[In margin: R. Nielsen]
With the thought of death as imminent and feeling it my duty to initiate, if possible, another person into the cause I have the honor to represent so that he could represent it in the same character, I drew him to me after he himself had made overtures. I did not permit myself the slightest direct influence on his writing, regarding it as my duty to have it happen, if it was supposed to happen, by unfolding independently in him; but I put a great store of communication at his disposal.
My hope is disappointed — I say no more, add no adverb to describe the extent of it; no adverb would be satisfactory.
One who could understand me — imagine what it means to me to keep myself inactive in this way, only tensely expectant with regard to him, keeping it up a year and a half or two years, and with such an intensive life as mine, time and time again disappointed by every one of his performances, disappointed, and yet feeling obligated to hope, since I had approached the matter religiously.
Imagine what I have suffered! But perhaps it is not his fault at all but mine because I had such a hope, alas, perhaps my fault because I was responsible for permitting the kind of ideas appropriate only to my personality with its character to take another direction.
The criterion established is perhaps far, far too high. In private conversation he was well able to understand and understand, understand that what he had done was wrong, that the right thing would have been this — and then he still did the wrong thing again, or even used the observation as a productive ingredient.
To repeat, perhaps the criterion has been far, far too high. That is the trouble. As soon as I judge by this criterion, it seems to be an enormous injustice to him.
If I take the criterion away, I will have no more difficulty with him than with Stilling, who certainly has never complained of injustice. But the point is that I never invested in Stilling this way. But Nielsen certainly ought to understand this fairly well. But I perhaps did to him an injustice in what I said to him last time.
. . . . .I believed that it was part of self-renunciation to keep silent about what good, humanly speaking, I have done, and God has helped me to do so.
But my life will call out after my death. And what is a living person who uses these few moments to talk compared to one dead who continues to call out. Of every living person it is certain that his talking must come to an end — but as soon as one dead (instead of observing custom and keeping silent) begins this strange business of calling out, how is his mouth to be stopped?
It is so true, so true — what Denmark needs is a dead man.
That very instant I will have been victorious as few men have ever been. That very instant all that about my thin legs and my trousers and my nickname "Søren" will be forgotten — no, it will not be forgotten, it will be understood in a quite different way and will give considerable impetus to the cause. That very instant the envy will be quieted. That same instant those who are to witness for me will speak a language different from the present one, for then no self-denial will be necessary. Then even my most trivial utterance will gain significance and access — whereas now the immense achievement is pushed aside so that insult and envy can get at me.
Only the voice of one who has died can penetrate the moral disintegration which prevails in Denmark — a dead man whose whole life was a study directed toward preparing this situation — the possibility of speaking about one who is dead.
I wrote N. a note (so that in no way I would be the one who had done him an injustice, even the slightest). We talked together Wednesday, April 30. I told him that I wanted a freer relationship.
To hope is my element, especially when it has a touch of implausibility. I hope for him. It is still possible that he will finish properly even though he began in a wrong way. Would that he had never written the big book. His conduct after what happened between us, the way he has behaved for a year — O, that forced me to keep a detective's eye on him, something so alien to me, something I never desired, even though I always have this penetrating eye but never use it. Yes, if the relationship were such that the problem was whether to do something very contrived and that he perhaps was not sufficiently ingenious — O, something like that does not prompt me to use this penetrating eye. But the nub was that what he should have done was very simple and uncomplicated (something he himself frequently admitted he understood) and that he nevertheless continues to do something contrived instead.
The difficulty, the danger for him (which he frequently admits he understood very well and understood it from the beginning), was to slip past me as he steered, as he sought to move ahead and at the same time, using Martensen, sought to win the victory, without my attacking his flank, a battle he did not wish to risk in any way. This accounts for his personal overtures. Now he probably thinks he has achieved this, and I have not stopped him. So he tried to sneak away with a kind of independence without once signalling to me, whom he privately put off by saying that it depended particularly on "the next one." He no doubt believes that he has been successful in this, yes, that I could not ever stop him now, whereas he originally wanted to play the independent who not only had everything I wrote at his disposal but also the wealth of my conversations, completely unknown to others, and finally the incalculable capital, that a contemporaneous life guarantees the teaching, but the contemporaries are unaware of this; he, however, has communications. Little by little, he began wanting to approach closer to the truth and to take me along. But he seems to be continually reluctant to do what he well understands is the simple, uncomplicated, and true thing to do, but postpones it as something he will do in an emergency, while he goes ahead and does something else, even though this something else scarcely becomes any truer. But precisely this was the error. Air was what was needed and to that end a primitively simple, uncomplicated step was needed; instead, he shuts up everything more than ever with his big book, contrived as it is.
But I do not want to do him an injustice; he perhaps means well, but it is so hard to do the simple thing.
And that is why I hope.
Stoicism — and My Life
When I read a Stoic I see correctly how essentially I am related to Christianity. What he says may be absolutely true and frequently is vigorously and expertly expressed — but he does not understand me. With the Stoic everything is pride — there is no place for sadness. He despises all the general run of men, the ignorant rabble; he treats them as children, they do not exist for him. Everything they do means nothing to the wise man; they are unable to offend him; he not only forgives them their offenses but proudly thinks: Little children, you simply cannot offend me.
O, but this is not my life at all. Of course, I can be tempted to use this tactic, arm myself in this way, against the upper class and the elite. That is why their behavior toward me never really distressed me; I revenge myself a bit stoically.
But the common man whom I loved! It was my greatest joy to express some measure of love to the neighbor; when I saw this loathsome condescension toward less important people, I dared say to myself, "I do not live like that." It was my consolation to alleviate this when possible; it was my pleasure, my blessed diversion. My life was made for that. So when I have to bear the derision of the common man it saddens me indescribably. There was in fact hardly anyone around here who loved the common man this way — and now to see him turned against me in hostility. A journalist who tricks the common man out of his money and in return gives him confused concepts is regarded as a benefactor — and the person who sacrificed so much, every advantage of solidarity with the upper class, is represented as an enemy of the common man, as someone to insult.
See, life never takes this form for the Stoic.
At vespers in Frelsers Kirke the other Sunday (it was my birthday) I heard a theological graduate, Clemmensen, preach. It was a simple sermon, but the kind I like.
In his sermon, probably without knowing it, he slipped in a bit of highly poetic beauty; following the Gospel text, he had preached about life as a coming from the Father and a returning to the Father. Then came the usual part about life as a path. After that he quite effectively drew a picture of a father who sends his son into the world. Then he abandoned the metaphor for actuality, and it became our relationship to God. And then he said: And when at last, in the hour of death, the traveler's cloak is discarded and the staff laid down — the child goes in to the father. Superb! I wager that Clemmensen said that quite unwittingly; if he had thought about it he perhaps might even have preferred to say: the soul or the transfigured one or something similar. But no, "the child" — that is superb.
How much I could do to ease my situation!
Is it pride, then, which deters me? To be sure, but there is also something else that restrains me. I realize that the longer I can sweat it out, the deeper I will wound. So it seems as if God wanted to test me. Now if I had contrived or sought relief — and the help came as I needed it, and I had to understand that if I had stuck it out a bit longer I would not have needed to seek relief, and I would have benefited the cause more — I think God might then say: You of little faith, why did you not hold out longer?
The spiritual sufferings in maintaining this tension are terrible, and suppose it is self-torment or pride — but suppose on the other hand that the task is simple to stick it out in complete silence.
When a person is almost afraid of tempting God by venturing essentially Christian actions, it is because he is not sure that the Bible is the word of God and that it appears in the word of God.
Rigorousness — R. Nielsen
My task was the introduce rigorousness. This I have done and have formulated it consistently.
Then Nielsen came along; he wanted to make improvements. He goes ahead and changes it to discussion. Nothing is more foolish and there is no more certain way of losing it. If it is left to men to discuss whether they want leniency or rigorousness, the decision is easily made.
No, rigorousness is introduced either with authority or without authority; but mir nichts and dir nichts, it is above and beyond discussion.
The tragedy is that we have brought Christianity down to our level and imagine that it is up to us to discuss whether or not we want rigorousness, while we go around thinking we still have Christianity if we do not want it so rigorous. But then I surely am mad to want to have it so rigorous. Eulenspiegel never did find the tree he wanted for his hanging (he had bargained for permission to choose the tree himself) — so it is with rigorousness.
Perfect love is to love the one who made you unhappy. No man has the right to demand to be loved in this way.
God can demand it; it is his infinite majesty. It is true of the religious person in the most rigorous sense that in loving God he loves the one who made him, humanly speaking, unhappy in this life — even though blessed.
I do not have the strength to understand it this way. I am also so very afraid that I might get trapped in the most dangerous of all snares — becoming self-righteous. The religious man in the most rigorous sense has, however, vanquished this danger also.
Yes, of course there is a conflict between God and men. And if Christianity is to be introduced in all its truth (something only Scripture succeeded in doing) or be introduced by an apostle, then it sets up a life-and-death enmity.
It is appalling just to think of how the person who actually presents Christianity must die to the world, die to being human in the ordinary sense.
For my part, I feel infinitely far from it. I love being human, do not have the courage to be spirit to that extent. And yet in our setting I probably am one of the most advanced.
Therefore my life manifests at least something of Christianity. It certainly was not my original intention to occupy myself this way with the religious. No, miserable from early times, so miserable that I realized that for me there was no help, no recourse to be found among men, placed outside of human society, assigned to myself, daily reminded of my wretchedness — in the days of youth when the blood was warm and I so wanted to be like the others, in the days of romantic love when the heart beat rapidly and I so wanted to be like the others — I learned to cling to the religious as my only consolation.
Nevertheless I have always presented it in mitigated form, even in relation merely to my own understanding of it; I have presented it mitigated both to spare others and myself.
Without authority, that was my category; on the other hand, I have never declared that love to God is hatred of the world, and the reverse, as Christianity does.
I am not a happy man who by virtue of a spiritual impact has voluntarily decided to become involved with Christianity (and God knows if it actually can be done, if suffering is lacking at first); I am first of all an unhappy man placed outside of the universally human. This is not such a happy thing — and that is why I never dare directly charge others, for it seems that the first thing I have to do is to make them unhappy, and I cannot do that, I who — all the worse, as the rigorous Christian would say — still so love to see others have a purely human joy in life, something for which I have a more than ordinary eye, because I have a poet's eye for it. Moreover, I am a penitent — and again I cannot take it upon myself to compel others to be that, but certainly I am that myself.
In short, I have the prerequisites assumed by Christianity (suffering in a more than ordinary sense and guilt in a more particular sense), and I find my stronghold in Christianity. But authority or direct proclamation is not really in my range, for I cannot, after all, fulfill the prerequisites. I can very well assume a pastoral appointment, for it does not involve the rigorous concept of Christian proclamation; and least of all do I have any place there as a missionary.
A Trait of My Father's Which Deserves To Be Preserved
At lunch one day I overturned a salt-shaker. Passionate as he was and intense as he easily could become, he began to scold so severely that he even said that I was a prodigal and things like that. Then I made an objection, reminding him of an old episode in the family when my sister Nicoline had dropped a very expensive tureen and Father had not said a word but pretended it was nothing at all. He replied: Well, you see, it was such an expensive thing that no scolding was needed; she realized quite well that it was wrong, but precisely when it is a trifle there must be a scolding.
There is something of the greatness of antiquity in this little story. This objectivity which does not scold on the basis of what has been done to the reprimander but purely objectively on the basis of the need for a scolding.
Never have I made the slightest attempt or move to oblige or force anyone else to serve Christianity on the terms I use or to judge anyone for not doing it. On the contrary, I have supported those who proclaimed Christianity on completely different terms, have supported people of esteem, since I discerned the present chaotic insurrection from below.
This has to be maintained, for otherwise I would bear some guilt toward them in this respect.
But now their own guilt is completely exposed, namely, that they not only do not proclaim Christianity themselves on those terms but will not even allow me to do it, but declare me a fanatic, an eccentric, who rightfully is a sacrifice to the rabble.
Anyone who knew something of the situation knew how Fædrelandet winced under the journalism of rabble barbarism, which completely outstripped it.
I acted; Gjødwad stood impatiently at my side and waited for the article in which I demanded that I be abused.
One of two alternatives: either they had to insist that that press should be ignored — and then not even accept my article, even though I had requested it, or (and this was the case) they perceived that their position was so desperate and general conditions so perverse that there had to be some action — and then they would have to support my intervention, which would require merely an acknowledging word.
They did not do it, they betrayed me. At long last they canceled their subscription to The Corsair, as if that were doing something. When in the course of conversations they seemed to be asking me if they should do something (without directly raising the question), I always said: Just do nothing. If there is no more feeling than that for a just cause, I am not one to solicit.
Fædrelandet perhaps bears more guilt toward me than even Goldschmidt. In any case, there is the continuing guilt of not trying to give even a little bit of orientation with one single word on my behalf. To tell me privately that my works are so extraordinary that no one can take it upon himself to review them is, in fact, just a joke. After all, they could say it publicly — and not remain silent while the rabble alone hold forth.
I write this down specifically for the following reason. My day will surely come. Then it will be convenient for Fædrelandet to throw some blame on Heiberg,* and especially on Mynster, for not having spoken up on my behalf — and thus Fædrelandet will undoubtedly pretend to be so innocent. But I do not intend to put up with that.
* Note. He also thanked me privately in the strongest terms for the article against P. L. Møller, and added: I should have done it myself long ago. So privately he talked that way, but publicly he remained silent.
I regard Gjødwad as a personal friend, and in the last three or four years I have spoken with him every evening and, as I knew I would, found him to be a likable man. If he had not been a journalist, he no doubt would have been the one who could have been my closest friend. But the paper Fædrelandet changes things completely. I willingly acknowledge that they were in a difficult position to act at that time, but that was also the real test.
