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Atheist Community of Austin
On the Death of a Friend -- A Secular Eulogy for Farrette (Joan)

Farrette is somebody I spoke to often over the years. Her death comes as something of a shock to me.

To the friends and family that Farrette has left behind, I send my deep condolences. Our shared grief honors her memory, and we'll never forget her.


She deserves one of the softest pillow in Heaven, but Farrette helped countless others with no thought of reward. She was integral to SafetyEd, to PATH, and to the volunteer security staff on Furcadia that works behind the scenes.

Her reward came when what she set in motion actually achieved things.

I wish we could all see the ripple of effect a good deed has on all the other people. I wish we could see the net of harms that propagates out from a bad deed. We'd somehow see the waves of positive effect that emanated from the nexus that was Farrette.

Through example and explanation, she helped spread the idea that computers are a way we can truly help one another. She knew it was important to teach the youngest people online to remember that the other person on the screen is a real living, feeling, breathing person. Sometimes a typed smiley can bring a real smile to a lonely person's face, and she taught this, too.

I, like millions of others, have no belief in an afterlife. For the people who died most cruelly, I don't think there will be something that makes it up to them later. For the people who did the most horrific things, there will be no magical punishment, no matter how richly they deserve it.

Ultimately, I think that 'Heaven' and 'Hell' are imaginary concepts, born purely of our own human wishful thinking. That we can want, so powerfully, for them to exist is a tribute to human virtue: a profound hunger for justice that people of all colors and nationalities share.

Farrette's belief was that the time and place to make the world better for someone else is here and now. The internet is our tool for doing that worldwide, through sharing ideas, through education, and, sometimes, just by being someone else's friend.

Sometimes, prayer is the healthy outlet for when we can do nothing else. A sincere prayer will set a heart at ease. Then again, sometimes, prayer is a way to pretend you are doing something about a real problem-- when you aren't.

What will keep a homeless person alive longer, long enough for a dream of re-homing to be realized-- a fresh orange or keeping them in your thoughts during the day? What will bring a homeless person closer to re-homing- a five dollar bill, or your blessing?

How much good have the similar and combined well-wishes of tens of thousands of good people who pass them by on the road daily done?

Rev. Kenneth Phifer put it this way: " is immoral to wait for God to act for us. We must act to stop the wars and the crimes and the brutality of this and future ages. We have powers of a remarkable kind. We have a high degree of freedom in choosing what we will do. ... ...(W)hatever our philosophy of the universe may be, ultimately the responsibility for the kind of world in which we live rests with us."

So, how do I, a secular person, a "Bright", deal with the concept that a wonderful person like Farrette has gone out of the world, forever? How do atheists handle the concept that we might never again meet with those we love? We usually do it by remembering that what a person has done, does not end with their death.

Life is a process, like the flame of a candle. When the candle goes out, the fire doesn't 'go' someplace else, it just ends. Yet, one candle can light many others.

And the amazing thing is that no matter how many other candles the first one lit, the fire never gets any smaller. That's what love is like.

Farrette shared her warmth and light, and that will live inside of each of us. To honor her memory best, try to take a little of that, and share it with others.

Whenever somebody dies, sometimes it feels like an empty hole. That isn't their memory, that's us feeling sorry for ourselves. That's okay; that's natural. Over time, the sorrow fades, and you'll realize that the good people left behind a piece of themself inside all of the rest of us.

We can choose not to let that fade.


I promised Joan ("Farrette") I'd volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. It's high time I did. "Pray with your feet."

I enjoyed reading this very nice tribute, TF; I wish I had known her.

You want to remember your dead ones because THEY DID SOMETHING FOR YOU.

What if they didn't? You wouldn't even care if you yourself would kill 'em.

It's like answering this question: Why are you not stealing? A) You love the people. B) You just don't want to get jailed.

Are you so out of touch with society that you think that someone can go kill or steal from someone without care only because they didn't know the person. On the other point, why not remember them for what they did. Of course it's for that person in one way or another, if you help my society you are helping me. You sound like a real insensitive prick sometimes, NobodyMan. Again, if your mythology is the only thing keeping you from causing harm to yourself or those around you than I promote that you stick with it. Please, go seek help because you obviously need it.

