HOME     Library     CONTENTS: Journals & Papers of Søren Kierkegaard
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XI1  -   XI1 A  -   XI2 A  -   XI3 B

 

13

Just a Word about Prof. R. Nielsen's Books after 1848
Lest my silence be misinterpreted as consent, just a word: from my standpoint I not only cannot give approval but must categorically take exception to Prof. Nielsen's books. Indeed, although I have had various experiences as an author which cannot rightly be called pleasant, still Prof. Nielsen's conduct is the only thing that has distressed me, even deeply distressed me. — This, then, to prevent if possible the misinterpretation of my silence as approval. Incidentally, it will readily be seen that this implies no judgment whatsoever on Prof. Nielsen's books from any other standpoint whatsoever.

Why I must categorically take exception to Prof. Nielsen's books. why Prof. Nielsen's conduct has distressed me, even deeply distressed me, I shall not elaborate. Space does not permit. Moreover, very few have the background that would enable them to understand me regarding this matter. The one best qualified is Prof. Nielsen himself, and this I have repeatedly said to him privately and may do it again.

I can, however, explain briefly why I have been silent until now. In the first place I was always personally prompted to wait and see if the "next book" would be such that from my standpoint I might be able to approve of it. In the second place, Prof. Nielsen is a man of such knowledge and talents that he bears waiting for a while. In the third place, I knew that Prof. N. had enthusiastically spent time studying my writings, by which, linguistically and stylistically, he is as if possessed. In the fourth place, Prof. Nielsen's conduct had brought him unpleasantness from a quite different quarter, and therefore I was unwilling (especially as long as the actual leader of the coterie, the old bishop, was still living) to express my judgment when it could not be positive. In the fifth place, on my own account I had to give careful consideration to this step since my own experiences had taught me that to a large extent I would get the blame for it in the city where I live, where I, laughed to scorn — eyes up! — have had the honor to serve Christianity.

15

My Relationship to Bishop Mynster in the Shortest Possible Resume

March, 1854                                S. Kierkegaard

Lest at some time I come to stand in a much too curious light, from a Christian point of view, in the verdict of history because of my characterisation of Bishop M., it probably is quite in order for me to give an explanation, something I owe both to Christianity and the circumstances and to my own striving, which in its Christian intent is related to Bishop Mynster's proclamation of Christianity. Now that he is dead, I can do this. It was my desire, for me a very special desire, to hold it in abeyance as long as he lived — I thank Governance that it was granted. Only I know how difficult it was for me toward the end, how close I nevertheless was to having to deny the fulfillment of my wish.

What led me to take the position I took to Bishop M. was in part something purely personal and in part a Christian concern, and that is why I refrained from saying what I Christianly thought of his proclamation of Christianity, with only one exception and then guardedly and very briefly.

When one considers that Bishop M. reached seventy-eight years of age, one must wonder very much how it came about that this man's proclamation of Christianity never was the object of any attack. Whether it ought to have happened earlier I leave open, but in any case from the very beginning I was, if I may put it this way, his natural opposition.

But I did not express this. On the contrary, I gave expression to something else. When I had completed the esthetic part of my writing, when on the largest possible scale I had made room for Bishop M. (in a postscript to Concluding Postscript, made room for him as the one and only in Denmark, I went to him. I said: I am in complete disagreement with you, as much as is possible. To tackle the matter in that way was personally very satisfying to me. My thinking was: Privately I will tell him how much I am in disagreement with him — I owe that to the truth — but outwardly he is not to be diminished by an attack; on the contrary, he is to be elevated even above his actual worth, for he is a representation of which much must be made.

Bishop Mynster answered: You are the complement to me.

I will not dwell on whether it is not really a strange division that the one, rewarded with all the worldly goods and advantages, takes Christianity in such a way that it provides every possible enjoyment, and that the other, certainly more intensely engaged than any pastor in Denmark, rewarded with ingratitude, even contemned, on his own account must proclaim Christianity, and then the first one does not even put in a word for the second but limits himself to saying it privately to him in his living room. This I will not dwell upon any further. I did not ask to have it otherwise. It was completely satisfying to me; it satisfied my melancholy disposition; it satisfied my devotion to the old man, my late father's pastor; it satisfied my esthetic admiration for all the exceptional qualities in Sjælland's much admired Bishop.

