Sixth and final video/interview – should Kierkegaard be viewed more as a philosophical or a religious thinker?  Enjoy!

R: This is the last one.  One thing I noticed, kind of, with responses to my blog and reading online is that [Kierkegaard]’s either viewed as a philosophical figure or a religious figure by most people.  What would you say?  Would you say that today his strongest impact, or most lasting impact is as a philosopher, or a theologian?

Dr. Garff:Well, that’s a tough one, because I mean, I see Kierkegaard as many figures, as many philosophers, as many theologians, etc., because he is not a unity.  In a technical sense, or in a more concrete sense he is this specific person, living from that year to that year, etc.  But on the other hand I think that the more you are dealing with him the more complex he becomes.  Because there’s a young Kierkegaard, there’s the middle Kierkegaard, and there’s the old, or late Kierkegaard, despite the fact that he was only 42.

He developed himself with enormous speed, and he is a theologian, yes, but he doesn’t have a theology.  If you ask me, ‘Please tell me about Kierkegaard’s theology,’ I actually wouldn’t be able to give you any proper answer.  If we talk about Hegel’s philosophy, it would be quite easy to say that he had a philosophy.  Or Kant — they have a philosophy, but speaking of Kierkegaard’s theology or his philosophy is much more complex, because Kierkegaard is a very philosophical writer, yet he does not have a philosophy.

And you can say the same when it comes to Kierkegaard’s aesthetics.  I mean, he is a very, very aesthetic writer and he uses language in a certain way, he uses a number of pictures and metaphors and allegories, etc.  But he doesn’t have an aesthetic theory.  And you can continue in that way.  So that means that Kierkegaard, in a way, mixes all these genres, he mixes all these professions — being a theologian, being a philosopher, being a psychologist, etc.  To me that’s one of the most fascinating points in Kierkegaard — that he combines all these different kinds of fields that normally are separated.

So to me it’s not that much a question about whether his impact is larger or minor when it comes to philosophy or theology.  It’s more that reading Kierkegaard is also a matter of selecting parts of him.  And you can select the philosophical part or you can select parts that are very open to a philosophical reading.  ‘Well, now I want to read Kierkegaard philosophically’ — and then claim that he is a philosopher! (laughs) Or you can choose the aesthetic part and then claim, ‘Well, I’m reading him aesthetically and Kierkegaard is an aesthetic author.’

So Kierkegaard — in a strange way he is very, very open to all these different kinds of readings and to me that’s something which is a huge advantage.  I don’t think that you should close Kierkegaard, I think that you should open him again and again.  Closing Kierkegaard is to put him into a sort of system, saying ‘Well, Kierkegaard said…’ or ‘Well Kierkegaard already decided that…’ or ‘according to Kierkegaard…’.  I think that’s not a very Kierkegaardian reading of Kierkegaard.  I think that the openness should be kept as a decisive part of the very work.  So that’s at least what I’m trying to do in my readings: to reopen him again instead of closing him.  There have been so many Kierkegaardian closers, so to speak, so one should be cautious in that respect.

R: Thank you very much.

Dr. Garff: You’re welcome.


Fifth part (a short one) – How would Kierkegaard view the current Danish Church?

R: How do you think [Kierkegaard] would view the current Danish Church?

Dr. Garff: (laughs) Well, I don’t know.  I mean, on the one hand I think that he could, after all, despite everything, see some progress, because due to himself, due to his criticism of Christendom and his harsh critique of Mynster and Martensen and the very pathos of the Danish bishop, etc.  — due to all that, we have today a very flat structure.  We don’t have this church that Kierkegaard was so polemical against.

But on the other hand, he would say, ‘Well, basically, nothing has changed.  Basically, it’s still maybe even worse despite what I said.’ So think that he would have a sort of double approach to it

Note (R): Okay, maybe I should have just tacked this one on with question four.  But I do not trifle with hindsight.  And you would not imagine how difficult it is to cut and edit these videos.

