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Posted on 09/22/2009 4:57:15 PM PDT by pastorbillrandles
August 5, 2008
SOLZHENITSYN HE TRIED TO WARN US
By: Pastor Bill Randles
Wisdom cries out loud in the streets, she raises her voice in the squares " Proverbs 1:20
Harvards motto is Veritas. Many of you have already found out, and others will find out in the course of their lives, that truth eludes us if we do not concentrate our attention totally on its pursuit. But even while it eludes us, the illusion of knowing it still lingers and leads to many misunderstandings. (From Solzhenitsyns 1978 Harvard address A World Split Apart)
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a Nobel Prize winning author, Soviet dissident and a survivor of an eight year sentence in the brutal Soviet Gulag system, passed away yesterday in Russia. He had been exiled from his homeland for his writings, in 1974, and lived in Vermont until 1994 when he was able to return to Russia.
His passing is being largely noted because he was useful in exposing to the outside world the brutality and suppression of the Soviet system, through novels based upon his own experiences in the Gulags, such as A DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH, and CANCER WARD. His non-fiction expose, THE GULAG ARCHIPILAGO had to be smuggled out of the USSR and published first in France. It was this particular book which led to his banishment from Russia.
What will perhaps not be as appreciated as it should be is the fact that Solzhenitsyn used the occasion of a Harvard Laureate Award in 1978 to offer a warning to the West that was both stinging and timely. Unfortunately the warning largely went unreceived, as always A prophet is without honor . The speech, A World Split Apart created a firestorm of controversy, warning the West of its spiritual emptiness and blindness. Presidents Ford and Carter snubbed him, his wife Rosalyn repudiated the speech at the National Press Club, and there were editorials in the New York Times and the Washington Post, among others, which railed against the speech.
What did he say that caused him to go from a cause celebre to almost a pariah? Among other things, he called us on our failure of courage,
A decline in courage may be the most striking feature, which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course, there are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life. (A WORLD SPLIT APART)
He warned us that we were losing the courage to defend our own civilization, that especially in our leadership, self serving calculation was taking the place of real conviction and that the outcome would be devastating. Solzhenitsyn warns us,
Should one point out that from ancient times declining courage has been considered the beginning of the end? (ibid)
Solzhenitsyn then offers a diagnosis as to what happened to make us lose courage - the false belief that individual freedom would guarantee happiness - as in The Pursuit of Happiness, although he warns us that the meaning of word happiness has been debased lately -
Every citizen has been granted the desired freedom and material goods in such quantity and of such quality as to guarantee in theory the achievement of happiness -- in the morally inferior sense of the word which has come into being during those same decades. (ibid)
Freedom without restraint has not given us happiness. In fact, Solzhenitsyn charged that such freedom is the cause of much of the depression and disillusionment that characterizes western society.
Ironically, on top of the rebuttal of our concept of freedom, he accused us of becoming a hyper legalistic society. See if this doesnt speak to the situation as it stands today-
People in the West have acquired considerable skill in interpreting and manipulating law. Any conflict is solved according to the letter of the law and this is considered to be the supreme solution. If one is right from a legal point of view, nothing more is required. Nobody will mention that one could still not be entirely right, and urge self-restraint, a willingness to renounce such legal rights, sacrifice and selfless risk. It would sound simply absurd. One almost never sees voluntary self-restraint. Everybody operates at the extreme limit of those legal frames. (ibid)
It is this skill at the use of the letter of the law in the very face of the spirit of the law that has developed into the Death of Common Sense as the title of a book written by a Federal Judge decries. How else is it that the enemies of our civilization have even a prayer of destroying us, other than through our courts, and the very legalistic spirit our friend Solzhenitsyn warned us of? On this point he rightly concludes that such use of legalism will lead to two evils - the paralysis of true leadership and the inability to resist societal evil.
Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, such as motion pictures full of pornography, crime, and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counterbalanced by the young people's right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil. (ibid)
We didnt have to wait very long to see the words of this prophecy come to pass - within ten years of Solzhenitsyns Harvard address, President Reagans Counsel on Pornography failed to even be able to agree on a definition of pornography. Do we the people really want pornography, gay marriage, abortion or Sharia law? Absolutely not, but unfortunately for us the pornographers, Sodomites, Eugenicists and CAIR are all able to successfully employ legal counsel, in a legalistic system to impose their will to the devastation of our society! Exactly what Alexander Solzhenitsyn warned us of in 1978.
