Second Tolstoy: The Sermon on the Mount as Theo-tactics

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by: Steve Hickey

Very few if any have devoted more years to practicing and teaching others to practice the precepts of Jesus's Sermon on the Mount than Leo Tolstoy. He stands apart in the history of interpretation and has had enormous influence on others and other countries. Yet, Gandhi or others often get the glory. Tolstoy is remembered as a great writer, but his religious and philosophical works are by and large unknown or disparaged, even in scholarly Tolstoyan circles. His contribution is substantially under-appreciated and misunderstood. In Second Tolstoy: The Sermon on the Mount as Theo-tactics, Steve Hickey captures the particulars and dynamics of Tolstoy's interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount from a deliberately sympathetic vantage point. Underlying this project is shared belief with Tolstoy that the Sermon on the Mount is liveable and to be lived. While from the vantage point of traditional orthodoxy Tolstoy got much wrong, there remains a lack of appreciation for what he got right--radical obedience to the teachings of Jesus. A new vocabulary is proposed to more precisely capture Tolstoyan lived theology, namely the political and social expressions of Tolstoyan Christianity, with the hope that these theories and practices will gain a wider consideration, understanding, and following.