Archive for the ‘Leo Tolstoy’ Tag

The Three Hermits   7 comments

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“The Three Hermits”
By Leo Tolstoy

“And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.” (Matthew 6: 7-8)

A BISHOP was sailing from Archangel to the Solovétsk Monastery; and on the same vessel were a number of pilgrims on their way to visit the shrines at that place. The voyage was a smooth one. The wind favourable, and the weather fair. The pilgrims lay on deck, eating, or sat in groups talking to one another. The Bishop, too, came on deck, and as he was pacing up and down, he noticed a group of men standing near the prow and listening to a fisherman who was pointing to the sea and telling them something. The Bishop stopped, and looked in the direction in which the man was pointing. He could see nothing however, but the sea glistening in the sunshine. He drew nearer to listen, but when the man saw him, he took off his cap and was silent. The rest of the people also took off their caps, and bowed.

‘Do not let me disturb you, friends,’ said the Bishop. ‘I came to hear what this good man was saying.’

‘The fisherman was telling us about the hermits,’ replied one, a tradesman, rather bolder than the rest.

‘What hermits?’ asked the Bishop, going to the side of the vessel and seating himself on a box. ‘Tell me about them. I should like to hear. What were you pointing at?’

‘Why, that little island you can just see over there,’ answered the man, pointing to a spot ahead and a little to the right. ‘That is the island where the hermits live for the salvation of their souls.’

‘Where is the island?’ asked the Bishop. ‘I see nothing.’

‘There, in the distance, if you will please look along my hand. Do you see that little cloud? Below it and a bit to the left, there is just a faint streak. That is the island.’

The Bishop looked carefully, but his unaccustomed eyes could make out nothing but the water shimmering in the sun.

‘I cannot see it,’ he said. ‘But who are the hermits that live there?’

‘They are holy men,’ answered the fisherman. ‘I had long heard tell of them, but never chanced to see them myself till the year before last.’

And the fisherman related how once, when he was out fishing, he had been stranded at night upon that island, not knowing where he was. In the morning, as he wandered about the island, he came across an earth hut, and met an old man standing near it. Presently two others came out, and after having fed him, and dried his things, they helped him mend his boat.

‘And what are they like?’ asked the Bishop.

‘One is a small man and his back is bent. He wears a priest’s cassock and is very old; he must be more than a hundred, I should say. He is so old that the white of his beard is taking a greenish tinge, but he is always smiling, and his face is as bright as an angel’s from heaven. The second is taller, but he also is very old. He wears tattered, peasant coat. His beard is broad, and of a yellowish grey colour. He is a strong man. Before I had time to help him, he turned my boat over as if it were only a pail. He too, is kindly and cheerful. The third is tall, and has a beard as white as snow and reaching to his knees. He is stern, with over-hanging eyebrows; and he wears nothing but a mat tied round his waist.’

‘And did they speak to you?’ asked the Bishop.

‘For the most part they did everything in silence and spoke but little even to one another. One of them would just give a glance, and the others would understand him. I asked the tallest whether they had lived there long. He frowned, and muttered something as if he were angry; but the oldest one took his hand and smiled, and then the tall one was quiet. The oldest one only said: “Have mercy upon us,” and smiled.’

While the fisherman was talking, the ship had drawn nearer to the island.

‘There, now you can see it plainly, if your Grace will please to look,’ said the tradesman, pointing with his hand.

The Bishop looked, and now he really saw a dark streak—which was the island. Having looked at it a while, he left the prow of the vessel, and going to the stern, asked the helmsman:

‘What island is that?’

‘That one,’ replied the man, ‘has no name. There are many such in this sea.’

‘Is it true that there are hermits who live there for the salvation of their souls?’

‘So it is said, your Grace, but I don’t know if it’s true. Fishermen say they have seen them; but of course they may only be spinning yarns.’

‘I should like to land on the island and see these men,’ said the Bishop. ‘How could I manage it?’

