“Come, sweet death” is the title of a song of Johann Sebastian Bach. Unsurprisingly, the lyrics describe the “desire to depart” to say it with Saint Paul: “Come, sweet death, come, blessed rest, come lead me into peace, because I’m tired of the world, and I wait for you to lead me and to close my eyes.” And it isn’t even Bach’s most popular song describing this longing for death. This “desire to depart” runs like a common thread through much of his vocal work. For instance, at the end of BWV 56, the cantata Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen, the choir sings, “Come, o death, brother of sleep, come and lead me away; release the rudder of my little ship, bring me to the secure harbor! Others may shun you, but to me you bring delight, for through you I will come to my loveliest Jesus.”
In a sermon over Philippians 1:23 (“My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”), Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, noted that a Christian’s view of their death is one of the readiest tokes by which we can judge their spiritual condition: “When men desire death (…) they may desire it for the wrong reasons, but when they desire it for the right reasons, we may be assured that they are at peace with God and that their faith is sanctified.” And while it is disputable who has written the great letter to the Hebrews, it is undisputable that this letter, too, describes us Christians as mere pilgrims and strangers on this earth. By nature, a pilgrim eventually desire to reach his final destination – the heavenly Jerusalem.
It is therefore sad to see that modern Christendom has turned into this all-American white picket fence fantasy, that is all about shiny, happy people (producing exactly two children because only ghetto trash has more than two children and only pedos, fags and queers don’t have wife and children at all). I think we Christians should give room for this “desire to depart” again and remind ourselves and others that our hearts are in heaven. The Reformation always had a high view of the Church fathers, Calvin quotes Saint Augustine all the time. Sola scriptura never meant to completely ignore what the fathers had written. Alas, these days, Evangelical Christendom is mostly about disregarding the fathers but worshipping these Freemasons who penned the deeply flawed US constitution (the 19th amendment to it even gives women the right to vote!)
Unfortunately, it cannot be said that disregarding the fathers had led to a higher appreciation of the Word of God. If that would be the case, there wouldn’t be so much hostility towards Saint Paul both from “liberals” as well as from “conservative” Christians! Paul says that man is the head of woman – Christendom goes to great lengths to convince itself (and the ruling class) that he actually meant that men and women share equal roles. Paul says that women aren’t allowed to teach – Christendom goes to great lengths to convince itself (and the ruling class) that he actually meant that women are allowed to teach. Paul says that it’s good for a man not to touch a woman (“The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife.”) – Christendom goes to great lengths to convince itself (and the ruling class) that he actually meant that it’s good to touch a woman because only fags don’t want to do so. Paul says/quotes that God has loved Jacob but hated Esau – Christendom goes to great lengths to convince itself (and the ruling class) that he actually meant that God has loved Jacob but loved Esau in another way. Paul says that his desire is to depart because it would be much better to be dead and hence be with Jesus, Christendom goes to great lengths to convince itself (and the ruling class) that he actually meant that having such a desire is a kind of pseudo-Buddhist heresy.
I remember reading some article from a Catholic German philosopher, Robert Spaemann, once, who described how when he was young (shortly before Hitler came to power) people had begun to remove all “negative” songs from church groups and the like; songs such as the ones mentioned in Spurgeon’s sermon or in older Classical music like the one from Johann Sebastian Bach, or all music and poems mentioning the old Christian phrase about this world being a “vale of tears”, a vallis lacrimarum. Apparently, 20th century modernist suddenly discovered that this was all too “negative” and not “positive” enough, not in line with the “Think positive!” mantra of modernity. The void that was then created by this “Keep smiling” philosophy was filled by Communists such as Bertolt Brecht whose Threepenny Opera ends with an almost Biblical voice, “Do not persecute wrongdoings all too harshly / Soon they will freeze to death all by themselves / For it is cold / Consider the darkness and the freezing cold in this vale, and the tearful lamentations that resound.” If Christendom moves away from the Bible, ideologies will fill this void we have left.