Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Absolutely Stunning! Gotta see. . .

HT to Saint Austin Review:

the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. It’s a spectacular presentation that moves in a 360 degree perspective around this holy space, in full color.


The original cathedral was blown up by the Bolsheviks. Stalin planned to erect the world’s tallest building on the site, and a statue of Lenin was supposed to perch on the top of it. But difficulties with water seepage and other problems prevented the monstrosity from ever being completed.

After Stalin died, Khrushchev had the world’s largest outdoor swimming pool constructed there. In the 1980s, while waiting to meet a friend at the Pushkin Museum, I stood in front of the pool and said hello to a father and son as they approached with their towels and bathing suits in shopping bags.

All very mundane, and one might say profane. But after the fall of the Soviet Union the property was put to proper use, and a magnificent replacement for the old Cathedral was constructed. You can see it here at:

Even if you cannot read Russian, it only takes a minute to click on the screen and get the controls down for this absolutely stunning Orthodox Cathedral.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! Magnificent.

Chris said...

It is a magnificent Cathedral but the icons are hardly Orthdoox, mainly corruptions brought by the Jesuits. Unfortunately, that seems to be the norm any more.

Terry Maher said...

I'd be more impressed, which is to say impressed at all, if this were not the same church that seems to want its former position in society it had under the Tsars back and makes it a rough go for our Lutheran brethren in Russia, whom I support.

Anonymous said...

I sympathize with the position of Lutherans in Russia but Orthodoxy is the form of Christianity that has always prevailed there. Yes, it is a state church and it is fruitless to try to impose American values on it.

At one time there were no Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals, etc. in Russia.

For that matter, Eastern Catholics also have their problems under Orthodoxy.

Terry Maher said...

At one time there were no Orthodox in Russia either.

Anonymous said...

That is true of tne entire world before the incarnation, isn't it?

The fact remains that after the split between east and west Russia chose to continue the Eastern form of Christianity that had been passed down for millenia.

Terry Maher said...

We're not in the plural on millennium yet for that. Nor does the Incarnation contain anything about styling oneself the "third Rome" and making state churches or emperors deposing patriarchs and appointing "most holy synods". No "choice" or "incarnation" in that!

Anonymous said...

BE SURE TO LOOK UP!

Anonymous said...

"We're not in the plural on millennium yet for that."

Correct, too hasty typing, should have referred to the Russian Orthodox millenium which took place in 1988.

As for the rest, the Russian Orthodox don't take their cues from American Lutherans.

Unknown said...

Revelations 13: 3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast.

That is what you are looking at.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Anonymous said...

Pardon my boldness -- it is the REVELATION to St. John (or, the Apocalypse).

Amazing how many Christians who are Biblically oriented keep calling it Revelation(s).

Terry Maher said...

Hell no, anon, they took their clues from Peter the Great!

Unknown said...

Anonymous: I will admit to being the world’s worst proof reader, and I will sign my name under that. But did you swallow the camel?

I thought my earlier comment needed some explanation, but I was hurrying to an appointment, hence the brief quote with typo.

How do you think the Cathedral of Christ the Savior was financed? The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) emerged from the ruins of the Soviet Union without any significant source of income. I lived in Moscow from 89 to 97 during the time the cathedral was built and dedicated (also from 79 to 81, plus countless trips since 76, but that is just to my credibility). At the time there was full freedom of the press, so that these things were written about without censorship. The sources of income were:
1. The Mafia(s), particularly the “thieves-in-law”. These people are both superstitious and aware that they are doing many things that are not nice. So they paid God off.
2. Contributions were extorted from local businesses by the city government. These businesses were part of the emerging “New Russians”. They could not do business without the city’s agreement.
3. The ROC asked President Yeltsin to allow them to import duty free goods. These goods were then resold at prices lower than those imported by companies lacking this exemption. I had the opportunity to take advantage of this mechanism, which was quite legal, but opted not to enrich the ROC and placed my business with the Russian organizers of Ted Turner’s “Good Will Games.” The current Patriarch, then Metropolitan of Kaliningrad and Smolensk, plus a few other offices, organized this activity for the ROC, gaining millions in profits, both for the church and himself. In this way he acquired the nickname “Tabak Kyril”. He dealt mainly in alcoholic beverages and cigarettes.

Russia is not what you see. You may get hints of what it is at 2AM in the kitchen of your Russian friends. But it will take you a long time to put these together until you begin to understand what you are looking at.

You may want to also look at this article in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/24/world/europe/virgin-mary-belt-relic-draws-crowds-in-moscow.html?emc=eta1

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Pastor Peters said...

When I posted this I was simply pointing to the stunning beauty of this House of God. I know nothing of its construction or finance and, if the story is as some say, it is a sad one. That said, even from the wretches of our sin, God can bring great beauty.

Unknown said...

That may well be true, Rev. Peters, though even the non-believer, Petronius, noted that, “Beauty and wisdom are seldom found together.”

But a recent event touched me more closely. Svetlana Allelujeva, Stalin’s daughter died. I cannot begin to imagine the burden of being that man’s daughter. For me, Stalin was the driving force in my early life, that eventually brought me from my homeland to this country. But it was reading her book, “Twenty Letters to a Friend”, that motivated me to immerse myself in things Russian, which led to a 30 year relationship with its people. So what her father started for evil, she finished for good. “All things work for good to them that love God.” To Whom be glory for ever.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Unknown said...

On second thought, is it really beautiful to God, or an abomination? Isaiah 1: 15, “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; 16 wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, 17 learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” I wonder whether the rented auditorium from which the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy fed 1,000 people for 6 days every week was not more beautiful in the sight of God?

