Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Imagined Dialogue on Kierkegaard: From Behind Closed Doors, Part Three

XVIII
Excerpts from a Sample Conversation Between the King of the Counter-Cultural Scene and Elder Burns, Assistant to the Mission President, Reconstructed With the Aid of My Recently Re-Acquired College Notebooks To Help You Understand What I’m Trying to Tell You: Kierkegaard Edition
We join in medias lecturis:
Professor: ... That’s why Kierkegaard writes an ironic attack on Christendom.  He recognizes that Christendom doesn’t instantiate Christianity, but without knowing what that would be, he lacks the authority to engage in anything but an ironic attack on Christendom.  
Random Goody-Two-Shoes-Student: So what do you think he’d say about the Gospel.
Court Jester <sotto voce, but so that Elder Burns, Assistant to the President and the King of the Counter-Cultural Scene will be sure to hear>: Something ironic, no doubt.
E.B.A.P. : Once you have the Restoration of the Gospel, you don’t need irony.
Prof: Why’s that, Gary?
E.B.A.P.: Because you only need irony were there isn’t authority.  And once the Gospel’s restored, you have authority.
R.G.2.S.S.: Oh, is that why Kierkegaard says, he lacks the authority?
K.C.C.S. : Kierkegaard wrote pseudonymous works, right?  What’s the connection between authority and authorship?
E.B.A.P.  That’s off-topic.  Anyway, this isn’t pseudonymous.
Prof:  No, Isaac’s right to ask.  Remember, Kierkegaard says the key to the pseudonyms is their stance towards faith.
E.B.A.P.  But once the Gospel is restored, you don’t need any stance but the right one.
Prof: Ok, Gary, but if Kierkegaard doesn’t know what the Gospel is, how will he know the right one?
E.B.A.P. : The same way we do:  through faith and prayer.
Prof: So what you’re saying is that he’ll recognize the authority for the same reason that he recognizes that he doesn’t have the authority.
E.B.A.P. Yeah.  He recognizes the apostasy of Christendom and knows enough to know it’s an apostasy, which is all that we can really expect without the light of the Gospel.  
K.C.C.S:  I’m sorry.  I’m still having trouble with the pseudonyms.  I mean, what about Anti-Climacus? He’s supposed to be a higher pseudonym, right?
E.B.A.P:  So what?
Prof: Remember, he represents, Kierkegaard’s understanding of the perspective of Christ?
K.C.C.S.: But isn’t Kierkegaard’s relationship to Anti-Climacus still ironic?
Prof: Yeah, but it’s a higher sort of irony.
K.C.C.S.: But Elder --- Gary --- sorry, we served on missions together.  Gary said there wouldn’t be irony from that perspective.
E.B.A.P.: Kierkegaard isn’t scripture, Elder Smith.
K.C.C.S.: I don’t remember saying that he was.  It just seems to me like authoirty is a lot less important to the question of authorship than faith.
E.B.A.P.: So what?
K.C.C.S: Well, for Kierkegaard, faith is all about a secret, inexpressible relationship to God, right?
E.B.A.P: But that’s because he doesn’t have the Gospel.
K.C.C.S.:  If he had, he wouldn’t have thought it was so secret?
E.B.A.P:  Right.
K.C.C.S.: So what would it have been instead?
E.B.A.P. <sarcastically>: It would have been the Gospel, Isaac.
K.C.C.S.: And what’s that.
E.B.A.P.: It’s what the Brethren say.
K.C.C.S.: And they have authority?
E.B.A.P: Are you saying they don’t?
K.C.C.S.: Of course not, I’m just making sure I understand you.
E.B.A.P.: It doesn’t matter if you understand as long as you understand the Brethren.
K.C.C.S: And what they say isn’t secret?
E.B.A.P.: Of course not.
Court-Jester:  It’s sacred.


1 comment:

The Jar said...

Hard for me to follow because I'm not very well read in Kierkegaarde, but after a few readings I think that I like it. How close is this to actual discussions that go on in BYU philosophy classes?

I was never able to articulate my thoughts with this sophistication, but reading this now makes me wonder if it was the conflation of authority and faith that bothered me most about mormonism.

But is this a confusion that is common throughout religion? I am sometimes told that my "belief" in rationalism is a kind of faith, but I'm skeptical. Certainly one's acceptance of rationalist conclusions is sometimes a matter of faith but it is just as often an appeal to authority (and probably often both), and is that even the same thing as adherence to the philosophy itself?

I guess I get confused easily.