Heythrop Journal 58 (2) (2017)

This article reassesses a rarely noted aspect of the Russian Revolution: the long interaction between Lenin and Anatoly Lunacharsky, the ‘God-builder’. It traces the way Lunacharsky first outlined the God-building position in his Religion and Socialism, a text virtually lost to scholarship and interpretations of the Russian revolution. It explores Lenin's initial condemnation, for political but above all theoretical reasons, only to find him reassessing his whole argument six years later in light of his re-engagement with Hegel in 1914. Seeing that his earlier condemnation no longer held, Lenin's response to Lunacharsky's God-building undergoes a noticeable shift. He now realizes that marginal forms of interaction with religion may sit well with, if not lead to, communism. An examination of Lunacharsky's own perseverance with God-building after he was appointed Commissar for Enlightenment in the new Soviet state, and of Lenin's awareness and tacit allowance for such expressions, indicate a more complex and ambivalent approach to religion on Lenin's part.
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Reprint years 2015, 2017
DOI 10.1111/heyj.12254
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