Nobody Dude, from your comments you are the fool! I'd be PISSED if I were dying and some self-righteous idiot tried to convert me! Hypocritical, judgmental, self righteous and if I forgot anything…..

"Nobody Dude, from your comments you are the fool! I'd be PISSED if I were dying and some self-righteous idiot tried to convert me! Hypocritical, judgmental, self righteous and if I forgot anything….."

Why take pride to the grave?

Also if someone is trying to convert you in your death bed it is because they want hope they can see you again in another life. Consider how disproportionate the human imagination is compared to the human body. Who says your mind won't finally break free of your limited body.

I hope you live long and healthy, but if one day comes and you find yourself passing away gracefully with your friends & family about, consider submitting to God and accepting Jesus as your Lord. If not for yourself do it for anyone in your family who may have faith. Now let's say we're all wrong about Christianity & Jesus. At least God can see two things about your character.

1) You were trying to submit to Him. 2) You realized the only way to be in his presence was ONLY with His will.

You don't have to give any money to anyone and your connection to God remains intact.

We are all dying! Nobody lives forever. There has to be room for the new people. Death is a normal part of life. Many people cannot accept that. That is why they accept the idea of God and heaven so eagerly. The need for the lake of fire is to threaten people into a belief system. People who are referred to as wicked are usually mentally ill. One day medical science will be able to cure most of these people unless we just keep calling them wicked. The phrase "get right with God" is rather silly when it is humanity that they have offended. They should answer to them, and they rarely ever do. (They only have to answer to God.)

Humans have an extra gift from God. We are not destined for dirt. We are more than just animals. If we're just animals then anything goes. The most evil man in the world was neither right or wrong, he just had power. Under your belief those with power rule and those without suffer. I'm trying desperately to understand the atheists morality but I can't see ANY. All I can see is "if i can convince others of my will then it's good to go whether it is right or wrong"... Your system allows for evil to rule while God's law punishes all sinners. I'd give anything to witness Earth without religion so you can see what people would do without conviction. The seeds of God are in EVERYONE. Including you whether you like it or not. You've heard of God's law but you reject it and embrace man's law. Under man's law those with money can overcome the law. Pedophile priests GET AWAY WITH INJUSTICE UNDER YOUR PATHETIC BELIEFS.

Atheism is a belief in man and man is flawed. Do you see the error in your logic? Why believe in a flawed species?

Haven't you seen the evils religious & non-religious humans are capable of? Even the animals on this planet are less cruel. An animal may toy with its prey for a brief moment before ripping it to shreds but a human can torture for years & years before killing its prey. A human is capable of inventing EVIL.

Understand where your loyalty lies. It lies with man and man is evil and occasionally capable of good.

Now let's talk realistically here. I love my fellow man but at the same time I KNOW of the IMMENSE evil he is capable of. Don't fool yourself into thinking humans are great and capable of so much. I know what goes on in the night. I know what we do when no one is looking. (DON'T LIE TO YOURSELF).

All it takes is one dumb human to destroy things for the rest of us. That is why I place my trust in God first and humans second. I tried placing my trust in humans and it failed over & over & over & over...

10: failed, over & over ... and over & over and over..

and over...

and over......... ...... over & over........ over..

over & over..... again.

GOTO 10 (The infinite evil loop of man).

You are a liar if you say you can trust your fellow man without expecting failure. I bet you 100% that all your trust in man has resulted in failure. You don't even have to respond to this statement just understand it in your HEART.

Humans are great but God is greater....

One day you'll figure it out, it took me seven years to finally understand the heart of Christianity. Seven years of acting like a selfish & prideful fool before I finally figured it out.

It's only when you're not in control when you'll understand God's glory.

Ok now you can call me crazy LOL. I'm just trying to help you catch up faster. I wish I had listened to the Christians who approached me years ago. Man I must be sooo ignorant and stupid for it to take me seven years to understand the fear of God.

