Ninety-nine years ago today, the Bolsheviks in Russia confiscated church lands, canceled state subsidies for the church, made marriage a civil ordinance, and nationalized the schools, abolishing all religious instruction.
In 1983, prominent Soviet dissident Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, looking back at the wreckage and misery caused by communism in his land, had this to say:
More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.
Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.
What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.
The Twentieth Century was the bloodiest in the history of mankind. Exact numbers vary, but most historians agree that about 17 million people died in the First World War, and 50 to 80 million in the Second. Out of the rubble of these two ruinous events emerged a virulent and murderous ideology – Marxist-Leninism, that would inspire another 110 million deaths in a vain attempt to create a ‘worker’s paradise’ that, in reality, amounted to nothing more than protection of a ruling class by another name.
Rather than return to the roots of Christendom, long since buried over in the eruption of militarism that spawned the First World War, the West has since run ever farther from God. Determined to create its own solutions, Western Civilization decided that multiculturalism was the only way to prevent future violent catastrophes (despite history showing that multicultural societies are inherently unstable). Wracked by guilt over the excesses of colonialism (itself a symptom of Christendom forgetting Christ), the ‘intelligentsia’ of the West opted for suicide. Along the way, the United States has, like the Russians of 1917, redefined marriage, turned the schools hostile to any expression of Christian faith (while actively promoting alternatives), and generally tried to confine Christian expression to the confines of the sanctuary on Sunday.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. But it seems we’re crazy enough as a society to believe that pushing Jehovah God even further out of sight will result in a 21st Century that is better than the 20th.
O come, O come, Emmanuel!