Edifying Discourses in Diverse Spirits

Edifying Discourses in Diverse Spirits
Edifying Discourses in Diverse Spirits.jpg
Author Søren Kierkegaard
Original title Opbyggelige Taler i forskjellig Aand
Working title Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits
Translators Douglas V. Steere, David F. Swenson, A.S Aldworth and W.S. Ferrie, and Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong
Country Denmark
Language Danish
Subject Christianity
Published March 13, 1847
Published in English
1938 – first translation, 1955, 1993, last translation 2009
Media type Paperback
Pages 442
ISBN 9780691140773
Preceded by Two Ages: A Literary Review 
Followed by Works of Love 

Edifying Discourses in Diverse Spirits, also Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits was published on March 13, 1847, by Søren Kierkegaard. The book is divided into three parts just as Either/Or was in 1843 and many of his other discourses were. Kierkegaard had been working toward creating a place for the concepts of guilt and sin in the conscience of the single individual. He discussed the ideas generated by both Johann von Goethe and Friedrich Hegel concerning reason and nature. This book is his response to the ideas that nature and reason are perfect.

The first part of the book is a challenge to those who say they are not guilty of anything. Kierkegaard plays the questioner and asks tough questions throughout the text, such as, "What is patience? Is not patience the courage that freely takes upon itself the suffering that cannot be avoided?" "Are you now living in such a way that you are aware of being a single individual and thereby aware of your eternal responsibility before God." "Is not evil, just like evil people, at odds with itself, divided in itself?" "What is it to be more ashamed before others than before oneself but to be more ashamed of seeming than being?" "Should not he who planted the ear hear? But is not the opposite conclusion just as beautiful and convincing: Should not he whose life is sacrificing love believe that God is love?" "What means do you use to perform your work; is the means just as important to you as the end, just exactly as important?"[1]

The second part has to do with the idea that nature is perfect. He goes back to Job as he did in his Four Upbuilding Discourses, 1843. He says, "The silent friends did not compare Job with themselves—this did not happen until their respect (in which they silently held him) ceased and they broke the silence in order to attack the sufferer with speeches, but their presence prompted Job to compare himself with himself. No individual can be present, even though in silence, in such a way that his presence means nothing at all by way of comparison. At best, this can be done by a child, who indeed has a certain likeness to the lilies of the field and the birds of the air." "God isolated the human being, made every human being this separate and distinct individual, which is implied in the unconditional character of those first thoughts. The individual animal is not isolated, is not unconditionally separate entity; the individual animal is a number and belongs under what that most famous pagan thinker has called the animal category: the crowd. The human being who in despair turns away from those first thoughts in order to plunge into the crowd of comparisons makes himself a number, regards himself as a beast, no matter whether he by way of comparison is distinguished or lowly. But with the lilies the worried one is isolated, far away from all human or, perhaps more correctly, inhuman comparisons between individuals."[2]

The third part deals with the concept of the abstract and the concrete examples. Kierkegaard wrote of individuals known only as A and B in his first book, Either/Or. He then made them less abstract by making A into the Young Man in Repetition (1843) and B into his guide, the psychiatrist Constantin Constantius. The same day that he published Repetition he published Fear and Trembling which showed Abraham as an individual who was alone with God as he considered whether to follow his commands. He continued writing until he came to the concrete human being named Christ and wrote about the joy there is in following Christ. He's not against the ethics of Hegel or the aesthetics of Goethe but thinks that following Christ is the one thing needful. And that double-mindedness is the beginning of the sickness of the spirit for the single individual.

Structure [ edit ]

The book begins with a dedication just as some of his Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses did, however, this book is not dedicated to his father, but to “That Single Individual”. He published these discourses and later wrote a longer dedication called The Crowd is Untruth[3] where he wrote:

This, which is now considerably revised and enlarged, was written and intended to accompany the dedication to "that single individual," which is found in "Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits." Copenhagen, Spring 1847.

