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The Slag Solzhenitsyns

An Orthodox friend writes:

Reading the scatalogical details reminded me so much of the blasphemies inflicted on Christians by their communist torturers — not all that long ago. To do this in Christ the Savior Cathedral is like doing a similar but anti-Semitic rant in a synagogue that the Nazis destroyed and pious Jews rebuilt. Imagine the “artists” saying “Shit, Shit, Lord’s shit” in a synagogue like that, with painful historic memories. Using language much as Nazis did when torturing Jews.

It is more of a wound because Christ the Savior Cathedral was destroyed by the communists (heartbreaking footage here).  It was rebuilt mostly with small contributions by citizens of Moscow.

There may well be cause for political theater opposing Putin & Church collusion, but this was more purely offensive and heartbreaking than it needed to be. I would say “insensitive” but I expect they were exquisitely sensitive to how much pain it would cause and chose it for that purpose. I think non-liturgical Christians don’t understand the degree of reverence Catholics and Orthodox can have for the building itself, and the way they regard the “inner sanctum” as truly the Holy of Holies; not just analogous to the Holy of Holies in the ancient Jerusalem Temple, but in fact the very same thing, because Christianity grew out of Judaism.

The deliberate infliction of pain here, the deliberate “going too far” is seen in their other art works, like staging an orgy in a museum (real live sex) and a bizarre sexual act in a grocery store with children present. The pattern is to deliberately look for actions that will offend and hurt. Don’t we all think that that crosses the line? I know it crosses a line spiritually–I can feel it. Cruelty and delight in hurting others has a distinct spiritual “smell.”

These three nasty pieces of work will do their prison time, then be released and emigrate, where they can make a handsome living going into Western venues, conducting orgies in museums, shoving chicken legs up their privates in supermarkets, and parading before Western liberals as free-speech martyrs. The Slag Solzhenitsyns. Now that’s a great name for a feminist punk band. Such decadent times we live in.

UPDATE: My Orthodox friend continues:

There’s something about it I find hard to define–it’s not just that this was a protest. We’ve all done protests I expect. It’s that quality of glee, excited glee. A thrill. You look at the arrow in the target, and then look back at the face of the archer, and you think, Oh, that’s what you were trying to do. It’s that strain in contemporary art (over a hundred years “contemporary”) that really gets a thrill out of wounding people. Wounding the right people, in particular, devout people. It’s the thrill of it. This is not a protest like a March On Washington. It’s not making a forceful point to an equally forceful power. It’s inside a worship space at a time when people are there praying privately. They wanted to hurt them; that’s what the fun was. Because devout people deserve to be wounded. This is of course a very dangerous wild-fire type of fashionable social behavior, because it is so gratifying (to some) to see people of faith upset and saddened. I think that aspect is just going to get worse. In a way, coming back with the long arm of the law only provokes more.

I don’t know that this punishment is just. If the goal was to reduce the likelihood of such occurences, I think it would backfire. Reducing such events is the only thing I care about here. I think they should have been assigned community service, maybe to listen to people who had relatives die in communist prison, and gather living history and write it up. Did you know that 20 million Christians died under communism? This is not something that should be forgotten. If they had been assigned to record and write up such memories maybe it would make it real to them that, when you set out to wound someone emotionally, it is a real human being you are wounding. There are people still alive who suffered for their faith, and who lost grandparents and other relatives. These are educated and talented women, right? They don’t need to be in jail, but they could use their talents to spread understanding of the suffering their own land went through.

There are people still alive who remember; it’s not in the dim distant past. In our church there is a woman whose dad was a priest in Romania. She says the govt would plan student work days on religious feasts, so they couldn’t attend services. One year there was a city clean-up scheduled for Pascha. Her dad had her and her sister go to services instead–the most important feast of the year. For this, he was docked two years’ pay, one for each daughter. I’ve met other Russians whose grandad or great-uncle were martyred priests.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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