(31) THE WORKS OF LOVE
Since we are in Kierkegaard's Religious Stage, here is a quote from what is probably his most beautiful book: Kierlighedens Gjerninger (The Works of Love). Later, we shall go into his system again and work on Humour. But here:
Our Duty To Love The Persons That We See.((beginning))
"How deeply is the desire for love rooted in human nature! The first remark, if we dare say so, which was spoken on man, and which was made by the only One who could truly utter it, by God, and about the first man, just pronounces this. We do read in the Holy Scripture: "God said, it is not good for man to to be alone." So the woman was TAKEN from the man's side and given him for company - for love and life together first takes something from a person, before it gives. At all times therefore, anybody, who thought more deeply about the nature of man, has recognised in him this desire for company. How often has it been said and repeated and again repeated, how often have they cried woe to the lonely or described the pain and misery of loneliness, how often have they, tired of the spoilt, the noisy, the confusing life together, let the thought wander out to a lonely place - just to learn again the longing for company ! For thus one has always returned to that God's, that first thought on man. In the busy, madding crowd, which as a company is both too much and too little, man tires of company; but the cure is not to make the discovery that then God's thought was wrong, oh no, the healing is, just over again to learn the first thing, to understand oneself in longing for company. So deeply is this drive rooted in the nature of man that since the creation of the first person, no change has been, no new discovery made, but only the one and same first observation has been confirmed in the most different ways, diversified from generation to generation in the presentation, in the expressions of thought.
So deeply is this desire rooted in the nature of man; and so essentially does it belong to being a human, that even He, who was One with the Father and the Spirit, and in the company of love with the Father and the Spirit , that He who loved all mankind, our Lord Jesus Christ, still humanly felt this desire to love and be loved by a single person. Indeed he is God-Man, and thus forever different from any man, but he was also a true person, tried in all things human; and on the other hand the fact that he experienced this, is even the expression that it belongs essentially to man. He was a real man, and therefore can feel w ith anything human; he was not an airy figure waving in the clouds, without understanding or without wanting to understand what happens to a human being. Oh no, he could have pity on the crowd who lacked food, and purely human, he who had himself starved in the desert."
"Indeed when this is duty, then the task is not: to find the lovable object; but the task is: to find the once given or chosen object - lovable, and to continue finding him lovable, however much he changes.
The issue is, that loving the particular person you do not submit an imagined idea of how you think or wish that this person should be. He who indeed does so, he does not love the person he sees, but again something invisible, his own imagining or something like it."
And this chapter ends:
"So, if you wish to be perfect in love, then strive to fulfil this duty, in loving, loving the person that you see, to love him just as you see him, with all his imperfections and weaknesses; love him, as you see him, when he has quite changed, when he does not love you any more, but maybe uninterested turns away or turns to love somebody else, love him, as you see him, when he betrays and denies you."
ABRAHAM (from: Fear and Trembling,1843)
The tale of Abraham is one in a series about him in the first book of Moses in the Old Testament. The one about the dream in which God orders Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, and thereby stopping his clan for all future, is deemed today to be a plaidory against child sacrifices, practiced by the Cana'anites, rejected by the Israelites.
But Kierkegaard uses the tale for his own purpose, playing it through as a sonata within the Religious stage. His fictive author is Johannes de Silentio (John out of Silence) as a philosophical lyricism. Here SK plays through the theme, using his exclusive method in a new way :the possibilities that presented themselves to Abraham in the awful situation. All the variations go to show the greatness of Abraham.
The mount Moria is now part of Jerusalem. The great Omar mosque is in that spot. Both Jews, Christians and Muslims refer themselves to Abraham, more or less explicitly as the Father of Faith.
AND GOD TEMPTED ABRAHAM SAYING TO HIM, TAKE ISAAC, YOUR ONLY SON, HIM THAT YOU LOVE, AND GO TO THE LAND MORIJA. AND SACRIFICE HIM THERE AS A FIRE SACRIFICE ON A MOUNTAIN WHICH I WILL SHOW YOU.
