The Words of Clements Vonnegut to His Would-Be Mourners

Clemens Vonnegut was the great-grandfather of the author, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. They were both German Freethinker Atheists.

In Palm Sunday, in the section of essays on religion Vonnegut the junior shares a copy of the text that was read aloud at his great-grandfather’s funeral, written by Clemens himself some 32 years before.

His words to his mourners were these:

“Friends or Opponents: To all of you who stand here to deliver my body to the earth:

"To you, my next of kin:

"Do not mourn! I have now arrived at the end of the course of life, as you will eventually arrive at yours. I am at rest and nothing will ever disturb my deep slumber.

"I am disturbed by no worries, no grief, no fears, no wishes, no passions, no pains, no reproaches from others. All is infinitely well with me.

"I departed from life with loving, affectionate feelings for all mankind; and I admonish you: Be aware of this truth that the people on this earth could be joyous, if only they would live rationally and if they would contribute mutually to each others’ welfare.

"This world is not a vale of sorrows if you will recognize discriminatingly what is truly excellent in it; and if you will avail yourself of it for mutual happiness and well-being. Therefore, let us explain as often as possible, and particularly at the departure from life, that we base our faith on firm foundations, on Truth for putting into action our ideas which do not depend on fables and ideas which Science has long ago proven to be false.

"We also with Knowledge, Goodness, Sympathy, Mercy, Wisdom, Justice, and Truthfulness. We also strive for and venerate all those attributes from which the fantasy of man has created a God. We also strive for the virtues of Temperance, Industriousness, Friendship, and Peace. We believe in pure ideas based on Truth and Justice.

"Therefore, however, we do not believe, cannot believe, that a Thinking Being existed for millions and millions of years, and eventually and finally out of nothing–through a Word–created this world, or rather this earth with its Firmament, its Sun and Moon and the Stars.

"We cannot believe that this Being formed a human being from clay and Breathed into it an Immortal Soul and then allowed this human being to procreate millions, and then delivered them all into unspeakable misery, wretchedness and pain for all eternity. Nor can we believe that the descendants of one or two human beings will inevitably become sinners; nor do we believe that through the criminal executions of an Innocent One may we be redeemed.”

Have mercy! I love the audacity of the last two paragraphs.


Photo Credit: Sue Hasker

tags: #Vonnegut #Atheism