Skip to comments.Solzhenitsyn: The Courage to be a Christian
Posted on 10/20/2013 8:17:18 AM PDT by RCB-Catholic
In these dark days in which the power of secular fundamentalism appears to be on the rise and in which religious freedom seems to be imperiled, it is easy for Christians to become despondent. The clouds of radical relativism seem to obscure the light of objective truth and it can be difficult to discern any silver lining to help us illumine the future with hope.
In such gloomy times the example of the martyrs can be encouraging. Those who laid down their lives for Christ and His Church in worse times than ours are beacons of light, dispelling the darkness with their baptism of blood. Upon such sacrifices, King Lear tells his soon to be martyred daughter Cordelia, The gods themselves throw incense.
It is said that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church and, if this is so, more bloody seed has been sown in the past century than in any of the bloody centuries that preceded it. Tens of millions have been slaughtered on the blood-soaked altars of national and international socialism in Europe, China, Cambodia and elsewhere. Today, in many parts of the world, millions upon millions are being slaughtered in the womb in the name of reproductive rights.
In such a meretricious age the giant figure of Alexander Solzhenitsyn emerges as a colossus of courage. Born in Russia in 1918, only months after the secular fundamentalists had swept to power in the Bolshevik Revolution, Solzhenitsyn was brainwashed by a state education system which taught him that socialism was just and that religion was the enemy of the people. Like most of his school friends, he enslaved himself to the zeitgeist, became an atheist and joined the communist party.
(Excerpt) Read more at crisismagazine.com ...
Thank-you for posting this. In these gloomy times it’s a comfort and inspiration.
We need to start acknowledgintg it's not between Republicans and Democrats --- this is a battle between believers, Christians, and non-believers. And we have world opinion on our side. This fight needs a leader with the courage of a long-ago visionary---who sees the connection between the secular and the spiritual. Read on.
PBS.ORG From persecuted minority to official imperial religion - what caused this extraordinary reversal for Christianity?
BY Shaye I.D. Cohen---Samuel Ungerleider Professor of Judaic Studies and Professor of Religious Studies Brown University
CONSTANTINE'S CHRISTIANITY ---THE PATH TO VICTORYThe triumph of Christianity is actually a very remarkable historical phenomenon. ... We begin with a small group from the backwaters of the Roman Empire and after two, three centuries go by, lo and behold that same group and its descendants have somehow taken over the Roman Empire and have become the official religion, in fact the only tolerated religion, of the Roman Empire by the end of the 4th century. That is a truly remarkable development, and a monumental historical problem, trying to understand how this happened. Of course, pious Christians have no doubt about how or why it happened: "This is the hand of God working in history." And the Christians of antiquity already made this very point; the fact that Christianity triumphed is proof of its truth.
For historians, that answer, while maybe correct on one level, on another level it is not entirely satisfactory. We historians would like to find other explanations for the triumph of Christianity and indeed, ever since Gibbon wrote his famous history, historians have been trying to understand what it was exactly that pushed Christianity to the top. I can't fully answer that question myself, but we can clearly identify various stages on the path of Christianity to its ultimate victory. ...
The powerful Romans tried to beat down Christianity but failed. By the fourth century Christianity becomes the state religion and by the end of the fourth century it is illegal to do any form of public worship other than Christianity in the entire Roman Empire. There is a great mystery in how this happened -- how such an extraordinary reversal, that begins with Jesus who is executed by the Romans as a public criminal, as a threat to the social order, and somehow we wind up three centuries later with Jesus being hailed as a God, as part of the one, true God who is the God of the new Christian Roman Empire.
There is a remarkable progress, a remarkable development in the course of three centuries. ... It's hard to understand exactly how it happened or why it happened, but it is important to realize that we have a progression and a set of developments, and that Christianity by the fourth century is not the same as the Christianity that we see in the first or even the second.
One of the most surprising Christian heroes in the entire tradition, I think, is Constantine. He is, first of all, a successful general. He is also the son of a successful general and at the head of the army at the West. And he's fighting another successful general, struggling for who is going to be at the top of the heap of the very higher echelons of Roman government.
What happens is that Constantine has a vision. Luckily for the Church, there's a bishop nearby to interpret what the vision means. Constantine ends not converting, technically, to Christianity, but becoming a patron of one particular branch of the church. It happens to be the branch of the church that has the Old Testament as well as the New Testament as part of its canon.
