- A well-known priest, speaking in online publications, called you “the priest of the red postmodern,” wrote that you do not like the Church. I know that many Orthodox admirers of your talent were embarrassed by this criticism of an authoritative father. How do you look at her? Are you hurt by these words?
- Not. I have a really peculiar consciousness. For example, the red period, in which, by the way, my relatives were repressed, unlike many (but by no means all priests), I do not consider only the era of lack of spirituality and theomachy. I believe that it was a very religious and spiritual period in our stories. The meaning of the red era was not to kill all the priests and destroy all the temples. These were related, but not the main phenomena. Here, as it seems to me, it is necessary to overcome the insult to those who had relatives at that time, their ancestors - no need to put this at the forefront. I understand that the top of the red period was the great victory of 1945 year. She is today interpreted by our Church precisely as a sacred holiday. Now judge: how could a sacred victory gained as a result of a holy war happen without a sacred host? And this army had commanders and, in the end, the Supreme Commander - Stalin.
“But you must agree, this does not mean that these people were holy in the Church’s understanding of the word.” Although there were probably among them, and perhaps in a considerable number, those who “were honored by the Lord as a crown” ...
- I take courage - and I think it is not a sin before the Church - to say that the thirty million of our people who died in that war are Christ's sacrifice. These lambs are a sacrifice not for the geopolitical interests of the USSR and not for the communist ideology, but for the triumph of light, for correcting the ways of humanity. If this sacrifice did not exist, then the accumulated evil of people would overcome the Earth.
- It’s hard to disagree. But you openly glorify Joseph Stalin, although you know very well that many Orthodox do not share this view ...
- Our Church - by definition there is a conciliar unity of people in Christ with various private opinions. Some do not share my view on Stalin, others do not share the idea of non-possession, some other views. I really know all that. But here, for example, one of my spiritual leaders and people close to me in the Church — Archimandrite Peter (Kucher), a former confessor of the Bogolyubsky monastery near Vladimir, is an Orthodox Stalinist. And he is not the only one. And what can we say about such a movement as Orthodox socialism? Simply, there are things that the Orthodox Catechism does not speak about - and here, in my opinion, different views are permissible. I am not a theologian and I do not presume to interpret the Scriptures or the Holy Fathers. So why is Father Shumsky angry with me? I do not teach him how to preach to his parishioners. His place is in the parish, mine is in the newspaper, in the thick of the political struggle, at military factories ... Of course, I can be mistaken in some way, and who besides Christ can claim to be full of the Truth?
- And when and how did you come to faith?
- I believed before my baptism, having passed a beautiful painful journey. My ancestors had Molokans, my great-uncle Alexander Stepanovich Prokhanov was even the ancestor of the Russian evangelical movement. From these spiritual sources, through my technosphere, engineering, writing, I moved towards Orthodoxy. I remember in the Pskov-Caves Monastery around the year of St. Michael the Great, I stood in the service, at the end of which the parishioners, as usual, approached the cross. I also got in line, although I was not even baptized. And as I approached the priest, I felt a strange agony in my soul - as if some force emanating from the cross itself pushed me away. I left the queue and again stood in the tail and again slowly approached. I almost ran away in horror from the temple, but overcame myself. Thrice defended this line, I finally went to the cross. The priest looked at me sternly and only asked: "Do you believe?" And I said: "I believe." I fixed this moment as a moment of struggle and adherence to the values of faith, about which I knew almost nothing.
And in 1972 I baptized me in Kazan, my friend Father Lev Lebedev, a famous priest. We met him when he was not baptized yet. I worked as a forester, and my forest land went to the walls of the New Jerusalem Monastery. And he was a scientist in the historical museum, which was then located in the monastery. There, under the dome of the destroyed temple, we met, argued, dreamed of the future. He prophesied that Orthodoxy would flourish again in New Jerusalem, reproached me for attaching too much importance to the phantom state. Then he was baptized and ordained. And he led me all the time. He later baptized me when he served at the parish in the village of Tesovo near Vyazma. In the autumn empty church, the father put me in a basin, stripped naked and baptized. Then in the evening, with his parishioners, we walked with a lantern, singing psalms along the muddy Smolensk roads to the neighboring village to visit the sick father. Since then, I consider myself a man of the Church, and this lantern still illuminates my life.
“But you are right now telling me an episode from your wonderful novel Inscription!”
- And I described in this novel many real moments of my life that are dear to me.
- Has your life changed after baptism?
- Radically - no. I still continued to travel, these were cities, continents, wars, meetings, which I later described. I was then, (and now, of course) sinful - surrounded by passions, overflowing with ambition. Then I was still young, often fascinated, was not perfect in the family. But the mysterious substance associated with the mystery of baptism, she was present in me - I felt it as clearly as a pectoral cross on my chest. And today, in retrospect, I understand that this force of the communion of Orthodox Christians living and living on earth has kept me all these years. Over the years, these writings of faith seemed to appear, manifested over my life, as some secret phrase appears under the light of the sun over the chaos of random records ...