In margin of previous:
The situation prior to my action was this. Officially they tried their best to maintain the view that this rabble barbarism was nothing, something to be ignored. Privately they long ago had mutually agreed that the whole situation was intolerable. Subscriptions to The Corsair increased; subscriptions to the other papers decreased; it was read by the higher and the lower classes and with enormous curiosity; it was a power, sheer tyranny. People looked to each other to do something; they looked to me. So I acted. That is, I changed the method. They knew very well that all by myself I had ten times the polemical power that was necessary. The only trouble was that few understood that it was proper to change the method. For that Fædrelandet should have taken a step, made note of it — otherwise why did it accept the article. But no. They found it most prudent to retreat to the old tactics: that such a paper is nothing, something to be ignored — and let me stand like a semi-lunatic — and this was the country's greatest young luminary, hitherto without a single blot on his name.
There was some truth (as I acknowledged then but for other reasons) in what Goldschmidt told me immediately after the first article came out, thus prior to the beginning of his attack: that he could not understand why I would do so much for Fædrelandet; after all Ploug was not much better than he. He said the same of Gjødwad, but to that I rebutted: Gjødwad is my friend.
But what an indirect concession Goldschmidt made after the publication of the first article when he asked me privately: "Have you read the article; it completely annihilates P. L. Møller." Presumably he secretly wanted to prevent The Corsair's attack, which I of course did not wish to do. And, furthermore, Fædrelandet actually credited me with being the only man able to take on the whole rabble.
And all this is suppressed, while a class of people which has no conception of me and no intimation of the true situation is incited against me.
The supposed humility and modesty
in admitting that one does not call
himself an apostle.
Here again is a confusion which appears with the help of "Christendom", which again has turned all Christian concepts topsy-turvy — that is, has prevented them from being what they were originally: turned around.
One is said to be humble and modest if he says: I do not call myself an apostle. Consequently to call oneself an apostle is pride, conceit. That this can be pride and conceit I do not deny; I desire only to illuminate the relationship a little better.
When one speaks this way, the presupposition is that to be an apostle is a distinction; the humility and modesty lie in not claiming distinction. Fine. But like everything Christian, to be an apostle is not a straightforward distinction but a distinction turned around. Here comes a little N.B. In relationship to all direct distinction or distinguishing, the matter is very simple; if it is true that I make no claims, this is being modest, for a direct distinction is without secondary qualifications a direct earthly benefit. But to be an apostle is sheer earthly suffering. Well, if an apostle could be permitted to live again after his teaching had won out, then it could perhaps be an earthly benefit to be an apostle. But while he was living, calling himself an apostle did not help him on the way to honor, respect, or earthly advantage. Precisely this, that he called himself an apostle, was the signal for his having to suffer more than the other adherents, suffer until death.
This is what it means to be an apostle — something quite different from that later conception, which with the help of an illusion takes the apostle in vain.*
And it must be remembered that in a certain sense there is nothing we are all more equally close to than to being an apostle, simply because here there is no question of the esthetic difference of being a genius, of having talent, etc. Certainly every human being has the right to order his life just as an apostle with regard to poverty, suffering for the truth, etc., except that he does not have the right to appeal to divine authority. But he must not feel embarrassed about the first [being like an apostle], least of all out of modesty; that is, if there is to be any question about true modesty, it must be to confess that one is too weak and sensuous, therefore to bring accusation against oneself; it must not be as when I am too modest to ask to become an ambassador, a demigod artist, knight of all the European orders, etc.
But if this is the case, then to ask to be regarded as modest because one does not call himself an apostle becomes questionable, for this can also be worldly ingenuity and effeminacy.
For the confusing word "apostle" (which has subsequently become secularized and identified with the other distinctions of the world) let us substitute a whole lifetime of being laughed at, mocked, persecuted, poor, jailed, and slain. If someone now says: I am not so immodest as to demand to become "His Excellency," etc. — well, this is quite direct. But let someone say: I am not so immodest as to demand to become poor, impoverished, outcast in the world, laughed at, slain — well, this is not quite as direct; for in each generation it is impossible to find ten persons who have courage for this. Consequently it can also be worldly ingenuity and effeminacy which hold one back but also want the advantage of being regarded as humble. This is questionable.
O, if what Christianity is were only kept clearly in mind! That it is not a doctrine but an existence [Existents], that what is needed is not professors but witnesses [Vidner] — then we would be free of all this self-important scholarliness [Videnskabelighed], these show-offs who are scholars — something Christianity now needs. No, if Christ did not need scholars but was satisfied with fishermen, what is needed now is more fishermen. Precisely because Christ was present, the danger would not have been so great if Christianity had fallen into the hands of scholars.
The error is not the studying, but the error is that the accent continually falls on the wrong place — on penetrating and presenting — thus to do something about it becomes ridiculous, a triviality. A simple man, however, has no distractions. Such a man straightway fastens his gaze upon his life, whether it has any meaning or is completely meaningless. But this simplification with regard to drawing up the account is of utmost importance; for then the accent falls on the right place, on existence [Existentsen].
Upstairs in the house where I am now living on Nørregade there is a lodger who can be called a quiet and orderly lodger — in fact, he is out all day. Unfortunately he keeps a dog that is at home all day. It lies in the open window and takes an interest in everything. If a man goes by and sneezes louder than usual, it immediately barks and can go on barking for a long time. If a coachman drives by and snaps his whip, it barks and another dog starts barking — thus the least incident cannot take place on the street without my getting a second edition of it, thanks to this dog.
About Myself Personally
If I had had no financial assets at all, I believe it would have helped me, for then I would have been compelled to do all I could about my livelihood and would have had no scruples of conscience about being allowed to do so.
But now when I am able to understand how extraordinary much has been entrusted to me and of what benefit I am — it seems to me, since I do in fact still have money — that I ought to stay put. The hard thing about this conflict is that on the one side I fear "grieving the spirit" and, on the other, "tempting God."
The financial crisis of 1848 suddenly saddled me with this whole matter. And now a general property tax is very imminent, which will put me in financial straits. And no one will understand me. Even if I have been prodigal, it nevertheless also had a purely ideal significance for me, simply because I comprehended how much had been entrusted to me. If I had allowed a worldly, commonsensical outlook to rule, I never would have achieved what I have achieved; I would have become a completely different man. Before God I readily confess my improvidence, that before him I am in the wrong here as everywhere. He has it in his power to say to me: "You ought to have been economical." And yet he above all knows what gives another interpretation to the matter from another side. But one can never have anything to do with God in any other way — he always turns out to be right. A person who actually ventures something — after all, it is not determined in advance that he can bear it every moment (that is what it means to venture) — consequently, if the one who ventures becomes afraid, God can say: Yes, you are to blame yourself for that. But on the other hand, one who trust in God rests in the faith that God will surely help him. But one is always in the wrong in relation to God. For if there is success — the credit goes not to me but to the help of God, who at any moment could have let me go; if it does not succeed, the mistake is mine, that I ventured.
Thus it is actually frightful to become involved with God, who cannot and will not provide positive assurance or a contractual relation — and yet it is blessed, blessed to be as nothing in his hands, he who nevertheless eternally is and continues to be love, however things turn out. Only this do I have for sure, this blessed assurance that God is love. Even if I have made a mistake at this or that point: God is still love — this I believe, and he who believes this has not made a mistake. If I have made a mistake, it will surely become clear to me; then I repent — and God is love. He is that; not he was that nor he will be that — O, no, even this future would be too slow for me, he is that. How wonderful. Sometimes, perhaps, there may be a long time of waiting for my repentance and then there is a future — but God does not allow any waiting for him, he is love. Just as the water of a spring has the same coolness summer and winter, unchanged — so is God's love. But just as it sometimes happens that a spring runs dry — no,no — well, how shall I give praise, I have no other cry than the one which refers specifically to him who is the subject here: "God be praised!" — Therefore, no, God be praised, God is not love such as that. His love is a spring, but it never runs dry.
In Denmark I have been offered an enormous fee to write in the papers (when Carstensen had Figaro or Portefeuillen he once offered me 100 rix-dollars a printed sheet for an article against Heiberg) — I have paid out rather much for the publication of one or another of my big books, the fruit of hard work for a year or a year and a half.
From My Life
Just once in my life have I been present at a public general meeting (my very infrequent attendance at a student assembly or an insurance company meeting is something else again), and I was chairman that time.
It was the second general student assembly immediately after Christian VII took the throne.
After a few introductory words about how deeply flattered I felt at being elected, I turned to the business.
This began with and practically consisted of a Levin's (not Israel, but another) requesting and receiving permission to speak. He said: Gentlemen, what is a petition? Here he was interrupted. The uproar lasted for some time; finally I managed to get order and said: Mr. Levin has the floor. The scene was repeated and once again. Mr. Levin gradually worked his way up to the podium and wanted a private discussion with me to explain what he actually meant, probably thinking it was out of a private interest in him that I had made so many attempts to let him be heard.
Then French Bjerring asked for the floor and began like an orator with a question: Is there anyone who ventures to oppose me on this? Here he was stopped by the whole assembly beginning to shout: Yes, yes. The scene lasted a long time.
Then my brother came up to me and asked that the appeal be returned, since that was what really was supposed to be discussed at the meeting; he also asked me to say as he himself said that the appeal would be placed in his apartment for signatures. That, of course, was against all the rules. And to make it complete, I finally got the floor and said: the general assembly is adjourned. This was done instead of discharging the chairman.
Incidentally, strange to say, although a long time had elapsed since this event, the second time I spoke with Christian VIII he indicated that he was informed about this general assembly and that I had presided.
What I have achieved will be admired for a long time; I have had extraordinary capabilities (alas, how I do recognize myself in this past tense which I always use; even when I feel my strongest I say: I have had — this is a composite of melancholy, reflection, and piety, and this compound is my essential nature): with respect to being human, what I lack is the animal-attribute.
People make use of that against me. They feel physically stronger, can take part in everything, something I cannot do — then they regard it as eccentric, affected, ridiculous, proud, and God knows what else that I am not just the same; they take brutish joy in demanding of me what has been denied me and deriding what has been given me. And this is easy to do, since in our limited setting I am such a rarity that I presumably am the only one of my kind, and with whom, therefore, no one feels a bond of affinity.
Even those who have some spirit enviously make use of this. They, too, find it farfetched, eccentric, and ridiculous of me, although, it is by no means ridiculous, whether one looks at the suffering or the product of the suffering. Suffering frightful anguish, frequently to the point of the impotence of death — my spirit at such a time is strong and I forget all that in the world of ideas. But then I am upbraided for only wanting to be a thinker and for not being like other men; they grant me every possible suffering and abuse as well-deserved punishment. O, how false and foolish you are! Give me a body, or if you had given me that when I was twenty years old, I would not have been this way. But you are envious, and this is the suffering the more highly endowed person, spiritually-intellectually, has to suffer in his generation. It is so easy to say of the past: Whatever is going to be immortalized in song must die — but in actual life one prefers to be exempt from this himself — yes, one resents the person whose life bears all the marks of being that kind.
Moreover, it is entirely certain that direct and immediate sufferings at least have the mitigation of not being identified with a person's character. If a person is a cripple, at least no one says it is eccentric, affected, and ridiculous of him to be that. But of course all direct, immediate, identifiable sufferings are also subject to that painfulness called sympathy.
Mynster's Sermons — and I
I was brought up on Mynster's sermons — aber [read aloud] by my father, a simple, unassuming, earnest, and rigorous man to whom it never in the world occurred that one should not imitate what was read.
If I had been brought up by Mynster, I of course would have found out on Monday, Tuesday, etc., the weekdays, that one is not to be a fanatic who goes and promptly imitates in that way.
What a difference! And, alas, what a satire on Mynster I have actually become. This is not perceived; I have kept the reverence for him that I inherited and it no doubt has served me well and kept me from being guilty of exaggeration, which as a matter of fact is totally foreign to my nature, for discretion characterizes the way I operate where another, ein, zwei, drei, would get too excited. Incidentally, this is also a result of my having understood so early and so profoundly that I was an exception.
O, do not believe that what Christ and the apostles have sanctified and made into the highest dignity is beneath your dignity, but strive to understand that it is the ungodly secular dignity, brought into the world by a secularized clergy, which confuses the concepts.
What confounded consequences now that thousands and thousands who understand nothing presume to judge, led by persons who do not understand anything either, since with regard to my cause I actually am the only one with the categories.
They are always twisting my relationship around, explaining my break with rabble barbarism as the result of my being an aristocrat and wanting to show my contempt for men.
What nonsense. It could never occur to an aristocrat to take a step such as that, such conduct is utterly unaristocratic.
I acted precisely because I was conscious of being anything but an aristocrat, conscious that this was what my daily life expressed, conscious that in my sadness and religiousness I at least had been attentive to loving "the neighbor."
Having assumed that I acted as an aristocrat, they expected that I would go on being the aristocrat — that is, travel or withdraw in patrician pride.
Here it comes again: my whole preoccupation is Christianity; and the common man has hardly anyone who loves him more truly.
But this, which is so plainly Christian, has become completely foreign in Christendom! — where we are all Christians.
When a person lives alone the way I do, he resorts all the more to his home, where if anywhere he can feel comfortable.
And what is my home like now! Last summer at the tanner's I suffered inexpressibly from the odors. I dared not risk remaining there another summer, and furthermore it was too expensive. Where I live now, I suffer so intensely from the reflection of the sun in the afternoon that at first I was afraid of going blind.
And now the trouble with Strube. That the man I depended upon as on no one else, the man I inherited from father, knew for twenty years, whom I have regarded as one of these healthy, strong, energetic workers — that of all times just when he is with me he becomes unbalanced, has to go to the hospital, wants to reform the world, and all that. When one himself works intellectually as hard as I do, he desires his surroundings to be just what I imagined I had with Strube. And now all that is involved in taking care of him, the sight of him still suffering, although they have managed to control him fairly well, the concern that it may recur and then, since it is in my house, become a spectacular event which the papers seize upon, while on the other hand I am afraid that if I let him go now it would affect him too powerfully, and God knows he is the same, the most good-natured soul I have known, or one of the most good-natured, and solicitude for me personified, but I did see in the past how vehement he could be and how obstinate.
