I have a claim. It’s a claim about Dostoevsky’s discussion of the Grand Inquisitor. The claim is that Ivan’s dream is an account of reality. It’s a partial account. That’s why Ivan calls it a dream. There’s more to it than just what Ivan says about the Inquisitor and his encounter with Jesus in Seville. But, the dream is Ivan’s account of our reality. My claim is that, in many ways, he gets it just about right.
What is the story about the Grand Inquisitor?
There’s a conflict between the church as a power in the world, and any of it’s likewise powers that be, and a certain peasant view, represented by the figure of Jesus walking about Seville, Spain, doing miracles. The conflict has to do with who best serves the interests of the people.
On the one hand is the church, and its cousins in corporations and other man-made institutions, who serves people as the embodiment of man’s successful efforts to fend for themselves. The peasants are represented by Jesus who would have them be free of their obligations to their overlords, so to speak.
Our civilization’s central conflict pits the powers-that-be, represented by the church and its allies in the powers-that-be, defended by the Grand Inquisitor, and what Dostoevsky identifies as God’s plan articulated by Jesus.