“Men Have Forgotten God” – The Templeton Address

“Men Have Forgotten God” – The Templeton Address

by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.

Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.

What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.

The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century.

The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century. The first of these was World War I, and much of our present predicament can be traced back to it. It was a war (the memory of which seems to be fading) when Europe, bursting with health and abundance, fell into a rage of self-mutilation which could not but sap its strength for a century or more, and perhaps forever. The only possible explanation for this war is a mental eclipse among the leaders of Europe due to their lost awareness of a Supreme Power above them. Only a godless embitterment could have moved ostensibly Christian states to employ poison gas, a weapon so obviously beyond the limits of humanity.

The same kind of defect, the flaw of a consciousness lacking all divine dimension, was manifested after World War II when the West yielded to the satanic temptation of the “nuclear umbrella.” It was equivalent to saying: Let’s cast off worries, let’s free the younger generation from their duties and obligations, let’s make no effort to defend ourselves, to say nothing of defending others-let’s stop our ears to the groans emanating from the East, and let us live instead in the pursuit of happiness. If danger should threaten us, we shall be protected by the nuclear bomb; if not, then let the world burn in Hell for all we care. The pitifully helpless state to which the contemporary West has sunk is in large measure due to this fatal error: the belief that the defense of peace depends not on stout hearts and steadfast men, but solely on the nuclear bomb…

Today’ s world has reached a stage which, if it had been described to preceding centuries, would have called forth the cry: “This is the Apocalypse!”

Yet we have grown used to this kind of world; we even feel at home in it.

Dostoevsky warned that “great events could come upon us and catch us intellectually unprepared.” This is precisely what has happened. And he predicted that “the world will be saved only after it has been possessed by the demon of evil.” Whether it really will be saved we shall have to wait and see: this will depend on our conscience, on our spiritual lucidity, on our individual and combined efforts in the face of catastrophic circumstances. But it has already come to pass that the demon of evil, like a whirlwind, triumphantly circles all five continents of the earth…

By the time of the Revolution, faith had virtually disappeared in Russian educated circles; and amongst the uneducated, its health was threatened.

In its past, Russia did know a time when the social ideal was not fame, or riches, or material success, but a pious way of life. Russia was then steeped in an Orthodox Christianity which remained true to the Church of the first centuries. The Orthodoxy of that time knew how to safeguard its people under the yoke of a foreign occupation that lasted more than two centuries, while at the same time fending off iniquitous blows from the swords of Western crusaders. During those centuries the Orthodox faith in our country became part of the very pattern of thought and the personality of our people, the forms of daily life, the work calendar, the priorities in every undertaking, the organization of the week and of the year. Faith was the shaping and unifying force of the nation.

But in the 17th century Russian Orthodoxy was gravely weakened by an internal schism. In the 18th, the country was shaken by Peter’s forcibly imposed transformations, which favored the economy, the state, and the military at the expense of the religious spirit and national life. And along with this lopsided Petrine enlightenment, Russia felt the first whiff of secularism; its subtle poisons permeated the educated classes in the course of the 19th century and opened the path to Marxism. By the time of the Revolution, faith had virtually disappeared in Russian educated circles; and amongst the uneducated, its health was threatened.

It was Dostoevsky, once again, who drew from the French Revolution and its seeming hatred of the Church the lesson that “revolution must necessarily begin with atheism.” That is absolutely true. But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism. Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot.

The 1920’s in the USSR witnessed an uninterrupted procession of victims and martyrs amongst the Orthodox clergy. Two metropolitans were shot, one of whom, Veniamin of Petrograd, had been elected by the popular vote of his diocese. Patriarch Tikhon himself passed through the hands of the Cheka-GPU and then died under suspicious circumstances. Scores of archbishops and bishops perished. Tens of thousands of priests, monks, and nuns, pressured by the Chekists to renounce the Word of God, were tortured, shot in cellars, sent to camps, exiled to the desolate tundra of the far North, or turned out into the streets in their old age without food or shelter. All these Christian martyrs went unswervingly to their deaths for the faith; instances of apostasy were few and far between. For tens of millions of laymen access to the Church was blocked, and they were forbidden to bring up their children in the Faith: religious parents were wrenched from their children and thrown into prison, while the children were turned from the faith by threats and lies…

For a short period of time, when he needed to gather strength for the struggle against Hitler, Stalin cynically adopted a friendly posture toward the Church. This deceptive game, continued in later years by Brezhnev with the help of showcase publications and other window dressing, has unfortunately tended to be taken at its face value in the West. Yet the tenacity with which hatred of religion is rooted in Communism may be judged by the example of their most liberal leader, Krushchev: for though he undertook a number of significant steps to extend freedom, Krushchev simultaneously rekindled the frenzied Leninist obsession with destroying religion.

