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Author Topic: Your thoughts on Tolstoy?  (Read 5336 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: October 05, 2009, 08:27:43 PM »

What do you think of the writer whom Dostoyevsky praised and admired, and who inspired Gandhi? The anarchist-socialist, and a Christian who was excommunicated from the Church in Russia, and whose influence extends to today.

Do you love him, hate him, or something else? I'd like to hear your thoughts (and your favorite works of course).
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« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2009, 08:34:00 PM »

Lev Tolstoy is my most favorite writer of all times - a genius who showed the "dialectics of the soul" of a human being better than anyone before or after him.

On the other hand, as a philosopher and religious thinker, IMHO, he is very immature, dull, and ultimately un-interesting.

I always regret that it is plain impossible to translate "War and Peace" into any language other than Tolstoy's Russian (in the case of this novel, very irregular, sort of childish).
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« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2009, 10:36:32 PM »

What do you think of the writer whom Dostoyevsky praised and admired, and who inspired Gandhi? The anarchist-socialist, and a Christian who was excommunicated from the Church in Russia, and whose influence extends to today.

Do you love him, hate him, or something else? I'd like to hear your thoughts (and your favorite works of course).

I found one of his books a bit crude.......ruff around the edges......I didn't throw the book, but it was hard for me to read.......he was way too critical for my taste. Although I will try to read him again........for sometimes I understand things differently after giving it a second or third read many years later.








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« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2009, 11:36:11 PM »

Tolstoy was so very human with his lofty, romanticised ideals yet constantly failing miserably to live up to them himself. His wife truly must have been a saint to endure her lot in life. It always amazed me how my pietistic friends upheld him and his writings as nearly  the Gospels themselves. Obviously, they never bothered to read his biography. I also love some of his writings even though he was very anti-established Orthodox Church. His short story "Father Sergei" really touched me in a deep way.
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« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2009, 01:23:54 AM »

During my wilderness years between Protestantism and Orthodoxy I read Tolstoy's book The Kingdom of God is Within You. This is the book that influenced Gandhi as well as Martin Luther King, Jr. The book really appealed to me since at that time I was completely disillusioned with organized religion. I identified with Tolstoy's love for Christ which drove him to see so much hypocrisy and error in organized religion. Another book very similar in philosophy is Kierkegaard's Attack Upon Christendom.

But by the grace of God I was led to the Orthodox Church. I still find Tolstoy's arguments hard to disagree with, and I respect the fact that his philosophy revolved around his love for Our Lord and his knowledge of Scripture. But ultimately, none of us can truly have Christian understanding apart from the Church. I find it very sad that Tolstoy never returned to the Orthodox Faith; but I trust that by the grace of God and the prayers of the Church, Tolstoy will be in heaven.

Tolstoy's book was instrumental in helping shape my pacifist convictions, which to this day I find are quite in line with Orthodox teaching. The fact that his Christian pacifism influenced the two greatest nonviolent social movements of the 20th century is quite profound; and I think it's evidence of an authentic Christian consciousness that was within his spirit.

I've never read anything else by Tolstoy, and I doubt if his novels can measure up to Dostoevsky. OK, that's my two cents on Tolstoy.

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« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2009, 01:02:48 PM »

I love Tolstoy, just finished reading Divine and Human. 
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« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2009, 05:33:03 PM »

I love Tolstoy, just finished reading Divine and Human. 

As I said before, I am not a great fan of his so-called "religious" or "spiritual" writings. I would very sincerely recommend to you all to read his fiction, especially "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina." THAT's where his genius truly unfolds... Those are very long novels (esp. "War and Peace"), and perhaps a great part of them is lost in translation - since Tolstory's Russian in his novels was often "irregular," even somewhat childish... - but I still do believe it's worth the effort to try to read them.
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« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2009, 12:18:08 AM »

Speaking of Russian Anarchists, have there ever been any Orthodox Anarchists?
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« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2009, 01:36:58 AM »

Speaking of Russian Anarchists, have there ever been any Orthodox Anarchists?

Nikolai Berdyaev definitely seemed to lean toward it at various times.
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« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2009, 02:26:15 AM »

From Wiki (for what it's worth):

Fyodor Dostoevsky:
Fyodor Dostoevsky in many respects can be considered to have believed in Christian anarchism/autonomy. His greatest novel The Brothers Karamazov postulates the idea that all men should be monks and that everyone is responsible for everyone else. Also, that belief in God can only be found through the practice of active love.


Here's a Wiki link to Christian Anarchy:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_anarchist#Pacifism_and_nonviolence


It seems pretty obvious that "Christian Anarchy" is a bit of an oxymoron. But if "Christian Anarchy" means not participating in government, being a vegetarian, and being a pacifist, then I guess I qualify. But since it also seems to indicate a rejection of ecclesiastical authority and Church government, then certainly I cannot subscribe to that.

