Russian literature has a long history of dealing with Church themes. Pushkin, Leskov and Chekhov come to mind at once. However, these themes are also central in Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy and more recently in Pasternak and Soloukhin, and in fact they are present in all Russian literature, as an underpinning and uniting background of spiritual and cultural values.
What is original about this book is that the author is not just a very talented writer with a sensitive artist’s heart, but he is also a monk, priest and senior archimandrite in Moscow, the Superior of Sretensky Monastery, Fr Tikhon Shevkunov. And, above all, what is original is that this book has been written now, as a monument to what has risen a generation after the death of three generations of forced – and failed – State atheism.
In other words, this book breathes Resurrection.
A spiritual child of the ever-memorable Elder Ioann Krestyankin of the Pskov Caves Monastery, Fr Tikhon has made his historic, central Moscow Monastery into a bastion of genuine Orthodoxy, with one of the best choirs in Russia.
There is to be found a prominent seminary, with several international students, the best Orthodox bookshop in Moscow and probably the best and biggest Orthodox website in Russia (www.pravoslavie.ru), which also has an English-language section.
Apart from being a gifted writer, Fr Tikhon is also a film-maker (‘A Byzantine Lesson’), runs the anti-alcohol campaign in the Russian Federation, is responsible for Church-cultural relations, and is a great friend of the Church Outside Russia – we see him regularly.
His book, Everyday Saints, is being translated into ten languages, the Greek edition having already appeared. Now we have the English edition of ‘Nesvyatye Svyatye’ (literally, ‘Unholy Saints’).
This is a…