From the editor: March 14, 2014

New Men & Old Sins

Ulyanov, was executed in 1887 for his role in a plot to assassinate the Tsar. He had been influenced by Dmitry Pisarev, a nihilist writer and critic. Pisarev wrote of a new kind of human being, ascetically dedicated to science and to working for the "good of humanity." These new people are unable to tolerate internal discord. "Conscience—moral duty—must perfectly harmonize with action, reason with feeling, egoism with the love of humanity."

Writes Pisarev:

Alexander Lenin
Lenin's older brother Alexander

New men don't sin and don't repent; they always reflect, and they only make mistakes in calculation, and then correct their errors and avoid repeating them in the future. For new people goodness and truth, honesty and knowledge, character and intellect are identical; the more intelligent a new person, the more honest he is because fewer mistakes creep into his calculations. (Philip Pomper, Lenin's Brother: The Origins of the October Revolution, WW Norton & Co. 2010)

No sin and no repentance. It seems we now live in a Country for New Men, for whom scientific technique and scientifically enlightened government is the path to paradise on earth. If something goes awry—say a dozen children are gunned down by a suicidal killer—why, we simply must create new laws and regulations, for we have obviously miscalculated. Wrong turns down our national highway to the future are thus met with a mere word, "Recalculating," from our national GPS leaders. Not, "We have sinned. Let us repent." How, indeed, to turn back from 55 million abortions (and counting) without saying "sin" I can't imagine.

Dostoevsky's Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment was also one of Russia's New Men, like Alexander Ulyanov, who did not believe in sin. But after his crime, through reading the account of raising Lazarus, Raskolnikov came to his senses and repented. He had sinned. He abandoned the attitude of the New People for that expressed by this verse from the Lenten Triodion of the Orthodox Church: "Hateful thoughts have covered my soul with leprosy: cleanse it, Word of God, with the sprinkling of Thy Blood, O Christ, who for my sake has suffered Crucifixion."

I do not wish to be one of those New Men, but one of those Old Men for whom redemption is found only in Christ and him Crucified. Jesus, who came to save Old Adam, if you will, was crucified through the calculations of New Men. And thus it always is. Let us stand with him on Golgotha that we may rise with him.

—James M. Kushiner


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