Death & Religion

April 13th, 2011

It is a heavy title for a blog post, but the contents should not be as tough to digest as you might think.


Over spring break, one of Wooster’s first year students, Cooper Larsh, perished in a skiing accident. I was shocked when I read this news while I was still at home. When I learned that there would be a service for Cooper, I knew I wanted to attend.

The service for Wooster people was held in the Gault Recital Hall. Many students, professors, administrators, and staff members attended the event. During the service, Cooper’s family, one of his friends, his TA, the president, and Wooster’s director of interfaith ministries all shared some thoughts to celebrate Cooper’s life. During these speeches, there was plenty of time for laughs. Cooper was an amazing person with a very strong character. He recovered from getting hit by a car when he was a child and he brought life to every situation he was in. Learning about Cooper’s uninhibited, open attitude towards life was very inspiring. I did not know Cooper personally, but the slide show about Cooper’s life with his favorite songs moved me deeply. After the service, I was talking to Marijke (my fellow Dutch senior) about the service. We both agreed that we felt so clear-minded, peaceful, and awake after the service. It was a very special event and I am grateful for the fact that I was a part of this celebration of Cooper’s life.


Last week, I attended another special event. The Wooster Christian Fellowship together with the Wooster Freethinkers had organized a dialogue on religion. The Freethinkers had invited Edwin Kagin and WCF’s had asked Fred Bailey to speak. Kagin and his late wife founded Camp Quest, the first secular humanist summer camp in the United States. Currently, Kagin is the host of the internet radio show “Answers in Atheism.” He is also the current National Legal Director and Kentucky State Director for American Atheists.
Fred Bailey serves students and faculty throughout the midwest as a Regional Director with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. He earned desgrees in biological sicence, theoglogy and cross-cultural studies at Stanford University and Regent College, respectively.
These descriptions of the speakers were taken from the event’s programme, but I think they illustrate that it was not a boring evening. The event was moderated by one of my favorite professors, Dr. Charles Kammer, who made sure the speakers did not go over their time. The format was as follows: each speaker had ten minutes to introduce their position, then each speaker had ten minutes to respond to the other, and finally, each speaker had five minutes for closing remarks. After a short break, there was a question and answer sessions.
I thought the dialogue was very interesting, but I thought that both speakers spend a little too much time either putting down their opponent or praising people with the same beliefs. I didn’t think it was very interesting that Christians or Atheists have done good and bad things. However, the debate still gave much food for thought and the conversations I had afterward were very interesting.


2 Responses to “Death & Religion”

  1. Judy Amburegy-Peterson 16 Apr 2011 at 5:30 am


    Thank you for your post. I’m not an active blog participant, but your sentiments about Cooper’s memorial echo my own, so I felt compelled to respond. The reflections on his life have invigorated my own zest for life and living it fully.

    The event promoting dialogue on religion sounds interesting. Glad you summarized it–I don’t do well in environments where there’s “contention” but I love learning about others’ perspectives. Regarding the debate these folks present, I think once you really “know” what your truth is, you don’t feel compelled to convince anyone else, but you are willing to share your beliefs. So, I’m more prone to listen to someone who is sharing rather than someone who is attempting to convince me. Ironically, I end up actually hearing more from someone who doesn’t really care if I’m convinced.

    Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. opa reyeron 16 Apr 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Hallo Bastiaan! Wat een interessante blog,- en die ontdek ik nu pas! De onderwerpen spraken je waarschijnlijk zo aan omdat ze doorgaans geen prominente plaats in je leven innemen. De overleden eerstejaars was geen vriend van je. Maar de manier warrop hij door anderen wordt beschreven en herdacht, kan heel boeiend en ontroerend zijn. Dat heb ik zelf soms ook wel bij dit soort gelegenheden. ‘Ik heb hem niet gekend’, denk ik dan, ‘maar uit alles proef ik dat het een bijzonder mens geweest is’. Dat inspireert.
    En dan: een christen en een vrijdenker in dialoog. Ik begrijp dat ze vooraL elkaars overtuiging afbraken. Het is voor mij dan altijd wel de vraag: hoe bestrijd je elkaar? Zoek je eerst naar gemeenschappelijke uitgangspunten of is het er vooral op gericht om te scoren en de ander af te maken? Ik zou voor het eerste kiezen. ‘De mens is ongeneeslijk religieus’, is een van mijn stellingen. En: ‘Zonder geloof vaart niemand wel’. Van daaruit ga je dan op verkenning naar de inhoud.
    Maar goed, misschien hebben we het er nog wel eens over.
    En vooral: gefeliciteerd met je plaatsing aan de UvA!!

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