Works of Love

Works of Love

Book - 2009
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Some Christian reflections in the form of discourses.

Preface by Ronald Gregor Smith

Translated by Howard and Edna Hong

Publisher: New York : HarperPerennial, 2009
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780061301223
Branch Call Number: 248.4 Ki
Characteristics: xxvi, 378 pages ; 21 cm


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Feb 10, 2016

Love. Where to start??

"The life of a plant is hidden, the fruit is the manifestation. Love itself is in a certain sense hiding and therefore can be known only by its revealing fruits."

The introduction perfectly sets the focus for this tome on love. Kierkegaard is concerned with the inner life of love, the mindsets towards others that we carry around, confident that if those are adjusted accordingly, the "fruit" of love will simply manifest itself. This would be contrary to a focus on doing more "good" for others or a "fake it 'til you make it" mentality.

SK leaves no thought unturned. Another reviewer says that here is wisdom and insight buried under 350 pages of belaboring the point. While I find that funny, I disagree. Kierkegaard simply does not assume anything.

His treatment of 1 Corinthians 8:1 provides a good example. "Love builds up." It is easy to breeze past this and think to oneself, "ok. Got it. Encourage other people." Or something like that. But Build up from what? We are building UP versus simply building. What are we building on? There must be a foundation. And so on. In short, the very foundation we are building on is love. What is the significance of picking apart this phrasing? Actually, the implications of carrying this mindset are huge, and very relevant for us today. It means that in order to build up others, we must first assume love is present in others. If we do not presuppose love in others, then mistrust "takes the very ground level away by pre-supposing that love is not present; therefore mistrust cannot build up." In our world, where intelligence and cleverness are highly valued, not being deceived is of high priority. But SK throws that mentality under the bus. We MUST presuppose love in others in order to build them up, in order to love them. Cynicism has no place in love.

Does this mean that we are to walk around in a perpetual state of ignorance of others? No. His next chapter is titled, "Love Believes All Things-And Yet Is Never Deceived". :-)

(An aside: I think it is important when reading this to remember that he is mostly concerned with the inner life of love. When he is talking of duty and sacrifice, it does not mean that those in dangerous relationships should remain there, but that they should remove themselves from said situation while maintaining a mindset of love.)

Truly, this work is worth reading. The mixture of brilliant insights with Socratic irony is a compelling blend.


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