An Interrogation of a Witness. Joseph Stalin. Threshold
An Interrogation of a Witness. Joseph Stalin. Threshold
There were present: AG (Angel-Guardian), AD (Angel-Destroyer), the accordion player Sergei, Svyetlana Alliluyeva, Leo Tolstoy.
"Thank you, Yana, your testimony helped us very much," She heard an angelic voice of the AG over her, "Get up, it's not worthy for a girl to lie on the floor. Your childhood has finished, a member the Young Communist League Sinegina."
"What testimony do you mean?"
"I mean her testimony for Joseph. Joanna's childhood at the time of Stalin was her testimony for Joseph. This girl was baptized in conscious age in spite of atheistic propaganda, prayed before going to sleep for the health of her mother, father, if he was alive and lived somewhere in Australia, for Luska and comrade Stalin. She thanked God for the possibility to watch the performance about Cinderella in the club, for her mum who gave her some money for an ice cream, though Yana didn't do the dishes, and for her wonderful life. Only two thing troubled Yana: that she lost a book from a library and that once she, Yana Sinegina, would have to die.
"Witness, do you confirm your testimonies?"
"Yes, I do."
"I have a question to the defence," the AD hissed, "Joining pioneers and the Young Communist League, didn't she reject God?"
The text of the pioneer vow said: 'You shall live and study to become a citizen of your socialist Homeland'. But neither here, nor in the Komsomol vow no apostasy or atheism was demanded," the AG said. 'You shall love and protect your Homeland and struggle against the world that 'lieth in wickedness' and for building the bright communistic future, for which she prayed, 'Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven'.
You shall not pitch up but help your friends, the sick and the week, obey your parents and elders; you shall not run after beautiful unnecessary stuff as some average people do; you shall not tell lies and steal. You shall work because the apostle Paul said, 'if any would not work, neither should he eat'. 'One for all and all for one'. 'You shall die but save your friend'. 'You shall share your crust of bread with your friend'.
That is you should 'lay down your life for your friends'. You should treat boys only as your friends and expect your only prince given by Heaven and be humble in everyday life. 'Die but don't give your kiss without love'.
"What hypocrisy", the AD screwed up his face.
"You are laying claims to the Gospel. There it is written even more strictly, 'And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell" (Matthew 5:29).
The accordion player Sergei, appearing in the eternity from an unknown place, began to play and sing Soviet patriotic songs. The AG sang along with him with his angelic voice, recalling more and more songs, and Joanna confirmed that as a rule their songs were chaste, heart-warming and full of Christian perception of good, security and the coming Bright Future where, as she believed, she would live and give up all her life and all her strengths to the struggle for liberation of humanity.
At once the AG recited the words of the apostle Paul, 'For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another' (Galatians 5:13).
Joanna confirmed that the communist ideology really struggled against slavery of flesh and passions and against bourgeois psychology. And as the Truth condemned Pharisees, so the communist ideology blamed newly Pharisees and double-dealers, castigating and calling them 'not to seem but really be'; it often did so through her, the journalist Joanna Sinegina.
"You are saying that about the tyrant, the killer and the worst evildoer of all times and peoples!" the AD hissed.
"Calm down, Negative, you have your own witnesses. They are victims of repressions, former 'enemies of the people' and prisoners of the gulag. Their children would later revenge for them destroying the hateful Antivampiria. I didn't interfere when they were giving their testimonies.
Yeltsin's father and uncle were repressed in 1938 and both Gorbachev's grandfathers too. Solzhenitsyn's father was an officer of the tsarist army. Maya Plisetskaya's father was executed by shooting in 1937, Galina Vishnevskaya's father was arrested, the father of the dissident Chernovil from Ukraine served in German punitive forces. The farther of former Lithuanian ruler Landsbergis was a minister under Nazi occupants. I kept silence when they witnessed. By the way, in the Bible children take responsibility for fathers' iniquities up to several generations. But these people became VIPs at the time of the Soviet rule."
"Who did they become?"
"They became very important persons, if you don't understand.
"OK, keep your nerves until the Judgement. But I have another question: didn't Joseph demand of people to worship him as God?"
"It's a popular deception. Let's recite the testimony of Svyetlana Alliluyeva:
"Father couldn't bear to look at crowds who clapped him and yelled 'hurrah'; his face was distorted with irritation."
"But she was his daughter. Relatives always say good things."
"At the Judgement and before the Judgement every testimony of love is precious in prayers for the departed people."
I ask the witness Joanna. Didn't all these odes and glorifications of the leader propagate his personality cult?"
Joanna answered that it would have been an absurd thing for a general secretary of an atheistic party to declare his divinity, and of course, the leader never demanded anything of the kind. He was shepherd and leader to undertake a mission to preserve the flock within the commandments while the Lord was absent, getting a command from him to 'keep his sheep'. For this purpose he used all possible means, including his own cult of 'a great leader' but not a god at all.
