Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

On 8 June 1978 (30 years ago) Alexander Solzhenitsyn gave a prophetic speech at Harvard University which is available online:

Here are a few bits to whet your appetite:
Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime and horror. .... Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.
After the suffering of decades of violence and oppression, the human soul longs for things higher, warmer and purer than those offered by today's mass living habits, introduced by the revolting invasion of publicity, by TV stupor and by intolerable music. All this is visible to observers from all the worlds of our planet. The Western way of life is less and less likely to become the leading model.
This means that the mistake must be at the root, at the very basis of human thinking in the past centuries. I refer to the prevailing Western view of the world which was first born during the Renaissance and found its political expression from the period of the Enlightenment. It became the basis for government and social science and could be defined as rationalistic humanism or humanistic autonomy: the proclaimed and enforced autonomy of man from any higher force above him. It could also be called anthropocentricity, with man seen as the center of everything that exists.

"Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?" (Acts 7:52) Stephen asked. How we need the prophetic gift and courage to speak truth to power in this new century.

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