Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

21 August 2012. What “Podvig” Is Not

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One of the most-misunderstood Russian words out there is “podvig”. Firstly, let’s define what is NOT. Click here for a stunted and deformed garbling of the word (obviously, it’s someone with no knowledge of secular Russian).

It does NOT mean “spiritual struggle”, not at all, not in the least, and not essentially. Actually, “podvig”, which should always remain in the original (as should “pravda” (which isn’t a synonym for “istinna”), “sobornost“, “tserkovnost”, or “sobor”), covers ANY great heroic or epic action that involves self-sacrifice and extraordinary effort far beyond the normal. Look at the image above of Minsk Museum of the VOV decked out for Victory Day. The English text is a rendering of the Russian. In fact, I’ve seen “podvig” used MORE often in secular contexts than in religious ones, ergo, the definition of “spiritual struggle” is one of those konvertsy garblings that make translations by people such as Nectaria Rees suspect and crank. They simply don’t have the background in general Russian culture to properly “English” a text.

Lately, we’ve been seeing quite a bit of Sturm und Drang from the konvertsy, more than usual. Well… I’d say to take it with more than a tincture of caution. They’re not overly well-wrapped, they often lack basic grounding in their catechism, and they’re not well-versed in secular topics (I’d say that Nu, Pogodi and Masha i Medved have a lot to say to our souls). All of that makes their “spiritual” posting more than a little “off” and oddbod. As for me, I’m not going to tell you “how” to pray… go and find a REAL Orthodox monastic, and, then, remember that their words are meant for you alone (a real elder knows that each person has to be reached in a very individual and unique way).

There’s a lot of crapola out there. Have a care…

BMD

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