Do you see any signs of a religious revival in the Soviet Union?

A tourist guide must tire of answering the same questions, even when the guide works for the Soviet government and considers rote replies a professional asset. This one, a seemingly imperturbable woman approaching middle age, had obviously been challenged with similar queries many times before.

“Especially Americans want to know,” she said.

We had just been through the complex of cathedrals that dominate the Kremlin. Looking up from Cathedral Square, the sightseer can hardly help wondering the extent to which the Christian heritage of the Soviet peoples might be recoverable. To the amazement of virtually every newcomer, there are many more crosses than red stars rising above the Kremlin walls. Left over from the czars are a cluster of magnificent cathedrals casting their shadow over the great power center of international Communism. Even though the churches are not “active,” the best architecture, murals, the frescoes within the seventy-acre walled area called the Kremlin continue to speak of a great Christian culture of the past—and perhaps of a potential for the future.

The guide said, as expected, that she did not sense any religious revival going on among the nearly 250 million inhabitants of the Soviet Union. She went on to concede indirectly the existence of certain signs that are interpreted in the West as indications of a spiritual awakening, but for each she gave an alternative explanation.

“On Sunday,” she said, “you can hardly get into the Kremlin cathedrals because of the large crowds.” Oh? “Well, yes, but now icons are very fashionable. It is not a religious feeling that brings the people to the cathedrals. It is a renewed sense of appreciation for ...

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