Monthly Archives: September 2007

The Resurrection

Last night I concluded about 30 hours listening to the audio book of Leo Tolstoy’s The Resurrection on my MP3 player. Tolstoy tells the story of Nekhlyudov, a young man of nobility, who betrays Katerina Maslova, a childhood peasant friend. Several years later, she is placed on trial for a crime she did not commit, and he just happens to be on the jury which condemns her to hard labor in Siberia. Nekhlyudov sees that he is responsible for putting her in the circumstances that led to her downfall, and sets about to reform his life and redeem Maslova.

Tolstoy leads the reader through a fascinating description of the life of nobles and peasants, courts and prisons, in a Russia working towards the upheaval that would soon topple the Empire and change that society forever. He makes some very piercing observations about the morality and effectiveness of criminal law, though his solution, I think, betrays his belief that society is at fault for the corruption of the individual. Tolstoy concluded rightly that our institutions will not save us and very often compound our problems, but he is overly optimistic that a man is able to reform himself.

But what I enjoy so much about Tolstoy is his incredible descriptions of the inner lives of his characters. His people are real, and I found myself over and over thinking, “Yes, this is true, I have felt this way also!” I wish that in my preaching, I could learn to take the truth of God’s Word and bring it to bear on the conditions of my hearers to similar effect. God’s Word is truth, whether the hearer feels it or not, but if I preach and the hearer says, “This man does not know me or his subject matter,” then I have failed to do my job.