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Tolstoy's Relation to the Russian Orthodox Church

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://people.opposingviews.com/tolstoys-relation-russian-orthodox-church-4397.html Tolstoy s Relation to the Russian Orthodox Church by Amanda Graber, Demand
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6, 2013
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      http://people.opposingviews.com/tolstoys-relation-russian-orthodox-church-4397.html

      Tolstoy's Relation to the Russian Orthodox Church
      by Amanda Graber, Demand Media

      One of Russia's towering literary figures, Leo Tolstoy wrote many
      celebrated novels and short stories in the late nineteenth century. Some
      of his best-known works include War and Peace, Anna Karenina and The
      Death of Ivan Ilyich. His astounding legacy is revered by students of
      literature worldwide -- although the Russian Orthodox Church, in a feud
      that has lingered long beyond the author's death, still blacklists his work.

      From the Church to the World

      As an infant, Tolstoy was baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church and
      was raised in the church throughout his childhood. Then, around the age
      of 15, he began to move away from the faith. By the age of 18 he claimed
      to still believe in the existence of a god, but did not embrace the
      church’s teachings. Tolstoy went on to live the hard life of a soldier.
      He gambled, participated in torrid affairs, often drank to excess and
      committed many other deeds that he later considered criminal. Later in
      life, he again struggled with the idea of faith and even returned to the
      Russian Orthodox Church for a time, though he ultimately left it for good.
      Critiques in Print

      Convinced that Church dogma and ritual mired the spirit of Christianity,
      in 1880, Tolstoy wrote the Critique of Dogmatic Theology. He continued
      to write about his beliefs against dogma in religion in a periodical
      called The Mediator. Even his novel Resurrection, was perceived as an
      attack on the teachings of the Church.

      Excommunication, With No Candles

      In response to these writings, the Russian Orthodox Church
      excommunicated Tolstoy in 1901. Citing his unconventional beliefs about
      Christianity, including his conviction to no longer eat meat, the Church
      claimed that Tolstoy was a destructive influence against its teachings.
      Later, it even went on to claim that Tolstoy’s work had inspired and
      perhaps aided the Bolsheviks’ rise to power, which ushered in a time of
      persecution for the Church. For these supposed crimes, the Church
      decreed that no candles could be burned for Tolstoy within any of its
      churches.
      The Feud Lingers

      Over one hundred years later, the feud between Tolstoy and the Orthodox
      Church still stands. In 2001, there were some efforts, led by Tolstoy’s
      great-great-grandson, to encourage the Church to revisit its
      excommunication of the writer who was such an important figure in
      Russian history and culture. Instead of forgiveness, the Church
      reaffirmed its excommunication of Tolstoy, and predominantly Russian
      Orthodox thinkers even kept his works blacklisted. The Church’s official
      stance was documented publicly in a letter that was published in the
      state-run newspaper, Rossiyskaya Gazeta. The letter acknowledged the
      beauty and talent of Tolstoy’s work, but stated that Tolstoy’s
      grievances against the Church could not be expunged
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