Precisely in order to be able to fall repressively like a lead weight on this whole political and profane reforming of the religious, I must be led so far out that when it comes to representing the movement I can outbid any of its representatives.
And then the turn, such as was made in the preface to Practice in Christianity, a kind of symbolic act — that I was the only one judged to be a mediocre Christian.
The tragedy of the times, especially now after 1848, is precisely this misconceived movement that wants to reform en masse.
But if I had not released Practice in Christianity, if I had withheld it until later in order not to trouble myself with possible misunderstandings with the established order, I would have been preyed upon continually by the question of whether or not I had spared myself. [In margin: And it perhaps could have consumed my whole life, since it was indeed possible that I would never have been able to decide to publish these writings.] Furthermore, if I had released the three treatises in Practice in Christianity separately, one after the other, I would have done it with the idea that it was my task to incite a movement — instead of its being my task to dispatch the reformers.
When everything in Copenhagen became ironical, I, the master of the art of irony, converted the relation and became the object of irony. When chaos won in 1848, then it became very clearly my task — I who had been a stimulus toward movement — to oppose the reformers. I have always understood this, but I simply had to understand it even more fully.
Thus everything was guided for the best. And the blessed consolation in which I have always found rest is this: either I am going about this the right way — and I thank God, or I am going at it the wrong way, and then his infinite love makes it right just the same — but far more right than it would otherwise have been, O infinite love!
The Old — the New
Yes, of course, what I say is somewhat out of fashion, but wait and see — with the help of the year 1848 it will soon be the newest of the new.
My Later Conversations with Bishop Mynster after the One about Practice in Christianity
The various times I have spoken with him I have also taken the opportunity to touch on these points. That the mistake from above has been that there has actually been no governing. That above all it was a matter of properly grasping the reins. That one ought to make a little admission to God about the past — in order to take up the reins properly. That eloquence had one of the most fortuitous situations imaginable when the shout went up from below for freedom, freedom, and more freedom — and then the one at the head stepped forward, drew himself up in all his dignity and said: We also have felt called to self-examination by the revolutions of the day and have acknowledged before God that until now we perhaps have been unduly slack — it now is our intention to govern. I said to him: You are gifted, eloquent, a man of character, dignity, years, and tradition. You are the only one in sight who can do it.
Mynster listens to me. He then usually answers that it is futile to want to tyrannize.
The Call from Above — the Call from Below
Every call from God is always addressed to one person, the single individual; precisely in this lies the rigor and the examination, that the one who is called must stand alone, walk alone, alone with God.
Everything which makes its appearance statistically is not from above; if anyone construes this as a call, you can be sure it is from below. This statistical approach is a slyness which wants to escape from rigorousness, the spirit-rigorousness of being spirit, and, using numbers, operates materialistically.
In his younger days he represented the old, the old-fashioned, the hoary past, primitive, primeval Christianity; now in his old age he has spruced up to be the latest thing out, a regular fashion-setter.
Dr. Rudelbach and I
We shall never understand one another.
For him it has long since been definitely settled that he is a Christian. And now he busies himself with history and the external forms of the Church. He has never felt the disquietude of the idea, wondering every single day whether he is now a Christian or not. "Never" — no, because anyone who has felt this once, one day, one hour, does not let go of it during his entire life, or it never lets go of him.
The idea has involved me in personal self-concern, and therefore I can never find time for projects, for I must begin every day with this concern: Are you a Christian now? Indeed, perhaps this very day there will be an existential collision which will make it clear that you are not a Christian at all.
My Psychological Tactic
I never deny directly what a man says about himself.
The usual thing is for someone to make some inflated statement about himself and then to be told that it is a lie, a delusion — and there is a quarrel.
I do not do things that way. No, when a man says something like that, I answer: If you yourself say so, then I believe it.
Then I take his statement and think it through to all its existential consequences. I confront him with them. One of two things happens — either he more or less accepts them and then there is more or less truth in him, or he does not accept them — and then he has judged himself. I judge no one, but this brings things into the open.
The Significance of My Life at Present
The Church does not have to be reformed, nor does the doctrine. If anything has to be done — then it is penance on the part of all of us. That is what my life expresses.
Humanly speaking, I am the most precocious person among us. And what have I learned? That I hardly dare call myself a Christian — how, then, should I dare want to reform the Church or occupy myself with such things.
Just as other young men go abroad and bring back reports about foreign customs and manners, so I also have lived for many years as if in a foreign country — in the company of ideals, where it is so wonderful to be, all gentleness and mildness, if one is only humble and modest.
Then I was parted from them. In farewell they said something like this: Go with God. Tell others what you have learned. And that you may remember us, take the ideals along poetically. Make the best use of them you can but remember that you are still responsible.
What did I learn? I learned that to be a Christian is something so infinitely elevated that I scarcely dare call myself one. But I received permission to use the ideals poetically.
The doctrine is the established Church and its organization are very good. But the lives, our lives — believe me, they are mediocre. [In margin: The proclamation of the doctrine is done at too great a distance, Christianity is not a power in actuality, our lives are only slightly touched by the doctrine.] But this can be forgiven if it only is acknowledged. But do not incur new guilt by wanting to reform the Church when Christianity is no more.
Just as Luther stepped forward with only the Bible at the Diet of Worms, so I would like to step forward with only the New Testament, take the simplest Christian maxim, and ask each individual: Have you fulfilled this even approximately — if not, do you then want to reform the Church? [In margin: And no one says: I am just as good as the others, for anyone who says that is most unworthy.[
They just laugh! But even that I have put in its right place in advance. In the past they were allowed to get their fill of ridiculing me — something I asked for myself. Now presumably they are tired of it.
Stop, stop. At least be satisfied for the time with what I can offer.
And what can I offer? I am a poet — alas, only a poet. But I can present Christianity in the glory of its ideality; and that I have done. Listen to me — at least before you begin reforming and voting. First see how ideal Christianity really is and then take some time for yourselves — before you reform.
I am only a poet, alas, only a poet. Do not look at my life — and yet, do look at my life only to see what a mediocre Christian I am, something you will see best when you listen to what I say about the ideal. Listen to that and never mind about my trifling person.
I am only a poet. I love this earthly life all too much, would like to have a comfortable life, humanly speaking, to have diversion, to enjoy life, etc. Ah, but I perceive that in the strictest sense Christianity demands something altogether different. But precisely because, deeply humbled, I confess my inferiority, I have realized that Christianity permits me, at least for the time being, to live in this manner (for I am indeed under obligation to inquire, as a child asks his father or his teacher).
And this is what I offer; on this condition I dare to offer Christianity — O, listen to me, at least before you reform it.
I am only a poet. And what, then, is my task (if I could carry it out, for I cannot know definitely today whether I can do it even tomorrow; at all times I only dare be assured that yesterday I was able to do it approximately.)
Wherever there is a movement that I feel is dangerous to Christianity, there I go. I do not say a word to those present, God forbid, not a word about myself — that would be disrespectful. What do I do then? I take my stand, so to speak, in a corner or the middle of some gathering, according to the circumstances. I then begin to talk out loud to myself, just like an absent-minded person, talk out loud to myself about the ideals. If only you clamorous ones would talk this way, you whose speeches, except for the many brilliant parts in the middle, all end with the brilliant conclusion: Now let us take a vote. Something else will happen. Now one, now another will go aside, saying to himself: That was strange talk, that about the ideal — believe me, he will not vote.
And so it goes. For just as little as any woman, regarded in the sphere of the idea, can resist the poet's Don Juan, so no man or woman, regarded in the sphere of the idea, can in the long run resist this speaking about the ideal — how unfortunate the man who could do so. But he cannot. It creeps in, no one knows through what pores and openings, creeps into the heart. A long time may elapse; one day he begins to act strangely. He shuts himself in, or he goes out for a solitary walk. He says to himself: That was strange talk, that about the ideal; I want to think it over. And when he opens the door again or comes home, he is a changed man — believe me, he will not vote on Christianity.
In a certain external, godless way we men also have it in our power at all times to vote on Christianity. We can in fact say: This is the way we want to have it, and this we will call Christianity. Let us beware!
Listen to me! O, my friends, I have never before pleaded for anything like this, but now I plead for this in the name of Christianity! Listen to me! And you, O you women, you have always been receptive to what the poets say, O be receptive now and stop the men! You cannot and will not hear more gentle talk than this from a wretched poet. But just look at Christianity once. Just examine my characterization of a witness to the truth, to say nothing of an "apostle" (and one must be at least a witness to the truth to dare to want to "reform"). Consider what I am saying here, and then look, for example, at me and see what a spineless fellow I am by comparison — ah, but humanly speaking I am in the vanguard here on the mountain.
I am only a poet, and for this very reason I want to have, humanly speaking, a good understanding with you, for in this respect a poet is always weak. If you want to understand me, if in recompense you want to provide my life with earthly embellishments — I will accept it with gratitude. And I dare do that precisely because I call myself only a poet; like a child I dare take pleasure in these earthly things. O, but if the matter goes to the next higher court, if a witness to the truth is required to stop this — no, he will not accept such things. Frightfully tough and hardy as one who has died to the world, unmoved and immovable, he quotes the price of being a Christian to you and me, to all of us, a price as high as "spirit" is high; he abolishes all boundaries; he hastens with longing after his own martyrdom, and therefore he cannot save the rest of us. Thus many weak and frail ones topple who could go along under a bit more lenient conditions, if there were some concession, and many vacillating ones become hard of heart, etc.
The Old Orthodox
who claimed that they were the only true Christians in Denmark.
I have nothing against their separating from us — but it is indefensible that they should achieve this by balloting and without giving up the claim that they are the true Church.
But this is supposed to be the tactic — and then judgment is supposed to fall upon Mynster and his party.
In what frame of mind could honest Spandet make his proposal? Did he look upon it as similar to a motion about gas street-lighting and the like — if so, then of course a vote may be taken, but it was certainly improper to make his proposal in this vein. Or if he insists that he has regarded it as a matter of conscience, how in the world can he then be satisfied with serving a matter of conscience (which as a "royal service" not only must be promoted quickly and be put through — but must be put through or the one commissioned falls) — by making a motion for balloting and then seeing how many votes it will get.
Even if it did go through, the cause would still be wrongly served, and an indirect proof would be given that it is not a matter of conscience for him and that he has bitten off too much.
And if it fails to pass, then perhaps he will step forth in character.
In margin of previous:
The Old Orthodox would like to withdraw from the whole Church and yet reserve for themselves the status of being the true Church, and perhaps also (as Rudelbach seems to indicate in his book on the constitution of the Church), keep all the Church property for themselves, which per capita is not so insignificant, since the Church property is rather considerable and, according to Rudelbach, the true Christians are very few.
The Storm Arises — Christ Sleeps
Thus the highest is similar to the lowest. Only a child, especially a very little child, or an animal, can lie very quietly and sleep in a storm. The rest of us cannot do this. But the God-man can.
And what do the rest of us have to do? Yes, just what the disciples did: they called upon Christ.
In my first conversation with him (which is noted somewhere else [i.e., X1 A 41], I said (and I do not remember if I made a note of this) when he hinted at drawing me into a closer relationship to himself:
No, Your Majesty, the very point of my life is that I lead a private life, that I am a private man able and willing to defend absolute monarchy in our day. If I am drawn into a closer relationship to you, I am immediately weakened. Everything is weakened when explained by mixed motives. The only way to remain unimpaired is to be a private citizen.
I could have added that people diminish a private person by calling him an eccentric.
How sound that answer was. As a matter of fact, everything has so disintegrated that a monarch himself must admit it — and he did. A private citizen is a power, and he must have sufficient resignation to refrain from accepting even the smallest favor — otherwise he is weakened.
At one time the king's favor meant power — how changed things are now when the king must refrain from showing his favor precisely in order not to weaken. How impotent.
My Relationship to the Movement
In one sense no one, no one, no one here on the mountain is as close to the movement as I am; yes, I am its ultimate point.
But the very moment one of our agitators would say: Splendid, let us organize and get this or that external change — then no one, no one, no one here on the mountain is as far away from the movement as I am, separated and distinguished from it by a whole world of difference.
Even that venerable old gentleman, the Very Reverend Bishop of Sjælland, whom I have admired and respected from the beginning and still do, even he can get involved. He can say: If necessary, I can join with you at many points if you will use common sense. But I cannot. It is much like a dance attended by a dignified elderly matron. Of course she did not come to dance; no, she came along with her children and grandchildren. She sits in an inner room where the older ones are gathered, also in a festive mood, but not to dance. Then the young people get the idea: We must get old Mrs. H. to dance once — she outshines us all in her matriarchal beauty. She demurs, saying: No, my little children. But finally she concedes and says: On one condition, no waltz; I absolutely will not waltz. But if it will make you happy, I will dance a polonaise around the hall. That evening at the ballet a dispute may arise and continue later at social gatherings concerning to what extent it can be maintained that old Mrs. H. danced that evening. I do not enter into such disputes with the dancers and conversers. In my opinion it can be said: She was involved, something she could very well do and still preserve her dignity. It is different with me. Even if both youth and madness joined together to invite me, I literally will not dance any more than, if you please, an invalid dances. If people wish to put this interpretation on it, I do not object, but it is literally true: I will not dance.
It is one of my pseudonyms (Anti-Climacus) who says: Christianity does not exist at all. It almost sounds as if an apostle were speaking, and thus all relations must be affected appropriately. Just as the movement of a huge fish, almost just by breathing, stirs the sea to its depths, so the movement of an apostle, almost just by breathing, affects everything. Thus no one, no one, no one of the agitators, dares make an offer. Even the person who offered the most and risked the most would qualify it and say: One is almost, almost tempted to say that it seems as if Christianity did not exist.
So it is the pseudonym who says these words. But prior to these words there is the preface to this little book. There it says: I understand this as being spoken to me, solely to me (not to any other man) — so that I might learn to flee to grace. No one, no one, no one of our agitators would characterize the turn this way. He would say: I and a few others, we are Christians, or at least I am — that is, on that first point he will not make a great flourish, but on the second point he will decisively establish his character, the certainty that he is a Christian.
But precisely because I poetically (through the pseudonym) gave the momentum of the infinite and then again, with the aid of the preface, Christianly let the whole thing fall on me, me alone, the movement necessarily is just the opposite of what it must seem to inexperienced and ordinary seamen, to say nothing of the passengers.
The sailor speaks of tacking. When this is to be done, he is not satisfied to have a couple of sails up. No, every stitch is stretched to capture every breeze and give the greatest possible speed. Now the ship sails at a speed — let us say it although presumably impossible — of sixteen knots. The orders are given: All men to the sails. The captain himself stands at the helm. The passengers say: We are heading over there and at the tremendous speed we are going we will be there right away. The time has come. The signal sounds. He lets the ship tack — and we do not arrive there at all, not even in the vicinity; no, it is the place directly opposite. Thereupon he hands the rudder over to the first mate. He takes a cigar case out of his pocket, while all the time his thoughts still seem to be elsewhere, for his face expresses the solemn joy discernible in experienced sailors when a difficult maneuver has been executed with God's help — and this the experienced sailor never forgets! Then he takes a cigar out of the case as a roguish smile, characteristic of the experienced sailor, plays on his lips. Then without saying a word he goes into his cabin to work on his report to the admiralty. — Let me just add a novelistic touch to that incident. There was a passenger on board with binoculars; standing toward the front of the cluster of passengers, he put the binoculars up to his eyes and signaled with his hand. It was obvious that the passengers practically took him to be the captain, and it was obvious that this did not displease him. He announced: We are heading over there, and at the speed we are going now we will be there immediately. By nature he had a long nose (see Claudius) — when the tack was made, I had never seen such a long nose. For one moment he stood as if paralysed, but then he became furious. He threw the binoculars to the floor and tried to incite the passengers against the captain. But this evoked no response among the passengers and passed off so quietly that the captain did not hear a thing of it in the cabin where he sat fully occupied with making his report to the admiralty.
To the admiralty. yes, for the admiralty and the general staff — those are the two major powers.