And now from another quarter. Not long ago (while still living at the tanner's) I came home one day and saw that someone must have been in my desk and in my only chest, the mahogany one. I may have forgotten to lock them when I went out, although that is practically unthinkable, but nevertheless most unpleasant. Such things can make a home unpleasant, even if one has, as I do, the most loyal people around me. It was very unpleasant for me for Ander's sake — Anders, with whom I have been especially happy, for [incomplete]
And when tired out, to come home to all this, often disagreeably disturbed by the brutality to which I am daily exposed — O, to proclaim Christianity in that way is entirely different from being a pastor.
And then not to be able to afford going on writing, for when I write I forget everything.
R. Nielsen — and I
I certainly am no Socrates and Nielsen no Plato, but the relation may still be analogous.
Take Plato, now! Indubitably Plato had a great preponderance of ideas that were his own, but he, in order to keep the point of departure clear, never hesitated to attribute everything to Socrates, he never wearied of what the people perhaps got tired of — that it was always Socrates, Socrates.
But Nielsen took the ideas and concealed where they came from; finally he gave his source but concealed the extent of his borrowing, also that I had gone out of my way to initiate him into my cause.
I have done nothing but have put everything into the hands of Governance.
Imagine a nymph with only a spectral voice, living alongside one of the concessions at the amusement park in Dyrehave, where the shouting and trumpet blasts of the barkers are incessant: that is how I live.
But heard it will be, long after they have become silent, all these sensately powerful fellows in their clerical gowns who sensately satisfy the congregation by getting married seven times and are busy with secular enterprises while they also declaim or shout Christianity once a week.
Actually Christianity is just about abolished. But first of all a poet-heart must break, or a poet must so upset the apple cart that he blocks the way for all illusions.
This is the halting, and in the narrow confines of our little country this is my task.
This poet loves the ideal; he differs from the usual poet to the extent that he is ethically aware that the task is not to poetize the ideal but to be like it. But it is just this that he despairs over; also the pain he must bring upon men when the ideal is to be brought into actuality. But no one is more scrupulous than he with respect to all the illusions he discovers and dispatches on an incredible scale; in fact, it is like an unhappy love affair (and, indeed, his life is an unhappy love affair with the ideal).
Light — To Lighten
Rigorousness lightens decision (as is said: I will lighten your load); decision is lightest out of rigorousness, light as the bird that takes off from the wind-tossed branch, assisted by the rocking.
(This thought is the original draft of the three discourses on "The Lily of the Field and the Bird of the Air," in the opening of the first discourse, I believe, or it may be jotted down some place else, I know not where — so I record it again.)
[In margin: Martensen]
What infinite self-assurance Martensen has! He always talks so broadly about the whole Church, the apostolic age, the dogmatics of the first three centuries, the dogmatics of the Middle Ages, of the Reformation period, of the whole succession of famous Church Fathers — and Christ says: I wonder if faith will be found on earth when I come again.
Such things do not concern Martensen — he is objective.
[In margin: Martensen's Dogmatiske Oplysninger]
In Dogmatiske Oplysninger Martensen complains that Stilling mixes in things with "unwashed hands," and therefore one cannot get involved with him.
From the essentially Christian point of view, this should not be disturbing, because, after all Christ (who, by the way, was no elegant court preacher who continually brings Christianity back to external elegance) himself declares that whether or not one eats with unwashed hands is of no consequence. How natural for Christ to make this appraisal, he who was more concerned with the very opposite, that a Lady MacBeth, for example, can wash her hands from morning until night, use the ocean to wash them — and they still do not get clean, or that Pilate also washed his hands, presumably not to crucify the truth with "unwashed hands." [In margin: for to crucify the truth presumably is of no consequence, the important thing is whether one does it with washed or — horrors! — with unwashed hands.]
What I actually represent is: the roadblock which puts an end to the reflections continuing from generation to generation and posits the essentially Christian qualities. I have assistance which enables me to do this, for very early in life I was "halted" myself by being set outside the universally human in unspeakable sufferings and thrust solely upon the relationship to God.
Although standing in the middle of actuality on a scale unknown to anyone else here at home (for I have more or less reached "actuality"); in another sense I have lived as though in a world of my own.
Of the rightness of my cause and its significance I have never doubted — doubted, no, I am as far as possible from that; I have had but one expression: that I can never thank God sufficiently for what has been granted me, so infinitely much more than I expected or could or dared expect, and I have longed for eternity to thank God unceasingly.
A young girl, my beloved — her name will go down in history with mine — in a way was squandered on me so that in new pain and suffering (alas, it was a religious conflict of an unusual kind) I might become what I became. In a certain sense I, again, was squandered in the cause of Christianity; in a certain sense, for, humanly speaking, I indeed have not been happy — O, but still I can never adequately thank God for the indescribable good he has done for me, so infinitely more than I expected.
Does anyone ask if I feel that something could have happened differently and thus have been better? Foolish question: No. There are some things I feel could have happened differently so that I could have been, humanly speaking, happier — but that it would have been better, no no. And in retrospect I more and more perceive with indescribably blissful amazement how that which happened was the only thing, the only right thing.
The Difference Between My Struggle and Those Earlier
Previously there have been controversies over doctrine, one party would not accept a doctrine etc. This is the struggle between orthodoxy and heterodoxy.
My struggle, much more inward, is about the how of the doctrine. I say that someone can accept the whole doctrine, but in presenting it he destroys it. The contention here is not over the unwillingness of others to have Christianity but their wanting to have it in the wrong way. For example, they want to have the whole of Christianity — but by virtue of reasons — so it is not Christianity. They want to have the whole of Christianity, but by way of speculation — so it is not Christianity. They want to have the whole of Christianity, but as a doctrine. So it is not Christianity.
This struggle is much more inward and is not likely to become popular.
In a devotional writer (Scriver) I read that there is a legend which says that the Virgin Mary had knit this tunic for him when he was a child and that it grew with him as he grew.
Is the Nature of Man, Christianly Understood, a Unity or a Duality?
There is so much talk about this nowadays; and the philosophers naturally know that human nature is unity — and my brother Peter gave a little paper on this at the conference; in short, it is certain, something one can appeal to, as to an axiom, that the nature of man is and must be a unity.
When I last spoke with Bishop Mynster, he touched on the same matter in connection with R. Nielsen, of whom he said, in contrast to Stilling who was criticized merely for tone, "I just cannot understand Nielsen; he seems to want to make a dual-entity of man." To which I answered: Well, now, if it is so, your grace, it is also the teaching of Christianity, the battle in every human being between the natural man and the new man, a battle which must in fact continue throughout life.
Then I developed my conception somewhat like this.
The rule for the relationship between man and humanness is: the more I think about it, the better I understand it. In the relationship between man and God, the rule is: the more I think about the divine, the less I understand it. Two heterogeneous qualities can never become homogeneous through continued self-relating to each other; on the contrary, the difference, the qualitative difference, the heterogeneity becomes more obvious. All true religiousness is therefore in a sense a retrogression, that is, it is not direct progress. As a child I think I am very close to God; the older I become, the more I discover that we are infinitely different, the more deeply I feel the distance, and in casu: the less I understand God, that is, the more obvious it becomes to me how infinitely exalted he is.
Therefore the more proficient I become in thinking, understanding, and comprehending, the more natural it also becomes for me to want to comprehend and comprehend. But take note of this, I comprehend the divine all the less (on the basis of the relationship between the qualities). And every time this occurs, Christianity comes to me, as it were, and says: Will you now abandon me? To this the believer answers: O, no, certainly not: I will believe. This is the potentiation of faith: the less I can comprehend, if I nevertheless believe, the more intensive the faith.
But Christendom is vain; it wants to avoid the Cross, the humiliation of confessing simply and directly that one has his life in what he cannot understand. This is indeed embarrassing for an adult, not least in our speculative age, and the more speculative a person is. And so they substitute profundity and speculation — in order to avoid the Cross.
And Christendom is comfortable — from this comes this tendency toward unity. The Christian categories, valid for the whole of life, are made into something transitory, a thoroughfare. It begins with being incomprehensible, but gradually we smuggle in the natural man's inclination to comprehend and then get unity into its essence — and coziness. For with the coming of this unity, restlessness and striving and fear and trembling, which should obtain for the entire life, go out.
Moreover, that duality belongs to man's nature has prior rootage in this, that God must be an absolute ruler. Consider a domineering person who properly comprehends the pleasure of ruling. I wonder if he is satisfied with ruling directly. No, because in order to enjoy the desire for domination, he establishes a duality in the other person; he transforms himself into the incomprehensible, and precisely by this repulsion he torments the adoration of devotion from the other. In the relationship between man and man this is wickedness. But God cannot do it otherwise. God cannot be the highest superlative of the human: he is qualitatively different. From this at first comes incomprehensibility, which grows with the development of man's understanding — and thereby faith, which believes against understanding, is again potentiated.
Finally, there ought to be Christian unity in the Church; this God wills for the sake of clarity. The pastor ought not say one thing and the professor something else; no, the professor ought to say the same thing but more intensively. When the pastor preaches simply that faith cannot be comprehended, it is not to be assumed that this is a miserable state of affairs and that the professor, on the other hand, comprehends it, presumably so that conceited, cocky men, bold minds, should minimize the pastor and cling to the professor. No, it ought to be thus: if you will not be satisfied with the pastor, then by going to the professor you should arrive at the same thing even more rigorously, for he can comprehend that faith cannot be comprehended; he cannot comprehend anything else, but this he can comprehend with such God-fearing power that he can bring all the stubborn ones who want to comprehend, who want to do business with God on some other basis than that of faith which believes against reason, to their knees.
This makes for tension in life, it is true; but it is also true that it is Christianity. To make man's nature a unity in this life is a drift toward comfortableness, even though one points out a first stage where the duality, the split, was. Christianity has never taught that a human being becomes so perfect in this life that he can repose in such a unity. It is like suffering. Christianly understood, there is no initial stage in which there was suffering, followed by a cessation of suffering already in this life, and a present state of pure happiness. No, Christianly, suffering is the continuing constituent in this life; if suffering disappears, this is not perfection but apostasy from the essentially Christian, corresponding to the kind of security found in the totally secularized man, except that the apostate is even more corrupted.
It is my conviction that rigorous as Christianity is (and I have never understood Christianity in any other way), it is also gentle.
It is not given to everyone nor is it unconditionally required of everyone that he must live, in the strictest sense of the words, in poverty and abasement. But he must be honest; he must admit candidly that such a life is too high for him and then rejoice as a child in the more lenient conditions, since ultimately grace is still the same for all.
But one must not reverse the relationship, become conceited, and say: to embrace secularism is more perfect.
I am just as far from considering myself capable of living as an ascetic int he more rigorous sense as I am from ever having seen a single human being whom I could believe to be capable of such a life. O, this alone, the fact that the most trifling matter becomes something of infinite importance in such a life, that everything, everything, even the most insignificant, comes to be relevant to the question of my eternal happiness — O, this is beyond comprehension.
Quite possibly many an ascetic was spiritually puffed up, but it is not for me to judge, since I have to confess that I cannot even reach what for him was the beginning stage.
Secularism has conquered to such a degree that the category "ascetic" is employed as a refinement for flattering oneself in his sensate enjoyment of life with the feeling that Christianly he is superior to the ascetic.
Let the nation's one thousand clergy reassure us that to live as an ascetic is not the highest, although if it were required they would be quite willing — I confess that whether the ascetic is the highest or not the highest, he stands an entire level higher than where I have my life, and, besides, I certainly do not have the right offhandedly to impute spiritual pride to every ascetic; on the contrary, he runs precisely the additional extreme danger of feeling the proximity of that temptation, which by itself would be enough to keep me from venturing upon such a life, even if — which is not the case at all — I thought myself so detached from flesh and blood that I dared venture it. Furthermore, I confess that if I said: If it is required, then I am completely ready and willing — I confess that if I said this it would be a lie in my throat.
Just as my life scarcely resembles that of an ascetic, so have I not in the remotest way required such a life of any man or judged a single man for not undertaking it — I, who only little by little, according to my capacities, have tried on a small scale to pledge myself, and who in any case, aware of this from the beginning, admit that I am without authority. I have no proposal to make concerning the established order, not the slightest. I think that for the sake of the cause it can continue as it is, except that each one before God should make an admission and force himself to remember it.
In my opinion, what has demoralized Christendom, especially Protestantism, is the fact that the clergy, conformed to secularism in every particular instead of admitting that Christianly this is an indulgence, has reversed the relationship and made this secularity into something Christianly far superior and truer than actual renunciation, then actually living in poverty and abasement. The world has seen through this, and therefore the clergy has no influence.
In this I am wholly in agreement with the world. I find unbearable all this endless drivel and these assurances that if, if — then they would readily give up everything, live unmarried in poverty, etc. This at least is not my situation; I admit that I have neither the powers nor the courage for such a life. This I say directly and then beyond this I praise Christianity with all the capacity given to me.
And yet as an author I have held out as an author proclaiming Christianity on my own, but I have had an inheritance. Among the clergy, as is well known, it is not customary to do something gratis. The custom is: FIRST one seeks a salary (which certainly is not seeking first the kingdom of God) — and then gives assurances that if, etc. I have not the slightest objection to the first part; it is quite in order that one makes sure of a job (in the same sense as I have managed by having a little inheritance). But the next part no one, I believe, has the right to say without doing; otherwise it so easily becomes a lot of boasting, which weakens the impression of Christianity. It is not at all dangerous that we get to know that a clergyman is like the rest of us, a human being, no hero; the danger is that he so conveniently gets a reserved seat, with a number, among the heroes — and is a hero also — if that is required. A person can be something — and perhaps also a lieutenant in the national guard if the country gets into war. But to live on as a plain ordinary man, perhaps almost a philistine or bourgeois, and also to be a hero — if — that won't do. It is meaningless to will also to be the highest, for one must say to such a person: If it is so easy for you, you really ought to be earnest about it.