It was an early morning, Abraham rose early, he had the donkeys saddled, left his tent, and Isaac with him but Sara looked out of the window after them, down through the valley, until she saw them no more. They rode in silence for three days, on the morning of the fourth day Abraham did not even say a word, but lifted up his eyes and saw the mount Morija afar. He left the lads behind and went alone, hand in hand with Isaac up to the mountain. But Abraham said to himself:"I will yet not hide to Isaac whereto this walk leads him." He stood still, he laid his hand on Isaac's head for a blessing, and Isaac bent down to receive it. And Abraham's face was fatherly, his gaze was mild, his speech correcting. But Isaac could not understand him, his soul could not be uplifted; he embraced Abraham's knees, he pleaded at his foot, he pleaded for his young life, for his beautiful hope, he reminded of the joy in Abraham's house, he reminded of the sorrow and loneliness. Then Abraham raised the boy up and walked with him, hand in hand, and his words were full of consolation and correction. But Isaac did not understand him. He ascended the mount Morija, but Isaac could not understand him. Then for a moment he turned away from him, but when Isaac for the second time saw Abrahams face, then it was changed, his gaze was wild, his figure was terror. He seized Isaac by the breast, threw him to the ground and said: "Stupid boy, do you believe that I am your Father ? I am a heathen worshipper. Do you think that this is God's command ? No, it is my pleasure." The Isaac trembled and cried in his anguish:"God in Heaven, have mercy upon me, Abraham's God, have mercy on me, if I have no father on the earth, then be You my Father." But Abraham said quietly to himself:"Lord in Heavens, I thank You; it is always better that he believes that I am inhuman, than that he should lose his faith in You."
When the child is to be weaned, then the mother swarthens her breast, it would also be a pity, that the breast should look inviting, when the child is not allowed to have it. Then the child believes that the breast is changed, but the mother she is the same, her gaze is loving and tender as always. Lucky the one who did not need more terrible means to wean the child!
(32) FEAR AND TREMBLING. CONCLUSION.
Today Abraham must go three times to Mount Morija, before SK concludes his case studies.
It was an early morning, Abraham rose early, he embraced Sara, the bride of his old age, and Sara kissed Isaac who took away her disgrace, her pride, her hope in all generations. Then they rode silent along the road, and Abraham's gaze was fixed on the ground, until the fourthday, then he lifted up his eye and saw afar the Mount Morija, but his eye was again on the ground. Silent he laid the firewood in order, tied up Isaac, silent he drew his knife; then he caught eye of the ram, which God had foreseen. He sacrificed it and went home. ---From that day on Abraham grew old, he could not forget that God had demanded that of him. Isaac throve as before; but Abraham's eye was darkened, he saw no joy any more.
When the child has grown big and must be weaned, then the mother virgin-like hides her bosom, then the child has no more a mother. Lucky the child that did not otherwise lose its mother!
It was an early morning, Abraham rose early; he kissed Sara, the young mother, and Sara kissed Isaac, her pleasure, her joy for all times. And Abraham rode in deep thoughts along the road, he thought of Hagar and her son, whom he chased into the desert. He went up the Mount Morija, he drew his knife. It was a quiet evening, then Abraham rode out alone, and he rode to the Mount Morija; he threw himself down on his face, he asked God's forgiveness for his sin, that he had wanted to sacrifice Isaac, that the father had forgotten his duty to his son. More often he rode his lonely road, but he found no rest. He could not understand that it was a sin that he had wanted to sacrifice to God the best he owned, that for which he would have willingly given his life many times; and if it was a sin, if he had not loved Isaac thus, then he could not understand that it could be forgiven; for what sin was more terrible ?
When the child is to be weaned, then the mother is not without sorrow either, that she and the child are more and more to be separated; that the child, who lay first under her heart, later still rested under her breast, shall no more be so near. Then they mourn together the brief sorrow. Lucky the one who kept the child so near, and needed not mourn any more!
It wazs an early morning, all was prepared for the journey in Abraham's house.He took his leave of Sara, and Elieser, the faithful servant followed him along the road, until he again returned. They rode as one together, Abraham and Isaac, until they came to the Mount Morija. But Abraham prepared everything for the sacrifice, calm and mild, but when he turned away and drew his knife, then Isaac saw that Abraham's left was clenched in despair, that a trembling went through his body - but Abraham drew his knife.
Then they returned home, and Sara ran to meet them,,but Isaac had lost his faith. Never in the world has a word been uttered about it, and Isaac never spoke to any man, about what he had seen, and Abraham had no hunch that anybody had seen it.
When the child is to be weaned, then the mother has stronger food at hand, so that the child shall not perish. Lucky the one, who has the stronger food at hand!
Thus and in many other ways this man thought, of whom we speak, about this event. Every time he returned after a wandering to the Mount Morija, then he collapsed with fatigue, he folded his hands, saying:"Nobody was yet so great as Abraham, who is able to understand him ?"
(34) KIERKEGAARD ON IRONY
We have examined how SK personally came to his religious life period, which lasted until his death. Now it is time to approach how he comes as an author to the Religious stage, and in order to do that we must first address the confines irony and humor.
Today it is irony.