Do you understand the fear of God or do you think it's just man's way of striking fear into humanity to force them to give money to the church? LOL. I give money to my church and they turn around helping all the people who lost their homes in southern california. OH I guess I'm a dumb ass.

In your defense I know atheists who help humanity without giving glory to God, but why? In the end they are giving away resources that could ultimately benefit themselves. Under atheism it is better to help yourself & your family than to help others. If you study humans closely you'll see that a small percentage of humans can flourish while the rest of humanity suffer. This is why i'm not an atheist anymore with all due respect to your horrible belief system.

Sure there are deviant Christians but what system/idelogy/government/culture/race/society is there that doesn't have it's small % of deviants?

I truly believe that 95% of Christians are the best people in the world and so are 95% of muslims (even though I don't agree with their faith). But why hold the 5% of deviants against them? Only a fool would do that (everyone is ultimately guilty of this bad personality flaw).

In the end Athiests only find meaning in themselves when they reject those who find meaning in God. This is sad. (Richard Dawkins for example, who was he before he attacked God? I never heard of Richard Dawkins until the day he began to attack God).

Richard Dawkins has taught me that man can do whatever the heck he wants. He can impose any will upon others whether it be good or evil. Why? Since he atheists don't believe in good or evil ANYTHING GOES.


No you don't yet. Right now in this very moment your heart is filled with rebellion. I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL.


A use-to-be atheist who doesn't understand that atheism is not a belief; it is the lack of any belief. Atheism is not a system of belief, and there is no philosophy of atheism. There are no requirements that anyone has to belong to a group or organization to be an atheist. The "belief" that atheists have in common is having none. The simple fact is that many people have concluded that religious belief is hokum, but the people are as different and diverse as it gets. One reason that atheists, freethinkers, and skeptics do not all look alike, talk alike, act alike and have swirly eyes, is that they are not brainwashed.

Atheism only involves evaluation of all the pertinent information and after careful examination coming to a conclusion. The reasons you are giving for your "belief" in god does not indicate careful, thoughtful, examination of the material. A person does not have to be a historian or a scientist to examine the evidence, but they do have to know how to find things out for themselves, and have a desire to know the truth.

Anyone who does think that they have the right to criticize and bad-mouth people who have done research, study, and examined the material in question are doing this because they do not want to know (and they are conditioned to react with anger). The reason why atheists (and there are many brilliant atheist) are never allowed to voice their opinion on the air is because of fear. Xians who are supposedly so sure of their "belief" don't dare allow anyone to speak from the other side. The sleazy media is loaded with small-minded xians (who are too stupid to do research, use correct grammar, or even give a logical argument.

You will notice that none of my previous arguments involved accusing someone of sleazy, perverted, sick behavior, because it has nothing to do with proving the existence of a deity. It is the modus operandi of the coalition of the self-righteous buffoons. I didn't ever bring up Jimmy Swaggart, although I saw excerpts of his crusades where he was pointing his fingers at the audience saying he knew what those people were doing. I'm always suspicious of people like that, and everyone should be. "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged" (Matthew 7:1 and Luke 6:37).

You have no right to try to assassinate anyone's character on this message board, but this kind of attack is very typical. From my experiences and observations of sleaze ball xianity I would never touch it with a ten foot pole. Incidentally I don't go to church, have never been baptized, so your assumption that my remarks about the sleazy tactics of the clergy was based on "conviction" is typically stupid.

I also know that telling a Christian that you don't want what they are selling causes them to go after you with murderous vehemence. Atheist will defend their right to "intellectual freedom" but they do not insist that anyone has to agree with them.

The use of hell or heaven to justify this kind of ignorance is just disgusting. The only thing that prevents someone from going to hell (according to xianity) is belief in god, and not believing in god is all it takes to put your ass in hell. So, it really doesn't matter how good anyone is if they are smart enough to have found all the lies involved in Christianity. You are going to hell!! It also doesn't matter how bad you are if you just believe (you have a franchise on the highway to heaven.) You're going to heaven! I have watched all the tricks of these leaches who make a living off of the gullible public, and at the same time help to destroy this country by mixing political, economic, and social views in their sick warped bible-based clap trap.

