Wineskins Archive

December 21, 2013

When Can an Exile Go Home? (Dec 1992)

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by Phil Kinzer
December, 1992

8In the aftermath of recent political changes, the chief Soviet prosecutor officially closed the 1974 treason case against Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn. This great author was expelled from the Soviet Union over 17 years ago by a decision of the Supreme Soviet. But prosecutor Nikolai Trubin now says he finds “no proof whatsoever testifying to any crime committed by Alexander Solzhenitsyn,” Tass news agency said.

Solzhenitsyn, now 72, is best known for his works One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago. In those books he chronicled the lives of people sentenced under dictator Josef Stalin to forced-labor camps in Siberia. The stories he tells are from his own experiences.

His “crime” was his willingness to look at situations objectively and then write what he believed to be the truth. For decades that kind of attitude was more than the chiefs of the Communist Party could accept. Unfortunately, that is not uncommon; that attitude is more than many can accept.

The result of this whole episode is that Solzhenitsyn, who now lives in Vermont, is planning to return to his beloved Russia. With more open thinking prevailing there, he can go home. He can be accepted in a place where once he was held in great suspicion.

Any group of people can eventually become infected with the disease of closed-mindedness. It is easy to adopt the tendency of keeping traditions from being tampered with or looked at too closely. For some there is a comfort in keeping the status quo – no matter what that might be.

Churches are especially susceptible to that trend. There can arise guardians of the faith (as they see themselves) whose job it is to purge out anything that looks like it might bring about change. People who do not salute the banners of tradition then become suspect no matter how honest or studious they may have been in their approach.

Many have left their “home churches” during my lifetime looking for a place where openness receives praise rather than ridicule. But my guess is that a good number of those would love to return to their “homeland” if they thought they could come and be accepted as they are.

The good news is that fresher breezes are blowing through our churches. Openness to biblical changes seems to be on the rise. Though sweeping alterations in tradition may not be in our immediate future, willingness to study honestly and accept people with whom we may differ hopefully is. After all, those are the principles upon which our restoration heritage was built.

If we will hep fan these fresher breezes some will stay home rather than going into exile somewhere else. Others, who now feel deported, might return. One’s homeland is wonderful to experience when one can go there and be welcomed with open arms and breathe freely.Wineskins Magazine

Phil Kinzer

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