While writing about great trials yesterday, I thought of The Grand Inquisitor from The Brothers Karamozov. Several translations of this famous story within a story, chapter five of Dostoyevski’s great novel, are available online.
Then I also discovered that it was filmed by John Gielguld in 1975.
Wikipedia summarizes the key points this way: The Inquisitor frames his denunciation of Jesus around the three questions Satan asked Jesus during the temptation of Christ in the desert. These three are the temptation to turn stones into bread, the temptation to cast Himself from the Temple and be saved by the angels, and the temptation to rule over all the kingdoms of the world. The Inquisitor states that Jesus rejected these three temptations in favor of freedom, but the Inquisitor thinks that Jesus has misjudged human nature. He does not believe that the vast majority of humanity can handle the freedom which Jesus has given them. The Inquisitor thus implies that Jesus, in giving humans freedom to choose, has excluded the majority of humanity from redemption and doomed it to suffer.
Online there are also learned explanations from many viewpoints: literary, religious, and philosophical. I found this article from the New York Times particularly informative, and it concludes by posing the dilemma faced by the Inquisitor… and by extension, all of us… the choice between diabolical happiness and unendurable freedom. It is worth reading!
The problem of the existence of evil…
Here in southern Ontario to-day we seem to be staring at pure evil, senseless and tragic beyond belief. After a week of intensive searching, police announced this morning that they have found the body of Tim Bosma. I am too upset to write about it. If you live anywhere near here, you know the story as it has unfolded so far. If not, I am sure you can learn about it from many online sources.
Not since the murders by Paul Bernardo, Karla Homolka, and Jonathan Yeo in the early 1990’s has this community been so emotionally affected by criminal activity.
This afternoon, returning from a wonderful fiber art show in Wellington County, we drove through the peaceful rural landscape of rolling hills and prosperous farms. Everything looked so perfect. But there is evil even here.
The question, as always, is why?