Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813—1855) could also be described as a theologian and poet. He lived all his life in Copenhagen, with the exception of two years in Germany.
Called the father of existentialism, Kierkegaard focussed on the subjective and personal. He considered a leap of faith essential to a passionate Christian life, and distrusted attempts to prove Christian claims objectively. He believed people choose to live within the aesthetic sphere (which is unfulfilling), the ethical sphere (which leads to compromise), or the faith sphere (which may lead to a purposeful life).
Without God at the centre, existentialism often leads to despair. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, one of Russia’s greatest writers, demonstrates Christian existentialist thought in many of his novels.
Kierkegaard’s emphasis was often on the individual; theologically this includes our need as individuals to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, rather than merely being connected to him through an institutional church. He was very critical of the Danish National Church, and in much conflict with it.
Many of Kierkegaard’s poetic prayers have been translated into English.
Calm My Heart
O Lord, calm the waves of this heart; calm its tempests.
Calm yourself, O my soul, so that the divine can act in you.
Calm yourself, O my soul, so that God is able to repose in you,
so that his peace may cover you.
Yes, Father in heaven,
often have we found that the world cannot give us peace,
O but make us feel that you are able to give peace;
let us know the truth of your promise:
that the whole world may not be able to take away your peace.
Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: www.dsmartin.ca