But there is another difficulty involved in this matter of a complement. If it were the case that Mynster's proclamation of Christianity was truly related to a complement, then, whether or not this complement was present, it must, so to speak, have been manifest that it was related to a complement. But such was not the case. On the contrary, Bishop M. had, as they say of a sketcher, rounded off, finalised, his proclamation of Christianity; it was Christianity lock, stock, and barrel, capped and crowned, the true Christianity. — Only when someone comes along who in profound veneration completely disagrees with him — only then does Bishop M. have his eyes opened and says: It is the complement to me. This is dubious.

And there is something else dubious about this idea of the complement. If my activity is really a complement to his proclamation, then this certainly must be mentioned officially. It is not good enough to say: Officially Bishop Mynster's proclamation of Christianity is true Christianity; privately Magister Kierkegaard is its complement. I do not say this on my own behalf; I require no change. To me it is good just as it is. It satisfies me personally, and whatever Christian motive I may have had could not have anything against it.

Time went on; I was quite satisfied providing the complement.

But it cannot have been long before Bishop M. became wary and said to himself: Despite all this man's honest devotion to me, there is something almost fatal about this complement; at times it seems as if it all must end with the complement's overrunning my proclamation and rendering it false. As far as I am concerned that was not my aim at all, and if it happens I am innocent. If it happens, it has to be the result of the dubiousness of privately having a complement which one does not have officially — otherwise it can never happen.

Time passed, and now we are in the year 1848. It was a catastrophe. In a catastrophe like that, the Christianity Bishop Mynster's proclamation represents is utterly untenable. If in the opposition there is one single man of character, then everything is lost — here I am looking at it from Mynster's side — because what Bishop Mynster represents is not Christianity. From a Christian point of view it is a toning down, a blurring, which can be harmonised with Christianity only by means of a confession. Up to a point Bishop M. has surely seen this, but he probably has thought: There is not one single man of character in the opposition — ergo, we do not need to do anything at all.

That was not my view. I believed Christianly this was not allowed, that Christianity is indeed the truth, and consequently one does not dare avail himself of the accidental circumstance that at the moment there is not a man of character in the opposition. No, one must perceive what truth there may or could be in the opposition and then make an admission. I was perhaps as much in disagreement with Bishop Mynster on how the established could be defended as I was in agreement with him that it had to be defended as vigorously as possible. I believed it should be defended Christianly; he perhaps thought: I will manage with my secular sagacity.

I then turned my attention to the official proclamation of Christianity locally, to Bishop M., to see if he intended to do anything. No, Bishop M. stays put (good-natured journalists have — what cruel satire! — portrayed this as admirable); while the old world to which he belongs is falling, he stays put, "he fits".

Well, then the complement must do its best. Here lies one of my books, called Practice in Christianity. This is from a time of catastrophe such as 1848 and thereafter, with an official proclamation of Christianity resembling the Mynsterian proclamation, the only possible defense for the established. It defends it by making a confession to Christianity, not by concealing or covering up.

Before sending the book into the world, I had tried out of Christian concern to influence the old gentleman in various ways, somewhat like this: "You are an old man now, Bishop M. You have enjoyed life as very few people have done; in all human probability you have only a few years to live — then dedicate these last ones to the service of Christianity — put all your dignity, use all the oratorical power you have, come before the people, but do not address your words to the listeners, no, turn to God in heaven (dare to use your own self [changed from: dare to accuse yourself] and then say: The confusion of these times has taught me that I have been too mild in proclaiming Christianity; I have toned it down. I do not owe it to you listeners to say this, but I owe it to you, O God! Do that, do it, and you will see the enormous effect it will have. Do it; you cannot ever rule as long as you have not made this confession to God. But do it — and then take up the reins."

So I sent the book out. It is a defense of the established, not by concealing and covering up, please note, but by making a confession to Christianity. Properly understood, Christianly understood, this was the only possible defense for the established as well as the most fatal blow to the opposition. However much I wanted to, I did not dare directly advise or ask Bishop M. to declare himself in favor of the book, for then I would have fallen out of my character, because, although it is true that I have provided the complement, it is also true that if there is falsehood in the Mynsterian proclamation, I must become the judge or the very work I am doing must make it manifest.