In margin: If one is superior in this or that, one can offer assurances that if required he is also willing to be inferior in this or that; there is sense in this, for the fact that one is superior guarantees that one can easily be inferior. But when one is inferior, then to offer assurances that if required one is willing to be superior is nonsense, because being inferior is no guarantee, and the other is precisely that quod erat demonstrandum.
Genuine Self-Denial — The Important
Christianly, it is more important that I deny myself in one respect or another, renounce one pleasure or another, than that I, condoning it, bring forth the most perfect masterpiece of pure thought, art, etc., or that I accomplish something most amazing, even if this is beneficial.
This, you see, is genuine Christianity. But my life is not that elevated. I have had a childish delight in many, many pleasures, and have rejoiced and thanked God when they have helped give me new strength to do something that I could consider true and right.
But this thorough-going sobriety, which the rigorously Christian is, is too elevated for me; I can only laud and praise it, this sobriety! Because I and my kind, we are more or less intoxicated by imagination and involuntarily create God somewhat akin to it. Whereas he, the only beatific one, with beatific sobriety, if I dare say so, looks simply and solely at the ethical, and all this business of achievement, getting things done, etc., means nothing at all to him, has no impact on him whatsoever.
How many a man is there who calmly could maintain this so that it convinced him to act accordingly: if, for example, by living in abundance he actually was able to achieve such a masterwork that from generation to generation it would convince thousands of the truth, and would be unable to do so were he not allowed to live in abundance — how many would there be who are so sober as to perceive that the latter is what is important, that it is more important to live impoverished and let all the masterworks go. But so it is before God. But, on the other hand, it would be the ruination of me and, I am sure, most men, if I were to breathe only the pure air of the ethical.
I do not say more; I merely continue to call attention to it and place myself much lower. If only I would not be forced into being perfect, which I am not at all.
In quiet thought I am able to maintain the thoroughgoing sobriety of the ethical, but when it comes to acting on my own I cannot force myself to it. Then I become anxious and afraid of it as of the most dreadful pedantry that would strangle me inhumanly. Yes, it seems to me that God is opposed to my deluding myself into attempting anything so elevated. But I extol it just the same. And one thing is sure, at peace with God, as I always seek to be, I can be serene and childishly happy in the way I live. In a completely childlike way I can say to God as I would say to my father (and this comes so naturally to me): May I have a little free time to enjoy myself? — and then I enjoy myself. At other times it occurs to me that since sobriety is the ethical, it is my obligation, and therefore I am supposed to be able to be like that. So at times I make a strenuous effort — but I am brought practically to despair and must revert to my lower approach. But I continue to insist that the other is the higher, and I determine my life in relation to it by making an admission about myself.
My Concern Over Publishing Writings Already Completed
Although I realize that with almost exaggerated care it takes the direction of a movement of inwardness and never the direction of a pietistic or ascetic awakening, which wants to actualize it externally, I nevertheless constantly fear that communication of this sort somehow obligates me promptly to express it existentially, which is beyond my capability to do, nor is that what I mean. My intention is that it be used to intensify the need for grace; but, even if I were more spiritual than I am, I have an indescribable anxiety about venturing so far out and so high up.
But as long as I am leading the life I now lead, it easily could be misinterpreted, as if I thought I already realize such a thing.
That is why I was thinking first of all getting a pastoral appointment or something like that, to show that I did not make myself out to be better than others.
But that again has its own special difficulties and that is why the time has passed and I have suffered exceedingly.
My Boundary Line
(1) There is a predominant poetic strain in me, and I am not spiritual enough to be able to slay it or ever really to understand (simply because the poetic strain is there) that it is contrary to God's will for me; neither am I spiritual enough to live as an ascetic.
(2) On the other hand I am exceptionally informed as to the nature of Christianity, know how to present it, and in that respect have rare aptitudes.
(3) So, with the help of God, I use these gifts to present it to men so that they at least get an impression, become aware.
(4) Thus I believe there is one thing I still will be empowered to do, to provide a constant reminder: just when I get people to accept it, then to remind them gently, kindly, but in loving truth, that the reason they are now accepting it is simply that I myself am not a true religious on any great scale but something of a poet who has used more lenient means, consequently less authentic means in the highest sense; whereas the authentic religious would be badly treated and persecuted because he used absolutely authentic means, was truly earnest, actualized everything ethically, instead of conceding to himself and to others a somewhat poetic relation to it.
There are so and so many children baptized every year, so and so many confirmed, so many become theological professors; there are a thousand pastors; there are theological professors, bishops, deans, custodians, sub-custodians — everything is as it should be — if only Christianity also existed.
See p. 43 [i.e., X3 A 286].
There is a lot of sly talk in Christendom. It is said that Christianity is the highest and greatest good, but there is silence on how this is to be understood more specifically, that Christianity is the highest good in the sense of the eternal; whereas in the temporal sense it makes a man unhappy. — It is said that the Christian is blessed, but it is not specified in what sense he is blessed, that according to Christianity it is in the sense of the eternal; whereas in the earthly sense he is a tormented man. — It is said that Christianity is healing for suffering, but it is not specified what the sufferings are, that Christianity has in mind the anguish of conscience, fear of judgment, and so on; whereas in return for saving a person from these sufferings Christianity lays upon him earthly sufferings, the sufferings of temporality.
The Deceitfulness of the Human Heart
O, how deceitful is the heart of man, mine as well as others.
An orator steps forth and — as we are accustomed to hear, and in fact I speak the same way — prays: Lord Jesus Christ, draw me completely to yourself.
God in heaven! That the one who suffered soul-anguish all his life and finally ignominious death in order to save everyman: that there should be on his side an hindrance to drawing me to himself with the greatest joy — that would be charging him with an almost insane kind of self-contradiction.
But then do I speak backwards? Ah, that is the deceit of it. It is I who know that to die to the world is so painful that I shrink from it. Instead of self-accusingly saying: Lord Jesus Christ, forgive me for being so far behind — instead of that I speak backwards and pretend that I am willing enough to do it but the trouble lies somewhere else, probably that Christ in his holy sublimity does not have the time or opportunity to help me.
"Strip me of everything that holds me back." But, my Lord and God, what is it then that holds me back? It is just myself; if I had not craftily been in secret collusion with that which holds me back, then it would be assumed eo ipso that Christ would draw me completely to himself, for his only concern is to draw every man to himself.
So once again I speak backwards. Instead of accusing myself and praying for forgiveness because I am so far behind because I allow so many things to hold me back, I pretend that I am willing enough but something else is holding me back. Thus my prayer becomes almost a reprimand to Christ, for if it is really true that I am unconditionally willing but something else is holding me back completely against my will, then it does seem that Christ does not will to be the Savior.
But such is the deceitful human heart: we actually get no farther than desiring, and when our desire is expressed fervently, we believe we are extraordinarily far ahead.
Another Dimension to Being a Christian
What is called humanity today is not purely and simply humanity but a diffused form of the essentially Christian.
Originally the procedure was this: with "the universally human consciousness" as the point of departure, to accept the essentially Christian. Now the procedure is this: from a point of origin which is already a diffused form of the essentially Christian, to become Christian.
Ergo, there is another dimension to being a Christian.
Here, as I have developed in "Armed Neutrality," it is apparent that the procedure turns out to be one of instituting reflection on a full level deeper and more inward, something like the change from to , simply because the task has become enormously greater.
Usually a man begins by first of all seeing how far he may moderately dare get involved with Christianity. If he finds something which does not demand all too much from him, he calls that Christianity and now proclaims Christianity.
The problem of ideality has occupied me first and foremost — what is Christianity; whether I myself might possibly collapse under it has not occupied me.
This interest in pure ideality is the more that I have, and this is why it has been natural and necessary for me to use pseudonyms.
Luther — Mynster
Imagine Mynster as Luther's contemporary. Now say everything remarkable about Mynster that can truthfully be said and a little more. If anyone denies that what I now say about Mynster is true, I will call him a liar: Mynster is an intelligent, circumspect man who shrinks from nothing, nothing, more than he shrinks from scandal. In this respect he has the kind of sensitivity such as one can have to saw-sharpening and the like.
But what is essential Christianity! From first to last it is scandal, the divine scandal (). Every time someone risks scandal of high order there is joy in heaven, for only the divinely chosen instrument achieves a scandal of high order.
What is Luther's greatness? His writings will perhaps be forgotten, even his opposition to the pope (although that was indeed scandal enough) will very likely vanish — but at the peak of the mentality of the middle ages to dare to marry, himself a monk, and with a nun! O, God's chosen instrument! By this act the biggest scandal ever raised in Christendom is reserved for you! First of all comes the introduction of Christianity into the world, when Christ and the apostles proclaimed it: this in itself was the divine scandal. But next, and in Christendom, Luther takes the prize for having raised the biggest scandal.
And now Mynster with his — Christian — dread of even the slightest scandal! And he and others are inspired by Luther! All is vanity, declares the Preacher.
The similarity between his life and mine occurred to me today. Just as he lives over there in Brazil, lost to the world, absorbed in excavating antediluvian fossils, so I live as if outside the world, absorbed in excavating Christian concepts — alas, and yet I am living in Christendom, where Christianity flourishes, stands in luxuriant growth with 1,000 clergymen, and where we are all Christians.
Mynster — Luther
Somewhere in his sermons Luther declares that three things belong to a Christian life: (1) faith, (2) works of love, (3) persecution for this faith and for these works of love.
Take Mynster now. He has reduced faith oriented toward tension and inwardness. He has set legality in the place of works of love. And persecution he has completely abolished.
It is frequently said that if Christ were to come again now he would once more be slain. This is perfectly true; but qualified more precisely, it would have to be added that he would be sentenced to death and slain because what he proclaimed was NOT CHRISTIANITY but a lunatic, wicked, blasphemous, misanthropic exaggeration and caricature of that gentle doctrine, Christianity, the true Christianity, which is found in Christendom and whose founder was Jesus Christ.
with respect to publishing the books about my work as
The statement is: "So in the pseudonymous works there is not a single word by myself; I have no opinion about them except as a third party, no knowledge of their significance except as a reader, not the remotest private relation to them, since it is impossible to have such a relation to a doubly reflected communication. A single word by me personally, in my own name, would be presumptuous self-forgetfulness, which, regarded dialectically, would have been guilty of essentially destroying the pseudonyms with this one word."
Now it could be said that in "The Accounting," for example, there is indeed direct discussion of the pseudonyms, pointing out the principal idea that runs through the whole.
With regard to that, it may be observed both that what I wrote then can be altogether true and what I wrote later just as true, simply because at that time I was not as advanced in my development, still had not come to an understanding of the definitive idea for all my writing, still did not even dare to declare definitely whether or not it would possibly end with my finding something that would thrust me away from Christianity, although I still continued with religious enthusiasm and to the best of my ability to work out the task of presenting what Christianity is. And it may also be noted that I do not discuss the pseudonyms directly in the books about my authorship or identify with them, but merely show their significance as maieutic method. Finally, I must add: This is how I understand the totality now; by no means did I have this overview of the whole from the beginning, no more than I dare say that I immediately perceived that the telos of the pseudonyms was maieutic, since this, too, was like a phase of poetic-emptying in my own life-development.
Martensen — and I
It never crossed my mind that it was supposed to be a conflict over concepts; I knew better where the difficulty lies.
In no way do I conceal the fact that I regard him at present as the much, much stronger one. For it could scarcely cross my mind that besides me there could be found such a fool as I who would enter into the kind of proclamation of Christianity that I represent, however true it is.
Martensen expresses that proclaiming Christianity is the way to make a brilliant career, the way to all secular advantages, the way that certainly leads farther and farther away from the truth, more and more enchantingly, deeper and ever deeper into the flower-strewn, smiling jargon of illusions — and Martensen assures us that what he preaches is Christianity. And the majority are all too eager to believe that this must be true. No wonder that they throng to him in crowds.
But everyone is reluctant to believe that my proclamation of Christianity is the truly Christian one and what I proclaim is Christianity. And I have no enticements, for the enticing is precisely what they miss in my proclamation. Neither do I have anything compelling, since I am without authority. No wonder, then, that I stand alone.
This is the difference between Professor Martensen and me. It never crossed my mind that it was supposed to be a scholarly conflict; in daily suffering and sacrifice I am prevented from forgetting what the battle actually is about.
How the New Pseudonym Anti-Climacus Came Into Being
This is recorded in the journals of that period.
My intention was to set aside what I had written and see about getting an appointment to a seminary in order to work more extensively and slacken up a bit on the intensive work.
It was a soothing thought. But then the counter-thought awakened so strongly (it is all recorded in the journals) that it seemed to me that I had to act.
I wrote to Luno about beginning the printing. The thought of a reconciliation with "her" was joined to the idea of an appointment at the seminary; for if there was to be mitigation for me, there should also be mitigation for her, if she so desired.
Strangely enough, the same day or the day after I wrote to Luno and was informed that he expected the manuscript as soon as possible, I learned that Councillor Olsen was dead. If I had known that before I wrote to Luno, I could have waited longer. But now it seemed that the whole thing would raise a commotion that would suffocate me if I cancelled again and wrote about it again to Luno.
So the printing began, and in the tension of actuality (which I had wanted in order to teach myself to be discerning) it became clear that I ought to introduce a pseudonym.
The Grundtvigian talk about the dead letter he himself has spun into a deadening epigram.
Formerly I took pride in my ability to see everything, that nothing escaped me. Now I take pride in seeing nothing, in being calmly oblivious to all the crudeness and ridicule etc. round about me.
I have been used this way as well. The category which was to be advanced was "the single individual" — and then a life that measured up to it fairly well.
This has been done. But who am I, then? Am I some devil of a fellow who has understood this from the beginning and has had the personal capacity to maintain it in my daily life? Far from it. I have been helped. By what? By a frightful mental depression, a thorn in the flesh. I am a severe melancholic who has the good fortune and the virtuosity to be able to conceal it, and for that I have struggled. But Governance holds me in my depression. Meanwhile I come to a greater and greater understanding of the idea and know indescribable contentment and sheer joy — but always with the aid of the torment which keeps me within bounds.
