A meteor's distance from

Hello, here I want to ask you about the phrase I found from wikipedia--"Existentialism" page.

An existentialist reading of the Bible would demand that the reader recognize that he is an existing subject studying the words more as a recollection of events. This is in contrast to looking at a collection of "truths" that are outside and unrelated to the reader, but may develop a sense of reality/God. Such a reader is not obligated to follow the commandments as if an external agent is forcing them upon him, but as though they are inside him and guiding him from inside. This is the task Kierkegaard takes up when he asks: "Who has the more difficult task: the teacher who lectures on earnest things a meteor's distance from everyday life-or the learner who should put it to use?"

Here, the sentence at the bottom of the paragraph, "the teacher who lectures on earnest things a meteor's distance from everyday life-or the learner who should put it to use?", makes me confused.

I can't understand the phrase "earnest things a meteor's distance from everyday life."

Now I guess it means the earnest things that are not related to our daily lives, and impractical.

But In this view, I think the phrase "a meteor's distance from everyday life" should be an adjective phrase to modify the noun "earnest things."

Please help me about this. Thank you in advance.
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  • theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    Hi there,

    Your reading of the phrase seems accurate to me. It's possible that it modifies "lecture" rather than "earnest things," but in either case it would mean much the same thing. Either the lecturing teacher is far from our daily lives, or the things he/she lectures about are.
    Thank you for your answer. Now I'm certain with the intended meaning I guessed out of the phrase.

    But I want to be certain with the grammar of the sentence I have.

    "Something a meteor's distance from everyday life."
    = "noun + article + genitive of noun + noun + preposition + noun + noun."

    How can the collection of "nouns" itself modify another noun like "a meteor's distance from everyday life" did here?

    I think we need at least one adjective here to be like "far distant from everyday life."
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    Senior Member
    UK English
    A meteor's distance = millions of miles (=a long way). We would then say a million miles (or a long way) away from everyday life.

    I read the sentence as containing a reduced clause (the full clause being earnest things that are far removed from everyday life).
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    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    I wonder how carefully the author thought out the metaphor.
    Since a meteor occurs when a meteoroid enters the earth's atmosphere, the meteoroid is approaching the earth very fast and will soon hit it. Might the author mean that the "earnest things" seem far away from everyday life, but will nevertheless have an effect on it?