On the left is the Gulag Archipelago Trilogy, followed by "The Oak and the Calf" and "Invisible Allies". These two books could be labelled, "The Rest of the Story". They deal with the unsung heroes, the unnamed allies who sacrificed as much or more than Solzhenitsyn himself so that his works might finally be published.
50 years after One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich saw the light of day, Natalya Solzhenitsyn (Alexandr's widow) presented a special commemorative edition to President Vladimir Putin. It included "One Day" and readers’ letters to Novy Mir, the magazine that originally published it. The magazine had kept these letters for 50 years, many of which were addressed simply to Ivan Denisovich. In her meeting with President Putin, she spoke simply and to the point:
The reason to publish these books is to preserve our collective memory. It is a remedy for memory loss, which is a weak person’s, a weak society’s and a weak state’s disease.
This post began when I read an obituary from Dec. 11, 2012: Galina Vishnevskaya Soprano and Dissident, Dies at 86. She was a world-renowned Russian opera diva who with her husband defied the Soviet regime to give shelter to Solzhenitsyn and suffered exile from her homeland.
Mrs. Vishnevskaya and the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich married in 1955, frequently performed together, and used their star status in the Soviet Union to help friends in trouble. In the most notable example of their defiance of the Communist authorities, they sheltered Solzhenitsyn at their country home for several years as he faced official reprisals.
After Solzhenitsyn was expelled, Mrs. Vishnevskaya and Rostropovich left the Soviet Union in 1974. They lived in Paris and then Washington. They were stripped of their Soviet citizenship in 1978.
For a hauntingly beautiful example of their talent:
The compelling rightness of a noble cause captures a heart. When it captures many hearts, an historic milestone is around the corner. Altruism at its most altruistic. What a rare combination: genuine talent, first-class citizens of the world, celebrity committed to basic human rights and freedom of expression. Who today, at the top of their artistic or academic career, would harbor an unknown Solzhenitsyn for several uncertain years under a repressive regime?
Many people risked everything because of the rightness of a cause. Even though we enjoy the benefits of what they accomplished, they may be completely unknown to us.
I feel an analogy coming on.
There are noble causes... and there is the noblest cause. What does our commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ look like? How deeply committed are we to co-laborers who live to carry the message beyond and deeper? How genuine is our compassion for the souls that God intends for them to reach?
“For a great door and effectual is opened unto me,
and [there are] many adversaries.” 1 Corinthians 16:9
I thought Solzhenitsyn's enemies would have silenced him early on; but he died of old age. Only God kept the Apostle Paul alive and serving as long as he did. Yet, neither of these men prevailed without an entourage. No single victory came easily or without sacrifice. Seemingly insurmountable forces were overcome.
What if we were truly committed to this one passion? What if our collective efforts were truly concerted?
"In the early centuries after the apostle Paul made his massive footprint, no central figure can be credited for single-handedly furthering the cause of the faith. Evangelism was considered the work of every Christian, and anonymity was in many ways a positive attribute. An apostle Paul would have been an easy target, but tens of thousands of nameless evangelists were easily lost in the crowd." (Parade of Faith by Ruth A. Tucker. Zondervan. Kindle Edition. Location 1331-32)
"Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith,
I joy, and rejoice with you all." Philippians 2:17
Edited and re-posted from Feb 19, 2014
Greg was raised near Milwaukee, WI. He has lived outside of the United States since 1976... first in Central America and, since 1982, in Cancun, Mexico.
Concise devotions in Spanish and English, along with some lengthier essays… Designed for personal spiritual growth and to help anyone studying English or Spanish as a second language to improve their skills… Rev 14:6
To highlight one essential facet of the eternal Gospel of Jesus Christ... Rev 14:6; 2 Cor. 5:18
THANK YOU FOR READING!
"Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ." (Philemon 1:20)
Refreshing the Bones by Greg Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.