Al Cronkrite


In January of 2003 Alexander Solzhenitsyn was hospitalized in Moscow suffering from a stroke.  He was reported to be recovering.


Though he lived in America as an ex-patriot for a number of years, he was not popular in this Country and neither his illness nor his endeavors in Russia have been widely publicized.


He is a present-day prophet. (I use that term in a truth telling sense, with no reference to prognostication.)


Prophets can always be properly discerned in each and every generation by the general dislike they are able to garner.  Though gifted with the ability to discern truth and the temerity to voice it, often eloquently, and often in the public square, they are considered too confrontational for polite society and too controversial to be called a friend.  They are shunned in conventional intellectual circles, ignored in the churches, outcast by their own families, gossiped about in back yards and pool halls, never invited to social gatherings, and often looked upon as pixilated or worse.


Truth-telling is within the purview of the Fourth Estate.


At Harvard in 1978 Solzhenitsyn gave a Lecture entitled “A World Split Apart”.  He said, “No one can bar the road to truth, and to advance its cause I am prepared to accept even death. But may it be that repeated lessons will finally teach us not to stop the writer’s pen during his lifetime? At no time has this ennobled our history.”


Truth is always fraught with impediments.  Truth agreed with is a blessed duet.  Truth confronting beloved vice will sever relationships, perpetrate flight, and uncover murderous rage.


Truth is both scarce and very powerful.


The heart of man is unbelievably evil.  It is testament to the depravity of our fallen nature to witness our reaction to the confrontation of cherished iniquity.  Solzhenitsyn was imprisoned for criticizing Stalin’s malevolent reign over Russia and derided for telling truth to America.  John the Baptist lost his head for confronting an evil king.  Millions have been murdered by despots who were eager to stamp out opposition.  Tyrants cannot allow truth to become rampant.  Truth is a weapon of righteousness and an adversary of evil.


Truth can disrupt the flow of revenue to the press and afflict it with dangerous enemies.


Acknowledging rigorous control of the Russian press Solzhenitsyn says of the American Fourth Estate, “one gradually discovers a common trend of preferences within the western press as a whole. It is a fashion; there are generally accepted patterns of judgment and there may be common corporate interests, the sum effect being not competition but unification.”


Crusading newspaper reporters and fearless editors are a thing of the past.  In modern Western society the press (including the media) is corporate controlled and like any other business concerned about the bottom line.  The New York Times includes all the news that is fit to print, but much of the most important truth is incendiary in nature and not fit to print.


Solzhenitsyn is a Christian.  In regard to his lengthy imprisonment he said, “Bless you prison for having been in my life…God of the Universe!  I believe again!  Though I renounced You, You were with me!”   Jesus asserted the He is the Way, The Truth, and The Life.  Mature Christians are truth seekers and truth expounders.


Institutionalizing the press and the churches robs society of truth.  Truth is mutually exclusive.  The agendas that accompany maintaining the establishment mute the statement of truth.  Truth cannot be sustained when the acquisition of tithing parishioners is the prime objective nor can it survive when profit is a prime motive.


Truth is nurtured in the independent loneliness of wisdom.  Jesus was perfect Truth.  Prior to His death He prayed alone.  Ahab, the King, inquired of Elijah, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?”   Elijah, alone, sat under the Juniper tree and asked God to end his life.  Solzhenitsyn went to prison alone.  He stood alone at the dais at Harvard University and condemned the order the University fosters.  Dispensing truth is a lonely business.  The rewards for so doing are confined to God, Who is, Himself, the source of all Truth.


Although America was not specifically a Christian nation and, to our detriment, the Savior was not mentioned in our Constitution, the Christian tenet of individual responsibility was strong and the intent to maintain a small, tightly restrained government evident.


Our Blackstone legal structure was rooted in Biblical Law and, though theologically poor, the population was predominantly Christian.  Adherence to the law came from the inside out and the tyranny of exterior law enforcement was scant.  Today, policemen that were formerly known as keepers of the peace have become ninja enforcers of the law.  Solzhenitsyn said of this phenomenon, “The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man’s noblest impulses.”


Telling a nation that it is dying and a people that they are ultimately responsible for their own demise is not a pleasant task.  Pointing to the evil intent of cherished institutions does not make for peaceful coexistence.  Truth is always paddling upstream.  It is always fighting the battle for righteousness against a vastly superior army.


In 1948 at Harvard Solzhenitsyn said, “There is, for instance, a self-deluding interpretation of the contemporary world situation. It works as a sort of petrified armor around peoples minds. Human voices from 17 countries of Eastern Europe and Eastern Asia cannot pierce it.  It will only be broken by the pitiless crowbar of events.”


He is referring to the dalliance American Liberals have had with Communist nations and the lack of true concern for the people who live under these oppressive regimes.  The quote could have been a rebuke to our recent invasion of Iraq.  It also describes the condition of the majority of the American people.


Truth is a sharp, well-swung ax striking the pride of individuals and nations.  Solzhenitsyn said to his Harvard audience, “but should someone ask me whether I would indicate the West such as it is today as a model to my country, frankly I would have to answer negatively. No, I could not recommend your society in its present state as an ideal for the transformation of ours.”


Now you have the ultimate insult.  There were serious flaws in the social structure of the nation that had given him refuge, the nation whose leaders held it up as an example to the world.  Remember, Solzhenitsyn said this in 1978; we have fallen considerably since then.


Was this pronouncement of truth heard and was the needed repentance forthcoming?  -Of course not.  The pride puffed leaders of Harvard and the press only resented the source.  Their query to Solzhenitsyn might be; Art thou he that troubleth America?


An independent press supported by the sale of the printed page, not dependent on revenue from advertising, and lead by common sense wisdom might become a source of truth, but only if the American people regained a hunger for reality rather than the fantasy in which they now choose to live.


Churches that have broken from their institutional framework, whose leaders are focused on preaching the righteousness of God’s Kingdom without regard for the results of their admonitions might again become founts of Truth and righteousness.


Elected officials that are willing to follow the lonely road of truth-telling in the midst of overwhelming mendacity and to forsake the pragmatism that infects every level of government, men who are grounded in the immutable Laws of the God of All Creation.  Men of that caliber might begin to bring change to the depravity that infects our nation.


Solzhenitsyn says of America, “Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counter-balanced by the young people’s right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.”


Speaking of our alliance with China, he adds, “First of all, it is again a doomed alliance with evil; also, it would grant the United States a respite, but when at a later date China with its billion people would turn around armed with American weapons, America itself would fall prey to a genocide similar to the one perpetrated in Cambodia in our days.”


We can only hope that the lies, which pervade our centers of power, have not so confused our leaders that this prophecy will become reality.


 “Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophecies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true.” Eric Hoffer

This 2003 article is the first of a series that I will put up on this page.


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