Putin’s cathedral of war embodies his civilisation state
The mesmerising building is a glimpse into the country's neo-traditionalist turn
Earlier this week, Kirill, the Russian Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow consecrated Russia’s new Cathedral of the Armed Forces in a forest 40 miles outside the capital. Travelling beyond kitsch into archaeofuturism, the building is spectacular, genuinely like nothing else on earth. Indeed, its mesmerising scale and steampunk ornamentation is almost like a glimpse of an alien civilisation (an impression only amplified by the Warhammer 40k video game music an anonymous Twitter wag added to its launch video).
Archaeofuturism in Russia. Mesmerising video, almost like a glimpse of an alien civilisation. pic.twitter.com/QsYDBK6e1m
— Aris Roussinos (@arisroussinos) June 15, 2020
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The cathedral itself is riveted together like a weapon of war. Clad in bronze and iron, its towers soar skywards like an array of ballistic missiles. Inside, a huge mosaic of Christ’s stern and all-seeing visage looms down into a gloomy interior with the verdigris hue of a time-worn cannon. Glittering mosaics portray the Holy Virgin and the martial saints keeping watch over Moscow’s World War II defenders, and Russian soldiers in modern uniforms proudly bearing their Kalashnikovs like modern martyrs. With steel steps leading to the cathedral cast from melted-down Nazi tanks, its gilded domes surrounded by a vast museum to Russia’s military history containing relics like Hitler’s personal uniform, it is a temple to martial glory that goes far beyond Christianity, the architectural equivalent of a steppe khan drinking wine from the skull of a conquered foe.
The cathedral is the brainchild of Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, an ethnic Tuvan Buddhist who nevertheless showed himself in venerating its icons in full dress uniform with all due reverence. Indeed, one early mosaic design featuring Putin and Shoigu together was quietly abandoned, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, after Russia’s autocrat decided it was too early to officially join the motherland’s pantheon.
The adoption of Christian symbolism by the non-believer Shoigu is not necessarily an indication of hypocrisy: like the also-abandoned mosaic of Stalin, or the stained-glass windows embellished with the hammer and sickle of the Red Army, this building, by neutering and assimilating the symbols of communism into the greater glory of Mother Russia, stands less as a temple to God than to Russia itself as a distinct and unique civilisation state.
Designed as a public spectacle and as a statement of Russia’s neo-traditionalist state ideology for the next century, the military cathedral’s dedication came at a serendipitous time for its designers, propaganda-wise. A statement of confidence in its own civilisation and of apartness from the liberal West, Russia’s temple to itself was consecrated at the same time its main geopolitical rival is tearing itself apart over its loss of faith in its own national story.
While Russia’s leaders publicly venerate icons of God and state, America’s elite are lost in an orgy of iconoclasm, rejecting their European founding as an original sin, tearing down statues and effacing their own history in an outbreak of civilisational self-harm swiftly adopted on our own shores. It is difficult to imagine what the equivalent monument would be in the Western world. Will the glittering skyscrapers of high finance (owned by Gulf investment funds) which stud the London skyline still be standing in a century? It is difficult even to feel certainty that the United Kingdom, or European Union, or United States will outlast them.
It is really unnecessary to publish such a pejorative commentary on the construction of an Orthodox Cathedral in Russia….”riveted together like a weapon of war”….seriously? Putin’s mother quietly raised her son as a Christian, and he maintained his faith even as he was a rising profile inside the KGB (as was the case with about 20% of the team). When he became President – he required that all of his appointed Ministers be Baptized into the church as a prerequisite to office. No doubt the author would find that action alone cause for a renewed war with Russia. What Russia has done is to reclaim their status as Russians. After all, the entire Soviet/Communist experience was neither established or controlled by Russians until the very end, but was rather the work of a migrating population that pulled off a coup.
“It is difficult even to feel certainty that the United Kingdom, or European Union, or United States will outlast them.” I think you can “feel” surety that they won’t.
The mural of Christ carrying a sword? I don’t remember that in the New Testament. The author’s point is that the building serves as a glorification of Russian military history and that this history is aligned with (and endorsed by) Russian orthodox Christianity. The closest we have to anything like this are memorials/tombs of specific heroes (Nelson, Slim etc) and the laying up of regimental colours in Cathedrals. The cathedrals that house these objects were not built to glorify the military or our history. They exist to glorify Christ not our armed forces – this is even true of garrison Churches like the Guards Chapel. Outside of Russia I can’t think of anywhere else where state, military and religion are so aligned as a government policy.
Do you really think Putin is a sincere Christian? As for his old Mum being one I don’t know but doesn’t he come from a Bolshevik family? Wasn’t grandad one of Stalin’s cooks?
What you are failing to recognize here is that the Bolshevik Revolution was not remotely Christian, but was at its core a Jewish coup d’tat. There were 66 seats of the original ruling Politburo, including the Chairman. Forty-seven members of that committee were Jewish – they promptly declared the state religion to be atheism. While the churches were promptly closed – synagogues remanded open, until the Commissar class double-crossed Stalin on the UN vote to recognize Israel. Only then did true Russians take control of the USSR and only then did life begin to turn south for the Jewish populations in the USSR. I don’t know if Putin is a true Christian, but I do know that Russians are a people of their history, as are the Chinese. In the west – we are allowing our “leadership” to destroy our own histories.
Hello Mr Anti-Semite. Your post is demonstrably incorrect and a disgrace to this website.
The truth is often anti “Semitic”.
“Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34
But hey, probably like you, I think Jesus was a cool sort of guy,so I like to think he was being more metaphorical when he said that one.
So what has happened in your country? Your culture? You disconnected your religion from your nation, soil and race, and put it into an isolated theoretical space where it can do no harm to the schemes of the bankers and imperialists.
Of course the British Jesus would never hold a sword. He’s just like your version of his dad, a slightly effeminate, kindly old dude who just wants everyone to have a good time.
The Orthodox church has a Jesus that has not been changed or reinterpreted by various popes, kings, degenerates, and money changers.
Of course Christ was not depicted through a British lens in architecture or symbolism. The British speak with actions.
Their missionaries were at the front lines of the imperial projects when the colonies were stripped of their indigenous traditions and resources. Fancy that.
Before the great schism, church decisions were made only in unanimity and agreement of the seven churches. It was not the Byzantine patriarch that declared himself supreme. Rebellion breeds rebellion so naturally the West been broken up into a thousand protestant sects most of which have become completely Godless.
Oflaherty! Now that is an accomplished family. Dr. Michael, Oflaherty is the EU human rights lawyer famous for doing much internationally to enforce homosexual rights. Stalin’s cook can’t hold a candle to that.
And all built in less time than CrossRail.
I was thinking that if the Cenotaph had been in Moscow and the Russians had seen the desecration taking place just what would have then happened.
What the fate of the flag burner would have been. I can guess.
The concept of the Immortal Regiment is now part of the Russian world view.
If you want to know why they Left hate Putin… circvmspice.
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