted than atheist, heh.

I have dipped into academic bibles from time to time. It's definitely a very important book that has influenced a huge amount world history. It's tough going to read, though. I wish you luck in getting through it! Perhaps you should light a joss stick.

One thought on Christianity that i found very persuasive is preterism, which is the idea that all of Jesus' fire and brimstone talk needs to be considered in the historic context of the Roman conquest of the Middle East. Full preterist thought says that the end-of-time prophecies were metaphorical and that they were done and dusted in the first century. It's considered a heretical reading nowadays, but it feels scientifically plausible.

I suppose lighting a candle in a church for a dead relative is the same thing, just disguised under layers of judeo-Christianity.

Even in the first pages of that Old Testament I’m finding amusing details. “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” and the academics in the footnote point out that the Hebrew is more like “the wind of the divine being swept over...”. That people place so much trust in this English version is remarkable. Also the Garden of Eden was vegetarian.

I lost my sister about two years ago. It was sudden, devastating, and mostly out of the blue (she was morbidly obese, but otherwise, didn't seem to have any problems). My family is DEEPLY Roman Catholic. I'm Wiccan. Some friends of mine showed up who were Comanche Indian. It's funny, how I felt the ceremony of it all felt flat for me. My sister is dead, her spirit gone to the winds, and there's all this pomp and circumstance going on. My personal beliefs are that she is gone, let's bury her with dignity, and hope her spirit moves on to better places. The Comanches were praying for us very very deeply and there were a few spiritual things they did with me, that I appreciated because they weren't Big Things.

But then I thought....ritual is for the people that need them. My Roman Catholic family, who leaned against all the formailty, NEEDED thats for closure. The Comanches came because they needed to feel that I had some closure. I have rituals that I do to make myself feel better as part of my Wiccan beliefs. So, for me, if they need their pomp and circumstance to get through the day, and it's not hurting anyone, let them have it. I miss my sister deeply, and I think about her often. I had my closure fairly quickly because I had what I needed right away. People thought I didn't mourn enough (particularly Mom). I mourned plenty. I just got my closure in a different way than they did.

I hope you find your own closure, if you haven't already. ❤

Thanks for posting this 💕

I think i need some time off work where i am not looking for another job to process. It feels like there is too much going on for me right now to really think about it. I think that's okay. I don't think she's hovering around, waiting for me to deal. I'll deal how and when i need to.

MY Mom became all I have left after my Dad walked out on me...

Oh my god, I can totally see your face in her face. You both have very different faces, but relation is uncanny.

I've told my family that it doesn't really matter what they do for me after I die. The most important thing would be to do what helps them the best to cope.

hi mom! that's a really nice picture. and i too can kind of see your face in her face, altho it's entirely possible that's just because i know she's your mom.

obviously i don't know your aunt r, but my guess is she was trying to comfort you in a way that made the most sense to her, namely the way that she'd find comforting. i would've been completely confused about the blessing too, tho.

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