Of course SK uses it in the ordinary way, as a figure of speech. But then he goes deeper, by way of Socrates . When Socrates plays the ignorant, and lures a knowledge or an understanding out of the person he speaks to, this is a supreme and mild irony. Socrates lays a distance to himself, which is essential to Kierkegaard. It led SK, in his life, to practice a sort öf Socratism, in that he used to let people draw their own conclusions, so Goldschmidt, to whom he only once seems to have addressed a direct admonition (That one about starting to do comic composition). In his pseudonyms, he is again Socratic, in that he wants to "betray people into truth" without bringing his person to bear. They have to find out for themselves.
But the confinium Irony, placed between the (Life)Aesthetic and the Ethic Stages (Stadier), has a double meaning, depending on from which stage it is seen. For the Aesthetic it will be a distance to what he feels is better than what he is in now, a moral horizon which he feels he cannot reach. This disharmony creates a life irony.
Many examples can be found in the Diapsalmata or Aphorisms. The ironic situation:
"Enigmatic one should be, not only to others, but also to oneself. I study myself; when I tire of that, I smoke a cigar, to pass time, thinking, God knows what Our Lord really has meant me to be, or what he will make of me."
Judgment on others: the aphorism about the theatre fire,which you have had very early.
Or philosophical, on understanding reality:
"What philosophers talk about reality, is often just as deceptive, as when at a junk dealer's you read on a sign: Here clothes are mangled. If you brought your washing, you would be disappointed; for the sign is only for sale."
For the Ethic, irony is relating oneself to the absolute challenge, to have moved in direction of the infinite, but not reaching it. But also irony is a way of expression, and a way of hiding oneself..This hiddenness SK knew very well. it seems. He wanted to create it, and paid a price for it..
Now comes SK at one of his hard quotes:
"Irony is the unity of ethical passion, which in intensity unlimited accentuates one's own ego - and of culture, which on the extern side (in moving among people) infinitely abstracts from one's own ego (the last does that no one senses the first, and in that lies the art, and thereby is conditioned the true infiniteness of the first)."
(SK's Papers,1845,later in Concluding Unscientific Postscript, so it is important to him).
But also close to the Religious stage is irony to be found.
In Fear and Trembling (1843) SK has this, where irony is ascribed to a text in the New Testament, "only that it is used to conceal the better". Here goes:
"In one of the gospels is narrated a parable about two sons, one of whom always promised to do the father's will, but did not do it, the other always said no, but did it. This last is also a form of irony, and still the gospel praises this son. Neither does the gospel let remorse come between, that he repented having said no: nay, not at all, this hints that there is a kind of bashfulness, which hinders the son from saying that he will do it. This bashfulness can be unknown to no deeper person, it partly has its roots in a noble mistrust in oneself; for as long as one has not done what was demanded, it would still be possible, that one might be weak enough not to do it, and so one will not promise anything."
And a last shot from SK:
"Irony is a definition of existence, and nothing will then be more ridiculous than when people believe that it is a mode of speech, or when an author praises himself happy by sometimes expressing himself ironically. He who has essentially irony has it all day long, not tied up in any form, because it is the infinite in him."
From this hard matter there is a sort of organic coherence with humor. Our next confinium.
(34A) KIERKEGAARD ON MULTITUDE
"There is a concept of Life, which imparts that where there is multitude, there also is Truth, that it is an urge in Truth itself, that it wants multitude for it. There is another concept of Life; that one says that everywhere there is multitude, there is untruth; for multitude is untruth. ---Multitude is untruth, since multitude completely gives remorselessness and irresponsibility, or at least weakens the responsibility in the individual by making her og him a defined fraction."
As we see, Søren was NOT a democrat in the ordinary sense, and maybe it is good that he and his contemporary Karl (Marx) did never meet.
35) KIERKEGAARD ON HUMOR
We think normally of humor, taken in a deeper sense than just funny cartoons, as something like irony with compassion and a sense of the human lot, where jesting and seriousness do meet.
To Kierkegaard it is the confinium, or border area, between the Ethic and the Religious A, the common religious.
SK finds that humor is essentially a Christian determination. "Humor holds a deeper skepticism than irony; for it is not the finality, but sinfulness that is the turning point of everything: its skepticism ---also has a far deeper positive meaning --- it does not rest at making humans into humans, but by making the human being into God-human."
But on the other hand, humor can be Un-Christian." Seen from the Christian side, humor can come very close to it, "but where decision catches --- where --- the bridges of memory and inner being are broken off; where the decision remains in the moment, and the movement forward to relation to the eternal truth, which was created in its day: there humor does not follow up."
So humor is the last purely human stadium (stage). It verges on to the Religious, insofar as it understands that suffering has a relation to existence," but then the humorist makes the deceitful turn around and annuls suffering in the form of a joke." Humor does not understand the essential meaning of suffering, its religious meaning.
