a TV show and two articles

I have just finished watching the Netflix original series The Keepers. It is a very powerful and very sad story. I would like to reflect more on it but I will need to let it sink in a little.

And I just wanted to share two articles I have read recently:

Kierkegaard’s ways to be human (by Ray Monk) which is a review of the soon to be released book by Clare Carlisle.

Appropriating the Paradox (by Karl Dusza) which is a review of SK’s Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions and Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits. I would like to explore SK’s discourses more!

doctrine over person?

I would normally not do this – quote someone as a “bad example” – but this tweet speaks volumes to me. (BTW: I have great respect for the person who wrote it as someone of insight and spiritual maturity and hence I have blacked out the name.)

“Allows an encounter with great doctrines”?? “Stay close”?? If the rosary, or any devotion (reading the Bible or saying the Office), keeps us close to a doctrine, all is lost!!! Not to put too fine a point on it, no doctrine will ever “save” us but only the person of God-incarnate, Jesus Christ. Yes, theology and doctrine is important. But it is the person who is behind the rosary – Our Lady leading us to Jesus – that is of the upmost importance. It is the person who is behind the doctrine. A devotion is never (!!!!!) an encounter with a doctrine, a teaching, an idea, a moral. It is always an encounter with a person.

My main problem – after much reflection and soul-searching – with modern forms of Christianity is that it has become a “philosophy” (in the broadest sense of the word) and has abdicated the encounter with the divine for intellectual consent. It feels to me like Christianity needs people to agree with it – culture at large or individuals – and they have a product to sell (one among many). All of this makes God an object and individuals “brains in jars”.

Stay close to Jesus else all is lost!!!!

Neuhaus on #Kierkegaard

Christendom is the enemy of Christianity—it is, Kierkegaard says repeatedly, the “blasphemy”—that stands in the way of encountering Christ as our contemporary. Christendom assumes that Christ is far in the past, having laid the foundation for the wonderful thing that has historically resulted, Christendom. Of course we are all good Christians because we are all good Danes. It is a package deal and Christ and Christianity are part of the package. If we are good Danes (or good Americans), if we work hard and abide by the rules, the church, which is an integral part of the social order, will guarantee the delivery to heaven of the package that is our lives. But Christ is not in the distant past, protests Kierkegaard. He confronts us now, and a decision must be made. “In relation to the absolute there is only one tense: the present. For him who is not contemporary with the absolute—for him it has no existence.”

This encounter with Christ the contemporary is not to be confused with today’s evangelical Protestant language about conversion as a decisive moment in which one “accepts Jesus Christ as one’s personal Lord and Savior.” Kierkegaard did not, of course, know about the nineteenth-century American revivalism from which today’s evangelicalism issues, but he had some acquaintance with the enthusiasms that were in his day associated with “pietism.” As he inveighed against Christendom, it seems likely he would also inveigh against Evangelicaldom today. As he would inveigh against Christianity of any sort—whether it calls itself liberal or conservative, orthodox or progressive—that neatly accommodates itself to its cultural context. To decide for Christ our contemporary is always a decision to be a cultural alien, to join Christ on his way of suffering and death as an outsider.

Kierkegaard for Grownups

Thomas Merton

Today, 31 January, is Thomas Merton’s birthday. He would have turned 104. So here is a quote:

A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying [God]. It “consents,” so to speak, to [God’s] creative love. It is expressing an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God, and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree.

New Seeds of Contemplation, 29