But there is a greater one: God in heaven. But to be obliged to steer on the condition of having to make a report there and consequently with the responsibility of eternity — that is sheer fear and trembling. I would rather cut peat every day for seventy years than have to steer just one hour on that condition. Good Lord, after all one is just a poor wretch of a man, and even the greatest man can easily miss the mark, albeit only 1/999 of a point — but when it is with the responsibility of eternity, it does not help to come that close to the mark. And yet in another sense it is so blessed to steer on the condition that all the glory of the world, and offered for 70,000 years — yes, well-advised — but, not, that is not even something to be considered — I will exchange it for this bliss for just one hour.
Now, then, this is granted to every man, yes, he must do it. A servant girl, a professor, an infantry soldier, Councilor Deichman (O, excuse me!), a bishop, a mailman, you [in margin: O, away with all emancipation! — you] my dear girl, and I: everyone is to be the single individual who with eternal responsibility steers his own ship. In one sense this is frightful. But if it is properly understood in fear and trembling and not fatuously forgotten again — then, in Christ's name and for his sake, it is even gentler than simply being responsible to the admiralty, for the admiralty, if I may jest, is not as terrifying as God in heaven can be — in fact, and here is the earnestness, even less can it be love and compassion such as God in heaven is — yes, for that matter it does not even have the right to be that, for the admiralty does not have the divine royal prerogative to be love and compassion as God in heaven is! And this is Christianity and God's own doing. Do you want to delete some of it — and by balloting! Or do you think that now is the time to make some external changes instead of pondering how blessed Christianity really is and, alas, how little all of us — or at least I — have appreciated this blessing. Period!
Poetic Humor Verging on a Higher Madness
..... My opinion is that Christianity does not exist at all. Moreover, I am all for Bishop Mynster, who I hope is of the same opinion. — It would be in the vein of Hamlet; thus pathos is brought to the bursting point and the individual is split.
Grundtvig — and I
Grundtvig stepped into the world with his trial sermon: Why has God's Word departed from God's house.
I could never make such a remark. I would have to say: Why has power departed from the proclamation of God's Word.
For I do believe that it is still God's Word which is heard round about the country — the trouble is that we simply do not act according to it. I can be satisfied with little, a little verse from the Bible is sufficient — and I promptly ask myself: Have you done it?
This explains why I can listen to any pastor, any student, theological candidate. Almost from the beginning Grundtvig was limited to listening only to himself. And always this insistence on Christianity as doctrine, proposition — and then the world-historical.
Grundtvig — and I
There can be no greater difference between us than in our tactics.
An unknown theological candidate wants to raise a big tempest and with a fourteen-page sermon, a trial sermon at that, consequently a sample sermon for which he should even have received a grade.
And I have worked prodigiously for seven years consecutively. As an esthetic author I captivated men, reached a culminating point — and then have a pseudonym declare: Christianity does not exist.
Grundtvig — The Peasant Party
Do the Grundtvigians dare deny that they are cognizant of the fact that the Peasant Party wants freedom in a purely secular way on purely secular grounds (consequently in opposition to Christianity), while the Grundtvigians want freedom on super-Christian grounds? And how, then, do they dare vote together? I do not question the Peasant Party — they do not pretend to be anything but politicians — but I question the Grundtvigians, who even have posed as the only true Christians in the land. Is such a thing Jesuitic concealment, is it Christianity?
I am a kind of existential master of ceremonies. — That is, with regard to what anyone claims himself to be in the sphere of religion, I am promptly his existential implications, forcing him either into character to become manifest as a deceiver or one self-deceived.
Ideally seen, this is my task, although this does not mean that empirically I have dealings with every individual.
But we must move back — this I constantly express by constantly saying of myself: I am only a poet, which is the truth, but a truth which can still be considerably embarrassing to muddleheads who would rather be the ideal themselves or close to or somewhat close to the ideal.
Action Expressing Personal Integrity
never makes a hit at the time; instead it offends people.
But when twenty years have gone by, for example, and the person is still living, and if by this time he has also become a windbag, then he is recognized for that action. But only on the condition that by this time he has become a windbag, for otherwise he will be about to initiate new character-action, and so recognition fails to appear.
To Have a Cause
- Because it seems good in the eyes of men, a sign of earnestness, etc., one speaks uninterruptedly about having a cause, about wanting to work for the cause, everything for the cause — and he has no cause except that of wanting to please men by his talk about having a cause. Such people have no cause but dress something up, a display mannequin which they coddle as if it were a child.
- One has a kind of cause — but the cause, however, is consequential only to the point of gaining one's own advantage by having the cause.
- One has a cause but supports it in every possible way by clubbing together etc.; one is happy when someone, even through misunderstanding, joins up, for although one has a cause, he wants to spare himself as much as possible, i.e., one wants to have a cause as little as possible.
- Ethical irony and intellectual, unselfish interest, which have a cause to the degree that it is hidden in order to prevent the misunderstanding of being of help to someone.
- The martyrs who suffer for the cause. They need have no fear at all of getting the support of men, because where there is suffering, men flee. But in any case, they are still careful to parry assistance through misunderstanding, if it should be offered, because the cause is to them unconditionally the absolute, the I unconditionally nothing. This is what it is to have a cause in the highest sense.
is not to be included.
Inasmuch as before God I regard my entire work as an author as my own upbringing or education, I could say: But I have remained silent so long lest, in relation to what I understand before God to be my own education, I become guilty of talking out of school by speaking prematurely. This could then be added to the passage in the final draft of "The Accounting": Before God I call this my upbringing or education etc.
I would have liked very much to have made that statement; lyrically it would have gratified me to use this expression. But there is something else that holds me back. As is frequently the case, the most humble expression seen from another angle is the very one that is likely to say too much, and so it is here. Precisely this humble expression would accentuate the fact that it is my education, almost in the sense of my being an authority. It is simpler as it stands in "The Accounting," with the addition that I need further education, and the tone is such that it can be said of every man.
Copenhagen and Denmark Are a Provincial Market Town
to such an extent that the fact that I received the poor and unfortunate name "Søren" has been a downright hindrance to my becoming regarded as being somebody. No, in order for it to be conceivable in Copenhagen that I am a thinker, I really would have to have a nicer name.
This may be denied. But nevertheless it is the case. For one thing, people are so provincial-minded, and for another, if anyone says this, they deny it.
always to disputere only e concessis (to take a man's words when he says something great about himself and then to press the existential consequences upon him), might seem to be "villainous malice and envy". By no means, it is admiration. But it is the admiration of reflection which looks where it is going, and ethically it is irony, which the lack of character in our age needs.
I believe I might have the courage to lose my life in order to make room for the extraordinary — but to be regarded as the extraordinary myself — no, that cannot be; to me that would be the same as defiling what has been entrusted to me. In a pinch I could better try to find a man who is perhaps not as advanced as I am myself and get him proclaimed as the extraordinary and then perhaps risk everything to put him through. But I myself may only say incessantly: It is not I who am the extraordinary; I only bow to it. Only then am I happy and have a zest for life and for conflict. Incognito is my element; and there, too, is the stimulating incommensurability in which I am able to move. Not to be more than one is considered and assumed to be is frightfully crippling, as pinching as tight boots, to me deadly. Perhaps for most people being regarded as more than they are is stimulating bait so that they still make some effort. For me it is just the opposite — being regarded as less than I am is my working capital (the propelling agent). But I am also by nature polemical.
Even then he described the situation in Christendom when he declared: "Our troubles are oppressive, and yet martyrdom is an impossibility — because our persecutors bear the same name as we do."
See Böhringer, I, pt. 2, p. 190.
What our age would really be most inclined to regard as a counter-part of Don Quixote would be an ascetic in the old sense, an ascetic who fasts and prays and accuses himself of even the slightest sinful thought and imposes punishment upon himself for it — and then we are all Christians!
For someone to live poor and pinched — if he has no other means — is understandable (although the time will come soon when this is not understood, for he could indeed become a Communist), but this is not at all the concept of asceticism. That asceticism is a dialectic of the spirit, has religious meaning for the person himself — this would be considered prodigiously ridiculous — and yet we are all Christians! We are all Christians; and then if one is earnest about existentially expressing Christianity, all would laugh, would find it a ridiculous exaggeration, and the man would be regarded as mad.
The mother of Gregory of Nazianz. He had a brother Caesarius who was a physician. When he was buried, his mother followed, not in mourning apparel but clad in white: "She mastered her tears with philosophy, her sorrow with hymns."
Somewhere in an earlier journal [i.e. X1 A 131] where I mentioned my willingness to take it upon my conscience to let the journalists shoot, there is added:
But no, no! I prefer to do battle in such a way that I take personal command at the execution where I am to fall before the journalists.
Once an instrument of contemptibleness — now the respectable, the virtuous one! Once the grinning buffoon — now the ethicist! Once hiding behind street loafers, the rabble-hero — now the aristocrat, the fine, fine aristocrat who converse during dinner with barons and counts. — And yet, despite all these changes, essentially the same — the only striking thing in these changes!
In margin of previous:
Now that Bishop Mynster has honored him, the designation "the virtuous" would acquire new point. It could be introduced as follows.
Since the designation "the instrument of literary contemptibleness" is too long, I deem it best to use a new one as an epithet for Goldschmidt: the virtuous. It says exactly the same. It suggests a passage in Det lykkelige Skibbrud: a prostitute about to be married comes to Rosiflengius — not in order to be married by him, for R., after all, was not a priest — but in order to get a wedding song, which she gets, and the title reads: The Lily United to the Rose, or Thoughts by the Virtuous Virgin-Bride.
Today I read my usual portion in the Old Testament. And the sequence came to David's Psalms (24, 25, 26, 27, 28).
It made an especially strong impact because last evening I got the little book by Bishop Mynster in which he has blurred the impression of Goldschmidt by bringing us two together just where we should be separated.
Psalms 26:4 and 27:10 made a special impression on me.
26:4 I do not sit with deceitful men,
nor do I consort with hypocrites;
27:10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me. — KJ
[Diagonally in upper left corner: On the Impossibility of Doing Anything about Mynster's Latest Book: Yderlige Bedrag etc.]
For the journal. Page given on the front cover.
Mynster's Latest Book (Yderlige Bidrag, etc.)
- Quotations are altogether properly used — nothing to object to here.
- I would unqualifiedly esteem recognition by Bishop Mynster. But the way he has brought in Goldschmidt makes the whole thing an insult (formally, for actually the quotation is perfectly correct). But I usually do not pay any attention to insults; to defend oneself against insults is not fighting devoutly; one defends oneself devoutly only against honor, distinction, etc. — especially when it is misunderstood.
- My existential category is "without authority". But in this case authority actually would have to be used, and to attack Mynster would tend in that direction. But I continually stick to the poetic approach.
- More than for anyone else, Mynster of course was the one for whom I would risk almost everything. But here he has impaired himself. As far as that goes, he also has placed me with my profound veneration for him in an almost ridiculous predicament, for that is really not a category for a man who acts in such a way. But I could derive some satisfaction from being the one who would jolt him. But for the reasons mentioned I cannot bring myself to that, and furthermore Practice in Christianity will certainly be interpreted by many to be aimed at Mynster, notwithstanding my keeping the whole book poetic and wishing to be able to go on without deviation "in profound veneration".
Regarding My Relationship to Bishop Mynster
Perhaps it is best that I explain in a few words how I regard my relationship to Bishop Mynster at present; it will always be of interest to my reader. And since something is being done publicly — and perhaps much more is being done secretly — to frustrate my work, an explanation such as this is always helpful.
As I see the relationship now, Bishop M. must be regarded as my most dangerous and zealous opponent.
"But how did this happen? What outrageous wrong have you done him to bring this about?" No, not so, for even if I had wronged Bishop M. scandalously, I still would not regard him as my most zealous opponent. O, no, Bishop M. is a proud man, and a proud man can forgive even an outrageous wrong.
Only one thing, only in one case can he not forgive. The remark I am about to make is not my own but one of the most distinguished, most experienced and tested, as well as one of the most noble observers the French nation has to boast of, Duc de La Rochefoucauld. He says: One forgives the person who has done him wrong but one never forgives — and in proportion to his pride — never forgives the person he himself has wronged. No, one does not forgive him; he in fact is also far more dangerous than one's worst enemy. For at most what can the worst enemy do? He can do me wrong, but no, more than that — indeed, the prouder a person is, the less it bothers him. No, but the one who is a plaguing reminder that I did him wrong — him I never forgive. Yes, there no doubt have been cases of a proud man who, having wronged somebody, became so furious with the person he wronged that he then did everything possible to plunge this man into vice and crime and thereby managed to feel justified in the wrong he originally did him — as if something later had retroactive power! No, one never forgives the man he himself has wronged.
Alas, poor me, so in Bishop Mynster I have my most zealous opponent — for I am in the situation that Bishop Mynster has wronged me, poor me, and once again poor me with my steadfast devotion to Bishop M.
To place The Corsair's Goldschmidt and me on a par as authors (and this is what Bishop M. did in his latest book) was a wrong; Bishop Mynster knows it himself, and he will never forgive me. There is only one condition on which Bishop M. perhaps would forgive me for his having wronged me: if the whole affair would pass off unnoticed. But that cannot be, if it is touched upon — each time Bishop M. will become more and more inimical toward me; he will never forgive me, for he undoubtedly feels: basically it was an enormous wrong I did Magister K., and I hereby have exposed myself frightfully — ergo, I will never forgive him.
* Note. In his most recent book: Yderligere Bidrag til Forhandlingerne om de kirkelige Forhold. i Danmark. 1851
There was a time when one could almost be afraid to call himself a disciple [Discipel] of Christ, because it meant so much. Now one can do it with complete ease, because it means nothing at all.
There is some truth to the notion that I am more or less incognito. One is right in character by being incognito; I do not step into character by stepping out of my incognito. It is the same with a secret police agent — he is right in character by being disguised and by seeing to it that no one finds out that he is in the police. One cannot say to him (except meaninglessly): Step into character by throwing off your disguise and reveal yourself as a policeman — no, just that would be stepping out of character.
My Relationship to the Established and the Intrigue against Me
- My position has never been an emphasis on "doctrine"; my view is that the doctrine is very sound.
Note. This alone shows that it could not to be my interest to form a party, a sect, and the like, for the question is not a matter of doctrinal differences.
- My position (which, however, I never assert directly or authoritatively) emphasizes the existential: that the lives men live demonstrate that there is really no Christianity — or very little. The proclamation as far as it goes is ambiguous (as Mynster splendidly illustrates): in "quiet hours" they indulge in high concepts — then go home and say to themselves: Such things of course do not apply to practical life — but instead Christianity is precisely this: it must be done in actuality.
Note. This explains why I take the poetic approach so much. If I did not, I either would have to be the absolute, the ideal, myself (which I am far from being) and use absolute authority, or I would have to make my existential life the maximum and then judge others, forgetting to strive myself. This is fanaticism and arrogance. Instead, I affirm the ideals poetically. But I do affirm them and they are heard. Mynster, on the other hand, wants them suppressed, wants a deliberate separation between the quiet hours and daily life, whereas I want the religious to be heard right in the midst of daily life, in its ideality, which pronounces judgment on me also and finds me imperfect and second-rate.
- In order to do everything in my power neither to clash with the established order nor to do it the slightest harm but only good, I constantly have remained an individual, have resisted intimate relationships, and thereby have angered many people — alas, it was due to my zeal for the established, for which an effort such as mine can be dangerous as soon as it becomes a party.
- The danger which threatens the established these days is the crowd, the numerical, parties and sects. To protect the established all the forms of the numerical have to be split up. That is how the religious establishment should use its officials. But it is a thankless job; one takes the risk of being badly treated, regarded as proud, etc. No one wants to do it; regardless of the party the established order courts popularity and the numerical. That is to say, there actually is no governing and Mynster himself exemplifies that.
Thus again in self-denial serving the established, I have taken on this whole affair, have doubly exposed myself to ill-treatment since it can never be said that I do it in the capacity of an appointed official — and on the other hand, without enjoying the basis and security of being a state-appointed official.
It is easy to see now how it can be shaped. Just as I have no basis in the established order, I have also had none of the benefits of office or the recognition thereof. On the other hand, in serving the established I have run afoul of the crowd. Now the established is pushing me, so I am as good as abandoned.