Nothing that you have flung at people who do not agree with you is impressive or proof of the existence of god. The only thing that would ever be required (if this was not a scam) would be proving that it is real. That proof would have to meet the same standards that any scientific or scholarly work does. Take out all the bologna flinging sleaze (at anyone who doesn't agree) and the threats of hell, or the reward of heaven and see what you have left. Come up with some fact based information or shut the f**k up!

Since I haven't mentioned any of the sleaze pertaining to evangelist: I think it would only be fair to allow me to give you some. In 2007 Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa opened a probe into the finances of six televangelists who preach a "prosperity gospel" The probe follows years of reports of high living and lavish lifestyles by televangelists including fleets of Rolls Royces, huge palatial mansions, private jets and other excesses paid for with monies from, more often than not, poor television viewers who donate due the ministries incessant pleadings for tithings. The six under investigation are Kenneth Copeland and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries of Newark, Texas; Creflo Dollar and Taffi Dollar of World Changers Church International and Creflo Dollar Ministries of College Park, Ga; Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church Inc. and Benny Hinn Ministries of Grapevine, Texas; Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and Bishop Eddie Long Ministries of Lithonia, Ga; Joyce Meyer and David Meyer of Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, Mo; Randy White and Paula White of the multiracial Without Walls International Church and Paula White Ministries of Tampa. I didn't even mention Ted Haggard....and I know that mud slinging does not prove that there is no god. Just like slinging mud at the atheist community does not prove that there is a god. I have given plenty of concrete proof that Christianity is fake on this message board, and so have others. Don't bother me with your sermons because I'm not interested. I want concrete proof that god is real, the bible is true, and Christianity is not fake. That doesn't involve things like what the world would be like without god, or how awful atheists are, or where people are going when they die. I'm not interested in your dogma.

In addition: I find the remarks about deathbed conversions the most despicable. It is also one of the most common lies spread about atheists (deathbed conversions). Why are so many xians at atheist's deathbeds. I have a difficult time putting any real credence in a death bed conversion. Old people are often confused.

Bertrand Russell said: "A stupid man's report of what a clever man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand."

I can tell you've probably been a Christian forever by your spitefulness, your conspicuous lack of rational, and integrity. Xianity promotes dishonesty (loyalty over honesty) hatred, cruelty, uninformed faith and assurance over reason.

Let us assume for a moment you are right:

"Humans have an extra gift from God."

1: What is it? 2: What does it do? 3: Is god the only means of receiving such a gift? 4: Why / why not? 5: If so then what is the purpose of the gift? / If not then by what means does one distinguish the gift being received from god rather than something else? 6 (still referring to question 3):If so has the gift been granted to anything else? / If not then what are the other means of receiving such a gift? 7: If the gift has been granted anything how can we tell? If it has not, then how can we tell that it has not been granted? End assumption.

"Under man's law those with money can overcome the law."

Look throughout history, that is what has happened time and time again.

"Atheism is a belief in man and man is flawed"

False. Atheism is the lack of a belief. So it is your argument that is flawed. Atheism is fact-based at its core. We know facts, we have theories (using the scientific definition of theory rather than the colloquial definition).

"Understand where your loyalty lies. It lies with man and man is evil and occasionally capable of good."

We know exactly where it lies. It lies with reason which is completely different from humankind.

"(Richard Dawkins for example, who was he before he attacked God? I never heard of Richard Dawkins until the day he began to attack God)."

That's the media for you. It was the media that made him famous, not necessarily him attacking god. Though in our xenophobic society it certainly helps.

"Since he atheists don't believe in good or evil ANYTHING GOES."

We have our own definition of good. Good: "obedient to rules and conventions". Evil does not translate perfectly, we do have "not good" which is simply defined "not obedient to rules and conventions".

"Right now in this very moment your heart is filled with rebellion."

Wrong. It is filled with rationality.

"In the end they are giving away resources that could ultimately benefit themselves."

