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Posts tagged "Kierkegaard"

Reflections on Art, Irony, and the Good News of Goosebumps

Reflections on Art, Irony, and the Good News of Goosebumps

Children’s book author Adam Gidwitz rang in the most wonderful time of the year (October, what else?) with an article in The New Yorker about the world-renowned series, Goosebumps. Marveling at the franchise’s unparalleled success, Gidwitz posed an unexpectedly contentious question: Should good children’s books teach a lesson?

The conundrum of the “good” children’s book is best embodied by the apparently immortal—or maybe just undead—series “Goosebumps,” by R. L. Stine. “Goosebumps” is a series of horror novellas, the kid’s-lit equivalent of B-horror movies. It’s also one of the most successful franchises in the business, selling over three hundred and fifty million copies…

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Kid Kierkegaard Chose…Poorly

Kid Kierkegaard Chose…Poorly

“Here I stand…not at a crossroads—no, but at a multitude of roads, and therefore it is all the harder to choose the right one.”
—Kierkegaard, in a letter to P.W. Lund, 1835

When I first read the above line by Christianity’s favorite philosopher, I thought, well, of course he faced a deluge of indecision in his white-haired smoky-armchaired nineteenth-century affluence—tea or coffee today? Hegel or Kant? Reading or writing? But it became more endearing, for me, when I realized that he was writing as a twenty-two-year-old and that I’d had the same exchange of words with a close friend the day before. Oh,…

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Kierkegaard on the (Lost) Offense of Christianity

Kierkegaard on the (Lost) Offense of Christianity

[T]ake away the possibility of offense, as they have done in Christendom, and the whole of Christianity is direct communication; and then Christianity is done away with, for it has become an easy thing, a superficial something which neither wounds nor heals profoundly enough; it is the false invention of human sympathy which forgets the infinite qualitative difference between God and man.

-Søren Kierkegaard, “The Offence,” Training in Christianity

Kierkegaard handles the problem of the “messianic secret” still, to me, better than almost anyone. That secret is the question of why Jesus, after healing people, often tells them to tell no one….

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Sex and Death: The Existentialism of King Solomon and Ernest Hemingway

Sex and Death: The Existentialism of King Solomon and Ernest Hemingway

We live our lives bounded by those two mysteries, birth and death—our beginning and our end—and in between we stumble about in the dark, looking for the light, or at least for a good pair of existential shoes so we will not cut our feet quite so much on the sharp edges of Reality as we head for the Exit. What most of us find is ordinary life. The accidents of history have for now enclosed a space in which a wide swath of humanity—though not all of us, to be sure—experience ordinariness in the prosperity and pleasures of an…

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Parables and the Difficulty of Direct Communication

Parables and the Difficulty of Direct Communication

When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, ‘To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that

“they may indeed look, but not perceive,

and may indeed listen, but not understand;

so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.” ’

He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is…

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A Reflection on the Fall, or Sisyphus vs. Jack Vincennes

A Reflection on the Fall, or Sisyphus vs. Jack Vincennes

This is the transcript of a talk given over the weekend by Mbird’s Will McDavid at The Olmsted Salon in NYC, loosely based on our recent Eden and Afterward: A Mockingbird Guide to Genesis. For the audio, go to the Olmsted site here, and to order the book, go here.

I first want to speak a little about why I wrote this book. I think the relative decline of the Christian religion among intellectuals has resulted in a few interesting consequences for the Bible. People now are relatively less likely to study the letters of Paul, in which he lays out much…

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FOMO and the Fear of a Better Option

FOMO and the Fear of a Better Option

FOMO’s not the whole story – nor is it new.

The Boston Magazine this week published a history of “Fear of Missing Out“, tracing its beginnings, like a careful epidemiologist, back to 2004, at Harvard Business School. Of greater interest were its comments on FOBO, Fear of a Better Option (more precisely, Fear that a Better Option Exists, but FOBO’s easier than FBOE, so there it is):

But this mentality had its costs: McGinnis and his group found they couldn’t commit to anything. Working with the rudimentary tools available to them (cell phones and address books), they developed complex algorithms to plan…

Wheeling and Dealing with the Devil: Kierkegaard on the Intolerable Self

Wheeling and Dealing with the Devil: Kierkegaard on the Intolerable Self

If there is a band that has been a bit overplayed lately, Bastille would be it. But while you’ve probably heard their song “Pompeii”, you probably haven’t heard “Icarus”. The song, of course, is based on that famous Greek myth about a man named Daedalus who makes wings out of wax for his son, Icarus. Tragically, though Daedalus warned Icarus to avoid flying near the sun, Icarus just couldn’t help himself; so his wings melted, and he fell to the sea where he drowned. The story is a little on the not-so-happily-ever-after side, as the chorus reminds us: “Icarus is…

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Bible Tuesdays: The Serpent in the Wilderness

Bible Tuesdays: The Serpent in the Wilderness

It’s become fashionable in some Protestant circles to talk about inspiring virtue not through dry rules or frustrated self-discipline, but through a vision of the moral life. ‘Living into the Kingdom’, or looking at a beautiful vision of God’s restoration in the eschaton and ‘mapping backwards’ (see Ethan’s TFA piece in The Mockingbird) to see how we act in light of God’s redemption are ideas and phrases enjoying broad use in American Christianity. Even those who haven’t read the intellectual mainstays of this idea (Wright, Smith, etc) still implicitly think this way. I know I’d rather show my children Caillou’s…

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Kierkegaard and Young Adult Anxiety

Believe it or not, we’re down to the penultimate video from last month’s conference in NYC. This one comes to us courtesy of a true expert in the field (zing!). Will “WB” McDavid:

You may download the recording of this talk by clicking here.

Emotional Protestants, Gracious Storytelling, Stressed-Out Athletes, Young Kierkegaardians, Antinomian Unicorns, and Church Basement Addictions

Emotional Protestants, Gracious Storytelling, Stressed-Out Athletes, Young Kierkegaardians, Antinomian Unicorns, and Church Basement Addictions

We asked those who are giving “mini-talks” this Friday (4/19) at our 6th Annual Mockingbird NYC Conference to provide short teasers of what they’ll be speaking about, and they did not disappoint! If you’re looking six and a half more reasons to cancel what you have going on this weekend (or six and a half more reasons to feel silly about not doing so), look no further:

Just Watched — Up There With the Most Grace-Centered Films of the Last Few Years, If Not THE Most

1. What Does Salvation Feel Like? Protestantism and the Problem of Emotion — Simeon Zahl….

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Mary Karr, Mini-Lives, and News From Across the (Human/Robot Divide)

Mary Karr, Mini-Lives, and News From Across the (Human/Robot Divide)

Reading Mary Karr’s fantastic memoir Lit, one quote in particular stuck out to me as beautifully describing a tendency we humans have to fall into more limited emotional ranges:

…anything worth doing could be undertaken later. Paint the apartment, write a book, quit booze, sure: tomorrow. Which ensures that life gets lived in miniature. In lieu of the large feelings – sorrow, fury, joy – I had their junior counterparts – anxiety, irritation, excitement.

I don’t want to read into Karr’s emotional experiences, but for me this passage elucidates the emotional life lived in times when the Law, or demand to achieve, is…

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