le chevalier de la foi

One afternoon in France, Heather and I sat in a cafe looking out at the Alps and reading to each other from Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling. These passages stood out especially:

Now we will let the knight of faith appear.... He makes exactly the same movements as the other knight ["of infinite resignation"], infinitely renounces claim to the love which is the content of his life, he is reconciled in pain; but then occurs the prodigy, he makes still another movement more wonderful than all, for he says, "I believe nevertheless that I shall get her, in virtue, that is, of the absurd, in virtue of the fact that with God all things are possible." The absurd is not one of the factors which can be discriminated within the proper compass of the understanding: it is not identical with the improbable, the unexpected, the unforeseen. At the moment when the knight made the act of resignation he was convinced, humanly speaking, of the impossibility. ...This is quite as clear to the knight of faith, so the only thing that can save him is the absurd, and this he grasps by faith.

...A paradoxical and humble courage is required to grasp the whole of the temporal by virtue of the absurd, and this is the courage of faith. By faith Abraham did not renounce his claim upon Isaac, but by faith he got Isaac. By virtue of resignation that rich young man should have given away everything, but then when he had done that, the knight of faith should have said to him, "By virtue of the absurd thou shalt get every penny back again. Canst thou believe that?" [Reminds me of Mk 10.27-30]

...It is about the temporal, the finite, everything turns in this case. I am able by my own strength to renounce everything, and then to find peace and repose in pain. ...By my own strength I am able to give up the princess, and I shall not become a grumbler, but shall find joy and repose in my pain; but by my own strength I am not able to get her again...

But by faith, says that marvellous knight, by faith I shall get her in virtue of the absurd.