Once more, I draw my inspiration from Free Inquiry, the magazine for atheists (even though I’m not an atheist). The June/July 2016 issue features two answers to the question “Would You Pray with a Dying Believer?” One atheist writer would; the other would not. I understand this is a little different for me as a believer, but I thought I’d take this on and we’ll address the nuances as we go.
As my regular readers know by now, my parents are Catholic. My mother has been remarkably flexible (she asked me to read to her from what I was reading the other day, and I said, “Mom, I was reading The Book of the Dead,” and she was okay with that, and found the passage beautiful); it’s my father who might pose a problem. We addressed this a little bit in my last post. This man would not only ask me to say Catholic prayers on his deathbed, he would ask me to reconvert to Catholicism. That, I could not do. But I could pray with him.
I think most Christians tend to freak out a little bit when I say that Aset (the Kemetic name for Isis) exists for me because they think that I am then also saying that their god does not exist. And that’s not what I’m saying. Remember, the ancient Egyptians were polytheists, and they added gods to their pantheon as they conquered new territories. According to Erik Hornung in the book “Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: The One and the Many,” a more accurate word to describe the belief of the ancient Egyptians is henotheism: you believe in your god or gods without disbelieving in the existence of other gods. Also, Hornung says that especially before the New Kingdom, the gods were not seen to have much power outside their own territories, and so when they traveled to Nubia, for instance, they prayed to Nubian gods. So I should have no problem praying to Jesus and Mary for my parents.
Except. Except that thing we talked about the last time, that no one in the Catholic “pantheon” (for lack of a better word) seems to want to have anything to do with me. But I guess that’s their problem, not mine. I’ll say the prayers with my loved one, and then it’s out of my hands, as with so many things in life. Anyway, it’s not about me at that point, as Matthew Facciani noted in Free Inquiry; it’s about my loved one, and wanting to comfort them as much as I can while they are dying.
What would you do in this situation? If your parents were of a different faith and they were on their deathbed and asked you to say the prayers of their faith with them, would you? Why or why not? Please leave your answers below.