The pen over the sword

Alexander Solzhenitsyn has died at 89. The literary giant, a Christian, did much to overthrow Soviet Communism through his novels and his nonfictional exposes of the gulag, which Sozhenitsyn had experienced first hand. He demonstrates how the pen really can be more powerful than the sword.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • richard

    He was a giant. Those who suffered under Stalin found their muse in him. And he made the West uncomfortable, didn’t he? A true prophet.

  • richard

    He was a giant. Those who suffered under Stalin found their muse in him. And he made the West uncomfortable, didn’t he? A true prophet.

  • Carl Vehse

    The Newsbusters’s article, AP Obit for Solzhenitsyn Ignores His Christian Faith, has some good links, commentary, and a quote from Solzhenitsyn’s June 8, 1978, Harvard speech.

  • Carl Vehse

    The Newsbusters’s article, AP Obit for Solzhenitsyn Ignores His Christian Faith, has some good links, commentary, and a quote from Solzhenitsyn’s June 8, 1978, Harvard speech.

  • richard

    But, Carl, are you saying the media is biased?

  • richard

    But, Carl, are you saying the media is biased?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Or is it merely Newsbusters that is biased? Since the Newsbusters article does not give a link to the AP article in question, we cannot know what version Ken Shepherd (whose article, in apparently typical Newsbuster fashion, consists mainly of quotes from other sources) was looking at.

    But a quick Google search easily turns up several versions of the AP article in question, several of which mention “his devout Orthodoxy”. Knowing that Carl will request one if I do not provide it, here is a link to the liberally-biased Washington Times’ version of the obituary, written at least 12 hours before the NewsBusters “article”. A simple Google search turns up many more outlets running the AP story that mentions his faith.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Or is it merely Newsbusters that is biased? Since the Newsbusters article does not give a link to the AP article in question, we cannot know what version Ken Shepherd (whose article, in apparently typical Newsbuster fashion, consists mainly of quotes from other sources) was looking at.

    But a quick Google search easily turns up several versions of the AP article in question, several of which mention “his devout Orthodoxy”. Knowing that Carl will request one if I do not provide it, here is a link to the liberally-biased Washington Times’ version of the obituary, written at least 12 hours before the NewsBusters “article”. A simple Google search turns up many more outlets running the AP story that mentions his faith.

  • richard

    Ha, tODD. “Liberally-biased Washington Times.” I love it.

  • richard

    Ha, tODD. “Liberally-biased Washington Times.” I love it.

  • Carl Vehse

    tODD,

    Yes, using Google one can find many web pages that have the AP article by Douglas Birch with the headline, “Solzhenitsyn broke taboos, shook Soviet empire.” Some have different AP filing times.

    And of these web pages containing Birch’s article, a number of them do indeed include the mention of “his devout Orthodoxy”, as you noted. However, if you use the advanced Google search to selectively look at all of those web pages with Birch’s article, which also contain “his devout Orthodoxy,” all of those also note at the end of the article: “Correspondent Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.”

    And those web pages that have an article crediting Birch, and that include the mention of “his devout Orthodoxy”, but with a different headline, such as the Washington Times reference you linked to (good, you’re learning!), also note Heintz as a contributor.

    It is likely Newsbusters’ Ken Shepherd was referring to one of the many AP articles by Birch that contained no added contribution by Heintz. Despite your rhetorical question, that does not make Newsbusters> biased.

  • Carl Vehse

    tODD,

    Yes, using Google one can find many web pages that have the AP article by Douglas Birch with the headline, “Solzhenitsyn broke taboos, shook Soviet empire.” Some have different AP filing times.

    And of these web pages containing Birch’s article, a number of them do indeed include the mention of “his devout Orthodoxy”, as you noted. However, if you use the advanced Google search to selectively look at all of those web pages with Birch’s article, which also contain “his devout Orthodoxy,” all of those also note at the end of the article: “Correspondent Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.”

    And those web pages that have an article crediting Birch, and that include the mention of “his devout Orthodoxy”, but with a different headline, such as the Washington Times reference you linked to (good, you’re learning!), also note Heintz as a contributor.

    It is likely Newsbusters’ Ken Shepherd was referring to one of the many AP articles by Birch that contained no added contribution by Heintz. Despite your rhetorical question, that does not make Newsbusters> biased.

  • http://www.saintcynic.blogspot.com Christopher

    He was a beautiful man. I’ve enjoyed many of his books, and look forward to reading the ones on my shelf I haven’t taken up yet.

    What a luminary!

  • http://www.saintcynic.blogspot.com Christopher

    He was a beautiful man. I’ve enjoyed many of his books, and look forward to reading the ones on my shelf I haven’t taken up yet.

