Monday, January 21, 2008

The Classics Omnibus Rolls On

After a brief stop in late Victorian England, I've decided to travel back to nineteenth century Russia. My only choice was to decide which of great novelists of that period to read. Having already read Dostoevsky's "The Idiot" and "Notes From the Underground" and enjoying both immensely, I was very tempted to read "Crime and Punishment". However, because this magical mystery tour was about experiencing different styles of writing, I decided that I would delay reading "Crime and Punishment" for a while and instead read Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina".

For those of you who don't know, Tolstoy came to the Christian faith in his fifties, although he maintained an unorthodox faith, being excommunicated from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1901. Tolstoy is often acknowledged as the father of Christian Anarchism, although that title is quite frequently attributed to Kierkegaard. However, while Kierkegaard may be said to have set some of the basic principles in place for a Christian Anarchist framework, Tolstoy was the first to outline the ideals behind Christian Anarchism in a systematic manner, based upon his radical reading of the Sermon on the Mount. His writings have proved to be profoundly influential to a number of great figures in the twentieth century, including, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Junior.

Perhaps one of the reasons that I am interested in reading Anna Karenina is that the novel is said to contain a strong autobiographical element. It always interests me when people come to the Christian faith at such a late age, as most conversions seem to take place between a person's mid teenage years and their early twenties. I feel that those who come to faith late in life often tend to have a more mature, reflective faith, because they have far too much life experience to adopt the black and white faith so often experienced by adolescent and early adult converts.

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