Kierkegaard, The Point of View

Every more earnest person who knows what upbuilding is, everyone, whatever else he or she is, high or low, wise or simple, male or female, anyone who has ever felt built up and felt God as very present, will certainly agree with me unconditionally that it is impossible to build up or to be built up en masse, even more impossible than to “fall in love en quatre [in fours]” or en mass

for me?

Christ is no play-actor, if I may say it this soberly; neither is he a merely historical person, since as the paradox he is an extremely unhistorical person. But this is the difference between poetry and actuality: contemporaneity. The difference between poetry and history is surely this, that history is what actually happened, whereas poetry is the possible, the imagined, the poetized. But that which has actually happened (the past) is still not, except in a certain sense (namely, in contrast to poetry), the actual. The qualification that is lacking—which is the qualification of truth (as inwardness) and of all religiousness is—for you. The past is not actuality—for me. Only the contemporary is actuality for me. That with which you are living simultaneously is actuality—for you. Thus every human being is able to become contemporary only with the time in which he is living—and then with one more, with Christ’s life upon earth, for Christ’s life upon earth, the sacred history, stands alone by itself, outside history.

Practice in Christianity

witness?

The true knight of faith is a witness, never a teacher, and therein lies the deep humanity that is worth more than this frivolous concern for the welfare of other people that is extolled under the name of sympathy but is really nothing more than vanity.

Fear and Trembling

faith is a passion

When a person sets out on what in a certain sense is the hard way of the tragic hero, many will be able to advise him; the one who goes faith’s narrow way, him no one can advise, no one can understand. Faith is a miracle, and yet no human being is excluded from it, for that which unites all human life is passion, and faith is a passion.

Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling

More classical than modern in his definition of passion. The way of faith is travelled alone – alone before God.

chasmic difference

There is, namely, an infinite chasmic difference between God and man, and therefore it became clear in the situation of contemporaneity that to become a Christian (to be transformed into likeness with God) is, humanly speaking, an even greater torment and misery and pain than the greatest human torment, and in addition a crime in the eyes of one’s contemporaries. And so it will always prove to be if becoming a Christian truly comes to mean becoming contemporary with Christ. And if becoming a Christian does not come to mean this, then all this talk about becoming a Christian is futility and fancy and vanity…

Practice in Christianity

I have always liked the above quote from Practice in Christianity. Yes, SK is very Lutheran/Augustinian in it but I think it says something about God: God’s transcendence in being and his imminence in action (in Jesus). It is about the King and the Servant, and love, and surrender.

the moment

I have been thinking for this coming Sunday’s gospel, Luke 13:1-9. Yes, repentance and fruit. But is there something deeper happening? Is it about the eternal now of faith – the moment of choice? That reminded me of one of my favourite SK quotes:

God is present in the moment of choice, not in order to watch but in order to be chosen. Therefore, each person must choose. Terrible is the battle, in a person’s innermost being, between God and the world. The crowning risk involved lies in the pos­session of choice.

Kierkegaard

A number of great themes in the one quote: moment, choice, freedom, risk. All relate to faith. The moment of choice is that overwhelming point where the past is gone and the future is not yet. That moment between penitence and reward. It is the moment, the now, that is completely God’s and in which I must meet Jesus.

I like the image of God’s presence in the moment. Maybe that is contemporality – Jesus present in the moment of choice, ready to be chosen? But the point is: that moment is always the eternal now.

… and followed him

This Sunday’s gospel reading, Luke 5:1-11, is about two topics: risk and discipleship. The reading moves from a crowd listening to an individual responding. It takes us from the risk of faith to the call of Jesus to follow Him. So two Kierkegaard quotes:

Without risk, no faith. Faith is just this, the contradiction between the infinite passion of inwardness and objective uncertainty. If I can grasp God objectively, then I do not have faith, but just because I cannot do this, I must have faith. If I wish to stay in my faith, I must take constant care to keep hold of the objective uncertainty, to be ‘on the 70,000 fathoms deep’ but still have faith.

And …

The difference between an admirer and a follower still remains, no matter where you are. The admirer never makes any true sacrifices. [They] always plays it safe. Though in words, phrases, songs, [they are] inexhaustible about how highly [they] prizes Christ, [they] renounce nothing, give up nothing, will not reconstruct [their] life, will not be what [they] admire, and will not let [their] life express what it is [they] supposedly admire.

objectivity?

Thus Christianity protests against all objectivity; it wants the subject to be infinitely concerned with itself.

Kierkegaard: Concluding Unscientific Postscript (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy).

So I have tried to read a little Kierkegaard every day. I admit that Fear and Trembling always gets me thinking (and desiring).

Yet I have also been reading Concluding Unscientific Postscript. And the above quote has struck me as something very relevant. In a world that elevates objectivity (and denigrates passion), what is the role of Christianity? Kierkegaard would say that it is this very paradoxical role that defines Christianity. Some within Christendom have adopted the objective approach and have created a dispassionate version of Christianity where reason is elevated over faith. In the process, humanity is reduced to being a “reasonable animal” and “me” is reduced to the sum of my parts.

I do not think we need to surrender objective truth. I am simply thinking that we cannot ignore the subject individual who related to the objective truth. But, I am no philosopher!