Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Kierkegaard Quotes

Soren Kierkegaard remains one of my all time favorite writers and Christian thinkers. The problem is that he's a hard read. Kierkegaard's writings are dense and written in a way that is hard to grasp. There is an art to reading Kierkegaard, a skill one has to develop over time. It is much like surfing. Once you learn how to ride the wave of Kierkegaard's heart and mind you realize the immensity of what he is driving at and the real beauty at the heart of his philosophy.

Kierkegaard, like Dostoevsky and Miguel De Unamuno, has the potential to devastate a soul in the best way. He almost forces you to fall down in repentance before God and to reach out in such a state that you know God is truly your only hope. I probably would not be a Christian today if it were not for Kierkegaard's THE SICKNESS UNTO DEATH. It remains one of the best reflections of all time on the nature of sin and the need of the soul for God.

Another of his books that I've been thinking a lot about is THE PURITY OF THE HEART IS TO WILL ONE THING. That is an extended meditation on the sin of double-mindedness and on the power of will to connect one to God. I used to use quotes from it in meditation and I think I'm going to cycle that practice back through. Below are a few choice quotes from some of his books that have served me well:

'So let us, then, speak about this sentence: “Purity of heart is to will one thing” as we base our meditation on the Apostle James' words in his Epistle, Chapter 4, verse 8: 
“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts you double-minded.” 
For only the pure in heart can see God, and therefore, draw near to him; and only by God's drawing near to them can they maintain this purity. And he who in truth wills only one thing can will only the Good, and he who only wills one thing when he wills the Good can only will the Good in truth.'

'It is only by a painful route that this way leads to the Good, namely, when the wanderer turns around and goes back. For as the Good is only a single thing, so all ways lead to the Good, even the false ones: when the repentant one follows the same way back. O you the unfathomable trust-worthiness of the Good! Wherever a man may be in the world, whichever road he travels, when he wills one thing, he is on a road that leads him to you! Here such a far-flung enumeration would only work harm. Instead of wasting many moments on naming the vast multitude of goals or squandering life's costly years in personal experiments upon them, can the talk do as life ought to do - with a commendable brevity stick to the point? '

“The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss - an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. - is sure to be noticed.”
Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death 

“That God lets himself be born and becomes a human being, is no idle whim, something that occurs to him so as to have something to do, perhaps to put a stop to the boredom that has brashly been said to be bound up with being God-it is not to have an adventure. No, the fact that God does this is the seriousness of existence. And the seriousness in this seriousness is, in turn, that each shall have an opinion about it.”
Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death 

   “I am convinced that God is love, this thought has for me a primitive lyrical validity. When it is present to me, I am unspeakably blissful, when it is absent, I long for it more vehemently than does the lover for his object.”
Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling

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