Tuesday, October 2, 2012

God-man vs. man-God

I read this article because Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, which I am 2/3 through, seem to me to have some Swedenborgian elements, to me.  Others say Tolstoy was more influenced by the Quakers.  This is probably right seeing his pacifism.


I'm going to crop out something from this arcticle:

The problem of the two natures of Christ underlies Dostoevsky's whole work, and it also determines his journey from a socialist Utopia to a nationalistic one. To say that at some given moment he became an atheist (whatever that word may mean) under Belinsky's influence is not truly relevant, for he was haunted by the figure of Christ the teacher perhaps no less in the forties than later on, when in the penal colony. Yet undoubtedly he underwent a change of heart in Omsk in the sense that now the necessity of an act of faith became clear. His much-quoted letter of 1854 to Fonvizina, written upon his release from the prison camp, contains the nucleus of those internal contradictions which torment his major heroes: "I will tell you regarding myself that I am a child of the age, that I have been a child of unbelief and doubt up till now and will be even (I know it) until my coffin closes. What terrible torments this thirst to believe has cost me and still does cost me, becoming the stronger in my soul the more there is in me of contrary reasonings. And yet sometimes God sends me moments when I am utterly at peace; in those moments I love and find that I am loved by others and in such moments I have constructed for myself a symbol of faith in which everything is clear and sacred to me. This symbol is very simple: to believe that there is nothing more beautiful, profounder, more sympathetic, wiser, braver, or more perfect than Christ; and not only is there nothing, but, as I tell myself with jealous love, there could not be anything. Even more: if someone proved to me that Christ is outside the truth, and if it were a fact that the truth excludes Christ, I would rather remain with Christ than with the truth. . .
This last sentence is potentially that of a "heresiarch." Who could proveto Dostoevsky that Christ was beyond the truth? A scientist, a philosopher, for whom everything is submitted to deterministic laws and who would shrug at the story of Christ rising from the dead as an offense to our reason? That sort of proof, through the universal order of nature, is accepted by those characters of Dostoevsky's who are, more or less, the spokesmen of his "intellectual part": Ippolit in The Idiot,Kirillov in The Possessed, and Ivan Karamazov. "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain," says Saint Paul (1 Cor. 15:14). Ippolit, Kirillov, Ivan— and the Grand Inquisitor—have their proofs that it is really so, but they also realize that if it is so, if Christ deluded himself in announcing his resurrection, then the world is a devil's farce. Dostoevsky himself, or that part of him which turns against his skeptical characters, "would rather remain with Christ than with the truth," and thus yields the field, in reality, to the so-called scientific Weltanschauung. The juxtaposition of faith and reason has behind it an old tradition, but the juxtaposition of faith and truth is a desperate novelty and dangerously favors any self-imposed deception.

In Tolstoy, also, we see this conflict of "God-man" vs. "man-God" .  What is he then?  Do we need to listen to the testimony, do we need to clear it up doctrinally?  Or are we going to just have our own, individual, arbitrary something, oximoronically called "truth".

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