In this morning’s On the Square, Andrew Doran reminds us of the tribulations the Russian people have suffered in the past century. In 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, seems incomprehensibly remote:
“The entire twentieth century,” Solzhenitsyn observed in his 1983 Templeton Lecture, was “sucked into the vortex of atheism and self-destruction.” Why? “Men have forgotten God,” he said. At the outset of the twentieth century, the faith of the Russian people could be witnessed even in the trenches of the Great War, where the Germans would gun down thousands of Russians by day only to listen in wonder at their seraphic, if melancholic, chant by night.
Then came the Russian Revolution:
Solzhenitsyn wrote of Marx and Lenin, “Hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions.” Nowhere was this more evident than in the Bolsheviks’ systematic campaign of atheistic violence—unprecedented in human history.
Yet the light still shines in the darkness, even if the darkness has not understood it:
Today there is a revitalization taking place in Russian culture and, as with the Renaissance in Western Europe, it is being spearheaded by institutional Christianity. This renaissance is perhaps best captured in the work of Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, a celebrated historian, philosopher, theologian, and composer who is only forty-seven. Like Solzhenitsyn, Alfeyev strives to fill the cultural void of Russia’s lost century, and does so with indefatigable energy.
Read the full column here.