Jun 18, 2009

Another kind of memento mori

The fashion designer (in Stages) gets the idea of starting a fashionable boutique, one section devoted entirely to dressing corpses; thus for the corpse to be dressed in vogue is equivalent to being buried in Christian ground, that is, the latest interpretation.

Jun 5, 2009

Human sympathy — Enlightened understanding

Life prompts one to become aware of the many, many less endowed, weak, simple men, women, and children, the sick and the sorrowful, etc., who live among us. Life says to the religious: Confronted by all these people, can you have the heart to jack up the price of the religious, of salvation, as high as you are doing, you cruel person. And if the religious person is truly religious and consequently has love in his heart, this objection will make a deep impression on him, one who wants so much to be with those who suffer, whose only joy and consolation, after all, is to comfort those who suffer.

But the objection is the spiritual trial of "human sympathy." ....

The point is that the religious person unconditionally shall and must have sympathy for all the weak; he wants to be with them, comfort them, and all that, but he does not dare do it — that is, he does not dare center his life in this sympathy so that instead of remaining true to God he scales down and remains in the religiosity of sympathy.

As soon as a religious person ceases to comprehend it this way: I dare not, I cannot do otherwise (that is, he is in the power of the absolute, absolute obedience is demanded of him), he will be side-tracked and will remain in the religiosity of sympathy.

The danger for the religious person who is in the religiousness of the absolute is, of course, self-righteousness, that he becomes arrogant instead of pious, that he wants to be better than other men or puts God, as it were, in his debt, or at least has a self-satisfied consciousness of having done his part.

For this reason such a religious person will usually have a secret strain, comparable to Paul's "thorn in the flesh," which gives him the bold confidence to go on, because it teaches him that he is nothing and truly makes this truth in him. No one can venture out into absolute religiousness on his own; he must begin in an altogether singular understanding with God. Under other circumstance, that which in absolute religiousness is dialectically cruel becomes outright cruelty, sin, guilt.

— Kierkegaard, 1849