    What a luminary!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Carl (@6), I’m not sure what Google search you did, but a simple search for [birch "his devout Orthodoxy" -"jim heintz"] will, obviously, turn up those Web pages containing Birch’s mention of Solzhenitsyn’s Orthodox faith, yet do not mention Jim Heintz contributing to the article. True, some of these results are due to article pagination, in which Heintz’s credit appears on a different page, but even discarding those, I found stories on the following news sites that mention Orthodoxy but not Heintz:

    The Globe and Mail, The Sydney Morning Herald, Yahoo! News Canada, Washington Post (mobile), The Oregonian (on OregonLive.com), The Plain Dealer (on Cleveland.com), The Lexington Herald-Leader (on Kentucky.com), and The New Zealand Herald. That’s what I found in the first two pages of Google results. (Hopefully you will find it in your heart to forgive my not linking to each story, since I do not want to trigger the spam filter with so many links.) So it’s clearly far from true that, of those news stories mentioning Solzhenitsyn’s “Orthodoxy,” “all of those” also mention Jim Heintz’s contribution.

    All of which rather misses the point — whether or not Jim Heintz (himself, it would seem, an AP contributor, especially in Russian news) has no bearing on NewsBusters’ claim. In NewsBusters’ drive to find liberal bias, the site itself committed rather poor journalism (ignoring for now the dependence on other sources for its “story”) and, I would argue, showed up its bias more than the AP’s.

    After all, many of the stories mentioning Solzhenitsyn’s Orthodoxy, referred to above, were published half a day before NewsBusters’ article went live. If they had done a modicum of research into their claim that the “AP obit … ignore[d] his Christian faith”, they would have found plenty of evidence to the contrary. But they didn’t, and went ahead and published their attack. Sounds more like mimicking the type of journalism they usually “bust”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Carl (@6), I’m not sure what Google search you did, but a simple search for [birch "his devout Orthodoxy" -"jim heintz"] will, obviously, turn up those Web pages containing Birch’s mention of Solzhenitsyn’s Orthodox faith, yet do not mention Jim Heintz contributing to the article. True, some of these results are due to article pagination, in which Heintz’s credit appears on a different page, but even discarding those, I found stories on the following news sites that mention Orthodoxy but not Heintz:

    The Globe and Mail, The Sydney Morning Herald, Yahoo! News Canada, Washington Post (mobile), The Oregonian (on OregonLive.com), The Plain Dealer (on Cleveland.com), The Lexington Herald-Leader (on Kentucky.com), and The New Zealand Herald. That’s what I found in the first two pages of Google results. (Hopefully you will find it in your heart to forgive my not linking to each story, since I do not want to trigger the spam filter with so many links.) So it’s clearly far from true that, of those news stories mentioning Solzhenitsyn’s “Orthodoxy,” “all of those” also mention Jim Heintz’s contribution.

    All of which rather misses the point — whether or not Jim Heintz (himself, it would seem, an AP contributor, especially in Russian news) has no bearing on NewsBusters’ claim. In NewsBusters’ drive to find liberal bias, the site itself committed rather poor journalism (ignoring for now the dependence on other sources for its “story”) and, I would argue, showed up its bias more than the AP’s.

    After all, many of the stories mentioning Solzhenitsyn’s Orthodoxy, referred to above, were published half a day before NewsBusters’ article went live. If they had done a modicum of research into their claim that the “AP obit … ignore[d] his Christian faith”, they would have found plenty of evidence to the contrary. But they didn’t, and went ahead and published their attack. Sounds more like mimicking the type of journalism they usually “bust”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Whoops, that should read (omitting the parenthetical comment) “whether or not Jim Heintz contributed to the article has no bearing on NewsBusters’ claim,” notably that “AP Obit for Solzhenitsyn Ignores His Christian Faith”.

    Ignoring the list of articles I referred to in the previous comment, one could make a case that Douglas Birch ignored Solzhenitsyn’s faith (until his article was, perhaps, edited by Birch), but that is rather a less impressive claim.

    As to media bias, what about the fact that so many media outlets ran the version of the article that did mention Orthodoxy? Or will those claiming liberal bias ignore that fact (thus showing their own bias)?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Whoops, that should read (omitting the parenthetical comment) “whether or not Jim Heintz contributed to the article has no bearing on NewsBusters’ claim,” notably that “AP Obit for Solzhenitsyn Ignores His Christian Faith”.

    Ignoring the list of articles I referred to in the previous comment, one could make a case that Douglas Birch ignored Solzhenitsyn’s faith (until his article was, perhaps, edited by Birch), but that is rather a less impressive claim.

    As to media bias, what about the fact that so many media outlets ran the version of the article that did mention Orthodoxy? Or will those claiming liberal bias ignore that fact (thus showing their own bias)?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Well, that’s doubly embarrassing. My comment @9 should read “(until his article was, perhaps, edited by Heintz)”. My kingdom for the preview button.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Well, that’s doubly embarrassing. My comment @9 should read “(until his article was, perhaps, edited by Heintz)”. My kingdom for the preview button.