I merely want to point this out, for with the help of God I will surely make my way.
But that this could be intrigue can be surmised from seeing how Mynster in his latest book accentuates Goldschmidt at my expense.
The Established — and I
If I clash with the established, it will be possible simply and solely through a blunder on Mynster's part. Everything I do is for the defense of the established; it is the only thing that can be done with the truth. Everything has been done to make things as easy as possible for Mynster. But if in the end he solidifies his idea that his whole dubious proclamation of Christianity, which has made Christianity into a theatrical performance, is wisdom, is Christianity, well, then he is the one who makes my cause into something else.
But in that case he will not be able to see it through. His time will come, and whatever happens to me, Mynster will have an auditing in his lifetime, if not by me then by others, which will be very costly to him.
Mynster's whole secular-prudent traffic is transformed to something even worse when he insists that precisely this is Christianity and that a description of Christianity such as mine is fanaticism.
I am reading Petersen's Die Idee der Kirche.
It is a rather well-written book.
But I can only laugh when reading such a book. There sits a theologus holding forth on the future task of the whole Church, making himself important by interpreting Luther and the Reformation, taking the credit almost as if it were his own personal property and personal achievement. — And Mr. Petersen, there is a man whose life is lived to the refrain: What appointment should I look for now, are the surroundings beautiful, etc. Also: It was really fine of the University of Erlangen to send me a doctoral diploma.
And this is the way it is with everything in our day: sheer and utter dissipation in doctrine, imagination, observations, attitudes, etc. — but not a trace of, not a thought of, not a hint of action.
"The Church" Exists Only for the Sake of Our Imperfection
This is Calvin's teaching. See Petersen, Die Idee der Kirche, III, p. 405, note. Petersen, of course, is of a different opinion.
Conversation with Bishop Mynster, May 2
As I entered, I said that this was just about the time he usually traveled on his visitations and I usually liked to call upon him some time before.
So we talked together about the minister and the department, which I do not note down since it does not concern my cause.
Then the conversation was drawn to more recent events. I mentioned again the tactic with my latest pseudonym and pointed out how without it I could not have taken the position against Rudelbach, which he admitted. I then repeated that even if he had something against this book of mine, which was possible, it was nevertheless a defense of the established order.
Then I turned suddenly to his book and said outright that I had not come to thank him for my copy because there was something in it which I could not approve, and this was why I had been delinquent about visiting him.
We talked about this; yet he was momentarily startled when I turned the conversation this way. So we talked about this. He maintained essentially, as I could well understand, that he had merely said that Goldschmidt was talented; whereupon I pointed out that this could be understood as an understatement. I reminded him that he, too, had enemies and how an enemy might construe his behavior. I repeated again and again that what concerned me was whether his reputation had not suffered too much by directing attention to Goldschmidt in this way.[*]
[*] He said that G. was a useful man and that one ought to utilize such people. I replied that there is an impatience which sees only what appears advantageous at the moment but which is dangerous, and that it was a question of whether or not he had not bought too dearly by paying with his prestige.
I pointed out to him that he ought to have demanded a revocation by G.; I told him that with his permission I would show how he should have done it — that is, demanded a revocation. The precariousness of it all lay, I told him, in this, that he should keep in mind that he has to represent prestige — and that it was impossible for me to defend his conduct. I pointed out to him how he now had G. in his power, that he could give a turn to the affair — one usually brings out the good in a man by means of the good; the fact that M. had directed attention to G. in this way ought to have made G. aware that a revocation was necessary; since it was lacking, what had been done was also of a different character. But M. was of the opinion that there was still something in the fact that G. had remained silent. I explained again how insidious G. was and that it probably would appear some time.
Then I said to him: It may seem strange that youth speaks to age in this manner, but for the present will you permit me to do so and allow me to give you some advice. If there is anything about me of which you disapprove, if you would like to give me a whack, do it, do it; I can take it and shall see to it that you do not suffer for it; but above all do not do it in such a way that your own prestige comes to suffer thereby. It is your prestige that concerns me.
Again and again I repeated: "I want it said plainly and bluntly," "I want my conscience to be clear," "It must be noted that I have said that I cannot approve of it" (and as I said it I bent over the table and wrote, as it were, with my hand). To this he replied: "Well, it is very explicit." And I saw to it that every time I said this he replied and indicated that he had heard it.
In other respects my conversation was permeated by all the affection for him I received from my father and still have. I talked much longer than usual. Incidentally, he was more friendly and attentive than usual today. I did something which I otherwise do not do — I spoke a little with him about his family, a subject he brought up himself by saying that his daughter was to be married. And I spoke a little with him about himself, about the joy of his old age, and how grateful he must be. And then again — that he must be sure to watch out for his prestige.
Usually he has to be pressed when I speak of paying him a visit, and generally he is in the habit of saying that I might better come some other time, without saying when. This he did not do today. On the contrary, he said that I would be welcome. And when I said: Is another time perhaps more convenient to you, he replied: Come at the specified time. To which I answered: I would certainly prefer to come at that time; it is very special to me, I am accustomed to it, and "tradition is still a great force." (This was an allusion to something in the conversation.)
And so it went — Thanks, good friend, etc.
I parted from him on the most friendly terms possible.
Incidentally, when we spoke together of Goldschmidt he made an attempt to point out that he had used "talented" for Goldschmidt and "gifted" for me and that the latter meant much more. To which I answered: That is of no consequence, the question here is your prestige. Thereupon he abandoned this attempt.[+]
On the whole I was happy to have spoken with him. My affection for him belongs to him, after all, and it does not help much to put in print how devoted to him I am — it would never be understood anyway.
[+] The dubious aspect (of the extent to which Mynster nevertheless did not want to affront me by this grouping of me with Goldschmidt) was something which up until now I had not wanted to note down although I hid it in my memory. When I said that he at least ought to have let G. first disavow his past, M. answered: Then I would have to have read through all of his numerous books. Thus I was supposed to believe that M. was actually ignorant of the fact that there was a paper called The Corsair, that G. had edited it for six years, and that M. did not understand that this was what I was aiming at!
Mynster — and I
Think of a knot. There are some who want it untied. This of all things Mynster does not want. Then I come along and say: Let me tie the knot just a little tighter. No, he is afraid of that, too, for no one must touch it, and that despite the fact that it is so loose that it cannot hold without being tied more securely.
State of Mind
The delight which women in particular, and especially the less enlightened, have in terrifying children with all sorts of imaginary notions about a man who comes and takes them, etc. (as today, May 5, out in the neighbourhood of Hirschholm, I heard a girl tell a little child that it must not go too near the water, that there was a man in the water who would take it, that merely looking down into the water was enough to be taken — basically a profound observation) hangs together (disregarding that it is a means for getting children to be quiet) with the selfishness which rejoices or is stimulated at the sight of a child anxious about something which one is himself not anxious about, whose nothingness one knows himself.
When a man does something like this, you will see that he is likely to give the whole thing a comic touch. But woman has a secret rapport with anxiety, and she is stimulated by seeing the child's actual anxiety.
There is hardly a person hereabouts who is as cognizant as I of all the objections that can be leveled from a Christian point of view against a state Church, a folk Church, an established Christian Church, and the like, also that in the strictly Christian sense the demand is: separation — this is ideality's maximum requirement.
But I maintain that undertaking this separation requires such a qualitatively religious operation that only a qualitatively distinguished religious character can accomplish it. Strictly speaking, it requires an apostle, at least a witness to the truth. And it has to be done in character. There must be no characterless confabulating about this. Getting a characterless rattle-brain to venture such a thing is far more insane than to put a butcher in command of a brigade, or have an apprentice barber do a difficult surgical operation.
Now, I have not found one single person on our scene who bears any likeness to such a distinguished religious character. However there are a few who want to dabble blindly in trying to organize this operation in a characterless manner and inadmissable form.
This is absolute corruption [In margin: from the phrase: corruptio optimi pessima]. A mismanaged established order — well, there is nothing commendable about that, but it is far preferable to a reformation devoid of character.
This is how I go about it. If I were to pass myself off as a witness to the truth or something similar, I would be a nonentity. But I do not do that. For that very reason I am sufficiently authentic to be able to cope with these characterless, unmoral reformers.
In this way I safeguard the established.
But to do this, I demand what I demand of myself: admissions. Just as when a regiment has disgraced itself and has been totally reduced in rank, so I believe that we — if we will not and dare not venture out any farther than the folk Church and the like — must tolerate being totally reduced in rank, and we must confess that in the more rigorous sense we are not Christians.
And how do I operate in this respect? Do I step forward as one who in God's behalf, so to speak, has orders to reduce Christendom in rank? O, no, I am without authority. Stirred by the ideal myself, I find a joy in being reduced in rank myself, and I strive "without authority" to stir others to the same.
The mistake in the Mynsterian approach is: (1) he has subscribed to the notion, as if there were truth and meaning in it, that all of us thousands and millions are true Christians, (2) second, he has become set in opposition to me.
Thus the whole established order can continue. For a Christian in the rigorous sense is so rare that there hardly is one to be found in each generation.
A Christian in the volatilized sense, a Christian such as we are, is one who accepts the doctrines, rests in grace, but does not in the more rigorous sense enter into "imitation." To such a Christian Christ is the Savior, the Redeemer, but not in the stricter sense "the prototype," except in the form of humiliation unto inward deepening.
You see, "imitation" in the more rigorous sense is precisely what Mynster has abolished, completely omitted. His malpractice consists precisely in pretending that nothing is wrong, for it has to be said, the truth about where we are has to come out — otherwise everything is secularized.
How the Publication of the Last Pseudonym Took Place: Anti-Climacus, The Sickness unto Death
(This no doubt is noted in the journals of that period, but I never read such things afterward and always carry around a general summary in my head.)
It was in the summer of 1849. I was under severe strain from the previous year. The financial crisis had affected me very much and made it clear that in the future I would have to think about my finances. The whole R. Nielsen affair had distressed me. Strube had caused me concern.
I had struggled for some time about whether I should publish these books. If it were done, it was my intention then to travel a while for recreation and then after that be obliged to make a living. I realized, too, that if they were to be published there was not much time to lose, for one thing because it was important to the whole maieutic foreground of the structure of the authorship that they come as quickly as possible, and for another external reason, an income tax was threatened any minute. But throughout all this I continually prayed to God to prompt me in every way if I was supposed to go ahead and publish them, but that he would check me in every way if it was at all presumptuous.
The decision not to publish prevailed. It seemed to me that I had the prospect of a happier life if I could manage to resolve the problem in my personality which had made it impossible for me to take on any official position. It seemed to me that I had to have the help of a Savior to do this, whereas formerly I had looked upon this suffering as a limitation which I could not exceed but by the help of God must accept, since in another sense I had been so extraordinarily endowed. So I prayed God that I might be appointed to the pastoral seminary* — and also to be reconciled with her, something she, the married one, would have to request herself.
* Note. It was my intention to direct my efforts toward the extensive, whereas my earlier efforts had been directed toward the intensive. I would then have to consider myself as having won out in such a way that the established order would gladly agree with me. So I hoped for an appointment to the seminary.
If this had happened, the pressures on my life would have been lessened. Drawing her to the foreground was also connected with this and was something I had quite varied reasons for doing (see the journals of the time [ X1 A 568, 569, 570, 659, 661, 663, 667, 668]; also because it would gratify my pride to give her the greatest compensation possible, would give me the joy of expressing my loyalty, religiously would benefit my cause, and my life would be touched with pathos. — But then she herself had to ask for it.
The thought of the seminary, however, I had to give up, for in the first place Mynster obviously would oppose it. Then there were other influences — and I sent the message to the printer, received the answer: Could they receive the manuscript the next day.
Then that same evening I learnt that Councillor Olsen is dead. That really played havoc with me: should I wait a while to see if something would happen on her side — and these two thoughts now united: the seminary — her.
Meanwhile I actually went ahead with it. I dared not make a reversal. Besides, if anything happened from her side, I could let the book be printed (as I intended) and then hold the copies.
But if there was no possibility of triumphantly bearing down on the established order, then I would have to keep her out of it; otherwise the step intended to benefit her could easily turn out to mean something entirely different.
But this death was so singularly fateful that it of course had to have a powerful effect on me.
Earlier, of course, I had had misgivings, and they promptly returned: what should I do with all the writing that now lay completed. If I got an appointment first, then it could hardly be published — and I would risk making a mess of my own life. I then decided that I could use them as a kind of esoteric communication at the seminary. But the problem there was that it seemed to me to be a far too easy way to set forth such earnest thoughts, and that it was, after all, an awkward matter to have such thoughts communicated to me and to avoid the responsibility of setting them forth. Also with respect to her, if a reconciliation with her was at all possible, I was concerned lest I assume the enormous responsibility of suddenly disturbing her whole marriage, inasmuch as either I would have to explain the whole truth of the matter (and then perhaps everything would be disturbed) or I would have to use a new form of deception.
Meanwhile I went to Madvig. I did not see him. I went to Mynster and I did not see him. I went to Mynster once again and was told as politely as possible that he had no time today.
During the same period I had been reading Fenelon and Tersteegen. Both had made a powerful impact on me. A line by Fenelon struck me especially: that it must be dreadful for a man if God had expected something more from him. Misgivings awakened full force as to whether such a change in my personal life could even take place. On the other hand, I was qualified to be an author, and I still had money. It seemed to me that I allowed myself to panic too soon and to hope for what I desired but perhaps could not attain and thus perhaps would make a complete mess of things.
So I wrote to the printer. I was informed that their services were available and could they receive the manuscript the next day; decisions are seldom made that fast.
Then the evening before the printers were to receive the manuscript, as arranged, I learned that Councillor Olsen had died.
That affected me powerfully. Strangely enough, he had died one or two days before and I had not heard of it, and I learned of it only after my arrangement with the printer. I said to myself: If you had found out about it before you wrote to the printer, you perhaps would have held back in order to see if this could have some significance, however firmly I was convinced that it was extremely dubious to speak to her precisely because I deceived her by pretending I was a deceiver.
As mentioned, this had an unsettling effect upon me. I did not sleep well that night. Furthermore, it seemed as if someone were talking to me or I talked with myself. As I view it now, [+] I well recall the words but cannot say definitely which words were mine and which were mine in the other person.
+ In margin:
It must be noted here that my mood the next morning was one of vague consternation. It actually was much later that I began to remember any details, mainly after coming to live on Nørregade in the miserable apartment Strube had rented for me. There are few externals that have depressed me as much as that apartment, where I sat for a long time unable to do anything because of the glare of the sunlight that troubled my eyes.
I remember the words: See now he intends his own destruction. But I cannot say for sure whether it was because it was I who wanted to call off sending the manuscript to the printer and make an overture to her or the reverse, that it was I who stood firm on sending the manuscript to the printer. I can also remember the words: After all, it is no concern of ——— (but I cannot remember exactly whether the word was yours or mine) that Councillor Olsen is dead. I can remember the words but not the particular pronoun: you — or I — could, in fact, wait a week. I can remember the reply: Who does he think he is. N.B. [Addition on back of sheet: N.B. See Journal NB, p. 92 (i.e. X4 A 587)].
N.B. During the last week or two the implication of the conversation that night suddenly dawned on me, that it was my common sense wanting me to refrain from publishing the manuscripts. A line that always comes to mind but whose meaning was not at all clear suddenly has become clear to me. The words went like this: "Is this what is required of me," and then came the answer cited: Who does he think he is. Consequently this is what is required of me. Previously I had been unable to figure out what I may have meant or intended by that. Up until now I interpreted it to mean that I was willing to sacrifice my life etc., something I have not been able to comprehend anyway, since it has never occurred to me to talk in such elevated tones. In the meantime I more or less took it to mean that and interpreted "Who does he think he is" as a reprimand for an almost arrogant remark. — But now it has become clear to me. Prior to that night I frequently had said in quietness of mind before God that although it seemed to me that she had to be the one who asked for an understanding with me, I would be willing to be the one to take the first step if it were asked of me, so that my misgivings would not be grounded in my pride. And see, here I have the reply: Is this what is required of me.August 5, 1852
In the morning I was utterly confused. The arrangement with Luno had been made. It seemed to me that after having grappled with the problem of publishing for such a long time and worn myself out in the process, and after having come so near to it, I would be an utter fool to make a reversal, something I had never done — I feared losing hold of myself completely, and on the other hand, as far as she was concerned, I had nothing to hold on to; even though the Councillor was dead, the responsibility of becoming involved with her was just as great.
