Trivia time… What is the bestselling book in Russia since the fall of Communism (besides the Bible)?
We went to Doma Knegy (House of Books bookstore) last week. I bought a book that looked interesting. Turns out it is the bestselling book in Russia since the fall of communism. First Published in 2011, within a year the book had sold more than 1 million hard copies and several million e-book copies.
Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) is the bestselling book in Russia since communism’s fall.
Everyday Saints is a 500 page book written by a Russian Orthodox monk (Archimandrite Tikhon), telling about his conversion to faith in Soviet Russia during the early 1980s while attending film school, his subsequent experiences as a Monk in the Pskov Caves Monastery, and the stores of various monks in the monastery.
It is a fantastic book. I highly recommend it.
Can you imagine a Christian book being the equivalent of “Harry Potter” in the Russian publishing world? This is truly AMAZING.
If you want to learn more about the persecutions of Christians during the Communist era, and about Orthodox spirituality, this is the book for you. It is available in an English translation from Amazon, etc. All proceeds go to build a church in memory of the millions of Christian martyrs killed during Soviet rule.
Photos of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, in Saint Petersburg, taken from our hotel room window.
The story of Kazan Cathedral, on Nevsky Prospect, across from Doma Knegy (House of Books bookstore), is really amazing. Kazan was closed by the communists after the Russian Revolution. In the 1930s the communists turned Kazan into the Museum of Atheism. But Kazan was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1990s. It is now the Primary Cathedral for Saint Petersburg, and the seat of the bishop for the Eparchy (diocese) of St. Petersburg.
Almost all churches in the Soviet Union were closed under Stalin in the 1930s, and again under Khruchev in the 1950s. (And virtually all priests and pastors were arrested, tortured, sent to the Gulags and/or killed. It is difficult to estimate how many millions of Christians were killed under the communists.) Even in the late 1980s only 20 churches were allowed to legally function in Saint Petersburg, a city of 5 million people.
Today, the number of functioning churches in Russia has multiplied by 10 fold since the fall of communism; and the number of monasteries has grown from only 1 to many 100s, with more churches and monasteries opening every day.
The most recent estimates are that 75% of all Russians now profess faith. In spite of its many problems and issues, Russia today is one of the most religious countries in the world.
“The wars of Israel were the only ‘holy wars’ in history… there can be no more wars of faith. The only way to overcome our enemy is by loving him.”
“By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
“Christian love draws no distinction between one enemy and another, except that the more bitter our enemy’s hatred, the greater his need of love. Be his enmity political or religious, he has nothing to expect from a follower of Jesus but unqualified love. In such love there is not inner discord between the private person and official capacity. In both, we are Disciples of Christ, or we are not Christians at all.”
“The messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the division which rend cities and homes. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned on all sides for undermining family life, and for leading the nation astray; they will be called crazy fanatics and disturbers of the peace.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, (from “The Cost of Discipleship)
In light of the nine Christians killed during Bible Study at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, it brings to mind Rev. Martin Luther King’s last speech, given the night before his assassination, at Mason Temple (Church of God in Christ Headquarters).
“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
And so I’m happy, tonight.
I’m not worried about anything.
I’m not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!”