Saturday, June 28, 2008


At present I'm half-way through volume two of Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago. It's among the best books that I've ever read, and is perhaps the very best of the prolonged accounts of the varieties of evil that I've ever encountered.

At one point, Solzhenitsyn says something quite remarkable about the imprisonment of orthodox Communists in the gulag. Consignment to the gulag, he says, is to be expected - even for most orthodox of Communists - because the government that created it, and the ideology that drives it, is a human idol. By this, I take him to mean that it's a purely human creation in which humans nonetheless put their faith.

Let me reflect for a moment about this. It seems to me to hint at a profound truth. We humans are ruined beings. We come into the world with an in-born disposition to evil (a disposition that, I think, derives from a disproportionate love of self), and that disposition inevitably makes itself known. We do evil, all of us. Moreover, if we cut ourselves off from God - who is Christ has made possible our salvation, our rescue from ruin - we are inevitably lost. But this is just what the Communists did. They denied God's existence - they were, of course, materialists - and instead put their trust in a purely human ideology. Moreover, they put their trust is the ability of their leaders to implement that ideology. Thus they set themselves on the path of ruin. Fallen humanity, when it trusts in itself and itself alone, removes all checks upon its in-born disposition to evil and thus falls upon itself as the wolf falls upon the lamb. Death and destruction are the inevitable result.

Whenever humanity turns from God and trusts in itself and itself alone, Stalins are the result.

(A word of caution here. Recall that I'm a latitudinarian when it comes to faith in God. One's orientation to God - whether acceptance or rejection - is, as I say here, indicated by one's moral character. The good accept Him; the evil reject. Thus those who accept him need not accept him by name. I do believe that, in the life to come, the good will come to know that their goodness entailed an implicit acceptance of Him; but they need not know that now. This seems quite evident to me. There are many good non-Christians.)

No comments: