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.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Do We Have A Conscience?

The progress of technology is affecting the Old Believers, but a number of them still hide at a distance from the conveniences of the modern world. In these communities women dress modestly (in long sarafans) and men do not trim their beards. Maybe 15 to 20 miles from Odessa, Ukraine, along the shore of the Black Sea, are some of these people who struggle to keep a vestige of the Faith of their ancestors on the outskirts of a village named Gribovka.

Many of the people here do live a more rural life than most people, ignoring television, radio, they even shun telephones. At times they learn some of the more serious news from newspapers, but even that is considered a sin. For that worldliness they must ask for forgiveness.

In what would be considered severe and offensive deprivations to most people they live in all seriousness. Should anyone of them live in drunkenness, such a one would not receive a Christian burial. So only privately would their loved ones use Old Faith bridges in the hope of their finding mercy.

These people had no problem with an occasional lie in order to save themselves from socialist collective uprisings where almost nobody survived. They have had to live as recluses. There is a basic truth that we should not sin, and that we should live in agreement and accordance with such beliefs.

Our ordinary modern greetings of “Good morning” or “How are you” are not followed by Old Believers. They explain that there are no good mornings, except on Christ’s Resurrection, the first day of the week. The Old Believers instead begin conversation by offering, “Good health” and with passing comments they might say “Christ rescues” as only by Him are we protected. Goodbye’s are also very different, for they merely ask forgiveness, the customary final response being, “Amen, God will forgive.” (It might be the last opportunity to ask for forgiveness. Some people never really liked goodbyes anyway.) Outsiders may think it strange to always be asking forgiveness in this manner, but even the elderly practice this with their young. It is a good reminder that we should always be repenting and constantly and asking Christ to forgive us for our many sins.

More on the last Amur Old Believers.

Hard liquor is considered unclean to drink and we should advise others not to do such things. Other alcohol (like wine) must be consumed to the glory of God, in certain domestic settings, only on holidays and in reasonable limits. So the whole life of Old Believers is likewise in opposition to many worldly pastimes. From the view of those in the world living an Old Believer way of life is somewhat suicidal. It is true that there are many sacrifices to live a pure life, but then the benefits are beyond measure and incomparable with more ordinary or common satisfactions that everyone else has.

With all the promises, persuasions (and what inevitably leads to threats) from the outside society, the Old Believers always have to struggle to keep their balance. The moral pressures from the outside society is colossal to say the least. For them it is necessary to question everything in the modern world. But there is some truth out there, if only in the hidden places.

These Old Believers are what is called by outsiders as “priestless” but the term is a misnomer.

Gleaned from the following reports.