In English, with readings of poems in English and Russian
The Pushkin Club are commemorating Father Alexander Men’ (22 January 1935 – 9 September 1990) by an event which will be dedicated to Russian poetry on religious and spiritual themes.
Father Alexander Men’ was born in Moscow to a Jewish family on 22 January 1935. He was baptised along with his mother in the banned Catacomb Church, a branch of the Russian Orthodox Church that refused to cooperate with the Soviet authorities.
Father Men' became a church leader of great influence and hugely respected reputation among Christians of the Soviet Union. He served in a series of parishes near Moscow. A unique combination of wide erudition, openness to secular culture, to science, to other churches and to non-Christian religions - and the deep Christian roots of the Catacomb Church - propelled him into the ranks of leading Christian preachers during the Soviet era.
Father Men’ was also an outstanding author and scholar.
Father Alexander’s life remains to this day a powerful example of Christian witness, and his influence and spiritual legacy are strongly alive in present-day Russia. Father Alexander Men' was murdered on 9 September 1990 by an unknown assassin or assassins. On 30th April 1991, the Pushkin Club – which was then based in Ladbroke Grove - held an evening in memory of Father Alexander. In the course of that Evening, poems were read on religious and spiritual themes - including poems by Pushkin, Lermontov, Tyutchev, Blok, Gumilyev, Mandelstam, Akhmatova and Pasternak.
The Evening was attended by some of the most prominent luminaries in the UK on spiritual matters: Michael Bourdeaux, the Head of Studies on Religious Freedom in the USSR in Britain (Keston Institute); the Leader of Religious Society of Friends (Quakers); and the Metropolitan Father Anthony Bloom of the Russian Orthodox Church. That Evening was one of the most memorable events in the history of the Pushkin Club.
This year is also the 65th Anniversary of the Pushkin Club, which Pushkin House has been celebrating this year. By repeating the Evening on Religious Themes in Russian Poetry held in commemoration of Father Alexander in 1991, the Pushkin Club will also be holding another event in celebration of its 65th anniversary and, in doing so, honouring late members of the Pushkin Club who translated most of the poems that were read on that occasion, namely its former Co-Chairman, Richard McKane, and Helen Szamuely.
The Evening will be introduced by David Brummell. The Reverend Canon Dr Michael Bourdeaux of the Keston Institute will also speak about Father Alexander, and in particular his Christian education through the Catacomb Church. The poems will be read in Russian by Alla Gelich and in English translation by Lucy Daniels (also a former Co-Chairman of the Pushkin Club) and David Brummell.
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