‘The ship cannot get close to the island,’ replied the helmsman, ‘but you might be rowed there in a boat. You had better speak to the captain.’

The captain was sent for and came.

‘I should like to see these hermits,’ said the Bishop. ‘Could I not be rowed ashore?’

The captain tried to dissuade him.

‘Of course it could be done,’ said he, ‘but we should lose much time. And if I might venture to say so to your Grace, the old men are not worth your pains. I have heard say that they are foolish old fellows, who understand nothing, and never speak a word, any more than the fish in the sea.’

‘I wish to see them,’ said the Bishop, ‘and I will pay you for your trouble and loss of time. Please let me have a boat.’

There was no help for it; so the order was given. The sailors trimmed the sails, the steersman put up the helm, and the ship’s course was set for the island. A chair was placed at the prow for the Bishop, and he sat there, looking ahead. The passengers all collected at the prow, and gazed at the island. Those who had the sharpest eyes could presently make out the rocks on it, and then a mud hut was seen. At last one man saw the hermits themselves. The captain brought a telescope and, after looking through it, handed it to the Bishop.

‘It’s right enough. There are three men standing on the shore. There, a little to the right of that big rock.’

The Bishop took the telescope, got it into position, and he saw the three men: a tall one, a shorter one, and one very small and bent, standing on the shore and holding each other by the hand.

The captain turned to the Bishop.

‘The vessel can get no nearer in than this, your Grace. If you wish to go ashore, we must ask you to go in the boat, while we anchor here.’

The cable was quickly let out, the anchor cast, and the sails furled. There was a jerk, and the vessel shook. Then a boat having been lowered, the oarsmen jumped in, and the Bishop descended the ladder and took his seat. The men pulled at their oars, and the boat moved rapidly towards the island. When they came within a stone’s throw they saw three old men: a tall one with only a mat tied round his waist: a shorter one in a tattered peasant coat, and a very old one bent with age and wearing an old cassock—all three standing hand in hand.

The oarsmen pulled in to the shore, and held on with the boathook while the Bishop got out.

The old men bowed to him, and he gave them his benediction, at which they bowed still lower. Then the Bishop began to speak to them.

‘I have heard,’ he said, ‘that you, godly men, live here saving your own souls, and praying to our Lord Christ for your fellow men. I, an unworthy servant of Christ, am called, by God’s mercy, to keep and teach His flock. I wished to see you, servants of God, and to do what I can to teach you, also.’

The old men looked at each other smiling, but remained silent.

‘Tell me,’ said the Bishop, ‘what you are doing to save your souls, and how you serve God on this island.’

The second hermit sighed, and looked at the oldest, the very ancient one. The latter smiled, and said:

‘We do not know how to serve God. We only serve and support ourselves, servant of God.’

‘But how do you pray to God?’ asked the Bishop.

‘We pray in this way,’ replied the hermit. ‘Three are ye, three are we, have mercy upon us.’

And when the old man said this, all three raised their eyes to heaven, and repeated:

‘Three are ye, three are we, have mercy upon us!’

The Bishop smiled.

‘You have evidently heard something about the Holy Trinity,’ said he. ‘But you do not pray aright. You have won my affection, godly men. I see you wish to please the Lord, but you do not know how to serve Him. That is not the way to pray; but listen to me, and I will teach you. I will teach you, not a way of my own, but the way in which God in the Holy Scriptures has commanded all men to pray to Him.’

And the Bishop began explaining to the hermits how God had revealed Himself to men; telling them of God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.

‘God the Son came down on earth,’ said he, ‘to save men, and this is how He taught us all to pray. Listen and repeat after me: “Our Father.”‘

And the first old man repeated after him, ‘Our Father,’ and the second said, ‘Our Father,’ and the third said, ‘Our Father.’

‘Which art in heaven,’ continued the Bishop.

The first hermit repeated, ‘Which art in heaven,’ but the second blundered over the words, and the tall hermit could not say them properly. His hair had grown over his mouth so that he could not speak plainly. The very old hermit, having no teeth, also mumbled indistinctly.

