Monday, July 14, 2014

Last Man in Russia

Cover image for The last man in Russia : the struggle to save a dying nation / Oliver Bullough.

This is the story of Russian Orthodox priest and dissident Fr Dmitry Dudko, the story of twenty-first century Russia, and the story of author Bullough's quest through the latter to understand the former.  Or maybe it's the other way around.

Today's Russia faces a declining population, staggering levels of governmental corruption, and epidemic rates of alcoholism.  The origins of this situation lie in the nation's seventy year experience of communism, which sought to crush the Church, the family, and the individual human spirit.  Fr Dmitry fought against the state on all these levels, becoming one of the leaders of the Russian spiritual revival of the seventies.  He fought for community and communion, for faith and trust.  He did so even though the hierarchy of his own church had been suborned by the communist government.  He fought against enemies of flesh and blood as well as against principalities and powers.

This description may suggest an inspirational story of one man's triumph over a totalitarian state.  The story of Fr Dmitry, however, is a tragedy, and his tragedy is Russia's.  Bullough does an incredible job of telling the story of a man and his country, and the suffering, horror, and betrayal they shared.

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