Walter Lowrie translated The Point of View of My Work as an Author by Kierkegaard in 1939, 1962 and included My Activity as a Writer by Soren Kierkegaard (1851) in the book. Here Kierkegaard wrote, "I attached myself again religiously to "that individual", to whom the next essential work (after the Concluding Postscript) was dedicated. I refer to Edifying Discourses in Divers Spirits, or rather the first part of that book which is an exhortation to confession. Perhaps nobody noticed it the first time I employed the category "that individual", and nobody paid much attention to the fact that it was repeated in stereotyped form in the preface of every number of the Edifying Discourses. Religiously speaking, there is no such thing as a public, but only individuals; for religion is seriousness and seriousness is the individual."[4]

This book has a preface and Kierkegaard has said to pay attention to the prefaces in his book of the same name. The book also has a dedication. Here is the first half of his preface. Kierkegaard thinks an individual must bring the occasion (the need) along with him or her to become the learner.

Preface: Although this little book (it can be called an occasional discourse, yet without having the occasion that makes the speaker and makes him an authority or the occasion that makes the reader and makes him a learner) in the situation of actuality is like a fancy, a dream in the daytime, yet it is not without confidence and not without hope of fulfillment. It seeks that single individual, to whom it gives itself wholly, by whom it wishes to be received as if it had arisen in his own heart, that single individual whom I with joy and gratitude call my reader, that single individual, who willingly reads slowly, reads repeatedly, and who reads aloud-for his own sake. If it finds him, then in the remoteness of separation the understanding is complete when he keeps the book and the understanding to himself in the inwardness of appropriation. P. 5

On the Occasion of a Confession [ edit ]

On the Occasion of a Confession[5] was a postscript to the first section of Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions (On the Occasion of a Confessional Service). This section has also been titled Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing[6]

Kierkegaard asks how an individual can find out if he or she is on the "right" path in life. Confession and repentance before God is his answer with a warning about double-mindedness. If a single individual were to ask him or herself all the questions asked in this section and try to discover all the evasions used to keep from acting single-mindedly, that person would discover that it is very difficult to say I am innocent. In Works of Love (1847) he asks his reader to "Imagine an enthusiast who enthusiastically wills only one thing and enthusiastically wants to sacrifice everything for the good."[7] Here he is writing about the inwardness of prayer. He says,

God does not find out anything by your confessing, but you, the one confessing do. Much of what you try to keep in obscurity you first get to know by letting an omniscient one become aware of it. Even horrible crimes are committed, even blood is shed, and many times in such a way that it must truly be said of the guilty one: He did not know what he was doing –perhaps he died without, through repentance, ever getting to know what it was he did. Indeed, does passion ever really know what it is doing; is not this its ingratiating temptation and its apparent excuse, this delusive ignorance of itself because at the moment it had forgotten the eternal, because continued in a person it changes his life into nothing but moments, because it perfidiously serves its blinded master while working its way up to make him serve like a blinded slave! Hate and anger and revenge and despondency and depression and despair and fear of the future and trust in the world and faith in oneself and pride that mixes in even with sympathy, and envy that mixes in even with friendship, and the changed but not improved inclination—when this was present in a person, when was it without the delusive excuse of ignorance? If a person continued being ignorant of it, was it not precisely because he also continued being ignorant of an omniscient one?

The lazy person always has an inordinate imagination; he promptly thinks of how he is going to arrange things for himself and how comfortable he will be as soon as this and that are done; he thinks less about the fact that it is this and that which he is to do. … He does not think that it is the will a person should lean on, yes, that when everything goes to pieces it is the will a person must cling to. He does not think that the will is the mover but that it itself is to be moved, that it itself is vacillating and therefore must be propped up, that it must be moved and supported by reasons, considerations, the advice of others, experiences, and rules of conduct.

Soren Kierkegaard, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong pp. 23, 73–74

He asks, "What does the conscience want to emphasize by means of the awareness that you are a single individual?" (Hong p. 132) He answers this way:

To will, in the decision, to be and to remain with the good is truth's brief expression for willing to do everything, and in this expression the equality is maintained that recognizes no distinction with regard to that more essential diversity of life or of the human condition: to be acting or to be suffering, since the one who is suffering can, in the decision, also be with the good. …. With respect to the highest, with respect to willing to do everything, it makes no difference at all, God be praised, how big or how little the task. Oh, how merciful the eternal is to us human beings! Soren Kierkegaard, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong p. 79–80

Later, in Works of Love, Kierkegaard sums up the essence of what it means to have a pure heart using a metaphors from Archimedes and the New Testament.