Part four! What was Kierkegaard’s immediate effect on the Danish Church?

R: I’ve been kind of wondering, after he died – he’d said such strong things about the Danish Church, to say the least.  Do you think he had any kind of immediate effect on the Danish Church or on Danish Christians? Do you think that for the next fifty years or so, any of what he said was taken seriously?

J: Well, it depends.  I mean some people ignored him, or thought he was insane, or perceived him as being a sort of confused martyr.  The head of the Danish Church, Martensen, totally ignored him.  Kierkegaard was furious because of that.  But the younger generation, I guess that they went in two directions.  I mean some theologians were deeply affected, deeply shocked, and radically in doubt concerning very basic Christian ideas because Kierkegaard had said what he said.

On the other hand, you will find some intellectuals, Georg Brandes for instance, who plays an important role in Danish intellectual life in the seventies and eighties and later on who actually wrote the first biography on Kierkegaard, published in 1873 I guess.  And he wrote that book in order simply to show that Kierkegaard basically was wrong.  That Kierkegaard, being a Christian – Brandes himself was  a Jew – being a Christian, against modern science, etc. basically was wrong.   He was fascinating, he was a genius — Brandes could say a lot of good things about Kierkegaard, but basically, in his assumptions, in his direction, he was wrong.  And that meant that the intellectuals in the seventies and eighties in Denmark simply looked upon Kierkegaard as a sort of medieval darkness (laughs). And they couldn’t adopt him, they couldn’t use him, they saw him as a sort of far-too-radical Christian.  Many of them were atheists or had a very ambivalent relationship with Christianity so to them Kierkegaard simply was a person you couldn’t use for anything.  Maybe you could use him simply to distance yourself to Christianity.

But, I mean, if we had not had Kierkegaard, I’m pretty sure that the Danish Church and all that would have had quite a different status today.  I mean he plays a decisive role in the self-understanding of the church.  So in that respect he has been a very, very important figure.

Part 3 – In what sense is Søren Kierkegaard a Danish figure?

R: Kierkegaard is a very Danish figure.

Dr. Garff: Maybe. (laughs)

R: How do you think that Danish culture and being such a Copenhagener influenced him as a writer?  Or do you think he could have been a writer in Copenhagen or Spain?  Do you think there is something inherently Danish about him?

Dr. Garff: Yes, I mean primarily the language.  He writes in a very modern fashion and he adopts everyday language and puts it in his books.  We nowadays maybe have some difficulty in seeing that, but it’s obvious that Hans Christian Andersen and Kierkegaard renew the Danish language by taking a sort of spoken Danish into their works.  If you compare Søren Kierkegaard to his contemporaries or to his teachers, you can see an enormous difference in precisely the use of language,  whereas those teachers that Kierkegaard had, they used an academic Danish marked by Latin, marked by this very academic way of phrasing and etc.  Whereas Kierkegaard – not the very young Kierkegaard – but the Kierkegaard who wrote, even in his dissertation and especially the Kierkegaard who wrote Either/Or, that Kierkegaard takes the everyday language and uses it in a very smooth and very elegant and very provocative way.

To me, Kierkegaard is Danish because he is also a part of a small community.  I can’t see Kierkegaard in Berlin, actually, for my inner eye.  The fact is when he arrived in Berlin he rushed to the hotel, sat down and wrote (laughs) – Either/Or and Repetition and other works.  So he didn’t need Berlin as a city.  But he needed Copenhagen as a sort of place where he could walk up and down the streets, he could meet people, he could investigate them psychologically, he could have a chat with them if that was what was needed, and then he could withdraw to his apartment, because now it was time to work, etc.  So there is a sort of happy dialectic going on between Kierkegaard and Copenhagen.  It’s not that small, it’s not a village, neither is it as huge a capital as Berlin or New York or other big cities where I guess Kierkegaard would simply be too little, so that he couldn’t be a part of that productive dialectic between knowing people on the one hand, yet on the other hand, to be a private person.  So that this is a very happy consummation of Kierkegaard in Copenhagen actually.

