along the astonishing freeway in the midst of a luxuriant nature, I understood that all my spirituallytormenting life in the Communist 'paradise,' my path from atheism and Marxism to Orthodox faith andRussian nationalism, is the only valuable information that can be of interest to you. My life is of interestonly inasmuch as it is a drop in the ocean of the Russian religious and national rebirth."Here again we in the West can sense a great difference from our own experience. Some of these pointsmay seem like small details, but they are very revealing of our spiritual state. We in the West havelearned to take for granted splendid automobiles, freeways, beautiful nature
we would not evencomment on these things. But such things, which represent the ease of life in our America, are unheard of in the Soviet Union. Recently I spoke with a recent emigrant from the USSR, and she spoke of one formof dishonesty and crime in Russia today which is almost incomprehensible to us in the free world: when apoet can speak beautifully about flower in a field and be silent about the fact that this field was a place forthe torture and murder of innocent people. The whole of Russia is covered with such places today. Atone such place, the former concentration camp of Solovki, the tourists are warned to "stay on the paths"
because some have wandered off of them and unexpectedly found human bones sticking out of theearth
remnants of the thousands who perished there. When this is the experience of your country, youcannot feel at ease with beautiful cars and freeways and nature; there is a pain in your soul that is seekingfor something deeper."I was born (he continues) in the bloody year of 1937 in the village of Klishev, thirty miles fromMoscow (on the side of Ryazan). My father, a blacksmith by profession, died in the war, and I do notremember him; my mother, who worked at various jobs, was, I think, indifferent to religion. Mygrandmother, it is true, was religious, but she had no authority in my eyes because she was totallyilliterate. Of course I was baptized as a child, but in my school years I took off my cross and until the ageof 25 was a convinced atheist. After finishing the seven-year (primary) school, I had the good fortune toenter the Moscow Higher School of Art and Industry (the former Stroganov School), and I studied therefive years out of the seven.
Thus, outwardly my life had begun very successfully…
In time, I shouldhave received the diploma of an artist and would be able to work anywhere I wanted."This is a typical Soviet life
but how sobering when compared to our sheltered life in America! Bornin the "bloody" years, not of war with an outside enemy, but of Stalin's purges and liquidations, he lost hisfather in the war, grew up in an atmosphere of atheism (although with reminders of the Orthodox past,especially his Baptism), and had a good future in store in the highly competitive Soviet school system.All this is a far different experience from that of the youth of our Western world. But then somethinghappened to him."But the boring Soviet life and spiritual dissatisfaction gave me no peace, and somewhere at the end of 1955, in my 19th year, there occurred an event, outwardly unnoticeable, which however overturned mylife and (finally) brought me here. This event occurred in my soul and consisted of the fact that I
in what kind of society I was living. Despite all the naked Soviet propaganda, I
that I was living under a regime of absolute rightlessness and absolute cruelty. Very many students cameto the same conclusion at this time, and in time there appeared those who thought as I did, and we allconsidered it our duty to tell the people of our discovery and to somehow act against the triumph of evil."Here, of course, there is something akin to the idealistic youth of the West, and the awakening of anawareness of truth and higher values which is universally experienced at this age
with the importantexception that the background of this experience in Russia is a difficult life, suffering, and terror, while inthe West it is usually a full stomach, an easy life, and plenty of spare time. In the free West, this youthfulexperience has led to the numerous demonstrations in the past decades for various causes, some of them