March 5, 2015: Tolstoy imagines what peace on earth would look like

<blockquote>“Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.” C.S. Lewis
<p style=”text-align: center;”></p>
</blockquote>
<p style=”text-align: center;”><span style=”color: #000080;”><strong>Tolstoy’s Five Commandments of Christ</strong></span></p>

<ol>
<li>“Be at peace with all men, and never consider your anger as just. Never look upon any man as worthless or a fool, neither call him such. Not only shall you never think yourself justified in your anger, but also you shall never consider your brother’s anger as causeless; and therefore, if there is one who is angry with you, even if it is without cause, go and be reconciled to him before praying. Endeavor to destroy all enmity between yourself and others, that their enmity may not grow and destroy you.” Matthew 5:21-26</li>
<li>“Take no pleasure in concupiscence; let each man, if he is not a eunuch, have a wife and each woman a husband; let a man have but one wife, and woman one husband, and let them never under any pretext whatever dissolve their union.” Matthew 5:32</li>
<li>“Never take an oath under any circumstances. Every oath is extorted from men for evil.” Matthew 5: 33-37</li>
<li>“Never resist evil by violence; never return violence for violence. If anyone strikes your, bear it; it anyone takes away what is yours, let him have it; if anyone makes you labor, do so; if anyone wants to have what you consider to be your own, give it up to him.” Matthew 5: 38-42</li>
<li>“Never consider men of another nation as your enemies; look upon all men as you do toward your fellow-country men; therefore you shall not kill those whom you call your enemies; love all and do good to all.” Matthew 5:43-48</li>
</ol>
<h4 style=”text-align: center;”><span style=”color: #800080;”><strong>* * * * * * * * *</strong></span></h4>
<strong>Lent Day 16. <em>What I Believe</em> by Leo Tolstoy, Chapter 6 continued</strong>

As we approach the conclusion of Chapter 6, Tolstoy has extrapolated the five revolutionary commandments of Christ from the Sermon on the Mount and has realized that not only do we humans fail to follow them but the Church does not even urge us to do so. Instead his Church preached salvation through daily prayer, attending worship, fasting on Fridays, and receiving communion. As far as I can tell, most modern churches don’t really urge their faithful to live their lives this way either. Many denominations tell us that the way to salvation is wholly through faith in Christ. He has done all the work of conquering death and has already redeemed every sin that has ever happened or will happen. So just believe. And read the Bible a lot.

But the message Tolstoy got from his studies is that, while faith is essential to a meaningful life, Christ clearly called His followers to actually <em>do</em> the things he said, as in “If you love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15. So Tolstoy stops to think: What would happen to our world if we did that? Everyone would have to do all five of them because they work as a whole-cloth system. You can’t do four out of five or even four-and-a-half out of five. That’s probably the problem. I notice that as soon as I begin to contemplate living according to these commandments I immediately start wonder if I could maybe get around just one or two of them. But the idea is that breaking one rips the cloth.  But let’s suspend disbelief for just a moment, and imagine what if…..

<a href=”http://www.carolsnotes.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/animals-in-heaven.jpg”><img class=”alignright size-medium wp-image-981″ src=”http://www.carolsnotes.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/animals-in-heaven-212×300.jpg&#8221; alt=”animals in heaven” width=”212″ height=”300″ /></a>First of all there would be no war. Since we would take no oaths of allegiance we would not be obligated to kill total strangers in the name of patriotism or loyalty to someone else’s cause. And if we did not constantly fan the flames of sexual desire, as prescribed in the second commandment, there would be, theoretically, less hostility, jealousy, quarrels, and heartbreak between individuals.  If a disagreement erupted we’d go back to commandment #1 and make it our first priority to resolve and reconcile the issue.  We would not care about protecting our own stuff and would therefore have no reason to fret and worry over what other people wanted of us. Anyway, everyone would be too busy seeking opportunities to help someone else to be worrying over things like clothing, money, and personal safety.

Says Tolstoy, “The fulfillment of Christ’s commandments will make the lives of men such as each human heart seeks and longs for. All men will be brethren and each will be at peace with each other, and each will be free to enjoy all the blessings of this world during the term of life allotted to him by God. Men will turn their ‘swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.’ And on earth will established the Kingdom of God….”

So the only thing standing in the way of peace and happiness for humanity is…..humans. It seems Jesus spelled out exactly how, if we really wanted it, we could make peace and happiness happen for everybody on earth. Then why aren’t we doing it? Is it possible that most of use don’t really <em>want</em> peace and happiness on earth, at least not on <em>those</em> terms? I’m really not sure that can be the case so I think I will read Chapter 7 of <em>What I Believe</em> and see what Mr. Tolstoy has to say about this conundrum. In tomorrow post we’ll see if we can shed any light on the problem.

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