In part one of this post, I considered how we seem to be living in momentous times. The very foundations of western society are facing an all-out attack that threatens to completely transform the world as we know it. Solzhenitsyn famously wrote, “The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. One word of truth outweighs the world.” He released Live Not By Lies on the day he was arrested and then exiled to the West. It was written to a people worn down by decades of Communist rule who felt so helpless and lacking the strength to stand and fight the system.
Today we are not decades into a totalitarian regime, but we may be on the front porch. Too many are already silently complying with the moral demands of the mob that seeks to rule and transform our society. There are voices who are speaking truth, fighting evil, and taking unpopular stands. But as we come to the end of 2022, I am wondering why there are not as many Christian voices as we might expect.
So why are we often so silent? Here are some possible reasons:
1. Some are unaware. We live in an age with more information available than ever before. Still, it seems easier than ever to switch off current news or at least to switch off some perspectives on current news. It is emotionally draining to try and take in all that is going on. There is wisdom in choosing how much we expose our hearts to difficult news. Deliberately or accidentally, some of us are unaware of the seismic shift occurring under and in western society.
In his Warning to the West, Solzhenitsyn wrote provocatively about the ignorance he saw in that era, “It is astonishing that Communism has been writing about itself in the most open way, in black and white, for 125 years, and even more openly, more candidly in the beginning. The book [The Communist Manifesto], for instance, which everyone knows by name and which almost no one takes the trouble to read, contains even more terrible things than what has actually been done. It is perfectly amazing. The whole world can read, everyone is literate, yet somehow no one wants to understand. Humanity acts as if it does not understand what Communism is, as if it does not want to understand, is not capable of understanding.”
The kind of societal transformation agendas I am concerned about today are published online and in print. They do not get called out for what they are by the media, but they do not hide. And yet, so many remain unaware.
Furthermore, as Solzhenitsyn wrote, “All Communist Parties, upon attaining power, have become completely merciless. But at the stage before they achieve power, it is necessary to use disguises.” Some thinly disguised versions of communist-like totalitarianism still fool many these days.
2. Some are unconcerned. Most Christians are worried about specific issues when mentioned in conversation. However, many seem unconcerned that the news and social media keep them in the dark about such matters. It is genuinely bizarre that people seem content to have information proactively silenced, suppressed, or hidden. I can only hope they are unaware of the extent of the narrative control rather than truly satisfied with it.
I remember hearing about a Christian ministry seeking permission to sell books in a one-religion country some years ago. They were given permission but told not to sell Bibles to people of that religion. When they asked how to know whether someone was from that religion or not, they received simple instructions. They had to put the Bibles behind a curtain with a sign that read, “Not for people of religion X.” They readily agreed, and the Bible was the bestseller, of course! We all know human nature causes us to ask questions when we are not allowed to see something. But human nature seems to have morphed in the last few years. Now it seems that people are happy to have everything pre-filtered by unknown ideologues with undisclosed guidelines sitting at a keyboard somewhere.
Underneath a relaxed attitude to censorship, there lies complacency. Since we cannot imagine foreign troops marching on our streets, we believe our society is immune to any takeover. Solzhenitsyn wrote in The Gulag Archipelago, “There is always this fallacious belief: ‘It would not be the same here; here such things are impossible.’ Alas, all the evil of the twentieth century is possible everywhere on earth.”
Perhaps we should be more concerned about living in a controlled and crafted narrative.
3. Some are overwhelmed. It does not take long to find enough information to overwhelm your heart. There is a heaviness to living through history. As I read the Gulag Archipelago, my heart breaks for what so many suffered while the West remained unaware. That weight only increases when you think of the people who have experienced Communism and are now issuing warnings to us in the West. History is heavy. History being repackaged and repeated is heavier still.
Solzhenitsyn in his commencement address to Harvard: “Humanism which has lost its Christian heritage cannot prevail in this competition. Thus during the past centuries and especially in recent decades, as the process became more acute, the alignment of forces was as follows: Liberalism was inevitably pushed aside by radicalism, radicalism had to surrender to socialism, and socialism could not stand up to Communism.”
In Part three I will conclude this list with two more, perhaps the two most important, reasons for this relative and frankly, perplexing, silence.
I would recommend reading Live Not By Lies, by Solzhenitsyn. It is a quick read, but it is gold. https://www.solzhenitsyncenter.org/live-not-by-lies