But there is something they did not expect: that in a land where churches have been leveled, where a triumphant atheism has rampaged uncontrolled for two-thirds of a century, where the clergy is utterly humiliated and deprived of all independence, where what remains of the Church as an institution is tolerated only for the sake of propaganda directed at the West, where even today people are sent to the labor camps for their faith, and where, within the camps themselves, those who gather to pray at Easter are clapped in punishment cells–they could not suppose that beneath this Communist steamroller the Christian tradition would survive in Russia. It is true that millions of our countrymen have been corrupted and spiritually devastated by an officially imposed atheism, yet there remain many millions of believers: it is only external pressures that keep them from speaking out, but, as is always the case in times of persecution and suffering, the awareness of God in my country has attained great acuteness and profundity.

It is here that we see the dawn of hope: for no matter how formidably Communism bristles with tanks and rockets, no matter what successes it attains in seizing the planet, it is doomed never to vanquish Christianity.

The West has yet to experience a Communist invasion; religion here remains free. But the West’s own historical evolution has been such that today it too is experiencing a drying up of religious consciousness. It too has witnessed racking schisms, bloody religious wars, and rancor, to say nothing of the tide of secularism that, from the late Middle Ages onward, has progressively inundated the West. This gradual sapping of strength from within is a threat to faith that is perhaps even more dangerous than any attempt to assault religion violently from without.

Imperceptibly, through decades of gradual erosion, the meaning of life in the West has ceased to be seen as anything more lofty than the “pursuit of happiness, “a goal that has even been solemnly guaranteed by constitutions. The concepts of good and evil have been ridiculed for several centuries; banished from common use, they have been replaced by political or class considerations of short lived value. It has become embarrassing to state that evil makes its home in the individual human heart before it enters a political system. Yet it is not considered shameful to make dally concessions to an integral evil. Judging by the continuing landslide of concessions made before the eyes of our very own generation, the West is ineluctably slipping toward the abyss. Western societies are losing more and more of their religious essence as they thoughtlessly yield up their younger generation to atheism. If a blasphemous film about Jesus is shown throughout the United States, reputedly one of the most religious countries in the world, or a major newspaper publishes a shameless caricature of the Virgin Mary, what further evidence of godlessness does one need? When external rights are completely unrestricted, why should one make an inner effort to restrain oneself from ignoble acts?

Or why should one refrain from burning hatred, whatever its basis–race, class, or ideology? Such hatred is in fact corroding many hearts today. Atheist teachers in the West are bringing up a younger generation in a spirit of hatred of their own society. Amid all the vituperation we forget that the defects of capitalism represent the basic flaws of human nature, allowed unlimited freedom together with the various human rights; we forget that under Communism (and Communism is breathing down the neck of all moderate forms of socialism, which are unstable) the identical flaws run riot in any person with the least degree of authority; while everyone else under that system does indeed attain “equality”–the equality of destitute slaves. This eager fanning of the flames of hatred is becoming the mark of today’s free world. Indeed, the broader the personal freedoms are, the higher the level of prosperity or even of abundance–the more vehement, paradoxically, does this blind hatred become. The contemporary developed West thus demonstrates by its own example that human salvation can be found neither in the profusion of material goods nor in merely making money.

This deliberately nurtured hatred then spreads to all that is alive, to life itself, to the world with its colors, sounds, and shapes, to the human body. The embittered art of the twentieth century is perishing as a result of this ugly hate, for art is fruitless without love. In the East art has collapsed because it has been knocked down and trampled upon, but in the West the fall has been voluntary, a decline into a contrived and pretentious quest where the artist, instead of attempting to reveal the divine plan, tries to put himself in the place of God.

Here again we witness the single outcome of a worldwide process, with East and West yielding the same results, and once again for the same reason: Men have forgotten God.

