Skepticism arises from our desire to know without the self being transformed. Ironically skepticism is but the result of our anxious desire to secure certainty by being “at home in the world.”Harvey. Skepticism, Relativism, and Religious Knowledge
As my prayer become more attentive and inwardKierkegaard
I had less and less to say.
I finally became completely silent.
I started to listen
– which is even further removed from speaking.
I first thought that praying entailed speaking.
I then learnt that praying is hearing,
not merely being silent.
This is how it is.
To pray does not mean to listen to oneself speaking,
Prayer involves becoming silent,
And being silent,
And waiting until God is heard.
I have been reading Fear and Trembling more. I am surprised (pleasantly) by the repeating of the phrase “paradox of faith” by SK. Ultimately for SK the issue is a question of right ordered relationship. Maybe in Augustinian terms, order love vs disordered love? For SK, the single individual stands before God alone without appeal to the universal (morality). The single individual’s relationship with God is absolute – there is nothing above it, nothing that defines it in terms of action.
So here is a quote:
The paradox of faith then is this, that the single individual is higher than the universal, that the single individual, to recall a now rather rare theological distinction, determines his relation to the universal by his relation to the absolute, not his relation to the absolute by his relation to the universal.Fear and Trembling
Not by doing the right thing does one become a follower of Jesus but a follower of Jesus does the right thing. And that is the paradox of faith – to live in the tension of absolute relationship.
One of the books I often return to reading is SK’s Fear and Trembling. The first time I read it, like most of SK’s writings, it was confusing and seemed very repetitive. But on reflection, I think it has some great insights – also like most of SK’s writings.
One I have been thinking about is the Knight of Faith – especially the relationship between the Knight of Faith and the knight of infinite resignation. Or, to put it differently, the “double movement” of faith of surrender followed by “receiving”.
Many people get to Lent and wonder what they should “give up”. Few ask, “what should I open myself to receive?”
I have been thinking about that double movement in the context of religious life – a life of faith. People see the singleness, the “enclosure”, and the rules. “I could not give all that up”, many people think. What they do not see is the ”me”, the space, and the freedom that is received. And the person who returns into the world in Jesus’ secret service.
Anyway, enjoy the comic strip!
Thus the position of the monastic recluse had developed into a far more socially symbolic and responsible one: on the one hand he was now locked up within a cell deep within the monastery itself in order to concentrate wholly on God; on the other, the local community had access to that cell in order to receive his advice, counselling and accumulated wisdom.
It reminds me of the Kierkegaard quote:
Of this there is no doubt, our age and Protestantism in general may need the monastery again, or wish it were there. The “monastery” is an essential dialectical element in Christianity. We therefore need it out there like a navigation buoy at sea in order to see where we are, even though I myself would not enter it. But if there really is true Christianity in every generation, there must also be individuals who have this need . . .
In antiquity as well as in the Middle Ages there was an awareness of this longing for solitude and a respect for what [solitude] means; whereas in the constant sociality of our day we shrink from solitude to the point (what a capital epigram!) that no use for it is known other than as a punishment for criminals. But since it is a crime in our day to have spirit, it is indeed quite in order to classify such people, lovers of solitude, with criminals.Kierkegaard
I was reminded of the above quote from Sickness unto Death. The analogue that SK draws is really interesting. And, maybe, even more true today.
I am just a criminal who needs to be locked up for loving Jesus. And that is my understanding of heaven – Jesus and me alone!
… the terms of salvation differ for every individual, ever single solitary human being. There is a general proclamation of Christianity, but far as the conditions of salvation are concerned every single individual must relate to God as a single individual.Journals 1854
Teach me, oh God, not to torture myself and not to make a martyr of myself in suffocating introspection, but to take deep and wholesome breaths of faith!Kierkegaard
I have had a couple of times in the last week or so that I have felt like the Kierkegaard comic above.
This, then, is the ultimate paradox of thought: to want to discover something that thought itself cannot think.Kierkegaard
Augustine speaks about thinking about forgetting. We live with this paradox everyday.