Sat in work’s canteen, I found myself enjoying a bit of Tolstoy, nothing beats having a paid fifteen minute break to sit and read a book. This book wouldn’t have been my obvious choice for a début work read but it was something I had started and quite simply didn’t wish to distract myself with another book.
I remember picking up my somewhat battered 1902 version from a wonderful second-hand shop four or so years ago and it is worth every penny of the £4.95, I paid for it. Why somebody would let this go I have no idea. Tolstoy writes with a simplicity and a logic that whilst sometimes seeming a little repetitive, makes his points with an effective and compelling clarity.
The primary essay centres on Tolstoy asking what is religion and its essence? He begins by analysing the key message of all religions, what they have in common, the teachings, in particular Christianity (and the teachings of Jesus) and how far the established church has diverted from certain tenets of its own faith.
In this and the other writings, class is a big factor for the author, asking why small groups of powerful people be it in the Church or not are working for their own ends and not for the good of everybody. Tolstoy also asks us to consider the logic of some of the dogma that surrounds the modern-day state of the church, these are issues that are around today and seem to still be largely ignored. Continue reading “What is Religion? and Other Writings – Leo Tolstoy”