Here’s part two – why did Kierkegaard find it so hard to relate to other people?

R: In your book it’s clear that Kierkegaard had a lot of acquaintances — he knew many people. But he only had one true friend: Emil Boesen.  Why do you think it was so hard for him to confide in people?  You know, he thought maybe he would use Rasmus Nielsen to pass on his work but then he decided not to.  Why do you think that is?  Do you think that might be related to his problems with Regine?

Dr. Garff: I mean, in the first place Kierkegaard was a very private person, and I think that Emil Boesen was a very nice person for him to have as a friend because Boesen was patient, he was rooted in himself, he was a very confident person, he was a very discreet person, also, and he could tell him a lot of secrets.  So I guess that’s some of the reasons why Kierkegaard is so committed to Boesen

On the other hand, Kierkegaard never told Boesen everything.  Even in his letters from Berlin to Boesen it’s obvious to me that Kierkegaard, in a way, hides something, and is staging himself, and there is so much youthful posture and manner and etc. in these letters so he never totally opened himself to anybody.  And maybe Kierkegaard couldn’t.  Maybe that’s a reason why he wrote so much, that all these inner conflicts were, in a way, so productive, and called for some reinterpretations.

Normally you depict Kierkegaard as someone who knew his own secrets, who knew precisely what was the very center of the conflict.  But one could also reverse it a bit and say that Kierkegaard never quite understood himself totally.  And therefore he had to reinterpret his love affair, reinterpret his relationship with his demonic father, etc.  And therefore he had to keep a sort of distance also to other persons.

As you say rightly, Kierkegaard later tried to have a sort of friendship with Rasmus Nielsen, and it turned out to be a disaster because Rasmus Nielsen was a quite different type of person than Boesen but it was the idea that Rasmus Nielsen should continue Kierkegaard’s ideas, etc.  But Kierkegaard felt very early on that Rasmus Nielsen also adopted or stole some of his ideas, etc.

So to all this there is a sort of — not paranoia, but something which indicates that Kierkegaard was a very, very sensitive person and that the relationships he entered into always were very fragile and very complicated in a way, and that he was so touchy in a way.  Very little things could evoke earthquakes.

It has certainly taken me a while, but here is my interview with Dr. Garff, author of Søren Kierkegaard: A Biography.  This is the first question.  I have also included a transcript.

R: First of all, I’ll put it on the tape, thank you so much for having me and speaking with me.  I really appreciate it.  My first question is why, what was it that brought you to study Kierkegaard for a living, why did you decide to spend your life making all of these huge books and working on his life?

Dr. Garff: Well, it’s complicated to answer that question because I guess it’s a number of nice coincidences.  In high school I had a Danish teacher that said, “Whatever you do, never read Kierkegaard.”  And that was so provocative to me that the same day I guess I went to the library to pick up some of Kierkegaard’s books.  And then I began reading them in a sort of protest and I think that I was fascinated by the atmosphere of the books, the strangeness, and all that – it was quite new to me.

And at the same time there was this very existential drive, or existential tune, or existential dimension in it.  I was sixteen or so, seventeen maybe, and I felt that it was not a question about understanding Kierkegaard – of course it was in a more technical sense – but it was, in the first place, a sort of experience of being understood by Kierkegaard, and that’s how it began in a way.

Due to a number of circumstances, I began to study theology, and that was also another excuse to do the Kierkegaard reading.  And I went deeper and deeper into it and I was fascinated by Kierkegaard’s aesthetics, his life, his artistic manner and behavior in the text, and I found him deeply, if not seductive then fascinating, and for many years I lived in his universe.  Maybe I also adopted some of his words and even some of his conflicts.

So that was the beginning of it, and then later on, when I grew a little older I guess that I spent some time investigating how Kierkegaard had fascinated me with his rhetoric, his language, his aesthetics, etc.  And then, I’ve always been fascinated by his fate, his relationships with Regine, but also his fate as a modern thinker, his conflicts in modernity, so that has been some of the more productive elements in my account of Kierkegaard.