I was at my wit's end. But yet it seemed to me as if something had happened to scare me off, even though I also was aware of the possibility that I myself wanted to be excused from publishing, and still at the same time I perceived that it was as it should be if I was confronted with something terrifying in connection with publishing such books. I remember clearly thinking that God's terrifying a man does not always signify that this is the thing he should refrain from but that it is the very thing he should do, but he has to be shocked in order to learn to do it in fear and trembling.
So I sent the manuscript to the printer. I prayed God to educate me so that in the tension of actuality I might learn how far I should go. I desperately needed a decision; it had been a frightful strain to have those manuscripts lying there and every single day to think of publishing them, while correcting a word here and a word there.
Then the book was made pseudonymous. That much was dismissed.
As for the other books by Anti-Climacus (Practice in Christianity), the original title page already had the inscription: poetic. And it was only to emphasize this even more that I used the pseudonym, and then by means of the preface under my own name I put all the more pressure on myself. Of course the passages referring to me and actual circumstances in the authorship were deleted from the works, things that a poet (a pseudonym) cannot, after all, say, and only a few lines were left that were appropriate to a poetic individual, and if they were inappropriate they were changed.
When The Sickness Unto Death was made pseudonymous and the decision was reached to make the other books pseudonymous as well, I was of a mind to travel, for now it did not seem so urgent to publish the other books, and there was the constant threat of an income tax.
Then I made an overture to her by writing to Schlegel. He was extremely offended etc. Everything related to that is in her tall cupboard.
Then I moved from the tanner's. I had been thinking of traveling and therefore had not even looked at the rooms myself but let Strube do it, and when things turn out miserably they always go whole hog. He was afraid of offending me by saying the apartment was unsuitable (he believed that I was eager to live there, although I had told him that I had not seen the apartment at all) — and so the apartment was as might be expected.
I was so overwhelmed that I got something else to think of than traveling. I suffered considerably.
Then it became clear to me that there was no time to waste and that I ought to publish the other manuscripts by Anti-Climacus.
This I did, and then my mind was uncommonly at ease. I remember being afraid that the tension and unrest of 1849 would recur, but no.
So this is the way it was. In one sense I have suffered much, purely externally as well by reason of my living quarters and my financial troubles.
What made this publication (in 1849) a strain on me was that I had begun to consider another alternative. When a bit of pressure comes, I so easily think: You could, after all, have done it differently.
But suppose that I had refrained from sending the manuscript to the printer, suppose I myself had not made any advance in "her"# direction but had waited to see if she would do something herself, or suppose I had taken a step and nothing had come of it (not the worst thing to happen) or it had hung as an enormous responsibility upon me, had disturbed her marriage — and meanwhile I had all those manuscripts lying there and was plagued with the thought that I had been so close to a decision!
# In margin:
This is why I actually have always believed that she herself had to be the one to ask for it. Not to mention about seventeen other considerations (see the journals of that period [i.e. X1 A 568, 569, 570, 659, 661, 663, 667, 668] but only this, that maybe she had given me up completely, had completely changed, and on her account I did not have the heart to find out.
That a publication such as the latest one, involving a turning point, should be a strain on one is natural.
However, it actually turned out as I had prayed God it would: I have been both scared off and urged on. Urged on, among other things, by those words of Fenelon that had made such a strong impact on me, urged on by the circumstance of futile visits to both Madvig and Mynster, twice to Mynster, scared off by the fact of that death. The unity became that stated in my preface: Everything is said to me that I might learn to resort to grace. For me the publishing of these books has been an education in Christianity. I have come to a personal involvement so that I am not occupied with depicting Christianity just intellectually and poetically.
..... I hear that they were not able to hear me when I preached on Sunday. No doubt it is people who were not in church who want to let me know this, and perhaps by way of the daily newspaper it finally will be known all over the country that they were not able to hear me — after all, that is still something.
Yet, as I had expected, the crowd was not especially large. Thus I did not experience what I imagine could happen to an orator or barker who was really in voice, that the crowd was so large when he preached in the morning that even in the afternoon there were many citizens with their families who went to listen to the church for whatever might still be heard, and the next day the crowd was so large that pastry-women were out there with their stands.
An Entry Concerning Me Personally
If ex tempore preaching were possible on occasion, I would have considered doing it a few times, and then next Sunday, instead of preaching myself, taking one of Mynster's sermons and reading it aloud to show that upbuilding is something quite different from a possible curious interest. In the introduction I would have said a few words about the rewarding practice in England of requiring sermons to be read aloud (for a speaker's spoken words can easily have an intoxicating effect and may intoxicate him as well), and it is also rewarding to read another's sermon aloud so that the one speaking is reminded that he also is being addressed. I would also have said a few encouraging words about the significance of Mynster's sermons for me personally, something I inherited from my father.
In margin: see p. 118 in this journal [i.e. X4 A 339].
On Sunday, May 18, I preached in Citadelskirken. It was on my first, my favorite, text: James 1. Also, I confess, with the thought of "her," also whether it would give her any pleasure to hear me.
I suffered very much in advance from every possible strain, as I always do when I must make use of my physical being.
I delivered the sermon. It went fairly well, but I spoke so faintly that people complained about not being able to hear me.
When I went home I even felt well, animated. My intention had been to deliver a few such sermons during the summer — of course, after preparing them in detail.
But in the meantime it became clear to me that this was going to take an abnormal amount of time and would take a lot out of me.
Then the thought occurred to me: You can, after all, preach ex tempore.
It struck me that I would then be taking a desperate risk.
But what happens? On Monday I was so weak and faint that it was terrible.
Several days went by. I did not relinquish the idea of preaching ex tempore and thus accentuating Christianity existentially as far out as possible.
Yet I felt that it went against my whole nature.
I became more and more listless. But I did not give up the idea entirely.
But eventually I had to give it up for the next time.
Then I really got sick. I began to feel terribly the dismaying, agonizing pain which constitutes my personal limits, something which had not happened to me for a long, long time.
At the moment I took this as punishment for not having proceeded swiftly enough.
I became more miserable.
On Sunday, the one following May 18, I read one of Mynster's sermons as usual, and the text for the day was about the thorn in the flesh: Let my grace be sufficient for you.
That struck me.
Meanwhile I was still reluctant to give up my idea, even contemplated forcing myself to do it. Now my torment increased.
So I changed my mind, saw that once again I had wanted to go beyond my limits, and now I rest in the thought: Let my grace be sufficient for you. Inward deepening is my task, and there is much of the poetic in me.
One the morning of Sunday the eighteenth I had prayed God that something new might be born in me (I do not know myself how it occurred to me); even then the thought pressed in on me that just as parents bring up their children and finally bring them to confirmation, in the same way this was the confirmation to which God was bringing me.
And in a way that has happened. Something new has been born in me, for I see my task as an author in a different way — it is now dedicated in a quite different way to advancing religion directly. And I have been confirmed in this, and this is how it is with me.
The special reason I had such misgivings about venturing so far out was grounded in a very different concern that vexes me: the problem of my livelihood, and I was so afraid of this turning out to be a drastic delusion that instead of doing something about it I ventured farther out ideally.
God will surely keep on doing all that is good for me, he whom I can never sufficiently thank for what has been done for me.
In margin: See p. 92 etc. in this journal [i.e. X4 A 323].
The matter is quite simple. I can truthfully say of myself along the line of talents and spiritual-mental gifts that what has been entrusted to me is extraordinary.
But as for the next — the extraordinary in terms of character, the capacity to live in poverty etc. — that I do not have.
As I have always acknowledged, I have the advantage of private means. This changes everything.
It may well be that my imagination visualizes the troubles and dangers as much too huge, but in any event I do not feel my powers, and furthermore I fear that if I could in fact live in poverty, totally in character, I perhaps would become proud and arrogant; and then, too, I have a sympathy with the purely human which makes it unnecessary for me to venture so far out, even if I could. Yes, even with respect to "her" it would almost pain me; I feel (if I could venture so far out) that I would be alienated from her.
So it seems that I ought to stay within my limits and try to safeguard myself somewhat in finite respects.
O infinite love that continues, always in love, to put up with me. While I sleep you stay awake, and when I am wide awake and make a mistake, you turn my mistake into something even better than the right thing would have been — and I, all I can do is be amazed at you, infinite love!
Now they are being printed. I feel inexplicably, unspeakably happy, calm and content, and overwhelmed.
Infinite love! I have suffered much during the past days, very much, but then it comes again. Once again my understanding of my task is clear to me but with greater vividness, and even though I have blundered seventeen times — nevertheless an infinite love in its grace has made it all completely right.
Infinite love! It is blessed to give thanks, but one perhaps never feels his wretchedness and sin more than when he is overwhelmed in this way, just as Peter said: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man — on the very occasion of the great catch of fish.
has never had a conception that there is an unconditioned. Everything for him is the conditioned. Therefore his proclamation of Christianity is essentially "reasons"
Furthermore, since Christianity had the support of the government (state church), since he governed with the help of sensate power, I perhaps have let myself be duped and believed that he actually was one who governs.
Now this relationship is broken — and Mynster seeks to become democratic (as in his latest book) and embraces the journalists, the public's time-servers, now even embraces Goldschmidt.
Mynster should have done one of two things in 1848 — either he should have resigned his office and said: What I represent has done an about-face, or he should have stood his ground and fought and suffered for the unconditioned.
He chooses a third alternative — to manage, if possible, to stand in well with the powers that be: the public and the like.
The Established — and I
It is as far as possible from being true that I am attacking the established — I am defending it against the party of agitation, against the age's evil lust to reform.
But I do think that Bishop Mynster, for example, who is also defending the established, is not defending it properly.[*]
[*] In margin:
The trouble with Mynster is that in the back of his head he thinks something like this: Most likely it will last the few years I have to live.
Admissions have to be made to Christianity; we must confess that we actually are only an approximation of what it is to be Christian. This is the result of affirming the ideals, and if the ideals are not affirmed, the agitation cannot be guided.
But I am scarcely ever understood, for I lack the finite and illusions. People simply cannot understand that a private citizen could ever think of defending the established — and the fact that public officials do it they explain by saying it is their livelihood, their career.
So it is everywhere — the whole thing is shabby and paltry, utterly devoid of ideality.
The Mynsterian Approach — Mine
On the whole Mynster must still agree with me that in the more rigorous sense this whole established order is not Christian. He perhaps has made his own personal admission to God regarding this but believes such things must be suppressed in order to get men to accept Christianity. This is shrewdness and extremely dubious, especially when continued from generation to generation, for then it becomes utterly corrupting. And I wonder if Mynster has not partially forgotten what he once understood and now, pluming himself on the fruits of his prudence, that he got some to accept Christianity, really believes that this is Christianity and that the more rigorous Christianity is fanaticism.
My proposal is: let us rather be honest and admit that, strictly speaking, all this is not Christianity. This is at least being truthful and is the condition for going further.
Conversation with Mynster
As I entered I said, "Welcome home from your visitation; I dare say Your Reverence has already visited me as well through the two little books I sent you." He had read only the one (and, to be honest, for a moment I thought how strange if it had been the two discourses), but no, sure enough, he had read the book on my work as an author. "Yes, it is a clue to the whole," he said, "but spun later, but, after all, you do not say more than that yourself." I answered that the point to bear in mind was the continuity over so many years and in so much writing, that my pen had not made one single deviation. To which he said he thought the little review of Two Ages was an exception. I did not say any more to this, for it is in fact discussed in the little book about my work as an author, but I did make the remark that this review is essentially part of the whole authorship and that I attributed it to another because there were certain things I wanted to have said and at the time felt unable to say them as well myself. — I got the impression from Mynster that basically he was impressed by the little book, and therefore he was not saying much.
We went on talking. He was in agreement with me, and what I said about the government was fully his opinion. We spoke a little about that. I said it was not so very pleasant to have to say such things and therefore no one was willing to do it, but they had to be said, and so I had done it.
He was pleased and gratified and agreed with me.
Then I told him that I really was happy to talk with him today because today was the anniversary of my father's death and I wanted everything to be as it should be on this day.
Then a few words were dropped about the pastoral seminary, but he avoided the subject and thought it was best for me to begin at once to establish a pastoral seminary myself.
The conversation was very friendly and not without emotion.
Then I once again said a word disapproving of what he said about Goldschmidt in his latest book, something I felt I had to say, especially when I expressed such high regard for him.
Then we parted with his customary, "Goodbye, my dear friend."
My Present Relationship to Mynster — Practice in Christianity — The Goldschmidt Matter
My category is the single individual. With this category in a dialectical unity my task has been to be a vivifying stimulus in an established order and to defend an established against the numerical, parties, etc. by means of ideals.
Consequently I am defending the established.
For some time I had continued to serve my idea solely in the sphere of ideas. Then for several reasons the question arose as to whether or not I could align myself directly with the established.
But the fact that I defend the established ideally does not necessarily mean that I out and out agree with the established.
This has to be looked into, and as earnestly as possible. To speak with Mynster or anyone like that would be childish.
What do I do then? I develop unconditionally and ideally the whole dialectic of the Christian movement, the communication of which turns the established upside down. I make this communication pseudonymous and repeat a preface three times, stating that I understand it as being addressed to me alone so that I may learn to resort to "grace."
This is the formula for Christianity as the established. It is an indulgence, "grace" must be applied here. If the established does not see itself this way, if it does not apply grace here, then we are in disagreement. But the communication was ideal; no one was being attacked.
This I set forth. If there is anything qualified to agitate Mynster, it is this. But that is just as it should be in order to bring out the truth and not to spare myself, and I do suffer very much both on my own behalf and also in my veneration for Mynster.
I now must see to the results of this. Either Mynster has to rise up in all his power — perhaps crush me; well, then the true state of affairs would be revealed. Or no one will be the complete victor: well, everything was done on my side so that no irregularities would be concealed. Or perhaps Mynster will have the spiritual-intellectual freedom to say: This is the truth; I rejoice in the very thought of it. Or he will do nothing at all: well, my intention in that case was to end with a eulogy on Mynster, for I would be satisfied if he remained silent.
Then I learned that he was furious. So I spoke with him. All this is found in the journal of that period [i.e. X3 A 563, October 22, 1850].
Then I spoke with Nielsen. In my joy I told him that I had talked with Mynster and I praised his spiritual-intellectual freedom. I forgot that this would incense Nielsen, who hates Mynster. I saw at once that if I now introduced the eulogy upon Mynster, Nielsen would hazard the uttermost. And the matter was also dubious because I did not know what Mynster might have been hiding from me. If I introduced the eulogy too soon, I risked his using it against me.
So I had to wait.
Then from several sources I heard about Mynster's disfavor. Madvig began to act very strangely toward me, and I could only conjecture that it came from Mynster, who consequently was hiding something. So I had to bide my time. All the time I was longing to do it only for Mynster's sake. But as stated, it was impossible to know what he was hiding and whether he might not take advantage of the eulogy just when it appeared, use it against me, and break with me officially.
Then came the article against Rudelbach. Mynster was pleased, and I was happy.
Now just one word from Mynster — and then the eulogy will come.
The word came — but it introduced Goldschmidt — and in such a way!
Now the eulogy is impossible; even though I wanted to do it ever so much, it is impossible, for I will incite Nielsen etc., and then the last will be worse than the first. There can be no eulogy. I must be content with the earlier tradition of my reverence and affection for Mynster. The eulogy cannot be introduced. My whole authorship cannot be transformed into a triumph for Mynster; it would make me ridiculous, since Mynster has brought Goldschmidt into the picture in this way, and, as mentioned, it is impossible because Nielsen etc. would be goaded to the extreme and rush at him and do incalculable harm.