With such global events looming over us like mountains, nay, like entire mountain ranges, it may seem incongruous and inappropriate to recall that the primary key to our being or non-being resides in each individual human heart, in the heart’s preference for specific good or evil. Yet this remains true even today, and it is, in fact, the most reliable key we have. The social theories that promised so much have demonstrated their bankruptcy, leaving us at a dead end. The free people of the West could reasonably have been expected to realize that they are beset · by numerous freely nurtured falsehoods, and not to allow lies to be foisted upon them so easily. All attempts to find a way out of the plight of today’s world are fruitless unless we redirect our consciousness, in repentance, to the Creator of all: without this, no exit will be illumined, and we shall seek it in vain. The resources we have set aside for ourselves are too impoverished for the task. We must first recognize the horror perpetrated not by some outside force, not by class or national enemies, but within each of us individually, and within every society. This is especially true of a free and highly developed society, for here in particular we have surely brought everything upon ourselves, of our own free will. We ourselves, in our daily unthinking selfishness, are pulling tight that noose…

Our life consists not in the pursuit of material success but in the quest for worthy spiritual growth. Our entire earthly existence is but a transitional stage in the movement toward something higher, and we must not stumble and fall, nor must we linger fruitlessly on one rung of the ladder. Material laws alone do not explain our life or give it direction. The laws of physics and physiology will never reveal the indisputable manner in which the Creator constantly, day in and day out, participates in the life of each of us, unfailingly granting us the energy of existence; when this assistance leaves us, we die. And in the life of our entire planet, the Divine Spirit surely moves with no less force: this we must grasp in our dark and terrible hour.

To the ill-considered hopes of the last two centuries, which have reduced us to insignificance and brought us to the brink of nuclear and non-nuclear death, we can propose only a determined quest for the warm hand of God, which we have so rashly and self-confidently spurned. Only in this way can our eyes be opened to the errors of this unfortunate twentieth century and our bands be directed to setting them right. There is nothing else to cling to in the landslide: the combined vision of all the thinkers of the Enlightenment amounts to nothing.

Our five continents are caught in a whirlwind. But it is during trials such as these that the highest gifts of the human spirit are manifested. If we perish and lose this world, the fault will be ours alone.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, “Godlessness: the First Step to the Gulag”. Templeton Prize Lecture, 10 May 1983 (London).

Taken from: (http://orthochristian.com/47643.html)

New Content on Gemini Capsule

I am posting the majority of new content to my Gemini Capsule.

The address for the Gemini Capsule is gemini://frrobert.net

If you don't have a browser that supports Gemini, please use this proxy link.

Internet Installs

After reading several stories about Internet installs, I thought I would write a post on the best way to prepare for an Internet install.

No matter your provider or the type of Internet you are going to receive there are things you need to keep in mind.

  1. Ask questions about your install. One of the best places is your provider's forum.

  2. Know what your provider is willing to do during an install and what they will not do. For example, your provider will not run cabling in attics, crawl spaces, or walls.

  3. Make a plan on what you need to do and what the provider's installer will do.

Let me give you an example of my recent AT&T Fiber Optic install.

Before I ever called AT&T I posted on the forum what I needed to have done and if the AT&T installer would do it or if I needed to do some of it myself or have a third-party do some of the work.

I wanted the new fiber optic line ran from the outdoor patch panel through the attic and through the wall of my office. I was quickly told AT&T would not do any work in the attic or fish wires through the wall. I was given the suggestion of running conduit from where I wanted the line to enter the house to where I wanted the line to enter my office, then run a string through conduit for a pull line. This way the AT&T installer could connect the fiber optic line to the string and pull the line through the conduit from the other end using the string.

My days of climbing in an attic are long gone so I had my electrician run the conduit for me. He installed a lightweight plastic conduit. The conduit is called "Smurf Tube" due to its blue color. He also fished a string through the conduit so the installer could pull the fiber optic line through the conduit.

When the day of my install came everything went great. The installer installed a patch panel to the side of the house, ran the fiber line from the pole to the patch panel using the existing hangers, pulled the optic line from my office out to the patch panel, installed the Optic Network Terminal, and connected it to AT&T Gateway. He than powered everything up and after a few updates to the gateway everything was working great.

By planning ahead and getting some great advice I was able to have a quick and smooth install. If I had not plan ahead I would have had to either reschedule the install or have the gateway installed in a different location that will not work as well.

One other thing I would mention is don't make WIFI the primary way to connect to the Internet. WIFI is second rate to a connection using an Ethernet cable. There are so many things that limit and interfere with your WIFI too many to talk about here. Just know that you signal will never be as strong, fast, or have the range as you think it should be.

