The Not-So-Earnest End (Part 2)

I know a lot of people don’t like leftovers, but I love them. If it was great a night or two ago, it will be great again tonight. George Carlin said it perfectly: “Leftovers make you feel good twice.” (Had he ended the quote right there, we all would have been happy, but instead, he explained: “First, when you put it away, you feel thrifty and intelligent: ‘I’m saving food!’ Then a month later when blue hair is growing out of the ham and you throw it away, you feel really intelligent: ‘I’m saving my life!’”).  Forget Carlin! I love leftovers. Here are six leftover quotes from Kierkegaard that I didn’t offer in this series, but, because they’re just too good to pass up, I offer them to you now. “People understand me so little that they do not even understand when I complain of being misunderstood.” “I would rather

The Not-So-Earnest End (Part 1)

Carole has been Jo’s best friend since the 6th grade (6th grade!). She is an absolute delight. We love Carole. Carole married Keith. He also is a delight. We love Keith and even Carole and Keith together. Carole and Keith live in Kentucky. Several years ago, we visited Carole and Keith in Kentucky and went for a walk in the woods with them. It was on that walk that I was attacked by an infestation of harvest mites. You probably don’t know what a harvest mite is, so let me explain. They look like tiny ticks, bite like small mosquitoes and then leave an overpowering itch that frantically needs to be scratched for months (and maybe decades) afterwards. And since I am still scratching those bites years later, I need to make a proclamation or two (true, it is not the same bites; it is that those mites laid eggs

I Love Hope and I Hope Love

Jackson Brown, Jr. said: “Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all they have.”  I hope you will enjoy these quotes on hope (and don’t you dare deprive me of that hope!).  “Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.” ~Nietzsche  “Marriage is like putting your hand into a bag of snakes in the hope of pulling out an eel.” ~Leonardo da Vinci “Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” ~Joseph Addison “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” ~Albert Einstein “Hope always begins in the dark.” ~Anne Lamott “Only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.” ~Martin Luther King, jr.  “Hope is patience with the lamp lit.” ~Tertullian We are in the last chapter of Mark Tietjen’s book, “Kierkegaard: A Christian Missionary

All You Need Is Kierkegaard (whah-whah-whah)

We’re talking about love, so let’s start with an easy question. What is love? Here are some right answers (I’m stealing these because I found that I couldn’t answer this “easy” question):  “Love is sharing your popcorn.” – Charles Schultz (How very true!) “Love is being stupid together.” – Paul Valery (Even more true!) “The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.” – Audrey Hepburn (That’s nice.) “Love is an ocean of emotions entirely surrounded by expenses.” – Thomas Dewar (That’s not so nice, but unfortunately true.) “Love is a lot like a backache, it doesn’t show up on X-rays, but you know it’s there.” – George Burns (That explains a lot.) “Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.” – Robert Frost (That explains everything!) So, that’s fine, but why do we love that special person? (there’s a website called, “Our Kind of Crazy,” that

Give Me Love (Give Me Kierkegaard)

Let’s talk about love. More than that, let’s have a quiz about love or at least about song titles that contain the word, “love.” As you can see, I have removed a key word or two from these popular titles. Your task is to simply to fill in the blank(s). Here’s a sample question: Elton John: “____ ___ ____ the love tonight?” (I know! Giving you the artist is a big hint!). If you said, “Can You Feel,” you are ready to take the quiz. If you said something else, skip the quiz and go directly (but sadly) to the actual post.  Let’s begin. Queen: “_______ _____ ____ Called Love” The Beatles: “All _____ _____ ____ Love” The Everly Brothers: “_____, ____ Love” Adele: “Send My Love (____ ____ ____ ____)” Taylor Swift: “Love _______” Bon Jovi: “You Give Love ___ ____ ____” Foreigner: “I Want ____ ____ What Love