“In any case monuments cannot be ignored; therefore an objection must be raised, which then perhaps could even contribute to making the monument (to Prof. Martensen) even more durable.”

-Søren Kierkegaard (Fædrelandet article, 1854).

Several weeks have passed since my first “Monuments” post, and I must say, I am a little disappointed that no one bothered to call me out on my rather shallow and simplistic method of score-keeping.   Judge a figure’s influence by how many monuments have  been erected in his honor!  First of all, even if one were to restrict the search area to that figure’s home city, one cannot hope to search every square inch of every back alley for any mention of any kind of remembrance.  Secondly, there is the question of what counts as a monument – are we talking strictly statues here?  How about commemorative plaques?  Paintings?  Busts in private research institutes?  It all becomes hopelessly confused and arbitrary.

So in short, my last post was a test – indeed, a test to see if you were paying any attention at all!  And you, my dear readers, you failed.  That post was a contrived and cheap way to present my research on the streets of Copenhagen.  But here is proof that I do not need a regulatory agency to turn me on the right track!  Here, I will present the findings of my weeks-long scavenger hunt, not in the form of some bizarre competition but rather in a comprehensive list form.  Behond, all the monuments and memorials of the historical figures from Søren Kierkegaard’s life (that I could find)!

Meïr Aron Goldschmidt

Meir Aron Goldschmidt, one of the contributors to The Corsair.

Meïr Aron Goldschmidt, one of the contributors to The Corsair.

Meïr Aron Goldschmidt is perhaps best known for being a rather sharp thorn in poor Søren’s side.  You see, he, along with Peder Ludvig Møller, was responsible for The Corsair, that devilish paper that lampooned Søren a little too accurately.  It is a little fitting that I found this masterpiece on the way to the zoo, on (if I recall correctly) Allegade.  I have absolutely no clue what institute this is that has a Goldschmidt monument, nor why the monument has been erected.  If I were to stab at a guess, I would say (judging by the menorah) that our pal Meïr graduated from poking fun at awkward philosophers and actually became an important figure for the Copenhagen Jewish community.  Any information on this matter is appreciated.

Hans Lassen Martensen

Not including the man’s grave, which incidentally is quite close to Søren’s, I found only two monuments of Bishop Martensen – only one in Copenhagen.

Hans Lassen Martensen, bishop whom Søren criticized for calling Jakob Mynster a "witness to the truth."

Hans Lassen Martensen, the bishop whom Søren criticized for calling Jakob Mynster a "witness to the truth."

This one was found outside Vor Frue Kirke, the Copenhagen Cathedral.  The bust of Mynster is also here.

Hans Lassen Martensen's painting in the Roskilde Cathedral

Hans Lassen Martensen's painting in the Roskilde Cathedral

Point preemptively conceded: this painting hangs in Roskilde Cathedral not because of anything special Martensen did, but rather because of his job.  All bishops are immortalized in paint in the Roskilde Cathedral.  If I were still keeping score, this one probably wouldn’t count.  Luckily, I’m not keeping score.

Jakob Peter Mynster

Mynster was the bishop of the Danish People’s Church during much of Søren’s life.  Søren was actually quite fond of him — that’s why he waited until after the bishop died to launch a vicious and personal attack on his character and reputation.

A bust of Jakob Peter Mynster outside of Vor Frue Kirke

A bust of Jakob Peter Mynster outside of Vor Frue Kirke

This one sits next to the bust of Martensen.  You may be wondering whether the busts outside Vor Frue Kirke are in fact like the paintings in Roskilde – the answer is no.  There are only four or five busts at Vor Frue Kirke, and closer to 20 or 30 paintings in Roskilde.  Apparently bustitude is reserved for only the best bishops.

Mynster also gets a little statue inside the church, along with a painting which isn't shown here.