Bishop M. proved unable to make a decision, to dare boldly to declare himself in favor of this view.

Now then, being incapable of that, there was only one thing left for him to do if he was to continue to be of significance — he could rise up in all his strength and turn against the complement, curse this book to hell as an appalling abomination, "a profane playing with the sacred" — in his drawing room one no doubt would have detected symptoms of something like this. As far as I was concerned, I was prepared; I had wished it for Mynster's sake if he would not accept the complement. But I was forced to say to myself: M. is too old and too overtaxed by his work for that.

Since he could not decide either to go along with the complement or to cast his weight against it, the complement naturally began to harrass him. In the inconsequential meaning of the word he became passionate — alas, perhaps I, even though well-meaning, was responsible for that! In a word of thanks for the article against Rudelbach, he wrote a line in which he, even though with his customary caution, lined me up together with Goldschmidt.

If anyone were to ask me if I gave Bishop M. up from that moment on, I would answer, "Yes," and thereupon would answer, "No, I almost began to hope, but in a new way; when a man has flared up passionately, he sometimes — if not goaded further — becomes conciliatory afterward, is moved — this was indeed possible." In any case Bishop M. is so important that if he can be brought to make this confession — that what he has represented is not Christianity but a toning down — then for Christianity this is the most desirable turn possible in Denmark, because Bishop M. is a representation that carries a country. That is why he must not be diminished (so he does not become less as a representation), must not be attacked (for this makes it impossible for him to be representative); that is why there must be a waiting period, to the end if possible, which also completely satisfies my devotedness to him.

But he dies without this confession; hence in the interest of Christianity this proclamation must be protested as quickly as possible — and moreover I also owe it to myself — so that we do not remain stuck in it, do not get a flat continuation of it which may even make the Mynsterian proclamation the true proclamation, the true Christianity. For even if it were admitted ten times and, if you please, ever so honestly, that there was a pious fraud on Bishop M.'s part to tone down and blur Christianity this way for the very purpose of winning men to it, and even if every minute of his life Bishop M. had been inwardly willing to make the confession to God — something I could never doubt — if such a proclamation of Christianity is to be Christianly tenable in any way, it must in one way or another end with making the confession also to men. This must — Christianly — be required. Christianly it makes no difference at all whether his proclamation was artistically peerless, first rate, his "presence creatively evocative, his language unparalleled."

 

If Bishop M. could have been prevailed upon, what could not have been achieved, what an awakening! And also how beautifully it could have been achieved, how solemnly, with what an elevating effect, without any commotion, which now perhaps can hardly be avoided, although it still may be only a misunderstanding. And how gently, how peacefully, how reconcilingly, whereas now there perhaps must be a battle and only God knows how violent. How many tears could have been spared which now perhaps will flow even though in secret; how many a sign could have been prevented, how many a cry of terror which now perhaps will be heard even though against the will of the anxious. It is possible, even though everything may come only through a misunderstanding, but now it is possible. Is it so hard when a man has gotten to be seventy years old, when a man has enjoyed life and all its advantages on such a scale as Bishop M. but still must have had occasional misgivings about whether all this squared with proclaiming Christianity and with his kind of Christian proclamation, is it so hard then in the seventieth year or the seventy-second or the seventy-sixth or the day before one dies to make a confession to Christianity — can it be so hard? It must be, since even the man to whom I steadily remain attached in melancholy admiration and devotion could not bring himself to it. But if it can be that hard, then I can scarcely envision how hard is that which those glorious ones consummated, who with a whole life before them proclaimed Christianity, the foolishness of the Gospel, in self-renunciation, twenty, thirty, forty years, perhaps, in self-renunciation, and who were rewarded with hatred, curses, mistreatment, and a martyr's death.

28

You who are dead, while you lived you had enough who bowed before you — in order to attain something; I attained nothing, yet no one bowed more deeply before you. — — God be praised it could last as long as you lived. You knew it; I never concealed it from you. Thank you for the love and sympathy you have shown by kindly being willing to understand it. Forgive me if I almost plagued you by repeating continually (something I did not forget to say while you were living) that what occupied me chiefly (for despite my admiration I am in complete disagreement with Your Grace) was the memory of a late citizen of the city whom you also recalled in print long after his death, that old gentleman who listened to you, your grateful reader, my father!

