Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bicentennial Kierkegaard

The two words go together awkwardly.  Who after all seems less suited to the hoopla and hype of a bicentennial celebration?  And yet I feel I should somehow commemorate the two hundredth anniverary of Soren Kierkegaard's birth.

I have read him, on and off, since high school.  Who can really understand him?  I was first interested in him because he was widely credited as the father of existentialism--whatever that was.  What he himself would have thought of being the founder of any "-ism" doesn't take much imagination.

His difficult, idiosyncratic wrestling with faith and despair, anxiety and original sin, subjectivity and judgment, will keep him always "in print"--but never popular.  If I could, I would address him this way, following his own address to Abraham in Fear and Trembling:

 Venerable Father Kierkegaard!  You paid tribute to Abraham proclaiming how, through faith, he gave up Isaac to God, and never lost him.  You yourself gave up your Regina, and lost her for good, and yet your faith, though you disclaimed it, and reduced it to infinite resignation, kept you on a path that most of us could only hope to follow.  We who still vainly imagine we can go beyond faith see your life and work, and shudder, but are built up as well, aspiring, with you, to be worthy of the name of Christian.

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