Archives For Kierkegaard

 

Excoriating Christendom
—and Suffering for it

 
A Feature Review of
 

Kierkegaard: A Single Life 
Stephen Backhouse

Hardback: Zondervan, 2016.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by James Dekker
 
 

In an entry of less than 300 words, the then peerless Encylopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, calls young Søren Aaby[e] Kierkegaard “delicate, precocious and morbid in temperament” (vol. 15, 788). One hundred five years later, I am sure that Kiekegaard maven Stephen Backhouse would agree, probably extending Britannica’s estimation to the maverick philosopher’s entire life.

Dying after a series of seizures in 1855 at age 42, Søren—as Backhouse calls him throughout this concise, yet full biography—was not merely precocious, but enormously productive and often acerbic in in his writing. As well, he was beset with intractable paradoxes that both attracted and repelled friends, family and colleagues. During his life he reaped few accolades and much scorn for his relentless, often slashing criticism of leading Danish literati (among them Denmark’s hitherto untouchable Hans Christian Andersen) academics, political theorists and state church leaders. After being ignored by his family pastor and erstwhile mentor, Bishop Jakob Peter Mynster, Kierkegaard added him to his phalanxes of targets. Calling Mynster a “poisonous plant . . . a colossus,” he concluded, “Great strength was required to topple him, and the person who did it also had to pay for it” (148).

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A Prophet in His Hometown

 
A Review of

Kierkegaard: A Christian Missionary to Christians
Mark Tietjen

Paperback: IVP Academic, 2016
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

Reviewed by Michial Farmer

 

If it’s true that we become like what we worship, readers of Søren Kierkegaard must always keep in mind that his God was inscrutable, labyrinthine-minded, confounding, terrifying—but ultimately loving. So, too, is Kierkegaard’s jungle of writings. Producing two or three treatises simultaneously, under different (though equally ridiculous) pseudonyms, he was not afraid of self-contradiction and sought controversy more than agreement. If he could find no one else to disagree with him, he’d do it himself. It’s the rare reader indeed who can open the puzzle box of his thought without an instruction manual. And yet, as Mark Tietjen shows in his latest book, Kierkegaard: A Christian Missionary to Christians, Kierkegaard wrote what he wrote (and wrote it the way he wrote it) as an act of service.

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New ERB Print IssueThe new ERB print issue went to the printer now and will be released at the CCDA annual conference next week in New Orleans…

(Subscribers copies will mail in a little over a week, after CCDA is finished).

 
Featuring an interview with Andy Crouch about his new book PLAYING GOD and an essay by Jon Sweeney on Kierkegaard at 200. And a superb lineup of reviews: new books by Fred Bahnson, David Rakoff, David Bentley Hart, Nadia Bolz-Weber, and MORE!  Plus, three poems from Brian Volck‘s forthcoming collection: Flesh Becomes Word.

 

*** NOT A SUBSCRIBER? The ERB Print Edition is the best source for book-related interviews and news for Christian readers!

CLICK HERE to subscribe: $18.95 for 1 Year (4 issues) / $35 for 2 Years (8 issues)

 

 

Click the cover image above to view a larger version.

Below you will find the ERB Table of Contents for this issue…


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10 Recommended Kindle ebooks for $3.99 or Less!

Prices on these ebooks should not change before Feb 28, 2013.
But to be on the safe side, please refresh the Amazon page before ordering…

 

(NOTE: Prices listed may or may be not be valid outside the United States… Sorry!)

 

If you find one or more books to buy here, please share this list with a friend…



 

1) The Maytrees: A Novel by Annie Dillard – $2.99

 

2) My Life with the Saints by James Martin, S.J. – $3.99

 

3) Gandhi’s Passion: The Life and Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi by Stanley Wolpert – $1.99

 

4) Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard – $0.99
(Recommended in Ragan Sutterfield’s recent post in our Writers on the Classics series!)
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Ragan SutterfieldIn 2013, we are encouraging our readers to mix up their reading habits, and read (or re-read) classics in addition to new books, such as the ones we review here in the ERB.

Broadly speaking, a classic is any book that is not a new book, or in other words that is worth reading five, ten or even one hundred years after its initial publication. ERB Editor Chris Smith has an article on The Huffington Post website arguing for reading a mix of classics and new books in 2013.

We’ve asked a number of noted writers to pick the classics that they often return to, and we will be running these lists as a weekly feature on our website through 2013.

This week’s post in the series is by Ragan Sutterfield.

Writers on the Classics:
[ #1 – Shane Claiborne ] [ Most recent, #4 – Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove ]

Ragan Sutterfield is the author of the book Farming As A Spiritual Discipline, and a forthcoming title from Cascade Books on faith and agriculture.  He has written for a variety of magazines including Men’s Journal, Triathlete, Paste, Gourmet, Spin, Fast Company, Christianity Today and Books & Culture on issues relating to health, good food, sustainability, and theology. He blogs on Patheos at WORD+ FLESH.


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A Brief Review of
Ethics, Love, and Faith in Kierkegaard,
Edward F. Mooney, ed.

Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion, Merold Westphal, ed.
Paperback: Indiana Univ. Press, 2008.
Buy now:   [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Mark Eckel.

Misunderstandings about the misunderstood abound.  Christians and atheists, foundationalists and post-moderns, psychologists and philosophers have in some way or another claimed or repudiated Kierkegaard.  Ethics, Love, and Faith in Kierkegaard is written, in part, to eliminate some of the misconceptions held by any or all groups.  The text assumes a grounded understanding of Kierkegaard including interpretive analyses.  Reading necessitates a deep-rooted philosophical and psychological interplay that few people outside of the field will comprehend or appreciate.  Yet, Robert C. Roberts suggests that today’s professors, bent toward theory, are distinctive from even Kierkegaard himself, who was interested in exploring concepts and convening wisdom (73).

Understanding the nuances of thought Kierkegaard defined is critical to appreciate terms such as “authority,” “virtue,” or “character” (Kirmmse, 24-38).  Ferreira’s examination (93-110) of “love” is loaded with finely split hairs.  Conway’s (175-95) and Davenport’s (196-233) essays interpret the responses of the interpreters to the Danish philosopher.  While beneficial to the expert, the uninitiated are left unimpressed.

For those not so ensconced in the minutia of Kierkegaardian thought, there are a few articles in the volume that catch one’s eye.  Hubert Dreyfuss (11-28) highlights the idea that ethics allow for coherence.  His comment that “philosophical categories have no way to distinguish unconditional commitment from selfishness” (20) ought to be pondered by all.  Marion (121-28) rips out by the roots the twisted, individualism of forgiveness present in today’s view of depression.  Roberts’ (72-92) explanation of Christian love being an extraordinary duty is impressive.  But it was Furtak’s (59-71) repudiation of naturalistic arguments about awareness and aesthetics that makes a lasting impression.  Linking literature with philosophy is key to Furtak’s belief that novels and verse should be allowed to contribute to philosophical knowledge (69).

Quoting R. G. Collingwood, Furtak concludes, “The philosopher must go to school with the poets in order to learn the use of language, and must use it in their way: as a means of exploring one’s own mind, and bringing to light what is obscure and doubtful in it” (71). As Mooney states in his introduction, Kierkegaard is interested in a way of life (5).  Surely fiction instructs us along the path of Ethics, Love, and Faith.  Story and poetry might go a long way toward helping ethicists, philosophers, and psychologists communicate the wisdom Kierkegaard desired, making him better understood.

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Mark Eckel is director of the Mahseh Center, Lake Bruce, IN
( www.mahseh.org ).