"The humorist touches upon the secret of existence in pain, but then goes home again." Here humor and the common Religiousness A part from each other.
This is Frater Taciturnus, when he makes his psychological experiment in creating Quidam (Mr. Somebody) and his painful "Guilty?- Not -Guilty ?" diary. He can make Quidam live through his court process with his conscience, but he cannot understand this intensity himself. So he mentally goes home and is content with observing life around him in København.
But humor has a last facet, and that is within the Religious. The religious person, who lives as "the Knight of hidden Intensity", " with all this hidden in himself, with this pregnancy of suffering and blessing within himself, does look quite like the next person."
This contrast between the interior and the outside appearance makes for humor, he feels sort of funny, and humor then becomes his form of communication, where he hinders the direct communication, and gives a sort of indirect. Humor is the incognito of the Religious.
You will see that like irony, humor can be a means of hiding, holding off, making a distance. But to the religious it seems not something intended, but something he cannot escape.
In Kierkegaard's case, people simply could not bring themselves to believe that this man, who went to the theatre, dined well, smoked fine cigars, made excursions into the country, and loved chatting up people in the streets, even inviting a person to coffee at his flat with much funny ceremony, that he could be the author of these deeply religious writings.
And next we shall go into the last stage, the Religious.
36) THE LILY IN THE FIELD AND THE BIRD UNDER THE SKY
The Lily in the Field and the Bird under the Sky (1849). It is based on Matthew 6: 25-34,where
Jesus warns against worries for the outcome and for the daily livelihood. He refers to the lilies and the birds, whom God provides for, even though they do not work and harvest nor spin clothing, but are royally dressed. His words end: Do not worry for tomorrow. Each day has troubles enough of its own .
SK now begins by dedicating the little book to "that single person, whom I with joy and gratitude call MY reader" and says that it is given with the right hand, whereas the pseudonym writings were, and are, given with the left.
The book is built up on Silence, Obedience and Joy. Here comes an extract from Joy.
"What is joy, or being glad ? That is, truly to be present to oneself; but being truly present to oneself is this "today", this, to BE today, truly to BE TODAY. -- Joy is the present time with the whole stress on: the PRESENT time. Therefore God is blessed, he who ever says: today, he who ever and endlessly is himself present in being today. And so the Lily and the Bird are joy, because they in silence and unconditional obedience are quite present to themselves in being today.
But do learn, begin at least to learn from the lily and the bird. For should it really be anybody's serious meaning, this, that what the Lily and the Bird are glad about, and what is like it, that it is nothing to be glad about! So, that you came to exist, that "today" you get the necessary, to exist; that you came to be, that your became a human being; that you can see, consider that you can see, that you can hear, that you can smell, that you can feel; that the sun shines for you - and for your sake, that, when it gets tired, then the moon begins, and that then the stars are lit up; that it becomes winter, that all nature goes into disguise, plays a stranger - and just to please you; that spring comes, that the bird comes in numerous flock - and to make you glad, that the green sprouts, that the forest grows beautiful, and stands as a bride - and to gladden you; that autumn comes, that the bird leaves, not that it makes itself costly, oh no, but that you should not be tired of it, that the forest hides its decoration for the sake of next time, that is, to make you glad the next time: this should be nothing to be glad about! Oh if I dared scold; but out of reverence for the Lily and the Bird I do not dare it, and therefore I will, instead of saying that this is nothing to be glad about, instead of that I will say: if this is nothing to be glad about, then there is nothing to be glad about. Consider, that the Lily and the Bird are joy, and still they do have, understood this way, much less to be happy about than you, you who also have the Lily and the Bird to be glad about. So learn from the Lily and the Bird, who is the master: is, IS TODAY, and is joy.
(37) THE LILY AND THE BIRD, concluded.
