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Knowing When to Stet Something


A delightfully ironic piece of writing, from “Victor Eremita,” the “editor” of Kierkegaard’s Either/Or:

When B supposes that out of a hundred people who go astray in the world ninety-nine are saved by women and one by divine grace, it is easy to see that he is not very good in mathematics, inasmuch as he gives no place to those who are actually lost. I could easily have made a little change in the numbers, but to me there is something much more beautiful in B’s miscalculation.

Good call, Mr. Eremita.

A couple of parenthetical observations. First, the two categories, saved-by-women and saved-by-grace, are not mutually exclusive; God works through secondary causes, including other people. Second, I celebrate this text’s old-fashioned celebration of women. He could have written, “saved by other people,” and thus avoided a charge of sexism from future generations; but I think he’s on the right track in seeing in salvation a (decidedly non-chauvinist) element of the Ewig-Weibliche. (One of my great literary peeves is with Paul Claudel’s citation in The Satin Slipper of an old proverb that “The man in the arms of a woman forgets God.” This flies in the face of experience — it is precisely when one is in the arms of a woman that one is most reassured that God exists.)


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