The Bishop repeated the words again, and the old men repeated them after him. The Bishop sat down on a stone, and the old men stood before him, watching his mouth, and repeating the words as he uttered them. And all day long the Bishop laboured, saying a word twenty, thirty, a hundred times over, and the old men repeated it after him. They blundered, and he corrected them, and made them begin again.

The Bishop did not leave off till he had taught them the whole of the Lord’s prayer so that they could not only repeat it after him, but could say it by themselves. The middle one was the first to know it, and to repeat the whole of it alone. The Bishop made him say it again and again, and at last the others could say it too.

It was getting dark, and the moon was appearing over the water, before the Bishop rose to return to the vessel. When he took leave of the old men, they all bowed down to the ground before him. He raised them, and kissed each of them, telling them to pray as he had taught them. Then he got into the boat and returned to the ship.

And as he sat in the boat and was rowed to the ship he could hear the three voices of the hermits loudly repeating the Lord’s prayer. As the boat drew near the vessel their voices could no longer be heard, but they could still be seen in the moonlight, standing as he had left them on the shore, the shortest in the middle, the tallest on the right, the middle one on the left. As soon as the Bishop had reached the vessel and got on board, the anchor was weighed and the sails unfurled. The wind filled them, and the ship sailed away, and the Bishop took a seat in the stern and watched the island they had left. For a time he could still see the hermits, but presently they disappeared from sight, though the island was still visible. At last it too vanished, and only the sea was to be seen, rippling in the moonlight.

The pilgrims lay down to sleep, and all was quiet on deck. The Bishop did not wish to sleep, but sat alone at the stern, gazing at the sea where the island was no longer visible, and thinking of the good old men. He thought how pleased they had been to learn the Lord’s prayer; and he thanked God for having sent him to teach and help such godly men.

So the Bishop sat, thinking, and gazing at the sea where the island had disappeared. And the moonlight flickered before his eyes, sparkling, now here, now there, upon the waves. Suddenly he saw something white and shining, on the bright path which the moon cast across the sea. Was it a seagull, or the little gleaming sail of some small boat? The Bishop fixed his eyes on it, wondering.

‘It must be a boat sailing after us,’ thought he ‘but it is overtaking us very rapidly. It was far, far away a minute ago, but now it is much nearer. It cannot be a boat, for I can see no sail; but whatever it may be, it is following us, and catching us up.’

And he could not make out what it was. Not a boat, nor a bird, nor a fish! It was too large for a man, and besides a man could not be out there in the midst of the sea. The Bishop rose, and said to the helmsman:

‘Look there, what is that, my friend? What is it?’ the Bishop repeated, though he could now see plainly what it was—the three hermits running upon the water, all gleaming white, their grey beards shining, and approaching the ship as quickly as though it were not morning.

The steersman looked and let go the helm in terror.

‘Oh Lord! The hermits are running after us on the water as though it were dry land!’

The passengers hearing him, jumped up, and crowded to the stern. They saw the hermits coming along hand in hand, and the two outer ones beckoning the ship to stop. All three were gliding along upon the water without moving their feet. Before the ship could be stopped, the hermits had reached it, and raising their heads, all three as with one voice, began to say:

‘We have forgotten your teaching, servant of God. As long as we kept repeating it we remembered, but when we stopped saying it for a time, a word dropped out, and now it has all gone to pieces. We can remember nothing of it. Teach us again.’

The Bishop crossed himself, and leaning over the ship’s side, said:

‘Your own prayer will reach the Lord, men of God. It is not for me to teach you. Pray for us sinners.

And the Bishop bowed low before the old men; and they turned and went back across the sea. And a light shone until daybreak on the spot where they were lost to sight.

