There has never been a society or a nation without God. But history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations that became indifferent to God, and died.
Whittaker Chambers, from the preface to Witness
I have been surprised by this book already. I expected a narrative of Communism from someone who once believed in Communism. I expect as we go through the book we will get that in large dose. I have already seen it in what I have read of Chapter One. I was not expecting an emotional witness to one mans conversion. It appears we will also get that in large doses well.
I was very moved by the preface. I don't know if it is because I have a six year old daughter and one year old son. I could identify with Chambers writing to his children and trying to explain his actions. I write to my own children, but nothing as grand as this. I felt like much of the preface struck a chord with me and I am interested to see how others view this book. One particular scene that really resonated with me was when Chambers describes a conversation with an "enlightened" woman:
It was hard for her because, as an enlightened modern girl, she shared the Communist vision without being a Communist. But she loved her father and the irrationality of his defection embarrassed her. "He was immensely pro-Soviet,"she said,"and then -- you will laugh at me -- but you must not laugh at my father -- and then -- one night -- in Moscow-- he heard screams. That's all. Simply one night he heard screams."
..and further on...
She did not know at all that she had swept away the logic of the mind, the logic of history, the logic of politics, the myth of the 20th century, with five annihilating words: one night he heard screams.
First, this is good (dare I say great?) literature. The writing really paints a picture. Secondly, at some level, this passage speaks to our own souls here in the 21st century. From our other reading in the Book Notes project, I have come believe that Communism is the logical conclusion to state planning, statism, and socialism. Like a road, these signs are simply markers to tell you how far you have progressed down the road. The end destination is Communism.
I believe that this book may be the most important book we have read in the project. That is saying something considering some of the books that have been covered. It may also be premature as we are just now into chapter one. However, I am already making a list of the people who will receive a copy of this for Christmas this year.
For Next Week. Complete Chapter One, and have a great week.