Thus in a way I have been successful in something Governance perhaps would hardly risk assigning to any other man, almost categorically to express what it means to be the single individual, that he should neither become fanatically arrogant nor ever get trapped in associations. Governance, however, has provided itself with an utterly different explanation — but the achievement is there, the category of the single individual has become visible.
When I had published Concluding Postscript I intended to withdraw and devote myself more to my own relationship to Christianity.
But in the meantime external situations involved my public life in such a way that I existentially discovered the Christian collisions.
This is an essential element in my own education.
In his sermon on "Christian Sagacity" Mynster has an excellent passage on how worldly sagacity hastily engages in declaring that anyone who actually risks something for truth etc. is a fool. Mynster goes on to show how this has always been the case, how this happened not only to Christ and the apostles but to all zealous servants of the truth, how it is still true that worldly sagacity calls them fools —
Alas, it never occurs to Mynster that worldly sagacity certainly has never called him a fool.
God is worshipped not by moods but by action. But this, too, has the problem that it can so easily turn into pettiness and temptation in the form of meritoriousness.
Only the childlike mind or love which wholly loves God can do this rightly.
But I am thinking here particularly of action in the direction of asceticism (for action in the form of witnessing for the truth and against untruth is very simply what one ought to do). For example, a person wants to devote certain days to holy contemplation. He knows of a place, an environment, especially suited to protect this more earnest mood. But this place is remote and it costs a great deal to get there and to stay there. Perhaps it would be true adoration and worship of God to save the money, especially if he is otherwise well advised to do this, and perhaps it is his specific duty to save it, anyway.
Yet it is relevant here that even Christ approves a certain pious prodigality, such as, for example, the lavishing of costly ointment on him. The observation that astringence is corrupting is appropriate here.
The Bible — for the "Single Individual"
Think of two lovers. The lover has written a letter to the beloved. Would it ever occur to the recipient to be concerned about how others will interpret this letter, or will he not read it all alone?
Suppose now that this letter from the lover has the distinctiveness that every human being is the beloved — what then? Is the intention now that they should sit and confer with one another, not to speak of dragging along the scholarly apparatus of countless generations?
No, the intention is that each individual shall read this letter before God solely as an individual, as the single individual who has received this letter by God or from God!
But it was soon forgotten that this letter is from God and entirely forgotten that it is to the single individual. The race has been put in his place. And therefore we have completely lost the impression of the Bible.
As a man is, so is his Christ-image. Mynster could not imagine him except at a certain polite distance from actuality; Martensen could not imagine him doing anything but discoursing, etc.
The Old Approach — and Mine
The old approach was: to be so zealous and busy getting men by droves (if possible, all) to accept Christianity that they forgot or were not so scrupulous about whether what was accepted was Christianity or not.
My approach is: to take the greatest care that clarity be achieved about what Christianity is — even if no one at all, not even I myself, could accept it.
In margin: Concerning the Publication of the Completed Writings
For a long time I believed that I had not long to live; I was convinced, according to what I could understand, that if I died now my life would have great influence because what Denmark needed was a dead man.
I have also delayed in order to give R. Nielsen room to get under way.
But if I am to go on living, there is not a moment to waste and therefore I have sent a manuscript to the printer.
There is no doubt in my mind at all that it probably will turn out as it always does, that the thoughts of Governance are far superior to my thoughts, and that it was right for me not to publish the writings previously.
Infinite love, which I can never sufficiently thank for what has been done for me.
To depict the story of Christ's suffering was a task I once thought of doing; I had already made quite a few preparations with that in view. I do not doubt that in respect to inwardness, imagination, heart-rending and gripping description, it would have become a masterpiece, yes, it would have enthralled as those works of visual art which present Christ.
I would have differed from those artists, however, in that I would still have had enough Christianity to thank God in a childlike way for the permission, like an indulgence, to sit way off here enjoying this life and working on such things.
Ah, but I still would have become a Sophist for all that, even if the saving factor remained — namely, that in all humility I myself understood that I was a Sophist.
Truly, if God does not constrain man, if God does not sit and watch over him, even the most honest of men becomes a Sophist.
At the same time an honest Sophist is not to be scorned. What I say never goes farther than to ask that a person at least confess that being excused from actual imitation or discipleship is an indulgence. More I have never demanded of anyone; I have not once demanded this but only, without authority, called attention to the fact that this is the way it ought to be.
Therefore, if God does not constrain me, I myself do not get any farther either.
This year, August 9 (the date of Father's death) happened to fall on a Friday. I went to communion that day.
And, strangely enough, the sermon in Luther I read according to plan that day was on the verse "All good and perfect gifts etc." from the Epistle of James.
The day I sent the manuscript to the printer, the Luther sermon I read according to plan was on Paul's verse on the tribulations of the day etc.
This strikes me as very curious; I myself also find it curiously impressive since I do not remember before hand which sermon is to be read according to the schedule.
September 8 (which I really call my engagement day) is on a Sunday this year, and the Gospel is: No man can serve two masters.
... If I saw a frail, delicate young girl who said, on seeing a woodcutter swinging over his head an enormous chunk on an axe: "It is a shame that my parents will not let me chop wood; if they just let me I could do it,"I would smile.
So it is, too, when I hear a sophisticated, cultured, Goethean kind of person who in a romantic moment in the pulpit tearfully maintains that he often has longed to be contemporary with Christ.
Of course he does not say it in precisely this way; he says he wishes he could have seen Christ — aha! perhaps a private diversion in a remote place in a "quiet hour."
There is hardly anything as offensive to me as this rubbish about the quiet hours — as if Christianity had the remotest connection with that kind of proclamation. The most horrible episode in all history, and it is supposed to be presented in its truth "in a quiet hour." In the most obvious way possible this makes the whole thing a comedy or a game, such as when children in the parlor play Napoleon's journey over the Alps etc.
This is perhaps the way he once took the direction he did in his life. He said to himself — and with complete justification, which is still valid: I am the most competent; if I do not take the no. 1 place, a less competent, less honest person very likely will take it — ergo, I will take it. Here he turned away from the ideal. The ideal would have beckoned him on further, saying: Never mind your being the most competent by way of comparison; if you want to get involved in the comparative, follow me further — to be sure, then you will end up being a nobody in this world.
My Relation to My Contemporaries, One of Misunderstanding
It is not my fault; the thing is quite simple.
As long as I am considered to be lacking earnestness but all the others are earnest men, there can only be confusion.
So my life is and always has been said to lack earnestness and people wished I would settle down and get serious about something etc. Upon closer inspection the basic reason, they discover, is that I have no job, no career; I have amounted to nothing, have even put myself in the position of becoming the plunder of ridicule — for the sake of the idea, I would say, but such things are nonsense in the eyes of the world.
So, jobless, without a career — that is, without any earthly reward — ridiculed, consequently paid with insults, because I work — and this I dare say — more than any career man and jobholder: my life is lacking in earnestness.
Yes, in this manner only confusion can be drawn out of me and my life. The worldly secular mentality has clean forgotten what earnestness really is, and I, who, even if slightly, do have a little of it — I am the only one who completely lacks earnestness.
The New Form of the Sermon
must in the first place be a monologue. For one thing, there is a unique difficulty regarding the extent to which one man has the right to speak this way to another, saying "you must," and for another, men as yet cannot tolerate being spoken to this way, and the relevance of ordination here is not clear to me.
So the monologue is used — I do not address you, but I listen and hear how Christianity is speaking to me. Then I may use this you must to some purpose.
The Established Church — My Position
From the highest Christian point of view, there is no established Church, only a Church Militant.
This is the first point.
The second, then, is that factually there is such a one. We must in no way want to overthrow it, no, but above it the higher ideality must hover as a vivifying possibility — so that in the strictest sense there actually is no established Church.[*]
[*] In margin of previous:
Even an established Church composed of earnest Christians in the more rigorous sense would need to be reminded of this essentially Christian point: that in the highest Christian sense there is no established Church, only a Church Militant. But this may be said only at the distance of ideality from the established Church. Then if an established Church will not put up with this being said, not even on that condition, it signifies that such a Church is in error and must be attacked directly.
This has now taken place through me, with the aid of a pseudonym, in order that it all might be a purely spiritual movement. There is not a shred of a proposal pertaining to the external.
And while the pseudonym lifts his hand for the big blow, I stand in between parrying; the whole thing recoils on me for being such a poor Christian, I who still remain in the established Church. In this way the whole thing is a spiritual movement.
O, my God, I am almost tempted to admire myself for what I have done — but God be praised that you help me to trace everything back to you in adoration, I who never can thank you sufficiently for the good that has been done for me, far more than I ever expected, could have expected, dared to expect.
It is the other and really decisive side of Christianity which has been abolished in Christendom. Christianity has become a doctrine; but conversion, rebirth, imitation, dying away from this world, renunciation, self-denial, etc. — they are as if blown away.
The eighth of September! The Gospel: no man can serve two masters (my favorite Gospel)! my favorite hymn: "Commit Thy Ways Confiding," which Kofoed-Hansen selected today.
How festive, and how relevant to me who have been occupied these days with publishing "On My Work as an Author" and the dedication in it.
The Publication of the Book: "On My Work as an Author"
"On My Work as an Author" still must be kept back. I feel that it would come disturbingly close to "Practice in Christianity," so that they would mutually diminish each other, even if in another sense I feel it could be more impressive.
But the main point is that the spirit has not moved me to a firm and fixed conviction that now is the time, something I did feel about the timing of the publication of "Practice in Christianity."
The difference between being moved by the spirit or not, between being completely at one with myself or not, I know at once, because in the latter case I cannot stop thinking about details, changing something, this detail or that. In the other case this never occurs to me, because the whole attention of my mind is solely and unanimously concentrated on the fact that the whole matter has now been commended into God's hand, I have relinquished it.
God knows that I in one sense would gladly publish "On My Work as an Author" now and then be completely free, but since I cannot find the unqualified sanction within me, I dare not do it. It may be a mistake on my part not to find this sanction; perhaps without quite detecting it I am seeking to spare myself. Or the right thing for me to do may be not to give in to an impatience which in another sense nags me to publish it now. This I do not know, but I commend myself to God; surely he will see to it that when the time has come I will find in myself complete oneness about publishing it.
is supposed to be an exaggeration. All right — show me then how the New Testament cuts prices and bargains — and we have nothing else to go by than the New Testament. But Christendom has invented the following nonsense — there is a clearly revealed Word of God — but then there is among us men a tradition according to which it is agreed that it is not readily self-evident, we should not take it so literally, God's Word is really not for us.
Or show me how the Church Fathers cut the price. Or is Luther also an exaggeration!
On Sunday the minister stirs up his own and the congregation's imagination — in a quiet hour, and on Monday he is the first to shout "Crucify" against anyone who dares to act accordingly, or if he does not shout "Crucify," he would still find it just as ridiculous as if someone were to act according to what he sees or hears in the theater.
This quiet hour — abominable invention! What was presented in the market place and on the street and in actuality became catastrophe can now be presented only in a quiet hour — the other would be profane. So Jesus Christ was also profane.
And so they censure the monastery, say it is escapism, but to have all one's religiousness in a quiet hour once a week and otherwise be conformed to the secular mentality, this is an even greater escape from actuality than that of the religious, for it cannot be denied that in other respects we are all too deeply immersed in actuality.
But Mynster originally had the idea that they certainly have relaxed somewhat into secular self-satisfaction. And then that is where Martensen begins. Yes, it gets better and better.
Mynster's Administrative Skills
If from a political point of view they are commendable, but from the essentially Christian point of view they are indefensible, then in principle they are diametrically opposite to Christianity.
The most important concern to Mynster has been and still is to see to it that on no account is anyone's life to be allowed to express that there is something in and for itself. For secular and temporal government this being in and for itself, together with the fact that it exists [er til], is upsetting and most dangerous; thus if anyone wants to do something gratis, this is a crime in Mynster's eyes, for then he and his own life become incommensurable. No, if someone, for example, has an urge to preach, then it must be expressed by his getting himself a position, and so it is in everything. There must be no infinite as such — no, it must cancel out; everything must be explainable by the relative and must cancel out in the relative. Then it is a pleasure to administer, yes, almost a voluptuous pleasure. One permits (and does it himself) the infinite to be talked about in lofty tones, the noble enthusiasm that simply and solely wills the good — but also makes sure that this is only a manner of speaking by always appending a note to actuality which interprets it in and by the relative.
According to this view, religiousness has a place but great pains are taken to keep it from coming out into actuality, to keep it limited to certain quiet hours. In a quiet hour the speaker (and one does it himself) may gesticulate vehemently in the pulpit — but no more than that; this sublimity is out of place in actuality.
So it is in everything Mynsterian. It is political pedagogy but diametrically opposite to Christianity.
Illusions, mundus vult decipi
Let me use myself, and at least do me the favor of being willing to understand.
When I was reduplicating most resolutely, was concentrating most of my energy on abolishing illusions, my standing was lower.
Then I took the plunge, hurled myself at the rabble. Then I saw that the task was too big for me; I almost feared mob violence against me in the streets.
So I pulled back somewhat, I was seen less frequently on the street, I turned somewhat toward maintaining associations with the elite, my behavior altered, I did not involve myself with people so much, isolated myself — and my standing increased — alas, for now a little illusion was involved.
Why has Mynster's standing been so high? Because he has been supported so very powerfully by illusions. But does not his reputation rest on his talents etc.? Out with talents and genius; no genius has ever been born so powerful that it could assure itself of the esteem of the crowd — without using illusions.
It is easy to perceive that this is the way it has to be. If the crowd were to recognize the truth without illusions, then the crowd itself would have to be in the truth. Take this for granted: it is an extremely rare person who is able to recognize truth without illusions. But if the crowd cannot recognize the truth without illusions, then, after all, it is also impossible for them to be able to honor and esteem it. Ergo, there must be illusions if one is to achieve honor and esteem.
