06 January 2008

A concession to our weakness

Kierkegaard (from Provocations, pp. 44-5)

God is infinite love and for this reason has no cause. He will not suddenly
overpower a person and demand that he instantly become spirit. If that were the
case we would all perish. No, he handles each person gently. His is a long
operation, an upbringing in love. Yes, there are times when one gasps and God
strengthens with material blessings. But there is one thing God requires
unconditionally at every moment -- integrity -- that one does not reverse the
relationship and try to prove his relationship to God or the truth of his cause
by good fortune, prosperity, and the like. God wants us to understand that
material blessings are a concession to our weakness and very likely something he
will widthdraw at some later date to help us make true progress, not in some
finite endeavor but in passing the examination.


Bobi was saying to me just yesterday:

"We need to take one woman, to make her in charge of finance for government.
One woman who has 3, 4 children, husband, she manage the money for the house.
It's not plenty money, but there is food, the clothes are clean, she pay the
bills. She is careful with the money, to make it last. This is what we need in

I disagreed. "Bobi, she is careful with her money because it's HER money. If
she were in charge of spending my money, she wouldn't be so careful. What
people say and what they do are two different things."

What people say and what they do are two different things. And this is true
especially as regards our spirituality, our morality, our inner life. God tests
us, not so that he can evaluate our fidelity, but so that we ourselves can see
our failure in fidelity. And as we take the examination, we can see where it is
leading and we abort the test, as if Gretchen, plucking the petals from the
flower, "He loves me, he loves me not ..." counts ahead as she's plucking and
sees that she's short one petal, crumples the flower, casts it aside and says,
"I don't need a flower to tell me of Fausts' love."


"Oh, remember this well! You may perhaps be cunning enough to avoid suffering
and adversity in this life, you may perhaps be clever enough to evade ruin and
ridicule and instead enjoy all the earth's goods, and you may perhaps be fooled
into the vain delusion that you are on the right path just because you have won
worldly benefits, but beware, you will have an eternity in which to repent! An
eternity in which to repent, that you failed to invest your life upon that which
lasts: to love God in truth, come what may, with the consequence that in this
life you will suffer under the hands of men.

"Therefore do not deceive yourself! Of all deceivers fear most yourself!" [SK,
Provocation p. 47]


  1. Happy New year Jon, Hope you are doing well. Thank you very much for this post. I´m a regular reader of your blog but this is the first time I write a comment. Take care and all the best in 2008!


  2. How amazing! We are just in the middle of a heated, high volume discussion about money and what matters, and here, your intriguing, insightful blogpost on the matter!!!!!! Profound, indeed!!

  3. So the women with the kids is managing the household money well because she sees it as *her* money, and we can't generalize this up because it's not possible she would see the federal government's money as *her* money, and thus manage it well?

    Why is the upward generalization not possible? I'm not saying it's *bound* to happen, but why should it *necessarily* not happen?

    I mean this seems a bit contrary to some common sense that even Jesus iterated: "You've down well with a few things, so here, rule over a few more"

    A principle which, perhaps, had GWB used it in choosing who would and wouldn't have a lot of authority over the Iraq thing, might have prevented a lot of problems.

  4. Jon, I am baffled by Soren Kierkegaard. From what I hear and read from you, it seems he is a Christian in the same vein as you and I. However, in my research so far on him (just internet), he seems to believe in subjective truth and is against rational theology. Have you found this? Any help for my turmoil would be most appreciated. I cannot accept relativism and total blind faith.

    Happy sailing. I am here philosophizing away!

    Love your favorite sister,