[“The Three Hermits” was first published in 1886 by Niva magazine]

Tolstoy’s Three Hermits
Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky
Vintage Footage of Leo Tostoy

three-hermits-2

Tolstoy on the road from Moscow to Yasnaya Polyana

Posted March 26, 2015 by Tim Shey in Uncategorized

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Beware of Theological Aesthetes   5 comments

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Dreams from the LORD 2011-2014
17 February 2014

Last night I had a dream where I was living in this house with three other people:  two women and one man.  The man was Wayne Teasdale.  Wayne started to act very strange; he began walking around the house with a handgun.  I believe I heard a gunshot and one of the women walked into the room where I was at and she had a bullet wound in her left shoulder.  Then I saw Wayne again walking around the house with his handgun.

I then walked to his bedroom and saw Wayne kneeling on the floor with his gun pressed against his chin—it looked like he was going to commit suicide.  I walked away and out of the house.  I walked to this library where these children were playing; it looked like the library was closed.  I then walked around the neighborhood and back to the library.  The library was now open, so I went inside.

The last scene of the dream:  I was in the library and the lady that had been shot by Wayne was crying; I noticed that she no longer had the bullet wound in her shoulder.  She told me that Wayne had shot himself.

My interpretation of the dream:

I knew a guy named Wayne Teasdale back in 1983-84; we both lived in this community near New Boston, New Hampshire.  It was a so-called Christian community run by an ex-Cistercian monk, Fr. Paul Fitzgerald.  It was called Hundred Acres Monastery; I thought it was kind of a zoo.  Wayne and his uncle, John Cosgrove, had lived there for a few years before I moved in.  While I was there, I worked for The Horse and Bird Press of Los Angeles.  I ended up living at Hundred Acres for around ten months.

Wayne was working on his doctoral dissertation in theology from Fordham University while I was living at Hundred Acres.  I would describe Wayne as someone who had deep emotional scars from childhood (I believe he spent some time in foster homes); he compensated for these scars by getting multiple college degrees to strengthen his self-esteem.  Wayne was definitely a theological aesthete.  I had read someplace that Wayne passed away several years ago.

In the dream, the main event was when Wayne started acting strange and then killed himself.  If someone asked me if Wayne was a Christian, I would probably say no.  He had lots of head knowledge—but head knowledge without Christ will kill you spiritually.  Talking with him usually was not edifying.  I believe his uncle John may have been a Christian.  Basically, Wayne killed his spiritual life because he studied too much theology and rejected Christ.  He also tried to kill the woman in the dream with his dead theology, but she survived.

I was reading this National Geographic article on Russia years ago and the writer was talking about Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Leo Tolstoy.  The writer described Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy as the last two great prophets of a dying Russian Empire.  The writer quoted Tolstoy as saying that theology is the Satanism of religion.  Satan has lots of head knowledge about the Bible and the Gospel, but he has absolutely no relationship with our heavenly Father whatsoever (reminds me of certain “Christians” that I have met over the years).

So this dream is definitely a warning against theological aesthetes, but I am a bit curious as to why I had the dream now.

A side note:  Wayne Teasdale was related to the poet Sara Teasdale.

Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky
An Open Letter to John MacArthur from A.W. Tozer
The Death of Voltaire

A Prophet’s Eyes   27 comments

A Prophet’s Eyes
By Tim Shey

I piped to you
But you did not dance;
I mourned to you,
But you did not weep.

I abide
In the furnace of God.
My breath
Is the fire of Heaven.

A writer once said,
You look
Like Leo Tolstoy.
It’s your eyes,
He said.
Your eyes . . .
. . . like Leo Tolstoy.

A circle of fire
Surrounds me
Protecting me
From Satan’s arm,
Warning me
Of Satan’s charm,
Keeping me
From Satan’s harm.

An intense burning
Within me
Is stoked by
The Word of God.
A deeply felt yearning
Within me
To warn them
Of the wrath of God.

Isaiah, Jeremiah and Elijah,
I know you well,
Because I am baptized
With the same
Holy Ghost Fire
That empowered you
And kept you from Hell.