In a way Mynster has his deserts, for he has never acted generously toward me. Basically he has wanted to use me to satisfy his egotism, and in any case he long ago ought to have offered me a position at a seminary, to say nothing of helping me if I wanted it.
But this hurts, for I have wanted to do infinitely more for Mynster than was called for. But he himself has made this impossible.
But my relationship to the established is all in order. Essentially Mynster has been silent; this Goldschmidt matter is more a personal insult to me, for Mynster, after all, has simply wanted to advance Goldschmidt because he defends the established. What is dubious about it is Goldschmidt's vita ante acta and, personally for me, his history with me; I just ask that Goldschmidt repudiate his past six years.
The Review of My Two Latest Books
In Flyveposten there is one which states, "It appears from this that the author now considers his literary activity virtually at an end."
This is really odd. Imagine an author declaring explicitly that he intends to lay down his pen, and let us assume that this author is still a young man, what will the "journal," the critical intermediate authority ordinarily do? It will say: Well, it must not be taken altogether literally; it may mean for a time, or perhaps he will begin again in another manner etc., etc. — in short, the journal will write it up to mean that the author will continue.
But the situation is this. I have in no way said that I am ceasing to be an author, as the journal adequately demonstrates by having to confine itself to saying: It appears — and then what does the journal do? It takes it upon itself to circulate the news that I am going to stop, it takes it upon itself to be instrumental in getting me to stop.
This is very amusing! I must have a friend, a patron, who is interested in this and perhaps for some time has been interested in my quitting as an author damn soon. [In margin: Perhaps he would even be glad to see me leave the country — but it would be ungrateful of me, who must say as did Peer Degn: Shall I leave a congregation that loves and esteems me and which I love and esteem.]
Strangely enough, quite accidentally today I saw the same article in Fyens Avis and with no indication that it was from Flyveposten but otherwise the identical article, except that the word "brilliant" was left out.
Thus it seems that my friend and patron must have sent it to Fyens Avis himself. Perhaps he has sent it to several provincial newspapers — all for the purpose of getting me to stop writing.
This could be one interpretation. Maybe the whole thing is nothing but journalistic clumsiness, hurrying to get something put in circulation, such as: Am I actually going to stop etc. — for then the content of the books is of no consequence.
On My Work as an Author
The Significance of This Little Book
The state of "Christendom" is as follows: the point of view of Christianity and of what Christianity is has been completely shifted, has been cast in terms of the objective, the scholarly, and differences such as genius and talent have been made crucial.
This little book reverses the whole thing. It says (precisely because this enormous productivity preceded it): Forget genius, talent, scholarship, and all that — Christianity is the existential, a character-task. And now it is turned that way.
For that reason this little book is not a literary work, a new literary work, but an act, and therefore it was important that it be as short as possible, that it not mark a new productivity which people could then discuss. This little book is and illuminates to what extent it was already present in my total work as an author.
Even if I had fathomed or foreseen in advance my total work as an author down to the smallest detail, what I say in this book about my authorship never could have been said at the beginning, for it would have shifted the point of view, and the interest of the reading would have shifted to curiosity as to whether I actually took the direction and fulfilled what I predicted.
No, it has to come at the conclusion, with one single stroke doing what the sailor calls tacking, the turn.
The little book is not a literary work but an act. It is an intensive act which will not readily be understood, no more than the action I took in the past against The Corsair. It may even be found that I have made too little of myself, I who could preen myself on being a genius, a man of talent — and instead I say it is "my own personal development and education." But precisely this is the turn in the direction of Christianity and in the direction of "personality."
Consequently, here is a single individual who relates to Christianity and not in such a way that he is now going to proceed to be a genius and a man of talent and do something big — no, just the reverse. Here the listed price of Christianity is so low, so lenient, that it is dreadful — but nevertheless it is an authentic relationship to Christianity; here there is no trick, no illusion. The Mynsterian approach is in toto illusion and, from a Christian point of view, is tenable only by means of what I propose: admissions. I resort to grace; it is not Christianity in the more rigorous sense — something Mynster is silent about and wants to have suppressed. In my approach, however, Christianity truly is turned as the unconditional, and the whole viewpoint is utterly different: that we come to admit that in the most rigorous sense we are not Christians. In short, the cast of the whole thing is as different as possible from the official delineation, and yet it is even milder. But what is there is truth; it is not appearance and illusion.
Without this little book the whole authorship would be turned into new doctrine.
A monstrous knave, which is what the human race is, has a completely unbalanced point of view. "The apostle" has been made into the extraordinary by way of accidental differences (consequently aesthetic), and to be an apostle means the extraordinary almost in the sense of the enjoyment of life, instead of "the apostle" as the extraordinary in the ethical sense of what every human being should be, and as the extraordinary in the sense of suffering, a situation everyone wishes to avoid.
So it is that the viewpoint has been unbalanced. Every once in a while there is an arrogant windbag who, assuming that the "apostle" in this misunderstood sense is the extraordinary, has presumptuously wanted to be the extraordinary.
I turn the relationship around completely. I assume that everyone can, yes, ought to be this. Christ himself says that if we had faith as a mountain [should be "mustard seed"] we could move mountains. Consequently, I assume this of everyone; there is only one I do not assume this of — myself. And why? Because I am a coward, a milksop, a sly fellow who does not really have faith, etc. See, this is quite a different story from the hypocritical talk that I am too humble and too modest to will to be this — the ethical extraordinary one.
On the whole I think that one cannot truly speak of Christianity without perpetual self-accusation.
Consequently, I am not the ethical extraordinary. O, God in heaven, what poverty, that there are after all so few who are willing to suffer, who really want to have something to do with you, which means to suffer!
Socrates — "the Apostle"
It is sheer genial drivel to charge that Socrates was motivated by self-love in acting indirectly, maieutically, in ironic isolation. No, according to Socrates' way of thinking, this is precisely what it is to love. If it is true that every man has to help himself, if it is the ideal to stand alone, then it is entirely valid to prevent the one who is being helped from becoming dependent upon the helper — for in that case he is not helped. This was Socrates' idea, and in addition Socrates is the judge. But he loved men according to a standard of which all these genial drivelers have not the slightest inkling. He loved them in the idea, after first being disciplined by the idea himself to be able to stand unconditionally alone, unconditionally to do without any other man — something the genial drivelers have hardly an inkling of.
"The apostle" is something else. He has another concept of what it is to love, and he has grace to proclaim. But please note that the apostle himself is first and foremost disciplined to be able unconditionally to do without any other man.
Between the Socratic and the apostolic lie the half-measures and finally the nonsense. To be specific, this wanting to win men, this so-called geniality in contrast to Socrates' so-called disagreeableness, can be anything but apostolic, can be a crafty way for the person concerned to express his own need of other men, his need of them because he cannot stand alone (something he does not want to say and instead says hypocritically or stupidly that it is out of love for others), or because he wants to profit from men, or because he does not have the courage to make a stand against the human ambition round about him which wants him to be obliged to express a relationship of dependence upon them.
I began with the Socratic; but I profoundly recognized my inferiority, however, for I had property and thus considerable assistance toward dependence from people. Insofar as I now strive to move more directly to myself or to the idea, I regard this as a diminution, an accommodation in a sense, but there is also a movement in the direction of Christianity. Meanwhile I am not foolish enough to say that my way is superior to the Socratic. No, no! Furthermore, it does not lean at all toward the Socratic but toward proclaiming grace, although, naturally, infinitely inferior to the apostolic proclamation.
Mundus Vult Decipi — Illusion
Without "persons" the human race is immoral rubbish.
That is what it is. Everything is designed to make persons impossible; the daily press is especially guilty of this.
My best time was when I lived on the streets, for it bore down hardest on illusions.
At present I have pulled myself back somewhat: this is inferior, it is an accommodation. Meanwhile the people want to read it this way: that now I am on a higher level. Yes mundus vult decipi.
No, if without financial means I could have kept on living on the streets, then I would have been made mad — that is, declared to be mad, perhaps put to death: but it would have been the great thing to do.
But while accommodating myself a bit this way, also recognizing my physical limitations, I am doing two things. (1) I do not let myself be fooled into believing that I am on a higher level now inasmuch as my being seen infrequently contributes — — by means of illusion — to a mounting esteem. (2) Nor do I forget the accounting, that someday we will be up for review and then light no doubt will be shed on what went before.
But while I am accommodating myself a little in this way and letting down, I am nevertheless making some progress. For the point was that my having had financial means made me uncertain as to whether or not some pride had entered into my earlier pattern. I am harder pressed by financial troubles as well, and to that extent perhaps there is progress in enduring what I am now enduring.*
* [In margin:] Furthermore, in the beginning I was not so mature that my extensive walking in the streets and talking with each and all were not a diversion, a pleasure, that I needed; thus in another sense my more withdrawn life is a character-task, a step forward in that direction. In order that living on the streets may have in the most rigorous sense the character of simply and solely doing it for the sake of the idea, one must be a man who first of all has become convinced that he could live in the solitude of a desert.
Introducing the ideals that way — and letting it seem as if I remained on the outside personally (indirect communication) — had the dubious result of another possible interpretation, that I actually was keeping myself out of it personally, as if I did not feel my life bound to the ideal, thereby avoiding the humiliation of actually feeling — I, myself, involved and striving — my own imperfection.
Now it is certainly true that in my inner being and before God that was not the way it was; there I realized precisely my own imperfection. But avoiding this humiliation before men could very well be a trick on the part of my heart.
Furthermore, in connection with Christianity the indirect method is only transitional, for Christianity, after all, has grace to proclaim. Then, too, Christianity tends toward making things manifest. If it is said that Christ, after all, was incognito, the answer must be, for one thing it was impossible for him to be otherwise, for the God-man, this synthesis, is possible only in an incognito, while he in fact himself directly states that he is God; for another, the Christian is not to imitate this, he is not supposed to be the God-man but is to proclaim the God-man and to proclaim grace.
Finally, as I also have frequently pointed out, the dubiousness of the indirect method in the proclamation of Christianity is that it could be an attempt to avoid suffering for the doctrine.
The indirect method in the proclamation of Christianity is a maieutic approach. A beginning can be made with it in order to shake up the illusions, and at times it also may be used to keep "grace" from being taken in vain.
Everything Depends on "How"
Suppose I confine myself to introducing by way of a witty novel the idea that Christianity actually does not exist at all. Then no one will raise an outcry, no, I will be a brilliant success, and the clergy will read it, yes, perhaps next Sunday preach on the interesting fact that Christianity actually does not exist at all.
But if I do it in the interest of religion, people become angry — then the matter becomes too serious.
And still worse: if I did it in a way that disturbed the regular operation of the hurdy-gurdy of the established with its 1,000 livings — well, by Jove, the preachers, bishops, and assistant sextons — all of them — would fight for Christianity with religious zeal.
In Flyveposten for September 16 or 17 someone using 4651 as his signature — no doubt to be striking — took it upon himself to orient (the passion of the disoriented whereby they are identified) my readers or even to warn them against being confused by my little book On My Work as an Author. The only thing I find meriting attention, and especially as the orientating factor, is the signature: 4651. It is striking, persuasive, and overpowering. If the dreadful thing happens (and how easy) that someone now comes along who signs himself 789,691, I will be shattered.
The condition sine qua non for all enjoyment of life is a certain evenness; the person with a most wretched lot also can gain a certain enjoyment if he only has this daily evenness.
But no other situation in life, not one, makes it so impossible to enjoy life as being an apostle. This horrifying life of being tossed in a blanket. At one moment to be brought into direst need, perhaps ravenously hungry, then to be willing — if it be God's will — to die of hunger — and then get a reprimand: You of little faith! Or, in order not to suffer ravenous hunger, to be quite willing to work for his livelihood — and then, just as he is beginning at it, a miracle happens, and he gets a reproof: You of little faith! O, it is a dreadful misery, a kind of conscious madness in all his blessedness, for it is like madness.
Ah, however spoiled and frivolous I am, so much will surely be granted me that I at least have dared venture far enough to be honest toward the extraordinary and not to take him in vain, at least to have a tolerably true idea of how infinitely the extraordinary has suffered.
The Primitive — the Traditional
In our time scholarly doubt grows stronger and stronger and takes away one book after another. The orthodox give up hope. Remarkable! They assume that the New Testament is the word of God — but they seem completely to forget that God still exists [er til]. But the fact is that they do not believe but mimic history.
Suppose that doubt hit upon and came up with a kind of probability that Paul's letters were not by Paul and that Paul never lived at all — what then? Well, scholarly orthodoxy might give up hope. The believer might quite simply turn to God in prayer, saying: How can all this hang together? I cannot cope with all this scholarship, but I stick to Paul's teaching, and you, my God, will not allow me to live in error, whatever the critics prove about Paul's existence [Tilværelse]. I take what I read here in Paul and this I refer to you, O God, and then you will keep me from being led into error through my reading.
I could really be tempted to think that providence permits the scholarly, exegetical, and critical skepticism to get such a strong upper hand because providence is tired of all the hypocrisy and all the mimicking which is carried on with the historical and historical proof and it wants to force men out into primitivity again. For primitivity, being obliged to be primitive, alone with God, without having others up front whom one mimics and appeals to — this men do not want at all. And with each century the historical millions and millions grow more and more numerous, and men also become more and more spiritless. Therefore it has pleased God that the critics who are degrading Christianity also get more and more power with the centuries. All spiritlessness is part and parcel of this historical throwing of oneself upon the heap of countless millions who have lived before us.
In order for one to rely upon a person, one requires that he give his word on it: God likewise has given us his word, his word on it — Christ is the Word.
The Wedding in Cana
Christianity changes water into wine; it denies man the earthly, but gives him the eternal; he must die to the world, but then he becomes spirit. Is not the change of animal-creation to "spirit" the same as changing water into wine?
New Fear and Trembling
[In margin: In journal NB or NB (from the summer or spring of 1851) there is a draft relating to this.]
The mood here should more decidedly border on madness. The point should be that Abraham had not been able to keep himself in suspenso at the apex of faith until the end — and therefore had sacrificed Isaac.
There was once a man who as a child had learned the story of Abraham, and, as usual, knew his lesson brilliantly, inside and out.
The years went by, and as happens to much of what is learned in childhood, so also here, he found no use for it — and it faded into oblivion.
In the meantime his life underwent a change; he had severe trials and was involved in a singular conflict that all at once or with one blow placed his life in abeyance, and just that alone gave him plenty to think about.
This preoccupied him from morning until night, awake and in his dreams, and he became old before his time.
Fifteen years went by. Then one morning as he woke up the thought suddenly struck him: What you are experiencing is similar to the story of Abraham.
And now he began to read. He read and read, he read aloud, he delineated the whole story, he cut it out in paper silhouettes, he did nothing else — but he did not understand Abraham or himself.
When I underscore the existential in the essentially Christian (alas, not nearly as strongly as the N. T.!) the cry goes up: This is exaggeration, this is law, not gospel. They say: you forget to talk about the Holy Spirit and his aid, for thereby what is heavy becomes light.
Fine. So the others have the aid of a Holy Spirit who makes everything light and helps them to — to what? What do their lives express? Do their lives express self-denial, renunciation — so that the difference between them and me is that when it comes to self-denial and renunciation we agree that they must be included, yet they are hard for me but easy for them with the help of the Holy Spirit? No, their lives express a pure and simple secular mentality. Aha! So it is for this that the Holy Spirit helps them. Double nonsense — that the secular mentality is supposed to be Christianity — and the help of the Holy Spirit is for being secular, which certainly is not Christianity and which one achieves best without the aid of a Holy Spirit.
But the whole thing about the Holy Spirit is rubbish, an escapism by means of which one evades the tasks — whereas I have so much respect for the Holy Spirit that I have not dared speak of him because I understand that as soon as I begin doing so I must present the existential even more strongly.
God — God's Cause
They talk about God's cause, about God's having a cause, about wanting to serve God's cause, etc.
That's all very fine, but the question is: how is this interpreted more precisely? In the long run it is most often interpreted as if God had a cause in the human sense of the word, were an advocate, interested in having his cause win and therefore willing to help the person who would serve his cause, etc. This way God actually becomes a somewhat minor character who finally even arrives at the embarrassing dilemma of needing human beings, those who honestly will to serve him.