Geniuses, therefore, are ranked according to their ability to abolish illusions or remove them — but their esteem among their contemporaries is correspondingly less.
If naked truth just by itself could be recognized by the crowd and esteemed as such, God would have benefited when he wanted to reveal himself. But the very opposite happened; he was mistreated and put to death. Why? Precisely because he has the divine power to abolish illusions. What helps us human beings is that we do not have such powers and the kind of purity which remove illusions — in our presentation of truth there is always a portion of illusion and thus, too, a little esteem for us.
This, among other things, is what I want to make men aware of, and to that purpose I intend to use my own life. With God's help I will not be tricked into the illusion that my increasing esteem has any other ground than that I have been forced to set up a little illusion — alas, I am just a poor wretch of a man, but I can be an occasion for awareness.
Mynster — and I
Mynster has preached Christianity into and established it in an illusion (not that what he said was not Christianity, no, but by virtue of the proclamation it has not been Christianity) — that is why I have had to operate dialectically as I have done.
Mynster resembles Louis Philippe: lacking the impetus of the idea and lacking existential pathos, but shrewdly using petty means, and with the understanding that the job mentality actually rules the world and that the person who has jobs to give away rules fairly securely.
The Highest Existentially — and the Lowest Existentially
Let us begin with the poet. What the poet employs and immortalises in his songs, in Juliet, for example, killing herself out of sorrow, etc. — this happens rarely in actual life.
Then the ethical-religious comes along and declares esthetic life to be despair and praises just the opposite, in Juliet's case, for example, to will to live.
But then the clergy come along, always accompanied by nonsense. They are not aware that sheer philistinism, regarded only from the outside, has a similarity to the ethical-religious highest. Karen, Maren, Mette, etc. never did kill themselves, although deprived of their respective lovers — these honoured ladies, with the assistance of the reverend clergy, advance until they stand far ahead of Juliet.
The clergy do not at all detect the secret: if a life such as the one the "poet" can use is as rare as the poet insists — how rare a truly ethical-religious life must be! No, the pastors canonise philistinism, the bourgeois mentality. And now we Protestants have done away with the Catholic canonisation of ascetics, martyrs, etc. and in their place partners in philistine organisations are canonised, and quite fittingly they are canonised by that last ecclesiastical order to arise in Protestantism: the salaried brethren.
Who would ever think on reading Mynster's sermons that becoming a Christian is a life-and-death battle, a protracted life-and-death struggle, full of the most dreadful episodes (which dying to the world, corresponding to dying, naturally must be).
About Myself and My Operation
The level-headedness with which I indisputably manage has, incidentally, a very good guarantee: that I, who surely best understand how earnest things are and can become, would gladly have the most reasonable terms possible.
Also, I have a human fondness for being human, as yet have not been burned into pure spirit — but of course I can be pressured out farther and farther. At all times I proceed as cautiously as possible.
Regarding my presentation of essential Christianity (which at various points is closer to the Gospel than the official presentation), it actually cannot be said to be an exaggeration, but the truth is that the official proclamation has diminished it outrageously.
But of course I am but one man, the others have the power, and I feel compelled to follow my cause to the limit. For every time it is declared that my presentation is an exaggeration, the price is marked up, but yet always as cautiously as can be in this situation, for I, too, would gladly spare myself.
Thus I am as far as possible from being a muddlehead or a misanthrope, who plunges ahead and blindly attacks. Alas, no, I even have furnished proof all along that I am right. I did not begin by summarily attacking — I have supported the established order, have made my presentation (which compared to the Gospel is all too far from being an exaggeration), and they shouted: What exaggeration. But precisely this is the guilt and the proof that I am right. One can say, as I do: "It is too lofty for us, we take comfort in grace," but one truly has no right to say it is an exaggeration in the sense that it is not Christianity, for then Christianity itself becomes an altogether dreadful exaggeration. And right here is the basic guilt, that men arrogantly want to decide for themselves and according to their own convenience what Christianity is to be.
The Official Proclamation of Christianity — and Mine
This is how the official proclaimers of Christianity ought to have received mine. They should have said: "This proclamation is completely true, but it is too lofty for us, which in fact the author himself admits about himself. But even if it has no other use, it is useful in that it could make us aware of how lukewarm our Christianity is, we who scarcely want to get involved in the mild Christianity which is being proclaimed at present." And to that I would say: This is absolutely true, except for the last statement, for I believe that people will more readily become involved in Christianity if it is somewhat more rigorous.
But at the beginning I will scarcely get many to believe this. The immediate reaction is against it and not many will be persuaded to believe it. Let me give an illustration. There are times in the year (this may also be the case in apartments when, for example, there is only a little sun) when one opens the windows and gets warmer air — but no maid can be made to understand the idea of opening windows to let warmer air in or of keeping windows shut in order not to let warm air in. She sticks to the old routine: shutting windows so that it will not get cold — even if she is told ten times to open the windows to let warm air in. On the other hand in the heat of summer she opens all the windows, thinking to make it cool — even if she is asked ten times to keep the windows shut, especially in the living room, in order not to let in too much warm air.
Concerning Bashfulness in Relation to the Sexual
Montaigne says somewhere that, remarkably enough, what we all owe our existence to is something to be despised. He means that bashfulness here is almost a kind of prudishness. Many strong minds have thought the same thing.
But this requires a reply. It is true in only one sense that a human being owes his existence to the act of procreation; there is also present a creative factor which must be attributed to God. It is not true of the human race, as it is with animals, that each individual is only a particular instance or copy. The person who really becomes spirit, for which he is intended, at some point takes over his entire being (by choosing himself, as it is called in Either/Or and downgrades propagation to a lower level.
What wonder then that there is bashfulness in relation to the sexual! The procreators represent only the lower aspects, just as in the moment of the procreative act itself men are qualified according to the lower aspect of their nature or according to the pole in the synthesis farthest away from spirit. But the very fact that the direction is away from spirit, precisely this is bashfulness; spirit is bashfulness, or the fact that the human being is qualified as spirit is bashfulness. Animals have no bashfulness, nor has bestiality; and the less spirit, the less bashfulness.
The Difficulty of Becoming a Christian — in Christendom
The difficulty is that having been brought up in this religion from childhood, one has had a continuous impression of its mildness and treats it almost as a kind of mythology — and now when he is older he has to discover for the first time how rigorous it is. Where pagans are involved, pagans who are to become Christians, the first impression is one of rigorousness, on the whole repelling — and not until then mildness.
An enormous problem arises from being spoiled by the supposition that this doctrine is sheer mildness, almost a kind of human confection.
But, of course, most men do not ever get involved in this problem (of having to become aware of the rigorousness for the first time later in life) because they have a few childhood impressions of great things, and when they have become adults they really have no time to spend on the question of becoming Christians.
What I Have Wanted and Want
I have never, not in the remotest manner, suggested or attempted trying to extend the matter into pietism, into pietistic strictness and the like.
No, what I do want is truth in our speaking and above all in our preaching, and not, as now, almost pure falsehood with respect to the existential, so that not only is the higher abolished but the lower is even put in its place, the prototypes are misused, nothing is made relevant to the present, and possibility and actuality and their existential relationships are handled quite wrongly.
One simple example. If someone wants to spare himself and does not dare to witness either for the truth or against untruth — fine, I do not coerce him. But he must not have the right to turn things around, so that excusing himself also becomes laudable wisdom and venturing becomes fantasy and foolishness. —So it is throughout.
Why did I become a sacrifice to Denmark? Was it only because the rabble were able to do it? No, it was because those who should have ventured what I ventured not only spared themselves but even turned things around so that it became laudable wisdom to spare themselves, and my venturing was foolishness.
This is the kind of untruth I want to root out of our speaking and preaching — everywhere almost, where conditions Christianly call for a little admission, even these are usually made into a virtue which is honored and glorified.
[In margin: Anti-Climacus.]
A Passage in Anti-Climacus (Practice in Christianity, no. 2
Pertaining to the Angel's Song of Praise at the Time of
Anti-Climacus declares that when Christ resolves to become to Savior of the world, a lament goes through all humanity like a sigh: Why do you do this, you will make us all unhappy — simply because to become a Christian in truth is the greatest human suffering, because Christ as the absolute explodes all the relativity in which we human beings live — in order to make us spirit. But in order to become spirit one must go through crises which make us, from a human point of view, as unhappy as possible.
But an objection could be made here that, on the contrary, the angels sang a song of joy at the birth of Christ. To this must be replied: It is the angels who are singing. Furthermore, if the word "Savior" is taken summarily and men are permitted to decide for themselves what it means — well, no wonder that man also jubilates spontaneously.
But this is taking Christianity in vain. When the meaning of the word "Savior" is defined more explicitly, God's conception of it emerges, and Christ fulfills it absolutely. Here it is again — humanly speaking, it is the greatest suffering to become a Christian, to be saved in this sense.
Luther is right in saying in his sermon on the Gospel for Christmas Day that there is nothing else to say about Christ than that he is "a great joy" ——— but, but "for sin-crushed consciences" — otherwise not, otherwise he is taken in vain. The part about joy is promptly seized upon — the part about "a sin-crushed conscience" meets with extreme resistance.
But it is all taken in vain. We take the word "a Savior," run away with it, and understand something else by it than Christianity does. We take the words "a great joy" — and then, scram, we want nothing to do with a more explicit understanding of it.
It is this shameful, frivolous use of the essentially Christian which has abolished Christianity under the guise of preserving it, for, as it goes, "After all, we are saying the same thing; we call Christ a Savior, say his birth is a great joy" — rubbish, what good does that do if you understand something different and exclude the more specific understanding by which the words first became Christianly true.
[In margin: Anti-Climacus.]
Concerning the Impression Anti-Climacus' Latest Book
(Practice in Christianity) Will Make
Today I talked with Tryde. He told me that it was too strong to say that Christianity had been abolished through "observation." He himself had stressed the subjective, and that was true also of all the more competent preachers.
O, my God, how I have had to bear down on this and maintain that I was purely subjective, not objective, etc. — and now the same people claim that they also emphasize the subjective.
Moreover, the point is that in defining the concept "preaching," the sermon never amounts to more than a speech, talking about something, consequently does not pay attention to existence at all. An officeholder, shackled in seventeen ways to finitude and objectivity — achieves nothing, no matter how subjective he makes his talk. A nobody who preaches gratis on the street — even if he makes observations that are ever so objective — remains a subjective and vivifying person; and one who is ever so subjective but is trapped by his position and the like in all possible secular considerations, his preaching remains essentially nothing but observation, for it is easy to see that he has made it impossible for himself to actualize even moderately that which he preaches about.
But I have to say one thing about Tryde, something splendid about him: that he said, that he did not deny, that he had been predisposed to be objective.
When Christ drove the money changers out of the temple, he fashioned a whip of rope.
This whip he wielded with authority.
The whip of satire is always without authority.
What I Want
My position is that the whole prevailing official proclamation of Christianity is a conspiracy against the Bible — we suppress what does not suit us.
will not be a party to that. I will include the requirement and then make an admission.
Sins of Omission
In a book by F. W. Newmann, Die Seele ihr Leiden und ihr Sehnen, Leipzig, 1950, I find somewhere in the section on sin that the sins of omission are the most dangerous and the ones that most pain the devout.
This is entirely correct and reminds me of Anti-Climacus' Sickness unto Death.
Johannes Climacus — Anti-Climacus
Just as Johannes Climacus dialectically formulated the issue so sharply that no one could directly see whether it was an attack on Christianity or a defense, but it depended on the state of the reader and what he got out of the book, so also Anti-Climacus has carried the issue to such an extreme that no one can see directly whether it is primarily radical or primarily conservative, whether it is an attack on the established or in fact a defense.
My Conversation with Bishop Mynster October 22, 1850, after he had read "Practice in Christianity"
The day before I had spoken with Paulli, who told me the following: The Bishop is very angry, the minute he came into the living room that first day he said, "The book has made me furious; it is playing a profane game with holy things." And when Paulli obligingly asked him if he should report that to me since he probably would be talking with me, Mynster answered: "Yes, and he no doubt will come to see me sometime and I will tell him myself."*
[*] In margin:
It must be remembered that before my conversation with Paulli the book had already been out for, I believe, three weeks; from the establishment side not the slightest thing had been done or the slightest move made toward any government measure; there was not the slightest mention in any newspaper about government disapproval. Finally, Mynster preached a Sunday sermon after the book had been published and far from arguing against it he even put up a strong argument against something I also take issue with — naturalism! "Unfortunately we know far too well what people in our day think of miracles." All this, plus Mynster's words, "the next time I visit him," made me feel it my duty to take the hint, made me feel fortunate that the opportunity presented itself in that way, for I was obliged to go see Mynster and it might otherwise have proved difficult to find an occasion.
Perhaps, who knows, those last words were fabricated by Paulli to keep me, if possible, from going to the Bishop.
But in any case I interpreted the matter another way. When Mynster talks like that: "The next time he visits me I shall tell him so myself," he has essentially given the book a permit and me along with it.
My decision was made at once.
The following morning I went to him. Acquainted as I am with his virtuosity in stateliness (recalling the time I visited him and as I made my entrance he asked most formally and ceremoniously: Is there something in particular? — To which I answered: No, I see you have no time today, so I would just as soon go. And then when he said he did have time, I stuck to what I had said and parted from him in bona caritate etc.), I began at once: "Today I do have an errand of sorts. Pastor Paulli told me yesterday that you intend as soon as you see me to reprimand me for my latest book. I beg you to regard it as a new expression of the respect I have always shown you that, immediately upon hearing of it, I come at once."
In my opinion this was a happy notion. The situation was all in order; there could be no vehemence or stiff sarcasm, both of which I deemed unworthy in this case. No, his role was delineated for him as one of venerableness and mine of piety.
