In "Spiritual Writings", renowned Oxford theologian George Pattison presents previously neglected Christian writings that will forever alter our understanding of the great philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. In fact, Pattison argues that the Kierkegaard known to the history of modern ideas is, in an important sense, not Kierkegaard at all. In philosophy and literature Kierkegaard is perceived as epitomizing existential angst, whilst in theology he is seen as expounding a radical form of Christianity based on a paradoxical and absurd faith that demands hatred of the world and the rejection of all forms of communal religion. However, both pictures rely on highly debatable interpretations of a relatively small selection of texts; there is much more to Kierkegaard than the image of the 'melancholy Dane' or the iconoclastic critic of established Christendom might suggest.
Alongside the pseudonymous works for which he is best known - and which do indeed deal with such concepts as melancholy, anxiety, 'fear and trembling', paradox, the absurd, and despair - Kierkegaard also wrote many religious works, usually in the form of addresses, which he called 'upbuilding discourses' (which might, in English, be called 'devotional talks'). Taken as a whole, these writings offer something very different from the popular view. As "Spiritual Writings" shows, they embody a spirituality grounded in a firm sense of human life as a good gift of God. Kierkegaard calls on us to love God and, in loving God, to love life-quite concretely - and to love our own lives, even when they have become wretched or despairing.