You who are dead, at your grave there has now been sufficient trumpeting. And as you once jestingly (and who could forget your jesting, no more than once could forget everything else that was soundly and truly remarkable about you), once as you jestingly said to me, "There must be a little trumpeting," so presumably must it be as you said — but is it not true that a little truth must also be heard, a little truth — and without trumpets.

49

Church Leadership (Mynster - Martensen) and Christianity
The late Bishop Mynster, everyone must concede, was a master at creating optical illusions, and what he used and excelled in was principally: dignity, exclusiveness, artistic performances, esthetic bravura, etc. By drawing his contemporaries' attention to and fixing their attention upon these qualities that Christianly are completely irrelevant he was thoroughly successful in diverting attention from what Christianly is more important or, more correctly, is the real issue: that Christianity simply does not exist at all.

Prof. Martensen became his successor, a change, a change so discernible that anyone who has glanced at just the little that has happened will promptly be able to see the change, the new direction, we are now going to have in — optical illusion. Bishop Martensen seems to have understood correctly that what Bishop Mynster used can no longer be used, and this is altogether true. For one thing the repetition of an optical illusion is always extremely dubious, and for another the late Bishop was such a master of his own style that even if Bishop Martensen, the late Bishop's not so deft righthand man, were a good deal more deft in all these aspects than he is, it would still be very risky to have such a reminder as the criterion.

So Bishop Martensen has chosen something new. What he has chosen — and entirely up-to-date — is optical illusion along the lines of what could be called journalistic officiousness, journalistic self-importance and hustle and bustle. Now comes a pastoral letter, now a communication to the pastors, now one to the deans, now one to the parish clerks, now one to the congregational council, all printed, all calculated to interest an esteemed and estimably cultured public, to convince this esteemed public of what a busy church leadership we have, how it is keeping an eye on orthodoxy in our country, how it is doing everything to satisfy the demands of the times — for the big thing is to create official commotion, that there is something official on the move all the time, that there is always something to be discussed, something to do. [In margin: somewhat as the French government, when fearing a catastrophe, plans its own diversionary émeute.]

Thus by continually and resourcefully manufacturing new disturbances (incitements) that perpetually draw his contemporaries' attention to what Christianly is completely immaterial, Bishop Martensen perhaps will succeed in drawing all attention away from what Christianly is more important or, more correctly, is the real issue: that Christianity does not exist at all.

And when Bishop Martensen is dead, the same thing will happen to him as happened to Bishop Mynster: there will be one, a possible successor, who will step into the pulpit and in the strongest terms will represent Bishop Martensen as a witness to the truth, one of the authentic witnesses to the truth, a link in the holy chain of witnesses to the truth that stretches from the days of the apostles through the ages — that is what Martensen did with Mynster. And then perhaps this eulogiser will become Martensen's successor (just as Martensen became Mynster's successor) — and by means of a new version of optical illusion will lead his contemporaries' attention entirely away from what Christianly is the more important or, more correctly, is the real issue: Christianity does not exist at all.

Perhaps it must go this way, for who indeed is capable of halting Bishop Martensen's momentum, which actually began at the "interment", that is, with Bishop Martensen's discourse "the Sunday before Bishop Mynster's interment," in which everyone with a nose for such things promptly smelled a rat.

53

(Who I am and) What I Want
Now that the old Bishop is dead, removing that consideration together with much else that made me keep indefinite (who I really am) what I want, I now can and must and will speak as directly as possible.

I understand it as my very particular task assigned by Governance, for which I was selected very early and was educated very slowly, and which I now for the first time fully embrace, having always understood also that it really would be about the same as having to be a sacrifice — I understand it as my task to undertake a complete auditing of all the Christian concepts, to extricate the Christian concepts from the illusions in which we have entangled them, and in so doing work toward an awakening [in margin: which is urgently needed in Denmark, since more than a generation of artistically perfect and secularly sagacious, skillful proclamation of Christianity has hexed us into a kind of esthetic spell] with all the power the Almighty has granted me and with the willingness to suffer which he may have loved forth in my soul both by severity and by gentleness.

