Alexander Solzhenitsyn: His final interview...

Solz_42464t (Tim, w/thanks to James) Who are my heroes from the last half of the twentieth century? Among others, Mother Teresa, John Cardinal O'Connor, Francis Schaeffer, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Joe Sobran, Iain Murray, Dad and Mom (Ken & Margaret) Taylor, John Piper, Dad and Mud (Joe & Mary Lou) Bayly, Elisabeth Elliot, Erwin Raphael McManus, Paige Patterson, Mrs. Kent (Barbara) Hughes, Doug Wilson, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn. (One of these is a joke--you figure it out.)

About twenty years ago, I read Michael Scammell's Solzhenitsyn: A Biography. A very long read, it was superb and I commend it although I'm sure it's been superseded in more recent years. Personally, I'd attribute the fall of Communism more to Solzhenitsyn's courageous writing than any other factor, including Reagan's famous...

"Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

So it was with great sadness that I read of Solzhenitsyn's death this week. Here's his last interview published in The Independent. It's a fascinating view of Russia from a wise man deeply in love with his country. Read it for a helpful explanation of the challenges facing Russia today and the misunderstandings that dog her relations with the West. The interview concludes with this poignant exchange:

Q: In 1987 you said it was really hard for you to speak about religion in public. What does faith mean for you?

Solzhenitsyn: For me faith is the foundation and support of one's life.

Q: Are you afraid of death?

Solzhenitsyn: No. When I was young, the early death of my father cast a shadow over me – and I was afraid to die before all my literary plans came true. But between 30 and 40 years of age my attitude to death became quite calm and balanced. I feel it is a natural, but no means the final, milestone of one's existence.

Q: Anyhow, we wish you many years of creative life.

Solzhenitsyn: No, no. Don't. It's enough.


"One of these is a joke--you figure it out"

I have to guess McManus, as he's in the "emergent" "conversation"... but I'm not sure, as I don't know all those names.

"Solzhenitsyn: No, no. Don't. It's enough."

I wish I had seen the interviewer's face.



David Wells wrote recently (and I paraphrase) that it seems impossible to parody evangelicalism these days because the evangelical church has become a parody. As I read McManus' bio I actually laughed several times out loud. It reads like something from The Onion or Lark News. Then, I read again Solzhenitsyn's interview alongside the self congratulatory pompous postmodern tripe of a bio of one of our 'evangelical' 'leaders' and I just wanted to cry.

Truly, I love you, Eric. Tears are the first step to courage.

Regarding McManus, I can't say that I cried when I read that he "specializes in the field of developing and unleashing personal and organizational creativity, uniqueness, innovation and diversity," but I was experiencing other, less noble emotions.

This summer, at a book group that I helped lead, we tried to slog through several emergent authors, but thankfully the group became too bored with them before we got to McManus.

Eric's response is much better than mine. I have the tendency to angrily lecture individuals on the dangers and heresies of the emergent church, but sadly this approach bears little fruit as they have set up the rules of discourse such that anything with even a hint of negativity (aka discernment) is taken as offensive, mean-spirited, and nit-picky.

As regards the passing of Solzhenitsyn, I am truly grieved. Several years ago, on a trip to Russia, I viewed Lenin's corpse and then went to see Stalin's grave. It is difficult to describe the feelings one experiences when in such close proximity to such wicked - albeit dead - men. Feelings aside, I thank God for the courage of Solzhenitsyn in the face of such evil.

You mean you can be a Christian...AND FAMOUS??? Wow! To think that Christ died for me so I could have it all!

I know your rolling your eyes and shaking your head at my sarcasm dear wife, but I couldn't resist. After all, I do have the t-shirt.

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