No, no! In this sense God has no cause, is no advocate. For him everything is infinitely nothing. Any second he wills it, everything, everything is nothing — and that includes all opposition to his cause: but ergo in this sense he has no cause, is not finitely interested in having it win, etc. Infinite sublimity!
This is why wanting to serve God's cause does not mean the same as coming to his aid — but to be examined. If someone turns to God and says: I want to serve your cause, then it is not God who, so to speak (presumably because he is in hot water for having a cause), becomes hilariously pleased that someone wants to serve him — utter bosh and blasphemy! who loses his balance and sublimity; no, he fastens his attention upon this volunteer — observantly, and sees how he conducts himself, whether he has integrity, etc. Precisely because God is not finitely interested in causes but is infinitely the conquering Lord, precisely for that reason he can, blessedly, see about it alone.
This is why the more one is involved with God the more rigorous everything becomes — it is God's infinite sublimity and still out of his infinite love that he wants to involve himself with a human being. The very fact that God permits evil people to thrive in this world is his infinite sublimity — O, you do not understand it, but God understands it — frightful punishment, that God overlooks them! — But he is rigorous and more rigorous with the good: O, we do not understand how blessed it ought to be for a man that God wants to involve himself with him, but God understands it.
Usually a person thinks that when he, as they say, honestly wants to serve God's cause, then God should also help along — well, how? In a material way? By successful outcome, prosperity, earthly advantage, etc.? But in that case everything goes backward and remains no longer God's cause but a finite cause like other causes — and maybe I was a cunning fellow, after all, who really did not want to serve God's cause but in a genteel way beguile God to my advantage — for (yes, it must certainly be because God is in hot water by having, in a finite sense, a cause) he became so happy that I wanted to serve his cause that he made a bargain. Utter bosh and blasphemy! No, God is spirit — and a man's task is to be transformed to spirit; but spirit is opposed precisely to being related to God by way of external evidence. This is God's sublimity. And it seems as if a poor human being must expire in this sublimity — and yet this is nevertheless the infinite love of God!
Yes, infinite love, infinite — that you desire to involve yourself with a human being, weak, foolish, carnal hearts who — because God indeed said of himself that he was love, as if he were love in a finite sense — try to make him into a nice uncle, a really fine grandfather whom we men can make good use of. The more sensate we are, the less we are of desire to be spirit.
Yet here also God is infinite love in that he does not suddenly all at once overpower a man and demand that he shall be spirit — in that case a man must perish. No, he handles him so gently; it is a long operation, an upbringing. There comes times when one puffs a little and God strengthens the patient by finite means — but then on again. And there is one thing God requires unconditionally at every moment — integrity, that one does not reverse the relationship and prove his relationship to God or the truth of his cause by good fortune, prosperity, etc., but on the contrary understands that this happened because of his weakness, is an accommodation on God's part, very likely something he will omit at some later date — in order to make progress. It is further required of the patient every moment that he have the integrity every time he uses his wits to manage a little alleviation, a little relief, to record this immediately as a debit in his relationship with God, that he must not, for the sake of God in heaven, get conceited because of his brilliance — for then the relationship to God terminates altogether, and he probably becomes one of the most unhappy persons alive, one of those for whom everything succeeds in the world — because God's punishment is upon him in the fact that God has nothing more to do with him.
Bishop Mynster — Christianity
Apart from all the other glossing over in the Mynsterian proclamation of Christianity, Mynster has also perverted Christianity, dislocated Christianity or its point of view. Christianity is the unconditioned, being-in-and-for-itself, and at most Mynster has a finite teleology. (I am tempted to remind him of that old distinction between Stoicism and Epicureanism: Epicurus also praises but he provides a "why" — that is, to him virtue is not being-in-and-for-itself, it is in order to live pleasantly, for one cannot live pleasantly otherwise.)
As is clearly shown in one of his Spjellerup sermons on John the Baptist, where he speaks of the kingdom of God, he obviously has the following conception of Christianity: in order that Christianity may prevail there is suffering and sacrifices are made — but no doubt it is not always supposed to be that way; at some time there must indeed come a period, a generation, after all, that is to have the benefit of all these sacrifices, that is, enjoy them and thereby enjoy life. Well now, that would be a fine kind of Christianity. No doubt that age and that generation are presumably the very ones that have been contemporary with Bishop Mynster. A complete dislocation of Christianity, as if it were something historical in the finite sense instead of being the unconditioned in the infinite sense.
It always comes back to the confusion that God has a cause in the finite, the historical, sense, something which has to be fought through to the end — for that reason the conditions are changed, and on the other hand God (completely à la a worldly monarch) for the same reason cannot be too scrupulous about anyone wishing to serve his cause if he is to be useful at all.
No, Christianity is the unconditioned; not something for which there at times has to be suffering and a later generation then enjoys the benefit of that suffering. No, Christianity is the unconditioned, for which there has to be suffering in this world as long as the world stands, but then again in the next world this suffering becomes bliss. (But Mynster abolishes eternity and puts Christianity completely into the historical as commensurable with the historical). And God is the infinite supervisor who is not having trouble over a cause but has won infinitely and therefore regards only the ethical. On the other hand, we human beings, each one of us, have a great cunning in and a great desire for shoving this aside, saying: It is my task to proclaim Christianity objectively — of course, there are millions who are supposed to act accordingly. No, thank you, says God, I am checking on you.
Every conception of Christianity which makes it into history is confusing, not to speak of the conception which makes Christianity perfectible. It is just the reverse: the unconditioned truly existed only once, when Christ lived, suffered, and died. Its history is regrettably a steady retrogression. With a historical phenomenon this is not the case — it progresses (but for that very reason Christianity is not something historical). This is what Mynster, confusing everything, has transferred over into Christianity.
The purely human, as stated, never gets any farther than to define suffering teleologically and within this life: a person suffers a few years, for a time, and then through it has achieved or achieves this and that.
But sometimes suffering does last a man's lifetime — so we human beings have hit upon an explanation which is the generational's most egotistical cruelty toward the individual. We define this individual (whose suffering lasted his whole life) and we define his suffering teleologically for the rest of us, those of us who come after him: he suffered — in order that we should be better off. What a dreadful Phalaris-invention. The good men, precisely the good men (therefore the ones who ought to be better off in this life if anybody is), must suffer in order that we (scoundrels) can be better off — truly an additional proof that we are scoundrels.
But we, however, think this is all in order. We honor and praise such a martyr and celebrate his name-day — for example, in memory of what Luther suffered we eat goose on St. Martin's Day. The only thing lacking was that Luther actually had been martyred and that it had been that dreadful martyrdom of being roasted on a grill — how lovely of us that we who survived, we later ones, roast and eat goose in his honor and memory! What human brutality and bestiality!
And what has been the result of this for Christianity? Well, to put it simply — those first Christians suffered; now we are supposed to enjoy. They suffered — we honor and praise them, "build their tombs," eat a certain kind of pastry on that day, go on a picnic in their honor — O what human brutality and bestiality! To be capable of being happy in that way that is, by altogether denying kinship with those glorious ones of mankind.
What then is Christianity's view (Christianity, which is suffering, so that if it becomes enjoyment is abolished, as it is now in "Christendom")? The view of Christianity is that suffering has a completely different context, infinitely higher than every teleology. To suffer in this world for truth, for the good, for Christianity, is blessedness. Thus suffering is not an evil so that the teleological approach first converts it into something else (which in the relation between the generation and the individual would indeed perpetrate the most outrageous wrong against the one who is sacrificed) — no, it is blessed to suffer. Because to suffer expresses the deepest inwardness of a God-relationship, to suffer is to have a secret with God! What bliss! Behind this world of actuality, phenomena (in which it appears as if God, too, were against the sufferer, since he does not help him out of it but lets him suffer), lies another world, a world of spirit, and here the sufferer has a blessed secret with God — what bliss to have a secret with God! — that this phenomenal event really means just the opposite, that it is precisely out of love that God lets the sufferer suffer.
It is God who has to be a little severe with such a person who is to suffer in this way, although he forces him out sometimes with the good, sometimes with stringency. It is Christianity which, by requiring "imitation" of the Christian, seeks to lead him so far out — alas, at first it is dreadful for a man. And yet there comes a moment when he himself understands that this, precisely this, is the only thing a person who thinks earnestly about life could desire. Or if I could want to have lived out my life in such a way that it expressed (although I would still be a human being) that I had no kinship whatsoever with the glorious ones of the race, then either they must be goes, if I am supposed to be human, or I am an animal, if they are supposed to be human beings.
O, my God, my God, how unhappy my childhood was and how tortured my youth — I have groaned, sighed, and cried out — yet I thank you, not you the all-wise, no, no, I thank you, infinite love, you who are indeed infinite love, for doing it that way! A man has thirty, forty, perhaps seventy years ahead of him — you prevented me (in love) from spending the sum of my years merely in buying cakes and sweets and thus having nothing to remember in eternity or being compelled to remember in eternal torment that what I bought was despicable. You compelled (there were also many times when you, as it were, talked graciously to me, but about the same thing, not about my getting out of suffering, but that it was your love that made you keep me out there), you compelled me to buy sufferings. How blessed — for every suffering of that kind means community of suffering with you, and every suffering of that kind is an eternal gain for eternity. For only sufferings can be remembered.
A pagan (Cicero, in De finibus) relates that the greatest sensualist in the Orient (Sardanapalus) put on his tombstone: I took all the pleasures of the world with me to the grave — to which another pagan (Aristotle) is supposed to have said: How so? you could not even hold on to a single one of them while you were living. No, pleasures cannot be remembered — least of all in eternity. If a person avoided all suffering in this world — how frightful, perhaps dressed in purple and velvet, a pasha with seventeen tails, with a ring in his nose, which he alone dared wear, and before whom every one kneeled — how frightful that as a consequence he has no kinship whatsoever with the glorious ones of the race but in relation to them is a flesh-eating mammal — how frightful to have nothing at all to remember in eternity!
But if suffering in this way is a blessing, is not suffering actually a pleasure?
Let us be cautious here, for those with the most varied views come up with this same false position.
There is a wretched ingenuity which, wanting only to be free of suffering, reasons like this: Doing good has its own reward, ergo, if the good man finds satisfaction in it, just as I do in sensuous enjoyment, ergo, there is no essential difference between us! This is hypocrisy aimed at an escape from suffering.
Next there are the pagan Stoics who demonically intensified this to the point where doing good is supposed to be so satisfying — that it is pleasure. Yet the Stoic believed suicide to be expedient — but why put an end to pleasure with suicide? Consequently this is untrue.
Then there are those muddleheads like Rousseau, who use the strongest expressions in declaring that suffering is nothing, suffering — it is a pleasure — that is, theoretically, for in practice he was extremely thin-skinned. Consequently this is a self-contradiction.
No, I hold with Christianity, which precisely because it takes seriously the fact that one actually does come to suffer (while the others really evaded suffering and decked themselves out in figures of speech, which of course can be a form of enjoyment) puts it like this: it is suffering — but it is blessing. Here it is not only a matter of suffering for the good but of the sufferings that are indigenous if one is going to be capable of being an instrument for God. This is such blessedness that, although the suffering hurts, he dares believe with God that it is precisely this way so that God can better use him. The blessedness is in knowing that while the world of phenomena witnesses against him by way of misfortune, adversity, and opposition, he dares know with God that this is simply because he relates himself to God.
Yet suffering does not enter in as a blessing in and for itself — then Christianity would be nonsense, would not exist at all, which is just about the case in our time, too, when the sufferings of the past ages as unchristianly as possible have been defined teleologically along the line that we are supposed to derive pleasure from them.
Here is an end to all sophistry; let them all be united in one head and let Satan himself be along — no Sophist can take that.
The Crucifixion of Christ
Never has bitterness directed at any man been like that toward Christ. The one corresponds to the other — that he had declared the maximum about himself, said it so specifically of himself, is precisely what returns inverted in the passion of bitterness against him.
For a moment let us think of one whom I otherwise do not regard as an analogy: Socrates. That Socrates ironically puts everything off, decisively says nothing decisive about himself, results first of all in his not being able to arouse the highest passion of admiration among his contemporaries, but inversely it also turns out as a good for him, for neither can the passion of bitterness be so strong. In order really to arouse bitterness against oneself, a man must have said unconditionally the maximum about himself. To speak of some divinity is not enough to arouse the passion of bitterness (when admiration is displaced by bitterness) as compared to declaring unconditionally and without the slightest reservation that one is himself God. From this one can prove that human bitterness has never raged as it did against Christ.
Joseph of Arimathea — Christendom
This man is a symbol of Christendom: he went to Pilate and asked that he might have the body of Christ — and he buried it.
In the same way Christendom honors Christ by burying him; it is just as important to Christendom as to the high priests to know for sure that he is dead — but then Christendom buries him, with great pomp and glory, the final honor.
The Possible Collision with Mynster
From the very beginning what Mynster has fought for in opposition to me — often in rather ordinary ways — has been to maintain this view: My proclamation, the Mynsterian approach, is earnestness and wisdom; the Kierkegaardian an odd, perhaps remarkable, but an odd exaggeration.
My position is: I represent a more authentic conception of Christianity than does Mynster.
But I desire nothing less than to attack Mynster, to weaken him. No, just the opposite. A little admission from his side, and everything will be as advantageous as possible for him, no one will see how it all hangs together, something I always have concealed by bowing so deeply to him.
From the very beginning I actually have been an alien figure to Mynster (in fact, he said so himself the first day: We are completely at variance, something he not doubt instinctively perceived even better than I). I have a kind of passion for the truth and ideas which is utterly foreign to him. In this way I am opposed to him. — Things were still all right with Concluding Unscientific Postscript, partly because in the conclusion I personally emphasised him so strongly, partly because Johannes Climacus is a humorist, and thus it was easier for Mynster to maintain that this was only poetic exaggeration, humor, but his own approach was authentic earnestness and wisdom.
The first part of Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Part I, irritated him; but perhaps in appreciation of the postscript to Concluding Postscript he let the judgment be: This is an excellent book — especially the last two parts. Works of Love offended him. — Christian Discourses even more. — And so it mounts. Practice in Christianity distressed him painfully.
Am I out to get Mynster? No, no, I am attached to him with a hypochondriacal passion, the extent of which he has never suspected. [*]
[*] Moreover, I remember that the following observations also pressed in on me. (1) If I were completely free of economic concerns, I would have confidence in myself, would know for sure that it was not to spare myself that I kept on avoiding a collision with Mynster. But when I have finite concerns — and in this respect Mynster could in fact be helpful to me — then I would have to suspect myself of possibly sparing myself in order to avoid conflict. (2) I shrink from having Mynster actually help me in a finite way, for in my opinion he has far too much of the secular mentality which finds it completely all right to secure earthly advantages. (3) If I were to let things go on and did not publish while Mynster is still living what I have written most recently, there would hardly be a person later who would be capable of forming any opposition to me — but then would I not avoid making possible the inspection that could be made if I published it while Mynster is still living.
But here there is something else which puts pressure on me. I can no longer afford to maintain the battle for the idea which I have represented. Therefore I must make haste. If my future were economically secure so that I knew I was completely able to give myself to the idea, I certainly would bide my time and let Mynster live out his life — O, it pains me so deeply to have to draw my sword on him. But the economic situation forces me to hurry. Only when I accept an official position can Mynster more easily make his interpretation prevail. He knows that I have financial worries, has known it for several years; I myself told him. Now he is waiting and watching for this to force me to cut back, perhaps even to throw myself into his arms so that he can exploit me and have further proof that his way is the way of wisdom and earnestness.
The line about Goldschmidt was fateful. (1) It gives a sad insight into the bad side of Mynster. (2) It provides me with the circumstantial datum against Mynster that I had to have if I were to attack. That everything about him is rather close to the secular mentality I have perceived for a long time, and therefore I made a division and took his Sermons. But this plain fact betrays everything. And it has happened here as generally happens, that I first of all induce someone to provide me with the circumstantial datum I need. (3) It shows that in the sphere of the idea Mynster considers himself impotent. But he has been in an emotional state.
