I studied philosophy, perhaps it is better stated that I took a class in philosophy while at Samford University in the early 1990s. If we covered Kierkegaard, we probably did, I have no memory of him. In fairness to me, I was in the middle of a divorce, discovering my youngest had autism and becoming a single father of three preschoolers. My studies were pretty low in my priorities at the time. However, a few years ago a friend gave me a copy of “Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard” and I devoured the book. I say all this for you to understand that when I got a chance to review Christopher Barnett’s “From Despair to Faith: The Spirituality of Soren Kierkegaard” I jumped at the chance.
Unlike “Provocations”, which is a collection of Kierkegaard’s writing concerning faith, “From Despair to Faith” reviews the philosopher’s life and faith. Barnett’s writing puts Kierkegaard into context and paints a fuller portrait of his thoughts. The result is that Barnett adds color and points out the life that surrounded and still surrounds Kierkegaard’s thinking and beliefs about faith, despair, spirituality and Christianity. Readers are skillfully shown that the wisdom shared by Kierkegaard long ago can breath life into their experience and life with God.
This is an excellent book for anyone wanting to know more about Soren Kierkegaard, but it is also a solid addition to those wanting to broaden and deepen their faith.
<p>In From Despair to Faith: The Spirituality of Søren Kierkegaard, Christopher B. Barnett endeavors to remedy this problem. He does so in two overarching ways. First, he orients the reader to Kierkegaard’s grounding in the Christian spiritual tradition, as well as to the Dane’s own authorial stress on themes such as upbuilding, spiritual journey, and faith. Second, Barnett maintains that Kierkegaard’s spirituality is best understood through the various “pictures” that populate his authorship. These pictures are deemed “icons of faith,” since Kierkegaard consistently recommends that the reader contemplate them. In this way, they both represent and communicate what Kierkegaard sees as the fulfillment of Christian existence.</p><p>In the end, then, From Despair to Faith not only offers a new way of approaching Kierkegaard’s writings, but also shows how they might serve to illuminate and to deepen one's relationship with the divine.</p>
About the Author
Christopher B. Barnett received his Doctor of Philosophy in Theology at the University of Oxford. His first book, Kierkegaard, Pietism and Holiness, was released in 2011. In addition to several book chapters and articles on Kierkegaard, he also has published the essay "Spirit(uality) in the Films of Terrence Malick" (Journal of Religion & Film, 2013). After teaching at Berry College in Rome, Georgia, he is now assistant professor in the Department of Theology & Religious Studies at Villanova University.