Kierkegaard's Parable of the Geese

Today in honor of Soren Kierkegaard's birthday, I would like to share a parable of his that continually reminds me of the importance of orthopraxy (right practice) to discipleship.

Many Christians focus solely on orthodoxy (right belief) for faith development: "if I simply believe all the right things, all will be well." Unfortunately, as James reminds us, "even the demons believe." Belief is a good start, but practice makes perfect. "Faith without works is dead." This is the powerful statement that Kierkegaard makes with this parable. 
“A certain flock of geese lived together in a barnyard with high walls around it. Because the corn was good and the barnyard was secure, these geese would never take a risk. One day a philosopher goose came among them. He was a very good philosopher and every week they listened quietly and attentively to his learned discourses. ‘My fellow travelers on the way of life,’ he would say, ‘can you seriously imagine that this barnyard, with great high walls around it, is all there is to existence? I tell you, there is another and a greater world outside, a world of which we are only dimly aware. Our forefathers knew of this outside world. For did they not stretch their wings and fly across the trackless wastes of desert and ocean, of green valley and wooded hill? But alas, here we remain in this barnyard, our wings folded and tucked into our sides, as we are content to puddle in the mud, never lifting our eyes to the heavens which should be our home.The geese thought this was very fine lecturing. ‘How poetical,’ they thought. ‘How profoundly existential. What a flawless summary of the mystery of existence.’ Often the philosopher spoke of the advantages of flight, calling on the geese to be what they were. After all, they had wings, he pointed out. What were wings for, but to fly with? Often he reflected on the beauty and the wonder of life outside the barnyard, and the freedom of the skies.And every week the geese were uplifted, inspired, moved by the philosopher’s message. They hung on his every word. They devoted hours, weeks, months to a thoroughgoing analysis and critical evaluation of his doctrines. They produced learned treatises on the ethical and spiritual implications of flight. All this they did. But one thing they never did. They did not fly! For the corn was good, and the barnyard was secure!”  
May we refuse to stay safe in the barnyard, moved and inspired by the philosopher's message. May we take what we know and turn it into to action. May we spread our wings and fly.


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