I found it odd that Wiki included Dorothy Day in its list of Christian Anarchists. I think she would be quite horrified by this! She was always loyal and obedient to the Catholic Church, even though she was often strongly critical of it. I also wouldn't necessarily call Dostoevsky a Christian Anarchist.

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« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2009, 10:24:05 AM »

I love Tolstoy, just finished reading Divine and Human. 

As I said before, I am not a great fan of his so-called "religious" or "spiritual" writings. I would very sincerely recommend to you all to read his fiction, especially "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina." THAT's where his genius truly unfolds... Those are very long novels (esp. "War and Peace"), and perhaps a great part of them is lost in translation - since Tolstory's Russian in his novels was often "irregular," even somewhat childish... - but I still do believe it's worth the effort to try to read them.

I think a lot depends on the quality of the translation.  Once you move away from Constance Garnett you get a lot closer to capturing more of the actual feel of Tolstoy.  For example, I think that most anglophones who have read only her translations would have no idea that Dostoevsky and Tolstoy are about as different from each other stylistically as Hemingway and Faulkner.  While I agree that so much of the beauty of Tolstoy is in his language, the major part of his genius are his characters and the bigger picture of his novels - hence I'd argue that a fitting translation is entirely possible and will still capture a very high percentage of Tolstoy's art for the anglophone.  On the other hand, translating something like Eugene Onegin is well nigh impossible.     
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« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2009, 09:58:16 PM »

Actually, Ms. Day was involved in far-left politics, and definitly leaned toward anarchism at many times.

Anarchism as I understand it means what it says: no rule. Namely, the abolition of the state (usually transferred into the hands of the people in collective direct democracies, though anarcho-capitalists would have different ideas). It does not necessarily mean nonviolence or vegetarianism (though many do also espouse these views). The reason that many will also fight against higher Church authorities is because of corruption at the socio-political level (especially in Spain and South america, where the Church opressed many people), not against the religion. There are many working class priests in South America accused of communism, and then jailed.
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« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2009, 12:15:39 AM »

Actually, Ms. Day was involved in far-left politics, and definitly leaned toward anarchism at many times.

Anarchism as I understand it means what it says: no rule. Namely, the abolition of the state (usually transferred into the hands of the people in collective direct democracies, though anarcho-capitalists would have different ideas). It does not necessarily mean nonviolence or vegetarianism (though many do also espouse these views). The reason that many will also fight against higher Church authorities is because of corruption at the socio-political level (especially in Spain and South america, where the Church opressed many people), not against the religion. There are many working class priests in South America accused of communism, and then jailed.

I think any orthodox (little "o") Chrisitan would eschew anarchy and distance themselves from the label. For example, I share many philosophical views with Tolstoy and Dorothy Day, yet I firmly believe that authority, heirarchy, and order are important both in Church and society. Yet I will nevertheless be quick to criticize and point out the evils and corruptions of authorities wherever and whenever I recognize them. But this is why I don't think Dorothy Day should be described as an anarchist. She always obeyed the Church and respected its structure, even when she was critical of it. Tolstoy, on the other hand, rejected the Church altogether, and even rejected the belief in police force; thus he could accurately be called an anarchist.

BTW, speaking of working class priests in South America that were accused of communism, are you familiar with Oscar Romero? He was the Archbishop of San Salvador who was murdered in the middle of the Liturgy. There is a great movie about him called "Romero." He was a true hero and a martyr in my opinion.

Selam   
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« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2009, 08:46:32 AM »

I've heard about it, but never studied the case. Thanks for the movie info!
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« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2012, 12:38:08 AM »

Thread resurrection!
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« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2012, 01:04:58 AM »

Thread resurrection!
I was told that he was excommunicated by the Russian Church for writing his book "The Resurrection." What about this book got him excommunicated?
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« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2012, 05:01:10 AM »

I was told that he was excommunicated by the Russian Church for writing his book "The Resurrection." What about this book got him excommunicated?

In this novel Russian Orthodox Church is presented as completely devaluated and cynical institution, run by even more immoral people, and on one point he mocks the Holy Liturgy, showing it as something degenerated and inhuman. Sounds like a grand declaration of war from Tolstosy's side.
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« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2012, 06:54:05 AM »

Can someone confirm that Tolstoy didn't have much of a clue about the Orthodox Church or it's theology? I read that in a criticism for Anna Karenina the other day, that alot of his talks about the Church are merely fluff.
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« Reply #18 on: August 05, 2012, 07:20:37 AM »

Can someone confirm that Tolstoy didn't have much of a clue about the Orthodox Church or it's theology? I read that in a criticism for Anna Karenina the other day, that alot of his talks about the Church are merely fluff.

