February 25, 2014
Etty Hillesum:An Interrupted Life
1. Spiritual Practices >> (prayer/meditation, detaching/flowing, reading, acceptance of
• Her life philosophy seems to lead to her acceptance of her own death
• Incorporates death into her own life and thus enhances her life
• Many entries are in the form of prayer
• Pg. 133: she feels more comfortable kneeling and praying. She describes the
prayers this way as protective walls and foresees a time where kneeling and
praying in this manner will protect her from even herself.
• She hasn’t prayed a while and she hates herself for it
• Pg. 153: she bows her head under her burdens, and she feels the need to fold her
hands, she calls it “mechanical”, like a reflex.
• She often finds herself in prayer, and says that it is something she will always be
able to do, even in the “smallest space”
• Pg. 181: “One ought really to stay up all night and do nothing but pray.”
2. The Four Loves >>
• A) How does Etty's relationship with S. reveal the relationship between Eros and
the other loves?
o Pg. 147: Etty talks about “poor Hertha” one of S.’s women. She does not
despise her at all but admires her and feels intertwined with her.
o Her relationship with S. becomes more serious, shedding “trivia”
o She and S. have been in many other beds besides each others and yet still
feel shy each time they are with each other.
• B) How does Etty's understanding of unconditional love bring clarity and
integration to the "natural loves"?
o Pg 129: “One should be less and less concerned with the love object and
more and more with love itself, if it is to be real love”
o Pg. 132: She decided a marriage to Han cannot be and her heart will break
thinking about him. She decided she needs a marriage based in friendship
so that the relationship does not die down
o She has a night filled with love with Han, not ecstasy but sweetness.
o Preconceptions of marriage are the problem, how it should be. She desires
to root these out.
• C) What role does love of enemy play in the latter half of the diaries?
o Pg. 156: she finds a face in a German soldier. She knew there had to be
one and she has found one, and expects to find others. She prays for him.
o Pg. 169: “In Germany, more soldiers die in their barracks than are killed
by the enemy.”
o Loves the starngers in the moral catastrophe, whether victim or victimizer
3. Attitude Towards God >> What does Etty's view of God appear to be, and in what
way does her experience and understanding of God become increasingly focal in her
• She says her salvation must come from her own self, not from His. February 25, 2014
• She compares herself to one that is sick coming against one that is healthy, she
feels deprived when faced with God
• Pg. 142: She sometimes feels like she wants God all to herself, when she is run
down, and this signals to her that she still has a ways to go. She ends by saying
she should be ashamed of herself by being so selfish in needing and wanting God
the way she does at this point.
• Pg. 150: “God is not accountable to us but we are to him”… “And God is not
accountable to us for the senseless harm we cause one another. We are
accountable to him!”
• Her fai