I Said No to a Religious Friend as She Lay Dying. Was I Right?

When someone’s life is manifestly at its end when there’s no more living to do, what’s to gain from knocking down their foolish props?

Religion is nothing but a crock used by people to fortify themselves against the frightening prospect of death, that chillingly inevitable end of life. 

And when death impends, be that at war, in hospital, or on death row, people cling more desperately to that delusion. 

Even nonbelievers walk on eggshells when faced with a dying person. We wonder: Is this really a good time to tread on their sensibilities and disabuse them of their crock? Not long ago I found myself in that quandary. 

Someone I knew was dying, and I went to her deathbed to pay my respects. She was a woman who respected me as an elder of the Nigerian community in Cleveland. 

She was also something of a protégé, having sought my advice repeatedly as she considered the proper advanced-degree path to pursue. 

In my days as a scientific educator—when, also, two of my sons were in the university—I had become something of an information resource for my fellow Nigerians on matters like the choice of college to attend and the discipline of study, and especially how to tap into financial assistance programs available to good students and their parents in the U.S.

Continue reading