Across the street from the cathedral in Göteborg someone has sprayed the words “Vila i frid Gud” which translates to “Rest in Peace God”. At first I just ignored it. Then I decided to photograph it, but still I didn’t think it was worth much. But the words stuck in my mind. Maybe even more so as an unbeliever.
The natural connection for me was to link the sentiments that God should rest in peace was that God was dead. This idea has it’s origins in Nietzsche’s “The Gay Science”
God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?
Nietzsche used his idea of God’s death to present the important idea that theology was no longer able to provide a source of morality for modern society.
But still the grafitti on the wall did not ring true. It took some time before I got what was wrong. If god was dead and unable to provide us with a moral solace what was the point of wishing that he was to rest in peace? The real reason we tend to wish RIP is to act as a comfort to those who are alive, not to the deceased.
But those who do not believe do not need comfort – so what if god is dead? Those who do believe don’t need comfort – they don’t believe the sign! So why bother writing the words on the wall? Just plain vandalism, irony or a fact that the writer does not “get” his Nietzche?
Or maybe I should just stop reading the writing on the wall?