I have tendency to relax at times when I am reading Kierkegaard. In some ways (or at least in some of his works) he is an ‘easier’ read than other philosophers. This can appear especially true of his upbuilding discourses (which he himself claims to moving towards the ‘simple’). In Works of Love SK spends a brief section on ‘The Work of Love in Remembering One Dead’. This section unsettled my ease.
Loving a dead person is characterized as the most free an expression of love can become because the dead person will not leverage love. The dead, though, are also the most rigorous. If at any time the loving relationship changes then it must be related to a change in the living person. In this relationship there can be no excuse. The living can’t complain of how the dead have changed. ‘She’s not the woman I fell in love with’ can find no justification for abandoning the love of a dead person.
As I read along. I thought this was a fairly clever expression until I took it seriously and how it was both absolutely literal and absolutely analogous. What a strange spiritual discipline and yet what a powerful analogy for loving the living. Then there was one line that took this a step further. SK relates loving the dead to the parent’s love for a child. It can be said that the parent loves the child before the child is even born (or even conceived). In this way the parent loves one who does not exist. Then SK adds, But one dead is also a non-being. This sent my thought careening into Marion’s God Without Being. In this work Marion shows the problematic model of conceiving of God first as Being. This is to place the concept prior to the reality of God. And so ‘faithful’ philosophies of the God of Being are actually no better (and likely worse) than the critical proclamations of the death of (the) God (of Being). Getting back to SK I wondered if loving the dead God is a necessary move of faith exemplified by none other than Christ himself on the cross and also of the death of Christ. In Matthew Jesus announces the forsaking God (the Father) and the forsaken God (the Son) and note also in Matthew that Jesus ‘gave up his spirit’ and with that the Trinity is dead. Who will love this dead God?