- As an Orthodox person, are you ready to reconcile with the priest who offended you with the word?
- I didn’t quarrel with him. If we meet - ready to come under the blessing, hug in a Christian way. I know that this priest is a good family man, a sincere Orthodox. I also heard that he had undergone some persecution in connection with his statements, which were considered extremist - I sincerely sympathize with him. It turns out that each of us falls out of a certain "standard".
- There is another point that also confuses some Orthodox readers - your passion for “the founder of Russian cosmism” - the philosopher Nikolai Fedorov. Indeed, from the point of view of the very Christian faith itself, his visionary utopia about the resurrection of the descendants of their ancestors is a real heresy ...
- To my regret, many of our priests bring too many national values beyond the bounds of Orthodox church norms: the figure of Leo Tolstoy, the “silver” age of Russian poetry, Nikolai Fedorov. I personally, remaining Orthodox, considered and consider Fedorov to be a grandiose figure in the context of the Orthodox worldview. I do not share the common opinion among fellow believers that it is a sinful and blasphemous dream of building the Kingdom of God on Earth.
- Actually, in Revelation of St. John the Divine says that the Kingdom of God will be built by Christ himself on the renewed Earth after the Last Judgment ...
- The book of the Apocalypse is very complex, full of metaphors and allegories. No wonder the third millennium has not stopped its interpretation. In my opinion, it is unwise, and maybe even a sin, to postulate unambiguous conclusions from it. The Lord, coming to Earth, left us, as you know, one single prayer “Our Father”. "Thy kingdom come," we ask God in it. That is, we call for it to come to us on earth, for the paradise of trees to bloom around us, for His will to fill not only heaven, but the whole Earth. In my opinion, by this prayer, the Lord directly urges us to strive to build the Kingdom of God on the planet, which will not come without His will, but will not be created without our own efforts. To paradise on earth is a Christian task, and in paradise there is no death.
“But death, according to Scripture, is a direct consequence of original sin ...”
“So Fedorov is calling to save the children of the sinning fathers, that is, to get rid of their own sins, to feel the all-conquering love for all things and thereby resurrect our fathers.” You know, I am now fascinated by the idea of spreading cadet corps in Russia, where we must gather all of our orphans, destitute abandoned children, in order to bring up the real national elite — the future support of the state. Today we are building temples - this is very good and necessary, but these cadet corps can also be called a church that will assemble lambs. Our “Izborsky Club”, the governor of the Pskov Region, Andrey Anatolyevich Turchak, strongly support this undertaking.
- This is, indeed, a wonderful and timely idea - God forbid you to embody it. And I wanted to ask about your already significant landmark initiative - the “sacred hill” near Pskov, poured in as some kind of common “spiritual work” of the Russian people. How did you come up with this idea?
- Pskov is my spiritual homeland. I spent the best days of my youth there, met wonderful people who have all died today. There, for the first time, I understood what the beauty of Russian historical life is, what a Russian church is, Russian nature. There I first fell in love ... And I went there all the time. And a few years ago I suddenly realized that the Pskov land is a place where God repeatedly "kissed" Russia. Amazing Russians arose at this place - tragic and victorious temples, barrows, deep clear lakes. In the same place, I realized that the Russian historical consciousness is thinking in terms of empires. All five Russian empires are present in the Pskov region, reflecting in it, as in a mirror, starting from Truvor, who moored its canoe and founded the princely settlement near Izborsk. Princess Olga was born there, St. Vladimir the Baptist of Russia was born there, in the town of Budnik, St. Alexander Nevsky defeated “knight dogs” on the ice of Lake Peipsi. The marvelous old man Filofei, who formulated the grandiose doctrine “Moscow - the Third Rome”, labored in the Spaso-Eliazarov Monastery. Peter the Great built with his own hands redoubts in the Pskov-Caves Monastery to repel the invasion of the Swedes. Our greatest poet Pushkin lived in Mikhailovsky, in Trigorsky near Pskov, and in the Pskov region there is the railway station Dno, where the last Russian emperor signed a renunciation of the throne, thus completing the third empire. And in the same places - at the beginning of the fourth “red empire” of 23 in February in Pskov in the first battles with the Germans the Red Army was born. And during the Great Patriotic War, Alexander Matrosov in the battle for the Pskov village of Chernushka covered the fascist bunker with his chest.