Thus the Lily and the Bird are masters and teachers of joy. And yet both the Lily and the Bird have sorrow too, as all nature has sorrow; does not all creation sigh under falling away, as it was submitted to against its will ? ------ And the Lily, even if it escapes the fate, at once to be thrown into the oven, it must still wither, after first having suffered both this and that. And the Bird, even if it was allowed to die of old age, still it must die once, separated from the beloved one, after previously having suffered both this and that. Oh, it is all falling off, and will be once what it was, the prey of falling away.---
But still the Lily and the Bird are unconditionally glad; and here you can rightly see, how true it is, when the gospel says:you must learn joy from the Lily and the Bird.A better master you cannot demand than the one, who, even if he carries such an endlessly deep sorrow, stilll is unconditionally glad and joy itself.How then do the Lily and the Bird manage here, with this, which looks almost like a miracle: in deepest sorrow to be unconditionally glad; when there is such a terrible tomorow, then to BE, that is, to be unconditionally glad today - how does it manage ? It goes about the thing quite simply and without doublethink - the Lily and the Bird always do so - and still they remove this tomorrow, as if it was not. There is a word of the apostle Peter, this the Lily and the Bird have laid to heart, and simple as they are, they taske it quite literally - alas, and just this, that they take it quite literally, that is just what helps them.There is an immense power in this word,when taken quite literally; when it is not literally taken quite by the letter, then it is more or less powerless, at last only an insignificant way of speaking; but it takes unconditional simplicity to take it quite literally. "Throw all your sorrow on God." See, that is what the Lily and the Bird do quite literally. By means of the unconditional silence and the unconditional obedience it throws - yes, as the strongest catapult throws something away from itself, and with a passion like the one with which one throws away what one most abhors - all its sorrow away; and throws it - with a precision like the one with which the most exact shooting arms hits, and with a trust and confidence as that with which only the most trained marksman hits - ON GOD. In that same instant - and this same instant is from the first moment, is today, is simultaneous to the first moment it exists - at that same moment it is unconditionally glad. Wonderful dexteriousness ! To seize thus all of one's sorrow, and at the same time, and then being able to throw it so smartly away, and hit the target so securely! Still, this is what the Lily and Bird do,and therefore it is at the same moment unconditionally glad. And this is quite in its order; for God Almighty, he carries all the world and all the sorrow of the world - also that of the Lily and the Bird - endlessly easy. What indescribable joy! The joy namely about God Almighty.
38) RELIGIOUSNESS A
Humor, as said before, is the region close to the Religious,called a confinium. Because the Religious person, with all his intensity, looks just like other people, this contrast between the interior and the outer person sets a humoristic mark round him."The Religious is not the Humorist, but in his exterior he is the Humorist".
Now Religiousness A, the "Religiousness of the hidden Intensity". Religiousness means, as also said before, suffering. Here it is guilt. The person is ethically responsible for his use of Time. When he realizes that he must make the enormous detour of suffering, he finds that he made a wrong beginning, he has a guilt there as part of his existence.
Let us not forget that, looked at from another angle, choosing the only person one can be, namely oneself, entails responsability, and that means guilt as if one was responsible for oneself. Since God is there, guilt is a kind of quality in life. It is ever remembered. True intensity is memory itself.
So plainly said, in SK's system humour borders on the Religious, but turns home again before the guilt, into a sort of joke, while Religiousness A admits the guilt, but not Sin. Sin is for Religiousness B, the real paradox-religiousness. Religiousness A must come first to the personality, since B cannot be seen to exist, except seen from A.
This, then, does not necessarily mean being a Christian, and SK also sets Socrates as mainly Religious A. As Socrates claimed to be ignorant in the face of knowledge, he has an analogy to Religiousness A set against the deep seriousness of B.
SK claims that often people have "taken Christ and Christianity and the paradox and the absurd, in short all things Christian, as an income in aesthetic nonsense raving, because it cannot be thought, and just as precisely the determination that it cannot be thought, is the most difficult of all to hold on to, when you have to exist in it, is the hardest of all to hold on to - especially for good brains."
-"my intention is, to make it difficult to be a Christian, still no more difficult than it really is, difficult not for stupid people either and easy for good heads, but qualitatively difficult, and essentially equally difficult for any man, for it is essentially seen, equally difficult for any person to give up his brains and his thinking and stake his soul on the absurd, and comparatively difficult for the one who has muich intelligence, when we remember, that not anybody who did not lose his mind over Christianity, thereby proves that he has it."
"The martyrdom of faith (to crucify one's reason) is not for a moment, but even the martyrdom of the continuity."
So there. Do not despair. We are getting on.
39) RELIGIOUSNESS B
We now approach the summit of Kierkegaard's system. And it would not be SK, if Religiousness A was not followed by B. Not to be confounded with the two Stadier A (Aesthetic) and B (Ethic), which lie apart beside this.
Rel.A implies guilt, eternally remembered. This is now in B accentuated into Sin. A stopped before this. But now the jump is taken. While Guilt remains within the personality, then Sin refers out of it, because now we are facing the eternal, the God, as SK says. Guilt can rise within the personality,whereas Sin changes the subject from the outside:
"So the individual cannot by himself have consciousness of sin, which is the case with consciousness of guilt; for in consciousness of guilt the identity of the subject with himself is preserved, and guilt-consciousness is a change within the subject himself; consciousness of sin, on the contrary, is the very change of the subject, which shows that outside of the individual must be a power which enlightens him that by his coming onto being has become someone else than the one he was, has become a sinner. This power is the God within Time."
