Leo Tolstoy
· The Circle of Reading
Translated by Dmitry Fadeyev

January 31

The establishment by some people of a religious law that is not subject to discussion by others and which must be accepted by them on faith is the highest degree of insolence.

Why would people need this?

1

If something is true, then let us all believe in it—the poor, the rich, men, women and children. If it is not true, then let nobody believe it—neither the poor, nor the rich, nor crowds of people, nor women, nor children. Truth should be proclaimed from the rooftops.

There are constant whisperings that say that it is dangerous to reveal certain things to the people. They say: we know that this is false, but it is very useful for the people, and a lot of evil may be caused by shaking their faith.

But crooked ways remain crooked, even if they are used to deceive large masses of people instead of individuals. And that is why our sole motivation is the pursuit of the truth that we know, wherever it may lead us.

— Clifford

2

The ignorance and superstition of the people is caused for the most part by the perennial existence of cruel people who, having become enlightened themselves, use their light not for what they ought to use it—to help the people crawl out of the darkness of ignorance—but only to strengthen it in them.

3

How strange! In all the ages villains try to mask their vile deeds by their devotion to the interests of religion, morality and love for the fatherland.

— Heine

4

Beware of those scribes who like to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts; who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these will receive greater condemnation.

— Luke 20:46–47

5

But you are not to be called “Rabbi,” for one is your teacher, the Christ, and all of you are brothers. Call no man on the earth your father, for one is your Father, he who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for one is your master, the Christ.

— Matthew 23:8–10

6

Christ’s teaching is all about following his commandments. It is not those who say ‘Lord, Lord,’ who will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will the Father.


Christ taught people that there is no need for intermediaries between people and God. He taught that all people are children of God. What intermediaries could be needed between a father and his child?