On the way there I told him that I appreciated his willingness and he said, "You know I don't want to go?" I said yes, and told him about a great piece that appeared on NPR's "This I Believe" some years ago: Deirdre Sullivan on "Always Go to the Funeral". It's something I believe strongly myself - you go, and you do what you can to support those who are still around because the dead won't be able to appreciate it.
This led to us discussing what the dead can or cannot appreciate. Thing 1 acknowledged that a lot of his discomfort came from discussions of an afterlife that doesn't align with what he believes and I re-shared my own militant agnosticism, of which the kids are well aware.
Digression/backstory: I used to believe in G-d. I was raised conservative Jewish and believed in that telling of the origin stories and construction of the universe as semi-mythical and that the truth values assigned to the literal words of the Bible (or Torah) were less important than the teachings and values those words gave. Then around age 19 I lost my faith. I still understand that it exists and that other people have it, but I could not maintain mine in the face of there being no evidence for G-d's existence. Still, I had to (have to) agree that lack of evidence is not always evidence of lack so I can't be atheist either. I am agnostic, and militant about it, which is to say I believe that I don't know, and you don't either! < /end>
Thing 1 opined that G-d likely existed because why else would so many people believe in it? This led to a brief discussion of how the popularity of a belief is not a worthwhile measure of its truth value. I reminded him that for a long time people believed black folk and white folk shouldn't marry. People even published "scientific" papers that "proved" colored folk were inferior. I reminded him that people will believe things that help them defend their own preconceptions and he agreed that the so-called science about people of color was indeed people making stuff up to protect their own (racist) assumptions.
He also seemed willing to agree that therefore, the fact that a lot of people believe in G-d wasn't actually helpful in deciding for himself whether it was true. He admitted that he wanted the world to be more like D&D cosmology, which admits of the existence of many coexisting divine beings. We got sidetracked then into a discussion of the history of D&D and religion and how having "angels" and "demons/devils" in the game caused problems in the past.
I suspect other people have these kinds of conversations with their kids more often, but Thing 1 has a strong reluctance to talk about what he thinks or believes so it's a rarity to find him open to discussion. Then we got to the church and things there mostly got dropped.
I did catch him eye-rolling at some of the priest's assertions about our friend enjoying the afterlife, though. Kids developing their own ideas is awesome and I love watching mine going through it.