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As we recoil in horror at the violent attacks of the Russian military on Ukrainians this year, one element of peacemaking remains a commitment to see past national identities and recognize the spiritual strivings of individuals in every society – even societies we might like to condemn broadly when the majority supports prideful rulers’ ambitions.

In relation to Russians, in particular, we can build bridges by appreciating the insights that a number of Russian authors have shared on humankind’s desperate condition without Christ – and their powerful attempts to point their readers to Christ’s selfless love as the source of their redemption. One the world’s most articulate spokesmen for pacifism was the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, who wrote that he learned a great deal from the writings of Reformed Mennonite pastor, Daniel Musser, about how Christians should, in the spirit of non-resistance, relate to the state.

Sattler has been giving students strong opportunities to learn about Russian and Eastern European cultures. This fall it will offer a course on Eastern European history, including Ukraine. Last school year, seven Sattler students participated in a course by Prof. Hans Leaman on Russian history and literature. They produced the linked website to share their reflections on what some of the famous short stories the nineteenth-century Russian authors can teach us about human nature and the mercy of God. If you’d like to get an introduction to Russian authors like Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy this summer, reading or watching these Sattler students’ multi-media reviews would be a great way to decide where you’d like to start!