Dostoevsky's 'Devils'

Dostoevsky's 'Devils'..The thoughts of Archbishop Rowan Williams

It is a bleak and difficult novel - though also a very funny one at times, as Dostoevsky's blackest humour is allowed full rein. What makes it so well worth reading now is its unsparing vision of what destructive forces come into the world when there is a vacuum of spiritual understanding. The end of faith doesn't lead to a calm agnosticism, but to a terrible world where you have no means of knowing truth from lies or even life from death. It tells us that terrorism is a spiritual problem before it is a political one; whatever clothes it dresses up in, religious or national or ideological, what it feeds on is spiritual emptiness. It tells us that liberalism is not enough; there must be a vital and positive commitment to freedom and to mutual responsibility - Dostoevsky's most central insight is about the way we are all responsible for all others. And it tells us that human beings need something to love that is eternal and unchanging; only the utterly consistent love of God can draw out of us the love we are capable of at our most free and creative.

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under the heading Thank God for...


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