A priest, one who had spent 8.5 years in the Siberian Gulag, begins answering questions from his parishioners. He decides to start answering these questions in a public forum at his church. This is the genesis of this book. It’s a set of questions and answers divided into 11 discussions. These discussions took off and generated a lot of interest, especially amongst the youth of Russia. This popularity did not endear Father Dudko to the Soviet authorities, and he highlights some of the interrogations that resulted.
This was a powerful book. Father Dudko answers many questions in a single paragraph. The answers are deep and full of wisdom. Some of the most powerful books, some of the deepest wisdom, comes from those who have suffered the most.
I found it fascinating that Father Dudko places the blame for his country and his person woes on atheism. Not communism. Not Leninism. But atheism. He will likely not trying to rock the political boat, but also, he truly believed that an abandonment of God led to the other “isms.” They were a natural result. As were hooliganism, alcoholism, and the destruction of the family. For a man who had experienced severe deprivation in a Siberian gulag, to point to the larger problem is quite astounding.
I really enjoyed this book. It is an important one in what it showed western audiences about the life of the church under Soviet Russia. But it’s also an important one in consideration of how things could proceed in the west. Father Dudko continually refers to key points over and over again. This is an excellent book to read in conjunction with The Gulag Archipelago.