But first of all I consider it my responsibility to the established — thus manifesting how I acknowledge an established as an authority — to express my view and opinion of the established as definitely and candidly as possible, thereby in every way enabling the established, if it regards this as justified, to take measures against me with the power and authority it has. [In margin: therefore after making every effort over the years to keep from being at the head of a party etc., taking care only to be a solitary (which, after all, is in harmony with my having in the highest sense this very special task)]

My opinion is: compared with the situation when Luther put in his appearance, what at first glance seems to be horrible, that there were ninety-five theses, on closer inspection seems to be an alleviation — for now there is but one thesis: Christianity, the Christianity of the New Testament, does not exist at all.

In Protestantism, especially in Denmark, the point has been reached of having the very opposite of what the New Testament understands to be Christianity.

The official "proclamation" (taking the word in its double meaning) here in this country, if placed alongside the New Testament, is, in my opinion, a perhaps well-meant attempt to make a fool of God — if one does not avoid this by confessing that it is not the Christianity of the N. T., and in that case the whole proclamation of Christianity used today must be done over completely; everything must not be done to maintain, perhaps with good intentions, the appearance that what we have is the Christianity of the N. T., but, just the reverse, everything must be done to get us to see how in truth we do relate to the Christianity of the N. T.

Of course, I consider it a guilt to take part in an official divine worship of that kind, and the kind of guilt that is the last to be forgiven in eternity, because it is high treason. Therefore I do not take part any longer in the official divine worship and have not done so for some time.

Now it is up to the established to act.

If I am not disturbed [in margin: if I am not perhaps prosecuted, arrested, perhaps even executed], I will begin my task along the lines of stripping the costumes and disguises of illusions from the Christian ideas and concepts [changed from: auditing the Christian ideas and concepts, stripping them of the disguises of illusions].

I will also work toward an awakening, and the power I will use (as I am led to understand by Governance) is — yes, people will be amazed, but so it is — it is laughter. Governance will no doubt find it appropriate. The situation in the Church is not that the clergy are sunken in dissoluteness and wild debauchery, by no means; no, it is sunken in inanity, in trivial philistinism, and they drag the parishioners down into this flat mediocrity and absence of spirit. Here only one power can be used — the power of laughter. But, please note, divinely dedicated, as it is when I make use of it — and this, you see, is why it pleased Governance that I, idolized by profane grinning mockery, should voluntarily expose myself to become — if you please — a martyr to grinning mockery, in this way consecrated and dedicated by the highest approval of divine governance to becoming a vexing "gadfly", a quickening whip on all this spiritlessness, which in secularised mediocrity has blabbered Christianity down into something meaningless, into being spiritless impotence, suffocated in illusion.

54

My Program:*

Either/Or
by
S. Kierkegaard

55


Addition to previous:
It is laughter which must be used — therefore the line in the last diapsalm in Either/Or.

But the laughter must first of all be divinely consecrated and devoutly dedicated. This was done on the greatest possible scale. Socrates.

An example. From an essentially Christian point of view, Mynster was comical — like someone about to run a race who then puts on three coats — intending to proclaim him who was mocked and spit upon, to proclaim renunciation and self-denial — and then pompously appearing in silk and velvet and in possession of all earthly advantages and goods. But on the other hand, the comic of this sort is Christianly something to weep over, for it is something to weep over that this has been regarded as earnestness and wisdom.

And this is how the comic must be used. The laughter must not prevail; it must not end with laughter, either — no, it is merely a power which is to throw some light on the trumpery and the illusions so that I might succeed, if possible, "to influence by means of the ideals."

56

*
Addition to My Program:
Either/Or! We must examine the implications of the Christian requirement, that whole side of Christianity which is suppressed these days.

We must examine this, and then we must — either/or — either our lives must express the requirement and we are then justified to call ourselves Christian, or, if our lives express something quite different, we must give up being called Christian, we must be satisfied with being an approximation of what it is to be a Christian, etc.

The latter is my aim (at least for the time being). But there must be truth in this whole affair — this shirking and suppressing and concealing and blurring must go — divine worship must not be: making a fool of God.

57

*
Addition to My Program:
..... So let it be said (the article against Prof. Martensen on Bishop M. was "the occasion"); it should and must be said yet again!

