The Gamble

The Gamble

If you’ve been following my posts on Fyodor Dostoevsky, here is the final and perhaps the best one. Last week I challenged readers to read the famous chapter, “The Grand Inquisitor,” from Dostoevsky’s crowning achievement–an epic novel called, The Brothers Karamazov. It’s so remarkable that complete copies of the chapter are available online.

I wept, reading it again. I always do, even though it is a fantastical story in a fictional novel. Take a moment now in your busy week and ponder the deep questions in this famous piece of writing…

Imagine the wonder of Jesus returning to the earth. Not as promised in all His glory—yet. Rather, just to see what’s become of us in the interim, in the long lapse of time that started when He said, “Behold, I come quickly.”

The Seal for the Tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition

The Seal for the Tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition

The sub-story is set in Spain at the time of the Inquisition, a forceful suppression of religious freedom, punishable by death. Jesus came in ordinary clothes to the hot pavement of Seville, which on the day before, a hundred heretics had been burned by order of the Grand Inquisitor. Dostoevsky initially paints a beautiful scene…Continue reading

The Healed Soul

The Healed Soul

“The soul is healed by being with children.”

–Fyodor Dostoevsky

Happiness came at last for Dostoevsky in his mid-forties. Anna Snitkina and Fyodor Dostoevsky married and enjoyed sixteen wondrous years.

Anna’s writings gave us an intimate glimpse of Dostoevsky as an adoring husband. Once, he waited three hours for her on a street corner when her return was delayed. He also took great joy in giving her beautiful gifts—even when money seemed scarce.

8b0c79d0b2He had a tireless love of children and soothed the housekeeper’s children when he heard coughing or crying in the night. As a devoted father, he helped with bathing and feeding their children, unlike men of his day. Anna described him…

“Fyodor was uncommonly tender with his daughter, fussed over her, carried her about in his arms, sang her to sleep and felt so happy that he wrote (a friend), ‘Oh, why aren’t you married and why don’t you have a child? I swear to you that ¾ of life’s happiness lie in that, and ¼ at most in the rest.’”[i] Anna added, “Neither before nor since have I seen a man with such a capacity to enter the world of children.”[ii]

Dostoevsky also proved to be deeply passionate about God. He knew the depths of spiritual battles and once wrote:

“Beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of man.”[iii]

Another time he wrote, “God sends me sometimes instants when I am completely calm; at those instants I love and feel loved by others, and it is at those instances that I have shaped for myself a Credo where everything is clear and sacred for me. This Credo is very simple; here it is:Continue reading

Furnace of Doubt

Furnace of Doubt

“I believe in Christ and confess Him not like some child; my hosanna has passed through an enormous furnace of doubt.”

– Fyodor Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky as young manOrphaned at age seventeen, Dostoevsky had his whole life before him. Though he graduated from a military engineering school, honoring his father’s wishes, he did not want to be an engineer. With a small income from his father’s estate, Dostoevsky devoted himself to writing and achieved instant notoriety with the publication of his first novel, Poor Folk. That success gave him access to intellectual and literary circles in St. Petersburg, where he became involved in the sociopolitical issues of the day.

Now watch as God dramatically intervened in his circumstances…

Dostoevsky joined the Petrashevsky Circle, a utopian socialist group that secretly published propaganda against the Russian Tsar. In April 1849, he and others were arrested for sedition and sentenced to death. While he waited in prison for his execution, a small group of women brought him a New Testament. As he pored over the Gospel accounts, a profound shift occurred in his understanding of life.

Dostoevsky mock executionBut after eight long months in prison, execution day came in late December. Blindfolded and stripped, the first three prisoners were tied to stakes. Dostoevsky stood with the next group of three, waiting. A firing squad took aim. At the very last moment,Continue reading