Zettelkasten ID gettingreadyforintenetinstall-2020-11-21-1224

Firefox, Firejail, and Hosts

There is always going to be struggle for safe untracked browsing on the Internet. I am not sure it is completely possible, but we can try to make ourselves as safe and allusive as possible. I am no security expert so take this all with a grain of salt.

While there are many tools to try and accomplish this I have settled in on three tools to make surfing as safe as possible and keep my profile to myself. The three tools are Firejail, the use of profiles with Firefox, and my hosts file.

The first tool I want to talk about is Firejail. It can sandbox any program you run with it. The program's description from its web page, "Firejail is a SUID program that reduces the risk of security breaches by restricting the running environment of untrusted applications using Linux namespaces and seccomp-bpf. It allows a process and all its descendants to have their own private view of the globally shared kernel resources, such as the network stack, process table, mount table."

So if you run Firefox within Firejail Firefox has a limited ability to read your system and even more limited ability to write to your system. The default Firejail profile for Firefox limits Firefox write permissions to the Downloads directory and writing to your Firefox profile. This limits the amount of damage a malicious website can do to your system. For added security, if you use the private switch in Firejail anything from the session is deleted when the session is closed.

I use Firefox profiles in conjunction with Firejail to help prevent trackers from building a profile of me. I have a Firefox profiles for Google, the School I teach at, banking, Amazon, and an unknown profile. Profiles themselves do nothing to prevent you from being tracked. It is how profiles are used that help prevent trackers for building a complete profile. By using multiple Firefox profiles you look like multiple users to the outside world.

I start each Firefox profile in its own instance of Firejail so each profile is isolated from one another. Your behavior is what makes this work. In my Google profile I only use Google services. In my banking profile I only do banking. Again this doesn't limit tracking, it only makes you look like multiple users. So by having multiple profiles for different tasks, hopefully I am a little harder to profile. FYI, it takes some practice browsing with multiple profiles, but it gets easier with some practice. I use the I3 window manager, so if my browser windows are in tab mode it is like browsing with tabs that have subtabs.

The last tool I have does help limit tracking and that is my hosts file. A host file is like a bit of on board DNS. Usually it has that 127.0.0.1 is local host and a few other things but one thing you can do is add websites and corresponding ip addresses to it, so DNS requests are not made. For example a large domain may have multiple ip addresses but if you always want to connect to a certain ip address you could specify the ip address in the hosts file.

You can also use it to block ads and trackers. Lets say you go to a web page example.com but it has an ad tracker embedded that loads ads from anoyingads.com.

In your hosts file you can enter

0.0.0.0 annoyingads.com

What happens is Firefox rather checking the DNS server for annoyingads.com ip address it just uses the one in the host file. Since 0.0.0.0 signifies a non-routable address the ad / tracker from annoyingads.com doesn't load. You can create your own list but there are many premade lists. The best hosts file that blocks ads and trackers is at https://github.com/StevenBlack/hosts It is a combination of several lists. Just add the list to your existing hosts file and many of those trackers and ads will not show up in your browser.

Again, I am not a security expert just a guy trying to browse a little safer than the day before.

Zettelkasten ID firefoxandfirejail-2020-09-20-1517

Newsboat meets Readability CLI

Newsboat is my RSS feed reader. It allows me to check the websites I am interested in quickly and without distraction. I have been able to create macros that keep me on the command line from videos to mp3s to actual articles. There is one small glitch in all this, sites that only include a description of the articles in the RSS feed and force you to go to the website to read the whole article.

At this point there are two options. The first being using a command line web browser to read the article and scrolling through pages of menus and ads to find the actual article. The second being leaving the command line and reading the article in Firefox's reader mode.

Now there is a third option using Readability CLI to read articles in "Firefox's reader mode" on the command line.

Readability CLI by gardenappl using Mozilla's Readability library to strip a web page to the core content. The result being a simplified HTML document which can be viewed by any browser.

I created a two line bash script that is called by a Newsboat macro key that ties together Newsboat, Readability CLI, and Lynx.

#!/bin/sh  
readable $1 > /tmp/readablearticle.html
uxterm -e lynx /tmp/readablearticle.html

The first line after the #!/bin/sh has readable, the executable for Readability CLI download the url provided by Newsboat, convert it to, using Mozilla's Readability library, a HTML file with just the core content, and finally save the new file in the tmp directory. The second line opens an xterm terminal and executes the opening of the HTML file with Lynx.

Readability CLI can be found at GitLab

A Video, by Brodie Robertson, of Readability CLI in action

Zettelkasten ID newsboatmeatsreadable-2020-08-14-1545