Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Soul of the People

Click on the image for full sized version.


Anonymous said...

Is this photo depicting baptism? Is the child going into the water to be baptized while his "old man," dressed in a cloth around his waist, is wrestling about towards the back of the picture?

John (Ad Orientem) said...

The title of the post is the name of the painting. More information I have not been able to dig up so far. However I will tell you that I found it on a website discussing the phenomenon of the Holy Fools for Christ, a type of saint seen mainly in the Russian tradition.

When examining this painting which is very large, I see many possible themes in it. Even the enlarged version from Ad Orientem is not as big as the original file which I have on my computer. The detail is quite striking.

If anyone has more information on the painting or its background I would be most interested in learning more.


Thomas H said...

Try asking varvara at 01varvara.wordpress.com (art and faith blog) She might know.

Anonymous said...

A little child shall lead them. The other people seem to represent all the faithful -- priests, nuns, monks, ordinary people. Just a thought.

thehandmaid said...

Mikhail Nesterov's The Soul of the People (1916)
A link to Art & Faith
from Vara: "It illustrates the rootedness of Russian Orthodoxy. Greek Orthodoxy (and the other smaller groups, too) is rooted just as solidly. Russian Orthodoxy has always been more “multi-cultural” than any other expression of Orthodoxy. Many peoples, many languages, and many expressions of faith are found within it. Can you believe that the Syosset apparat is passing the lie that the MP is going to dismiss all American-born priests? What utter delusion and prelest! Which would you want to belong to? A world-wide, powerful, and vibrant Church of many nationalities or to an impotent sect that limits itself to one ethnos and one region?

Look at the painting! Who is in the forefront of the image? A young boy. And a little child shall lead them. Whom do you wish to follow?"

Anonymous said...

Hmm, that's an interesting take on it. I think I like it.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

I must admit that I have heard nothing of the rumors of which you speak though I am under the jurisdiction of the OCA. Also I gather from your comment that our experiences have been different in other respects. You seem to feel that the Russian Church is poly-ethnic while my experience has generally held this to be more true of the OCA.

There are certainly parishes in the OCA which are still quite ethnic. But most now perform services entirely in English and many of our parishes are composed heavily of converts. My experience of the Russian Church has generally been that it is highly ethno-centric with most services being done in Slavonic. In those parishes of the Russian Church Abroad which I have come into contact with they are very definitely Russian.

This is not a bad thing per se. But if Orthodoxy in America is to ever evolve beyond being a cash cow and ornament for the churches of the old world we are going to have to move beyond the ethnic ghettos which so many Orthodox in this country have set themselves up in. This was the the thinking of the Holy Synod of the Russian Church when it granted autocephaly to its daughter the former Metropolia here in the United States in the early 1970's. Today sadly only two jurisdictions seem to have any concern for Orthodox unity in N. America, the OCA and the Antiochians. The uncanonical jurisdictional chaos that has ensued since the 1920's has caused serious harm to the Orthodox Church and to its saving message here in the Americas.

While we can not snap our fingers and undo the last 80 years of history, it is unfortunate that with the exception of the Russian Church (which has strongly supported an autocephalous American Orthodox Church) most of the mother churches in Europe and the Middle East have been more a part of the problem than the solution to the problem.

Under the mercy,

thehandmaid said...

I was quoting Vara, and perhaps this is her experience. I am in the OCA and we are mainly a convert church with different ethnic subgroups, everybody embraces the English...
Vara is opinionated and I encourage any who are interested to visit her sites - one of which is about art & faith.
I actually didn't comment but posted another's words. Forgive me for the confusion.