Nov 23, 2013

Existing-communication: knowing one's limitations, then speaking

To reduplicate [reduplicere] is to be what one says. Men are therefore better served by someone who does not speak in lofty strains but is what he says. I have never had the nerve to say that the world is evil, I make a distinction and say: Christianity teaches that the world is evil. But I do not dare say it, for that I am far from being sufficiently pure. But I have said: the world is mediocre, and my life expresses exactly that. But many a greenhorn of a clergyman stands and thunders that the world is evil — and what does his life in fact express. — I have never had the nerve to say that I would venture everything for Christianity. I still am not strong enough for that. I begin with something smaller. I know that I have ventured various things and I think and believe that God will educate me and teach me to venture more. But Mynster weeps at the thought that he is willing to sacrifice everything, that even if everyone falls away he will stand fast. God knows what he has ventured. One should never talk that way. The little bit of fever for an hour on Sunday only leaves more languor and indolence. A person should never talk about doing what he has not done. One may say: Christianity demands it, but since I am not tested in this way I dare say nothing of myself. I have always been independent, therefore I have always talked with great caution about the cares of livelihood. I am often reminded that I really have no experience, that here I speak as a poet.

O that there were truth in communication between man and man! One person defends Christianity, another attacks Christianity, and after all is said and done, when it comes to auditing their experiences, neither one nor the other cares much about Christianity — perhaps it is their career.

For my part, I have a thorn in the flesh from my early years. If I had not had it, I would easily have been far gone in worldliness. But I cannot, even if I wanted to very much. So I have no meritoriousness whatsoever, for what is meritorious about going along the right way when one is riding in a go-cart or about a horse's following the track when it is bridled with a sharp bit.

-- Soren Kierkegaard, 1848