Jesus died
So that
I can see
Events
Before they are born.
I was birthed—
Not of flesh
Nor of the will of man—
I was birthed
In violence
By the Precious Blood of God.

His body was pierced
So that my eyes
Could pierce
The dark night of Adam
And help unblind the blind.
The white-hot heat of Heaven
Is the color
Of my sight
That leads us upward and onward,
Spirit-filled warriors of mankind.

Ethos
February/March 1997
Iowa State University

Amos 3: 7: “Surely the Lord God will do nothing but, he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”

Shiloh
The Prophet by A.S. Pushkin
Locusts and Wild Honey
The Life of the Prophet IS the Warning
The trial of a prophet
Wearing a Rough Garment
Vintage Footage of Leo Tolstoy
Obedience:  The Bondage Breaker
A Biblical Definition of a Prophet
The Spirit of a Prophet
Not Diplomats But Prophets
True Prophets
Prophets, prophecy and fruit trees
Prophetic eagles are gathering
John MacArthur Rebuked by a Prophet
The Spirit of a True Prophet

[Hebrew:  navi (prophet); einayim (eyes)]

_____

“Methinks I am a prophet new inspired . . .”

–John of Gaunt, from Richard II, Act 2, Scene 1 by William Shakespeare

Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky   24 comments

Leo Tolstoy, 1828-1910

Dreams from the LORD 2007-2010
16 August 2010

An excerpt from The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey:

Pages 140-142: “A.N. Wilson, a biographer of Tolstoy, remarks that Tolstoy suffered from a ‘fundamental theological inability to understand the Incarnation. His religion was ultimately a thing of Law rather than of Grace, a scheme for human betterment rather than a vision of God penetrating a fallen world.’ With crystalline clarity Tolstoy could see his own inadequacy in the light of God’s Ideal. But he could not take the further step of trusting God’s grace to overcome that inadequacy.

“Shortly after reading Tolstoy I discovered his countryman Fyodor Dostoyevsky. These two, the most famous and accomplished of all Russian writers, lived and worked during the same period of history. Oddly, they never met, and perhaps it was just as well—they were opposites in every way. Where Tolstoy wrote bright, sunny novels, Dostoyevsky wrote dark and brooding ones. Where Tolstoy worked out ascetic schemes for self-improvement, Dostoyevsky periodically squandered his health and fortune on alcohol and gambling. Dostoyevsky got many things wrong, but he got one thing right: His novels communicate grace and forgiveness with a Tolstoyan force.

“Early in his life, Dostoyevsky underwent a virtual resurrection. He had been arrested for belonging to a group judged treasonous by Tsar Nicholas I, who, to impress upon the young parlor radicals the gravity of their errors, sentenced them to death and staged a mock execution. The conspirators were dressed in white death gowns and led to a public square where a firing squad awaited them. Blindfolded, robed in white burial shrouds, hands bound tightly behind them, they were paraded before a gawking crowd and then tied to posts. At the very last instant, as the order, ‘Ready, aim!’ was heard and rifles were cocked and lifted upward, a horseman galloped up with a pre-arranged message from the tsar: he would mercifully commute their sentence to hard labor.

“Dostoyevsky never recovered from this experience. He had peered into the jaws of death, and from that moment life became for him precious beyond all calculation. ‘Now my life will change,’ he said; ‘I shall be born again in a new form.’ As he boarded the convict train toward Siberia, a devout woman handed him a New Testament, the only book allowed in prison. Believing that God had given him a second chance to fulfill his calling, Dostoyevsky pored over that New Testament during his confinement. After ten years he emerged from exile with unshakeable Christian convictions, as expressed in one famous passage, ‘If anyone proved to me that Christ was outside the truth . . . then I would prefer to remain with Christ than with the truth.’

“Prison offered Dostoyevsky another opportunity as well. It forced him to live at close quarters with thieves, murderers, and drunken peasants. His shared life with these people later led to unmatched characterizations in his novels, such as that of the murderer Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment. Dostoyevsky’s liberal view of the inherent goodness in humanity shattered in collision with the granitic evil he found in his cellmates. Yet over time he also glimpsed the image of God in even the lowest of prisoners. He came to believe that only through being loved is a human being capable of love; ‘We love because he [God] first loved us,’ as the apostle John says.

“I encountered grace in the novels of Dostoyevsky. Crime and Punishment portrays a despicable human being who commits a despicable crime. Yet grace enters Raskolnikov’s life as well, through the person of the converted prostitute Sonia, who follows him all the way to Siberia and leads him to redemption. The Brothers Karamazov, perhaps the greatest novel ever written, draws a contrast between Ivan the brilliant agnostic and his devout brother Alyosha. Ivan can critique the failures of humankind and every political system devised to deal with those failures, but he can offer no solutions. Alyosha has no solutions for the intellectual problems Ivan raises, but he has a solution for humanity: love. ‘I do not know the answer to the problem of evil,’ said Alyosha, ‘but I do know love.’ Finally, in the magical novel The Idiot, Dostoyevsky presents a Christ figure in the form of an epileptic prince. Quietly, mysteriously, Prince Myshkin moves among the circles of Russia’s upper class, exposing their hypocrisy while also illuminating their lives with goodness and truth.

“Taken together, these two Russians became for me, at a crucial time in my Christian pilgrimage, spiritual directors. They helped me come to terms with a central paradox of the Christian life. From Tolstoy I learned the need to look inside, to the kingdom of God that is within me. I saw how miserably I had failed the high ideals of the gospel. But from Dostoyevsky I learned the full extent of grace. Not only the kingdom of God is within me; Christ himself dwells there. ‘Where sin increased, grace increased all the more,’ is how Paul expressed it in Romans.

“There is only one way for any of us to resolve the tension between the high ideals of the gospel and the grim reality of ourselves: to accept that we will never measure up, but that we do not have to. We are judged by the righteousness of the Christ who lives within, not our own. Tolstoy got it halfway right: anything that makes me feel comfort with God’s moral standard, anything that makes me feel, ‘At last I have arrived,’ is a cruel deception. But Dostoyevsky got the other half right: anything that makes me feel discomfort with God’s forgiving love is also a cruel deception. ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’: that message, Leo Tolstoy never fully grasped.”

dostoyevsky

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1821-1881

Fyodor Dostoyevsky—The Mantle of the Prophet
The Prophet by A.S. Pushkin
A Single Story of Soviet Russia
The Three Hermits
The Brothers Karamazov
Anna and Raskolnikov
Crime and Punishment: A Film by Piotr Dumala
Vintage Footage of Leo Tolstoy
The Daily Blini—Exploring Russian Culture
A Prophet’s Eyes
Russian Universe
Yasnaya Polyana // Ясная поляна
The rebirth of Christianity in post-Soviet Russia
You Should Read Some Dostoyevsky . . .Here Are Some Tips!
Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov Strikingly Illustrated by Expressionist Painter Alice Neel (1938)
The Dream of a Ridiculous Man (animated film)
The Idiot by Dostoyevsky
The Importance of the Prophetic
A Dark Road and a Bright Light
A Gift from Russia
Soviet Censorship of Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Mark Taylor’s Prophetic Word:  Russia and the United States
Dostoyevsky in Europe
How Solzhenitsyn defeated the USSR
Slavophiles vs. Westernizers and Conservatives vs. Liberals
Putin embarrasses Megyn Kelly

_____

“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”
–Leo Tolstoy

“Beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of man.”

–Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Dostoyevsky_New_Testament

The New Testament that Dostoyevsky took with him to prison in Siberia

_____

“Dostoevsky gives me more than any scientist, more than Gauss.”
–Albert Einstein

“The real 19th century prophet was Dostoevsky, not Karl Marx.”
–Albert Camus

“The Darker the night, the brighter the stars, the deeper the grief, the closer is God.”
–Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment