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There Are No Peasants Now

 April 2011 

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Over the past few years I have deliberately made the time to read books and it is becoming an increasing joy to me. Recently I have been reading a book on church history as well as intimacy with Christ type of books.

For this newsletter I want to focus on a statement by Dallas Willard in his book, "The Divine Conspiracy - Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God". This book has been a great blessing to me. I was so impressed with its challenging and life changing concepts that I bought a copy for each of our children.

I wanted each of us to read a few pages at a time and then discuss what we have read once a week. This weekly discussing the book has not happened, but the book has still been a great blessing to us. I would like to state that when I quote a book, it doesn't necessarily mean that I agree with everything the author writes.

Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy

Willard quotes Leo Tolstoy quite a lot in his book. Tolstoy was a Russian author and lived from 1828 to 1910. His most famous book is "War and Peace". He says that Tolstoy is one of the most successful authors the world has ever known.

Willard says, however, that his "A Confession" is possibly the most important document of the last two centuries in understanding our current plight of meaninglessness. Because of Willard's acclaim for this book, I have read "A Confession" myself and can understand why he says it is such an important book for our times.

Tolstoy was a renowned author long before he was a Christian. He associated with an elite circle of intellectuals, artists and members of the social upper crust. But as he says, "The dogmas of unbelief had captured him and his circle of friends."

With their atheistic/evolutionary belief that life was all about particles and progress, the implications of this unbelief in a God, slowly destroyed his life. He could see no point to life.

In "A Confession", Tolstoy relates how the drive towards goodness that moved him as a boy was erased by his experiences in society.

Later in life, after overwhelming success as a writer, he nevertheless, sank into deep, paralyzing depression. Life was futile. The awareness that the passage of time alone would bring everything he loved and valued to nothing, left him completely hopeless. For years he lived in this condition, until he finally came to faith in a world of God where all that is good is preserved.

What brought him out of his paralyzing depression was this: He realised that he and a few hundred other like-minded people did not make up the whole of mankind.

Tolstoy observed that the peasants, who in the most miserable of conditions, found life deeply meaningful and even sweet. Willard basically says that nothing has changed in that the mantle of intellectual meaninglessness shrouds every aspect of our common life. What has changed is this: There are no peasants now.

In his book Willard basically says that it is the anti-God intellectuals with their atheistic/evolutionary theories that are destroying our Christian culture throughout the world. He says there are no peasants now because the peasants now watch TV and constantly consume media.

When we were in the Philippines in 2008 we observed that in poor rural areas, there were TV aerials poking out of the top of their shacks they lived in. It is our understanding that virtually throughout the world, TV is having a huge impact on the people of every country. Willard says that anti God programs such as "The Simpsons" are greatly influencing people's value systems and beliefs.

In past ages, despite living in abject povery, people could, as Tolstoy says, find life deeply meaningful and even sweet. But all that has changed. It doesn't matter how poor a person's living condition may be, he or she can turn on their TV and live in worlds of fantasy. Their life becomes consumed with gaining possessions, or higher education to lift them out of their poverty. Because of TV, it seems as if Narcissism (the love of self) is taking hold or our world.

I suspect that wherever TV has gone, despair and disillusionment have eventually followed. Marriages and family life break down and children grow up in dysfunctional families.

It is our observation that families and individuals can find deep joy in God no matter what their situation is. This is the passion of our family - to make Jesus the greatest joy in our lives and to not try and gain joy from all that this sad world has to offer.


We have been in Singapore and the Philippines for most of May, attending a conference in Singapore and taking "Families Walking With God" workshops in both these countries. I will write in more detail about our time away in our May newsletter.

While we were in the Philippines, Colin's nephew, Brendon Pyle who was working in France, suffered a serious fall and was on life support for several days. A few hours after we returned home last night, we heard the tragic news that he had passed away. This is a devastating loss for his family, our family and the wider Pyle family. Things will never be the same again for his family and we deeply grieve with them.

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