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
White House Pushes Race War, Then Blames Guns For Flanagan's "Race War"
"You want a race war (expletive)?" Asked shooter
The Obama administration is blaming guns for the WBDJ-TV shooting, even though the shooter, Vester Flanagan, was influenced by the White House’s race baiting.
The White House has been falsely insinuating that racism is the dominant factor behind numerous events over the past several years, even those that didn’t involve race at all, and ...
How Google Destroyed the Internet
The internet was created to resolve a simple problem: in communications networks, any central node through which all messages passed was vulnerable to attack or takeover. To counter this, engineers designed a network where any node would pass messages to other nodes, routing around any damage.
Then came commerce and the democratization of the internet.
Under this model, frightened sheep flock to ...
German government opens borders to all Syrians
The German government has flung open Germany‚Äôs borders to any and all Syrians, regardless of whether they claim to be asylum seekers.
A statement from the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees said that ‚ÄúGermany will become the member state responsible for processing their claims.‚ÄĚ
This new diktat means Syrians will no longer have their asylum cases reviewed to see if ...
Left Pushes End of Church Tax Exemptions
Emboldened by their latest win in the Supreme Court over same-sex "marriage," the left has been trumpeting the cause tax exemptions for religious institutions at a much faster rate, setting the stage for it to become a national agenda.
Immediately following the Supreme Court decision that declared same-sex marriage legal, Time's Mark Oppenheimer openly declared that churches should be stripped of their ...
Meet America‚Äôs First School District to Serve 100% Organic Meals
When schools in California’s Sausalito Marin City District return to session this August, they will be the first in the nation to serve their students 100 percent organic meals, sustainably sourced and free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
More than 500 students at Bayside MLK Jr. Academy in Marin City and Willow Creek Academy in Sausalito will eat fresh, local food ...
|More News » |