Long ago I wrote an article trying to show the fundamental contradiction between Christianity and Communism. I received a long letter from a fine, devoted Protestant from southern France who believed I was utterly mistaken. He found an extraordinary harmony between the Communist and Christian ethic. The Communist ethic, including its tactics and strategy, expressed precisely what was being lived out in Christianity. What proof did he offer? He recommended I read the essential book by Liu Ch'ao-Chi, How to Be a Good Communist. Unfortunately, this devoted Protestant was writing early in 1966, a few months before the cultural revolution, in which Liu became public enemy number one, and his book was considered to be nothing but error!
I mostly read non-fiction books on academic subjects although I'll read a few other stuff here and there.
This link opens in a pop-up window
Tomat0's booksView all books
Furthermore, you are considered pedantic if you refer in such detail to Marx's thought. Such examination is all right for specialists, but not for militants. As a very committed Communist student said to me one day as he was leaving one of my classes on Marx, "After all, I really don't see why we should study Marx's thought. A lot I care about Marx! You don't need that to be a Communist.” His chin stiffened to underscore his feelings. I get the impression that many Marxist Christians would say the same thing. Some of them cling to a rough idea of Marx drawn from the philosophical approach to history; others reject that philosophy but hold to the historical analysis of economic evolution and its consequences in socialist society. For many others, Marxism is "science.” But at this point we have lost touch with our starting point: we are dealing with Marxism rather than Marx.
We must systematically destroy the childish ideology that follows this pattern: "Where you have a dictator and an oppressed people, kill the dictator to liberate the people. They will organize themselves and become their own masters. They will come of age and enter into their freedom" (at this point, since the unexamined goal has been attained, no reason remains for trying to ascertain what really happened).
Somewhere it is said that man cannot exist without sleep for more than a stated number of hours. Quite wrong! I had been convinced that there were certain things I just could not do: I could not sleep without this or I could not live with that or the other. The first night in Auschwitz we slept in beds which were constructed in tiers. On each tier (measuring about six-and-a-half to eight feet) slept nine men, directly on the boards. Two blankets were shared by each nine men. We could, of course, lie only on our sides, crowded and huddled against each other, which had some advantages because of the bitter cold. Though it was forbidden to take shoes up to the bunks, some people did use them secretly as pillows in spite of the fact that they were caked with mud. Otherwise one’s head had to rest on the crook of an almost dislocated arm. And yet sleep came and brought oblivion and relief from pain for a few hours.
I would like to mention a few similar surprises on how much we could endure: we were unable to clean our teeth, and yet, in spite of that and a severe vitamin deficiency, we had healthier gums than ever before. We had to wear the same shirts for half a year, until they had lost all appearance of being shirts. For days we were unable to wash, even partially, because of frozen water-pipes, and yet the sores and abrasions on hands which were dirty from work in the soil did not suppurate (that is, unless there was frostbite). Or for instance, a light sleeper, who used to be disturbed by the slightest noise in the next room, now found himself lying pressed against a comrade who snored loudly a few inches from his ear and yet slept quite soundly through the noise.
If someone now asked of us the truth of Dostoevski’s statement that flatly defines man as a being who can get used to anything, we would reply, “Yes, a man can get used to anything, but do not ask us how.” But our psychological investigations have not taken us that far yet; neither had we prisoners reached that point. We were still in the first phase of our psychological reactions.
The especial abilities of each individual are not destroyed but realized when he is related to his true purport, which is impossibility. The personality of each man is not destroyed but established by the deep disturbance of this "Not yet" and this "No further". The universal challenge of faith is the creative word which calls men into existence out of the chaos of independent personality.
In Jesus is to be found the frame of reference for the co-ordinates of eternal truth, by which, on the one hand, things mutually repel one another (men and men) are held together; and by which, on the other hand, things which normally are mutually attracted (God and men) are distinguished. In light of this Krisis God is known and honoured and loved.
...The vast distinction between God and man is their veritable union. Because time and eternity, the righteousness of men and the righteousness of God, here and there, are completely dissociated in Jesus they are also in Him comprehended and united — in God.
In the paradox of faith the faithfulness of God is sufficient, for through it we stand on firm ground and move forward wiht assurance. In this world no union with God is possible. It then becomes clear that God is the God of all men, the God of the Gentiles and of the Jews; He is not an element in spiritual experience or in the course of history; He is, rather, the ground of all elements, by whom they are measured and in whom they are contained. He differs absolutely from all our lights and properties and abilities. This being so, the everlasting power and divinity of God shines forth ever more clearly. When therefore we use the word "God", we do not say something but everything, not the last truth but one, but the last truth of all. It is the word of judgement, of challenge, of hope; it is directed to all, and is significant — of supreme signifcance — for all.
The cross stands, and must always stand, between us and God. The cross is the bridge which creates a chasm and the promise which sounds a warning. We can never escape the paradox of faith, nor can it ever be removed. By faith only — sola fide — does mankind stand before God and is moved by Him. The faithfulness of God can be believed in only, because it is the faithfulness of God. Were it more, it would be less. This is the new reckoning.
With reference to before and after, the Moment is and remains strange and different; it neither has its roots in the past, nor can it be transmitted into the future. The Moment does not belong in any causal or temporal or logical sequence: it is always and everywhere wholly new: it is what God — who is only immortal — is and has and does.
True religion is a seal, reminding men that they have been established by God and that they will be established by Him; it reminds them also of their dissolution and their redemption, and of the daily renewed faithfulness of God. As a seal, it points onwards to the covenant between God and man, which still remains unfulfilled, and which still awaits its inauguration. The signing of a contract must not be confused with the decision which preceded it or the execution which will follow it. Similarly the decision of God eternally precedes the sign, and the purpose of God eternally stretches beyond it.
What can you do about it?’ We are asked not to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ or ‘I will’ or ‘I will not’, but to be inventive, to create, to discover something new. The difference between ordinary people and saints is not that saints fulfil the plain duties which ordinary men neglect. The things saints do have not usually occurred to ordinary people at all… ‘Gracious’ conduct is somehow like the work of an artist. It needs imagination and spontaneity. It is not a choice between presented alternatives but the creation of something new. (A. D. Lindsay: The Two Moralities.)
But if we do—if we conclude that creative mind is in fact the very grain of the spiritual universe, we cannot arbitrarily stop our investigations with the man who happens to work in stone, or paint, or music, or letters. We shall have to ask ourselves whether the same pattern is not also exhibited in the spiritual structure of every man and woman. And, if it is, whether, by confining the average man and woman to uncreative activities and an uncreative outlook, we are not doing violence to the very structure of our being.
That no human maker can create a self-conscious being, we have already seen; and seen also that he is always urged by an inward hankering to do so, finding approximate satisfactions for this desire in procreation, in such relations as those of a playwright with his actors, and in the creation of imaginary characters. In all these relations, he is conscious of the same paradoxical need—namely, the complete independence of the creature combined with its willing co-operation in his purpose in conformity with the law of its nature. In this insistent need he sees the image of the perfect relation of Creator and creature, and the perfect reconciliation of divine predestination with free created will.
In the creature also, he recognises a division and a paradox. He is aware at once of its insistent urge to become manifest, and also, at the same time, a resistance to creation and a tendency to fall back into the randomness of negation. It is this resistance that Berdyaev calls the “dark meonic freedom”—the impulse to chaos. It is bound up with the natural law of matter, which is a law of increasing randomness as time goes on.