I guess the best is to ask Tolstoy himself and read this novel. It's relatively short.
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« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2012, 07:48:34 PM »

Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (Russian: Лев Никола́евич Толсто́й, known in the Anglosphere as Leo Tolstoy) (September 9, 1828 – November 20, 1910) was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist fiction. Many consider Tolstoy to have been one of the world's greatest novelists. Tolstoy is equally known for his complicated and paradoxical persona and for his extreme moralistic and ascetic views, which he adopted after a moral crisis and spiritual awakening in the 1870s, after which he also became noted as a moral thinker and social reformer.

His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him in later life to become a fervent Christian anarchist and anarcho-pacifist. His ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal twentieth-century figures as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
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« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2012, 07:55:09 PM »

Tolstoy was born in Yasnaya Polyana, the family estate in the Tula region of Russia. The Tolstoys were a well-known family of old Russian nobility. He was the fourth of five children of Count Nikolai Ilyich Tolstoy, a veteran of the Patriotic War of 1812, and Countess Mariya Tolstaya (Volkonskaya). Tolstoy's parents died when he was young, so he and his siblings were brought up by relatives. In 1844, he began studying law and oriental languages at Kazan University. His teachers described him as "both unable and unwilling to learn." Tolstoy left university in the middle of his studies, returned to Yasnaya Polyana and then spent much of his time in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. In 1851, after running up heavy gambling debts, he went with his older brother to the Caucasus and joined the army. It was about this time that he started writing.

His conversion from a dissolute and privileged society author to the non-violent and spiritual anarchist of his latter days was brought about by his experience in the army as well as two trips around Europe in 1857 and 1860–61. Others who followed the same path were Alexander Herzen, Mikhail Bakunin, and Peter Kropotkin. During his 1857 visit, Tolstoy witnessed a public execution in Paris, a traumatic experience that would mark the rest of his life. Writing in a letter to his friend Vasily Botkin: "The truth is that the State is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens ... Henceforth, I shall never serve any government anywhere."

His European trip in 1860–61 shaped both his political and literary transformation when he met Victor Hugo, whose literary talents Tolstoy praised after reading Hugo's newly finished Les Miserables. A comparison of Hugo's novel and Tolstoy's War and Peace shows the influence of the evocation of its battle scenes. Tolstoy's political philosophy was also influenced by a March 1861 visit to French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, then living in exile under an assumed name in Brussels. Apart from reviewing Proudhon's forthcoming publication, La Guerre et la Paix (War and Peace in French), whose title Tolstoy would borrow for his masterpiece, the two men discussed education, as Tolstoy wrote in his educational notebooks: "If I recount this conversation with Proudhon, it is to show that, in my personal experience, he was the only man who understood the significance of education and of the printing press in our time."

Fired by enthusiasm, Tolstoy returned to Yasnaya Polyana and founded thirteen schools for his serfs' children, based on the principles Tolstoy described in his 1862 essay "The School at Yasnaya Polyana". Tolstoy's educational experiments were short-lived, partly due to harassment by the Tsarist secret police. However, as a direct forerunner to A. S. Neill's Summerhill School, the school at Yasnaya Polyana can justifiably be claimed to be the first example of a coherent theory of democratic education.

On September 23, 1862, Tolstoy married Sophia Andreevna Behrs, who was 16 years his junior and the daughter of a court physician. She was called Sonya, the Russian diminutive of Sofya, by her family and friends. They had thirteen children, five of whom died during childhood. The marriage was marked from the outset by sexual passion and emotional insensitivity when Tolstoy, on the eve of their marriage, gave her his diaries detailing his extensive sexual past and the fact that one of the serfs on his estate had borne him a son. Even so, their early married life was ostensibly happy and allowed Tolstoy much freedom to compose War and Peace and Anna Karenina with Sonya acting as his secretary, proof-reader and financial manager. However, their latter life together has been described by A. N. Wilson as one of the unhappiest in literary history. Tolstoy's relationship with his wife deteriorated as his beliefs became increasingly radical. This saw him seeking to reject his inherited and earned wealth, including the renunciation of the copyrights on his earlier works.

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« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2012, 08:03:50 PM »

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« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2012, 08:14:53 PM »

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« Reply #23 on: August 29, 2012, 08:19:20 PM »

And that is relevant to the thread because
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« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2012, 08:23:54 PM »

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« Reply #25 on: August 29, 2012, 09:04:41 PM »

Can someone confirm that Tolstoy didn't have much of a clue about the Orthodox Church or it's theology? I read that in a criticism for Anna Karenina the other day, that alot of his talks about the Church are merely fluff.

