On May 14th, Arnon Grunberg gave the annual Abraham Kuyper Lecture as Writer in Residence at de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
If necessary, we defend our democracy by force. But the force which the state uses to protect us also creates victims: soldiers are deployed to warzones, and people who are deemed a threat to society are placed in secure institutions.
How do we think and talk about these modern-day human sacrifices? According to scripture, the patriarchal figure of Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son at God’s command, obeying blindly out of fear and awe, without understanding why. What makes us obey ethical codes, laws and authority? Is it fear of punishment? Or is it an even more profound fear of chaos and lawlessness? Grunberg explored these questions with reference to Kierkegaard’s philosophical classic Fear and Trembling. He was assisted by a number of students. He presented the results of his research in this year’s Abraham Kuyper Lecture, entitled Blind Obedience.