Category Archives: Kierkegaard

Soren Kierkegaard on Being Completely Sure of the Christian Faith

“No, away, pernicious sureness. Save me, O God, from ever being completely sure; keep me unsure until the end so that then, if I receive eternal blessedness, I might be completely sure that I have it by grace! It is empty shadowboxing to give assurances that one believes that it is by grace—and then to be completely sure. The true, the essential expression of its being by grace is the very fear and trembling of unsureness. There lies faith—as far, just as far, from despair and from sureness.”

— “Resurrection of the Dead,” in Christian Discourses (1848), by Søren Kierkegaard  (Hong & Hong translation)

I first discovered part of this excerpt thanks to a post on the Søren Kierkegaard and Christian Existentialism Facebook page.

An unlikely affair at the intersection of pop culture and philosophy

Thank you, Twitter and KimKierkegaardashian, for helping me laugh this morning:




Soren Kierkegaard on the birth of Christ

“The birth of Christ is an event not only on earth but also in heaven. Our justification is likewise an event not only on earth but also in heaven.” — Soren Kierkegaard, quoted in the Provocations anthology

Kierkegaard versus the Christian apologists: faith and reason in genuine tension

“Religious apologists today might mumble about the power of faith and the limits of reason, yet they are the first to protest when it is suggested that faith and reason might be in tension. Far from seeing religious faith as a special, bold kind of trust, religious apologists are now more likely to see atheism as requiring as much faith as religion. Kierkegaard saw clearly that that faith is not a kind of epistemic Polyfilla that closes the small cracks left by reason, but a mad leap across a chasm devoid of all reason.

“That is not because Kierkegaard was guilty of an anarchic irrationalism or relativistic subjectivism. It is only because he was so rigorous with his application of reason that he was able to push it to its limits. He went beyond reason only when reason could go no further, leaving logic behind only when logic refused to go on.”

— Julian Baggini, in “I Still Love Kierkegaard

On Soren Kierkegaard’s 200th birthday, a few quotations from his works

Soren Kierkegaard studying“If you wish to be and remain enthusiastic, then draw the silk curtains of facetiousness, and so hide your enthusiasm.” — Soren Kierkegaard, in his journals

“No, an illusion can never be destroyed directly, and only by indirect means can it be radically removed…. That is, one must approach from behind the person who is under an illusion.” — Soren Kierkegaard, The Point of View for My Work as an Author

“The reason I far prefer the autumn to the spring is because in the autumn one looks up to heaven — in spring at the earth.” — Soren Kierkegaard, in his journals

“Most men think, talk, and write as they sleep, eat, and drink, without ever raising the question of their relation to the idea; this only happens among the very few and then that decisive moment has in the very highest degree either the power to compel (genius), or it paralyzes the individual with anxiety (irony).” — Soren Kierkegaard, in his journals

“Mysticism has not the patience to wait for God’s revelation.” — Soren Kierkegaard, in his journals

“Socrates proved the immortality of the soul from the fact that sickness of the soul (which may be called sin) does not consume the soul, as sickness of the body consumes the body.” — Soren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death

“There are, as is known, insects that die in the moment of fertilization. So it is with all joy: life’s highest, most splendid moment of enjoyment is accompanied by death.” — Soren Kierkegaard, Either / Or

“People hardly ever make use of the freedom they have, that is, freedom of thought, and instead demand free speech as a compensation.” — Soren Kierkegaard, in his journals

“Luther, you have a huge responsibility, for when I look more closely, I see more and more clearly that you toppled the Pope only to enthrone ‘the public.’” — Soren Kierkegaard, in his journals

“Other people may complain that the present age is wicked. I complain that it is wretched, because it lacks passion. People’s souls are thin and flimsy like lace; and they are spiritual lacemakers. The thoughts of their hearts are too paltry to be regarded as sinful. A worm might be looked upon as sinful to think in such a way; but for people made in the image of God, ‘sinful’ is too big a word. Their desires are drab and sluggish, their passion lethargic. They are like shopkeepers, doing their duty, but clipping little pieces of gold from the coins they take. They think that, even if the Lord is careful in keeping his accounts, they can cheat him a little. Away with them! This is why my soul constantly turns back to the Old Testament and to Shakespeare. The characters are real human beings: they hate and love, they murder their enemies, they curse their descendants, they sin.” — Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Learn more about Soren Kierkegaard at the late D. Anthony Storm’s thorough commentary site.