His parody of the Divine Liturgy which appears in Resurrection indeed suggests that he did not understand the Church's theology.
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« Reply #26 on: August 30, 2012, 12:01:03 PM »

Tolstoy is the Bertold Brecht of Russian Literature.

That is a good thing depending which Brecht it is. And a very terrible thing when it is the others.
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« Reply #27 on: October 09, 2012, 06:57:44 AM »

Bump.
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« Reply #28 on: October 09, 2012, 10:22:54 AM »

I don't like him
To allow to himself to be excommunicate is frightfully.
"whoever eats of my body and drinks of my blood has eternal life".
Excommunication means that. No communion, no memory services after death, no Memory eternal,...

Of course, his intelligence, writing style, etc are impressive. But for what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
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« Reply #29 on: October 09, 2012, 11:04:16 AM »

What do you think of the writer whom Dostoyevsky praised and admired, and who inspired Gandhi? The anarchist-socialist, and a Christian who was excommunicated from the Church in Russia, and whose influence extends to today.

Do you love him, hate him, or something else? I'd like to hear your thoughts (and your favorite works of course).

I feel sorry for him, poor man. He was caught up in his own thoughts and these distanced him from the Church. At the end of his life, St. Barsanuphius of Optina was sent to him to see if he would repent and unfortunately, even if he had wanted to, Tolstoy's disciples kept the elder from seeing him. May God have mercy on him.
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« Reply #30 on: October 10, 2012, 01:32:14 AM »

My personal opinion is that some people are being a bit too harsh on Tolstoy. There are lots of people who die in "good standing" with the Church who did little to actually make the world a better place. But because they gave lots of money to the Church and attended services regularly, they receive Orthodox funerals and memorial services.

It saddens me that Tolstoy never returned to the Church. That fact should not be glossed over. However, Tolstoy never seemed to abandon his faith in Christ. He gave up a life of wealth and fame to pursue the Christian path of love and nonviolence. His writings had a profoundly positive influence on the world.

Tolstoy was a man, a seeker, a Christian individual who became disillusioned by the hypocrisy and corruption he saw in the Church. Many people that become disillusioned with the Church abandon their faith altogther. So, I think it is to his great credit that he clung to his faith in Christ even after he abandoned the Church. Yes, from an Orthodox perspective, the two cannot be separated. So I don't excuse Tolstoy's rejection of the Church. However, I cannot judge his soul. Many of his writings remain some of the most powerful and influential words I have ever read.

May God forgive his errors and bless his truth.


Selam
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« Reply #31 on: October 10, 2012, 04:10:33 AM »

Tolstoy was a man, a seeker, a Christian individual who became disillusioned by the hypocrisy and corruption he saw in the Church. Many people that become disillusioned with the Church abandon their faith altogther.

The hypocrisy and corruption are in the Church from the very beginning.
"...Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor...."
"...Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages..."
"...He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it..."

That can not be the reason that someone leave the Church, especially such an intelligent man.

But because they gave lots of money to the Church and attended services regularly, they receive Orthodox funerals and memorial services.

Moralism who is irrelevant for us Christians, by my opinion. We are members of the Church with our sins and we try to enter Eternal Kingdom, by all means.
"...Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor... and Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house".




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« Reply #32 on: October 10, 2012, 04:28:50 AM »

Tolstoy was a man, a seeker, a Christian individual who became disillusioned by the hypocrisy and corruption he saw in the Church. Many people that become disillusioned with the Church abandon their faith altogther.

The hypocrisy and corruption are in the Church from the very beginning.
"...Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor...."
"...Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages..."
"...He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it..."

That can not be the reason that someone leave the Church, especially such an intelligent man.

But because they gave lots of money to the Church and attended services regularly, they receive Orthodox funerals and memorial services.

Moralism who is irrelevant for us Christians, by my opinion. We are members of the Church with our sins and we try to enter Eternal Kingdom, by all means.
"...Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor... and Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house".




I'm not sure what your point is. You're preaching to the choir here. Take the truthful and positive things from Tolstoy and avoid his errors.


Selam
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« Reply #33 on: October 10, 2012, 12:26:17 PM »

My personal opinion is that some people are being a bit too harsh on Tolstoy. There are lots of people who die in "good standing" with the Church who did little to actually make the world a better place. But because they gave lots of money to the Church and attended services regularly, they receive Orthodox funerals and memorial services.

It saddens me that Tolstoy never returned to the Church. That fact should not be glossed over. However, Tolstoy never seemed to abandon his faith in Christ. He gave up a life of wealth and fame to pursue the Christian path of love and nonviolence. His writings had a profoundly positive influence on the world.

Tolstoy was a man, a seeker, a Christian individual who became disillusioned by the hypocrisy and corruption he saw in the Church. Many people that become disillusioned with the Church abandon their faith altogther. So, I think it is to his great credit that he clung to his faith in Christ even after he abandoned the Church. Yes, from an Orthodox perspective, the two cannot be separated. So I don't excuse Tolstoy's rejection of the Church. However, I cannot judge his soul. Many of his writings remain some of the most powerful and influential words I have ever read.

May God forgive his errors and bless his truth.


Selam

DId he believe in Christ's divinity? If not, he cannot have been a Christian.
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« Reply #34 on: October 10, 2012, 02:47:27 PM »

Founding over a dozen of schools for poor children from peasant families, teaching those children and spending lots of time for pedagogical matters, actively opposing oppressing system in which he lived in, wanting to bequeath his possessions to poor peasant families - he was more Christian than I will probably ever be.
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« Reply #35 on: October 10, 2012, 10:49:18 PM »

Founding over a dozen of schools for poor children from peasant families, teaching those children and spending lots of time for pedagogical matters, actively opposing oppressing system in which he lived in, wanting to bequeath his possessions to poor peasant families - he was more Christian than I will probably ever be.

And even atheists do the same. The definition of Christian is broader than morality or even righteousness. To be holy requires a pure faith, not simply a pure life.
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« Reply #36 on: October 10, 2012, 10:51:58 PM »

Founding over a dozen of schools for poor children from peasant families, teaching those children and spending lots of time for pedagogical matters, actively opposing oppressing system in which he lived in, wanting to bequeath his possessions to poor peasant families - he was more Christian than I will probably ever be.

And even atheists do the same. The definition of Christian is broader than morality or even righteousness. To be holy requires a pure faith, not simply a pure life.


I don't think many of us have either a pure faith or a pure life. Nobody here is arguing for Tolstoy's sainthood.


Selam
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« Reply #37 on: October 10, 2012, 11:03:29 PM »

Founding over a dozen of schools for poor children from peasant families, teaching those children and spending lots of time for pedagogical matters, actively opposing oppressing system in which he lived in, wanting to bequeath his possessions to poor peasant families - he was more Christian than I will probably ever be.

And even atheists do the same. The definition of Christian is broader than morality or even righteousness. To be holy requires a pure faith, not simply a pure life.


I don't think many of us have either a pure faith or a pure life. Nobody here is arguing for Tolstoy's sainthood.


Selam

By pure faith, I meant Orthodoxy.

And I'm not trying to beat up the poor man, just to clarify what, actually, a Christian is. From the beginning, it has meant, in large part, faith in Jesus Christ as God, not just as a really nice man we should emulate.
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« Reply #38 on: October 10, 2012, 11:04:52 PM »

I am posting the following to generate discussion, since most of the interest in this thread seems to be about Tolstoy's Christianity.

-----------------------------------------------------

The service began.

It consisted of the following. The priest, having dressed in a strange and very inconvenient garb, made of gold cloth, cut and arranged little bits of bread on a saucer, and then put them into a cup with wine, repeating at the same time different names and prayers. Meanwhile the deacon first read Slavonic prayers, difficult to understand in themselves, and rendered still more incomprehensible by being read very fast, and then sang them turn and turn about with the convicts. The contents of the prayers were chiefly the desire for the welfare of the Emperor and his family. These petitions were repeated many times, separately and together with other prayers, the people kneeling. Besides this, several verses from the Acts of the Apostles were read by the deacon in a peculiarly strained voice, which made it impossible to understand what he read, and then the priest read very distinctly a part of the Gospel according to St. Mark, in which it said that Christ, having risen from the dead before flying up to heaven to sit down at His Father's right hand, first showed Himself to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had driven seven devils, and then to eleven of His disciples, and ordered them to preach the Gospel to the whole creation, and the priest added that if any one did not believe this he would perish, but he that believed it and was baptised should be saved, and should besides drive out devils and cure people by laying his hands on them, should talk in strange tongues, should take up serpents, and if he drank poison should not die, but remain well.

The essence of the service consisted in the supposition that the bits cut up by the priest and put by him into the wine, when manipulated and prayed over in a certain way, turned into the flesh and blood of God.

These manipulations consisted in the priest's regularly lifting and holding up his arms, though hampered by the gold cloth sack he had on, then, sinking on to his knees and kissing the table and all that was on it, but chiefly in his taking a cloth by two of its corners and waving it regularly and softly over the silver saucer and golden cup. It was supposed that, at this point, the bread and the wine turned into flesh and blood; therefore, this part of the service was performed with the greatest solemnity.

