Wednesday, January 01, 2003

To will one thing

To those desiring that their New Year's reflections take an existential soul searching direction, I offer Kierkegaard's Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing: Spiritual Preparation for the Office of Confession. I don't know if "relentless" properly describes a book, but that's how the book felt as I read through it today. I had read a quote from it a long time ago, and the book's title, Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing, has stuck with me since, mantra-like.

I cannot find one or two quotes to write here without feeling like I have to explain K's entire argument/appeal (which I've only partially absorbed). K himself says in his preface that the reader who benefits most is the one who "reads willingly and slowly, who reads over and over again, and who read aloud—for [her] own sake" (p. 27) . So, for myself, I record this:
For confession is a holy act, which calls for a collected mind. A collected mind is a mind that has collected itself from every distraction, from every relation, in order to center itself upon this relation to itself as an individual who is responsible to God. It is a mind that has collected itself from every distraction, and therefore also from all comparison. For comparison may either tempt a [person] to an earthly and fortuitous despondency because the one who compares must admit to [herself] that [she] is behind many others, or it may tempt [her] to pride because, humanly speaking, [she] seems to be ahead of many others....

But when all comparison is relinquished forever then a [person] confesses as an individual before God—and [she] is outside any comparison, just as the demand which purity of heart lays upon [her] is outside of comparison. Purity of heart is what God requires of [her] and the penitent demands it of [herself] before God (pp. 215-216).

[Edit: I wrote and tried to publish this New Year's Eve, December 31, 2002, but Blogger posted it to the future for some reason.]

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