Transformation and Freedom


Leo Tolstoy

“Now I say that I know the meaning of my life: “To live for God, for my soul.” And this meaning, in spite of its clearness, is mysterious and marvelous. Such, indeed, is the meaning of everything existing. Yes, pride,’ he said to himself, turning over on his stomach and beginning to tie a noose of blades of grass, trying not to break them. ‘And not merely pride of intellect, but dullness of intellect. And most of all, the deceitfulness; yes, the deceitfulness of intellect. The cheating knavishness of intellect, that’s it,’ he said to himself.”

Deep sea exploration has always been daunting. At its deepest known point, the ocean floor is over 35,000 feet below the surface – exactly the inverse of the cruising altitude of commercial airliners. When people explore these vast depths, they encase themselves in the strongest armor to prevent being crushed by the pressure.

Christians trying to live in the world by their own power are just as crushed by the pressure. No amount of Herculean intellect and wit is enough.  Like the delicate creatures that swim freely at the ocean’s depths, the Christian must be transformed, as Paul says in Romans, by a renewed mind.  This is spiritual work – not intellectual –  and can only be done in total, without reserve.

We sadly resist giving our entire selves to God, thinking somehow we can make ourselves happier by guiding our own destiny. What a waste.

What depths we could explore.

IMG_0181Romans 12:1-3

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.


D I G  D E E P E R

Art: Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park by Jason deCaires Taylor

The Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park is a collection of ecological underwater contemporary art located in the Caribbean sea off the west coast of Grenada, West Indies and was created by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. In May 2006 the world’s first underwater sculpture park was open for public viewing.[1] Taylor′s aim was to engage local people with the underwater environment that surrounds them using his works which are derived from life casts of the local community. He installed concrete figures onto the ocean floor, mostly consisting of a range of human forms, from solitary individuals to a ring of children holding hands, facing into the oceanic currents

Literature & Liturgy: Leo Tolstoy’s Religion

Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy

Upon completing Anna Karenina, Tolstoy fell into a profound state of existential despair, which he describes in his Ispoved (1884; My Confession). All activity seemed utterly pointless in the face of death, and Tolstoy, impressed by the faith of the common people, turned to religion. Drawn at first to the Russian Orthodox church into which he had been born, he rapidly decided that it, and all other Christian churches, were corrupt institutions that had thoroughly falsified true Christianity. Having discovered what he believed to be Christ’s message and having overcome his paralyzing fear of death, Tolstoy devoted the rest of his life to developing and propagating his new faith. He was excommunicated from the Russian Orthodox church in 1901.


Eng. tr. of his works ed. L. Wiener (24 vols., London and Boston, 1904–5, incl. Life by the translator in vol. 24, pp. 205–317, and bibl. to date of works in Eng., Ger., and Fr., pp. 403–35; but incl. some works not by Tolstoy); better Eng. tr., mainly by A. and L. Maude (Tolstoy Centenary Edition, ed. A. Maude, 21 vols., London, 1928–37). Life by A. Maude, 2 vols., London, 1908–10; abridged edn., ibid., 1918; full Life also repr. in Centenary edn., vols. 1–2. Many of his works have also been tr. separately. C. A. Behrs’s Recollections of Count Tolstoy tr. into Eng. by C. E. Turner (London, 1893); the Reminiscences of Tolstoy by his son, Count 1. Tolstoy, tr. into Eng. by G. Calderon (ibid., 1914); a number of arts. on Tolstoy by members of his family collected by R. Fülöp-Miller tr. into Eng. under the title Family Views of Tolstoy, ed. A. Maude (1926); Tolstoy Remembered by his son S. Tolstoy, orig. pub. in Moscow, 1949, tr. into Eng., 1961. A Life, written with Tolstoy’s co-operation, by P. Birukoff was pub. 4 vols., Moscow, 1906–23; Eng. tr. of vol. 1, 1906; an abridged version tr. into Eng., 1911. There is a wide range of studies on Tolstoy; those available in Eng., incl. the works of R. Rolland (Paris, 1911; Eng. tr., 1911), D. Leon (London, 1944, also with bibl.), E. J. Simmons (Boston, 1946; London, 1949), H. Troyat (orig. ‘L. Tarassov’; Paris, 1965; Eng. tr., New York, 1967; London, 1968; Penguin edn., 1970), R. F. Christian (Cambridge, 1969), and A. N. Wilson (London, 1988). I. Berlin, The Hedgehog and the Fox: An Essay on Tolstoy’s View of History (1953). G. Steiner, Tolstoy or Dostoevsky: An Essay in Contrast (1960). G. W. Spence, Tolstoy the Ascetic (1967). E. J. Simmons, Introduction to Tolstoy’s Writings (1969). R. V. Sampson, Tolstoy: The Discovery of Peace (1973), esp. pp. 108–67. D. Matual, Tolstoy’s Translation of the Gospels: A Critical Study (Lewiston, Queenston, and Lampeter [1992]).
F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford;  New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1642.