I have received quite a few e-mails asking for the title of my favorite book, which I mentioned in Sunday’s service. It is The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It is a classic of Russian literature that was published in 1879.
I have decided to host a virtual book club for anyone that is interested in reading and discussing this book together.
The book explores the life of four brothers. The oldest, Dmitri, is a pleasure-seeking brute. He bases his decisions exclusively on what would benefit himself personally. Ivan, the second brother, is a brilliant but haunted soul. He places a high value on rationality and on man’s intellectual capacities, but struggles immensely to see a deeper meaning in life. Alyosha, the third brother, has embraced a life of faith and is studying to become a monk. Smerdyakov, the fourth brother, is their illegitimate half-brother who is cruel and deceptive.
The boys’ father has been called “one of the most loathsome characters in all of literature.” The plot of the book focuses on solving the brutal murder of the father.
The true value of the book is found in the discussions of faith and doubt between the brothers. What role does God play in our world? How does my own free will impact God’s sovereignty?
The most famous chapter is called “The Grand Inquisitor.”
In this chapter Ivan is having a conversation with his younger brother Aloysha. Ivan tells an allegorical story of Christ coming back to earth. The church arrests Christ to prevent him from continuing his ministry. The Grand Inquisitor meets with Christ in his jail cell to explain why he had been arrested. In essence, the Grand Inquisitor states that the free will to choose faith has become too big a burden for humanity to handle.
Here is a quote from the chapter: “For the mystery of a human being does not solely rest in the desire to live, but in the problem—for what should one live at all? Without a clear perception of his reasons for living, man will never consent to live, and will rather destroy himself than tarry on earth, though he be surrounded with bread.”
The conversation focuses on the meaning and purpose of life. For what should one live? This is the central question that the book explores.
It is a long book so I have broken up our discussion into three installments.
June 10 at 4 pm- discuss the first 301 pages
July 8 at 4 pm- discuss through page 646
August 12 at 4 pm- complete book
I will send out the Zoom link the week before each session. This is a lengthy book, but well worth the journey! (And what better time than a “stay at home” order to read?)
This Sunday we will celebrate Homecoming! We will recognize our new members, our 50 year members, and those who have died in the last year.
“See” you on Sunday!