It can by no means be denied that the whole official proclamation of Christianity here in this country, when one regards what is said as well as what the teacher's (the pastor's) life expresses, is completely different from what is found in the N. T. It can by no means be denied that the whole official proclamation — to take just one aspect — as a matter of course suppresses and omits a whole side of Christianity, of which the pastor's life is not a reminder, either — namely, dying to the world, voluntary renunciation, crucifying the flesh, suffering for the doctrine. How can we accept this, is not public worship — in which every Sunday a book called God's Word is brought out, on which the sermon is based, as they say, and to which appeal is made — is not the public worship changed into mockery when this Word of God is treated in such an arbitrary way that one leaves out what is inconvenient, while — and is this not again mockery! — the teacher is committed by a sacred oath to the N. T., is ordained to it, which then presumably means that the Holy Spirit is imparted to him in a special way — how can we accept this?

What I have repeated again and again should be kept in mind: "I am without authority, am only a poet, an average man." I do not claim to be better than others, only that I am not bound by a pledge to the New Testament and am not an ordained man, either. No, in no way do I pretend to be better than others, but I do want it made known that this is the way we carry on — I want some truth here and want it said honestly, loudly, and clearly. But I do not pretend to be better than others. Therefore what the old Bishop once said to me is not true — namely, that I spoke as if the others were going to hell. No, if I can be said to speak at all of going to hell then I say something like this: If the others are going to hell, then I am going along with them. But I do not believe that; on the contrary, I believe that we will all be saved, I, too, and this awakens my deepest wonder.

But, to repeat, clarity must be brought into this matter, we must have it said — this shirking is abominable. We must — to take just one aspect of it — bring forward again that whole side of Christianity in order to see things in the context of the Christian requirement, see whether one can be a Christian without complying with it. But not this scurvy business of suppressing it.

Bishop M. died at the right time. God be praised that things could go on as long as the old Bishop lived.

He had actually placed Christianity under the determinants: both-and, or also, both the temporal and the eternal, the eternal and also the temporal. [In margin: This is what his life expressed, and it is life, after all, that preaches; what the mouth says is not enough, especially when one never uses the mouth to make the confession, "My life expresses something entirely different."] In order to be examined, Christianity must be brought under the determinant: either/or.

I am without authority, only a poet — but oddly enough around here, even on the street, I go by the name "Either/Or."

The illuminating light is "either/or". Under this illuminating light there must be an examination of the doctrine of the imitation of Christ, the doctrine of grace (whether it can give indulgence for the future, scale down the requirement for the future, or only forgive the past), the doctrine of the Church, whether a relaxed Christianity, established Christianity, is not Judaism.

[In penciled parentheses: O, Luther, you had ninety-five theses; in our present situation there is only one thesis: Christianity does not exist at all.]

Some suggestions by way of a few questions. Can one be a Christian at all without being a disciple, can one also be a teacher of Christianity, committed by a sacred oath to the New Testament and ordained, without being a disciple — can this be done? Can one change Christianity, which in the New Testament, especially in the gospels, is sheer commitment (and this is the conception the early Church had, for that reason even delaying baptism until the deathbed), can Christianity be transformed to pure and simple gift, donation, present, "Be so kind as to take this" — if this can be done, can one in this way be a Christian? Can Christianity, which in the New Testament, especially in the gospels, is about how God wants to be loved, wants to be loved by us, can it be changed around simply and solely about how God loves us and be changed to give total protection against being obliged to love God, which undeniably may strike us men as very inconvenient, even to make it presumptuous to want to love God — can one change Christianity in this way and be a Christian? — Can Christianity, which came into the world to strengthen and inspire men morally, be changed in such a way that it demoralises them with the help of "grace" — can one be a Christian in that manner? Is it all right to take away the possibility of offense which is present in everything essentially Christian, because Christianity realises that to make men eternally happy it has to make them temporally unhappy (and precisely here is the possibility of offense), is it all right to take away this possibility of offense and encourage men to enjoy this life — is it all right to be this kind of Christian? Is it all right to take from Judaism the promises for this life, which it had because it had no eternal salvation to point to, and to take from Christianity the promises of eternity, which it has because it demands renunciation of this life, and mix these together so it gets to be really bonbon (twice as sweet) — is it all right to call this Christianity and be a Christian in this way. Christianly speaking, can this and this, etc., etc., be done? And if by virtue of "grace" it can be done, must not one thing at least be demanded, that we realise clearly what we have done and how heavily we are drawing upon "grace"?

