Reading for Tuesday 4/11/08
Sorry, folks, last week was exceptionally busy the whole week, and then there was an awful lot on this weekend as well.
Anyway, better late than never . . .
This chapter serves two purposes. First of all, we find out that Marya has been copping quite nasty treatment from her father – not that there’s anything new in that.
Then we launch into another of her letters to Julie Karagina. In this letter, she puts forward her belief that God causes everything that happens (whether it seems bad or good to us) for a good reason. I don’t have time to explore this one more in-depth, but it has been of the most hot topics in atheist vs Christian discussions for many years.
The debate goes something like this – atheists say that there clearly can’t be an all-loving God because if He was all-loving and all-powerful, He (or She) wouldn’t let bad stuff happen to people who don’t deserve it. Because bad stuff doesn’t happen, He’s either not all-loving or He’s not all-powerful. Either way, He mustn’t exists.
The problem is it’s too simplistic to say, “God’s in control. Don’t worry about what just happened. It’ll all work out for the best” but that has been the message that has been put across for a while. Tolstoy gives us a fair-sized slab of that in Marya’s letter. I don’t know what Julie Karagina’s reaction would have been to this letter, but I suspect this kind of thing would have been like rubbing salt in her wounds.
But then again, Marya and Julie have been writing to each other for years, so maybe not.
It’s also rather amusing that Marya’s Dad is the lone voice of reason who isn’t siding with Napoleon under the new arrangement. (Remember, you are supposed to read this chapter in light of the fact that we know Napoleon is going to invade Russia in 1812.)
Finally, a little bit of comedy as Marya expressly denies that there’s any chance that her brother would get engaged to Natasha Rostova.