When the prosperous man on a dark but starlit night drives comfortably in his carriage and has the lanterns lighted, aye, then he is safe, he fears no difficulty, he carries his light with him, and it is not dark close around him. But precisely because he has the lanterns lighted, and has a strong light close to him, precisely for this reason, he cannot see the stars. For his lights obscure the stars, which the poor peasant, driving without lights, can see gloriously in the dark but starry night. So those deceived ones live in the temporal existence: either, occupied with the necessities of life, they are too busy to avail themselves of the view, or in their prosperity and good days they have, as it were, lanterns lighted, and close about them everything is so satisfactory, so pleasant, so comfortable—but the view is lacking, the prospect, the view of the stars.Søren Kierkegaard, The Gospel of Suffering, trans. David and Lillian Swenson (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1948), 123, cited in Vernard Eller, The Simple Life.
Monday, August 04, 2008
The Lights and the Stars
I first saw this parable in John Piper's Desiring God, and it's lingered ever since. Staring at the stars from a dock at a Minnesota lake last week brought it to mind again. It's from Søren Kierkegaard: