Iata de ce a fost Solzhenitsyn “mare”. Omul acesta a fost profund crestin si a inteles, prin prisma valorilor biblice, pericolele adevarate care pasc lumea moderna. El a plecat de la realitatea luptei dintre Dumnezeu si Satan, vazand invizibilul in desfasurarea conflictelor “civilizatiilor” contemporane. Charles Colson, politicianul lui Nixon care a facut puscarie si s-a convertit apoi la crestinism, scoate de la naftalina contributia lui Solzhenitsyn la “lamurirea” atmosferei din lumea culturala de la harvard si implicit, a Americii. ata o lectura absolut obligatorie:
Jeremiah at Harvard
Three decades after Solzhenitsyn’s speech, where do we find ourselves?
Charles Colson with Anne Morse | posted 8/05/2008 08:30AM
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Thirty years ago this summer, a 59-year-old bearded dissident, whose writings helped expose and eventually bring down Soviet tyranny, stood facing rows of robed faculty and graduates at Harvard’s historic Yard for its 327th commencement. Expectations ran high. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was admired for his literary achievements and lionized by the faculty, if not for his outspoken views on Communism, at least for the fact that he was an oppressed intellectual.
Solzhenitsyn delivered each line in his high-pitched voice in Russian (aici). The translation blunted the impact somewhat—in fact, there were even sporadic bursts of applause. But soon enough, outraged professors realized that Solzhenitsyn was charging them with complicity in the West’s surrender to liberal secularism, the abandonment of its Christian heritage, and with all the moral horrors that followed.
As it happened, this summer I was reading a tattered copy of Solzhenitsyn’s speech at the same time I was studying Jeremiah in my devotions. I was struck by the chilling parallels between the dissident’s words and Jeremiah’s warning to the Israelites.
For example, describing the Western worldview as “rationalistic humanism,” Solzhenitsyn decried the loss of “our concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility.” Man has become “the master of this world … who bears no evil within himself,” he announced. “So all the defects of life” are attributed to “wrong social systems.”
Solzhenitsyn also argued that this moral impoverishment had led to a debased definition of freedom that makes no distinction between “freedoms for good” and “freedoms for evil.” Our founders, he reminded us, would scarcely have countenanced “all this freedom with no purpose” but for the “satisfaction of one’s whims”; they demanded that freedom be granted conditionally upon the individual’s constant exercise of his religious responsibility.
Solzhenitsyn could hardly have imagined that just 14 years later, the U.S. Supreme Court would enshrine this radical definition of freedom: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
Solzhenitsyn also foresaw the rise of political correctness: “Fashionable trends of thoughts and ideas are fastidiously separated from those that are not fashionable.” He predicted this would lead to “strong mass prejudices” with people being “hemmed in by the idols of the prevailing fad.”
Could even Solzhenitsyn have imagined that sexual rights would eventually triumph over free expression, that academia would impose rigid speech codes, or that churches would be threatened with loss of their tax-exempt status for opposing homosexual marriage?
Perhaps the hardest for the crowd to accept was his charge that the West had lost its “civic courage … particularly noticeable among the ruling and intellectual elites.” After all, he said, with “unlimited freedom on the choice of pleasures,” why should one risk one’s precious life in defense of the common good, particularly when one’s nation must be defended in distant lands? He even predicted Americans would care more about the rights of terrorists than their evil deeds—a prophecy fulfilled by the Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush, granting terror suspects access to U.S. courts—exactly 30 years to the week after Solzhenitsyn’s speech.
How has America responded to Solzhenitsyn’s words? Just look at what remains of the Bush administration, which, following September 11, boldly confronted evil. Public support for the President’s military policies has waned, ushering in a new wave of American isolationism.
The condition Solzhenitsyn diagnosed was identical to that of the ancient Israelites. God spoke through Jeremiah with biting sarcasm, warning the Israelites of where this kind of “freedom” leads: It would be freedom “to fall by the sword, plague, and famine.” Jeremiah’s prophecy all too soon came to pass; the Israelites fell into Babylonian captivity.
Three decades after Solzhenitsyn’s speech, where do Americans find themselves? In the grip of a similar captivity: violent and pornographic “entertainment,” growing censorship of unfashionable ideas, and a spiritually exhausted citizenry.
Solzhenitsyn did not leave Harvard that warm, June day without offering a solution: a “spiritual blaze” was needed to recover our footing. Have we listened? Do we see signs of awakening?
My summer study left me with a haunting question for the church: Is there still time to renew ourselves out of our spiritual exhaustion?
O Completare binevenita:
Solzhenitsyn and Western Legalism
Posted by Nathaniel Peters on August 4, 2008, 4:20 PM
I know and have read little of Solzhenitsyn, but at some point in college I read his address at Harvard’s Class Day in 1978. To me he captured brilliantly Western society’s predominant form of legalism in which the law is obeyed only so far as one is compelled by the phrasing of positive law:
Western society has given itself the organization best suited to its purposes, based, I would say, on the letter of the law. . . . Any conflict is solved according to the letter of the law and this is considered to be the supreme solution. If one is right from a legal point of view, nothing more is required, nobody may mention that one could still not be entirely right, and urge self-restraint, a willingness to renounce such legal rights, sacrifice and selfless risk: it would sound simply absurd. One almost never sees voluntary self-restraint. Everybody operates at the extreme limit of those legal frames. An oil company is legally blameless when it purchases an invention of a new type of energy in order to prevent its use. A food product manufacturer is legally blameless when he poisons his produce to make it last longer: after all, people are free not to buy it.
“I have spent all my life under a communist regime and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either. A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man’s noblest impulses. And it will be simply impossible to stand through the trials of this threatening century with only the support of a legalistic structure.”
The apostle Paul calls the law a “guardian,” teaching us how to live the good life as God intends. Solzhenitsyn seemed to think that we have become morally malformed children who hear the nanny’s bidding, but try to get away with as much as they can while they do it. Thus “moral mediocrity” reigns alongside exact obedience of the law. Men need not be good; they need only be clever.
The remedy that Solzhenitsyn identifies for this legalism is a recovery of moral obligations–the sense that not only do we have negative freedoms from evils, but positive freedoms for good. Just as individuals have rights that their fellow citizens must protect, they have obligations to those citizens that they must fulfill. We have spent so much time emphasizing rights, Solzhenitsyn says, that we have neglected to teach obligations. From those to whom much has been given, much should be expected.
I think Solzhenitsyn would have agreed that we also need to recover a sense of law as not merely the positive commands of a government to be obeyed in letter, but as deeper guidelines for the order of the world that must be obeyed in spirit. In other words, we must recover of the natural law, a topic that Robert George and others have written about in our pages. For when laws are seen as habits to be inculcated and not an obstacle course to navigate, society will be better equipped to pursue true virtue and to flourish.
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