It must not be forgotten that "I am without authority, only a poet," yes, "only a poet who wishes, if possible, to influence by means of the ideals."

But it was precisely the ideals which the old Bishop with his considerable sagacity — a dangerous power, far more dangerous than riches, which nevertheless are supposed to be so dangerous that it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God — it was precisely the ideals which the old Bishop with his considerable sagacity was in the process of abolishing, although he still had sufficient truth in him, I am sure, to be willing to confess that he was not a witness to the truth. Professor Martensen "goes further" — that is to be expected of Prof. M. — he goes further in abolishing ideals and from the pulpit proclaims Bishop M. to be a witness to the truth, one of the authentic witnesses to the truth. Just as in housekeeping sterling silver has been discontinued and silver plate is used — it was not thus in the old days, when one either had silver and it was sterling silver or one did not have it at all, but one did not have something that was supposed to be silver — so now the secular mentality and ambitious enterprise aim to abolish the ideals and introduce plated ideals, thus we get both-and, one gets all the earthly advantages and is also a witness to the truth, one of the authentic witnesses to the truth.

93

"Mrs. Burmann"
S. Kierkegaard

In De Uadskillelige there is a conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Burmann which frequently comes to my mind these days.

The topic of their discussion is engagements. Mrs. B. has just said that the importance of an engagement is that the lovers learn to know each other. "But," says Mr. B., "If in learning to know each other the lovers learn that they are unsuited to each other, must they then break the engagement?" "Heavens, no!" "Well, but then they may as well get married right away." "Heavens, no!"

*         *

If, with all the variance of my point of view, I had wanted to attack Bishop Mynster openly while he lived, Mrs. Burmann would have said: "Heavens, to attack an old man, to embitter an old man's last days!" "All right, let me wait patiently until he is dead. But when in addition an injudicious friend with his conception of Bishop Mynster later turns his whole life into a falsehood, in fact, a shocking falsehood, which in my opinion was not the case while Mynster lived and is not the case if the claim of his being a witness to the truth is omitted, must I not then make a Christian protest?" "Heavens, no! To attack a dead man — that is terrible."

There is nothing more to say about this than: This is nonsense of this this is Mrs. Burmann speaking.

Even when the most earnest cause is to be introduced into this world (of sin and, possibly even more correctly, of nonsense), it is impossible to prevent the greatest power in society, "nonsense," from usurping it immediately and, thousand-tongued as it is, even wanting to transform its opinion into earnestness. It is impossible to prevent its usurpation of the cause — the most that can be done is, if possible, to prevent nonsense from becoming victorious to the extent that it becomes earnestness.

120

Why I Used This Newspaper

April 8, 1855
Luther declares in one of his sermons that preaching actually should not be done inside of churches. He says this in a sermon which as a matter of fact was delivered inside a church. So it was nothing more than talk; he did not carry it out in earnest. But certainly preaching should not be done inside of churches. It is extremely damaging for Christianity and represents a changing (a modifying) of Christianity by placing it at an artistic distance from actuality instead of letting it be heard right in the middle of actuality — and precisely for the sake of conflict (collision), for all this talk about quiet and quiet places and quiet hours as the proper element for the essentially Christian is upside down.

Therefore preaching should not be done in churches but on the street, right in the middle of life, the actuality of ordinary, weekday life.

Our age might not be ready for this and perhaps must first be prepared for it, but in any case I cannot do it for the simple reason that I lack the physical strength. My assignment is to speak with individuals, to converse, and then to use the pen.

Still I did want to achieve an approximation of preaching in the streets or of placing Christianity, thinking about Christianity, right into the middle of life's actuality and in conflict with its variants, and to that end I decided to use this newspaper. It is a political paper, has completely different interests, concerns itself with a great variety of subjects — but not with Christianity.

Having these little articles printed in this daily paper got them a hearing in a medium quite different from what they deal with; the result corresponds somewhat to listening to a sermon about Christianity on the street. I could not accomplish this effect with a specialised organ.

