Good Soil: Bernanos and Kierkegaard on Overcoming Despair
In The Christian and Anxiety, Hans Urs von Balthasar praises Søren Kierkegaard’s description of anxiety while criticizing the Danish thinker for remaining under the influence of German Idealism. For Balthasar, the lacuna found in Kierkegaard’s philosophy of anxiety can be addressed by turning to literature; for example, the work of French novelist Georges Bernanos. This paper proposes that contrary to Balthasar’s critique, there is much overlap between the work of Kierkegaard and Bernanos, particularly in examining the human experience of overcoming despair. By reading Bernanos’s The Diary of a Country Priest alongside Kierkegaard’s The Sickness Unto Death, this paper will show similar movements in both authors’ accounts of Christian life.