Art and Faith

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Mikhail Nesterov. Étude for “A Wounded Soldier”. 1915

Étude for “A Wounded Soldier”

Mikhail Nesterov



This is a soldier of the tsarist army, wounded in World War I. I find this picture to be a wonderful allegory of our Church in America at present. It’s wounded, it’s weakened; oddly enough, by those claiming to be friends. However, one can see that the soldier isn’t despairing; he hasn’t lost hope. Neither have we. People such as Alexander Schmemann thrust a bayonet into our vitals; yet, we still live on, and we’re ready to fight again. In fact, there’s a deepening cleavage between we “ethnic” Orthodox and some recent converts (one need only look at the writings of Joseph Honeycutt and Frederica Matthewes-Greene to see the difference). We wish to “go home”, whereas they wish to “play at Church” and try to use the Church as a laboratory for their notional ideas. That sounds much like the Catholic lefties of the 60s (no mistake, for Schmemann was friendly with radical Catholics). We’re wounded, yes, but we wish to rejoin our proper regiment and fight under our traditional banners. As for those who wish to do otherwise, I say, “Go, go in peace, and don’t bother the Church. The rest of us are going home where we belong”.


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