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Reading Kierkegaard Devotionally

By author: Jamie Lorentzen
Product Code: P704
ISBN: 9780881469554
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Price: $16.00

Reading devotionally--reading to recall sacred text in ways that call the reader to respond ethically to that text--runs contrary to reading habits of many scholars and lay readers of Søren Kierkegaard. Reading Kierkegaard with an ear to hear the religious note that he repeatedly strikes directly or indirectly, however, may be the primary means a reader becomes what Kierkegaard calls "his" reader. Such a reader is one who is most likely disposed to hear and then ethically respond to Kierkegaard's tuning fork, the pitch of which Kierkegaard sets to conscience's perfect silence. As much as Jamie Lorentzen attends to devotional reading habits in this book, he writes for readers to whom Kierkegaard himself attended, namely, individuals navigating innately human crossroads of existence where nihilism, religious skepticism, and religious belief meet. After considering Kierkegaard as a devotional writer and reader, Lorentzen writes of how he came to understand what reading Kierkegaard devotionally meant for him, from his childhood days in the 1960s to the post-2020 COVID-19 pandemic. He ends with a paean in honor of Kierkegaard translator and writer Edna Hong, an exemplar of reading Kierkegaard devotionally and a model of a well-lived Kierkegaardian life.
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Review by: Vanessa Rumble, associate professor of Philosophy, Boston College - July 10, 2024
"This is a brave and knowing book, an ode to Kierkegaard's religious and psychological genius, and--just as important--a tender tribute to Edna Hong (one of Kierkegaard's pioneering translators) and to the trio of matriarchs who served as steady guides in the author's midwestern youth. These tributes reveal themselves as markers on a journey to the heart-in-formation, a journey that joins distant childhood and the moving heart of the present moment. Ineffably humble, honest but restrained: this is an eminently worthwhile read."
Review by: Anna Louise Strelis Söderquist, director of the Hong Kierkegaard Library and associate professor of Philosophy, St. Olaf College - July 10, 2024
"This book is at once Kierkegaard interpretation, biography, and memoir. Masterfully weaving these genres together, Lorentzen draws his reader into a meditation on the meaning of reading devotionally. Described in Kierkegaard's life, in that of Kierkegaard translator Edna Hatlestad Hong, and also in the author's, devotional reading connotes an 'in the living room' daily religious practice of responding to sacred text. Kierkegaard's writings are portrayed as devotional literature, speaking such that the reader's soul can hear, meeting a person in doubts and uncertainties, and ultimately, seeking to awaken one to needing God. Drawing inspiration from scholars who have spent their lives with Kierkegaard, Lorentzen foregrounds the tension between scholarly activity, including reading critically, and devotional practice, including reading obediently. Grounded in his own life and childhood, and in that of Edna Hong, Lorentzen invites his reader into the practice of slow reading, in solitude and tranquility, in belief and devotion, that Kierkegaard sought in 'his' reader."

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