Stephen Wright once said something I wish I had said (okay, I wish I had said several things he has said; but for our purposes, I am thinking of one thing in particular). He said: “I wish the first word I ever said was the word, ‘quote,’ so right before I die I could say, ‘unquote.’” Now that is brilliant! See, I am a firm believer that you are what you quote (if you already forgot that Joseph Epstein quote from last time, shame on you—for punishment, reread last week’s blog). In other words, quotes enhance all aspects of our lives (at least, good ones do—they may even put a smile on your face). And while the word-picture is a little disturbing, William DeVault is right: “A quote is just a tattoo on the tongue,” which means we should always have a good quote ready to go at a moment’s notice (and another one in reserve). And that is why this series of blog posts is a gift of quotes. Some of these quotes will make you ponder. Some will make you laugh. Some will be perfect for sharing, and some of these will touch your heart. But all of these are worth, figuratively speaking, tattooing on your tongue.
In our last blog we looked at 15 great quotes from Rabbi Abraham Heschel. Today’s 15 quotes come from the Great Dane, Søren Kierkegaard (1813 to 1855). Most people think of Kierkegaard as a philosopher (perhaps, even as the first existentialist). On the philosophical side, he did deal with questions about how we ought to live lives authentically as a “single individual,” and he did focus on the importance of personal choice and commitment (at least, that is what Wikipedia said). And he addressed many other great philosophical notions, too (at least, I think so; honestly, there are pages where I have no idea what is going on even after reading them three or four times, which has to mean there are some great philosophical notions in there). But for me, I love Kierkegaard the Christ follower who railed against the Christendom of his day (aka, churchianity) and spoke brilliantly about what it means to believe and how to live as a disciple of Jesus. Here, he is simply unique and outstanding (a voice in the wilderness). And I would be amiss if I didn’t say how influential his views on communicating the gospel to an age that doesn’t want to listen were in my own life and thinking (free quote, Kierkegaard said: “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.”). In my opinion, Kierkegaard was one of the best missionaries to the church we’ve ever had.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you Søren Kierkegaard in 15 quotes. . . .
- “The truth is a trap: you cannot get it without it getting you; you cannot get the truth by capturing it, only by its capturing you.”
- “The question is not “To be or not to be,” it is what we should be until we are not.”
- “And this is one of the most crucial definitions for the whole of Christianity, that the opposite of sin is not virtue, but faith.”
- “The object of [Christian] faith is not the teaching but the Teacher.”
- “To love another person is to help them love God.”
- “When you read God’s Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, ‘It is talking to me and about me.’”
- “It is so hard to believe because it is so hard to obey.”
- “The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.”
- “Life can only be understood backyards, but it must be lived forward.”
- “I would rather be a swineherd, understood by the swine, than a poet misunderstood by men.”
- “The door to happiness opens outward.”
- “Christians remind me of schoolboys who want to look up the answers to their math problems in the back of the book rather than work them through.”
- “It is not where we breathe, but where we Love, that we live.”
- “Face the facts of being what you are, for that is what changes what you are.”
- “Purity of heart is to will one thing.”
Thanks for reading! Now, go out and make him a quote he can’t refuse!