Reading for Monday, 29 December
I’m now back in slightly cooler and much less humid Brisbane, so hopefully this will be the last of the blog disruptions for a while.
In this chapter, Natasha and the rest of the Rostov family go to church to pray for the war. I should point out that there was a mention of Denisov in this chapter – Natasha said that when they prayed for the army, she thought of her brother and Denisov.
But the far more interesting part of this chapter is the way that religion and politics mix together. I’m not sure how they got to this mode of thinking, but – at least as far as the deacon praying is concerned – the Russians are now God’s chosen people, and the French are now “God’s enemies”.
I can understand how this kind of thinking would come about – on a religious note, if I understand my history correctly, the French would have been quite secular by this stage, compared with the more devoutly Orthodox Russians, so there was certainly a religious difference that existed between the two countries on that level.
But this prayer takes it to a whole new level, with all the Old Testament imagery of Israel defeating its enemies being read straight onto Russia and its enemies, with no real question of whether it fits, whether the Bible was actually talking about Russia at the time and really no explanation for why Russia, of all countries in the world, would be God’s new Israel . . .
But that hasn’t stopped other nations thinking that way, and there’s quite a relevance to this chapter to modern-day history, I think.