Which means that since this branch of Christianity includes the story about historical Israel as part of its own redemptive history, it has an entire language for articulating the relationship of government and piety. It has the model of King David. It has the model of the kings of Israel. And it's with this governmental model that the bishop explains the vision to Constantine.
In a sense Constantine becomes the embodiment of the righteous king. And once he consolidates his power by conquering, eventually, not only the West, but also the Greek East where there are many more Christians [who are] concentrated in the cities, which are the social power packets of this culture, [he] is in this amazing position of having a theology of government that he can use to consolidate his own secular power. And it works both ways. The bishops now have basically federal funding to have sponsored committee meetings so they can try to iron out creeds and get everybody to sign up.
SNIP--More at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/why/legitimization.html
In the course of his research for Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile (Harper Collins), Joseph Pearch traveled to Moscow to interview the writer.
The excerpt below is from that interview:
"In different places over the years I have had to prove that socialism, which to many western thinkers is a sort of kingdom of justice, was in fact full of coercion, of bureaucratic greed and corruption and avarice, and consistent within itself that socialism cannot be implemented without the aid of coercion. Communist propaganda would sometimes include statements such as 'we include almost all the commandments of the Gospel in our ideology.' The difference is that the Gospel asks all this to be achieved through love, through self-limitation, but socialism only uses coercion. This is one point.
"Untouched by the breath of God, unrestricted by human conscience, both capitalism and socialism are repulsive."
Any who wish to read an authentic late-1800's history of the ideas underlying America's might visit this web site, at which Richard Frothingham's outstanding 1872 "History of the Rise of the Republic of the United States" can be read on line.
This 600+-page history traces the ideas which gave birth to the American founding. Throughout, Richard Frothingham, the historian, develops the idea that it is "the Christian idea of man" which allowed the philosophy underlying the Declaration of Independence and Constitution to become a reality--an idea which recognizes the individual and the Source of his/her "Creator"-endowed life, liberty and law.
Is there any wonder that the enemies of freedom, the so-called "progressives," do not promote such authentic histories of America? Their philosophy puts something called "the state," or "global interests" as being superior to individuals and requires a political elitist group to decide what role individuals are to play.
In other words, they must turn the Founders' ideas upside-down in order to achieve a common mediocrity for individuals and power for themselves.
As Jefferson wisely observed:
"History, by apprising the people of the past, will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views."
All of which reinforces our conviction that the ideas of our Declaration of Independence affirming Creator-endowed (thus, unalienable) rights, and the resulting Constitution to protect those rights, are as revolutionary and objectionable to tyrants as they were in 1776 and 1787!
I second that.
It would have been rather elegant if you posted this as a ‘post’ in the religion forum rather than a comment.
Otherwise very good.
Soon as I have the chance, I will post this as a thread.....
However, do not lose the import——this is meant as a political/secular/religious impetus.
=================================================== REFERENCE At the Hay Literary festival in Wales, author and PBS historian, Niall Ferguson, spent much of his time dissing Obama's "smart power" speech delivered in Cairo in 2009......describing it as "touchy feely nonsense"... (POSTER'S NOTE: "Smart power" embraced by Hillary Clinton is also laughingly known as Democrats achieving foreign policy objectives without firing even a warning shot.)
Ferguson has sent out warnings about Obama's failure to come to terms with what Ferguson sees as the potential rise of the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt and the possible "restoration of the caliphate and the strict application of Sharia"........themes at the heart of this new book "Civilization: The West and the Rest"...............
Ferguson's standpoint is that Western dominance has been a progressive civilizing force.....his new book reinforces these arguments postulating that there were six killer "apps" which propelled the West to a position of predominance.
These were competition, science, property, modern science, consumption and work ethic, each with a dedicated chapter in the book.
Ferguson contrasts how China was the world's most advanced civilization in the 15th century but stagnated and was overtaken by Dutch mercantilism and the rise of capitalism employing the six "skills".
In his books, and on his compelling PBS series "Civilization," Ferguson lists "morality" as a strategic strength of Western Civilization. He points out the successful Chinese business city Wenzou also has 1,400 churches.
NOTE Not coincidentally, it was China that joined Russia in decrying The Muslim Brotherhood's attack on Egyptian Christian's churches, homes and businesses.......Christian edifices the Egyptian military vowed to rebuild.
Solz. was an Orthodox not a Catholic