For them, children, the Lord God was a fairy-tale personage in his fairy Kingdom where one could believe or not. Stalin was host of the earth and God was host of Heaven. The Lord was God and Stalin was leader and shepherd of all multiethnic Soviet people.
As a rule the Leader didn't demand God's things and didn't interfere in internal church affairs; he only restored patriarchdom in Russia.
The only thing the leader demanded of the clergy was their loyalty to the Soviet rule. When Stalin at the beginning of the war felt support from the side of the church he began to show direct patronage to it but never interfered in church dogmas as he interfered in 'problems of linguistics' or in art.
Both the Lord and the leader demanded Yana who was a believing pioneer and later a Komsomol member to keep the commandments to avoid any discord between these commandments and her conscience.
The discord began later after the leader's death, after the 'thaw' and after Moscow international youth festival at the epoch of Khrushchev and his persecutions against the church. Khrushchev promised that 'there will soon be no necessity in priests'. it was at that time when the need in hard leadership over the vast country in the conditions of hostile environment began to be called 'totalitarianism behind barbed wire', chastity - old-fashionedness, unselfishness - a Soviet style of life and beggarly psychology, sobornost (conciliarism) and collectivism - herd instinct and love for one's Homeland - jingoism.
"I have a question to the witness. What does 'love for one's Homeland' mean for her? Imperial thinking, nationalism or class irreconcilability," the AD couldn't quiet down. "All of that is idolatry."
Joanna answered that she simply loved her country which guarded and protected her form the world that 'lieth in wickedness' and from all things that her conscience rejected. Such was her idea about meaning and destination of life.
She told that in her childhood she grew cold with terror when she thought that she could have been born in any other country as a rich idler, an exploiter or a housewife because in many countries women didn't work or even sell themselves.
"You were a slave of your state."
"Everyone who is in a refuge is its slave,"
"And you also were a slave of an ideology."
Joanna objected that a slave submitted under the lash but she liked to withstand evil things inside herself and be a believing pioneer. Maybe, she simply was lucky. Sometimes the authorities were so wearing, ridiculous and absurd; they could be deceived and taken over. But they were 'her authorities' that protected people but not gorged and killed them. In any case, the authorities never forced her personally to go against God and his commandments.
Even later when Joanna herself practiced 'ideological propaganda', searching and even inventing positive characters...
"You practiced deception and varnishing the truth."
Joanna objected, "I tried to see and discern beauty of God's world and God's image in every man and elevate man over vanity."
"She helped people to become better," the AG supported her, "That was the thing the Lord and the authorities wanted of her."
"Like most of Soviet believers you weren't a member of church," the AD hissed, "you were deprived of church sacraments and Holy Communion. It's for these things that the Saviour came to the earth and was crucified."
Joanna had to admit it. Of course, the church was persecuted; it's a very complicated problem. But she, Joanna, could have always gone to church secretly if she had wished. And it was her guilt that she didn't do so. She was guilty in passivity in problems of faith and non-resistance to absurdities of atheistic propaganda. He positively rejected that propaganda but wouldn't go deep into that problem and sort it out. However, those absurdities and 'lukewarmth' began long before Bolsheviks' coming to power.
There were churches in Moscow but people passed by them. As for Joanna, she simply felt shy to come in. God for her was absolutely not associated with church. God was something mighty, high and incomprehensible, but in churches there were only malicious and semiliterate old women in black who worshiped gods painted on icons looking like people, which was impossible.
It seemed so to her. She didn't understand anything and didn't try much to understand, and nobody wanted and knew how to explain at least the beginnings of the Orthodoxy. Culture, which originated from the word 'cult' and was called to serve as a bridge between the Church and the world that 'lieth in wickedness, was mainly engaged in ideological preaching. But facing spiritual problems it had to proceed to double-talk.
In general, 'reason, kindness and eternal values' were cultivated but at the level 'all of us evolved from monkeys'. Therefore, let's make the bright future.
The beginnings of the Orthodoxy were learnt as a rule beyond the church. For this reason 'lukewarm' Joanna who didn't wish to sort out 'a problem of problems' and thoughtlessly associated church with superstitions, like faith in goblins and poltergeists, and who never opened the Bible lying at her shelf was evidently guilty of inattentiveness towards main problems of being and her own salvation.
God only remained for her to be the incomprehensible and the highest power demanding from people to have some harmonic and good essence, with the help of which they could overcome death. She hadn't the slightest idea about the meaning of the Savior feat on the cross and about Christianity altogether. And it was her sin.
"And she didn't become a member of church and was deprived of church sacraments," repeated the AD.
The AG also had to agree with him. Yes, the authorities were evidently guilty in prohibition to confess the Christ and his teaching outside the church. But on the other hand in a multiethnic country where there were many religions they would also have to allow activity of other confessions, and nothing good would come of it.
