Meaning in meaninglessness.
I understood that faith is not merely “the evidence of things not seen”, etc., and is not a revelation (that defines only one of the indications of faith, is not the relation of man to God (one has first to define faith and then God, and not define faith through God); it does not only agree with what has been told one (as faith is most usually supposed to be), but faith is a knowledge of the meaning of human life in consequence of which man does not destroy himself but lives. Faith is the strength of life. If a man lives he believes in something. If he did not believe that one must live for something, he would not live. If he does not see and recognize the illusory nature of the finite, he believes in the finite; if he understands the illusory nature of the finite, he must believe in the infinite. Without faith, he cannot live…
For a man to be able to live he must either not see the infinite, or have such an explanation of the meaning of life as will connect the finite with the infinite.
When I look back on the rather violent crisis of thought, faith and identity that was my mid-undergrad years, there are actually VERY few authors I didn’t almost immediately discard after reading due to the fraudulence and inconsistency of the answers they offered.
Leo Tolstoy/Confessions, on the other hand, holds the honour of, rather singlehandedly, giving voice to nearly every question I had. In many ways, the courage he had to walk them through to a conclusion is the foundational reason I (though somewhat kicking and screaming all the way) retained faith at all — though that faith rather little resembles the systems of control I was being force-fed.
Ironically, it’s also such a dense and intricate work I have found it nearly impossible to condense enough to communicate to many other people.
If anyone has accomplished a Reader’s Digest version, it’s the above-linked author…