Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Solzhenitsyn at Harvard

Charles Colson incorporates bits of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's commencement speech at Harvard in 1978 into a column at CT. In my first read it seemed to make Solzhenitsyn a spokesperson for the Bush Administration, but I'm sure I was being too hasty ...

I'd never read the speech itself. Definitely worth it. There's much there that reminds me of Pope Benedict in so many ways, though the jeremiad isn't really his style. He's always more hopeful. Reading this, one can almost taste Solzhenitsyn's later bitter disappointment in the chaos that followed in post-Communist Russia. I don't agree with everything (for instance, I'm reminded of Chesterton's assertion that progress/Europe is simply another way of talking about Christianity. If Japan has become more progressive isn't that another way of saying that Japan has become European? Of course, he's talking about a confidently Christian Europe of over a century ago, but still ... Or the description of the Middle Ages as being brutal on the physical while exalting the spiritual), but overall it's a powerful jeremiad directed against a complacent West that is treading down the dangerous paths of libertinism, materialism and rationaistic humanism.

This is from the beginning.
Harvard’s motto is "VERITAS." Many of you have already found out and others will find out in the course of their lives that truth eludes us as soon as our concentration begins to flag, all the while leaving the illusion that we are continuing to pursue it. This is the source of much discord. Also, truth seldom is sweet; it is almost invariably bitter.
So true. So true!


1 comment:

coray said...

"With much wisdom comes much grief."