The Personalist Project

Comments (4)

Katie van Schaijik

#1, Apr 28, 2012 12:17pm

This objection came up in the reading circle discussion too, Rhett.  I mean, the question of whether Kierkegaard isn't displaying too much severity in his approach to the religious life.  

I mentioned that I remember Dr. Crosby once saying about Cardinal Newman's Plain and Parochial Sermons, which were written before Newman became a Catholic, that the more he (Crosby) reads them, the more he thinks he detects "a lack of a certain Catholic fullness of mercy."

Jules van Schaijik

#2, Apr 28, 2012 8:49pm

Thanks for listening, Rhett. (I sometimes wonder whether those recordings are helpful to anyone. So it makes me happy to hear when they are.)

I agree with your critique of K. In a way the purity he aims for is "too pure" to be fully human. But that is, of course, a problematic way of expressing it, since, properly speaking, it is impossible to be too pure.

One problem is that K. never makes the necessary distinction between ulterior and harmonious motives. He begins his "reward disease" chapter with the example of someone marrying a girl for her money: a clear case of ulterior motives, of "mixed motives" in a negative sense. But willing the Good and desiring happiness naturally go together. Here the mixture of motives is entirely positive.

Sometimes ulterior motives play a perfectly legitimate role. C.S. Lewis, for instance, talks about school boys who learn their Latin grammar only to avoid a beating. Or there are cases in which ulterior motives are legitimate as long as they are secondary to the main motive. Much more to be said.

But I don't understand why you add the line from St. John. It seems to go against you, no?

Rhett Segall

#3, Apr 29, 2012 8:25am

The operative word in the quote from St. John is "perfect". "Perfect" love casts out fear and that will have to wait till eternity. As Dietrich is fond of saying "In statue viae.." there are stages to grow through.

I am reminded of the story of the angel carying a torch and a bucket of water. When asked why he was doing so he replied "The torch is to burn down the mansions of heaven and the bucket is to douse the fires of hell. Then we shall see who really loves God."

It's a lovely story but can't be carried too far! I love teaching but sometimes I go into the classroom to get a pay check! Tsk Tsk..

Shalom Jules,


Jules van Schaijik

#4, May 10, 2012 9:29pm

I just added a post on the home page inspired by this one.

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