Over the past two years, I have chronicled the ongoing travails of my intrepid colleague Lars Hedegaard, the Danish journalist and historian, most recently, his narrowly surviving an assassination attempt by a likely Muslim assailant.
Hedegaard's plight, and his voiced (and written) opinions on Islam whetted my curiosity about what the profound 19th century Danish writer and polymath, Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), may have opined -- if anything -- on the Muslim creed. Kierkegaard, although renowned as the "father" of existentialist philosophy, produced a vast, highly original output, as summarized by the venerable Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which transcended
... the boundaries of philosophy, theology, psychology, literary criticism, devotional literature and fiction.
Kierkegaard brought this potent mixture of discourses to bear as social critique and for the purpose of renewing Christian faith within Christendom. At the same time he made many original conceptual contributions to each of the disciplines he employed. He is known as the "father of existentialism", but at least as important are his critiques of Hegel and of the German romantics, his contributions to the development of modernism, his literary experimentation, his vivid re-presentation of biblical figures to bring out their modern relevance, his invention of key concepts which have been explored and redeployed by thinkers ever since, his interventions in contemporary Danish church politics, and his fervent attempts to analyze and revitalize Christian faith.
In the wake of the Danish cartoons debacle, Carlin Romano interviewed then 94 year old Kierkegaard scholar Howard Hong (the interview, entitled, "What Would Kierkegaard Do?," was published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 5, 2006). During a career of more than 60 years, Hong edited and translated with his wife, Edna, the complete works of Kierkegaard (co-founding the Howard V. and Edna H. Hong Kierkegaard Library at St. Olaf College, Minnesota, the largest Kierkegaard research library in the world). However, Romano's discussion with Hong (reproduced in full here) yielded only suggestive, rather thin gruel on Kierkegaard's views of Islam.
Undaunted, I sought out the recent (2007) academic English translation, Kierkegaard's Journals and Notebooks: Vol. 1 -- Journals AA-DD, published by Princeton University Press, and described thusly: (continue reading...)(...more)