I have not written in quite some time. Life moves pretty quickly sometimes and it gives little room for reflection. So I am hoping to use this a little to reflect on life. And to reflect on what I am reading. I know Kierkegaard would hate my use of “reflect”! What I mean is to subjectively explore what the meaning for me is of what I read. The force is for me and for me alone.
So here is a quote from SK I read in a book on Carthusians at Parkminster:
“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…”
Christianity needs individuals who stand against the crowd. And if this standing against the crowd involves some form of monasticism – some form of separateness for Jesus – than Christianity has need for this. I want to think about that more!
Heavenly Father, whose beloved Son Jesus Christ felt sorrow and Dread in the Garden of Gethsemane: help us to remember that, even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death and desolation, thou art ever with us; that, encouraged by the writings of Soren Kierkegaard and others, we may believe where we have not seen, trust where we cannot test, and so come at last to the eternal joy which thou hast prepared for us, through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.
Now forget this light talk about art. Alas, in regard to things spiritual, the foolishness of many is this, that they in the secular sense look upon the speaker as an actor, and the listeners as theatergoers who are to pass judgment upon the artist. But the speaker is not the actor — not in the remotest sense. No, the speaker is the prompter. There are no mere theatergoers present, for each listener will be looking into his own heart. The stage is eternity, and the listener, if he is the true listener (and if he is not, he is at fault) stands before God during the talk. The prompter whispers to the actor what he is to say, but the actor’s repetition of it is the main concern — is the solemn charm of the art. The speaker whispers the word to the listeners. But the main concern is earnestness: that the listeners by themselves, with themselves, and to themselves, in the silence before God, may speak with the help of this address.
The address is not given for the speaker’s sake, in order that men may praise or blame him. The listener’s repetition of it is what is aimed at. If the speaker has the responsibility for what he whispers, then the listener has an equally great responsibility not to fall short in his task. In the theater, the play is staged before an audience who are called theatergoers; but at the devotional address, God himself is present. In the most earnest sense, God is the critical theatergoer, who looks on to see how the lines are spoken and how they are listened to: hence here the customary audience is wanting. The speaker is then the prompter, and the listener stands openly before God. The listener, if I may say so, is the actor, who in all truth acts before God.
Chapter 12: What Then Must I Do? The Listener’s Role in a Devotional Address
I had a dream last night that I was listening to Kierkegaard preaching in Trinity, Copenhagen. He preached part of a discourse I had recently read. And this is the line he spoke over and over:
I have come to no conclusions but that this really what this Lent is all about. When we are stripped of everything, even the liturgical meeting together, what then? Do you love Jesus more than all of that? When it comes to the very essence of Christianity – do I love my sin more than I love Jesus?
And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.