For me the possibility of this conflict means that in order to survive I must take a still higher view of Christianity. This is a very serious matter; I have very much to learn and to suffer. — But on the other hand the possibility of this conflict signifies that there is power that works against Mynster. For the collision, if it occurs, will occur against my will; it is my economic situation which pressures me to hurry, and Mynster has had it in his power to buy at the most advantageous price what can become extremely dangerous to him if there must be a collision. [+]
[+] It is also strange that for a long time I was opposed to publishing, reluctant to publish, what I had written recently. Finally it happened — and it was done pseudonymously. (It as The Sickness unto Death.) Then I said to myself: Now there is no hurry with the rest since it is to be pseudonymous. Then I moved from the tanner's: my idea had been to travel. For that reason I did not look at the rooms myself. So I got a miserable apartment. I was very unhappy there, very. Then the remainder of the literature by Anti-Climacus was published. It seems as if a Governance wants Mynster to have this experience.
He was an old man. Something truer was offered by someone who "in profound veneration" was willing to introduce it in such a way that it appeared to be Mynsterian. He would not have it. True enough, after having enjoyed life as he has, it could be a bitter experience to find out at the end of his life what kind of a Christianity it actually was.
The Story of the Passion
The divine can also be recognized by the fact that (1) everything that happens, that is spoken, or that goes on, etc., is an omen; the facts continually change to mean something infinitely higher, and in this way everything is elevated a whole quality above the human. The high priest says: It is better that one person suffer, etc. — and he prophesies. It is a declaration of secular prudence, but look, it is a prophetic voice. — The high priest's demand that Pilate have the grave guarded to make sure that Christ did not rise — and it is precisely the presence of the guard which becomes testimony to his having risen. — Pilate writes: King of the Jews — and says: What I wrote I wrote — yes, he was right, too, but he did not suspect how.
(2) Almost all the remarks give an inverted echo, become true when heard inversely. The mob stands by the cross mocking, all are mocking — and speaking out of their human discernment demand that Christ, if they are to believe that he is Christ, do the very thing which, if he did it, would in the divine order prove precisely that he is not God's son. "Come down from the cross; help yourself, let us see if God will help him," etc. And yet it is true that if he had come down from the cross, if he had helped himself, saved his life, if he had summoned the legions of 12,000 angels, etc., he would, on the contrary, not have been the son of God.
Who in modern times has been used by the pastors and professors as Pascal has? They appropriate his thoughts, but they omit the fact that Pascal was an ascetic and went around with a hair shirt and all that. Or else they explain it as birthmarks of the age, and of no significance to us.
Excellent! In all other respects Pascal is original — but not here. But was asceticism the usual thing in his day, or had it not already been abolished long before and Pascal had to maintain it in opposition to his age?
But it is like this everywhere, everywhere. This infamous, nauseating cannibalism whereby they (just as Heliogabalus ate ostrich brains) eat the thoughts, opinions, expressions, moods of the dead — but their lives, their personal qualities — no, thank you, they want nothing to do with that.
That We Are Brought Up in Christianity from Childhood
still has its good side in that we, if we actually want to become Christians, come to experience a parallel to what Christ's contemporaries experienced. They first of all entertained earthly expectations — and then everything was turned upside down and becoming Christian in spirit and in truth became an earnest matter. So also when a child is brought up in Christianity from childhood. The child appropriates Christianity as a worldly gospel — and then at a later age the man experiences the terror if he is to have the spiritual impact of Christianity.
I have never gone a step out of my way and always turned off on the Citadel road, even when one day it so happened that she was farther along the lime-kiln road and consequently I would have met her if I had not turned off.
So it went day after day. The trouble is that I am so appallingly well known, and it is seldom that a woman walks along those roads alone at that time. Nor did it escape me that a couple of the habitual walkers who met regularly about this time and recognised both of us were taking notice.
So I was obliged to make a change. I also believed that it would be best for her, for this constant dailiness is trying, especially if she is thinking of reconciliation with me, for which I of course would have to ask her husband's consent.
So I decided to walk along that street for the last time on December 31.
I kept my resolve, and on January 1, 1852, I changed my route and walked home by way of Nørreport.
So for a time we did not see each other. One morning she met me on the lake path which I was now in the habit of walking. I walked my usual route the next day also. She was not there. As a precaution I nevertheless changed my route in the future, walking along FarimagsVeien and finally went home by different routes. Later I did not meet her at this time on the streets; it had now been made difficult because my way home was indefinite; it was difficult if she normally took the path along the lake.
But what happens? Some time passed and then I meet her at eight o'clock in the morning on the avenue outside of Østerport, on the way I take every morning into Copenhagen.
But the next day she was not there. Since I could not very well change my route, I continued to walk this way into the city. Here she has often met me, sometimes on the ramparts along which I walk to the city. Perhaps it was coincidental, perhaps not. I could not understand why she should be walking that way at that time, but, just as I notice everything, I noticed that she walked this route especially if the wind was from the east. So it could be because she could not bear the east wind on Langelinie. However — she did come also when there was a west wind.
Time passed in this way — she saw me now and then, precisely at the same time in the morning, and then Sundays in church.
Then came my birthday. As a rule I always go out on my birthday, but I did not feel quite well. Consequently I stayed home, went to the city as usual in the morning to speak with the physician, since I had contemplated celebrating my birthday with something new, having never tasted castor oil before. Right outside my door on the sidewalk just before the avenue she meets me. As so frequently happens of late, I cannot refrain from smiling when I see her — ah, how much she has come to mean to me! — She smiled back and nodded. I went a step past her, then took off my hat, and walked on.
The following Sunday I was in church and heard Paulli, she too was there. She sat near the place where I stand. What happens? Paulli preaches on the Epistle lesson, not on the Gospel, and it is: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above etc.
Upon hearing these words she turns her head, hidden by the one sitting next to her, and looks toward me very fervently. I looked vaguely straight ahead.
The first religious impression she had of me is connected with this text, and it is one I have strongly emphasised. I actually did not believe that she would remember it, although I do know (from Sibbern) that she has read the Two Discourses of 1843, where this text is used.
So on Wednesday she nodded to me — and today the text — and she is aware. I confess that for me too it was somewhat jolting. Paulli finished reading the text aloud. She sank down rather than sat down, and I actually was somewhat worried as I was once previously, for her movement is so vehement.
Now to go on. Paulli begins to preach. I believe I know Paulli fairly well; it is inexplicable how he came to think of such an introduction. It may have been intended for her. He begins: These words, all good gifts, etc., "are implanted in our hearts." Yes, my listeners, if these words should be torn from your hearts, life would lose all its value for you etc. I seemed to be standing on thorns.
For her it must have been overwhelming. I had never exchanged a word with her, had walked my way, not hers — but here it seemed as if a higher power were saying to her what I had been unable to say.
Only God knows how eagerly I would promptly make a place for her, a place for her among her contemporaries, just as with God's help a place will be made for her memory. O, it would gratify my pride so very much. All the admiration I have acquired — to transfer this to her, to have her become the one who is admired: yes, truly that would suit me fine.
But there are seventeen reasons why it cannot be done.
But I do think that this impact was so inwardly fortifying that she certainly will carry on.
A few mornings later she met me again, but there was nothing to detect. Ah, if she thought that it was my turn now to greet her: I cannot do it. I am ready for anything, but if anything is to be done, I must have her husband in the middle. Either — Or! If I am going to become involved with her, then it must be on a large scale; then I want everyone to know it, I want her transformed into a triumphant figure who will get the fullest reparation for the detraction she suffered because I broke our engagement, while I still reserve my right to give her a good scolding for her vehemence at the time.
The Movement of My Life
In frightful inner suffering I became an author.
Year after year I was an author, suffered for the idea in addition to the inner sufferings I endured.
Then came 1848; that helped. There came a moment when, overwhelmed with blessedness, I dared to say to myself; I have understood the highest. Truly this is not granted to many in each generation.
But almost simultaneously something new struck me: After all, the highest is not to understand the highest but to do it.
Of course I had been aware of this from the beginning and therefore am different from an author in the usual sense. But I had not so clearly perceived that by having private means and being independent I could more easily express existentially what was understood.
When I perceived this, I was willing to declare myself a poet, that is, my having private means made action easier for me than for others.
But here it comes again: the highest is not to understand the highest but to do it and, please note, with all the weights laid on.
Only then did I properly understand that "grace" had to be introduced; otherwise a person is shattered the minute he is supposed to begin.
But, but "grace" is not to be introduced in order to prevent striving, no, here it comes again: the highest is not to understand the highest but to do it.
The Established Christendom
Given Mynster's and Paulli's kind of preaching, preaching could continue by the same and to the same for 170,000 years, if possible, and they would not come one single step farther in the Christian life; on the contrary, it would retrogress for them.
It is one thing to shut a door; it is something quite different to jam the lock. But this kind of preaching jams the lock on "imitation".
An established Christendom is a toning down; therefore it must be officially admitted that it actually is not Christianity. When the relation of the established to true Christianity is depicted in proper perspective, there is possibility. But if "established Christendom" is supposed to be true Christianity, then the lock has been jammed on Christianity. Throughout the 170,000 years it remains exactly the same: a little lyric poetry in a quiet hour once a week — but there must be no breakthrough, it must not come to the point of actuality (in action, in self-renunciation). But in the course of time this lyric poetry once a week will have a weaker and weaker influence compared to the corresponding weeks and weeks of the secular mentality.
Have you ever seen a hunting dog: bloody, exhausted by his struggles and loss of blood in the battle inside the foxes' burrow — it still does not let go; it has clamped its teeth shut and dies that way.
I, too, am exhausted, but I have not let go of my idea, I have not made my life more comfortable, thereby making it less obvious what my goal has been.
As I have so frequently said: The end must be tied, otherwise we still remain in reflection, and in a short time I will be consumed. And to tie the end, a life, an existence, is required.
The didactic approach cannot be stopped by a new doctrine but only by personality. True, it was easier for me when I was free of financial concerns. And not only that, but when it was easier for me the cause was almost easier also for others. For I did not exert so much pressure. But the more earnest things became for me, the more pressure I exerted — and it became all the more important for the others to defend themselves against the truth.
Unrecognizability — Recognizability
Particularly toward the end of A Literary Review I said that none of the "unrecognisable ones" dares at any price to communicate directly or to become recognised — and yet in On My Work as an Author I made myself responsible for the esthetic foreground of my authorship and said: "The whole thing is my own education." How is this to be understood?
In this way: assume that the illusion "Christendom" is truth, that it must be left standing: then unrecognisability is the maximum. If, however, the illusion must go, then it gets down to this: you actually are not Christians — then there must be recognisability. And here I have suggested the lowest: that it is I who am being brought up in Christianity.
If the illusion "Christendom" is truth, if the preaching prevalent in Christendom is as it should be, then we are all Christians and we can only speak of becoming more inward: then the maieutic and unrecognisability are the maximum.
But suppose now (something I was not aware of at first) that the preaching prevalent in Christendom leaves out something essential to the proclamation of Christianity — "imitation, dying away to the world, being born again, etc." — then we in Christendom are not Christians, and here the emphasis must be on recognisability. As stated, my place is on the lowest level of direct recognisability — namely, that the whole authorship is my own upbringing.
O my God, I am grateful — how clear you have made everything to me!
The fact that I do not make my life more comfortable and am not looking for financial security could be called pride, arrogance.
Is it that? Well, who knows himself completely; but if it were that or if there were something of that, I believe that keeping on that way would soon make it clear and eventually I would suffer my punishment.
Incidentally, this is how I feel about it. It seems to me that I am indebted for what I have understood, that the higher can require me to hold out as long as there is even the slightest possibility. As soon as I begin to make my life secure in finite ways (while there is still a possibility of keeping on longer), I am done for and the whole secular-minded world will promptly understand that there is no more danger. It seems to me that something higher is constantly moving within me; I believe that I cannot justify anything else but continuing to serve it as long as possible. If I am in error, in God's name the sin can be forgiven and its punishment will come in this life, but if I arbitrarily stop before I am obliged to do something for my living, if I stop now — and something higher was moving within me wanting to come forth in and through me — this will be disclosed only in eternity, when it is too late.
Remarks by Bishop Mynster
In one of his "observations" (probably the one on God's Word or on hearing the Word or one similar, anyway it is in his Betragtninger), he has some moving words to say about the futility of tears. He says that he will collect all those hypocritical tears wept by people listening to his sermons; afterwards, however, it has become evident that they have not acted accordingly at all. He will step forward on Judgment Day with these tears and say, "I have done my part." — Strange to say, I have just been thinking of collecting the tears Mynster has shed in the pulpit; afterwards, however, it has become evident that he does not act accordingly at all. This hangs together with something Mynster said to me the first time we talked together — "We complement each other" — I complete his collection of hypocritical tears with the collection of his tears.
On Being a Pastor
When being a pastor means to have every possible earthly and secular security, to be along in all the pleasures of life, plus the enjoyment of honor and esteem — in return for orating eloquently, beautifully, and soulfully once a week in a quiet hour (in that splendid edifice called a church where everything is arranged esthetically) — then I maintain that this is as far as possible from Christianity, is the most refined life-enjoyment, a titillation of the senses, so subtly intensified that paganism could not have thought of anything so refined.
Ask any actor whether it is not enormously gratifying to feel sensuously the surrendering to passions, to sense his power over the audience. That is why actors cannot live without acting; in one sense vacations are a deprivation, because he misses that intensification.
How far more gratifying it is to play the priest, to take men's highest moments, their moods and feelings, and to feel life-emotions swell within one, reflected back from the listeners. And now that transfiguring splendor over the whole thing, that this is supposed to be earnestness, so there is no question of applauding or booing, no, but there is the adoration of the women and the young.
Paulli told me with visible emotion that when Bishop Mynster was sick he longed very much to preach. How moving! If Phister were sick a few months, how he would long for the intensification of the stage!
There is a depth of confusion here and also a bit of hypocrisy which is quite terrible. An adulterer, a robber, a thief in the moment of his misdeed is not as far from Christianity as such a minister at the very moment he is most transported by his own eloquence in the pulpit, for the robber and the others do not think that this is Christianity.
The Human — The Christian
One thousand pastors orate on Sunday — and if anyone dared to act accordingly on Monday, he would be ridiculed as a fool, an eccentric, or, if he has more energy, stigmatized as a fanatic against whom society must earnestly defend itself to the utmost, which it does with much greater zeal than against cholera — and next Sunday the pastors orate again, and we are all Christians.
To want to imitate Christ, consequently, to be willing to make oneself unhappy, to be willing to suffer, is called "frightful arrogance," and in the moment of spiritual trial [Anfœgtelse] I myself am not far from regarding it as arrogance — and yet in the New Testament Jesus says again and again: He who does not follow me is not worthy of me (consequently humility may mean, among other things, that it takes humility to bear all the accusations of arrogance.) And then we are all Christians, we who would condemn to death, if possible, the one who dares to imitate Christ, probably to fulfill what Christ prophesies will happen to one who "imitates."
If, then, with God's help I faithfully hold out — well, then my writings will be read, perhaps read widely, but if I write on every single page: Take care that this does not become doctrine, it will become doctrine nevertheless.
"Christianity does not exist here at all, but before there can be any possibility of getting it back again, a poet's heart must break, and I am that poet" — these words by myself about myself will still come true.
See Journal NB p. 68 [i.e., X4 A 299].
Allow me once again to take up the matter which has been of such vital importance to me, the publication of the last pseudonym and then the later things.
This was the situation. For a long time I had realized that by stopping my writing, ceasing to be an author, by using my talents for my own gain, I could easily secure for myself a very comfortable life. But there was always something in me which held me back, for it seemed as if more was being demanded of me.
Meanwhile conditions became more and more strenuous for me, then the whole economic situation became critical, and many, many other sufferings entered in — I began to wonder more and more whether God did not really want me to enjoy life. The thought that I would help her by stopping my writing appealed to me very much. But I could not make up my mind to take this step; it seemed as if more were demanded of me, while I was also troubled that not wanting to do it might be pride on my part.
So I wrote to the printer. That was when I learned about Councillor Olsen's death.
Then came the nocturnal conversation with myself.