"Now, to the blessed, most pure, and most holy Mother of God," the priest cried from the golden partition which divided part of the church from the rest, and the choir began solemnly to sing that it was very right to glorify the Virgin Mary, who had borne Christ without losing her virginity, and was therefore worthy of greater honour than some kind of cherubim, and greater glory than some kind of seraphim. After this the transformation was considered accomplished, and the priest having taken the napkin off the saucer, cut the middle bit of bread in four, and put it into the wine, and then into his mouth. He was supposed to have eaten a bit of God's flesh and swallowed a little of His blood. Then the priest drew a curtain, opened the middle door in the partition, and, taking the gold cup in his hands, came out of the door, inviting those who wished to do so also to come and eat some of God's flesh and blood that was contained in the cup. A few children appeared to wish to do so.

After having asked the children their names, the priest carefully took out of the cup, with a spoon, and shoved a bit of bread soaked in wine deep into the mouth of each child in turn, and the deacon, while wiping the children's mouths, sang, in a merry voice, that the children were eating the flesh and drinking the blood of God. After this the priest carried the cup back behind the partition, and there drank all the remaining blood and ate up all the bits of flesh, and after having carefully sucked his moustaches and wiped his mouth, he stepped briskly from behind the partition, the soles of his calfskin boots creaking. The principal part of this Christian service was now finished, but the priest, wishing to comfort the unfortunate prisoners, added to the ordinary service another. This consisted of his going up to the gilt hammered-out image (with black face and hands) supposed to represent the very God he had been eating, illuminated by a dozen wax candles, and proceeding, in a strange, discordant voice, to hum or sing the following words:

"Jesu sweetest, glorified of the Apostles, Jesu lauded by the martyrs, almighty Monarch, save me, Jesu my Saviour. Jesu, most beautiful, have mercy on him who cries to Thee, Saviour Jesu. Born of prayer Jesu, all thy saints, all thy prophets, save and find them worthy of the joys of heaven. Jesu, lover of men."

Then he stopped, drew breath, crossed himself, bowed to the ground, and every one did the same—the inspector, the warders, the prisoners; and from above the clinking of the chains sounded more unintermittently. Then he continued: "Of angels the Creator and Lord of powers, Jesu most wonderful, the angels' amazement, Jesu most powerful, of our forefathers the Redeemer. Jesu sweetest, of patriarchs the praise. Jesu most glorious, of kings the strength. Jesu most good, of prophets the fulfilment. Jesu most amazing, of martyrs the strength. Jesu most humble, of monks the joy. Jesu most merciful, of priests the sweetness. Jesu most charitable, of the fasting the continence. Jesu most sweet, of the just the joy. Jesu most pure, of the celibates the chastity. Jesu before all ages of sinners the salvation. Jesu, son of God, have mercy on me."

Every time he repeated the word "Jesu" his voice became more and more wheezy. At last he came to a stop, and holding up his silk-lined cassock, and kneeling down on one knee, he stooped down to the ground and the choir began to sing, repeating the words, "Jesu, Son of God, have mercy on me," and the convicts fell down and rose again, shaking back the hair that was left on their heads, and rattling with the chains that were bruising their thin ankles.

This continued for a long time. First came the glorification, which ended with the words, "Have mercy on me." Then more glorifications, ending with "Alleluia!" And the convicts made the sign of the cross, and bowed, first at each sentence, then after every two and then after three, and all were very glad when the glorification ended, and the priest shut the book with a sigh of relief and retired behind the partition. One last act remained. The priest took a large, gilt cross, with enamel medallions at the ends, from a table, and came out into the centre of the church with it. First the inspector came up and kissed the cross, then the jailers, then the convicts, pushing and abusing each other in whispers. The priest, talking to the inspector, pushed the cross and his hand now against the mouths and now against the noses of the convicts, who were trying to kiss both the cross and the hand of the priest. And thus ended the Christian service, intended for the comfort and the teaching of these strayed brothers.

-----------------------------------------------------

Source: http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/1938/pg1938.html
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« Reply #39 on: October 11, 2012, 02:50:09 AM »

And even atheists do the same. The definition of Christian is broader than morality or even righteousness. To be holy requires a pure faith, not simply a pure life.

That is what I tried to say, but my English is rusty so I wasn't clear.
The thieve from the Cross enter paradise. But the 5 virgins did not.

To be more worse, if we look at some moral atheist who was never enlighted by the true faith we can really hope that God will have mercy on him. But, if someone is member of the Church, knows the teachings, understannd what is the Church, and start to fight against it, then that is problem. But, that was not enough, because, there was and there are such people always but they are not excomunicate, but he was so persistent that he is excomunicated.

The question here for me is not sins or virtues, but do some member of the Church eat Christs body and blood or not.
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« Reply #40 on: October 11, 2012, 03:57:03 AM »

I am posting the following to generate discussion, since most of the interest in this thread seems to be about Tolstoy's Christianity.

-----------------------------------------------------

The service began.

It consisted of the following. The priest, having dressed in a strange and very inconvenient garb, made of gold cloth, cut and arranged little bits of bread on a saucer, and then put them into a cup with wine, repeating at the same time different names and prayers. Meanwhile the deacon first read Slavonic prayers, difficult to understand in themselves, and rendered still more incomprehensible by being read very fast, and then sang them turn and turn about with the convicts. The contents of the prayers were chiefly the desire for the welfare of the Emperor and his family. These petitions were repeated many times, separately and together with other prayers, the people kneeling. Besides this, several verses from the Acts of the Apostles were read by the deacon in a peculiarly strained voice, which made it impossible to understand what he read, and then the priest read very distinctly a part of the Gospel according to St. Mark, in which it said that Christ, having risen from the dead before flying up to heaven to sit down at His Father's right hand, first showed Himself to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had driven seven devils, and then to eleven of His disciples, and ordered them to preach the Gospel to the whole creation, and the priest added that if any one did not believe this he would perish, but he that believed it and was baptised should be saved, and should besides drive out devils and cure people by laying his hands on them, should talk in strange tongues, should take up serpents, and if he drank poison should not die, but remain well.

The essence of the service consisted in the supposition that the bits cut up by the priest and put by him into the wine, when manipulated and prayed over in a certain way, turned into the flesh and blood of God.

These manipulations consisted in the priest's regularly lifting and holding up his arms, though hampered by the gold cloth sack he had on, then, sinking on to his knees and kissing the table and all that was on it, but chiefly in his taking a cloth by two of its corners and waving it regularly and softly over the silver saucer and golden cup. It was supposed that, at this point, the bread and the wine turned into flesh and blood; therefore, this part of the service was performed with the greatest solemnity.

"Now, to the blessed, most pure, and most holy Mother of God," the priest cried from the golden partition which divided part of the church from the rest, and the choir began solemnly to sing that it was very right to glorify the Virgin Mary, who had borne Christ without losing her virginity, and was therefore worthy of greater honour than some kind of cherubim, and greater glory than some kind of seraphim. After this the transformation was considered accomplished, and the priest having taken the napkin off the saucer, cut the middle bit of bread in four, and put it into the wine, and then into his mouth. He was supposed to have eaten a bit of God's flesh and swallowed a little of His blood. Then the priest drew a curtain, opened the middle door in the partition, and, taking the gold cup in his hands, came out of the door, inviting those who wished to do so also to come and eat some of God's flesh and blood that was contained in the cup. A few children appeared to wish to do so.

After having asked the children their names, the priest carefully took out of the cup, with a spoon, and shoved a bit of bread soaked in wine deep into the mouth of each child in turn, and the deacon, while wiping the children's mouths, sang, in a merry voice, that the children were eating the flesh and drinking the blood of God. After this the priest carried the cup back behind the partition, and there drank all the remaining blood and ate up all the bits of flesh, and after having carefully sucked his moustaches and wiped his mouth, he stepped briskly from behind the partition, the soles of his calfskin boots creaking. The principal part of this Christian service was now finished, but the priest, wishing to comfort the unfortunate prisoners, added to the ordinary service another. This consisted of his going up to the gilt hammered-out image (with black face and hands) supposed to represent the very God he had been eating, illuminated by a dozen wax candles, and proceeding, in a strange, discordant voice, to hum or sing the following words:

"Jesu sweetest, glorified of the Apostles, Jesu lauded by the martyrs, almighty Monarch, save me, Jesu my Saviour. Jesu, most beautiful, have mercy on him who cries to Thee, Saviour Jesu. Born of prayer Jesu, all thy saints, all thy prophets, save and find them worthy of the joys of heaven. Jesu, lover of men."

Then he stopped, drew breath, crossed himself, bowed to the ground, and every one did the same—the inspector, the warders, the prisoners; and from above the clinking of the chains sounded more unintermittently. Then he continued: "Of angels the Creator and Lord of powers, Jesu most wonderful, the angels' amazement, Jesu most powerful, of our forefathers the Redeemer. Jesu sweetest, of patriarchs the praise. Jesu most glorious, of kings the strength. Jesu most good, of prophets the fulfilment. Jesu most amazing, of martyrs the strength. Jesu most humble, of monks the joy. Jesu most merciful, of priests the sweetness. Jesu most charitable, of the fasting the continence. Jesu most sweet, of the just the joy. Jesu most pure, of the celibates the chastity. Jesu before all ages of sinners the salvation. Jesu, son of God, have mercy on me."

