Appendix I: The Dire Need of Enlightenment in Russia and the West

by Zoya Krakhmalnikova

THE RELIGIOUS philosophy of such thinkers as N. Berdyaev is extremely popular in Russia, offering a certain form of education, but it cannot give Enlightenment. It opens to man the "possibility" of a way of religious self-consciousness, it opens to him that he is created by God and is endowed with freedom, but it cannot give the knowledge of HOW to acquire this freedom. And the freedom, although it is described in all aspects, turns out to be merely 'intellectual capital' which cannot be put in circulation.

A philosophy of this kind does not know repentance as an ontological and anthropological problem. It knows it merely as an idea, as a category of human existence, but not as a path to the renewal of the mind, the change of the mind and the purification of the heart. Freedom, without change of mind and purification of mind and heart acquired by spiritual labor, is an ideal, a dream, a beautiful but impotent knowledge. Religious philosophy provides praiseworthy education and knowledge about man, about his moral microcosm. But this knowledge is passive, just as knowledge acquired in a dream.

One must assume that the development of such a type of religious-philosophical knowledge was bound up with the religious life of that bygone Russia, with its multitude of monasteries, with its "forty times forty" churches, with its decades of religious magazines, with the freedom of religious preaching: a Christian in that era could easily quench his thirst for "living watter." It's quite irrelevant that the life 'had gone dry'; and one of the purposes of the "Russian Religious Renaissance was to awaken it. But it made use of forms of 'culture', without means of Enlightenment. Religion was offered as a 'fragment of culture', Christianity as merely knowledge about men and God.

Today, desolated Russian Christianity is discovered as the Good News of salvation and as a labor of saving oneself and others. We are returning, we must return, as any cost to the original Apostolic times, when there also were no books, no monasteries, no elders, no churches, when Saul was setting out to go to Damascus, in order to be overcome by 'blindness' and, from the non-rational fire of Pentecost, to be given sight.

Understanding of religion as a fragment of culture, formulated as it is in the secularized religious consciousness, most likely cannot disappear. This is a sickness and it can be cured only when the Cross moves from the 'ideal' of intellectual freedom and becomes a tool of 'spiritual' freedom. People will object, stating that intellectual freedom, is, after all, not that bad, and that in the Godless world, recognition of God even as a myth and religion even as a fragment of culture - also has some worth. Morality as a fragment of the "general culture" of man, as an inheritance of humanism, can easily convert the "forty times forty" churches into terrifying ruins, monasteries into objects of mockery; monks and priests into prisoners (of Gulag).

Therefore, awakening Russia today means a 'different' attitude towards culture, towards Enlightenment of education, and towards morality. When we say "in Russia," we mean first of all of course the church people, the "holy remnant' of the nation, considering that precisely in this rests our entire hope for the salvation of our nation and, moreover, the salvation of the whole world. And we speak this with full responsibility and full hope, that we will be 'heard' by those to whom the salvation of Russia is not an empty sound, not just a verbal figure, not a dead idea, but a living reality that demands action.

Enlightenment is indispensable for Russia. It is indispensable not only for "anonymous churches," for "Protestantizers," and for priests and the "lay Apostolate." It is also indispensable for those to whom they come out to preach, for those who are still waiting, who want but are afraid to seek out, who yearn in hope and in suffering, fearing that today or tomorrow something might happen. But what, what else can happen? War? Another national tragedy? What else has God prepared for Russia?

Before doing anything one must 'be'. One must 'be'- either in war, or in concentration camps, or in prisons, or incarcerated in psychiatric torture chambers, in family or in work - everywhere one must know how to 'be', then nothing will be frightening to you. Then you are 'free'.

But who will teach me to 'BE"? "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"(Rom 7:24).

Only God and only through people, who bring me Enlightenment.

Thus, in Russia, the cardinal problem emerges of 'renewing' the culture. It is being raised by our very reality [today] with the same intensity as it was raised long ago at the time of the Baptism of Russia, when they faced the issue of creating Russian Christian Culture.

--From 'Nashi Vesti" Quarterly (West Milford, N.J. Sept. 1988), p. 3