existential individual

We are born biological beings but we must become existential individuals by accepting responsibility for our actions. This is an application of Nietzsche’s advice to ‘become what you are’. Many people never do acknowledge such responsibility but rather flee their existential individuality into the comfort of the faceless crowd.

Thomas Flynn, Existentialism: A Very Short Introduction.

I remember first reading the above quote and being caught off-guard. The philosophy I had read before that had been western Aristotelian – Thomas Aquinas and the more conservative Roman Catholic philosophers. I read Augustine’s Confessions one Lent and became more interested in Plato and Christian Platonism. Somehow (by God’s grace) I read a few books about existentialism and ended with Kierkegaard. I’ll admit that just being able to spell “Kierkegaard” was a point of pride. I was attracted by Kierkegaard’s view of the self but the Absolute Paradox keeps me reading. But that is for another post!

The above is a thought I have often returned to because it puts it so simply and elegantly. Kierkegaard, of course, would speak of becoming a “single individual” before God. Often in Christian circles I have heard people speak of the evil of modern individualism. I think that is how some people would read the above quote. But the issue with modern individualism (what is that?) is the idea of freedom – someone being free does not mean that their actions are right. Again, for another post!

“Actions and consequences before God” is how I read the quote. (And how I understand Kierkegaard’s “single individual”.) I am responsible for my actions and for my relationship with Jesus. There is no magic formula or secret handshake that creates and keeps me in that relationship. No doctrinal position or liturgical rite will take away from me the responsibility I have before God for my relationship with Him. God makes the first move and reaches out to me. I am called to respond to Him in my particular and individual situation.

Maybe I should write a little about “faith” in the future? But the above is just as true for me in my daily life with depression. The moment I took responsibility for my mental health things changed. I remember crying for the first time during counselling – not hiding the pain behind a mask given to me by the crowd, not allowing the crowd to define me and box me into a role. Finding out what that “me” is has been painful and very hard. And it is a daily struggle not to run back into the crowd and just surrender “me” to a function I have been assigned.

So, anyway, I just wanted to share that quote.

Australian Daily Prayer

I just wanted to share this website:

Australian Daily Prayer

It has Morning and Evening Prayer from the current Australian Prayer Book. It is a useful introduction into praying using the Prayer Book. It also has a solid selection of Scripture readings.

After many years of trying, changing, adjusting, Prayer Books to suit me I have come to the conclusion that it is much more important to pray – and using a Prayer Book suits me – than ‘how’ one prays. God hears the heart!

Wish List

Here is my wish list of Kierkegaard books in order.

  1. Kierkegaard’s Writings, XV: Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits
  2. Kierkegaard’s Writings, V: Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses 
  3. Kierkegaard’s Writings, VII: Philosophical Fragments or a Fragment of Philosophy/Johannes Climacus, or De omnibus dubitandum est (Two books in one volume)
  4. Kierkegaard’s Writings, XXII: The Point of View
  5. Kierkegaard’s Writings, X: Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions 
  6. Kierkegaard’s Writings, XIV: Two Ages: ‘The Age of Revolution’ and the ‘Present Age’: A Literary Review 
  7. Kierkegaard’s Writings, XXI: For Self-Examination / Judge For Yourself!
  8. Kierkegaard’s Writings, XXIV, Volume 24: The Book on Adler
  9. Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy)

books and more books

My Kindle is my constant companion. I like physical books (and sometimes I miss the experience of reading a physical book) but with the Kindle I can have three or four books on the go at ones. And I get to read the free sample.

So I thought I would collect my top ten books I would like to read: ten books. Not complete and I can swap or change things. But a good place to start.