August 4, 2008


Witness: Solzhenitsyn vs. evil (Paul Kengor, 8/04/08, National Review)

The Soviets recoiled each time Solzhenitsyn’s words were broadcast in the West. A striking case that enraged them twice over was when his words were (spiritually) employed inside the USSR by the visiting American president. This occurred on May 30, 1988 at the Moscow Summit, when President Ronald Reagan — who had been quoting Solzhenitsyn since the 1970s — met with Soviet religious leaders at the 700-year-old Danilov Monastery. Reagan said:

There is a beautiful passage that I’d just like to read, if I may. It’s from one of this country’s great writers and believers, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, about the faith that is as elemental to this land as the dark and fertile soil. He wrote: “When you travel the byroads of central Russia, you begin to understand the secret of the pacifying Russian countryside. It is in the churches. They lift their bell-towers — graceful, shapely, all different — high over mundane timber and thatch. From villages that are cut off and invisible to each other, they soar to the same heaven…. [T]he evening chimes used to ring out, floating over the villages, fields, and woods, reminding men that they must abandon trivial concerns of this world and give time and thought to eternity.”

In our prayers we may keep that image in mind: the thought that the bells may ring again, sounding through Moscow and across the countryside, clamoring for joy in their new-found freedom.

The Soviets hated this. For Reagan to invoke Solzhenitsyn inside the USSR was bad enough, but to do so in behalf of religious liberty was galling. They wasted no time blasting this passage in editorials in their government-controlled newspapers. Reagan had dared cite Solzhenitsyn in the House of Lenin, an unacceptable blasphemy to the Gospel of Marx.

If a man’s achievements can be measured by the vicious un-holiness of his persecutors, then Alexander Solzhenitsyn will now enjoy a lifetime of heavenly rewards. Spared the martyrdom of the dead Russian believers who could not live to blow the whistle, it was left to him to witness to the outside world. It was a job that this faithful servant did better than any other zek. May he rest in peace, free from pain and elevated high above his tormentors.

It's appalling to hear so many of the same craven twerps who feared Reaganism whinge that W shouldn't say anything too critical of the PRC while he's there for the Olympics

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 4, 2008 9:32 AM
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