The Stranniki (Russian for Runaways or Wanderers) are the strong Pomorsky Old Believers who rejected prayers for Tsar Peter and all government papers (identification, passports, money, etc). They would not wear clothing contrary to Old Orthodox Russia, nor eat with those of contrary Faith and Practice. Keeping themselves separate from the antichrist society they went far into the Siberian wilderness. This blog is about these people and my effort to conform my life to theirs.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


One of the issues so important to Stranniki is the idea of honest freedom. Though the author of “in the shadow of Antichrist” is a Jew and many of his points are in error, he still gets at least one or two things right about Old Believers. Here are the lines from the first paragraph of the chapter “Community and Family”.

“It should now be clear that the driving force behind the migrations undertaken by Berezovka’s founders during the last sixty years has been a search for autonomy and freedom. Old Believers place a tremendous value on the notion of freedom, and they assess entire countries, epochs, and national characters on the basis of freedom, or vol’nost’, they stand for. It is their unquestioned assumption that Russians require more freedom to thrive than other peoples…vol’nost’ applies to what might be called “freedom of action”, examples of which are unhampered hunting, lack of government interference in local affairs, and abstinence of building restrictions. Significantly, this realm does not include “freedom of thought” as it is understood in a liberal democracy. An Old Believer is not free to think whatever he or she wants nor to read whatever seems interesting. Such tendencies are referred to as volnodumstvo (freethinking), and correlated with agnosticism. The mind, which is associated with the soul, belongs to God and must be receptive to the Holy Spirit. The body, on the other hand, is under direct personal control, and it is through this entity that one enjoys liberty. Even the cherished freedom of action is, of course, curtailed, owing to God’s demand for physical sacrifice, by means of fasts, sexual abstinence, prayers and similar demonstrations of obedience. But this sacrifice is limited to the religious realm, where it serves as a measure of individual piety. Secular authorities cannot expect to be treated in the same manner as God.”

We are able to see a preview of several pages from this book about the Old Believers that fled America for Alberta at Google Book Search.