Mynster also gets a little statue inside the church, along with a painting which isn't shown here.

Perhaps indicating that his influence went a little further than Martensen’s, Mynster gets immortalized in two ways inside Vor Frue Kirke – this statue as well as a painting.

A statue of Mynster outside the Marble Church

A statue of Mynster outside the Marble Church

Mynster also gets a place of honor outside of the Marble Church in Copenhagen.  The Marble Church is a beautiful round building located right near Amalienborg, the palace where the Danish royal family lives.  Three figures of interest to us are featured at the Marble Church.

The obligatory painting of Jakob Peter Mynster in Roskilde.

The obligatory painting of Jakob Peter Mynster in Roskilde.

Again, a perk of the job of bishop – Mynster gets a painting in Roskilde Cathedral.

N. F. S. Grundtvig

Grundtvig was a very well-respected Danish theologian, and although he his effect on Søren’s life was less personal, the two men had strongly opposing viewpoints.  In his journals, Søren labeled Grundtvig a “world-historical rowdy” and a “bellowing blacksmith.”

A statue of Grundtvig in the Folketing, or Danish Parliament, which is housed in Christiansborg Castle.

A bust of Grundtvig in the Folketing, or Danish Parliament, which is housed in Christiansborg Castle.

This bust depicts a younger, more spry Grundtvig — before he got all aged and hairy as most depictions show him.  Grundtvig was also a politician, which is why he is here near the Danish Parliament.

A statue (bust?) of Grundtvig in the Royal Library in Copenhagen.

A statue (bust?) of Grundtvig in the Royal Library in Copenhagen.

This one’s more like it!  Furry and foreboding.

A statue of Grundtvig outside the Marble Church.

A statue of Grundtvig outside the Marble Church.

Grundtvig also gets a statue outside of the Marble Church.  I will note here that there are undoubtedly many more monuments to all of the characters here around Copenhagen and Denmark that I have not found – but especially Grundtvig.  Since his influence in Søren’s life was not that strong, I was not as fiercely on the lookout for him.  But he was a very important figure in 19th century Danish theology.

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard

Finally – last and best – Søren Kierkegaard!

Søren Kierkegaard's statue in the garden of the Royal Library

Søren Kierkegaard's statue in the garden of the Royal Library

This statue rests in the garden of the Royal Library – the old section.  The Royal Library has a good number of Kierkegaard manuscripts, but they are fiercely guarded and viewable only to the public by special permission or once weekly in a Danish-only tour.  As my Danish is restricted to titles of Søren’s books and words like “yes”, “no”, “food” and “beer”, I felt that I had better uses for my time.  But there are no restrictions on viewing this statue!

Søren Kierkegaard's other statue - outside the Marble Church.

Søren Kierkegaard's other statue - outside the Marble Church.

Take a look at this statue, and compare it to the Marble Church versions of Mynster and Grundtvig.  It’s a little… dirty.  And child-like.  Dr. Joakim Garff, Kierkegaard biographer, assured me that the there was pretty widespread discontent with this depiction.  But what can one do?  Well, clean the statue, for one.  But other than that, I doubt there is much chance of erecting a more accurate and less offensive Kierkegaard statue.  Perhaps this is the Danish People’s Church last attempt to get back at Søren for all that Moment business at the end of his life.

A plaque denoting the location at Nytorv 2 where Søren grew up and lived until 1848.

A plaque denoting the location at Nytorv 2 where Søren grew up and lived until 1848.

On to the plaques!  The house where Søren grew up is unfortunately long gone and replaced by a branch of Danske Bank (if you look closely, you can see the “ke” part of “Danske Bank”).  Plaques are curious things.  They are largely noticeable only if one is paying very close attention to the details of a particular location, or if one is looking for them.  They do serve to anchor locations, to help them transcend time and bring 1840s Søren Kierkegaard into 2009 Copenhagen.

This plaque, located at the old Frederik's Hospital, marks the building were Søren Kierkegaard breathed his last.

This plaque, located at the old Frederik's Hospital, marks the building were Søren Kierkegaard breathed his last.

From birth to death, Søren’s life is well marked.  Here is where he died.  It has now been turned into a museum, and is quite a serene location in the west part of Copenhagen.

This plaque marks where Søren went to boarding school.

This plaque marks where Søren went to boarding school.

I have just now noticed the bizarre appearance that a black plaque on a white wall makes when taken by a digital camera.  Disregard your senses: This plaque is not floating mysteriously in the heavens.  It is attached firmly to the wall.  Speaking of the wall, it was exceptionally hard to find.  This plaque is located in an alley that has since been closed up and locked due to vandalism.  I had to talk to the publisher next door to gain entry.  But I found it!

This plaque denotes Søren's residence at Rosenborggade 156A.

This plaque denotes Søren's residence at Rosenborggade 156A.

This picture was taken from far away, and at a high zoom, to get the right angle.  As such, it is a little fuzzy.  I apologize.  This was actually a plaque I found on my own – no books or reference materials pointed me to its existence.  I take great pride in that fact.  The plaque also informs us that in this apartment Søren wrote The Sickness unto Death and Practice in Christianity.  Very informative!

Søren Kierkegaards Plads, located in the area of the newly-constructed addition to the Royal Library.

Søren Kierkegaards Plads, located in the vicinity of the newly-constructed addition to the Royal Library.

The Royal Library has recently been expanded.  The expansion, dubbed the “Black Diamond,” is a stunning modern structure that juts out onto the Copenhagen harbor.  The square on the side, which was under some sort of construction while I was there, was named after our friend Søren.

"Søren K", a restaurant in the Black Diamond.

"Søren K", a restaurant in the Black Diamond.

In the Black Diamond, Søren gets not only a square but also a restaurant!  The place was unfortunately too expensive for my budget, but it was another exciting find.

A bust of Søren Kierkegaard, located in the Søren Kierkegaard Research Center.

A bust of Søren Kierkegaard, located in the Søren Kierkegaard Research Center.

It may be cheating to include this last one – after all, it is inside a research institute that is not open to the public.  Not only that, but the institute is in fact dedicated to studying Søren and his works.  However, I think the existence of a Søren Kierkegaard Research Center is monument enough to be included on this list.

So there we have it – a list of all the monuments I found in and around Copenhagen.  Sure, some may not exactly be considered monuments, but it is stunning to think that after 150 years, these remnants of people’s lives – echoes, fragments, homages to their works – still survive.  2009 Copenhagen, for Meïr Goldschmidt, Hans Martensen, Jakob Mynster, N. F. S. Grundtvig, and Søren Kierkegaard would be a confusing and frightening place.  But these men’s marks, however small, still remain and are commemorated in places great and small across the city.

…And We’re Back! (R)

August 13, 2009

I know, I know, it has been quite a while.  Since July 20, in fact.  Well, the journey is officially over, I am back in the States, and we are ready to get back to blogging.  So get ready for some serious activity in the next few days.  Thanks for sticking with us during the past few weeks!

“Therefore God wants Christianity to be proclaimed unconditionally to all, therefore the apostles are very simple, ordinary people, therefore the prototype is in the lowly form of  servant, all this in order to indicate that this extraordinary is the ordinary, is open to all.”

-Søren Kierkegaard (“A Genius/A Christian*, Fædrelandet, 1855.)

A brief comment about the concept of the apostles of Christ — both in the minds of the Danish Church elite (Martensen, Mynster et al.), or in the mind of Søren Kierkegaard.  In the quote above, Mr. Kierkegaard points to the disciples as ordinary men, not grand men.  He hoped to show that it was possible to reach out to the masses, do good Christian work, without putting on airs and living in the “upper crust” — he hoped to show that even – especially – in the lowliest position can a man best serve Christ.  The quote also contains a reference to Philippians 2:7: “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (NIV).

