Vicar complains of 'feeling like a lemon at pithy funerals which blare out My Way'

A vicar has said he feels like ‘a lemon’ at funeral services, when mourners listen to ear-splitting Tina Turner songs and bad poetry as their loved one is cremated. Father Ed Tomlinson, the vicar of St Barnabas’ Church in Tunbridge Wells, said he feared that his presence at funerals was ‘pointless’ and that he had better things to do with his time. In an astonishing online rant, the priest described in his blog his frustration with bereaved relatives who request funerals with few religious elements.

‘In the last few years, it has become painfully obvious that many families I have conducted funerals for have absolutely no desire for any Christian content whatsoever,’ he wrote. 'I have then stood at the crem like a lemon, wondering why on earth I am present at the funeral of somebody led in by the tunes of Tina Turner, summed up in pithy platitudes of sentimental and secular poets and sent into the furnace with I Did It My Way blaring out across the speakers! 'To be brutally honest, I can think of a hundred better ways of spending my time as a priest on God’s earth. ‘What is the point of my being present if spiritually is unwanted?’

He added: 'Once upon a time, the beautiful requiem mass would have been the norm and not the exception in my parish. 'Once upon a time, even funerals at the crem would have been sincerely Christian in character. ‘But that was another England, a time when Christianity was worshipped on these shores. We must accept that, for now, such days are past and that this has inevitable consequences.’

He says that mourners who opt for a non-religious ceremony are conned by ‘humanists’ making money from death. He added: 'I am not the one who suffers. Along with my fellow Christians, I will still have the gorgeous liturgy of the requiem mass to look forward to.
'Whereas the best our secularist friends (and those they dupe) can hope for is a poem from nan combined with a saccharine message from a pop star before being popped in the oven with no hope of resurrection. 'It might offend those who see choice as a wonderful thing, but whenever I consider humanist funerals (or hotel weddings come to that) I am only ever reminded of those words from scripture, “forgive them for they know not what they do.”

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I would be angry as well. It is offensive against the dead to make of a funeral a party.

Still, I don’t know the Church’s teaching on funerals, but, isn’t a priest not needed at a non-Christian funeral? And if so, than wouldn’t his presence only add to the confusion, for he, a representative of the Catholic Church, would be making it seem the Church approves of offensive non-Catholic funerals.

Can’t say I blame him. But I have never seen a Catholic funeral that was anything but reverent and dignified.

Some protestants see things differently. I remember one in which scenes of the deceased hunting in Colorado were flashed on big screens while John Denver screamed “Rocky Mountain High” over the PA. Pretty strange. The service ended with that.

But I think the worst really was one in which “My Way” was played over the PA as sort of the centerpiece of a protestant funeral. Of all the songs NOT to play. :eek: Made my skin crawl.

Fr. Tomlinson is an Anglican priest.

I think the conflict has to do with the family’s understandable desire to celebrate the deceased person’s life. From a Catholic point of view, it would be better to postpone that celebration to the wake or reception after the funeral. Fr. Tomlinson obviously agrees.

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