[Kierkegaardian] Re: Attack and Celibacy
- --- In email@example.com, "Mark Tindall" <mbtin@t...>
> It would seem to me that there are plenty in the realm ofChristendom but
> perhaps Soren also has a narrow view of Christian.Mark,
> Is 'Attack on Christendom' available on line in English anywhere?
Kierjegaard certainly had a very narrow view of Christendom. I
believe he considered it that portion of Christianity which had
compromised with the world. I found the following excerpt
from "Attack" which expresses some of his differences. I was rather
surprised to note his similarities with Leo Tolstoy and Tolstoyanism.
For example the emphasis on non-resistance and the recommendation of
the very un-Lutheran state of celibacy. Remember, Luther was the
fellow who got the nuns, monks and priests to break their vows of
celibacy. But, as SK rightly suggests, the preference for celibacy
was Scriptural. Jesus, John the Baptist, even St Paul, were all
celibates. Paul recommended celibacy as the highest state:
1 Corinthians 7
8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them
if they abide even as I.
9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to
marry than to burn.
He was merely backing up Jesus' command:
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's
womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and
there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom
of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
I would suggest that SK got his opinion of sex from Scripture rather
than any Puritan influence.
Here is the excerpt from "Attack" I promised:
Excerpt from Attack Upon "Christendom" (1854-1855)
[Translation by Walter Lowrie, as excerpted in Robert Bretall, ed., A
Kierkegaard Anthology (New York: Modern Library, 1946), pp. 455-458.]
True worship of God consists quite simply in doing God's will.
But this sort of worship was never to man's taste. That which in all
generations men have been busied about, that in which theological
learning originated, becomes many, many disciplines, widens out to
interminable prolixity, that upon which and for which thousands of
priests and professors live, that which is the content of history
of "Christendom," by the study of which those who are becoming
priests and professors are educated, is the contrivance of another
sort of divine worship, which consists in--having one's own will, but
doing it in such a way that the name of God, the invocation of God,
is brought into conjunction with it, whereby man thinks he is assured
against being ungodly--whereas, alas, precisely this is the most
aggravated sort of ungodliness.
An example. A man is incilined to want to support himself by killing
people. Now he sees from God's Word that this is not permissible,
that God's will is, "Thou shalt not kill." "All right," thinks
he, "but that sort of worship doesn't suit me, neither would I be an
ungodly man." What does he do then? He gets hold of a priest who in
God's name blesses the dagger. Yes, that's something different.
In God's Word, the single state is recommended. "But," says
man, "that sort of worship doesn't suit me, and I am certainly not an
ungodly man, either. Such an important step as marraige [which, be it
noted, God advises against, and that that not taking this "important
step" is the important thing] I surely ought not to take without
assuring myself of God's blessing. [Bravo!] That is what this man of
God, the priest, is for; he blesses this important step [the
importance of which consists in not doing it], and so it is well
pleasing to God"--and I have my will, and my will becomes worship,
and the priest has his will, he has ten dollars, not earned in the
humble way of brushing people's clothes or serving beer or brandy at
the bar; no, he was employed in God's ervice, and to earn ten dollars
in that way is--divine worship. (Bravissimo!)
What an abyss of nonsense and abomination! When something is
displeasing to God, does it become well pleasing by the fact that (to
make bad worse) a priest takes part who (to make bad worse) gets ten
dollars for declaring that it is well pleasing to God?
Let us stick to the subject of the wedding. In his Word God
recommends the single state. Now there is a couple who wants to get
arrried. This couple, of course, since they call themselves
Christians, ought to know well what Christianity is--but let that
pass. The lovers apply to--the priest; and the priest is bound by an
oath upon the New Testament which recommends the single state. If
then he is not a liar and a perjurer who in the basest manner earns
paltry dollars, he must act as follows. At the most he can say to
them with human sympathy for this human thing of being in love, "My
little children, I am the last man to whom you should apply; to apply
to me in such a contingency is as if one were to apply to the chief
of police to inquire how one should comport oneself when stealing. My
duty is to employ every means to restrain you. At the utmost I can
say with the Apostle (for they are not the words of the Master), yes,
if it comes to that, and you have not continency, then get
together, 'it is better to marry than to burn.' And I know very well
that you will shudder inwardly when I talk thus about what you think
the most beautiful thing in life; but I must do my duty. And for this
reason I said that I am the last man to whom you should apply." . . .