However, those words may have fallen on deaf ears.  Unfortunately, the image of the apostles that was portrayed by the Danish Church was not one of lowliness and simpleness; rather, the apostles were revered and help high above the rest of society.  Consider Vor Frue Kirke, or Our Lady’s Church, the church that Martensen and Mynster preached at and the church that Mr. Kierkegaard loved living near – in fact, one of his apartments enjoyed a fine view of the church. 

Vor Frue Kirke, the church that Kierkegaard often attended.  When he moved apartments, he was almost always certain to find new lodgings in a location very close to the church.

Vor Frue Kirke, the church that Kierkegaard often attended, before he declared war on the Danish Church. When he moved apartments, he was almost always certain to find new lodgings in a location very close to the church.

In Vor Frue Kirke, there are statues of the 12 apostles.  Did the statues depict lowly and God-fearing servants?  Or something else?

The inside of Vor Frue Kirke.  Notice the statues of the apostles, lining the sides of the sanctuary...

The inside of Vor Frue Kirke. Notice the statues of the apostles, lining the sides of the sanctuary...

...They are quite regal-looking; imposing and austere.

...They are quite regal-looking; imposing and austere.

The apostles in Vor Frue Kirke are quite the opposite of lowly servants; rather, they stare down on the congregation, almost daring them to say a word during the sermon.  They are anything but approachable and ordinary, and their presence is meant to inspire awe.

The statues were present in the church during Mr. Kierkegaard’s time, so we must ask the question – when Mr. Kierkegaard discussed how ordinary  the apostles were, did Bishop Martensen, or indeed anyone who laid eyes on these magnificent statues, really understand what he was talking about?

“With this address Prof. Martensen (who with remarkable haste steals a march on the funeral and also on the monument) has from the pulpit erected a beautiful and worth monument to the deceased; I would prefer to say: a worthy monument to Prof. Martensen himself.”

-Søren Kierkegaard, Fædrelandet article, 1854.

One of the problems with the church that so irritated our dear Søren was the careerist and elitist attitude of the clergy.  They would speak on the issue of how it was so important to give what you had to the poor, and then enjoy a 40-guest party with lavish food and drink.  Then they would complain that they had to do it, it was part of their job. It was too much hypocrisy for Søren to take!  So he decided to do something about.  He mustered up the courage, armed himself, and… sat down quietly to write.  One could say that Søren Kierkegaard had little effect on the contemporary church, but that would be a lie – he had virtually none.  Sure, today many of his writings have made their way into lovely quote collections and various Christian quotations on something unrelated, but I would say that the people who have been directly affected by Søren’s works are a very exclusive club indeed.

But I digress. What I found interesting about this quote was the mention of monuments.  I know, I know, Søren wasn’t talking about literal stone monuments but the wonderful thing about going over someone’s footsteps 150 years later is that you can actually get a(n extremely) rough idea of how influential someone is by how many monuments (statues, busts, plaques…) they have in their city of influence.  Bear with me on this one.

So.  The first monuments I found were next to Vor Frue Kirke (our lady’s church).

Jakob Peter Mynster.  Very austere, regal, elite looking fellow.

Jakob Peter Mynster. Very austere, regal, elite looking fellow.

Jakob Peter Mynster.  Very regal, elite looking fellow.

Han Lassen Martensen. Kinda looks like a prick, doesn't he?

 Annd I found this one, next to the old city hall on Nytorv.

A plaque commemorating Søren at his old childhood home, where a bank now stands.  It apparently says: "'In a house located here until 1908, Søren Kierkegaard had his home from his birth on May 5th 1813 until April 27th 1848."

A plaque commemorating Søren at his old childhood home, where a bank now stands. It apparently says: "'In a house located here until 1908, Søren Kierkegaard had his home from his birth on May 5th 1813 until April 27th 1848."

So, for right now, the score stands at:

Søren Kierkegaard: 1
Church Cronies: 2

Check back soon for updates!