By the way, after the war Joseph began to do much for the Orthodoxy but everything suddenly stopped after his death.
The AG also said that a state should keep absolute neutrality in problems of religious freedom because if Caesar tempts his subjects with atheism and at the same time uses faith for playing his politics he takes responsibility before God for souls obeying him. It is interference of Caesar in God's affairs.
Then the AG made a very strong move for the defence of separation of church from state, referring to the history of the Orthodox tsarist Russia and calling Leo Tolstoy to witness:
'At schools they teach catechism and send schoolchildren to churches; they demand testimonies of being at Holy Communions from officials. But a man of our circle who doesn't study anymore and isn't at the public service could live dozens of years now and in old times, never remembering that he lived among Christians and was considered as a confessor of the Christian Orthodox church'.
'The beginning of all things was moral improvement but soon it was changed into general improvement, i.e. desire to be better not in his own eyes or in the sight of God but in the sight of other people. And this desire to be better was rapidly changed into desire to be stronger than other people, i.e. more glorious, grander and richer than others'.
"God is a Spirit," cited the AG, and he should be worshipped in spirit and in truth. But one shouldn't 'seem' instead of 'being so'. The witness Tolstoy persuasively shows us the conversion from lukewarmth to selfishness and vampirism.
I can't remember those years without horror, disgust and heart pain. I killed people at wars, challenged them to duels to kill them, lost at cards, wasted muzhiks' labors, executed them, fornicated and deceived. There were deception, theft, immorality of all kinds, hard drinking, violence and murder. There wasn't a crime I didn't commit, and for all these things I was praised and considered as a relatively moral man'.
"Therefore, it turns out that 'coldness' and atheism are better than 'lukewarm' indecencies under the guise of believers. The Christ came to save sinners but not 'believing sinners'. But 'lukewarm' citizens who blasphemously consider themselves as Christians together with 'lukewarm' state forcing its subjects 'not to be but to seem so' become similar to builders of the tower of Babel. It's when the world which 'lieth in wickedness' intended to clamber up to Heaven."
The AG added that Heaven was a dwelling of chosen ones that was not once emphasized in the Gospel. 'Many are called, but few are chosen' (Matthew 20:16). The way to that place is a great and inmost secret. Though in history there were cases of particular grace like the mass baptism of Russia by Prince Vladimir. But this is rather an exception that confirms a rule.
So it's unknown what is better: state atheism or state faith. Perhaps, both are worse. For Caesar it's better not to interfere in God' things.
The AG also said that he didn't know whether Joseph consciously avoided this temptation of many kings or not but as the Christ is first of all a state of mind, 'the Way, the Truth and the Life, he (Joseph) whether intentionally or not made this way to the Christ sorrowful, hard, true and washed by blood of new martyrs. Church social preaching was cleansed from injustice, slyness and pharisaic hypocrisy. The witness Leo Tolstoy writes about these things.
Yes, churches were destroyed but even remained ones were empty and supported only by those unfriendly old women. Time and cleansing were needed to restore a bridge between Orthodoxy and people who stopped to understand each other. This break was not once washed by blood.
'For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, [even] I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.'
'I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up [that which was] broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment' (Ezekiel 34:11, 16).
Joseph had to oust wolves and put a barrier from predators."
"The iron curtain and censorship," the AD scoffed, "and what about democracy?"
"Don't forget, son of darkness, that the Savior was sentenced to crucifixion in a democratic way! The overwhelming majority shouted, 'Crucify him'".
The Great Patriotic War cleansed sick minds of people who gradually raised their heads to Heaven and returned to church because the Christ is the Way and those standing on the way and bringing forth good fruit gave him their hearts for this once. People knowing the Mystery by their hearts are much closer to Heaven than those who confess Christianity in a pharisaic way and give their hearts to mammon.
Therefore the AD had to admit that Joanna could be considered as a believing pioneer and a witness for Joseph.
The AD became completely black with anger.
"Stay in your childhood, Joanna," he whispered in her ear. You will be here until the Judgment; I will obtain this permission. And there will be no sins, passions and everyday life, and no Mercedes, no resuscitation department and no impenetrable doors. Stay behind the first door, I will lock you there for your safety. Is it a deal?"
"But what about Yegorka," she shrank back from him.
"What Yegorka can be in your childhood? Yegorka won't be born at all. Without you there will be nothing at all. If you don't exist then nothing exists. It's a subjective idealism."
Joanna crossed herself three times as the priest father Tychon taught her.
"Go away," the AD hissed in anger, breathing with sulphur.
Something began to twirl Joanna in a stuffy and stinky whirlwind and she started to fall into a black abyss in deadly anguish until the AG's golden ray was wound around her like a lasso and pulled her out of her fall, putting her to the spring of 1955 directly to a construction site of an apartment building for laborers.