The paradox is then here: the eternal meets time, as God became a human person in Christ, who is a historical person.This cannot be proved; so it can be met with unbelief or even ridicule, or sympathetic pain.
"In relation to Religousness A it is valid: let the 6000 year old history of the world be true, let it be untrue: this means to the existing person, for the cause of his eternal salvation, nothing either way, since in the last instance he rests in consciousness of eternity."
The jump brings one out onto the 70.000 fathoms of water. To keep afloat one must keep moving, swim; to SK this means always working with one's spiritual personality.
Now, did SK consider this for himself ? How can we tell, since the book quoted, the Concluding Unscientific Postscript is written by the pseudonym Johannes Climacus, SK is only the publisher.
"I undersigned, Johannes Climacus, who has written this book, does not present himself as a Christian; indeed he is fully occupied with the thought how difficult it must be to become one; but even less is he one, who after having been a Christian, by going further has ceased to be one. He is a humorist; content with the conditions of the moment, hoping that something higher will be granted to him, he feels particularly happy, at worst, even to be born in the speculative, theocentric century.--- So he can very well be an author, if only he takes care to be so for his own pleasure, that he remains apart, that he does not get into the throng, persishes in the importance of time, is, as a curious bystander at a fire, set to pump or just bothered by the thought that he could be in the way of some of the different excellent persons who have and should have and must have and will have significance.
So where is SK ? He never seems to have made pretention beyond Religiousness A. B he calls the Knight of Faith. But seen in relation to Johannes' last sentence we could be reminded that SK among other things called himself a fire major, one who directs us as to the danger of the fire and does something about it.
In a postscript to the book, SK claims to have written the pseudonyms.
40) SK ON SILENCE
FOR SELF-EXAMINATION, RECOMMENDED TO THE PRESENT AGE
My dear Reader! read, if possible, aloud! If you do that, let me thank you for it; if you do it not just for yourself, then you also move others to do it, let me thank each and everyone, and yourself again and again! You will, by reading aloud, at the strongest get the impression that you have only to do with yourself, not with me, who indeed am "without authority", neither with others, which would be a distraction.
In August 1851. S.K.
Oh, if one (which one, Christian-wise may have a right to) considers the present state of the world, all life through, had to, christian-wise say; it is a disease - and if I were a doctor, if then somebody asked "what do you think has to be done ?" I would answer "the first, the absolute condition for doing something, so the first that has to be done, is: make silence, set silence, God's word cannot be heard, and if it, served by noisy means, should be cried noisily out to be also heard in the noise, then it will not be the word of God: make silence! Oh, everything makes a noise; and as we say about a choleric drink, that it stirs up the blood, thus in our times anything, even the most insignificant enterprise, anything, even the most empty communication, only aiming at shaking the senses or to move the multitude, the public, the noise!
And man, this clever head, it has been as sleepless to find out new, new means of making the noise bigger, to spread out, at the greatest haste possible and at the greatest possible measure, the noise and that which says nothing. Yes, the reverse will probably soon have been reached: communication will have been brought down to the lowest as regards significance, and at the same time the means of communication will have reached just about the maximum toward hasty and all-flooding expansion; for what will we have such haste in bringing out, and on the other hand, what has greater expanse than: nonsense! Oh, make silence !
And woman can do that. It takes a quite extraordinary superiority, if a man by his presence shall impose silence to men: on the contrary any woman can, within her limit, in her circle, have the strength to do it, if she, not selfish but humbly serving a Higher, wills it."
41. KIERKEGAARD. THE FINAL YEARS.
From autumn 1851 until december 1854 he published nothing. Something was brewing in him that would eventually break out with great force.And the occasion was, as usual in SK, something which we might consider a trifle.
The key person was bishop Mynster, a primate of the Danish church, representing a mild, conservative version of Christianity, marked by the Romantic period he lived through. A gifted and formidable personality, he had meant much to SK's father and now to SK himself.
We have seen that SK had an ever growing conviction that Christian faith should be intense and deeply personal. He felt more and more at variance with the teachings of the official Church and its civil servants, the priests. But he kept silent as long as Mynster was there, not to hurt him. Then Mynster died. And his successor in a funeral speech called Mynster a Witness to Truth, a true successor of the early Christian martyrs. SK at once wrote a scathing article, in which he pointed out that a martyr was and is a person who suffers for Truth, laughed at, misunderstood, persecuted, dragged into prison, done cruelly to death. This did not tally with Mynster, the highly respected and decorated Churchman with his cushioned life.
For several reasons SK kept the article in his drawer for ten months, until December 55. Privately he harassed his relatives with his obsession of bishop Mynster and the Church. They often tried to turn the conversation away, "but no, bishop Mynster." They grew tired and sad about it, they loved Mynster and told him so. SK now had this test and knew how the nice people would react. But all the same, then he struck and published.