Christianly one must say that precisely the fact that the priest
takes part is the worst thing in the whole affair. If you want to
marry, week rather to be married by a blacksmith; then it might
perhaps (if one may speak thus) escape God's notice; but when a
priest takes par it cannot possible escape God's notice. . . .
What every religion in which there is any truth aims at, and what
Christianity aims at decisively, is a total transformation in a man,
to wrest from him through renunciation and self-denial all that, and
precisely that, to which he immediately clings, in which he
immediately has his life. This sort of religion, as "man" understands
it, is not what he wants. The upshot therefore is that from
generation to generation there lives--how equivocal!--a highly
respected class in the community, the priests. Their métier is to
invert the whole situation, so that what likes becomes religion, on
the condition, h owever, of invoking God's name and paying something
definite to the priests. The rest of the community, when one examines
the case more closely, are seen to be egotistically interested in
upholding the estimation in which the priests are held--for otherwise
the falsification cannot succeed.
To become a Christian in the New Testament sense is such a radical
change that, humanly speaking, one must say that it is the heaviest
trial to a family that one its members becomes a Christian. For in
such a Christian the God-relationship becomes so predominant that he
is not "lost" in the ordinary sense of the word; no, in a far deeper
sense than dying he is lost to everything that is called family. It
is of this Christ constantly speaks, both with reference to himself
when he says that to be his disciple is to be his mother, brother,
sister, that in no other sense has he a mother, a brother, a sister;
and also when he speaks continually about the collision of hating
father and mother, one's own child, etc. To become a Christian in the
New Testament sense is to loosen (in the sense in which the dentist
speaks of loosening the tooth from the gums), to loosen the
individual out of the cohesion to which he clings with the passion of
immediacy, and which clings to him with the same passion.
This sort of Christianity was never--no more now, precisely no more
than in the year 30--to man's taste, but was distasteful to him in
his inmost heart, mortally distasteful. Therefore the upshot is that
from generation to generation there lives a highly respected class in
the community whose métier is to transform Christianity into the
The Christianity of the priests, by the aid of religion (which, alas,
is used precisely to bring about the opposite), is directed to
cemeting families more and more egotistically together, and to
arranging family festivities, beautiful, splendid family festivities,
e.g. infant baptism and confirmation, which festivities, compared for
example with excursions in the Deer Park and other family frolics,
have a peculiar enchantment for the fact that they are "also"
"Woe unto you," says Christ to the "lawyers" (the interpreters of
Scripture), "for ye took away the key of knowledge, ye entered not in
yourselves [i.e. into the kingdom of heven, cf. Matthew 23:13], and
them that were entering in ye hindered." (Luke 11:52.)
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Mark Tindall" <mbtin@t...>
> cielo wrote:varying
> I find him very difficult to understand in some books and open to
> interpretations. His indirect communication is sometimes totallyobscure.
Mark and Cielo,
I would recommend SK's Diaries and his "Upbuilding Discourses" for
his straight opinions. Anything he wrote under a pseudonym cannot be
considered to be his own opinion. He wrote thos works in an effort
to, in effect, trick his audience into Christianity.
- --- In email@example.com, cielo <annacoelum@y...> wrote:
>existentialism. i think unconsciously he didnt know he was setting a
> also something remarkable about him..he's the forerunner of
trend already. and a lot followed. he is a theist existentialist and
his thoughts are what also gave way to the non-theistic ones... i am
so absorbed with his melancholy... man why did he really broke that
I believe he broke that engagement for two reasons. First, he
thought that scripturally speaking, celibacy was the higher state:
1 Corinthians 7
8Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to
stay unmarried, as I am. 9But if they cannot control themselves, they
should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
Secondly he saw suffering as a crucial aspect of the Christian life:
Now if we are children, then we are heirsheirs of God and coheirs
with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we
may also share in his glory.
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Will Brown <wilbro99@y...>"
> Hi Ron, I have found my way back and am ready to do theKierkegaardian
> again. I'll look through the last few posts and add a comment or so.Welcome back Willy!