Make Christianity your own and it will show you a point outside the world, and by means of this you will move heaven and earth; yes, you will do something even more wonderful, you will move heaven and earth so quietly, so lightly, that no one notices it. The world makes a great noise merely in order to achieve a little change, sets heaven and earth in motion for nothing, like the mountain that gives birth to a mouse-Christianity quietly makes infinity's change as if it were nothing. It is very quiet, as nothing in this world can be; it is very quiet, as only the dead of inwardness can be. Indeed, what else is Christianity but inwardness! Love must be out of a pure heart and out of a good conscience and out of a sincere faith. We choose, however, to concentrate attention on the one provision, that love is a matter of conscience, which essentially contains the other two and to which they essentially refer. Works of Love, Hong pp. 136–137

What we Learn from the Lilies in the Field and from the Birds in the Air [ edit ]

The first discourse (To Be Contented with Being a Human Being) deals with comparison and choice and how to trust God with the choice once made. He may have been echoing Goethe's Propylaen in which Goethe had written "The youth, when Nature and Art attract him, thinks that with a vigorous effort he can soon penetrate into the innermost sanctuary; the man, after long wanderings, finds himself still in the outer court. Such an observation has suggested our title. It is only on the step, in the gateway, the entrance, the vestibule, the space between the outside and the inner chamber, between the sacred and the common, that we may ordinarily tarry with our friends."[8] Kierkegaard writes about nature differently than Goethe but similarly because both see Nature as teachers of human kind and Kierkegaard wrote very much about "the inner being"; the soul.[9]

Kierkegaard wrote a great story about a lily and a naughty bird. It begins like this:

Once upon a time there was a lily that stood in an isolated spot beside a small brook and was well known to some nettles and also to a few other small flowers nearby. The lily was, according to the Gospel's truthful account, more beautifully clothed than Solomon in all his glory and in addition was joyful and free of care all the day long. Imperceptibly and blissfully time slipped by, like running water that murmurs and disappears. It so happened that one day a little bird came and visited the lily; it came again the next day, then stayed away a few days before it came again, which struck the lily as odd and inexplicable—inexplicable that the bird, just like the flowers, did not remain in the same place, odd that the bird could be so capricious. But as so often happens, the lily fell more and more in love with the bird precisely because it was capricious. Soren Kierkegaard, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong p. 167 later he wrote about a wood dove and tame doves p. 174ff

The second discourse deals with diverting oneself from worries by "learning from the bird how glorious it is to be a human being."[10] David F. Swenson translated several of Kierkegaard's discourses which were published in 1958 through the efforts of Paul L Holmer. Kierkegaard wrote of The Glory of Our Common Humanity.[11] This was the second of three discourses that were all based on the text from Matthew 6 verses 24 to the end. It was titled How Glorious It Is to Be a Human Being by Howard V Hong when he translated Kierkegaard's book in 1993.

The structure of the three discourses about the lilies and the birds is as follows: the first is esthetic, the second ethical, the third religious. Journal and Papers of Soren Kierkegaard VIII A 1 1847

Kierkegaard writes about the gift given to human beings that nature doesn't have, conscience. With the use of conscience we can know about time and the future. Something nature cannot know.[12] He sums the human ability to love and the distinctiveness of nature up in Works of Love, which he published four months later.

Love does not seek its own. The truly loving one does not love his own distinctiveness but, in contrast, loves every human being according to his distinctiveness; but 'his distinctiveness'; is what for him is his own; that is, the loving one does not seek his own; quite the opposite, he loves what is the others own. Let us for a moment look at nature. With what infinite love nature or God in nature encompasses all the diverse things that have life and existence! Just recollect what you yourself have so often delighted in looking at, recollect the beauty of the meadow!

