Pascal's Pensées: Week 20, Teach Us to Number Our Days


The last act is bloody, however fine the rest of the play. They throw earth over your head and it is finished forever. 


We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us seeing it.


How cheerful!

Obviously, we are still here with Pascal's interest in using an awareness of our mortality to existentially wake us up. Most of us, as pointed out last week, distract ourselves from our predicament. As Pascal says, we "put something in front of us"--from social media drama to our whiskey collection--to stop us from seeing the last bloody act where they thrown dirt over our heads.

Pascal's method here is actually quite biblical. There are many places where the Bible uses death to bring the priorities of our life into focus:

For all our days pass away under your wrath;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.

So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90.9-10,12) 

It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting; for this is the end of everyone, and the living will lay it to heart. (Ecclesiastes 7.2)

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