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    On April 29, the Acton Institute welcomed Dr. Jessica Hooten Wilson, the Louise Cowan Scholar in Residence at the University of Dallas, to speak as part of Acton’s Lecture Series online. The lecture, titled “Solzhenitsyn against Propaganda,” addressed the life of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and his fight against propaganda using art.

    Dr. Hooten Wilson began with a brief biography of Solzhenitsyn, sharing how he joined the communist party and fought for the Red Army but left after witnessing the atrocious treatment of the Germans by Russian soldiers. Soon after,Solzhenitsyn began to write and criticize communism, and Stalin’s rule. “This led to his imprisonment in 1945,” said Hooten Wilson

    Solzhenitsyn’s experience in prisons had a startling effect on him. “He not only learned to love those who differed from him; at this point in the prison camps, he learned to love Christians and then actually became one. But he also learned to love the guards,” said Hooten Wilson.

    After spending about eight years in prisons and forced labor camps, Solzhenitsyn was released and exiled from Russia. “Solzhenitsyn moved to America and spent eighteen years in Vermont, which was the most productive time in his entire life,” shared Hooten Wilson.

    “In 1970, Solzhenitsyn won the Noble Peace Prize for Literature, and in his Nobel lecture,” explained Hooten Wilson, “Solzhenitsyn insists on the nature of art to portray truth. Lies can stand up against much in the world, but not against art.”

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    Ben Stoner works as a Development Associate for Acton Institute.  Ben was raised in Grand Rapids, MI alongside three amazing brothers and one wonderful sister.  He attended Aquinas College where he received his B.A. in Art and Writing.  After graduating from Aquinas, Ben pursued a Master’s degree at Grand Valley State University in Higher Education and College Leadership. In addition to his work at Acton, Ben enjoys studying Modern Art, creative writing, playing guitar, and traveling to new and exciting locations across the globe.