The Substance of Faith

The Substance of Faith

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Lenin on St. Francis

Most of us have in a passing knowledge of Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Russian revolution.  We know Lenin was an atheist.  We know Lenin was a materialist and rejected the spiritual dimension of life.  Here, however, is an interesting quote from Lenin when he looked back on his life and the accomplishments of the revolution he led:   “I made a mistake. Without doubt, an oppressed multitude had to be liberated. But our method only provoked further oppression and atrocious massacres. My living nightmare is to find myself lost in an ocean of red with the blood of innumerable victims. It is too late now to alter the past, but what was needed to save Russia were ten Francis of Assissi’s.”

Statue of Lenin in Petrozavodsk, Russia. (c) Joel Snider

Statue of Lenin in Petrozavodsk, Russia.
(c) Joel Snider

In his own assessment, Russia’s greatest need for the solution of its problems was ten examples of an extremely selfless and kind Christian.  Certainly ten St. Francis’s would have been a better solution than revolution.  Does anyone doubt that a change of heart would have a greater impact on the world than a bloody revolution?

I listen to the news over the last few weeks.  Putin jockeys for power on the world stage. What happens to Ukraine?   The ruble is in free fall, but so is the Euro.  Greece calls previous German restructuring of their debt immoral.  No one can determine if falling oil prices is really good for the US economy; wall Street disagrees with the people who pay at the pump.  Since 2008, stock markets have improved, but the standard of living for the average person is stuck in neutral.

What are the solutions?  Everyone offers political and economic ideas. Make a buffer out of Ukraine, but give Russia a port on the sea.  Greece can leave the Euro community or reaffirm austerity.  Should the Federal Reserve fear deflation and keep interest rates low, or fear inflation and start raising rates?

Maybe the world’s  economic and political problems have a spiritual component.  At their roots, the problems are problems of heart:  Fear, Power, Greed.  If so, then the best solutions must include a change in us.  How can the world change if each of us  stays the same?

Therefore, maybe we need what Lenin admitted would have been a better solution: ten Francis of Assissi’s to inspire us to better living.   Please don’t think of me as naïve; after all I am following the lead of  one of the most materially oriented individuals of the 20th century. If as a pragmatist, Lenin believed in the power of St. Francis, why can’t we?

My point is, today’s headlines are about war, currencies, governments, debt, interest rates, etc.  Look behind the headlines to see the spiritual factors involved.  What difference would it make if the followers of Christ truly sought the heart of Christ?  Who would say it would make NO difference?  That old atheist, Vladimir Lenin, thought otherwise.


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As always, the February 11 blog is superb! Interesting too. We can certainly learn from this.


February 11, 2015

Thanks, Merrill. I appreciate your kind words. I’m glad you find these posts helpful.


February 11, 2015

Thanks Joel. Very interesting. Had never read this about Lenin before.

Ken Nance

February 19, 2015

Who would have thought such an idea would come from Lenin? Thanks for reading.


February 20, 2015