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  • Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Robin Basselin.

  • And I'm Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting.

  • It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

  • "A question brought me to the point of ending my life when I was fifty years old.

  • My question was the most simple one that lies in every person...

  • It is the question without which life is impossible:

  • Why do I live? Why do I wish for anything, or do anything?...

  • Is there anything in my life that will not be destroyed by my death?"

  • These are the words of the famous Russian writer Leo Tolstoy.

  • Like Tolstoy, many people ask these difficult questions.

  • And they struggle to find meaning in their life.

  • Tolstoy spent his whole life trying to answer difficult questions like these.

  • His search for answers influenced his writing.

  • Today's Spotlight is on Leo Tolstoy, his faith and his writings.

  • On August 28th, 1828 Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy was born in the country of Russia.

  • Both of his parents died while he was still a child.

  • He and his brothers and sisters lived with other family members for the rest of their childhoods.

  • As a child, Tolstoy was a member of the Russian Orthodox Church.

  • But as a young man, he began to question that faith.

  • Tolstoy wanted to make his own moral decisions; he was tired of being told what to believe.

  • He thought people could achieve a degree of perfection - if they tried hard enough.

  • So he worked very hard at being the best in everything he did.

  • He thought that he would find meaning and truth in success.

  • In the 1850s, Leo Tolstoy wrote his first stories.

  • He wrote about his experiences in the military.

  • He also told stories about when he was a child.

  • These works were published and Tolstoy became a well-known writer.

  • Tolstoy was finally successful.

  • He earned the respect he always wanted.

  • Many wealthy and intelligent men met and talked with Tolstoy.

  • Some of the men were writers like him.

  • They talked a lot about faith and the meaning of life.

  • But soon Tolstoy recognized that these men were not perfect.

  • They were proud and they made very bad moral choices.

  • Tolstoy had thought these rich and powerful men could answer his questions about faith.

  • Now he knew they could not.

  • So in the 1860s, Tolstoy tried a different way to find meaning.

  • He opened a school for the children of his serfs - the people who worked on his land.

  • These workers were very poor.

  • He wanted to help them because he thought they were more honest than the wealthy people he knew.

  • Tolstoy learned many things from his workers.

  • He respected how they worked hard to provide for their families.

  • He began to believe that marriage and family would give his life meaning.

  • So in 1862, Leo Tolstoy married a young woman named Sonya Bers.

  • The next 15 years were the best years of Tolstoy's life.

  • It was during this time that he wrote his most famous books - "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina."

  • Many literature experts say that "War and Peace" is one of the greatest books ever written.

  • Both "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina" communicate Tolstoy's beliefs about the Russian nation, church and people.

  • They also communicate what he thought was the answer to all his questions.

  • Tolstoy believed humans were supposed to live a simple life and take care of their families.

  • Tolstoy thought this would satisfy him and bring him happiness.

  • But after writing these books, Tolstoy entered into a dark depression.

  • He was very sad and lonely. He had achieved everything he wanted.

  • He had a large family, a loving wife and all the respect and money he could ever want.

  • But he could not help wondering if any of that would matter after his death.

  • Leo Tolstoy began wondering if believing in God would answer his questions about life.

  • For nine years he wrote only about faith and religion.

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Robin Basselin.

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