Sunday, July 26, 2015

Kierkegaard a Prophet f or the Times—Sadly So

We finished our Sunday school class today on Kierkegaard. The class was taught by a son of one of our members, a young man of 24 who grew up in this church. I will be honest and say that his personal opinions, like the writings of Kierkegaard himself, appear opaque at best. There was not a lot of discussion as I think the most in the class had never heard of Kierkegaard.  But as we finished he did seem to support the ideal that Kierkegaard has the answer that this generation is looking for . . . however, I beg to differ.  I did voice my opinion in the class.

Kierkegaard came of age just as the philosophical dystopia of post-rationality begin to emerge.  Descartes and Hegal suns were setting without resolution of the big questions.  The ground was fertile for a new approach to the answers and Kierkegaard answered that call.  As I have pointed out before, it wasn’t that reason was at fault, but the Aristotelian perfect reason, based on pure empiricism, was at fault an impotent of finding truth. 

Søren Kierkegaard

So now, two hundred years later, the pendulum has reached it further most point from the center, or so we hope.  We live in an age of un-reason. By disengaging in reason, many of the paradoxes of life’s big questions are resolved. This is why eastern religions are so attractive to this age.

So, coming back to Kierkegaard, he really promoted the idea that the existence or the state of being is where faith is realized and it must be disengaged from the finite mind . . . or reason.  It is based in experience and experience alone in other words. 

In his book Frygt og Bæven (Fear and Trembling) he tries to paint the ideal faith, the faith of Abraham, as being played out on the stage of the absurd (sacrificing Isaac, which God was commanding to do, but doing so would be in direct violation of what God said not to do . . . murder).  He tries to make the point that this is how faith or true Christianity must be played out . . . without reason in the bizarre.  My point today in class was that Abraham was acting rationally because he knew God and had walked with God and trusted Him completely, even on a human level may not make sense.

This faith of Kierkegaard is very attractive to this age because it solves so many complexities, 1) The Christian story and the 13 billion year old universe, 2) The seeking of justice and respect for the gay community in the face of hard words in the New Testament that suggest that behavior is sin, 3) The evidence of evolution with the story of Eden and I could on and on. But when you disengage the mind you can find a faith that brings peace. But the peace that faith brings is not the peace of humanity, but the absence of conflict within a question.

On the flip side of Kierkegaardian faith, is that is has no substance.  What does the Kierkegaardian Christian have to say to the Muslim? To the Buddhist? To the pedophile for that matter?  Nothing.  For, those in the different view of life can make the same claim of certainty as the Christian if that certainty is based on the experience of existence within the cloud of the absurd. 

We need to understand that reason is a God-given attribute.  But like love and justice, it is all broken and incomplete but not obsolete. 

Once again not time for proof-reading.  Mike

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