There is in us an instinct for newness, for renewal, for a liberation of creative power. We seek to awaken in ourselves a force which really changes our lives from within. And yet the same instinct tells us that this change is a recovery of that which is deepest, most original, most personal in ourselves. To be born again is not to become somebody else, but to become ourselves.Thomas Merton (via Born Again = Imago Dei)
I appreciate in Merton that “faith” is a deepening of what I am not an abandonment. I wonder if it has something to say about our concept of sin and especially original sin. Again it is an emphases on the “Christ in us” and not the triumphalism of the “Christ for us”.
The article makes a deeper point yet: some of the rhetoric round the “born again” question is really a discussion about what it means to be in the image of God. Is every human being in the image of God? Or has the “fall” somehow smudged it only to be redrawn in the “choice of faith”?
Anyway, I would like to know the source of the above quote!
I had some time this morning so I sat down to drink my coffee – rather than do it on the run between various duties. I read Kierkegaard’s world part 8: God and possibility by Clare Carlisle. I think I have read it before. I know I have listened to an audiobook version of the whole series.
I was struck by the following quote:
In The Sickness Unto Death, the despair that lacks possibility is described as ‘spiritless philistinism’, which both “tranquilises itself in the trivial” and “imagines itself to be the master”. In our own world, this takes many different forms: the reduction of spiritual teachings to rigid dogmatism; the commodification of romance; the stifling of intellectual life by a fixation on measurable “skills”, “outputs”, and “impacts”. Kierkegaard’s world part 8: God and possibility, Clare Carlisle
Since I had a copy of SUD with me, I read the whole section where SK speaks about the imbalance (despair) of possibility and necessity. The psychological insight that SK offers often amazes me.
In my own context I have often been struck by how people will escape into the trivial – minutiae – of a particular issue. And become addicted to their point of view. I am not saying I have been, or am, immune! I like to escape. But my own experience of myself and of other people has really highlighted this “despair” of the actual over the “what could be”.
SO I have set myself a task: start dreaming more! Worry less about the mess and the problems, and start seeing the possibilities of my daily life. And in those possibilities see God working for and in me.
Via Kierkegaard: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions Book 58) by Patrick Gardiner:
Is SK’s problem real? Have we forgotten what it means to be a “person”? Has our own forgetfulness got us to this point in history?
I have been thinking about where I am intending to go with this blog (and hopefully the podcast). I really do not want to convince anyone of anything. I have no product to sell, no idea to proclaim, no party line to defend. I have absolutely no authority except my lived experience. Yet I know that life comes with many questions and many different answers to these many questions. And somehow I would like to be in that mix – helping finding answers rather than giving answers. So where to from here?
So while I was reading I came across this quote from SK about his task as an author:
“I dare not call myself a Christian; but I want honesty and to this end I will venture”Søren Kierkegaard
THAT IS IT!! Be honest with yourself. I want to be honest with myself and I want to help people be honest with themselves. I really do not care where you stand (right, left, gay, straight, theist, atheist, Catholic, or Protestant) simply be honest in your own position. And make it that – your own position! I do not accept negative positions – “I am [X] because [Y] is wrong”. But I do accept that all positions have a sense of paradox and individuality to them. So “it is right for me” is an answer and a reason.
So there it is! A new year and a new direction. So this year I hope to post a little more regularly and a little longer posts. And, of course, I will post some new podcast episodes.
I read a great article on SK and possibility this morning. It is especially useful since I am reading Sickness unto death. Anyway, here is a quote:
The important step for Kierkegaard is the concept “before God”. This is a Christian concept. He sees this actuality, standing in prayer before God, or becoming contemporary with God, as the highest for any Christian. Here the possibility of the offense is present, and must be ever-present. But here also the possibility of being able to become a believer is present and is ever present.SK & Possibility
The great risk in possibility is also the risk in faith.
One of the moral diseases we communicate to one another in society comes from huddling together in the pale light of an insufficient answer to a question we are afraid to ask. Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island.
The pastor at the church that we attend likes to use examples from modern movies to illustrate his point. He does not actually listen to the questions being asked (by the movie) but rather is looking for validation of his point. They are not the question that the particular movie is asking but rather a “this person agrees with me” type of thing.
I think Merton is right – we are afraid to ask the difficult questions because asking it may reveal something about us. We like, rather, to gather around easy answers to difficult questions. Or, we like to escape the question by simply gathering round cliches. Or maybe we hide behind an “authority” and simply call for “blind faith”.