The Brothers Karamazov Part I: The Grand Inquisitor

The Grand Inquisitor is a puzzling story found in The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky. It describes an additional return of Christ during the Spanish Inquisition-Christ performs miracles and then gets subsequently arrested and thrown into prison. In prison, he is approached by a man (The Inquisitor) and he lays out several indictments against Christ. The Inquisitor's thesis seems to be centered around the fact that Christ overestimated the potential and worth of humans. When humans were starving, God should have just given them bread. When humans were thirsty, God should have just given them water. In other words, humans are just slaves that need spoon feeding, nothing more. There is no inherent worth of humans and they are not created in the image of God-quite a dismal view of human nature.

The Bible is clear on the fact that humans are made in the image of God. Whether you believe all humans carry around a broken image or if all have the image by default, it is clear that God created humans with a high purpose/value. This is something to live into and to be encouraged about. God chose to view us with compassion when we did not deserve it. So we view our fellow brother and sister with compassion since we all belong to God. We are also challenged to view people who intend to harm us with compassion because God's ultimate sacrifice extends to all.
Jonathan Jin

You Can Have the Blue Pill or the Red Pill, and We’re Out of Blue Pills-Harari

Yuval Harari wrote a New York Times piece that succinctly communicated a cautionary tale to the world regarding today’s artificial intelligence (AI) revolution. Harari makes a convincing argument that language is the bedrock of human civilization. For example, large and lasting followings have risen from religious texts, political manifestos, and other written texts. The problem with AI is that it is an amplifier of human capabilities, both flaws and virtues. Therefore, there is a growing concern about the related ethics and social implications. AI continues to progress at an exponential rate and without proper regulation and guard rails, soon humans may not be able to distinguish reality from fiction. For example, if AI can master and read everything on Machiavelli and cognitive biases, how can you know for sure it will not have the ability to manipulate human beings on a mass scale? There is a strong emphasis to use this technology judiciously in order to ensure the well-being of individuals and society at large—the idea here is to maximize the benefits, while minimizing the risks of AI applications moving forward.

Although AI continues to advance at an exponential rate, it is important to recognize that human beings are inherently flawed and prone to biases. Harari’s cautionary tale about AI highlights the amplification of human capabilities, both virtues and flaws, through this technology. Even with the potential benefits AI has to offer, it does not change the underlying reality of human nature. As flawed individuals, we must wrestle with the related ethical and social implications of AI and find ways to mitigate its risk. Although much has to be said regarding explicit regulations and policies, paying close attention at an individual level may be just as important. In times of uncertainty, grounding yourself to keep your mind and soul still before the Lord is an invaluable first step. Having a source of inner strength that is independent from the AI landscape may help you to navigate the complexities of this new technological age.


Written by: Jonathan Jin

Crying in H Mart - Zauner

Crying in H Mart is a poignant, honest, and raw account of a young Korean-American woman (named Michelle Zauner) and how she coped with the death of her mother. Zauner describes the trials and tribulations of her grief journey as she seamlessly and thoughtfully ties together themes of helplessness, anger, shame, regret, and hope. One of the main interpersonal themes that arise for Zauner in the face of grief is the difficulty in managing her relationship with her father. This book is for anyone who is interested in learning about grief or is going through grief themselves.

Grief is not a pretty process and life can be full of sad endings. Crying in H Mart demonstrates the complexities of how family dynamics can radically shift and how cultural barriers can prevent familial reconciliation. Yet, this unfiltered autobiography points the reader to consider the difficult decisions that need to be made in the face of grief, including ones to prioritize one's own mental health as well as important surrounding relationships. Although not a christian book per se, Crying in H Mart poses a question to the reader: how will you deal with inevitable grief in your life and will you invite God along every step of the way?

Written by: Jonathan Jin

For One More Day- Albom

Grief is cruel and it does not discriminate. For One More Day by Mitch Albom is a visceral account of a broken man whose life spiraled out of control after his mother died. Albom’s internationally renowned reputation is evident in this book as he threads together how painful and isolating it can be to lose someone you love. Albom’s narrative mastery is on full display as he details the harsh reality of coping in this story. He also poetically ties together a heartwarming and beautiful ending of forgiveness and resolution to live a life of meaning and gratitude.