Another advantage was that I could communicate my thoughts in small doses. If I used a specialised organ, I would have to give considerably more at a time, with the result that it would be read in a different way, sometimes perhaps with greater concentration, but never with the stimulation experienced when, unprepared, one unexpectedly encounters the essentially Christian.

Furthermore, I managed in a simple way to maintain an independence, free from the possibility of becoming a party etc. (something most men surely regard as a great misfortune, the very last thing to be desired, but which I view differently). In a daily paper utterly unassociated with me and my cause, I live, if you please, as a tenant. It does not take sides with me in any way; in fact it accepts articles, even anonymous articles, against me (which I told the editor I did not object to, although I would not like to see the opposite). Thus I also succeeded in using the daily press without contradicting my own views of the press. Part of my objection to the daily press is its being used in such a way as to become a sensate power itself, also to its being used anonymously.

*         *

I gladly apologise to the readers of this paper, who may have very little or no interest at all in what so greatly concerns me, for taking up with my articles space that otherwise available for what would be of quite different interest to them.

April 8, 1855

128

*Articles in Fædrelandet
from Dec. 18, 1854 to May 26, 1855
by
S. Kierkegaard
Reitzel's Publishing House

129

*
Addition to previous:
Contents

  1. Was Bishop Mynster a "Witness to the Truth," One of "the Authentic Witnesses" — Is This the Truth?
  2. There the Matter Rests.
  3. A Challenge to Me from Pastor Paludan-Müller.
  4. The Point at Issue with Bishop Martensen; Christianly a Crucial Issue for the Hitherto Dubious (Regarded from the Point of View of Christianity) Established Church.
    (Feuilleton)
    Two New Witnesses to the Truth.
  5. At Bishop Mynster's Death.
  6. Is This Christian Divine Worship or Is It Making a Fool of God?
             [A Question of Conscience (to Relieve My Conscience)]
  7. What Must Be Done
    — by Me or by Someone Else.
  8. The Religious Situation
  9. A Thesis
    — Only a Single One
  10. "Salt"
    Because "Christendom" Is the Decay of Christianity;
    "A Christian World" Is Apostasy from Christianity.
  11. What Do I Want?
  12. On the Occasion of an Anonymous Proposal to Me in No. 79 of This Paper.
  13. Would It Be Best Now "to Stop Ringing the Fire Alarm"?
    (Feuilleton)
    Christianity with a Royal License
              and
    Christianity without a Royal License.
  14. What a Cruel Punishment!
  15. A Result
    (Feuilleton)
    A Monologue. N.B.
  16. Concerning a Fatuous Pomposity toward Me and the Conception of Christianity I am Calling Attention to.
  17. Concerning the New Printing of Practice in Christianity
  18. That Bishop Martensen's Silence Is (1) Christianly Indefensible, (2) Ridiculous, (3) Stupid-Shrewd, (4) in More than One Respect Contemptible.

    [In margin:
    To Mr. Schou, typesetter
    N.B. This article is not on the first page but in the feuilleton, columns 4 and 5.]

131
Perhaps you will be so kind as to undertake the publication of a separate edition of my articles in Fædrelandet, which are enclosed.

They are to be printed verbatim.[*] Each article is to have an initial page and number of its own; only in case of a serialised article is the text to be printed directly following the lead article, but with a division line and in smaller type and also with "feuilleton" printed with very small type in parentheses under its title.

In addition, under the number of each article Fædrelandet, No. — d. — 18— is to be printed in very small type. For example:

No. I
(Fædrelandet, No. 295, Dec. 18, 1854)
Was Bishop Mynster a "Witness to the Truth," One of
"the Authentic Witnesses to the Truth"— Is This True?
in February, 1854.

Another example:

No. XV
(Fædrelandet, No. —, date, year)
A Conclusion
——————
A Monologue
(Feuilleton)

"Feuilleton" is to be set in small type

132

[*]
In margin of previous:
But of course my name which is under each title is to be omitted.

291:4
If a person were permitted to distinguish among Biblical texts, I could call this text [James 1:17-21] my first love, to which one generally ("always") returns at some time: and I could call this text my only love — to which one returns again and again and again and "always."

August, 1855
[James 1:17-21]

 

 

 

 


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