a quote

nature Add comments

This is going to be a wee bit less than forthcoming, but I don’t feel any need to be more specific. I happen to be reading through the Brothers Karamazov these days and I got to the chapter called “The Grand Inquisitor” just the last couple of days.

Now, this is a book which has lingered on my to-read list for a long time. I have long thought I should read Dostoevsky, and then I had a friend a few years back get me interested in actually reading through The Idiot. That friend I haven’t talked with in a while, and I’m not sure why really, but that book stuck with me. I really liked it, even if it was for different reasons than many interpreters feel.

I’ve long noticed something with reading. There’s a timing to it. If you don’t force yourself, but instead let a book linger on that list, there will be a point at which it really grabs you and you feel it is the time. Oftentimes, more often than not, I’ve found that by waiting for a read I then begin to read just when the book really can impact me on new levels. I’ve had an interpretive experience, or a burst of maturing, or a change of life which opens up new vistas of understanding the author.

So, it’s not at all surprising, though entirely appropriate I get to the chapter I got to this very week. I don’t need to be more specific, partly because I know we all have stories which would relate. This isn’t a new insight for any of my literary minded readers, so I claim nothing besides noting the timing here and enjoying the moment a book no longer lingers but instead begins to resonate.

The setting is a story within a story, told of Jesus come to visit during the Spanish Inquisition (I know you didn’t expect that!). The Inquisitor has ordered Jesus imprisoned, to be burned with the rest of the heretics. He spoke of Jesus’ gift of salvation, and the freedom it gave, which was too much freedom he thought.

Among the many words he says are these:

There is mystery here and we cannot understand it. And if it is a mystery, then we, too, had the right to preach mystery and to teach them that it is not the free choice of the heart that matters, and not love, but the mystery, which they must blindly obey, even setting aside their own conscience. And so we did. We corrected your deed and based it on miracle, mystery, and authority. And mankind rejoiced that they were once more led like sheep, and that at last such a terrible gift, which had brought them so much suffering, had been taken from their hearts. Tell me, were we right in teaching and doing so? Have we not, indeed, loved mankind, in so humbly recognizing their impotence, in so lovingly alleviating their burden and allowing their feeble nature even to sin, with our permission? Why have you come to interfere with us now?

His use of mankind is apt. Also, while this is a story within a story the reality is what Christ himself said after giving a wee lecture:

All this I have spoken while still with you. But the counselor , the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things and remind you of everything.

All things and everything. Jesus has left, but the real story is the Holy Spirit has come in his name. So Christ is with us, among us, within us.

Among us still are also the the inquisitors who would rather Jesus said something else. Something a lot more convenient. They, like the Inquisitor in the story, can find their guidance in Scripture as well. Which makes it all the more tempting for those who feel freedom is too much a burden. I met a few this week in fact.

One Response to “a quote”

  1. punch drunk Says:

    It’s only apropos because of the source, but a quote from the same book that has been noteworthy to me lately is this:
    “Add to this that he was in part a youth of our most recent times, that is to say honest by his very nature, demanding truth and justice, seeking and striving to believe in them, and having come to do so, demanding with all the power of his soul an immediate part in them, demanding a quick deed, with the unbending desire to sacrifice everything for that deed, even his life. Though it is unfortunately the case that these youths fail to comprehend that the sacrifice of one’s life is, in a large number of such instances, possibly the easiest option, and that to sacrifice, for example, five or six years of one’s youth-inflamed life on difficult, laborious study, on book-learning, even if only for the purpose of decupling within oneself the strength required in order to serve that same truth and that same deed which has become one’s dearest aspiration and which one has set oneself the task of accomplishing- such a sacrifice is quite often almost entirely beyond many of them.