There is no difference in the love, no, none—yet what a difference in the flowers! Even the least, the most insignificant the most unimpressive, the poor little flower disregarded by even its immediate surroundings, the flower you can hardly find without looking carefully—it is as if this, too, had said to love: Let me become something in myself, something distinctive. And then love has helped it to become its own distinctiveness, but far more beautiful than the poor little flower had ever dared to hope for.

What love! First it makes no distinction, none at all; next, which is just like the first, it infinitely distinguishes itself in loving the diverse. Wondrous love! For what is as difficult as to make no distinction at all in loving, and if one makes no distinction at all, what is as difficult as making distinctions! Just suppose nature were us human beings—rigid, domineering, cold, partisan, small-minded, capricious—and imagine, yes, just imagine what would happen to the beauty of the meadow.

So it is also in the relationships of love among human beings; only true love loves every human being according to the person's distinctiveness. The rigid, the domineering person lacks flexibility, lacks the pliability to comprehend others; he demands his own from everyone, wants everyone to be transformed in his image to be trimmed according to his pattern for human beings. If the rigid and domineering person cannot ever create, he wants at least to transform – that is, he seeks his own so that wherever he points he can say: See, it is my image, it is my idea, it is my will. Works of Love, Hong 1995 p. 269–270

The third discourse was titled What Blessed Happiness is Promised in Being a Human Being by Howard V Hong. Kierkegaard is constantly stressing the importance there is in being a human being instead of a beast in the field because you have been given the gift of choice. "A choice. My listener, do you know how to express in a single word anything more glorious! If you talked year in and year out, could you mention anything more glorious than a choice, to have choice! It is certainly true that the sole blessing is to choose rightly, but certainly choice itself is the glorious condition."[13] Kierkegaard began writing about this choice in his first book Either/Or where he wrote first as the aesthetic and then as the ethicist. Hegel thinks that history and philosophy should come afterwards and explain events. Kierkegaard thinks its better to come beforehand.

Only one word more concerning the desire to teach the world what it ought to be. For such a purpose philosophy at least always comes too late. Philosophy, as the thought of the world, does not appear until reality has completed its formative process, and made itself ready. History thus corroborates the teaching of the conception that only in the maturity of reality does the ideal appear as counterpart to the real, apprehends the real world in its substance, and shapes it into an intellectual kingdom. When philosophy paints its grey in grey, one form of life has become old, and by means of grey it cannot be rejuvenated, but only known. The owl of Minerva takes its flight only when the shades of night are gathering.

  • Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) Philosophy of Right translated by SW Dyde Queen's University Canada 1896 edition Preface xxx

Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will also regret that; hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the sum and substance of all philosophy. It is only at certain moments that I view everything acterno modo, as Spinoza says, but I live constantly aeterno modo. There are many who think that they live thus, because after having done the one or the other, they combine or mediate the opposites. But this is a misunderstanding: for the true eternity does not lie behind either/or, but before it. Hence, their eternity will be a painful succession of temporal moments, for they will be consumed by a two-fold regret.

  • Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or part I, Swenson p. 37–39
  • It is a sign of a well brought up child to be inclined to say it is sorry without too much pondering whether it is in the right or not, and it is likewise a sign of a high-minded person and a deep soul if he is inclined to repent, if he does not take God to court but repents and loves God in his repentance. Without this, his life is nothing, only like foam. Indeed, I assure you that if my life through no fault of my own were so interwoven with sorrows and sufferings that I could call myself the greatest tragic hero, could divert myself with my affliction and shock the world by naming it, my choice is made: I strip myself of the hero's garb and the pathos of tragedy; I am not the tormented one who can be proud of his sufferings; I am the humbled one who feels my offense; I have only one word for what I am suffering—guilt, only one word for my pain—repentance, only one hope before my eyes—forgiveness. And if it proves to be difficult for me to do—oh, then I have only one prayer. I would throw myself upon the earth and appeal from morning till night to the heavenly power who rules the world for one favor, that it might be granted me to repent, for I know only one sorrow that could bring me to despair and plunge everything into it—that repentance is an illusion, an illusion not with respect to the forgiveness it seeks but with respect to the imputation it presupposes.

  • Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or part II, Hong p. 237–238
  • Spiritually understood, temporality and eternity are two magnitudes that are to be weighed. But in order to deliberate the person in turn must be a third party or have a third position in relation to the two magnitudes. This is the choice: he weighs, he deliberates, he chooses. Here, however there is never any chance that the two magnitudes weigh equally much, which can of course happen with a scale, it indicates the relation as one of equality. No, praise God, that can never happen, because properly understood the eternal already has a certain overweight and the person who refuses to understand this can never begin really to deliberate. So a person deliberates before he begins.

    • Soren Kierkegaard, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, 1847, Hong p. 306–307

    Kierkegaard stresses not only having a choice but learning how to use it. He concludes, "But then in his sadness out there with the lily and the bird the worried one did indeed acquire something other than his worry to think about; he began to consider what blessed happiness is promised in being a human being. Then let the lily wither and let its loveliness become indiscernible; let the leaf fall to the ground and the bird fly away; let it become dark on the fields—God's kingdom does not change with the seasons! So let the rest be needed for a long time or a short time, let all these things have their moment when they are lacking or possessed, their moment is a subject of discussion until in death they are eternally forgotten—God's kingdom is still that which is to be sought first but which ultimately will also last through all eternities, and "if that which will be abolished was glorious, that which remains will be more glorious,:[14] and if it was hard to live in want, then it must indeed be only an easier separation to die to want![15]

    The Gospel of Sufferings [ edit ]

    A.S Aldworth and W.S. Ferrie from Cambridge University translated The Gospel of Sufferings in 1955. The following is from his introduction.

    In his trilogy Opbyggelige Taler i Forskellig Aand ("Edifying Discourses in Another Vein"), Kierkegaard passed from a general religious and philosophical standpoint to a specifically Christian one. The Gospel of Sufferings forms the third part of that trilogy, and is a central plank in the structure of Kierkegaard's mature thought. "The theme [of these discourses] is our sufferings. It is also the gospel that pertains to, and is appropriate to, our sufferings. It is in the realm of faith, and though this gospel that is the peculiar property of those who suffer, that sufferings are found to contain joys. We may say therefore that it is the purpose of this volume to disclose the meaning in the most meaningless element of life. Which might be held to be quite a good definition of the Christian faith."[16]

    Now he begins to write of the meaning and joy there is in following Christ. It wasn't the first thing he wrote about but he did write about learning, over time, to follow Christ and while learning to also learn to confess, repent and accept as well as give forgiveness. His emphasis has been on seeking God's kingdom first (Matthew 6:33) and learning to be "silent before God".[17]

    His first three texts are from Luke 14:27 Whoever does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Matthew 11:30 My yoke is beneficial, and my burden light. and It is said of him the Lord Jesus Christ: Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered Hebrews 5:8. Acts 5:41 Kierkegaard writes about why it might not be so great to have the "distinction" of being an apostle.[18] they went away joyful because they had been deemed worthy to be scorned for the sake of Christ's name. He concluded this way:

    We have now considered the joy in the thought that bold confidence has this power of victory; we have also called to mind how the apostles understood themselves in this thought. We dare not withhold from anyone the joy, the triumphant joy contained in that thought; we dare not suppress the fact that bold confidence has this power. But neither have we played fast and loose with our words; on the contrary, to the best of our ability we have added the weight of earnest reflections to the joy, in order if possible to exercise a restraining influence. This joyful thought is not like a so-called harmless remedy that can be used in any way without danger and can be used for a light cold, but it is strong medicine, the use of which involves some danger, but rightly used also delivers from the sickness unto death. Soren Kierkegaard, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, 1847, Hong 1993 p. 339

    Kierkegaard compared a pound of gold and a pound of feathers. He views the pound of feathers as a lesser weight because of the value of gold compared to feathers. He then asks the reader to decide if a pound of temporality is equal to a pound of eternity.[19] Feathers and gold and temporality and eternity and numbers all have value in this world. He has seven different discourses in this third section. He seems to be using religious numbers generally while writing but always referring to Christianity specifically.

