Friday 3 May 2013

Stephen Backhouse and George Pattison on Søren Kierkegaard

This Sunday (5 May 2013) will see the 200th anniversary of the birth of Søren Kierkegaard. I expected to see slightly more made of this than I have done so far.

I asked Stephen Backhouse, expert on all matters Kierkegaardian, to write a short piece on him for LICC’s weekly ‘Connecting with Culture’, which he kindly did, and which is available here. Stephen notes that in a world in which becoming a Christian was as easy as being born and being ‘civilised’, Kierkegaard waged an ‘attack upon Christendom’ by making Christianity harder and more offensive.

George Pattison has also published a piece in The Tablet – ‘Passionate Thinker – Celebrating Kierkegaard’ – which is available here. Reflecting on how Kierkegaard’s contribution has been understood by some, Pattison also draws attention to ‘the way in which Protestant Christianity was itself absorbed into secular society in such a way as to leave no critical distance between Church and society’.

‘[W]hatever else is to be said for or against him, Kierkegaard matters today: he is one of the few post-Enlightenment thinkers whose work is both defined by a Christian agenda and nevertheless remains a major point of reference for the secular world. He can be seen as the progenitor of existential angst and of postmodern irony just as much as he can be read for his extraordinary insights into pastoral care. And, typically, an academic seminar on Kierkegaard today is as likely to include secular moral philosophers as practitioners of the devout life.’

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