Perhaps it was his critique of our flawed analysis of human nature that stung us the most, our humanism leads us to deny the effects of the fall. Therefore freedom without corresponding sense of responsibility to the spirit tilts towards evil.
Such a tilt of freedom in the direction of evil has come about gradually, but it was evidently born primarily out of a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which there is no evil inherent to human nature. The world belongs to mankind and all the defects of life are caused by wrong social systems, which must be corrected. (ibid)
No wonder he was so ill received! He was messing with our religion of a humanistic Utopian Brave New World.
I have no doubt he was rejected largely because he diagnosed our problem as being the same problem the Russian people suffered from, Humanism!
There is a disaster, however, which has already been under way for quite some time. I am referring to the calamity of a despiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness. To such consciousness, man is the touchstone in judging everything on earth -- imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now experiencing the consequences of mistakes which had not been noticed at the beginning of the journey (ibid)
I am in danger of reposting the entire speech to you but my commentary really doesnt do it justice - read it yourself at http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/alexandersolzhenitsynharvard.htm and realize that we were officially warned thirty years ago, and for the most part have failed to heed the warning which has been validated by history point by point.
The solution? Solzhenitsyn calls us to nothing short of spiritual renewal, a return to the Christian roots of our humanism and a rejection of the ossified dogmas of the Enlightenment. Almost anticipating the current Islamic Jihad, he warned us that without spiritual renewal, the humanistic and Godless west would be rendered unable to resist the East.
Rest in peace Alexander Solzhenitsyn. You warned us.
I think there are lots of Americans who became disenchanted with Solzhenitsyn when he came to the United States and didn’t go ga-ga over all the goods on the supermarket shelves.
Solzhenitsyn was difficult for me to read (I've since read all three volumes) because of his writing style. There's a presumed knowledge of Russian history which I didn't have, and his prose is laden with sarcasm that took some getting used too, but I agree that he did try to warn us. I find it incredible that his books are not required reading at American Universities, but these days I'm sure that they are banned.
Harry Truman said that "The only thing new in the world is the history you haven't read." We all know what George Santayana said.
Of course Carter would snub him. Carter is being described right here!
We can thank our black robed little gods on the Supreme Court for much of the decline of our civilization.
Every American should read this very short book. Never again would they think that communism is just another economic system.
Once Solshinitzen spoke against our ways he was then ignored by the msm and the elites here and eventually returned to Russia.
He was right.
I remember vividly one of his charges against the US was that “We’re a country of laws”, and I was indignant and perplexed by such a statement.
What did he mean that our problems is that we’re a country of laws? We’re proud to be a country of laws.
But then he continued and gave an example of the problem with being a country of laws. During the huge blackout in the Northeast back in the 70s there was unrestrained looting and mayhem. The lights went out and with them the laws.
What he was getting at is that we we’re losing our souls, our innate moral compass, and like animals in the zoo, behaving only as long as we’re “caged” by the laws. He was making a case for a return to spiritual life, where we’re accountable to something bigger than man, regardless of whether it’s light or dark.
I was saddened... but impressed by his observation.
Interesting analysis from last year, pastorbillrandles. Thanks.
Here is your link...
As am I. With our culture 'de-constructed' by leftists, our civilization seems little more than a veneer.
Great post/link hosepipe. (I’ve seen it a couple of times already) Thanks.
I always think of this when considering all the "legislation" that floats out of our legislative cesspools.
None of us will enjoy what it’s going to take to rid ourselves of these sick power-intoxicated MONSTERS who have gotten their hands on the apparatus of the American State. Many of us won’t survive it.
But the alternative - the concentration-camp culture of the Machiavellian Marxist utopians - will be far worse. Better to die fighting or survive to wrestle with our consciences over the deeds we’ve done than to condemn untold millions yet to be born to the lives of cattle and slavery. Surrender to these monsters is unthinkable.
As well as The Messiah.
Naaah, I was thinking of someone a bit less fictional, one Dennis Peacocke.
A companion piece must read
Whittaker Chamber’s “Letter to His Children”
Hey victim, thank you-