    Kierkegaard seems to have fulfilled his goal presented in Concluding Unscientific Postscript, where he said it had become clear to him that people had forgotten what it means to be religious (confession and repentance before God) and had also forgotten what it means to be a human being and had therefore also forgotten what it means to try to become a Christian. He put it this way.

    The main thought was that, because of the copiousness of knowledge, people in our day have forgotten what it means to exist, and what inwardness is, and that the misunderstanding between speculative thought and Christianity could be explained by that. I resolved to go back as far as possible in order not to arrive too soon at what it means to exist religiously, not to mention existing Christianly-religiously, and in that way leave dubieties behind me. If people had forgotten what it means to exist religiously, they had probably also forgotten what it means to exist humanly. I resolved to begin: first was to have the existence relation between esthetic and ethical come into existence in an existing human.[20] But this must not on any account be done didactically, because then the misunderstanding would in a new misunderstanding instantly make capital of the explanatory attempt, as if existing consisted in coming to know something about a particular point. If this is communicated as knowledge, the recipient is mistakenly induced to understand that he is gaining something to know, and then we are back in knowledge again. Soren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript, Hong 1996 p. 249

    Criticism [ edit ]

    Edifiying Discourses in Diverse Spirits, also Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits was published on March 13, 1847, and is one of the first books in Søren Kierkegaard's second authorship. His first authorship included all of his books up to and including Two Ages: A Literary Review which was published March 30, 1846. He had just published his Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments on February 27, 1846. He wrote both pseudonymous books as well as books signed by his own name. His Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses were all signed by Soren Kierkegaard as author while other books, such as, Either/Or, Repetition, and The Concept of Anxiety were published under pseudonyms. Howard V. Hong says the book had no record of sales and was not reprinted in Kierkegaard's lifetime.

    Previously Kierkegaard had published his own books through two different bookstores, Bookdealer P. G. Philipsen Three Upbuilding Discourses, 1843 and C.A. Reitzel's, Printed by Biance Luno Press Repetition. This book was published "on an honorarium basis" through another Danish book publisher, Reitzel Forlag. The publishing cost was minimum.

    The first section was translated into English in 1938 by Douglas V. Steere and titled Purity of Heart Is To Will One Thing. Steere also wrote the introduction to David F Swenson's 1946 translation of Works of Love.[21] Howard V. and Edna H. Hong translated all the discourses and Princeton University Press published them in 1993.[22] Scholars generally paid more attention to his pseudonymous writings than his discourses.

    Harold Victor Martin published Kierkegaard, the Melancholy Dane (1950) and had this to say about this book:

    The personal religious sense of Repetition in relation to time and eternity is brought out by Kierkegaard in a striking Discourse entitled: The Joy of it—that what thou dost lose temporally, thou dost gain eternally. Within his temporal existence, man can only lose the temporal temporally. The seriousness of life is that it is possible for man in his temporal existence to lose the eternal; and this in fact is Kierkegaard's definition of sin—in time to lose eternity. What man must strive after is to gain the eternal eternally. p. 60[23]

    Robert L Perkins of Stetson University edited The International Kierkegaard Commentary Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits in 2005. This book presents scholarly perspectives from people interested in the writings of Soren Kierkegaard. He states that A.S. Aldworth and W.S. Ferrie published Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits in three parts Purify your Hearts (1937), Consider the Lilies (1940) and Gospel of Suffering (1955), the 1955 edition was reprinted in an American edition in 1964. Gospel of Sufferings and The Lilies of the Field were translated by David F Swenson and Lillian Marvin Swenson in 1948. Perkin's book is in External Links below.

