Sunday, March 22, 2015

Two Favorite Quotes From Aleksandr Solzhenitzen's Gulag Archipelago and Another From C.S. Lewis


IT'S ALL TOO EASY FOR EACH OF US TO FALL UNDER THE VERY HUMAN SPELL OF PRIDE AT ANY TIME when we lapse into seeing the world in a them-verses-us dichotomy of good and evil. We point to the evil bad guys as if out there as we assure ourselves of our  self-righteousness and goodness.

This is especially true in the ongoing political and cultural wars of our time. That's why I love to go back often to several of Solzhenitzen's greatest and most convicting quotes from his time in the gulag. His unique Christian perspective of sin and grace is apolitical yet encompasses every human heart in our fallen state regardless of race, color or political or cultural persuasion: 

"It was granted me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience; how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart—and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains… an uprooted small corner of evil.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956  

“Bless you prison, bless you for being in my life. For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity as we are made to believe, but the maturity of the human soul.” 

 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956

Then this is the best of all thrilling quotes on the evil still within each of us, compliments of C.S. Lewis:

"When a man is getting better...

...he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping."

- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Lent is a good time to  get back in touch with our sin nature and the evil and mixed motives that still lurk within us.  A very good time to remember that while we were still sinners,  Christ Jesus died for us and for our salvation....if we are but willing to acknowledge we're sinnersin need of a Savior---and can never save ourselves--- and accept His free and finished-on-the-cross gift of redemption.

Thanks to BG for teaching me about these famous quotes years ago.

No comments: