The Grace & Truth Blog

all about Jesus, where grace and truth meet

Sitting at the Feet of Secular Sages

Our community group recently got into a discussion regarding our favorite kinds of literature. I confessed that Russian novels happen to be my favorite. One of the reasons I enjoy them so much is they have an amazing ability to recognize and grasp the profoundest things in life and then to display their observations in vast stories (the true meaning of genius). They are never just telling an entertaining tale. Rather they are preaching to us wisdom, shouting aloud in the streets. Much about people, life, and philosophy can be learned by reading their stories. Few people understand the complexities of human mind and heart like Tolstoy. More can be learned about people in reading War and Peace than in a semester of psychology classes in college. Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch, paints the power that a life of sacrifice can have upon unbelievers. It’s convicting! And it’s a short read. Dostoevsky recognized the power of ideas and their impact upon the decisions we make. The mercy and kindness of Alyosha, in The Brothers Karamazov, made me weep and forever changed my approach to the downtrodden and forsaken of society. I want to share a bit of Dostoevsky’s wisdom. This is one of my favorite quotes on love. It is a mere few sentences in his book.

Are you speaking the truth? Well now after such a confession, I believe that you are sincere and good at heart. If you do not attain happiness, always remember that you are on the right road, and try not to leave it. Above all, avoid false hood, every kind of falsehood, especially falseness to yourself. Watch into your own deceitfulness and look into it every hour, every minute. Avoid being scornful both others and to yourself. What seems to you bad within you will grow purer from the very fact of you observing it in yourself. Avoid fear, too, though fear is the consequence of every kind of falsehood. Never be frightened at your own faintheartedness in attaining love. Do not be frightened over much even at your evil actions. I am sorry I can not say nothing more consoling you for love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams.  Love in dreams is greedy for immediate action, rapidly performed and in the sight of all.  Men will give their lives if only the ordeal is slow and does not last long but is soon over, with all looking on and applauding as if on stage.  But, active love is labor and fortitude, and for some people a complete science. But I predict that just when you see with horror that in spite of all your efforts you are getting further from your goal instead of nearer to it- at that very moment I predict you will reach it and behold clearly the miraculous power of the Lord who has been all the time loving and mysteriously guiding you.