    Douglas V. Steere wrote a lengthy introduction to his 1938 publication of the first part of Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits. Purify your Heart of 1937 became Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing in the hands of Steere in 1938. He says Eduard Geismar (1871–1939), the Danish scholar, said of the book, "It seems to me that nothing that he has written has sprung so directly out of his relationship with God as this address. Anyone who wishes to understand Kierkegaard properly will do well to begin with it."[24]

    Steere wrote Doors Into Life in 1948 and devoted his fourth chapter to Kierkegaard and Purity of Heart. He said, "In a strangely universal way, Kierkegaard is both ancient and modern, both a fierce desert prophet and a metropolitan sophisticate who is all too well schooled in the artifices of modern life to be deceived by them."[25]

    Geismar lectured on Kierkegaard at Princeton University in 1936. He wrote the following about this book,

    The way of repentance is described in a long communion sermon of more than a hundred pages. The theme of this sermon is that "'purity of heart' consists of singleness of aim." Kierkegaard explains that it is only possible to will one thing if we will the good, and that such willing is real only if we will the good in entire single-mindedness.[26]

    Howard V Hong translated the wrote book in 1993 along with his wife Edna H Hong. It was translated again in 2005. Hong's 1993 introduction surmised that Kierkegaard perhaps published 500 copies of this book during his lifetime.

    Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions & Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits were reviewed together in 1994 by Karl Dusza for First Things Magazine[27] He wrote

    If the age of Kierkegaard was the age of individualism, is our own not the age of super-individualism? If the age of Kierkegaard was also the age of romanticism, is ours not the age of super-romanticism? And if in a deeper sense Kierkegaard's age was neither that of individualism nor that of romanticism but rather in essence the age of the crowd, what is our own if not the age of the super-crowd? How fortunate for us, then, that this solitary Dane exercised his awesome analytical and rhetorical skills to tear down the veil of deception and uncover the essential folly of his time, and in so doing, bequeathed to us powerful critical tools. He has indeed left us a mirror; peering into it, we can see the folly of our time and glimpse the abyss we are in danger of falling into. Appropriating the Paradox[28]

    Kierkegaard wrote about the expectation of the Christian. The difference Christ made in the world is that he took away the burdens of the Christian. Kierkegaard wrote much about the consciousness of sin and wrote about the difference Christianity makes.[29]

    When Christ speaks of the light burden, when he says my burden, there can also be quite particularly the thought of a burden that he has laid upon his followers. He has indeed laid it upon them to carry human burdens lightly, but then in addition a light burden that is specifically for the Christians. What is this? Let us first ask this question: Of all burdens, which is the heaviest? Certainly the consciousness of sin; that is beyond dispute. But the one who takes away the consciousness of sin and gives the consciousness of forgiveness instead—he indeed takes away the heavy burden and give the light one in its place. But why a burden, even if it is called light? Yes, if someone will not understand that forgiveness is also a burden that must be carried, even though a light burden, he is taking forgiveness in vain. Forgiveness is not to be earned—it is not that heavy; but neither is it to be taken in vain and it is not that light either. Forgiveness is not to be paid for—it is not that costly and it cannot be paid for; but neither is it to be taken away as nothing; it is bought at too high a price for that. Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong 1993, p. 246

    Is it more desperate to despair over the truth than not to dare to face the truth! Everyone who secretly houses that gloomy thought about God is in despair. In the spiritual sense, one can see it in him, as it were, because in relation to God he is not like someone who drops his eyes in the consciousness of his guilt and of what he owes God, nor is he like someone who humbly lifts his trusting gaze to God—no, he glowers. Truly, it would be better to dispel the gloom than to glower, to shudder at the thought of this horror that actually belongs to paganism, the horror that God was unable or unwilling to give a person bold confidence. A false god can neither reduce a person to nothing nor make him perceive the nothing that he is—for that the false god is too weak. Neither can a false god give a person bold confidence—he is not strong enough for that. This is why we can say that the false god himself taught the pagan to glower. Even the wisest pagan who has ever lived, however much wiser he otherwise was then the lowliest believer, still has, in comparison with him, a gloominess in his inner being, because when all is said and done the pagan could never be eternally sure and clear whether the fault lay with him or whether it might in a rare case lie with God, whether hopelessness was not a state in which a person can be without guilt because the god himself bears the guilt by leaving him without a task. One can excuse the pagan only by saying that this is so because his god himself is gloomy. But the Christian’s God is clarity. Therefore every human being is without excuse and without any excuse. Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong 1993, p. 277–280

    James Collins, from Saint Louis University, wrote the following about Kierkegaard's Gospel of Suffering in 1953. "Find a point which is under fire by an atheist of the nineteenth century and which is also defended by a seventeenth century man of faith and you have found an incontrovertibly religious belief. Such is the case with suffering, which is a scandal to a Feuerbach and a matter of glory to a Pascal, but to both a distinguishing note of the Christian mode of existence. In the degree that it promotes a meditative inwardness, Christianity makes us aware of God's supreme goodness and our own distance from, and hostility towards, His holiness. A religious sense of one's own sinfulness leads neither to morbid despair nor to rationalization. It issues in a voluntary acceptance of suffering as a way of atoning for sin to God, the just judge, and a way of approaching closer to God the redeemer. In a series of discourses entitled The Gospel of Suffering, Kierkegaard establishes the relation between guilt, suffering, and the triumph of faith, much after the manner of Luther's dialectical treatment of the theme of the sinner as a believer."[30]

    References [ edit ]

    1. ^ Soren Kierkegaard, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong p. 118, 135, 34, 53, 69–70, 140
    2. ^ Soren Kierkegaard, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong pp. 161, 189–191
    3. ^ The Crowd is Untruth
    4. ^ The Point of View by Walter Lowrie 1939, 1962
    5. ^ Soren Kierkegaard, 1847, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong 1993 p. 325–326
    6. ^ Here Kierkegaard wrote

      Just as a person should not seek his peace through another human being and should not build upon sand, so it also holds true that he should not rely on any other person's work to convince him that he’s a sinner, but rather to remind him of his own responsibility before God if he does not discover it by himself—any other understanding is diversion. It is only a jest if I would pass judgment on you, but it is a serious matter if you forget that God will pass the judgment. So what is sought is given. God is near enough, but no one without purity can see God, and sin is impurity, and therefore no one can become aware of God without becoming a sinner. The first is a beckoning word, and the gaze of the soul is toward the heights where the goal is, but other words that provide the beginning are immediately heard, and these are depressing words. And yet this is the way it is for the person who wants to understand sin.... "The doctor and the pastor ask about your health, but eternity makes you responsible for your condition." Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions p. 28 Hong translation, Purity of Heart, Streere 1938 p. 209–210

    7. ^ Works of Love, Hong 1995 p. 184ff
    8. ^ Johann Goethe Introduction to the Propyläen 1798
    9. ^ Either/Or II p. 167 Hong, Fear and Trembling Hong pp. 60–61, Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses, Hong p. 79, Repetition p. 200ff Hong, Concluding Unscientific Postscript, Hong p. 458, 499, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong p. 269ff, 328–329
    10. ^ Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong p. 194
    11. ^ The Glory of Our Common Humanity Swenson translation
    12. ^ Soren Kierkegaard, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong p. 193–198
    13. ^ Soren Kierkegaard, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong p. 206
    14. ^ 2 Corinthians 3:11
    15. ^ Soren Kierkegaard, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong p. 212
    16. ^ Gospel of sufferings from World Cat. The Gospel of Sufferings Amazon
    17. ^ How can you tell when you are confessing Christ and when you are judging others? The Joy of It That Bold Confidence Is Able in Suffering to Take Power from the World and Has the Power to Change Scorn into Honor, Downfall into Victory p. 321-341
    18. ^ Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong 1993 p. 327ff (333–334)
    19. ^ Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, 1847, Hong 1993 p. 318–319
    20. ^ Either/Or
    21. ^ Google Link to Swenson's translation of Works of Love
    22. ^ Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong introduction xii–xiii Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong 1993, 2009
    23. ^ Kierkegaard, the melancholy Dane
    24. ^ Steere, Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing, intro p. 13
    25. ^ Doors Into Life Harper and Brothers p. 119ff
    26. ^ Eduard Geismar, Lectures on the Religious thought of Soren Kierkegaard, 1936 p. 59ff
    27. ^ First Things
    28. ^ Appropriating the Paradox Karl Dusza
    29. ^ Soren Kierkegaard, 1847 Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong pp. 240–242
    30. ^ James Collins, The Mind of Kierkegaard Princeton University Press 1953, 1983P. 221

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