Tolstoy's Christianity has only Five Commands

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1. Be not angry. Which means "judge not," "condemn not," don't ever think you are better or separate than other people. Tolstoy looked back on his life and realized that most of his anger came from separating his class of people (wealthy intelligent writers) with the vulgar, ignorant masses. He would eventually love these people and despise his old life of wealth and pride. He says "I understand now that he alone is above others who humbles himself before others and makes himself the servant of all."

2. Commit not adultery. He thought marriage made two people one, which made separation very painful.

3. Take no oaths. Even though it does come from one of Jesus' teachings, you might wonder why people think this is a big deal. First, it waters down your normal honesty. "I swear on my mother's grave!"--does that mean you normally lie? Second, think Abraham Lincoln. Whenever he talked about what he really believed, he said slavery was wrong. Whenever he said slavery was ok as long as it kept the Union together, he would talk about his "oath" of office and his "oath" to uphold the constitution. In other words, his oaths were forcing him to do things he normally wouldn't do. Last, think of Nazi's simply doing their duty or serving their superiors. That's what Tolstoy means.

4. Do not defend yourself by violence. Tolstoy interpreted Jesus command "resist not evil" and "turn the other cheek" in a very straightforward way--never resort to violence. So did Martin Luther King Jr., and Gandhi, etc. He thought this was the key to saving humanity and the only way to end violence.

5. Make not war. Follows from 4. Tolstoy was especially disturbed that the Church would support war, but he understood that it was because they were so intertwined with the State.

The story of Tolstoy's life and conversion, as told in his "My Confession" is an incredible story, partly because he's such a great writer (War and Peace, Anna Karenina, which he actually dismissed as sophistry later in life).

This blog is based on My Confession; My Religion; The Gospel in Brief, by Leo Tolstoy. If you like Tolstoy, non violence, Confession-type  narratives (think Augustine and Rousseau), or theology, you might like this book.


Tolstoy a Russion Life

Posted by Matt Smith at 01/16/2013 02:42:13 PM | 

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