To Fear or To Hope?
The father of Christian existentialism, Danish philosopher and theologian Soren Kierkegaard (1813- 1855) experienced family suffering and much intellectual criticism for his strong individualism. He also lived in an era of war and suffering.
The long French Revolution(1789-1815) with its inspirational Declaration of the Rights of Man but also its Reign of Terror and the wars of Napoleon which had just ended. A new Europe, the Age of Metternich( 1815-48) featuring conservative reactionaries had begun. Kierkegaard also lived during the Industrial Revolution with its smoke producing factories and oppressed people.
In 2019 we live in a world that also has its share of war and suffering, eg) a growth in the gulf between the rich and poor; massive numbers of refugees; looming and existing signs of global warming and environmental disasters; the threat of both trade and nuclear wars; pornography and human trafficking; an increasing number of people dying daily in Canada from meth and other drug overdose; and an alarming rise in suicides from both our young and older people.
All my life I have heard the words of Jesus…..Love the Lord your God and your neigbour as yourself….Do fear not, only believe…Have faith….Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…. Peace be with you
Perhaps because our era shares some of the same types of anxiety that Kierkegaard’s era suffered, we might also benefit from listening to the deep divine hope Kierkegaard offered to the fears of people in his era, 200 years ago:
“ When the God-forsaken worldliness of earthly life shuts itself in complacency,
the confined air develops poison, the moment gets stuck and stands still,
the prospect is lost, a need is felt for a refreshing , enlivening breeze to cleanse
the air and dispel the poisonous vapors lest we suffocate in worldliness….
Loving to hope all things is the opposite of despairingly to hope for nothing at all.
Love hopes all things- yet is never put to shame.
To relate oneself expectantly to the possibility of the good is to hope.
To relate oneself to the possibility of evil is to fear.
By the decision to chose hope one decides infinitely more than it seems,
Because it is an eternal decision. “