James Delingpole interviews Reverend Jamie Franklin about “Lessons On Freedom From [Fyodor] Dostoyevsky “.
At the 1:50 minute mark, Franklin summarises the insight of the Russian thinker and author with regard to the episode “The Grand Inquisitor” from “The Brothers Karamazov” thus:
Dostoyevsky realised that when you remove the sovereignty of God from a nation, a civilisation, you inevitably transfer this sovereignty to a totalitarian state . . . It’s what’s happening now in our country [the United Kingdom].
How to combat this? Near the end of the 9 minute video, Franklin explains:
Dostoyevsky says that you will often encounter objectionable thoughts [of others]. You will be tempted to take them by force. Jesus teaches us to take them by humble love.
Many years ago, when I was in my early 20s, I shared a flat with someone who had a copy of “Crime and Punishment” by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. I borrowed it. When I started reading it, I found it easy to identify with the feelings of isolation and alienation of the (anti-)hero, the impoverished student Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov.
Raskolnikov thinks himself intelligent enough to be above the law, and do justice his own way. However, he then goes and murders someone. The victim is innocent, but the reader is not invited to find her likable. This was a brilliant move by Dostoevsky, because it forces the reader to examine himself. Do we not all sometimes harbour feelings of superiority? The rest of the book is all about Raskolnikov’s attempts to deal with the fact that he has killed someone.
The lesson the book taught me was to “consider the possibility that I might be wrong”. It taught me some humility. For that, I am deeply grateful to Dostoevsky.