Hermann Diem, “Kierkegaard: An Introduction”

This 1966 book is only 124 pages; the author — a bravely anti-Nazi Protestant pastor, by the way — acknowledges (89-90) that Kierkegaard is hard to summarize (and I bet not all that easy to understand in the first place).  Some notes:

  • Kierkegaard is extremely Protestant and un-Catholic in his insistence on individual grappling and his rejection of institutional hierarchy; on the other hand, Walker Percy liked him, and he was at war with Denmark’s Protestant church, too.
  • “The opposite of sin is not virtue, but faith.”  (passim)
  • Isn’t Kierkegaard unrealistic if he thinks all people are capable of acting and thinking as he prescribes?
  • Kierkegaard sees each person’s struggle as unique; cf. C.S. Lewis’s discussion of some people having less to work with than others.

In the last paragraph in the book (from an honorary lecture he gave), the author notes that “Kierkegaard and posterity” was his theme, and says, “All that I have said on this subject can be summed up most objectively in a few words written by Kierkegaard himself as he discussed posterity in his Journal” and then he quotes him:

Perhaps it will come to pass, and perhaps it will not, that some person in the next generation will be inspired by your life to pass the examination of his own.  His experience will be no different from yours — the examination neither can nor should be prevented; but it will perhaps encourage him in many a moment to think of you, just as you have experienced it with regard to this man or that who is now dead.