Everyone either has or will be affected by loss and grief in their lives. The Psalmist tells us that people are not alone in their grief. In fact, the God of the Bible will draw near to those with grieving hearts even in the lowest times.


Written by: Jonathan Jin

Warrior- Meldrum

Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a problem across our society today. It is one thing to be shocked as you look at the CSA prevalence data, but it is another thing to shed light on the lived experience of CSA survivors. Warrior is Glori Meldrum’s memoir—in this book she details her harrowing, yet remarkable story of being a CSA survivor herself in the raw up and down moments of her life post-trauma. We ultimately learn of Meldrum’s story of grit and resilience as she never gave up and ended up establishing a world-class, evidence-based facility for CSA survivors in Western Canada.

The reality of sin and evil is undeniable when you look at the effects of CSA. This problem will not go away easily, but there is hope for recovery and prevention—there are also people who truly care that are leading work and development in this key health area. Meldrum’s lived experience shows us that in order to live, you have to fight. The New Testament shows us a similar fighting spirit, as it calls for perseverance in faith in light of the hope of Christ’s resurrection and eventual return.


Written by: Jonathan Jin

Demons- Dostoevsky

Demons can manifest themselves in the form of ideas. Ideas can be gripping, tempting, and even utopia in nature--which is why there’s no surprises when people latch themselves and even sacrifice their lives for the sake of a collective vision or ideology. In Demons by Dostoyevsky, he outlines how the dark side of ideas can infiltrate the individual, eventually infecting a whole nation. In 19th century Russia, several demons took over his nation in the form of Western ideals of utilitarianism and atheism. Dostoevsky compared the downfall of his nation to the New Testament where Jesus sends demons into pigs and the pigs end up killing themselves. That’s essentially what happened to his people in Russia--demons entered normal civilians as well as state officials and they ended up killing themselves in misshapen ways.

The New Testament shows us a different way to think through and filter ideologies. It does not seem to be linked with a particular ideology and it seems to converge at a principle of sacrificial love. Loving first and foremost gets at the core message of the Bible and when you find yourselves in disputes, it also teaches us to be humble, to listen, and be patient in conversations.


Written by: Jonathan Jin

The Gulag Archipelago Volume 1- Solzhenitsyn

One of the things that has struck me is the great danger of lying to yourself. I saw this play out in visceral detail from the Gulag Archipelago Volume 1, written by the Russian Nobel Laureate, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. During his life in the Soviet Union, approximately one in three people were government informers, and the lies of the collective society progressively destabilized the nation, leading ordinary men and women into a decent to chaos. The utopian communist ideal was embodied, but it turned out to be murderous, cold, and plain evil. Solzhenitsyn's life is a testament to how an individual cut through the mire and the noise of a corrupt time to find light in darkness—his lived experience is worth thinking about.

Solzhenitsyn believed that the radical restructuring of human soul is an antidote to corruption. It is an arduous, iterative, and challenging road but with each moral decision his life shows that it is possible. You start to see simple pleasures like the first cell you are locked up in, eating stale bread crumbs, and feeling the warmth of a shabby blanket (even amidst a decrepit, death cell in Solzhenitsyn’s case). Yet, this gradual restructuring of the soul also attunes you to the great capability of evil in ordinary men and women. Solzhenitsyn shows us that we cannot delude ourselves of the depravity in our own hearts. When this becomes clear to you, you subsequently start searching for answers and hope, desperately. When you get right down to the core of your intuitions you realize that it is your soul that is crying out for hope in the form of a saviour. It is humbling to realize you cannot do this by yourself. However, the Biblical worldview shows us there is a path carved out for us to follow, much like a lamp to your feet in a dark, unknown path. The lamp may not light up your entire world at once, but the proximal illumination is just enough to press onto the next step.


Written by: Jonathan Jin