The Religious Spirit of the Slavs (1916)
by Nikolai Velimirovic



The following is the Slav point of view: Christianity came into the world,
not in order to inaugurate a new civilisation, but to infuse a new
religious spirit, to clear and purify the human conscience. A perfect
Christian spirit can exist quite outside civilisation as well as in the
midst of the most complicated civilisation. A Christian native, in his
nudity, picking up dates under a palm tree, can be as good and saintly a
man as any business man from the Strand in London or from the Fifth Avenue
in New York. And, on the contrary, the most civilised men, like Bismarck
and Nietzsche can be of a much more anti-Christian spirit than any
primitive human creature in Central Africa or Siberia. Many civilisations
have been created without Christianity. You cannot say that Christian
London is a more perfect and beautiful city than Pagan Rome or Mohammedan
Cordova were. But you may perhaps say that the spirit of London is more
sublime and humane, more good and saintly, than the spirit of Rome and
Cordova. Well, it is the _spirit_ which regards Christianity, and nothing
else. Civilisation is only an occasion for Christianity to prove its
spirit. It is an occasion of suffering, and also of corruption. In both
cases Christianity has to be tested. Christianity has to fight against a
Pagan civilisation as well as a Pagan barbarism. It is sometimes harder for
the Christian spirit to fight against the first than against the second
form of Paganism. It was easier for the Christian mission to Christianise
barbarous Africa than cultivated Rome. And imagine how much it will cost
till Bismarckian and Nietzschean Germany “changes her spirit” as
Sienkiewicz foretold.

I mention this relation between Christianity and civilisation to prove that
a civilisation with _any_ spirit is not attractive to the Slav, but rather
the civilisation with the Christian religious spirit _only_. Tolstoi denied
all civilisation just because he did not see the Christian spirit in it.
The Church was reserved towards modern science and art just because she saw
the anti-Christian, proud, egoistical spirit in many expressions of them.
Better the poor Christian spirit in a cottage of Macedonia than a rich and
cultivated Paganism in Vienna. The spirit with which a railway is made
counts and not the railway itself. We are never alone but always in the
presence of a great Spirit who encircles and inspires us. Whatever we do
through this inspiration is living and good; whatever we do without His
inspiration, but under the supposition that we are alone in this world, is
wrong and dead. A great civilisation may be wrong and dead Yea, as there is
no great man, there is no great civilisation. The ideal of Slav
Christianity is a good and saintly man, and also a good and saintly
civilisation. The very essence of life is mystic and religious. What is a
man or a civilisation without mysticism and religion? They are like a
painted landscape on paper. You enjoy it from a distance, but when you
touch it you are disappointed. Everything without God is discontentment,

Blessed are those–I wish you all may be numbered among them–whose life is
full of God. They are connected with the sun and the stars, with the living
and the dead, with the past and the future. They possess a wonderful bridge
over every abyss in life, and they are always safe. They are bright in
darkness, joyful in suffering, hopeful in death. Their life on earth, in
this very limited sphere of life, is escorted by the whole of the Universe,
from one end to the other. I wish that such a religious spirit belonged not
only to the Slavs but to all mankind.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *