Solzhenitsyn: Men Have Forgotten God

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Over at Voice Crying in the Wilderness, Chris Banescu reminds us not to forget Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s penetrating analysis into the decline of Western Culture. Solzhenitsyn’s conscience was forged in the crucible of suffering under the Soviet Communists. It was in the Gulag’s where he received the critical insight that the line between good and evil rests in the heart of every man. Sanctification, or holiness to use the translated Greek, begins within. Healing of culture first begins with interior repentance — the changing of the mind, the clearing of conscience, the putting off of sin — and from there the healing salve of the love of God begins to enter the darkened world anew.

Solzhenitsyn was one of the last century’s great moralists, and we need real moralists more today than ever. He showed us that true morality, that locus or touchstone between man and God exacts a cost, just as Christ said it would. His examination of the murderous mechanisms of Communism, particularly how the ideology could capture the mind and murder the soul, would never have reached the West without heroic courage on his part. As it happened, once his words reached the West, the Marxist establishment of Western Europe fell in short order.

The lesson? Real moral leadership comes only from those who have paid a price for it. The world is full of interlopers, those who traffic in wisdom but not the kind that comes from the anguish of soul, where one has no recourse but to cry to God for help because there is no one else who can offer it. This kind of character is forged only in great hardship, and only wisdom born from those places is worth embracing.

The essay begins below. You can read the full essay on Voice Crying in the Wilderness.

Men Have Forgotten God

By Alexander Solzhenitsyn

More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.

Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.

What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.

The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century.

The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century. The first of these was World War I, and much of our present predicament can be traced back to it. It was a war (the memory of which seems to be fading) when Europe, bursting with health and abundance, fell into a rage of self-mutilation which could not but sap its strength for a century or more, and perhaps forever. The only possible explanation for this war is a mental eclipse among the leaders of Europe due to their lost awareness of a Supreme Power above them. Only a godless embitterment could have moved ostensibly Christian states to employ poison gas, a weapon so obviously beyond the limits of humanity.


Read the entire article on the Voice Crying in the Wilderness website.


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