He answered: "No, I have no right to reprimand. that is, as I have said to you before, I do not mind at all that each bird must sing with its own beak." Then he added: "Indeed, people may also say what they want to about me." This he said mildly and with a smile. But his added remark led me to fear a little sarcasm, and I tried at once to save the situation. I answered that such was not my intention and I would beseech him to tell me if I had distressed him in any way by publishing such a book. Then he replied: Well, I do believe that it will not prove useful. I was pleased with this answer; it was friendly and personal.
Then we went on talking just as we are accustomed to doing. He pointed out that wherever one went or turned, there had to be observation. I did not pursue this further, fearing to get into the existential, but I explained what I meant with a few ordinary examples.
The rest of the conversation was not noteworthy. Except that in the very beginning he said: Yes, half of the book is an attack on Martensen, the other half on me. And later we discussed the passage on "observations," which he thought was directed at him.
Otherwise the conversation was just as usual.
I explained this and that about my method, also informed him that now we were over the worst, at least this was the way it looked to me at the moment — but I was a young man and therefore dared say no more than that this was the way it seemed to me at the moment: that now we were over the worst.
As I stated, the rest of the conversation was just as usual.
God be praised. O, what have I not suffered. I considered it my duty to maintain the cause in such a manner that I might let the established order determine to what extent it would force me to go farther, by taking steps against me.
Nothing has happened yet, all are silent — and Mynster talked this way.
Perhaps what Paulli said is true — but that, after all, was the first day. Maybe Mynster, having given up the intention of doing something officially, actually thought of doing something privately but later gave that up.
Still, a little nip may well come out in a sermon.
Mynster's Significance for My Writing
My task has been to apply a corrective to the established order, not to introduce something new which might nullify or supplant it.
Now if I had envisioned this completely from the beginning and there had been no Mynster, then first of all I would have had to create someone to represent the established order and firmly bolster him up.
But since I did not understand my task that clearly in the beginning, I very well could have failed to notice this and the whole thing would have turned out differently, perhaps gone wrong.
But, as it was, Mynster stood there as a representative of the established order; this came as a free gift, and it was inevitable that I venerated Mynster and did everything to express it.
That is how I found my proper position. Here again my good fortune is apparent. Purely personally my veneration for Mynster was indispensable to me— and not until later did I see that this was very important for my task and for enabling me to get positioned properly.
About the Inserted Lines in Practice in Christianity, No. 1
There inevitably will be someone who will get the idea of reading them simply for a lark, comically.*
[*] In margin:
Peter thought that these lines were too extended, that it would have been sufficient to indicate them. Ye gods, and that is supposed to be so wise! No, to indicate is not sufficient, I saw that in Works of Love, where I did it. The point is that people prefer to get away from such things as fast as possible — and instead of admitting it, there comes this wise critique about their being too extended. But Peter always fraternizes with triviality, in which he also has frittered away his life. And so it always goes, that writing substantial books such as I write is no art; we can all do that — and much more: with one single hint and clue teach the author how it ought to have been done. It is really fun and games for mediocrity not to have any criterion at all in Denmark.
All of No. 1 in Practice in Christianity is actually a tremendous break-out from Sunday ceremoniousness (a break-out in the sense used in speaking of a prisoner breaking out) — and then along comes Sunday ceremoniousness, and says with great self-importance: "Yes, a little of it might have been good" — that is: Sunday ceremoniousness is really the good. We want to have the old and then four shillings worth of the new.
Paulli said this to me — and looked exceedingly grave. Paulli with the whole gang is a gossip who unctuously spreads stuff like this as if it were true and not something they themselves have concocted.
Well, even if it were true — what then? Anything new or beneficial can give rise to misuse.
But in other respects I have this to say about the use made of the comic and the humorous in these lines.
Take an esthetic situation. The one who first began to use comic roles in tragedy, believe me, he had to take the rap; people found it objectionable, still have not understood that using the comic in tragedy intensifies the tragedy.
But forget the esthetic.
But why is it extremely important to use the comic in religious discourse?
Quite simple. Our age is very far from any childlike naïveté about wanting to strive toward likeness to the idea. Christianity has halted in secular prudence which says good bye to ideals and regards striving after them as fanaticism.
What we are living in is this secular prudence. But this secular prudence finds it very advantageous to have the religious represented solely by the Sunday ceremony.
This Sunday ceremony has become the category of the sermon-lecture — and secular prudence fills up the rest of life and tolerates the Sunday ceremony because it has the least likelihood of becoming actuality.
That is why the comic has to be used to show the incongruity between this Sunday ceremony and daily life, and that is why secular prudence, which arranges the Sunday ceremony, becomes angry at this use of the comic, but if this secular prudence circumspectly takes on the form of religiousness, it is neither more nor less than Sunday ceremony.
The other day Sibbern told me that someone had read the inserted lines in No. 1 of Practice in Christianity as purely comic — and thought that the clergy ought to intervene, so grave was the matter.
Sibbern burst out laughing when he told me this. It would in fact be a splendid satire on the present-day clergy, however little my desire for such troubles.
.....Basically everyone knows I am right — also Bishop Mynster. That I do not get my rights, we all know — I, too.
It is clear that in my writings I have supplied a more radical characterization of the concept "faith" than there has been up until this time.
Practice in Christianity — the Established Order
It is tragic that the established order (the majority of those in it, at least) know so little about governing that they promptly mistake Practice in Christianity for the opposition, although it is as different as possible from that, indeed, is diametrically opposed to that.
"The opposition" wants to do away with government — what does Anti-Climacus want? He is a single individual (in no way a party-man), indeed, hates parties, yes, takes a polemic aim at the crowd, the public, etc., indeed, is stamped by the kind of danger with which every authentic government official ought to be stamped). He addresses the established order something like this: "For God's sake, what kind of government are you; as a matter of fact you do not know how to govern. Go ahead and govern!" Is this opposition to the government? But those who govern have lost the high conception of what it is to govern and on the other hand have hung on to the idea of having a little power — therefore Anti-Climacus can be confused with the opposition.
The matter is simple. In the area of Church affairs, the established order, with its fear of men, has compromised, bargained, and dickered to such an extent that it veritably has lost the reins. In order that it may be able to govern again, new admissions must be made. "A new admission," I hear the establishment say — and then considers that it is to the opposition to whom a new admission has to be made, as if it had not been conceded enough. O, no, no! You who govern must make an admission to God and Christianity — a kind of penalty — and then see to it that you grasp the reins again.
Only this way can the established order be guided through.
Yet the whole matter also must in God-fearing artfulness be maintained in such a way that the established order would also be investigated if it now officially wanted to transform Anti-Climacus into the opposition and thereby force me out into more rigorous forms.
God knows that I anticipated it in fear and trembling, for my own sake as well, lest the task become too hard for me. But, just the same, I have ventured.
As is always the case, here too I did not understand things in the beginning as clearly as I do now.
About Indirect Communication and Myself
It must above all be pointed out that I am not a teacher who originally envisioned everything and now, self-confident on all points, uses indirect communication, but that I myself have developed during the writing. This explains why my indirect communication is on a lower level than the direct, for the indirectness was due also to my not being clear myself at the beginning and therefore did not dare speak directly at the beginning. Therefore I myself am the one who has been formed and developed by and through the indirect communication.
Concerning a Statement in the "Postscript" to The Accounting About My Direct Communication
It must be pointed out that here it is not a question of direct communication, pure and simple, for this is not really the first instance of that, since all the upbuilding writing has been direct communication.
No, it is direct communication about the authorship, about the total authorship, an authorship which has consisted of indirect communication through the pseudonyms and then of direct communication in the upbuilding writings, but consequently even the direct becomes indirect as long as I have not given a direct explanation of the whole, for in that case there would always be the possibility that I actually adhered to the pseudonymous writings and did not consider them to be maieutic.
The Unrecognizability of That for Which I Am Really Contending
When conflict is over a doctrine, it is easy to stick to the point.
The difficulty of my task [*] is that I do indeed say: On the whole, the doctrine as it is taught is entirely sound. Consequently that is not what I am contending for. My contention is that something should be done with it. But an attempt is continually made to drum this out by saying: After all, we are saying the same thing he is, we are teaching the same thing.
[*] In margin:
I have read a similar observation somewhere in Neander's Bernhard of Clairvaux, undoubtedly in connection with Arnold of Brescia or a reformation of an ethical nature, which, however, concedes the doctrine to be correct and does not dispute about it.
And since I by no means intend to lead the matter out into external work-righteousness (for then easy recognizability comes again), and since I constantly stress that every one must resort to grace, then it seems as if I am contending for nothing at all.
And yet what I am contending for is perhaps the greatest possible distinction: the kind of daily existence led by one who proclaims the doctrine, whether he has all sorts of losses from it, or all sorts of advantages.
Concerning the First of H.H.'s Two Essays
It is stated there that a person has power to act only as long as he is silent. If one is actually to be a martyr, he must not say so.
In his convention address Peter observed that there was an inconsistency here: here it was spoken. — Yes, quite right, for it was precisely because there had to be a halt along that line. Furthermore, by taking such a step one ought to motivate men to act accordingly. And it is one thing to say: I will let myself be put to death, and another thing to introduce these thoughts anonymously, that is poetically, and still open the possibility of martyrdom so that men would become so furious because he defended the principle that a man does not have the right to let himself be put to death for the truth that they would put him to death for that reason.
All this is recorded in the journals of that period [i.e., for example, X1 A 336, 338], and it actually is redundant to make this entry, but I do it only to save rummaging around in the old journals in order to make sure.
An Either-Or for an Established Order
Either the established order — or the single individual, unconditionally the single individual, but with nothing in between, for that is half-and-half, parties, sects, etc.
That is how I support the established order, for there is scarcely one in any generation who manages to be unconditionally the single individual; they all want to dabble around in parties etc.
The characteristic performance of our day is to dabble away one's time in trifles. This is what Peter is doing under the name of conviviality and cordiality, but this is the way to make a big hit in our age of envy and levelling.
An authentic performance, the fruit of perhaps years of strenuous work, always calls for a certain silence — which irks, yes, rouses the age to indignation, because it has something of an aristocratic smell. It would scarcely occur to the author of such a performance to include in his preface a request for a lenient critique or to get involved with people in that way at all, for he himself knows that the performance has been thought through and calmly asks for a thoughtful evaluation. But how different it is with dabbling! A man is very conscious of not having carefully worked through and advanced the subject — no wonder then that there is this rapid succession of "I ask a lenient critique" etc., all of which titillates the power-hungry crowd. Thus what is communicated actually is in essence no higher than the public, the average listener: this again is pleasing to the power-hungry. The author protects himself with all sorts of remarks about not really having had sufficient time to work through the subject carefully, that it is merely a trial-attempt, etc., thereby protecting himself against every genuine criterion and acquiring a favorable image in the eyes of triflers who love nothing but mediocrity.
In short, the whole age from one end to the other is a conspiracy against authentic performance, just as it is a conspiracy against property etc.
But I too have a heart, and I have tried to continue to have a heart, and therefore I have tried to keep it in its proper place, not having it on my lips at one moment, down in my boots the next, but never in the proper place, and I have tried not to confuse cordiality with gossip and gabbling.
The rigorous interrogator knows that the most drastic examination obliges the person being investigated to look steadily at a single point, for example, at a joint in the wall; but it is a saving distraction, the only saving distraction (which is Christianity), to gaze upon another, upon Christ, to forget everything, each one his presumed crumb of perfection, but also each one his cares and wretchedness and guilt, by gazing upon him.
Practice in Christianity
It will be called unfair to introduce something like this at the very moment when the clergy are sufficiently hard-pressed. But the intention in fact is to get them to work more intensively at their task so that they do not mistakenly yield: so it is that the coachman lays on the whip just when things are most difficult.
It will be said: After all, the clergy are up and moving at this very time. Well, thanks, and how? In a purely secular struggle for positions and livings. For that very reason it would be important that right now the requirement be heard from an entirely different quarter, that it not be the secular mentality pure and simple: a secular struggle for secular goods — by the clergy, to be sure, but does that make it a spiritual struggle.
Apologetics in Ancient or Original Christianity — and Now
As a matter of fact, Christians used apologetics in the beginning too — but, please note, directly to people who by no means had admitted that they too were Christians and who did not want to be either.
Now the scene is "Christendom," where we are all Christians.
The basic lie is in the dastardly irresponsibility with which we have seen to it that all become Christians — all the time conscious that this is a lie, and now approach it as if they were pagans but without first and foremost demanding that they give up the name Christian.
To "defend" Christianity to Christians is abysmal nonsense.
A young girl. Full name: Clara Raphael. Age: 20. Appearance: good-looking. Religion: freethinker. Occupation: governess in the household of a business manager. Character: original, a characteristic affirmed by her, by her friend Mathilde, by many respectable men and women in the neighbourhood where she is a governess — she gets the no less original idea: I will also be original. Very original!
Then it perhaps occurs to her that this is a much too inadequate category, so she looks around for an idea for which she can live unmarried, for she does not wish to get married.
And this is the idea: the emancipation of women. This is the whole thing; her letters offer nothing more concrete about this idea of hers; it is original enough. If the idea were more concrete, she might possibly have shared it with another, but she has protected her originality.
Although the idea she has chosen is so exceedingly abstract that it cannot be considered the slightest hindrance to her marrying, even to a widower with ten children — yet Clara Raphael is determined not to marry, she will live for her idea. Almost incomprehensible originality! For the less the idea stands in her way, the more original it is to stick to it — but of course when the idea is not so abstract, that is, empty, that is, no idea at all, less resolution is required. Basically the idea makes its own decision, and it is not so much a question of resolving and again resolving not to marry, as it is of not getting time to marry, because the idea completely fills up one's life and one's time.
One day she goes to communion, which again is something very original for a freethinker like her. For a young girl she apparently has had a most unusual religious education, which the reader, as well as the editor, cannot admire enough — having read a few pages in Magnus Eiríksson's book on the Baptists and the Trinity.
She goes to communion and promises God that she will live for her idea — a vow which no doubt embarrassed God because of the originality of her idea — namely, that she actually has no idea.
She makes her vow, then she goes home — and falls in love.