A Kierkegaardian Primer Parable

We are looking at Mark Tietjen’s excellent book, Kierkegaard: A Christian Missionary to Christians (IVP Academic, 2016) and we’ve come to his last chapter (not to be confused with the conclusion); which is entitled, “The Life of Christian Love.” But love is a big topic, and so we began our conversation by looking at twelve quotes from Kierkegaard on love in our previous post; and today, we conclude our primer by looking at his parable of the two artists.   Here's the big question: What is the difference between requiring love of the neighbor and finding something to love in the neighbor (I should mention that I found this parable in Thomas Oden’s book, Parables of Kierkegaard, Princeton University press, 1978).  Here’s the parable. . . . “Suppose there were two artists, and the one said, ‘I have traveled much and seen much in the world, but I have sought in

A Kierkegaardian Primer on Love, Part 1

We are looking at Mark Tietjen’s excellent book, Kierkegaard: A Christian Missionary to Christians (IVP Academic, 2016), and we’ve come to his last chapter (not to be confused with the conclusion); which is entitled, “The Life of Christian Love.” But love is a big topic; and so, before we venture into all that Tietjen wants to say about Kierkegaard’s view of love, I thought it might be good to provide two primers (this week and next week) that will (hopefully) whet our appetite for this subject. We begin today with ten quotes from Kierkegaard on love for us to ponder. Is this too simple? Perhaps. Is it effective? I hope so! Plus, you will thank me next Valentine’s Day when you are looking for a great quote to put in your card.  In any case, here are twelve great Kierkegaard quotes on what it means to love and be loved.

Witness: The Kierkegaard Way

Our college had a thing they called, “Forced Christian Labor.” Okay, that was not its real name, but I have buried those horrific memories so deep in my subconscious that I cannot think of its actual name.  Let me explain: Each week, we would have to report on all of the ways we had witnessed to people in that week. You read that right. We were obligated to fill out a form that asked how many unsaved people we had witnessed to that week; how many Christian tracts we had handed out; how many backsliders we had restored; and how many acts of Christian service we preformed. Every single week . . . and failure to do so meant a meeting with the Dean of “Do it again and you won’t graduate.” Now, thankfully, I worked at the 100,000-watt Christian radio station that broadcast the gospel in all of its

A Not-So-Wild Goose Chase

Who knew there were so many idioms about geese! You can be loose as a goose. You can cook someone’s goose. You can kill the goose that lays the golden egg. You can lay a goose egg. You can even be a silly goose. We all know that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, that a wild goose never lays a tame egg; and we know people who would never ever say boo to a goose. You can go on a wild goose chase. You can get goose bumps, and you can even get goosed (but we won’t go there). All that to say, geese are pretty cool. But that’s not just my opinion; Kierkegaard thought so, too. We are looking at Mark Tietjen’s excellent book, Kierkegaard: A Christian Missionary to Christians (IVP Academic, 2016). Specifically, we are looking at his chapter on “Christian Witness,” especially

The Woes of Being a (Bad) Witness

Cool Hand Luke contains one of the most epic movie quotes ever when Strother Martin said: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”  Unfortunately, he was wrong. He should have said: “What we’ve got everywhere is a failure to communicate.” Apparently, a failure to communicate is a sign of our times. For instance, here’s a sign from a furniture store with a very interesting marketing campaign: “Buy this bed and get free one night stand.” Here’s a lecture slide gone awry: “The average North American consumes more than 400 Africans” (I must be below average because I haven’t consumed even one African!). It is seen in signs around swimming pools: “The pool is closed until further notice. Sorry for the incontinence” (I’m blaming autocorrect here). It is even seen in signs behind other signs! One company was advertising for new employees with a sign saying: “Help Wanted.” Behind

Kierkegaard and the Problem with Pastors

Okay, let me be absolutely honest. If I had a pastor, I would want him to be Ted Lasso. Now, either you get that (and you’re incredibly wise) or you don’t (and you are . . . well, we’ll just leave it at that). The Apple TV series Ted Lasso ended last week and Jo and I are still in mourning, but what better way to go through mourning than together.  After all, Ted said: “I promise you there is something worse out there than being sad, and that's being alone and being sad.” That is some great pastoral advice. But Ted is filled with such wisdom. For instance, “For me, success is not about the wins and losses. It’s about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves on and off the field.” “You know what the happiest animal on Earth is? It's a goldfish. You know

