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Thread: Were Ivan and Zosima correct about church and state?

  1. #1
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Were Ivan and Zosima correct about church and state?

    I like the character of the elder, Zosima He seemed very good and wise. I can see why he was so well respected.

    I have just finished reading Book 2 Chapter, So Be It! So Be It! This chapter contained a discussion between Ivan, Miusov, Father Paissy, Zosima and Iosif, about an article Ivan wrote criticizing a book on ecclesiastical courts. The author of the book had argued that the church occupies a certain corner of the state. I think Ivan criticized this by arguing that the state should transform itself into the church. This is somehow different to the church transforming itself into the state. I think it was Ivan who argued that when the Roman Empire adopted Christianity it still retained a lot of its pagan attributes. I felt rather like Miusov in that I had difficulty grasping the arguments. Were Ivan and Father Paissy arguing in favour of theocracy? Having come to admire the elder, I was concerned he might show himself up, having come to the argument late. But, being such a clever chap, he had no trouble getting stuck in. Nevertheless, I think he was naive in thinking criminals would respond better to religious sanctions than state punishments. Being such a holy man himself, he thinks everyone is at heart religious, and while they may break state law, would not want to offend God.

    I am not sure I agree with any of that. I think I would agree with the author of the book that Ivan criticized.

    I am not sure what the aim of this chapter was. Was it to show what clever clogs Ivan and Zosima were, or was it to introduce a religious discussion to be developed in later chapters?
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I suppose this might be a kind of discussion that was very dear to the Russians of that period. And Religion with capital "R", not the kind of religion that reposes only on external signs has always been a major theme with Dostoievsky. This theorethical discussion about the role of religion or the state in the punishment of criminals also becomes ironical when one thinks of the development of the story itself (no spoilers).
    "You can always find something better than death."
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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Having read a bit further, it seems Zosima (the elder) and Alexei's novice friend, Rakitin, worked out independently that Ivan was being insincere when he wrote his article and that in reality he is an atheist. They are very clever, these monks.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    If I remember well, they were also very influential specially with the well to do classes. It is very significant that the Karamazows seek the help of the monks to appease a family quarrel.
    The wikipedia article brings some background information about the novel and also about the stariet Zosima.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Brothers_Karamazov

    I didnīt find any article in English about the Russian context of the novel and the different social groups that are represented here (the proprietors, the religious, the military, the intellectuals).
    "You can always find something better than death."
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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danik 2016 View Post
    If I remember well, they were also very influential specially with the well to do classes. It is very significant that the Karamazows seek the help of the monks to appease a family quarrel.
    The wikipedia article brings some background information about the novel and also about the stariet Zosima.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Brothers_Karamazov

    I didnīt find any article in English about the Russian context of the novel and the different social groups that are represented here (the proprietors, the religious, the military, the intellectuals).
    Interesting Wikipedia entry. Scary that out and out psychos like Stalin and Putin like it so much, as well as all those other clever people. It was former archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams', favourite book. He was a bad man for giving so many spoilers on it on YouTube.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev67 View Post
    Interesting Wikipedia entry. Scary that out and out psychos like Stalin and Putin like it so much, as well as all those other clever people. It was former archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams', favourite book. He was a bad man for giving so many spoilers on it on YouTube.
    Well, I think that Stalin and Putin are Russians before being anything else, and Dostoevsky is probably the greatest Russian author ever.
    It is also my favorite Dosto novel too. I donīt know any author Russian or not who probes so deeply into the human conscience and who represents so well the essential human ethical struggle. I am glad that you are so interested in it.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    End of part 1 (possible spoliers). Aloysha had a busy day. The last person I read who had such an eventful day was Tess Durbeyfield on the day she walked from Flintcombe Ash to Emminster and back. I enjoyed the bits in the Elder's cell, but I did not enjoy all the histrionics afterwards. Do grown men really talk like that to each other? Maybe there is something lost in translation. I liked Lise. I guess the Elder saw that she loved Alexei, and also that she was dying, so he released Alexei so he might marry her and also to be a peace maker to his family. No doubt Alexei could come back to the monastery in later life. I could be wrong though. I was wrong-footed by Middlemarch. If I am wrong-footed by this Alexei-Lise thing than I might concede it's a better book than Middlemarch; otherwise Middlemarch is better.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    In Dostoievskyīs fiction the emotional temperature is usually very high. His characters are always very passionate. I canīt image a Dostoievsky character saying commonplace things like "Pass me the butter please" He will sit down to breakfast and tell someone: I love you OR I hate you.The reader is often swept of his feet. Canīt tell how much of it is Russian and how much Dostoievsky. Most English novels arenīt that passionate.

    I donīt remember Middlemarch.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I read the chapter on the Grand Inquisitor. Ivan has a right go at Roman Catholicism. No wonder it's former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams', favourite book (I am sure that not the real reason why he likes it). The Grand Inquisitor's monologue reminded me of Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan argument: a strong tyrant is preferably to a state of anarchy (see how I slipped in that boast of knowing a bit about Hobbes).

    If Stalin made notes and highlights in his copy of Brothers Karamazov, then he must have made a lot in that chapter. It sounds like his personal credo. I wonder what Soviet citizens made of it while Stalin was in power. I wonder what they think now Putin is leader. Would they think, "Oh yes, we are weak and base. We would rather give up our freedom to a tyrant, so long as he feeds us." Not that Stalin was much good at feeding them, especially during the periods of farm collectivisation.

    The discussion on the temptations of Christ reminded me a little of The Last Temptation of Christ. I wonder if Martin Scorsese read The Brothers Karamazov.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  10. #10
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev67 View Post
    I wonder what Soviet citizens made of it while Stalin was in power.
    It may have been banned. The Possessed certainly was.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 02-28-2018 at 03:49 PM.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I have not read anywhere that the Brothers Karamazov was banned. There is an interesting section at the end of part 2.

    The salvation of Russia is from the people. And the Russian monastery has been with the people from time immemorial. If the people are isolated, we, too, are isolated. The people believe as we do, but an unbelieving leader will accomplish nothing in our Russia, even though he be sincere of heart and ingenious of mind. Remember that. The people will confront the atheist and overcome him, and there will be one Orthodox Russia. Watch over the people, therefore, and keep a watch on their hearts. Guide them in peace. Such is your monastic endeavour, for this is a God-fearing people.

    You can imagine what Stalin's margin notes were on that - 'Yeah, that's what you think!'
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  12. #12
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Indeed I can. For Dostoyevsky, nationalism and Othodoxy are indivisible. Interestingly, Putin has taken a page from Dostoyevsky's playbook and not Stalin's in that regard. Perhaps he sees the Church as his strategic redoubt against Islam, or perhaps he just thinks the Soviets (inevitably) missed a bet back in the day. Who knows? Putin himself has been described (by Kissinger, I think) as a character right out of Dostoyevsky.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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