Related articles

Appreciation for books and vinyl

Teaser and the Firecat

Teaser and the Firecat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why buy the URL and start a news and e-commerce site?

The following reasons:

Godspell — on vinyl.

A double live recording of Peter, Paul, and Mary in concert — on vinyl.

Cat StevensTeaser and the Firecat — on vinyl.

One of Johnny Cash‘s recordings — on vinyl.

The full soundrack, including dialogue, from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back — on vinyl.

And just before vinyl disappeared from the record stores in the late 1980s, a clandestine purchase of Invasion of Your Privacy by Ratt — on vinyl.

These were some of my parents’ and some of my own records — a word that hardly makes sense any more, unless you’re talking about the Olympics.

Like everyone else, I see images and memories from my growing up years when I recall songs (or lines from The Empire Strikes Back) from those albums.

But mostly, I bought cassettes in high school and college, and gradually bought compact discs.

I think one of my first CDs, oddly enough, was an album by Clint Black.

Music never became less important in my life, but the role of books in my life increased in college.

I was not a voracious reader in college. I was a slow reader with a thirsty-but-rarely-focused mind.

One book that seemed to capture and combine several threads from my college years was Notes from Underground by Dostoyevsky.

In Notes from Underground, I found a libertarian suspicion of rationalism in politics and social engineering, hints of a profound Christian existentialism, and a cranky narrator who declared, right away, “I am a sick man, a vile man.”

I can’t remember whether I read Notes from Underground first, or if I read the introductory chapter in Lev Shestov‘s Kierkegaard and the Existential Philosophy.

That introductory chapter was actually a reprinted lecture delivered by Shestov on Dostoyevsky and Kierkegaard.

I’m not sure if Shestov influenced my reading of his fellow but earlier Russian, Dostoyevsky, or if Notes from Underground prepared me for Shestov’s point of view.

Something in me, during those college years, was afraid of knowledge. As much as I embraced literature and began quick, tentative dips into philosophy, I had also gained a fundamentalist fear of “worldliness” — and that word, as I had come to understand it, was defined almost to a gnostic extreme, almost to an anti-materialist and anti-embodiment radicalism.

In some sense, Plato would fit right in with that attitude toward “worldliness,” with his insistence that ultimate reality was unseen, and a matter of the soul, not the body. Maybe that’s why I felt safer with Plato’s Phaedrus dialogue, that or maybe the practical reason of it being assigned reading in a junior-level course on advanced composition and rhetoric (not scary philosophy), and it was supposed to hold keys insights into rhetorical arts (again, not scary philosophy). I remembered enjoying Phaedrus quite a bit, but I can’t remember now what I learned from it.

I didn’t read The Great Gatsby until graduate school, but during the earlier years of my long trek to a bachleors degree, I loved F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s short stories, particularly those in Babylon Revisited and Other Stories, and especially “Babylon Revisited,” “May Day,” and “The Ice Palace.” I don’t know why I didn’t read Gatsby, but having enjoyed Fitzgerald’s short stories so much, I also read This Side of Paradise.

A few books stick out in my memories of grade school and high school:

Hiroshima by John Hershey — the melting flesh of Japanese men and women after the atomic bomb.

The Red Pony by John Steinbeck — a young, lonely boy’s love for his pony, and the pony’s heartbreaking death.

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, especially The Book of Three and The Black Cauldron.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee — Scout’s sarcastic tone.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien — a story that glowed.

The Grange at High Force by Philip Turner — the ballista!

Sir Machinery by Tom McGowen — a robot in an underground war.

So, for these reasons, I bought, and I hope I can contribute some favorites and some memories to others.

‘An illusion can never be destroyed directly’

Sketch of Søren Kierkegaard. Based on a sketch...

Image via Wikipedia

“No, an illusion can never be destroyed directly, and only by indirect means can it be radically removed…. That is, one must approach from behind the person who is under an illusion.” — Soren Kierkegaard, The Point of View for My Work as an Author, found in Kierkegaard’s Philosophy: Self-Deception and Cowardice in the Present Age by John Douglas Mullen

For an explication of this point of view, see Thomas C. Oden’s introductory essay to Parables of Kierkegaard.

Consider a similar perspective in the following poem, “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant–“, by Emily Dickinson:

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
Success in Cirrcuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind—