A great post today On the Way to the Abbey on Count Leo Tolstoy, who died on this day in 1910. “His last words were, ‘To seek, always to seek.’ At the end of his life, Tolstoy was still haunted by, as Robert Ellsberg puts it, ‘the notion that he was merely play-acting as a Christian.’” Also quoting from this post,
Tolstoy struggled ‘to achieve a consistency between his ideals and his life’ (Ellsberg). Studying the Gospels led Tolstoy to the conclusion that the true essence of Christianity had become obscured and encrusted with dogmatism and empty ritual, as well as subservience to the state. The heart was the Sermon on the Mount, Tolstoy wrote, and he wrote increasingly on ‘such themes as the presence of the kingdom of God within each soul, the counsel of voluntary poverty and nonresistance to evil, and the ‘law of love.’‘ (Ibid.) When he attacked the Orthodox church for abandoning these things, he was excommunicated.
The full post makes a good read, and offers something with which most of us can identify… the struggle just quoted. On the same page, you might notice the “Current Quote” in the margin… “People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent.” &8212; Bob Dylan.
Kierkegaard says some very similar things (digs thru pile.. hmm.. I know there is a desk under here somewhere)… he described his task as “becoming” a christian rather than “being” one. Becoming a chrisitan requires intense faith and spiritual discipline. It has little to do with intellectual conviction and even less withoutward evidence of moral purity or perfection. Becoming a christian is not climbing a ladder of spiritual, let alone material, success. It all comes down to submitting oneself constantly to God through confession of our failtures and presumptions intaking what Kierkegaard himself referred to as the “leap of faith.”