  • Carl Vehse

    The Globe and Mail, The Sydney Morning Herald, Yahoo! News Canada, Washington Post (mobile), The Oregonian (on OregonLive.com), The Plain Dealer (on Cleveland.com), The Lexington Herald-Leader (on Kentucky.com), and The New Zealand Herald.

    tODD, the articles at these eight websites (and probably others just fail to give Heintz credit. (you should write a protest article about the bias in that!) These websites include the very same paragraph he contributed elsewhere, which is absent in Birch’s original article:

    “During the 1990s, his stalwart nationalist views, his devout Orthodoxy, his disdain for capitalism and disgust with the tycoons who bought Russian industries and resources for kopeks on the ruble following the Soviet collapse, were unfashionable. He faded from public view.”

    As to media bias, what about the fact that so many media outlets ran the version of the article that did mention Orthodoxy?

    The focus of the Newsbusters article was on Birch’s AP original report that did not mention Solzhenitsyn’s Orthodox faith, not on all the reports in the world, published with multiple contributors, that did.

  • Carl Vehse

    The Globe and Mail, The Sydney Morning Herald, Yahoo! News Canada, Washington Post (mobile), The Oregonian (on OregonLive.com), The Plain Dealer (on Cleveland.com), The Lexington Herald-Leader (on Kentucky.com), and The New Zealand Herald.

    tODD, the articles at these eight websites (and probably others just fail to give Heintz credit. (you should write a protest article about the bias in that!) These websites include the very same paragraph he contributed elsewhere, which is absent in Birch’s original article:

    “During the 1990s, his stalwart nationalist views, his devout Orthodoxy, his disdain for capitalism and disgust with the tycoons who bought Russian industries and resources for kopeks on the ruble following the Soviet collapse, were unfashionable. He faded from public view.”

    As to media bias, what about the fact that so many media outlets ran the version of the article that did mention Orthodoxy?

    The focus of the Newsbusters article was on Birch’s AP original report that did not mention Solzhenitsyn’s Orthodox faith, not on all the reports in the world, published with multiple contributors, that did.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Carl (@11), you seem to offer nothing but guesses and assumptions. What evidence do you have for your reconstruction of what Birch wrote and what Heintz wrote, specifically that Birch himself did not write the phrase “his devout Orthodoxy” or that the eight search results I mentioned (plus the untold number I didn’t look into) “fail[ed] to give Heintz credit”?

    “The focus of the Newsbusters article was on Birch’s AP original report that did not mention Solzhenitsyn’s Orthodox faith.” Your defense says what the NewsBusters (NB) article does not. First of all, there is no mention of there being different versions of the article in question, so there could be no focus on the “original” report, even though these many versions had been circulating for some time when NB posted its critique. Secondly, NB, while clearly your preferred source of news, failed to provide a link to the story they were commenting on, so it’s not even clear what version of the AP article they’re referring to! (Perhaps you should comment about this on their story.) Moreover, the NB headline makes plain what their focus was: the would-be bias in the “AP Obit”. This is an attack on the AP’s credibility (and, of course, the “mainstream media” in general, not merely Douglas Birch’s. The commenter who replied by calling the AP “The Anti-Christian Press” understood that. Do you really not?

    The NB headline “AP Obit for Solzhenitsyn Ignores His Christian Faith” is, as such, misleading at best. Ken Shepherd had ample opportunity to find out, if he wanted to, that the AP obituary run by many, many media outlets did not ignore Solzhenitsyn’s faith.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Carl (@11), you seem to offer nothing but guesses and assumptions. What evidence do you have for your reconstruction of what Birch wrote and what Heintz wrote, specifically that Birch himself did not write the phrase “his devout Orthodoxy” or that the eight search results I mentioned (plus the untold number I didn’t look into) “fail[ed] to give Heintz credit”?

    “The focus of the Newsbusters article was on Birch’s AP original report that did not mention Solzhenitsyn’s Orthodox faith.” Your defense says what the NewsBusters (NB) article does not. First of all, there is no mention of there being different versions of the article in question, so there could be no focus on the “original” report, even though these many versions had been circulating for some time when NB posted its critique. Secondly, NB, while clearly your preferred source of news, failed to provide a link to the story they were commenting on, so it’s not even clear what version of the AP article they’re referring to! (Perhaps you should comment about this on their story.) Moreover, the NB headline makes plain what their focus was: the would-be bias in the “AP Obit”. This is an attack on the AP’s credibility (and, of course, the “mainstream media” in general, not merely Douglas Birch’s. The commenter who replied by calling the AP “The Anti-Christian Press” understood that. Do you really not?

