I admit it makes me laugh – the grandioseness of Pope Pius XIII and his view of religion. There is a sense of absurdity about Pope Pius XIII. And also a very deep sadness and confusion. This scene, I think, represents best what I mean:
The whole is a little like Kierkegaard’s Abraham in Fear and Trembling. The question of the nature of faith, and the nature of a calling from God, is very much at the front of many conversations in the show.
And I found someone who agrees with me, Kierkegaard’s Pope! This quote puts it well:
The Knight of Faith transcends the universal for the prison of the particular.
All of this has made me look at Fear and Trembling again. As with all Kierkegaard’s books, it is not easy or straight forward. There is always a sense that one needs a decoder ring along with any Kierkegaard book. I am far from the person to guide another through Kierkegaard. The simple act of reading a book can change a person and I think that is the aim that I read Kierkegaard – the very act makes me someone different.
So I thought I would share some quotes from Fear and Trembling. I like the Cambridge Texts in History of Philosophy edition so all the quotes are from that edition:
Faith is exactly this paradox, that the single individual is higher than the universal, but in such a way, mind you, that the movement is repeated, so that after having been in the universal he now as the particular keeps to himself as higher than the universal.Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy), 47.
For the movement of faith must constantly be made by virtue of the absurd, yet in such a way, mind you, that one does not lose the finite but gains it entire.Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy), 31.
I think myself into the hero; I cannot think myself into Abraham.Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy), 27
The tragic hero resigns [themlseves] in order to express the universal; the knight of faith resigns the universal in order to become the single individual.Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy), 66