Sunday, August 10, 2008

Russian writers & the Archbishop of Canterbury

I interviewed Lesley Chamberlain not so long ago, when two of her major works on Russian intellectual history were about to be published in the United States.

Now, Chamberlain has interviewed Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, about the work of Russian novelist Dostoevsky.

Here is a key excerpt from Williams' comments:

Dostoevsky famously said: "If there’s no God, then everything is permitted." It’s a view the west might consider more often. Dostoevsky’s not saying that if there’s no God then no one’s watching us and we can do what we like. He’s really asking: what’s the rationale for living this way and not otherwise? If there’s no God, then there’s no shape to our lives. Our behaviour needs to be in tune with something. If there’s no divine tune, how do you know where to go, what to do? To believe in God is not a business of rewards, but an ability to make sense of things.

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