Every time he repeated the word "Jesu" his voice became more and more wheezy. At last he came to a stop, and holding up his silk-lined cassock, and kneeling down on one knee, he stooped down to the ground and the choir began to sing, repeating the words, "Jesu, Son of God, have mercy on me," and the convicts fell down and rose again, shaking back the hair that was left on their heads, and rattling with the chains that were bruising their thin ankles.

This continued for a long time. First came the glorification, which ended with the words, "Have mercy on me." Then more glorifications, ending with "Alleluia!" And the convicts made the sign of the cross, and bowed, first at each sentence, then after every two and then after three, and all were very glad when the glorification ended, and the priest shut the book with a sigh of relief and retired behind the partition. One last act remained. The priest took a large, gilt cross, with enamel medallions at the ends, from a table, and came out into the centre of the church with it. First the inspector came up and kissed the cross, then the jailers, then the convicts, pushing and abusing each other in whispers. The priest, talking to the inspector, pushed the cross and his hand now against the mouths and now against the noses of the convicts, who were trying to kiss both the cross and the hand of the priest. And thus ended the Christian service, intended for the comfort and the teaching of these strayed brothers.

-----------------------------------------------------

Source: http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/1938/pg1938.html


This seems like a pretty accurate portrayal of an Orthodox Liturgy from somebody who is observing as an outsider. Can't really expect a non-Orthodox individual to grasp the mysteries of the Divine Liturgy (heck, even we Orthodox struggle to grasp these mysteries.)

I will sum up my feelings about Tolstoy with two opinions:

1. We should tremble at the thought of apostatizing from the Orthodox Faith. "He who endures to the end shall be saved." [St. Matthew 24:13]

2. In our sorrow and disappointment that Tolstoy rejected the Church, we must be careful not to condemn his heart or judge his soul. We do not know what transpired in his heart and mind as he took his last breaths.

As I said earlier, let us rejoice in his wisdom while rejecting his errors.


Selam
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« Reply #41 on: October 11, 2012, 05:09:05 AM »

And even atheists do the same. The definition of Christian is broader than morality or even righteousness. To be holy requires a pure faith, not simply a pure life.

The Church is something bigger than a group of christened people. The Holy Spirit "works" in places He wants to, not places we expect Him to "work".
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« Reply #42 on: October 11, 2012, 06:49:22 AM »

I enjoy Tolstoy. His fiction is excellent. In regard to his religious pursuits, I think he was a sincere man in his quest for truth.  However, as sometimes happen to some seekers (Thomas Merton comes to mind), I think  in his quest he may have lost sight of what he was tryiing to find and went down a side path.  It is sorry he seemingly died outside the church.  Although his writings I find simpler than  Dostoevsky's , I find  Dostoevsky's  more to my liking in grasping the inner workings of the human soul.  Both are great writers though.
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« Reply #43 on: October 11, 2012, 11:08:22 AM »

I think this little parable is illustrative of the tragic stagnation & ignorance of the overall state of a given society that would lead an otherwise gifted person like Tolstoy away from faith & rob the average person of any blessings of wisdom.



Thursday, February 11, 2010
"The Three Hermits." Leo Tolstoy.

One-minute review: The Bishop is on a ship with a group of pilgrims bound for a famous monastery. On the way, he sees some men talking and pointing toward the sea. A fisherman is telling the others that out there is an island with hermits living on it. The Bishop listens in wonder to the tale of the hermits, sees the island and asks the Captain to let him visit the island and meet the hermits.




On the island, the Bishop meets three elderly hermits and learns that their method of prayer is as follows: “Three are ye [referring to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost], three are we, have mercy on us.” The Bishop teaches them to pray correctly with the “Our Father.” The Bishop returns to the ship and it is in full sail and out of sight of the island when the steersman gasps—the three hermits are walking, gliding on the water trying to reach the ship. They have forgotten the “Our Father,” and want the Bishop to teach them again. The Bishop says, “Your own prayer will reach the Lord, men of God. It is not for me to teach you.”




75 Short Masterpieces: Stories from the World’s Literature. Ed. Roger B. Goodman. New York: Bantam Books. 1961. These summaries do not do justice to the vividness of the stories. RayS.
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« Reply #44 on: October 11, 2012, 02:00:54 PM »

I have no desire to read anything of Tolstoy, the fact that he was an apostate to the faith and accepted his excommunication is disgusting.
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