A review of Provocations

Provocations. Soren Kierkegaard, Charles E. Moore editor

Of all the enlightening ideas I have encountered, a few special items never go far from my mind.

One of them is the position Soren Kierkegaard took in regard to churches. He considered them dangerous, essentially because Christ called people to live in opposition to the ways of the world, which arise out of human nature. But churches long ago became and continue to be collaborators with the world. To survive, they need to compromise with the ways of the world, and that compromise negates the Christian message.

Dostoyevski offered an extreme presentation of the church gone awry in “The Grand Inquisitor”, and close observation of most any contemporary church will offer evidence to back up the Kierkegaard’s position  and to justify making Dostoyevski’s vision required reading.

Kierkegaard is about as pure an idealist as I can imagine. He is willing to compromise not a word of Christ’s message. So, regarding Christ’s command to love our neighbor and his use of the parable of the Good Samaritan to illustrate that our neighbor is everybody, Kierkegaard insists that the message is: we are commanded to actively love, and to love everyone without distinction.

Provocations is a collection of the heart of Kierkegaard’s work, a most valuable introduction to his brilliance and idealism. The text is, in many cases, edited for clarity, as the originals are often dense and difficult. Though some reviewers object to this editing, I would argue that only the most patient readers can be expected to fully appreciate the more literally translated originals without first being convinced by such an introduction as this one that any amount of patience in reading Kierkegaard will prove to be more than adequately rewarded.

My suggestion to people new to Kierkegaard would be to read Provocations first, then proceed to the originals (I recommend Works of Love) where they will encounter more poetic depth.

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