    The NB headline “AP Obit for Solzhenitsyn Ignores His Christian Faith” is, as such, misleading at best. Ken Shepherd had ample opportunity to find out, if he wanted to, that the AP obituary run by many, many media outlets did not ignore Solzhenitsyn’s faith.

  • Carl Vehse

    The addition is likely to be Heintz’s because Newsbuster’s Ken Shepherd noted that Birch’s AP article had 38 paragraphs (like this Mon Aug 4, 6:32 AM ET version, and because Heintz’s name was associated with the appearance of the specific paragraph.

    The NB article was directed at Douglas Birch’s report, not at other revised reports with Heintz’s contribution that may have mentioned “his devout orthodoxy.”

    My initial post brought up the NB article in part because of the Solzhenitsyn quote it did include (and for which I linked the entire article).

    Your subsequent posts have been devoted to castigating NB for what you see as not covering a wider topic or consider every possible report permutation, along with your delusion on what my “preferred source of news” is. If that floats your boat, tODD, have at it. You might even write Newsbusters and include all the findings you have posted here about how they should select their topics and title their articles. Maybe they’ll devote an article to you.

  • Carl Vehse

    The addition is likely to be Heintz’s because Newsbuster’s Ken Shepherd noted that Birch’s AP article had 38 paragraphs (like this Mon Aug 4, 6:32 AM ET version, and because Heintz’s name was associated with the appearance of the specific paragraph.

    The NB article was directed at Douglas Birch’s report, not at other revised reports with Heintz’s contribution that may have mentioned “his devout orthodoxy.”

    My initial post brought up the NB article in part because of the Solzhenitsyn quote it did include (and for which I linked the entire article).

    Your subsequent posts have been devoted to castigating NB for what you see as not covering a wider topic or consider every possible report permutation, along with your delusion on what my “preferred source of news” is. If that floats your boat, tODD, have at it. You might even write Newsbusters and include all the findings you have posted here about how they should select their topics and title their articles. Maybe they’ll devote an article to you.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Carl (@13), you keep asserting that the article without Heintz’s contribution was the “original”, and that Heintz later “revised” it to include the mention of Orthodoxy.
    However, the article you link to (which, we can assume, is similar to the one the NB folks read) is dated “Mon Aug 4, 6:32 AM ET” on Yahoo! News, while another version of the obituary from the same source, with the mention of Orthodoxy and a credit to Heintz is dated “Sun Aug 3, 9:52 PM ET”. Your assumptions aren’t lining up.

    You also state that “Heintz’s name was associated with the appearance of the specific paragraph” in spite of my evidence to the contrary above. You waved that away by saying they “fail to give Heintz credit” without offering any proof to that end.

    As to NewsBusters, I only read their articles when you point me to them, which is not infrequent. If they are not your preferred news source, one would not know it from recent links you have given here on Veith’s blog. From what I have read, given their misleading headlines (or sloppy research), not to mention their over-reliance on other sources which I can find elsewhere, I do not need to add them to my feed reader.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Carl (@13), you keep asserting that the article without Heintz’s contribution was the “original”, and that Heintz later “revised” it to include the mention of Orthodoxy.
    However, the article you link to (which, we can assume, is similar to the one the NB folks read) is dated “Mon Aug 4, 6:32 AM ET” on Yahoo! News, while another version of the obituary from the same source, with the mention of Orthodoxy and a credit to Heintz is dated “Sun Aug 3, 9:52 PM ET”. Your assumptions aren’t lining up.

    You also state that “Heintz’s name was associated with the appearance of the specific paragraph” in spite of my evidence to the contrary above. You waved that away by saying they “fail to give Heintz credit” without offering any proof to that end.

    As to NewsBusters, I only read their articles when you point me to them, which is not infrequent. If they are not your preferred news source, one would not know it from recent links you have given here on Veith’s blog. From what I have read, given their misleading headlines (or sloppy research), not to mention their over-reliance on other sources which I can find elsewhere, I do not need to add them to my feed reader.

  • richard

    tODD,
    You and Carl should meet up somewhere and have a beer (or two!) to resolve your disagreements.

  • richard

    tODD,
    You and Carl should meet up somewhere and have a beer (or two!) to resolve your disagreements.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Richard, if we lived anywhere near each other, that might be a good idea. But if we’re going to choose which of our cities to meet in for beers, it’s best to make it Portland. Besides, it’s too hot in Austin. Still, Carl, if you ever find yourself in the Northwest, why not connect through Portland? I can meet you at the airport, where there are several bars serving good Northwest ales.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Richard, if we lived anywhere near each other, that might be a good idea. But if we’re going to choose which of our cities to meet in for beers, it’s best to make it Portland. Besides, it’s too hot in Austin. Still, Carl, if you ever find yourself in the Northwest, why not connect through Portland? I can meet you at the airport, where there are several bars serving good Northwest ales.


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