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Here is the same story about faith and resignation told three ways: once from Søren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, once from the legend of Trusty John, and once from the season-six Simpsons’ episode “Bart’s Comet.”


“So I can perceive that it requires strength and energy and freedom of spirit to make the infinite movements of resignation, I can also perceive that it is feasible. But the next thing astonishes me, it makes my head swim, for after having made the movement of resignation, then by virtue of the absurd to get everything, to get the wish whole and uncurtailed — that is beyond human power, it is a prodigy…

For the act of resignation faith is not required, for what I gain by resignation is my eternal consciousness, and this is a purely philosophical movement which I dare say I am able to make if it is required, and which I can train myself to make, for whenever any finiteness would get the mastery over me, I starve myself until I can make the movement, for my eternal consciousness is my love to God, and for me this is higher than everything. For the act of resignation faith is not required, but it is needed when it is the case of acquiring the very least thing more than my eternal consciousness, for this is the paradoxical. The movements are frequently confounded, for it is said that one needs faith to renounce the claim to everything, yea, a stranger thing than this may be heard, when a man laments the loss of his faith, and when one looks at the scale to see where he is, one sees, strangely enough, that he has only reached the point where he should make the infinite movement of resignation. In resignation I make renunciation of everything, this movement I make by myself, and if I do not make it, it is because I am cowardly and effeminate and without enthusiasm and do not feel the significance of the lofty dignity which is assigned to every man, that of being his own censor, which is a far prouder title than that of Censor General to the whole Roman Republic. This movement I make by myself, and what I gain is myself in my eternal consciousness, in blissful agreement with my love for the Eternal Being. By faith I make renunciation of nothing, on the contrary, by faith I acquire everything, precisely in the sense in which it is said that he who has faith like a grain of mustard can remove mountains. A purely human courage is required to renounce the whole of the temporal to gain the eternal; but this I gain, and to all eternity I cannot renounce it, that is a self-contradiction; but a paradox enters in and a humble courage is required to grasp the whole of the temporal by virtue of the absurd, and this is the courage of faith.”

-Søren Kierkegaard/Johannes de Silentio, Fear and Trembling


“As he stood on the gallows he said: “Every one doomed to death has the right to speak once before he dies; and I too have that privilege?” “Yes,” said the King, “it shall be granted to you.” So Trusty John spoke: “I am unjustly condemned, for I have always been faithful to you”; and he proceeded to relate how he had heard the ravens’ conversation on the sea, and how he had to do all he did in order to save his master. Then the King cried: “Oh! my most trusty John, pardon! pardon! Take him down.” But as he uttered the last word Trusty John had fallen lifeless to the ground, and was a stone.

The King and Queen were in despair, and the King spake: “Ah! how ill have I rewarded such great fidelity!” and made them lift up the stone image and place it in his bedroom near his bed. As often as he looked at it he wept and said: “Oh! if I could only restore you to life, my most trusty John!” After a time the Queen gave birth to twins, two small sons, who throve and grew, and were a constant joy to her. One day when the Queen was at church, and the two children sat and played with their father, he gazed again full of grief on the stone statue, and sighing, wailed: “Oh, if I could only restore you to life, my most trusty John!” Suddenly the stone began to speak, and said: “Yes, you can restore me to life again if you are prepared to sacrifice what you hold most dear.” And the King cried out: “All I have in the world will I give up for your sake.” The stone continued: “If you cut off with your own hand the heads of your two children, and smear me with their blood, I shall come back to life.” The King was aghast when he heard that he had himself to put his children to death; but when he thought of Trusty John’s fidelity, and how he had even died for him, he drew his sword, and with his own hand cut the heads off his children. And when he had smeared the stone with their blood, life came back, and Trusty John stood once more safe and sound before him. He spake to the King: “Your loyalty shall be rewarded,” and taking up the heads of the children, he placed them on their bodies, smeared the wounds with their blood, and in a minute they were all right again and jumping about as if nothing had happened.”

-Trusty John, The Blue Fairy Book


The Simpsons, season 6, “Bart’s Comet”

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Rev. Lovejoy: “It’s all over, people! We don’t have a prayer!”

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 11.52.52 AMNed Flanders: “Hi-dee-ho-a-rooney, neighbor. I kinda figured this might happen, so I built this shelter big enough for both our families!”

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Townspeople: “We haven’t got shelter-inis. We want in yours.”

Homer: “Wait a minute. We all know the one thing we won’t need in the future: left-handed stores! That’s you, Flanders! Flanders is the only useless person here! If anyone dies, it should be him.”

Ned: “Well, sir, that sounds fair. Toodle-oo, everybody. I’ll — I’ll scream when the comet gets here. I might go mad with fear out there, so Tod, I want you to shoot Daddy if he tries to get back in.”

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Ned: “Que será, será, whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see, que será, será.”

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Ned: “When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother what will I be? Will I be pretty, will I be rich? Here’s what she said to me…”

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Townspeople: “Que será, será. Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see, que será, será.”

(The comet burns up harmlessly in the atmosphere.)

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