A 17th-Century Russian Community Living in 21st-Century Alaska
By Wendi Jonassen and Ryan Loughlin | The Atlantic
This clan has traveled from Russia through China, Brazil, and Oregon to make a home in the remote north, struggling to avoid modernization.
Father Nikolai says that candles represent a little sacrifice. They cost the members of the congregation a dollar, which goes to the upkeep of the church.
On a Sunday afternoon, in the middle of a cold winter, members of Father Nikolaiís congregation and family gather in his living room for fish pie, salted salmon, and shots of Jose Cuervo 1800. But before sitting down to eat they stand up as a group to face an icon corner adorned with gold laden paintings of patron saints, candles, and old Russian jewelry. They pray in unison, singing an ancient Slavonic chant, before falling silent and crossing themselves, bowing twelve times.
The Yakunin clan was much smaller in 1968 when they started building a Russian Orthodox village called Nikolaevsk in an isolated corner of Alaskaís Kenai Peninsula. Members of the Old Believers--a Russian Orthodox sect that left the church in 1666, in the face of state-issued church reforms--traveled more than 20,000 miles over five centuries in the search for the perfect place to protect their traditions from outside influences.
The women wear teal, pink, red, and purple satin dresses, all made with the same basic design that covers their bodies down to their ankles. Married women cover their hair with scarves that match their colorful gowns. Father Nikolai has a full red beard that reaches the top of his round belly and his hair is in a ponytail that runs down his back over a traditional Russian shirt.
A thick-cheeked baby dozes off in a rocker next to Father Nikolaiís son, Vasily Yakunin, who most people think will become the next priest in the community. Nikolaevsk instated their first priest in 1983 after centuries of living without clergy, which created a rift that divides the community to this day.
Vasily slouches in a leather chair, playing a space shooting videogame on his iPad, while the rest of the guests crowd around the lunch table, laughing and passing around a plate of jam-filled pastries for dessert. The only person over twenty-one who is exempt from the occasional shots of tequila is Efrosinia Yakunin, who is four months pregnant with Father Yakuninís fifteenth grandchild.
"If we stopped believing and stopped going to church and observing the orthodox way of life," Father Nikolai says, "we would cease to exist."
On a journey back through time that touches some of the most remote corners of the globe--a generation ago, Oregon, before that Brazil, China, and Siberia--the Yakunin clan emerges out of history as a family in search of a way to live without compromise. But even at the end of the world itís impossible to resist change forever.
Before starting on this 20,000-mile hopscotch across the globe, the Old Believers lived peacefully in a remote part of Siberia for nearly 200 years. The turmoil started around 1666, when Patriarch Nikon, the head of the church, altered the Russian Orthodox prayer books and traditions. "What happened was it was forced on people, you know, people were forced to accept it," Father Nikolai says. "And if, there should be no questions at all. If anybody brought up a question, he was beat. His fingers were cut off or something like that, tongues cut out."
The changes that Patriarch Nikon introduced--like the spelling of Jesusí name in the prayer books and the number of fingers used to make the sign of the cross--seem trivial, but caused intense turmoil. "For us moderns, itís hard to understand," says Jack Kollman, professor of Russian studies at Stanford. "But itís rather like Shakespeare, the magic is there, the purity is there. You donít change a poem into prose without losing the magic of it. And for a Russian Orthodox peasant...the way you make the sign of the cross...as far as anyone knew was the way that God taught them to do it. And [their] father and grandfather and ancestors got to heaven because they practiced the faith as we were taught it," he explains. "You donít rephrase Shakespeare."
Read the full article at: theatlantic.com
For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II
Religious sect found after living underground in Russia for nearly a decade
Latest News from our Front Page
An Eye For Odin
The Anglo-Saxon Sutton Hoo helmet is a religious artefact dedicated to Woden the one eyed god of war. Recent research indicates that numerous other archeaological artefacts also provide evidence that one eye on various figures has been deliberately removed as part of a Woden ritual.
Read the original essay by Neil Price and Paul Mortimer here:
Music: Faunus Amadeus Loki - Strange ...
Ed Miliband: "As a friend of Israel and a Jew, I‚Äôm a proud member of this community" & "The Jewish Manifesto"
Editor's comment: With just a few days to go to the British election, here are a few tidbits that the English voter might want to know about concerning the leader of the Labour party, Ed Miliband.
Labour Leader Ed Miliband on the Board of Deputies' Jewish Manifesto
By Ed Miliband, Leader of the Opposition in the UK. (Or should that be the ...
"Sweden is ruled by unelected policy plotters"
Editor's Comment: As usual, the power in Sweden is behind the scenes, unelected and weaved into the bureaucracy so that Swedes have no control or influence over what happens in the country.
Sweden has long been seen as the epitome of a healthy democracy. But in this week's debate article, three researchers argue that an increase in unelected behind-the-scenes operators is ...
Israel to airlift 25 babies born to surrogates out of Nepal
Ya'ari is one of 26 babies airlifted by the Israeli government and brought to Israel to be with their parents after the Nepal earthquake. (Derek Stoffel/CBC)Israel said Sunday it plans to airlift 25 infants from quake-hit Nepal born to surrogate mothers, along with their Israeli parents, most of them homosexual couples.
Officials said Israel was sending a military delegation to offer ...
Ed Miliband is a f****** communist, says Noel Gallagher
Noel Gallagher has warned Ed Miliband is a 'f******* communist' who will 'fail us all' if Labour wins the election next week.
The former Oasis guitarist admitted that he did not plan to vote on Thursday because he could not 'get behind' any of the parties.
His foul-mouthed outburst at Mr Miliband is a long way from New Labour's Cool Brittania heyday, ...
|More News » |