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Tolstoys religion can be divided into two parts pre and post conversion He was baptized into a life of privilege and wealth in Czarist Russia Since The Death of Ivan Illych was written in post conversion we decided to use his own words to describe pre-conversion In his 1884 book Confession he wrote I cannot recall those years without horror loathing and heart rending pain I killed people in war challenged men to duels with the purpose of killing them and lost at cards I squandered the fruits of the peasants toil and then had them executed I was a fornicator and a cheat Lying stealingpromiscuity of every kind drunkenness violence murder- there was not a crime I did not commit Thus I lived for ten years In the late 1870s Tolstoy underwent a profound spiritual crisis He stated in A Confession that he found insights in the daily life of Russian peasants who told him that everyone must serve God rather than living for themselves He emerged from his spiritual crisis as what some have described as a Christian Anarchist He was an anarchist to the extent that he considered wrong all organizations based on the premise of force including both the government and the church Tolstoy was very skeptical Although he mad pilgrimages to monasteries he denounced certain dogmas such as the virginal conception and Jesus bodily resurrection He held fast to logical and rational faith but without any belief in immortality To Tolstoy Jesus was simply a man teaching that he was what all people were and potentially could be Tolstoy gathered a big following as he dedicated most of the 2nd half of his life to writing essays pamphlets didactic short stories like The Death of Ivan Illych and plays His novel published in 1899 included blatant criticisms of the Russian Orthodox Church as an institution This among other things led to his excommunication from the church in 1901
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