On Being a (Sinful) Human

As Ted Lasso comes to the end of a magnificent three-season run, I thought it would be good to remember four of his (its) best lines. "You know what the happiest animal on earth is? It's a goldfish. Y'know why? It’s got a 10-second memory. Be a goldfish." "You beating yourself up is like Woody Allen playing the clarinet. I don't wanna hear it." "You two knuckleheads have split our locker room in half. And when it comes to locker rooms, I like 'em just like my mother's bathing suits. I only wanna see 'em in one piece, you hear?" "Our goal is to go out like Willie Nelson, on a high." All of that, to get to this. In episode 9 of season 3, there was a great dialogue between Rebecca (the owner) and the irascible and ill-tempered Roy Kent (former player, now one of the coaches). Rebecca was

On Being (Even More) Human

We are talking about what it means to be human; and since our topic is extremely complex, I thought it would be good to begin by gleaning some wisdom from an expert.  Consider these words from Calvin (and one from Hobbes and, I guess, also from Bill Watterson); and unlike a comic strip, each quote here stands alone:  Calvin: “You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don’t help.” Calvin: “Everybody seeks happiness! Not me, though! That’s the difference between me and the rest of the world. Happiness isn’t good enough for me! I demand euphoria!” Calvin: “Life is full of surprises, but never when you need one.” Hobbes: “So the secret to good self-esteem is to lower your expectations to the point where they’re already met?” Calvin: “In my opinion, we don’t devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks.” Calvin: “God put

On Being Human

One of my favorite TV shows of all time (although now, sadly, it is showing signs of age) is “The Prisoner.”  Patrick McGoohan is one of Britain’s top-secret agents who unexpectedly resigns. He slams his fist down on his boss’ desk, storms out of the building and goes home to pack in order to leave the country. As he is packing, he is abducted and taken to “The Village.” The Village looks almost like a resort where everyone seems free enough; but make no mistake, it is a prison, and his keepers want information.  But who are his keepers? And whose side are they on?  No one is willing to say.  Interestingly, there are no names in The Village, only numbers. McGoohan is Number Six. The warden is Number Two. The show always begins with the same dialogue:  Number 6: “Where am I?               

The Knowing and Being Gap

My favorite album as a kid was by the Royal Guardsman; and it featured at least eight absolutely incredible songs, songs I still cherish today like an old treasure. Sing along if you know them. There was “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (“He was the bravest of them all”); “The Battle of New Orleans” (“We took a little bacon and we took a little beans and we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans”); “Li’l Red Riding Hood” (“You’re everything a big bad wolf could want.”); “Snoopy and the Red Baron” (“In the nick of time, a hero arose, a funny-looking dog with a big black nose”); and the super classic, “Peanut Butter” (“Well there's a food goin’ round that's a sticky sticky goo -- Peanut, Peanut Butter --  Oh well, it tastes so good but it's so hard to chew -- Peanut, Peanut Butter -- All my

A Portrait of a Man of Many Hats

Today, we want to draw a portrait of Kierkegaard. And so, let’s begin by thinking like an artist. Edward Hopper said:  “If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.” We are looking at the first chapter in Mark Tietjen’s excellent book, Kierkegaard: A Christian Missionary to Christians (InterVarsity Press, 2016). Tietjin believes Kierkegaard has lots to say to the church today; but to hear what he (either Kierkegaard or Tietjen) has to say, we have to set Kierkegaard in the right context. So, who was Kierkegaard? As we will see, he was a man of many hats. So, let’s begin our portrait. Who was Kierkegaard? He was a philosopher. At least, that is how most people think of him. If you want to read something by Kierkegaard, you go to the philosophy section. If you want more specific help, find the sections marked, “existentialism,”

What Is Faith?

How important are books? Let me count the ways or, at least, count the quotes.  From C.S. Lewis: “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” From Mark Twain: “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” From Fran Lebowitz: “Think before you speak. Read before you think.” From Erasmus: “When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” Let me just say it: I like Erasmus! And last, from Mortimer Adler: “In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.”  Recently, I finished Mark Tietjen’s Kierkegaard: A Christian Missionary to Christians (InterVarsity, Downers Grove, 2016). Let me be honest. I have

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