Because altruism reciprocates itself. Sometimes things are not entirely about materialistic concerns. Look at the entertainment industry. You give them something (money) and receive nothing materialistic. However, you do receive something. You receive fun. People gives resources in order to receive other abstract concepts (including but not limited to): education, pride, reputation, love, accomplishment. It is that last one that you probably perceive to be nothing. People do value having done something. It is here that martyrdom lies. It is here that people sacrifice their belongings to achieve their goals. It is here that people all throughout history have placed others ahead of themselves in hopes of making the world a better place. It does not take god or some other supernatural deity to do this. It only takes the willpower of one man to do this. It is you, yourself, that can make a difference in this world. You don't need the help of deities. You don't need divine approval. All it takes is the strength of one man, by himself, to make a difference. This is where we get our drive. This simple notion provides the fuel for incredible altruism. This is the only reward that is necessary.

Hopefully that is in a format that you're more used to hearing.

Vcurious, you said, "A human is capable of inventing EVIL."

I say right on-they sure are. They created that stupid, evil religion you give blind adherence to. You also said, "Do you understand the fear of God or do you think it's just man's way of striking fear into humanity to force them to give money to the church? LOL. I give money to my church and they turn around helping all the people who lost their homes in southern california. OH I guess I'm a dumb ass."

Yes you are. You believe that a gawd who is all powerful and can do ANYTHING is allowing homes all over southern california to be destroyed? Have you ever visited a CHILDREN'S CANCER CENTER? Ask your god why he doesn't help those poor babies he loves so much.You're religion is sick-why do you want to shove it down people's throats? Emily

The poor dead girl is no longer an atheist.

She now believes in God.

QUOTE - "The poor dead girl is no longer an atheist. She now believes in God."

You made a strong claim. You claim that dead people are coming back to life. What other possible way would a dead person know that there is a god? Since nobody can talk to dead people that can not be proven. Things that can not be proven are not arguments; they are statements based on "faith" not proof. You assume that dead people believe in god just as you assume there is one (without any material proof) the only thing that anyone can prove about death is that we are all mortal (people die) unlike flowers (and pagan gods) they don't come back in the spring. There are many ancient myths about savior gods who were immortal and these myths were not that different from the savior god bible myths.

Xians want to assume that their loved ones died and went to heaven. Going to heaven means that they are still alive. If you mean does a god live in the minds of people? Yes, there are many gods that live in the minds of people in every part of the world.

Wittgenstein was asked, "What is your aim in Philosophy?" - Wittgenstein answered, "To show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle" (Philosophical Investigations).

Oh, I see you are censoring comments.

How liberal.

How athesit.

Bye Bye

No, your snide comments were let through. The message board is moderated for spam as the web site says.

QUOTE - "Oh, I see you are censoring comments. How liberal. How athesit. Bye Bye"

He didn't say he was a liberal (many liberals are believers) just as some conservatives are atheists. Combining politics and religion is the forte of the religious right…As well as, trying to group together those who they consider enemies simply to malign them.

There is no such word as athesit…The word is atheistic.

Bonne journée

For "liberal", he meant tolerant.

For "athesit", he meant it as an insult, implying that atheism needs some sort of protection from censoring opposing views. We don't do that. Our positions don't need defenses like this. We can defend them without deception.

Contrast that with the movie "Expelled", for example, that had to kick people out of the showings who they interviewed under false pretenses, then hacked up the interviews to take quotes out of context for their ridiculous points. I understand their publicity web site requires the viewer to agree that any material used from their site will only be used to promote their agenda. How lame. This is par for the course for theists. Again, atheists don't need to do this.


Thank you so much for the interpretation. It's so helpful to know how insipid people think? But as for the word "athesit" if the word had been atheist-assist it would have been more discernible.

The 'right wing' with the assistance of the media has been vilifying the word 'liberal' for many years. Saying 'liberal' as if it were a dirty word and 'conservative' as if it meant an honorable patriotic American. Proof of that is one paragraph of this speech. Reading the entire speech makes it very clear that nothing has changed. It's very timely.

A Liberal Definition by John F. Kennedy - Acceptance Speech of the New York Liberal Party Nomination - September 14, 1960

"What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

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