Monday, March 14, 2011

Tolstoy's Confession

Tolstoy was a man plagued by existential doubt and a lifelong religious struggle.  His Confession is the story of how he faced nihilism and confusion to return to his own unique faith.  He explores science and philosophy, music and literature, and a variety of religious perspectives in his search for faith.

Late in the work, when he has returned to faith, he writes about the beauties of the rituals in church.  He tells us that "the most important words in the liturgy became more and more clear to me."  He finds beauty in the simple and honest faith of the Russian peasants, rather than the writings of philosophers.

Tolstoy recognizes the shortcomings of the church and the mistakes that are made by some people in the name of the church.  But in the stories and the music, the Bible and the liturgy, he recognizes a deeper truth that improves his life.  We all struggle with our faith at times, and Tolstoy's writings remind us that struggle can be an important part of our confession.

1 comment:

  1. For me, there is a place for both the theological arguments of people like Tillich or Niebuhr, and also the simpler faith people like Sitting Bull, Black Elk, or even Martin Luther King. It is nice to have the combination of observed revelations and carefully considered constructions.