I have been skipping through some of Leo Tolstoy of late, and came upon William Shirer’s incredibly insightful study, Love and Hatred, which details the turbulent relationship of Leo and Sonya Tolstoy. For years and years they fought and warred and called one another hateful things, and then worked out their feelings in their diaries. The pattern was set: fight all day long, write about it at night, apologize, make up (which they didn’t always do), and then start all over with the same cycle of violent emotions the next day.
And what got me going was that Tolstoy converted to the gospel of peace and nonviolence, chucked all his previous thoughts and dreams, and in such a state couldn’t bring it to bear on his relationship with his wife — whom he loved. She loved him, too.When he died in the cottage across the street from the forlorn train station, he did so because he had run from his wife and the turbulence at home.
I’ve been writing a book, A Weekend called Grace, in which I am seeking to explain the gospel by explaining that we don’t understand the gospel until we learn that we are “eikons” of God (images of God; “eikon” is the Greek term; I think “image” is too colorless, and the Hebrew “tselem” will get you nowhere!). Made as “eikons,” designed to reflect God’s glory to all around us, we choose to sin and are hence “cracked eikons.”
Is this what explains the turbulence of Tolstoy? Why couldn’t he be more eikonic in his real life?