Those of you that have read Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov will immediately see the reference the title of this new website is making to his most famous passage, The Grand Inquisitor. It was definitely my intent to invoke the spirit of this literary masterpiece for the presentation of The Grand Inquisitive; this blog will allow me to express the intricacies of my opinions on various topics I’m interested in through the constant questioning of the premises which shape those opinions as well as those which shape the ideas of persons who disagree with me. Just so we are clear, The Grand Inquisitive is a reference to The Brothers Karamazov as a whole, not the character of the Inquisitor. I am not out to burn those I disagree with- quite the opposite actually. Recently I have devoted a large portion of my internet time on social networking sites involved in discussions which require far more than a comment list to be treated fairly; more often than not topics are argued using lists of sound bites and are rarely treated with the respect they deserve. If all I can do is aim at the depth and complexities of the arguments present within Brothers, whichare centralized around Ivan Karamazov’s poem, then I will have achieved much in the way of meaningful discussion.
The Grand Inquisitor is my favorite passage from all literature and in my opinion the best, so I have chosen to give this great work of art a nod in the title of my blog and hope it will provide inspiration to my writing. Inspiration will be drawn from the way Dostoevsky took up the challenge of confronting an opinion different from his own with the utmost respect; so much so, as it has been said, his counter-argument failed to refute the Inquisitor. Ivan’s story presents the reader with the strongest reason possible for the non-existence of a loving and compassionate God which is far removed from Dostoevsky’s personal principles. Dostoevsky’s willingness to traverse the depths of his opposition’s theories in order to ensure there were no pretenses about his own arguments is a sign of complete faith and confidence in his personally held beliefs. The fact that he gave his opposition an equal voice is a testament to those in our maddening world of political pundits and talk radio hosts who try to discredit their rivals in ever more complex and dishonest ways.
An additional aspect of The Grand Inquisitor which I hope to emulate is how Dostoevsky seamlessly blends his Orthodox Christian faith with his political views without compromising either one. The Inquisitor’s interpretation of the temptations of Christ in the desert can easily be interpreted as a polemic against socialism which would have been gaining traction in Dostoevsky’s pre-revolution Russia. I am also an Orthodox Christian as well as politically conservative and these traits are most definitely going to shape the ideas I choose to write about; my goal with this blog is to provide the reader with a chance to see both sides of the issues and from here make their own decisions. Of course this is no easy task and I ask in return for my readers to hold me accountable to this.
“Even this must have a preface—that is, a literary preface,” laughed Ivan, “and I am a poor hand at making one”.