An Online Pop-Up Learning Community with Dr. Aaron Simmons & Dr. Tripp Fuller
Aaron & Tripp will facilitate our feature sessions that include a mini-lecture, conversation, and QnA
Each week we will have powerful reading selections from across Soren Kierkegaard's corpus
Everyone will be invited to join the private online group to connect with other nerds and have access to everything in Audio/Video on the class resource page
Henry David Thoreau suggests that if we are going to go for a walk, then we must be willing to get lost. In other words, we can’t think or live in truth without being willing to be challenged at our core. Our deepest beliefs, our moral and religious commitments, and our social visions all have to be at stake in order for us to “walk” with others. This is especially true when it comes to Kierkegaard. A Christian who stood against Christendom, a philosopher who is committed to religious upbuilding, and a parent of existentialism and postmodernism who influences thinkers from Heidegger to Bonhoeffer, Kierkegaard has been accused of everything from moral nihilism to radical individualism, and from irrationality to misanthropy. And yet, a perennial philosopher of paradox, Kierkegaard speaks profoundly to where we currently find ourselves. His critique of Christian nationalism, objectivist scientism, and an economic logic whereby power and status indicate dignity all offer profound resources for thinking carefully about who we are and receiving inspiration for who we hope to be. Ultimately, this course is an invitation to go for a walk with Kierkegaard, and maybe to get lost along the way.
SESSION 1: In this first week, we will cover Kierkegaard’s life and general socio-cultural and philosophical contexts. Then, we will look at some of his early journal entries in which he lays out some of the main concerns that will show up across his authorship: subjectivity, decision, passion, and faithful existence.
Session 2: This week, we will look to Kierkegaard’s first major text in his official authorship. In the two parts of Either/Or, he outlines the first two modes of living: aesthetics and ethics. We will consider each and pay attention to the ways in which they are not just chronological steps, but persistent temptations for how to take ourselves up in the world.
SESSION 3: Here we will consider what is arguably Kierkegaard most famous book, and yet one of the most complicated. In Fear and Trembling, he looks to the story of Abraham and the binding of Isaac in order to consider how Abraham could rightly be considered the “father of faith,” rather than simply a murderer. In order to set up Fear and Trembling, we will look to an Upbuilding Discourse that helps to situate the text in terms of “religious” existence as the utmost possibility for human life.
SESSION 4: Turning from philosophy of religion to questions of epistemology, the Postscript is Kierkegaard at his most existentialist. During this week we will consider his famous claim that “subjectivity is truth” and see why he places the religious emphasis on “how” we worship, rather than simply “what” we believe.
SESSION 5: Although Kierkegaard is often charged with not having a developed ethics, in Works of Love we see a profound attempt at thinking through what it means to enact neighbor-love as a command from God.
SESSION 6: For this last week, we will continue in the vein of Kierkegaard late upbuilding work that was directly critical of “Christendom” in the name of “Christianity.” We will pay particular attention to his critique of Christian nationalism and how we can apply his texts to our contemporary cultural contexts.
J. Aaron Simmons holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Vanderbilt University and is currently a Professor of philosophy at Furman University in Greenville, SC (USA). He is the President of the Søren Kierkegaard Society (USA) and has published widely in philosophy of religion, phenomenology, and existentialism. Among his authored and edited books are God and the Other: Ethics and Politics After the Theological Turn; The New Phenomenology: A Philosophical Introduction; Kierkegaard’s God and the Good Life; and Kierkegaard and Levinas: Ethics, Politics, and Religion. He and his wife, Vanessa, have been married 20 years and have an 11 year old son, Atticus. Although Aaron loves doing philosophy, he would almost always rather be fishing. Check out Aaron’s youtube channel: “Philosophy for Where We Find Ourselves,” and his TedX talk (also on youtube): “The Failure of Success.”
University of Edinburgh
Dr. Fuller is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Theology & Science at the University of Edinburgh. He recently released Divine Self-Investment: a Constructive Open and Relational Christology, the first book in the Studies in Open and Relational Theology series. For over 12 years Tripp has been doing the Homebrewed Christianity podcast (think on-demand internet radio) where he interviews different scholars about their work so you can get nerdy in traffic, on the treadmill, or doing the dishes. Last year it had over 3.5 million downloads. It also inspired a book series with Fortress Press called the Homebrewed Christianity Guides to... topics like God, Jesus, Spirit, Church History, etc. Tripp is a very committed and (some of his friends think overly ) engaged Lakers fan and takes Star Wars and Lord of the Rings very seriously.
5 Reasons the Church needs Kierkegaard today
1. Kierkegaard reminds us that faith is about lived commitment, not simply about right belief.
2. Kierkegaard helps us see that Christian Nationalism is anti-Christ.
3. Kierkegaard shows what it means to seek faithfulness, rather than success.
4. Kierkegaard stresses the radical inclusivity of the call: “Come all who are heavy burdened.”
5. Kierkegaard models what it looks like to see humility as the condition of confidence.
The class is asynchronous and you can participate fully without being present at any specific time. The weekly streaming session will take place on Tuesdays at 5pm ET.
The complete class content collection will be available on the password protected resource page. The downloadable audio and video of each session will be uploaded there and available for at least a year.
The email you enter when signing up will receive an email from tripp[at]homebrewedchristianity[dot]com. The email will include access to the resource page, details on how to join the class Facebook group, and more.
No. Facebook is not required to participate, but an additional way to connect with other class members and interact throughout the class.