February Book Discussion of Kierkegaard’s Fear & Trembling

Søren Kierkegaard
Søren Kierkegaard. Based on a sketch by Niels Christian Kierkegaard (1806-1882)

This February, join VOX 3 Collective in an informal, informative discussion of a vital 19th century theological and philosophical book.  VOX 3 Collective, a Chicago organization that explores various types of vocal music with a humanities-based approach, seeks to provide background for its festival of Danish art and culture, Music & Masquerades.

Fear and Trembling (Danish: Frygt og Bæven) is an influential philosophical work by Danish philosopher and writer Søren Kierkegaard, published in 1843. Some credit this work as a cornerstone of the existential movement.  The title is a reference to a line from Philippians 2:12, “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Kierkegaard explores the conflict in life’s difficult decisions, using as an example Abraham’s anxiety at God’s command to sacrifice his only son.

When faced with difficult life choices, we can decide to ignore the task entirely, or to face hardship.  To examine this quandary in depth, Kierkegaard presents three problems: “Abraham has gained a prescriptive right to be a great man, so that what he does is great and when another does the same thing it is a sin. (…) The ethical expression of what Abraham did is that he meant to murder Isaac, the religious expression is that he meant to sacrifice Isaac – but precisely in this contradiction is the anxiety that can make a person sleepless, and yet, without this anxiety Abraham is not who he is.” He asked how a murderer can be revered as the father of faith.

  • Problema 1: Is there a Teleological Suspension of the Ethical?
  • Problema 2: Is there an Absolute Duty to God?
  • Problema 3: Was it Ethically Defensible for Abraham to Conceal His Undertaking from Sarah, From Eliezer, and from Isaac?

Read this important book along with members of VOX 3 Collective and several Chicago faith communities in a potluck lunch discussion.  The discussion is facilitated by Shodin Geiman, PhD, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Valparaiso University and Head of Zendo at Chicago Zen Center.  The event takes place from 11:30am – 1:00pm on Sunday, February 16, 2014 in Passavant Hall at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 1218 W. Addison, Chicago, IL.  Grab a copy from your local bookstore, bring a dish to share, and engage in fellowship and lively discussion with your fellow Chicagoans!


What: Book Discussion of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling
When: February 16, 2014, 11:30-1:00pm
Where: Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 1218 W. Addison
Cost: Free; feel free to bring a dish to pass
Tickets: None required, though reservations help