I did not know what to do but resolved to venture out.
Of course my life now was bound to become more and more exhausting. And that is what happened. Yet all this would not have been so hard on me; what was frightfully hard on me, even if it has matured me considerably, was my inability to determine whether it was my pride that had wanted to venture out despite the warning voice ("See, now he desires his own destruction") or just the opposite, that it was my common sense which wanted to hold me back and have me wait a week, in which case everything would have fizzled out again, and that this would have been my own destruction ("See, now he desires his own destruction").
O, these have been harsh and stringent days — unto death. And excruciatingly painful as a death blow was the possibility that it was my pride which insisted on venturing out despite my common sense, which had adequately anticipated the dangers ahead, and even despite a warning voice. It is dreadful, I have suffered something akin to death pangs.
But Governance knew well enough what it was doing. For if on top of all the sufferings there had not been added this one: whether or not it was my own fault, whether or not it was because of God's disfavor that this happened to me, my suffering would never have been unto death — and that no doubt was the determining factor.
That was why Governance let me go on being uncertain about my nocturnal conversation, in order that with this uncertainty I would inflict a wound unto death.
That, too, I have done. O, what I have learned! Wearied by this internal torment, I lose the urge to enjoy life, even if the conditions were offered — but in the profoundest sense I became aware of Christianity.
Youth — Old Age
Up leaps a young man and delivers an enthusiastic speech, applying the criterion to an old man whose life can by no means be said to correspond to this high and inspired idea. And the world (which always wants to be deceived) believes that if only the young man gets control everything will be all right.
How stupid! Let's get a look at the young man when he has grown old and see what his life is like.
But this is the cruelty perpetrated against the old again and again.
I am aware of having made an exception, for basically I have spent the advantage of my youth on Mynster.
But just as youth can do old age an injustice so also, just the opposite, old age can do an injustice to youth by rubbing it out. This is really what Mynster has done to me.
I am deeply pained by this relationship to Mynster, for I did so much want to do everything that would be good for him.
With all my sufferings, with more and more opposition from the outside since I must push ahead more decisively, and finally, with my financial insecurity — then to have to venture out: that is why I said: No, I dare not do it, it is too high for me, to me it is the same as tempting God.
And yet this was what was required of me.
That I perhaps would eventually suffer want was not certain, but I had to venture ahead under the pressure of that possibility.
There have been hours when I wished there were someone with whom I could talk, an ascetic. But wherever I look I see this nauseating spectacle: the professor who lectures and otherwise existentially knows only about a job and a career. It would never occur to me to speak with anyone like that; indeed, I could not even justify it, for of course he would try to help me get rid of all modesty so that in utterly shameless security I promptly would make a livelihood the earnestness of life.
But no doubt it has been good for me that there is no such person; conferring with another person might have weakened me instead of keeping me close to God.
O God, O infinite love, I do desire to be involved with you! If I make a mistake, O, you who are love, strike me so that I get on the right path again.
When I spoke with Mynster the first time after the publication of Practice in Christianity, he said among other things that it was plain to see that I was out after him, that two-thirds of the book was against him and one-third against Martensen; he referred specifically to what was said in Part III about "observations".
But this is a misunderstanding. When I brought the book to him I expressly told him that I wished that one of us two were dead before it was published. But if one is out after a man, he certainly does not desire him to be prematurely dead.
Moreover, when I read proof there was a point in the part on observations which offended me also. But I was under such a strain that I was afraid that if I made the slightest change then it could end with my not publishing the book at all. I told Bishop Mynster this, too, the day we talked about it. What offended me was the point: Observations! One sees it on him, the eyes recede, etc. 605
But my relationship to Mynster is a curious thing; after all, it is he himself who goads me farther out.
There is nothing to which Mynster is so opposed as genuine altruistic enthusiasm. Like that Sophist (in Wieland's Agathon), he will risk everything to prevent it.
The reason it takes so long is that Mynster cannot quite make out whether I actually represent an especially subtle sagacity and by an ingenious turn will end up grasping earthly advantages. In that case he would not be so at odds with me.
But he is constantly putting me off. As early as several years ago I spoke with him about an appointment to the pastoral seminary. Incidentally, I am not saying that I therefore would have accepted it, but I wanted very much to have the possibility at hand so that I could more freely see whether that was the way I should take or not. But Mynster, after all, cannot know anything about this. But he has not wanted to do the least thing and merely procrastinates. Probably he is counting on my not being able to hold out for economic reasons (and as early as several years ago I told him that I had some worries about that: I mentioned it to him as early as 1846).
Well, what shall I do? If I were to compromise, I might manage to work extensively — and that would fit in with an appointment to the seminary. But Mynster will not have it. But then I must continue intensively and thus must raise the price — this in fact is Mynster's own fault.
So it cannot be said that I am out after him.
In margin of previous:
N.B. Incidentally, I remember very well that when the manuscript of The Sickness unto Death was sent to the printer I was impatient with Bishop Mynster and the amicable way he actually had worked against me. I remember my remark on the occasion of the publication of the book: Now let him (namely, Mynster) have it. But between The Sickness unto Death and Practice in Christianity a great change has taken place in me. I have suffered much. On the other hand I essentially had forgotten the particulars in that manuscript (Practice in Christianity), which was almost two years old. My main concern was whether or not to publish the book at all. As I said before, I did not become aware of that point until I read the proofs. Anyone who knows how loath I am to make changes in the proofs, because I am so flexible that I easily could rewrite the whole thing, understands that I did not dare decide to make changes no matter how much I wanted to do so, and I did not dare do it even for my own sake lest I dodge the responsibility of having exposed myself to Mynster's bitterness. That point perhaps could be deleted (and yet it is a question whether just such a point did not belong in the book, a point which would be noticed and actually was noticed only by Bishop Mynster, a point which, although in one sense it amounts to nothing, nevertheless may have disturbed Mynster inexplicably), but for fear of getting into trouble with myself I did not dare delete it in the proof, that is, after it was written.
The Relationship to God
The more tender and sensitive I am, the more I can be said to need God — moreover, it would seem as if an ascetic toughness could lead to wanting to do without God and to that extent would be dubious. Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish. This sentimentalism is not at all the kind of worship God desires.
The Present Generation
cannot be bearers of Christianity. People as they now are can be called carriers of Christianity only insofar as they (to use an expression a modern author used in another context) are carrying it to its grave.
Somewhere in a psalm it tells of the rich man who painstakingly amasses a fortune and "knows not who will inherit it from him."
In the same way I will leave behind me, intellectually speaking, a not-so-little capital. Alas, but I know who is going to inherit from me, the character I find so repulsive, he who will keep on inheriting all that is best just as he has done in the past — namely, the assistant professor, the professor.*
*And even if "the professor" happened to read this, it would not stop him, it would not prick his conscience — no, he would lecture on this, too. And even if the professor happened to read this remark, it would not stop him either — no, he would lecture on this, too. For the professor is even longer than the tapeworm which a woman was delivered of recently (200 feet according to her husband, who expressed his gratitude in Addresseavisen recently) — a professor is even longer than that — and if a man has this tapeworm "the professor" in him, no human being can deliver him of it; only God can do it if the man himself is willing.
But it is part of my suffering to know this and then quite steadily go ahead with the project which will bring me toil and trouble and the yield the professor in one sense will inherit — in one sense, for in another sense I will take it with me.
is a synthesis, and naturally, therefore, if you please, a born hypocrite, or with the possibility of being a hypocrite. And now God's concern with each individual is: Will you be a hypocrite or will you stand in relationship to truth?
Precisely because man is a synthesis, hypocrisy resides close to center. This is why sensuousness in a person takes what spirituality in a person understands and expresses and slips in an entirely different interpretation, although it still appears as if it were the same. Christianity says: I am the joyful news. The spirituality in a person understands in what an infinitely lofty sense this is to be taken — now comes sensuousness and slips in what it understands by joy and gets: Christianity is joy. Consequently there is joy in both cases, but it is understood entirely differently in each case, and hypocrisy consists in giving the appearance of holding to what Christianity says of itself: that is joy.
This is only an example; there are countless examples, for hypocrisy can be everywhere.
Christ preached with authority — this "the clergyman" now also does, for in reserve he has the police and the house of correction.
..... During that time and later this one or that probably wondered why Kierkegaard does not go abroad. I am tempted to answer by combining two replies. One is by Socrates, or it is the laws speaking to him (in the Crito) of how he had loved this city and had never felt the urge to see other cities or learn to know their laws — so much has he loved the ones at home. The other is by Peer Degn: Why should I forsake a congregation that I love and esteem and that loves and esteems me in return.
Yes, no doubt I have been gifted with the extraordinary. But Governance is completely the judge of what the extraordinary is. It was too good a bargain for me to understand this and to have financial independence to boot — that simply would not have been the extraordinary.
For that very reason the minute I more deeply understood my life — at that very moment financial worries entered the picture and Governance said: Come now, my little friend, now it can be in earnest.
There I stopped and realized the earnestness of the situation.
For a moment I was completely confused.
In this agony I cried out to God (it was at the time a work by the new pseudonym was published, The Sickness unto Death): Educate me. And that was right, it seemed as if Governance itself inspired me.
If I had had sufficient capital, I eventually would have taken the extraordinary in vain — and then that deepened understanding of my life probably would not have been granted to me either. On the other hand, if I had had no capital at all at the time when I understood myself or my past, then I would have hurled myself passionately into becoming a success in the world and would have despaired over the extraordinary.
But such was not to be — Governance always reckons correctly. I had enough capital so that year after year could pass in which many a time I was almost distressed to have that little nest egg, for otherwise I would have thrown myself into earning and making sure of a living. But I could not make up my mind to throw away my small assets (I dared not assume that responsibility); on the other hand I could not make up my mind to apply myself to finite affairs and take steps to make sure of a living, either (to me that would be breaking with God), for as long as I had a bit of capital it was possible to persevere with the idea.
This among other things has been my education (and truly it is very strenuous). I have been made aware of dying to the world.
This was real education, and it is still by no means finished.
The Deceitful Heart
How often I have caught myself really understanding something, seeing it in all its persuasive, clear, and also eloquent form — and then devoting myself to getting it in writing because I was afraid that I might not be able to do it so well next time — alas, the important thing was something entirely different, namely, that I would come to act according to it.
But I also remember that frequently a thought has become clear to me and in a particular form — and yet in such a way that I could not bring myself to put it in writing because I perceived that I myself should use it.
Then at long last such a thought is put in writing after it has been consumed, so to speak, for in the meantime a new thought would have entered my mind, a new thought which should not be put in writing but should be consumed. For the soul, too, needs nourishment, and the very thoughts which actually nourish my soul are just the ones I am unable to put in writing at once.
The Way — the Way
Whenever I observe a man who by proclaiming Christianity has acquired all the worldly enjoyment possible, all worldly goods — I do not deny that there is a way which leads to this; I merely deny that the way does this, the way of which Christ speaks when he says: I am the way.
If I meet a man walking on Amager going in the direction of, let us say, Dragøer, and he says it is the way which leads to Roskilde — I do not deny there is a way leading to Dragøer, I merely deny this is the way leading to Roskilde. Likewise I do not deny that there is a way — it is old, to be sure, an old, well-known, well-traveled way — which leads to worldly goods, but I deny that it is the way Christ is talking about when he says: I am the way — for otherwise Christ himself has taken the wrong road, which, however, is impossible because he himself is the way.
He is himself the way — this is so that no fraud may be perpetrated about there being many ways. There were not many ways, of which Christ took one — no, Christ is the way.
The Provisional Movement
The official position that pretends that something is Christianity which is not Christianity at all and wipes God's mouth with trumpet calls and by binding the Bible in velvet and gilding the apostles — this is utterly intolerable.
The next thing is to declare quite openly: I am toning down Christianity.
But this cannot be maintained, for how could a person go on day after day announcing to God: I am toning down Christianity — forgive me. It must end with God being the stronger and making his will prevail.
But the main point above all is quite flatly to get out of the mendacity and lying which the established is.
That is what I was called at the time. What a succession of interpretations of my Or I have already gone through!
I eliminated marriage as an Or. But marriage, after all, was not the Or of my life; I am much farther distant from the prior Either.
To be specific, the prior Either signifies the licentious enjoyment of life. Then come all the intermediate stages: the enjoyment of life with an admixture of the ethical. But my Or is not here. Then follows: the enjoyment of life with an ethical-religious admixture, but this is still not my Or.
So there is only one Or left: suffering, renunciation, the religious — to become less than nothing in this world.
If I am an original dialectician, if I am dialectical by nature, then I can find rest only in the last Or, not in any intermediate Or; for Either-Or is not exhausted until one comes to rest in the final Or.
It is more blessed to give than to receive, but then it is also more blessed to be able to do without than to have.
Meanwhile people have managed to get God completely transformed, and also have made God into a sovereign who rules with the help of this dreadful, demoralizing political shrewdness (which has also come to be used in the Church) which gets men to have more and more needs — in order the better to coerce and manage them.
Abominable! No, in his love God wants to bring up and develop a man to be able, if possible, to do without — with the exception of God — so that the only thing he unconditionally cannot do without is God; for as a ruler God has no fear that he might not be able to rule mankind, and as love he wishes to be loved by them, to be in kinship with them, which on a man's part can only be expressed by renunciation.
For a good many years a man can be related to God as a very young child to its parents — as, for example, a little girl who picks up her skirts and dances to honor her parents, laughs and leaps, etc., and this is her expression of thanks. It is the same in the relationship to God. There is a time when a man cannot understand it in any other way but that God is the kind of love that gives what corresponds to apples and pears — and divine worship consists properly of being childishly happy.
As long as this is truth in a man, God is also very well satisfied with it. And it can be truth in a man for a long time. Yes, I really am inclined to think that the change that has come over the whole race is that God has become so elevated that we cannot really attain any other kind of worship.
But this is not the way it is. There comes a time of maturity when God no longer wants man to worship him in this way. It is not a miserable something which God desires — O, no, it is a higher form of love. It will fill you with wonder; he says to such a man, as to everyman, it will fill you with wonder to love me and in such a way that you are actually aware of your relationship with me — therefore you must die to the world.
The way renunciation has usually been presented has appeared to me to be an attempt to make God into a foolish pedant and the God-relationship into an eternal parsimoniousness and a nagging paltriness. This is why it has not appealed to me at all. But the relation is entirely different, for renunciation, yes, the delight of renunciation is nothing other than a love-understanding with God. And as far as I am concerned I am obliged in truth to confess that it was God who intimated it to me. I would not have dreamed of this nor believed myself capable of it. But it was as if God whispered to me this secret: renunciation is a higher relationship to God, is actually the love-relationship. And thereby renunciation became fascinating — at least to me. I have never been so fascinated.
I have loved this thought as I love my life. Yet I have been ready to be reconciled to having to let go of the thought, to the fact that it was my task to humble myself under having to let go of it since I no longer have the means to live for it.
Now I am again — happily — restored to this thought and in a far higher sense. Yes, it is as if God said to me: "My little friend, I who am love, I could with utmost joy make a way out for you and once again render you independent; but then your cause does not advance, then you come to have actually nothing to do with me, at least you do not come to love me in a higher sense. You are now so developed that if I now made you wealthy I would have to be almost angry with you if you did not immediately give it back, saying: No, under the circumstances, I dare not. Is it not true that you are too developed* not to feel for yourself the impropriety of proclaiming in your abundance that it is blessed to do without, too developed to be able to help yourself by declaring that you are only a poet, although it will always be to your credit that you had the honesty to say it." And this is the way it is, even if I, humanly speaking, can be said to have been something more than a poet.
* N.B. Here stood: "You are now too developed not to perceive for yourself the impropriety of living in abundance and proclaiming that it is blessed to do without." It seemed to me that these words put it too strongly, for I have not really occupied myself with this aspect of proclamation, and as for the theme I have used, the suffering of mockery, there I have in fact been in character. But the words can very well remain; after all, they were said primarily about a future time, if I imagined myself to be wealthy and then wanted to proclaim that it is blessed to do without, a proclamation which, however, is always more forgivable than by earning wealth by proclaiming that it is blessed to do without.