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Anonymous said...

“Beauty and wisdom are seldom found together.”

And yet Scripture tells us that Christ is the Wisdom of God. Who is it that created all the beauty that we see in the universe? Was Eden before the Fall not a place of unspeakable beauty? Jesus praised the beauty of the lilies of the field.

Anonymous said...

It would be ideal if the Russian government were to rebuild all of the Lutheran and Catholic churches it demolished during Soviet times -- and not just a couple of token ROC buildings. Russia could use another Peter the Great.

Still--this is a beautiful church building, indeed!

Terry Maher said...

God save us from another Peter the Great, or any other emperor or ruler who effectively makes himself the head of the, or a, church.

Thank you for a dose of reality Brother George. Indeed, if God brings forth beauty from our ugliness, it is in stories like yours about Allelujeva's book, and the Protestant Chaplaincy, not nice buildings built through state machinations.

BrotherBoris said...

I like this building. I think its really beautiful in an over-the-top sort of way.

A few comments about what it looks like: first of all, it is a REPLICA of the Old Cathedral blown up by Stalin in the 1930s. So if you don't like the style of the building or the icons, don't blame the people who rebuilt it. They were trying to restore something from their history, not produce something perfect or the most "Orthodox" building in the world. Just as Warsaw, Poland rebuilt its Old Town, and just as the Lutherans in Dresden, Germany rebuilt the Frauenkirche, the Muscovites wanted to rebuild part of their history. View it in that light. Since it is a copy of a 19th century Russian cathedral, the iconography is in typically 19th century Russian style. That means it is softer and has less harsh "Byzantine" angles. Its a tad more realistic than the more abstract Byzantine style. The Russians did adopt that style, probably from Roman Catholic Poland next door, for several hundred years for their icons. I am told the traditional Byzantine style is now making a comeback in some of the newer churches being built. But not being Puritans, the Russians are not going into the old churches and replacing the Westernized 19th century style icons with modern Byzantine ones. It is what it is. For Byzantine purists, there is a Chapel in the Cathedral's basement that is in the strict Byzantine style. It is much more austere and not nearly as over-the-top as what you see in the main Cathedral.

As to the corruption of finances, that, sadly, is by and larger true. It serves no purpose to ignore it or pretend it didn't happen. One wishes we could have a perfect church free of human scandals and corruption. Lord, have mercy.

As to the standing of Lutherans in Russia, this I what I have heard from both Orthodox in Russia and Lutherans who have traveled to Russia. Please correct me if I am wrong. Lutheranism is generally not viewed with great hostility by Russians, not even most Russian Orthodox. The Lutheran Church in Moscow, for instance, dates from 1546. Russians are quite familiar with the existence of Lutheranism and there is a very large Lutheran community in St. Petersburg that has some nice churches. Before the Bolshevik Revolution, Lutherans were the second largest Christian group in Russia. (I don't know what the numbers are now.) For centuries, the Tsars traveled to Lutheran countries to find their wives, mainly Denmark and Germany. The last Tsarista of Russia, Alexandra, was raised as a Lutheran.

Most Russians tend to view religious matters in terms of ethnic origin. Thus in their eyes Orthodoxy is for ethnic Russians. Lutheranism is for Russians of German and Finnish ancestry. Roman Catholicism is for people of Polish ancestry. Eastern Rite Catholicism is for people of Ukrainian ancestry who descended from the Unia. I'm not saying this is right, but I have been told this is the common Russian view of things.

The idea of a free market approach to religion (take your pick of denominations) is rather new to most Russians. It bewilders and perplexes them. And their society is not as tolerant of individual difference as the USA is.

From what I have seen, the real wrath of the Russians is against the cults that come from America, mainly Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. To some extent their is animosity toward the Pentecostals and Baptists, largely because those two have very aggressive "in your face" style evangelism techniques and seem to delight in telling the local Russian Orthodox people that they are 'going to hell.' I have never, ever, heard such a complaint about the Lutherans in Russia.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Brother Boris for your informative insights.

I too have heard that Pentecostals and Baptists have been less than courteous in trying to evangelize the Orthodox.

BrotherBoris said...

For a look at Christ the Savior Cathedral firsthand, here's a video of the Midnight Easter Service from April 24, 2011. Very good videography. They take you behind the iconostasis and you get to see everything up close. The music is outstanding. This isn't the dour Russian Orthodoxy of Cold War propaganda. You'll see lots of smiles, joy and quite a number of young people. Enjoy.

http://youtu.be/9FOVy42Glic

Unknown said...

My mother was born in what is today the Ukraine at the beginning of the 20th century. She was a Lutheran, as were her maternal ancestors, who came to Russian in response to the invitation of Catharine the Great to farmers from Saxony and other small kingdoms which eventually formed the German State. While I was still in high school, I was wondering why the wonderful Gospel proclaimed by Martin Luther did not take Russia by storm. Eventually the truth dawned on me, and I asked my mother in what language the services were conducted. “Why, German of course,” she responded and it all became clear. The Russians with their religion were no different than the Germans with theirs. It was not the joy of the Gospel that motivated them, or as St. Paul put it in Ephesians 2: 15, “your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” Instead their religion meant holding on to the traditions of their society and pride in their history. That is why the word of the Prophet Amos was fulfilled in Russia: “Amos 8:11 "The days are coming," declares the Sovereign LORD, "when I will send a famine through the land-- not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. 12 Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the LORD, but they will not find it.”

But the fatal wound had been healed.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart