Naum's Reviews > The Kingdom of God Is Within You

The Kingdom of God Is Within You by Leo Tolstoy
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May 29, 11

Read in May, 2011

Confession time: I have never read War and Peace (though I have read most of Dostoevsky, his Russian rival for the age), and stumbled across this title in serendipitous style, scrolling through a library (yes, of the real life brick & mortar type) aisle seeking another title. I started reading and was quickly captivated, in some part due to the discovery that this text was a source of inspiration for Gandhi.

I was surprised how lucid most of the book was, given that it is an ~120 year old book. And while the title is not inaccurate, it is not reflective that most of Tolstoy's words are centered on Christian nonviolence, even as I suspect that English word had not come to be known, as yet. Sure, there were lots of redundant parts where it seemed that the author banged a drum into dilapidated submission, but that is easily outweighed by the shining passages just as relevant today as they were back in the 1890s. In fact, a good bit of it seemed prophetic, given how history played out in Europe (and in all of Christendom) during the next 50 years.

Basically, Tolstoy contends that Christians have been in denial, in both creeds and deeds, of Jesus admonition against prescriptive violence to riddle the world of evil. Like I stated, in many pages, Tolstoy keeps hitting the same notes over and over, but in other sections, the narrative is so vivid and cries out to a modern reader. Here are a few brief instances: (1) Tolstoy depiction of evolution of humankind Christian consciousness -- from self focused Christ-less to family/tribe/nation centric God infancy to adolescence of Christ flowering in the "opinion" of all Christian brothers and sisters. That it is an arc measured in thousands of years, with final conclusion inevitable… and (2) In the end of the book his wrenching words on Russian authorities carrying out flogging and torture of those who bumped against the rich ownership class. How self-confessed, proclaiming Christians could engage in such conduct totally at odds with the edicts of Christ.
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05/17/2011 page 110
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