But Clara Raphael is not merely virtuous like Charles, but she is a heroine — she will not marry.
The suffering caused by this decision makes her ill; nobody knows how she suffers, says her closest friend; and since there is no one in a better position to know it and she does not know it, it is quite true that no one knows it.
No, she wants to enter a convent, she wants to live for her idea — and proceeds to found a completely new order: that is, she marries her beloved — but as brother and sister.
Truly an original kind of convent!
Just one more observation on the original thought: a marriage between a brother and a sister. From novels one is acquainted with the phrase: "I esteem him highly, but I cannot love him" and also "I can only love him as a sister." This usually means that the two do not get married. That is not so original that it cannot be understood. But that it becomes a signal for them to be married is a most original turn, an almost indecent turn, as everyone will no doubt agree, no matter how far he otherwise is, as I am, from being as potentially severe as Herr Zierlich, who considers it indecent for men's and women's clothes to hang together in the same closet. If this goes much farther, it will not be long before a couple of men will want to be married, which is almost as indecent as a brother and a sister getting married.
This book has an unusual feature: a lengthy and detailed introduction by the editor (a one-time obedient servant of the system, the unforgettable author of promises, later the if-not-incarnate nevertheless astronomical heaven-ascending professor, at present champion and promoter for the convent, the Clara Convent, or the Clara-Raphael Convent), theatre director, Councillor Heiberg, Knight of Denmark. In this introduction he does his best to show that this book is an extraordinary production — which is perhaps the worst thing he could do for himself and for the book. He shows that it is the idea of the Protestant monastery — which idea? To marry? No, not to marry, but not to marry as man and wife but rather as brother and sister. In short, a theatrical marriage — that is what Protestantism understands by the monastery and by living celibate for an idea.
The editor unreservedly gives all the credit for this discovery and for having introduced this idea to the world to his client Raphael, even keeping to himself a few possible objections, such as to Clara Raphael's doctrine of the Trinity, perhaps also counting on Professor Martensen's being provoked by this extremely important contribution to the dogma of the Trinity to take up the matter. For he cannot possibly agree with her any more on this than on her intended mixed monastery (to say nothing of paired-monastery), since according to his Dogmatics Professor Martensen transfers the monastery to the next world, where all we dead will be scrupulously careful to refrain from marriage, even more scrupulously than Adam before Eve was created.
If no one else will take it upon himself to oppose the intrusion of this esthetic invasion into the religious realm, I at least do not wish to have kept silent about it.
[In margin: About myself.]
Frequently I find something sad in the fact that I, with all my capabilities, must always stand outside as a superfluity and impractical exaggeration.
But the whole thing is very simple. Conditions are still far from being confused enough for proper use to be made of me. Each one of those who take it upon themselves to govern flatters himself that he no doubt will succeed in maintaining the majority. They do not risk grasping what is decisive, the truth is in the minority, but that nevertheless it is the only ruling power.
Since such is the case, they quite naturally do not want to have anything to do with me. They fear that I will begin by engaging such a strong minority in affairs and by acting so decisively that what they really live for will be lost.
But it will all end, as they shall see, with conditions getting so desperate that they must make use of desperate people like me and my kind.
I believe that I dare say of myself that in the proclaiming of Christianity's leniency I seem to have at my disposal — although of course this gift can be taken from me at any time — a pathos possessed by none of those proclaiming Christianity among us.
This is something which a more profound psychologist might become aware of, because the very anxiety with which I describe the terrifying aspects reveal that I fear the capacities of an opposite nature which are entrusted to me, fear that I shall come to have a purely infatuating influence.
Leniency is so much a part of me that I seem unable to get it out, as it were; it seems to me that if it once burst forth I would expire in it and preach men into a security which almost could become light-headedness or sheer unconcern.
Having leniency in this way is like having an emotion. The deeper the emotion, the greater the anxiety about showing signs of it, because one knows very well the scale on which it will break forth.
Brorson's Hymn no. 209
(the secret of the cross):
Surrender yourself to it
And then you will be free.
Mynster — and I
Often I can become very sad at the thought that Mynster and I have been contemporaries! I who so inexpressibly desire to do everything to please him — if the truth does not suffer in the process; I who feel bound by filial piety to one dead to do everything possible to please him — and then that I am probably the most dangerous illumination Mynster can come under! the dubiousness about Mynster concerns just one certain aspect of the existential; it helps then, that I fortunately consider that my only task is poetically to make aware. Mynster's virtuosity also helps, for he is as great in his prudence and circumspection as he is also greatly gifted in many other respects.
[In margin: About "Her"]
At the time of her father's death I wrote to Schlegel. He was furious and would in no way "tolerate any intervention by another in the relationship between himself and his wife."
That actually settled the matter. I really cannot ask for more.
But the point is that she perhaps never learned about my overture, Schlegel has not told her.
To that extent she has not had justice done to her.
Later she herself seems to be more attentive. We see each other more often.[*]
[*] In margin:
In church, especially Slotskirken, we have seen each other regularly over the years, and lately more often than usual. I have my particular place where I invariably sit. She often sits nearby. She often seems to be suffering considerably. Three weeks ago she sat right ahead of me. Usually she sings the hymn after the sermon, which I never do. That day she did not do it. Consequently we left at the same time. Outside the church door she turned and saw me. She stood at the corner leading left from the church. I turned as I always do to the right, because I like to go through the arcade. My head tends to incline somewhat to the right. As I turned I perhaps tilted my head a bit more pronouncedly than usual. Thereupon I continued my pace, and she went her way. Later I reproached myself severely, or more correctly, became concerned that this movement could have been noticed by her and been interpreted as beckoning her to go my way. Probably she did not notice it at all, and in any case I would have had to leave it up to her whether she would speak to me, and in that even my first question would have been whether she had Schlegel's permission.
The main point is that in the course of a month to a month and a half we have seen each other almost every single day or twice every other day.
I take my usual walk along the ramparts. She also goes for walks there now. She comes either with Cordelia or alone and always goes back the same way alone; consequently we meet both times.
This surely is not purely coincidental.
If she wanted to speak with me, she has had ample opportunity. I cannot make myself believe that she dares not, since in the past, after our engagement was broken as well as at the time she became engaged to Schlegel, she sought by way of mimetic telegraphy a little intimation from me, and in fact received it, signifying to her that she must give me up but that otherwise she was dear to me and she had my devotion.
But I cannot speak to her. No.
There is an utterly unique difficulty about this matter. It is not the usual case of a man perhaps feeling disinclined to lay himself open to the possibility of being thought a scoundrel and the like. No, if nothing else were possible, I would gladly, very gladly, speak to her.
The difficulty is just the opposite: that I might find out too much. Perhaps she has put me out of her thoughts — and then by talking to her I perhaps would disturb everything. Perhaps her whole marriage is a mask and she is more passionately attached to me than before. In that case all would be lost. I know so well what she can get into her head if she gets hold of me.
And then there is Schlegel, to whom I owe being on guard as conscientiously as possible!+
[+] In margin:
And he can truthfully say that his cause is in good hands with me, for only with his approval does it interest me. A relationship to her with even the slightest trace of the clandestine — Good Lord, no, then no one knows me. It is the idea which preoccupies me, wherever I am; I cannot be without the idea. But for an expression of the idea it is required (1) that she be essentially content with her marriage to Schlegel, (2) that Schlegel is happy to consent that I speak with her: then I am very willing to do everything to let my life express both her worth and how important she has been to me. But if there is anything dubious about getting the idea expressed, then my idea demands not merely that I do not get involved in such a matter but that I even oppose it.
Consequently, no. After all, it is not I who publicly express that I have given her up; she has in fact married another.
The whole thing moves me painfully inasmuch as it coincides with my own thoughts about giving up being an author, and it has been somewhat of a strain to introduce the last pseudonym.
Chrysostom — Mynster
Mynster has made being a religious speaker into an artistic performance and studiously guards against becoming personally involved. Right there is the mistake.
Chrysostom is also very eloquent — but he gesticulates with his whole life. He initiates some action in public life — and the next Sunday preaches about it. He uses the pulpit for action; his speaking is not an artistic performance theatrically removed from life's actuality. No, it is an act which intervenes right in the middle of the actuality of life.
Mynster's sermon today
Today Mynster preached about the beauty of the Christian life — and very beautifully.
But to penetrate, give impetus to action, etc. — no, that is foreign to Mynster's nature as he is now. Instead of Christian restlessness, always artistic serenity. Inasmuch as he chose hymn no. 588 I momentarily expected something different today, but it did not happen.
The Poetic — and Myself
Here it is again. The idea-struggle which I represent, yet also moderately actualizing it and therefore incurring various worries — if I were to transform this struggle into literary works, even present it on the stage as straight drama — well, there is no one, no living person who could much such a hit and become the hero of the moment.
But since I resist and still actualize it somewhat, I create nothing but opposition and cause many spiritual trials for myself.
But these are the frontier disputes inherent in my nature. I am a poet. But long before I became a poet I was intended for the life of religious individuality. And the event whereby I became a poet was an ethical break or a teleological suspension of the ethical. And both of these things make me to want to be something more than "the poet," while I also am learning ever more anxiously to guard against any presumptuous arrogance in this, something God also will surely watch over.
And every time a phase of this inner frontier struggle is behind me, there comes back to me all the more emphatically — it is, in fact, the refrain in the battle: that I can never adequately thank God who in infinite love has done and is doing for me far more than I ever could have expected, could or dared expect. What blessedness!
The source of my strength and bold confidence for reaching such a heterogeneity with the universally human is that my strength is my weakness. Practically from childhood I was set outside of the universally human by reason of distinctive sufferings. I am not a capricious experimenter or even perhaps a rash venturer — no, I am a sufferer, constrained in suffering. Without these sufferings I of course would have married long ago, perhaps also have had an appointive position. But my sufferings had a dialectical quality so that it was still possible that they could be relieved. Perhaps it will still turn out that way, and at the time, I hope, when I can no longer afford to maintain an author-existence at my own expense; if not, I will surely get my orders. Meanwhile I take my time, lest I prematurely, out of fretful anxiety for my earthly welfare, plunge ahead and disturb what goals Governance might have for me.
The Age — and My Task
(1) It is not an age which needs a reformer, but it is a conceited, pompous, confused age in which each and every person wants to dabble at being a reformer and which therefore needs just the opposite of a reformer, a servant who can devour all these reformers the way Socrates ate up the Sophists. It is not an age in which malfeasance by government makes a reformation necessary, but it is an age which must learn to need government or learn to be governed.
(2) As I have so often said, the highest and the lowest have a certain resemblance to each other. I shall explain this further.
The highest is not the conventional human normalcy. On the contrary the highest is abnormal. All the religious paradigms are recognizable by being offensive to the ethical. As an example: to cause offense — yes, nothing is easier, any lout and any lubber can do that; and yet, yet it is precisely the highest that also causes offense.
The order is as follows:
- First of all comes the highest, which is the abnormal.
- Then comes the upright honest humanness, which is a kind of relativity.
- Then comes the louts, the fake reformers, etc.
B [or "2", etc. - KJ] is obviously more legitimate than C, but B again is untruth when it wants to ignore A completely.
Take our present situation. Mynster represents B. He has detested C and has fought it to the best of his ability. There I agree with him. But he has forgotten to stress or even to suggest A, and there I disagree with him.
In fair weather only the Mynsterian principle prevails.
But when trouble comes, A must be applied simply in order to be able to govern.
The confusion in our age is simply this dabbling at reforming. This is C. How can this C acquire a certain legitimacy, even though simulated? Precisely by making capital of A, but unfortunately, A is not suggested in the Mynsterian approach.
Under such circumstances, what must be done to get control of C? Cut off communication between C and A, or make any confusion of C and A impossible.
This does not really happen by silencing A in the Mynsterian way, since just because A has been silence, C has been able to make capital of it and put forth the theory which in the highest sense is the truth: that the highest is abnormal.
What is to be done then? Here is my tactic.
I apply A poetically, suggesting that this is too high for us, it is only for the chosen ones, the highly entrusted ones. So I adhere to B, and in this way I am able to scuttle C.
If the most clever statesmen, if the most experienced leaders of the Church were to pass judgment, they would say: He has hit the nail on the head. And then I have to put up with living here in Copenhagen as a ridiculous exaggeration, have to steer the whole thing on my own — while Mynster sits in state and rules — in absurdum; and the officials regard me doubtfully.
Yet Mynster understands me somewhat. I have also done various things privately to explain my approach. But the point is this — he also understands that this implies indirect criticism of his whole approach. But that is what it does.
What makes my position more difficult is that what I want I cannot communicate as such, perhaps advertise in print to the public. No thanks, all I want is that there be governing. But this, again, is the confusion of the times — that everything has to be communicated to the public, also the fact that there must be governing — but that is impossible, after all, if it is communicated to the public. Consequently, I must put up with governmental officials who actually do not govern; and I give strong support so that there may be governing, and as a reward the state officials become enraged with me.
In margin of previous:
Our age imagines itself to be a reforming age. On closer inspection it is obvious that those who want to reform the Church are not religious individualities at all but politicians. This being the case, the established order has more religiousness. If these reformers get a footing, a reformation would occur which, with less religiousness, yes, with minus religiousness — reforms what does still have some religiousness.
No, stop, says Governance; nothing will come of this. You will not have a reformation, but you reformers are going to be cashiered, turned out, shown up for what you are.
Imagine Luther alive today — he would say: everything must be done to put down such an ungodly and blasphemous rebellion, which in addition wants to call itself a reformation.
What a difference. When Luther stepped forth, a reformation was needed; and Luther had essentially more religiousness than the established order. It became the Reformation.
Nowadays the evil, the sickness, is simply this conceitedness that a purely secularized generation wants — to reform — the Church. Religiously understood, the task is simply that of thrusting back this abuse, which is the profanest aping of and taking-in-vain of Luther's Reformation, so far from being reformation that it is the downfall of all religion — by means of — horrible nonsense! — a reformation.