Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Books read in 2013: No. 7 -- The Kingdom of God is Within You

by Leo Tolstoy

translated by Constance Garnett

Started: Jan. 16
Finished: Feb. 2

Notes: I'm still on somewhat of a Tolstoy kick, and I've been meaning to read this one for a couple of years, since I saw it mentioned in one book or another about or pertaining to Tolstoy (sorry, don't remember which one, maybe something by John Gardner). This is a non-fiction book written late in Tolstoy's life. It's about his belief in non-violence, almost more political than spiritual, though sort of a mix of the two. Think Gandhi, and you'll have a good idea of Tolstoy's approach. In fact, Gandhi and Tolstoy communicated some, and Gandhi took many of his political approaches from Tolstoy's notions.

Mini review: Quite the interesting read, but also very dry because Tolstoy has a tendency to say the same things over and over again but with different words. Still, there's a lot of wisdom here, I think, though also a tad of gullibility. Tolstoy has come to be recognized as what some have labeled a Christian anarchist, and though that term might sound contradictory to some, it does seem to fit. Towards the end of his life, he came to believe in an extreme liberal version of Christianity, mostly based off what Jesus preached during the Sermon on the Mount. What Tolstoy writes in this book does make some sense, looking at Christianity from his mostly non-supernatural, logical manner, but it's also not very realistic for the world we live in. Tolstoy would decry my writing that, I'm sure, suggesting we should live for the next world or for the future and not so much for the world we have.

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