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October 31, 2010


Sunday Afternoon: What Kierkegaard Wanted On His Tombstone

As perhaps most know, Kierkegaard was a rather melancholic and despairing Christian, with an unfortunately fragile and sensitive temperament.  He reminds me, temperamentally, of a male version of Emily Dickinson.  [Yes, yes, I know that Christians aren’t supposed to be despairing—no emails please.]

Here is the Brorson hymn that he wanted on his tombstone—it is very fitting.

“In a little while,
I shall have won,
The entire battle
Will at once be done.
Then I may rest
In halls of roses
And unceasingly,
And unceasingly
Speak with my Jesus.”

 

 


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15 comments

It kind of reminded me of St. Paul saying that he had finished the race.

[1] Posted by Fr. Dale on 10-31-2010 at 03:10 PM · [top]

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

While not original, but, in my view, quite as elegant as Kierkegaard’s, the first verse of Charlotte Elliott’s beautiful hymn, often used as the “alter call” hymn in some protestant churches, would be my choice for my tombstone epitaph.

Probably not very theologically sophisticated, but it works for me, I hope.

[2] Posted by Ol' Bob on 10-31-2010 at 08:00 PM · [top]

I have often thought that people spend far too much on preserving bodies and far too little on making headstones. Preserving the body simply flatters the ego.  It prolongs the illusion that man has greater permanence than he truly possesses.  An epitaph is the last opportunity we have to communicate to the living.  After all, headstones and cemeteries benefit only the living.  They mean nothing to the dead.  And what difference does it make that our bodies will turn to dust? 

So here is my theory.  Purchase a pine box, and let the worms have a feast.  God will restore what the worms consume.  The money you save on the box and the embalming can be better spent on a last word to the living.  You never know who might read a headstone.  It might even be contained in the decretive will of God.

carl

[3] Posted by carl on 10-31-2010 at 08:12 PM · [top]

Sounds a bit like that great Easter hymn “The strife is o’er/The battle done . . .”

[4] Posted by Johng on 10-31-2010 at 08:50 PM · [top]

My father, an Episcopal priest, died in 1982, and I had the priviledge of selecting the epitaph. It was the simple verse, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God.”

[5] Posted by helpmelord on 10-31-2010 at 09:03 PM · [top]

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the WORD OF OUR GOD shall stand for ever. Isaiah 40:8


    Good enough for me.

[6] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 10-31-2010 at 09:12 PM · [top]

On my son John’s stone we have
Job 19:25-27

On mine I wish to have
Job 23:10

We couldn’t afford enough rock to have room for the text, so we have only the reference on John’s stone.  My choice for mine is shorter, and we might be able to have the words carved in….

[7] Posted by Bo on 10-31-2010 at 09:58 PM · [top]

A melancholic tone is not unexpected for someone so keenly aware of the toil of this world and the bliss of the next.  Would that we would all be so aware of the difference and pine as Kierkegaard did for the unceasing company of Jesus. 

I, too, have a fondness for Emily Dickinson.  She seems to possess an uncanny comfortableness with the darker side of the soul.  She holds up an often unwanted mirror to the sinful heart.  We need such insight from time to time.

[8] Posted by Modest Mystic on 11-1-2010 at 08:35 AM · [top]

Bo—how old was your son when he died?

What a lovely last verse in that Job passage: “I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.  How my heart yearns within me!”

I think in a lot of ways, Kierkegaard was utterly exhausted by life.  He was “different.”
; > )

[9] Posted by Sarah on 11-1-2010 at 08:40 AM · [top]

John was 59 days old. 
We brought him home from the Hospital (NICU) on Good Friday, he passed on Black Saturday 2002. 

Job is so full of the Gospel, and of life.  It is easy to see why it is my favourite ‘scroll of the Old Testament’.

And yes, with My Own Eyes, and not those of Another, I Shall SEE Him.  The blessed Hope, from before Abraham.

[10] Posted by Bo on 11-1-2010 at 08:53 AM · [top]

One of the amusing lines of Kirkegaard’s concerning one fairly well-known hymn writer of the day was that he was either “a jaunty yodeler or a bellowing blacksmith.”

I’m not opposed to either jaunty yodeling or bellowing blacksmithing when appropriate—I just think it’s a humorous insight into Kierkegaard’s personality.

[11] Posted by Sarah on 11-1-2010 at 10:24 AM · [top]

My father was a very good person, but aspects of his life were very hard.  When he died, the grief was difficult, but my spouse nailed it all when he said, “But think of him as ‘free’”...yes, he’s ‘free’—tough for us, I know, but better for Dad.  Prayers…

[12] Posted by Anti-Harridan on 11-1-2010 at 12:11 PM · [top]

Sarah,
If you are a yodeler, you have to be jaunty. This is like Steve Martin saying that you can’t be sad while playing the banjo.

[13] Posted by Fr. Dale on 11-1-2010 at 01:04 PM · [top]

I’d just have 1 Cor 13, 12 ...

[14] Posted by Viv Evans on 11-1-2010 at 01:30 PM · [top]

Isa. 43:1B—
Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

[15] Posted by Fidela on 11-8-2010 at 04:50 AM · [top]

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