There was not much reaction to the article. Most answers were against SK. Nevertheless he widened his attack to the whole Danish church, whose teachings he saw as a fraud, an attempt to cheat God, turning a dangerous mission into a solid way of living for the priests. As a consequence SK advised people to stay away from the church services, so as not to cheat God.
And now one rocket after the other followed. "That enormous deception of the senses, which the State and the priests have placed here, letting people believe that this is Christianity." And SK underlined that he did not write all this to make money nor have honor; indeed he would gain the opposite.
SK thought of the Government's reaction.. But the minister responsible seemed to understand him, and took no step against him. Then SK widened his activities and gave out a periodical, Øieblikket (The Moment). He managed to produce nine issues. He warns his reader that this will be no easy and nice reading. It was not. Let us pluck from it, before going into larger texts.
The interest of Christianity is: true Christians. The interest of the State, and therefore of its priests, is : many Christians. So let us get hold of the babes and give them a dash of water over their heads and make them believe that they are Christians, then we shall shortly have more Christians than there are herrings during the herring period, and then we shall be the greatest power the World has ever seen.
To falsify what Christ taught and suffered for,out of love, on the cross, this is terrible.It is a crime of the kind that trifles any other sort of crime committed, a crime that only Eternity can punish.
"Or, if you want to say that Christianity holds titles and decorations in contempt, and that it praises poverty, and you yourself being a poor devil without titles and decoration cross: that will not do at all, they might think that you were serious. No, get yourself a fat living and so many titles that you hardly know any more what is your real name, then the matter is settled, then your life offers the guarantee that this is just a comedy in a quiet hour on Sundays."
"Did the apostle Paul have an official job ? " No, Paul had no official job. "Did he then make much money in other ways ?" No, he in no way made money. "Was he at least married?"
No, he was not married. "But then Paul is no serious man." No, Paul is no serious man.
(42) "FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD"
We now have a few items left, before we can leave Kierkegaard. Today you shall see one of the wittiest and most scathing things he ever wrote, about the theologian who almost became a dachshund. It is taken from the Moment (Øieblikket). The aim is to expose the worldliness of the clergy. The key word FIRST is from the gospel, Matthew 6:33,where Jesus says: Seek ye first the Kingdom
of God and His Justice, and everything else shall be given you also." It is worth observing that SK uses the word much in the beginning, then almost leaves it for a page or so, then fires it off again five times in the last paragraph.
The main character's name is From, which means pious.
"FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD"
Some Sort of Short Story.
Cand. theol.Ludvig From - he is seeking. And when we hear that a candidate of theology is seeking, we need no living imagination to understand what he is seeking, naturally the Kingdom of God, which must be sought first.
No, it really is not; what he seeks is a royal livelihood as a priest; and, as I shall delineate in a few strokes, first very much has happened, before he has got that far. First he has frequented the learned school, from which he has then been duly dismissed. Then he has first passed 2 examinations, and, after 4 years of studying, first passed his final exams of theology.So now he is Candidate of Theology; and we might perhaps think that he, after having first gone through all this, finally could come to work for Christianity. Or so we think.
.No,first he must pass ½ year at the seminary; and when that is past, he cannot expect to seek for the first 8 years, the which must first be over.And now we are at the beginning of the short story: those 8 years are past, he seeks. His life, which can hitherto not be said to have any relation to the Unconditional, suddenly takes on such a relation: he seeks unconditionally everything; fills one sheet of stamped paper after the other; runs from Herod to Pilate; recommends himself to both the Minister and the Doorkeeper, brief, he is quite in the service of an Unconditional. Yes, one of his acquaintances, who has not seen him for the last couple of years, thinks much to his astonishment to find that he has become smaller, which may be explained thereby, that he has fared as Münchhausen's dog, which was a greyhound, but through the frequent running became a dachshund.
3 years pass in this way. Our theoogical Candidate really needs some rest, after so much exertion, to be set out of action or to fall at ease in a call and be nursed a bit by his wife to be - for he has in between first become engaged. At length - as Pernille ((a comedy figure)) says to Magdelone - comes his hour of release, so that he, with the whole power of conviction, will be able to "witness" to his congregation that in Christianity is salvation and release: he is given an office.
What happens ? By procuring closer information than he has hitherto had about the income of the call, he finds that this is ab. 50 Rigsdaler less than he had thought. Now 101 are out. The unfortunate man almost despairs. He has already bought stamped paper in order to present an application to the Minister, that he may be allowed to be considered not-called - and then to start all over again: when one of his acquaintances makes him give this up. So he keeps his call.
