Friday, September 19, 2008

The Brothers Karamazov

Last night I went to APU's Main campus in Azusa for several reasons. One of the driving reasons I came was to attend a discussion about Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel The Brothers Karamazov with some fellow theology nerds, Dr. Craig Keen, and a brilliant English Lit. professor, Dr. Noble, from APU. Though I have never read the book, it is so rich in its conceptions that I and the others were really able to speak to and wrestle with the ideas and suggestions held in it's pages (as long as someone who had read was able to start us off). It was a fantastic conversation that made it's way from discussing what it means to actively love all the way to discussing whether it's possible to truly "love the sinner, hate the sin." every passage that was read and every topic that was covered was like music to me. I am now compelled to read this book and to read it carefully. Here are a couple of powerful passages from it:
"There is only one salvation for you: take yourself up, and make yourself responsible for all the sins of men. For indeed it is so, my friend, and the moment you make yourself sincerely responsible for everything and everyone, you will see at once that it is really so, that it is you who are guilty on behalf of all and for all. Whereas by shifting your own laziness and powerlessness onto others, you will end by sharing in Satan's pride and murmuring against God."
- Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

"Is there in the whole world a being who would have the right to forgive and could forgive? I don't want harmony. From love for humanity I don't want it. I would rather be left with the unavenged suffering. I would rather remain with my unavenged suffering and unsatisfied indignation, even if I were wrong. Besides, too high a price is asked for harmony; it's beyond our means to pay so much to enter on it. And so I hasten to give back my entrance ticket, and if I am an honest man I am bound to give it back as soon as possible. And that I am doing. It's not God that I don't accept, Alyosha, only I most respectfully return him the ticket."
- Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov


3 comments:

nate said...

I've read the book twice. I actually have a second edition copy, one of my most treasured possessions. By far my favorite work of fiction, and one of the best books ever written. I would say one of the main significances behind the name of my blog is my love of good old Ivan from the story. I recently just finished "demons," as well.

Ohh how I miss intellectual stimulation in the group setting.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Good stuff in these passages.

I've been blogging a bit on Dostoevsky a bit in recent days. Very powerful. Particularly the passage you mentioned above by Ivan.

The other quote by Zossima (the one about taking on the guilt of the world) seems to me to be something Dostoevsky may view as a mistake. Zossima gets most of it right, but he is not a perfect example of love in action b/c he spends his time in a monastery and does not go out into the world. (Which is why he sends Alyosha out of the monastery.)

In any case....Dostoevsky is a very powerful, spiritual writer.

Blessings,
jon

WES ELLIS said...

Jon,
Sounds like you know a lot about this book. I am inspired to read it. I will make time, and soon I'll know enough about the book to carry a deeper conversation.