Now he is Dead

The third and final phase of Kierkegaard's authorship was precipitated by the death in 1854 of Bishop Mynster, whom Kierkegaard had known and revered since childhood but over the years increasingly had come to criticize in his capacity as Primate Bishop and chief representative of the Danish People's Church. The problem, as Kierkegaard saw it, was that Mynster and the established church he represented promoted a toned-down version of Christianity that actually had compromised, changed, and abolished true Christianity, virtually identifying it with paganism, aestheticism, worldli-ness, and Danish nationalism. Prior to Mynster's death Kierkegaard had called for an honest admission on the part of the established church in this regard, and when it was not forthcoming, he bided his time, waiting for the old bishop to die before attacking him openly.

The occasion for that presented itself when Professor Martensen, who was appointed Mynster's successor as Primate Bishop, eulogized him as 'a witness to the truth'—a figure whom Kierkegaard understood to be 'a person who directly demonstrates the truth of the doctrine he proclaims' and who is associated with the imitation of Christ, suffering, and martyrdom. None of these characteristics, in Kierkegaard's estimation, applied to Bishop Mynster, who had enjoyed a life of comfort, pleasure, and public esteem in the bishop's palace (JP iv. 4967). Thus, after three years of silence, Kierkegaard unleashed the pent-up polemic that had been smouldering inside him and brewing in his journals, venting it in an uncompromising attack upon the state church in a series of newspaper articles and pamphlets.

This attack, however, was short-lived, as Kierkegaard fell ill and was hospitalized in the fall of 1855, dying on 11 November of unknown causes.83 During the attack he ceased attending church services and on his deathbed was willing to take communion only from a layman because 'the pastors are civil servants of the Crown and have nothing to do with Christianity'.84 Ironically, Kierkegaard's funeral was held in the cathedral church of official Christendom, Our Lady's Church, which was overflowing with people who came to pay their respects and to hear the 'eulogy' given by his brother Peter, whose words about Soren were scarcely laudatory.85 At the burial site a nephew voiced a protest against the funeral proceedings, which in his view were inconsistent with the deceased's views and wishes.86 What little remained of Kierkegaard's estate, which literally had been used up in publishing his writings and maintaining the comfortable lifestyle to which

83 See S0gard (2007); Garff (2 0 05 : 793-4). 84 Kirmmse (1996: 125-6).

he was accustomed, was left to Mrs Regine Schlegel, née Regine Olsen, who had married her former suitor, John Frederik (Fritz) Schlegel, in 1843. Kierkegaard stated in his will: 'What I wish to express is that for me an engagement was and is just as binding as a marriage; and that therefore my estate is to revert to her in exactly the same manner as if I had been married to her.'87 Since Regine was the muse who made him a poet, he also declared: 'It is my unalterable will that my writings, after my death, be dedicated to her and to my late father. She must belong to history' (LD, no. 239, p. 337; JP vi. 6537).

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