He is ordained - and the Sunday comes when he is to be presented to the congregation. The Provost, through whom this happens, is a more than ordinary man, not only has he (what most priests have, and in a higher degree the more they advance in grades) an unhampered look to the earthly profit, but also a speculative eye for World History. Something which he does not keep to himself, but lets his congregation profit from it. He has, with a touch of genius, chosen for a text the words of the apostle Peter:"See, we have left all things and followed you", and now explains to the congregation, that just in times as these such men must be made teachers, and in this connexion recommends the young man, of whom the provost knows how nearly he had resigned for the sake of the 150 Rigsdaler.
The young man now mounts the pulpit himself - and the gospel for today is (strangely enough !): Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.
He presents his sermon. "A very good sermon," says the Bishop, who was present in person, "a very good sermon, and it had an extraordinary effect, the whole part about "First" the Kingdom of God, the way in which he accentuated this "First". "But does Your Excellency find that here was the desired conformity between the speech and life; on me it had almost a satirical impression this First." "How unreasonable; he is indeed called to preach the teaching, the healthy unadulterated teaching about seeking first the Kingdom of God, and he did that very well."
43) THE LAST DAYS
Kierkegaard managed ten issues of Øieblikket (The Moment).
In Nr 9,"This then is the Case"
"What brings me to fear, is the following. Whereas my life - however weakly, compared with the glorious persons that have lived - still expresses this, out of concern for one's salvation to fight for eternity: I stand surrounded by an age which at most as a public is interested in this case. In a fleeting mood they may let themselves be seized by what I say; in the next moment they judge it aesthetically; in the next moment they read what is written against me; then they are curíous as to the outcome etc.etc.: in brief they are: the audience.And to none, none of them does it occur that they, by being human, are under the same condition as I, that also for them an account of Eternity is awaiting, and that one thing is certain that Eternity closes itself to everything that in this life would only be the public, "like the others." See, this brings me to shudder, that these people live under the conception that I am the one who is in danger, whereas I still insofar, eternally understood, am far less in danger then they, that I do fight for Eternity."
Nr 10 was ready, but did not go to print. One day SK fell in the street and was brought to General Hospital, where after some days he quietly died. The death certificate said: Exhaustion..He left some furniture, his books, and very little money; as if this too was calculated to last until then.
But during these last days he had visits from his relatives and a clergyman friend. They tell of an extreme weakness, but also that the blue eyes shone with an intense light. His nephew, the later historian Troels Lund recalls:
"When I held out my hand to him, the others had already turned to the door, so that we were as alone. He took my hand in both of his - how small they were, meagre and transparently white - and only said: "Thank you for coming to me, Troels, and now live well!" But these natural words were accompanied by a look, of which I have never since seen the like. It radiated in an exalted, transfigured blissful splendour, so that it seemed to me to light up the whole room. Everything was gathered in the flow of light of these eyes: fervent love, heavenly dissolved melancholy, perspicacious clarity and a jesting smile. To me it was as a celestial revelation, a flow from soul to soul, a blessing that gave new courage, strength and commitment to me."
(44) "ON MY ACTIVITY AS AN AUTHOR"
It is always sad to say goodbye to a friend, and maybe you feel like I do that he has become a good friend. But then his work is there, and he would say that this is what matters.
In 1848 SK wrote The Viewpoint on my Activity as an Author. He left it unprinted in his drawer, where his brother, the Bishop, found it and published it in 1859, that is four years after SK's death. Here is part of the CONCLUSION.
"I have nothing further to say, only to conclude I will let someone else speak, my poet, who, when he comes, will allot me a place among those who have suffered for an idea, saying:
"The martyrdom which this author suffered, can be quite briefly described thus: he suffered being a genius in a provincial town.
"Still he also found in this world what he sought after: if no one else was, he was himself "that Single Person," and he became ever more so. It was the cause of Christianity that he served, his life even from childhood wonderfully laid out to this. Then he completed the work of reflexion, to set Christianity, to be a Christian, quite and entirely into reflexion. The purity of his heart was: only to will one thing; what in his lifetime was the accusation of the contemporaries against him, that he would not reduce, would not yield, even the same thing is the praise of posterity about him, that he did not reduce, did not yield. But the grandiose enterprise did not deceive him; while he dialectically qua ((as)) author kept full view of it all, he understood Christian-wise that it all meant to himself, to be educated in Christanity. The dialectic ((philosophic)) building that he completed, whose separate parts are already works, he could not dedicate to any person, still less would he dedicate it to himself; if he should have dedicated it to anybody, it would have been to the Guidance, to whom it was nevertheless day by day, year by year, dedicated by the author, who, historically, died of a mortal disease, but poetically died of longing for eternity, for continuously doing nothing else than to thank God."