The idea of the sacred hill was born this way. I felt that the Russian history was broken, its waveguide was dissected and it had to be connected so that the energy reached us. It is necessary to correct the curved "lines of force" of history, which will allow us to build the fifth Russian empire. This hill is a huge Russian Golgotha, connected with the inevitable Russian Resurrection.
We received the blessing of Metropolitan Eusebius of Pskov and Velikie Luki on this doing. It was not easy: Vladyka closely followed our activities, was strict, and sometimes stern with us. But in the end, he consecrated a memorial cross and a chapel in the name of the Icon of the Mother of God, later erected near this hill. Now the icon for this chapel is being created from smalt.
The land from which the hill is made is taken from the holy places of Pskov, about which I spoke and which seem to represent all of our historical epochs. Then people began to bring land there and from other holy places of Russia. There are parts of the earth from all Russian holy monasteries, there is an “earthly Gospel” from those places in Palestine where Christ walked with his feet.
I recently visited, finally, near Stalingrad, in the steppe near the farm Baburkin, where my father died, and brought back a bag of land to the hill.
Russian epochs sprouted from this hill with lights that illuminate all who come there to worship. Even the newlyweds come to this place like an eternal flame - this hill is shining for everyone. That was our idea, so that spiritual energies flowed out of this symbolic Russian Golgotha, driving away the dismay and disbelief from our people.
- Which of the Orthodox priests, the hierarchs, with whom you had to communicate, made the deepest impression on you, left a mark on your life?
- First of all, my unforgettable friend Lev is the late archpriest Lev Lebedev, whom I have already mentioned.
Father Dimitri Dudko, who was the confessor of the Den newspaper, had a great influence on me. He taught me that the “red martyrs”: Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, Gastello, Talalikhin, Karbyshev, “Young Guard” - they were all baptized in blood, shed for their homeland. He was also truly blissful: he didn’t blame anyone, he only blessed him. From Father Dimitri, love was almost visibly flowing out.
There were two significant meetings with the deceased now Metropolitan of St. Petersburg and Ladoga John (Snychev). He himself came to the editorial board of The Day and blessed us with our efforts to reconcile the red and white patriots. I still pray for him.
I remember a trip in the tragic 1993 year to the Trinity-Sergius Lavr to Hieromonk Philadelphus, who received the schema of Moses before his death. Then we created the Front for National Salvation, trying to prevent the Yeltsin-Gaidar pogrom of the country. And now a very sick, dying father Philadelphus gave me a pectoral cross and blessed me to fight.
Archimandrite Peter (Kucher), former confessor of the Holy Bogolyubsky monastery, also influenced me and continues to influence me.
I bow before the Pskov Metropolitan Eusebius, who is the only hierarch who has betrayed the anathema of detractors of the Church, who deceived Mother Elizabeth in print, who was then Abbess of the Spaso-Elizarievsky Monastery. He remains the guardian of our sacred hill.
- Do you think that in the world today not only de-Christianization, but also dehumanization is actively taking place?
“Our Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, recently gathered Russian ambassadors and urged them to study not only politics and economics, but also religion. Because, he said, without a religious dominant, it will not be possible to understand the “nerve” of what is happening today in a world where religious models are fighting. The minister did not say more, but I am ready to decipher his words. In the modern world, a cruel clash of metaphysical principles is going on - darkness and light. Perhaps the latter is already a fight. Therefore, religious values are much more expensive. weapons, oil, gas.
I often like to repeat in my speeches that today defense factories and altars are most necessary for Russia. Yes, we need a holy Russian weapon that inherits the sword of Dmitry Donskoy, the shield of Alexander Nevsky. And the altars, especially in monasteries, are the wells that the prayers of monks open over Russia in the heavens, shedding Favor light on our life. Thanks to this heavenly light, our country is still alive and resisting the evil of the world.
- Do you consider the current Russia, according to the Gospel, "holding" the world from falling? Or did we ourselves fall too low for such a role?
- The beast really settled in our people. They joined him for a long time and diligently, and many of them finally accepted him. We had a giant people. Some giant warriors fell on the battlefields, other cripple giants raised the country from the dust. And after that, the giants, alas, only became shallow until a tribe of dwarfs appeared in their place. The current state of the people, in general, is terrible. This is what Putin said bitter words in his latest message to the Federal Assembly. But among our dying people, Orthodox lampadas shine - the nascent monasteries and temples. The spirit of Holy Russia is concentrated and defended there. Therefore, I think that our country remains "holding". Stalin, too, was restraining — restraining even greater evil with evil.
Today we are weakened and are not the same impregnable fortress as a state. But our Orthodox Church and not surrendered Russian culture retain the resource of light that humanity will very soon need. Mankind today is changing its skin, it can no longer live in past models, it beats in the snares, where he was lured by liberal leaders. And it is just beginning to realize today how it needs the resource of Russian light and Russian universal love.