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171. Feb. 6/19, 1975. St. Photios the Great

Dear Father Michael [Azkoul],

Here at last is the material I promised you on Bulgakov. Please forgive the long delay. I hope it is not too late for you to use it. Since you already have much material on Bulgakov, this material might be more in the nature of a footnote or an afterthought somewhere. Use it as you think fit.

We are very interested in your book — by the way, do you have a publisher for it? In connection with the contemporary revival of religio-philosophical thought in Russia, it is very important for a book like yours to come out. Too long has everyone bowed down to these sacred cows who are called Orthodox by a criminal misuse of language. Your book will be all the more welcome in that it comes from an “outsider,” and “objective observer” who is not involved in the disputes and passions of Russian intellectual society.

We ourselves are planning a book on a similar theme (to be printed in installments in The Orthodox Word) in connection with the appearance of the new book from Russia which Solzhenitsyn is advertising so widely. — ”Iz pod glyb” (From Under the Ruins, I think, is the English tide, to be out soon). This is a collection of articles by Solzhenitsyn and samizdat writers which Solzhenitsyn compares to Berdyaevs “ Vekhi’ of 1909. I’ve read it, and it’s not really bad — only one article in the Berdyaev spirit — but it’s obvious that the authors are not rooted in the real Orthodox tradition. And so we want to give a background for this and “Vekhi” by giving a kind of capsule survey of the Russian intelligentsia in the 20th century, as against the real Orthodox tradition in the past 75 years. There have been a number of sensitive genuinely Orthodox Russian thinkers in this century, and several excellent theologians — hardly any of whom are known in English and who are successfully drowned out by the “static” from the “Paris Orthodoxy” — that’s the name N. Struve gives their movement in the new Vestnik of Paris. By the way, what do you think of Struve’s statement in the same Vestnik: (in answer To Metr. Philaret’s answer to Solzhenitsyn’s Letter to the Sobor in Jordanville): “However paradoxical it is, it is precisely the part of the Russian Church in the diaspora that ‘went over to the Greeks’ or ‘became American,’ precisely it that has continued in the West the great Russian spiritual culture, has not hidden its talent in the earth, but has increased it. To the creativity of this Church the religious movement now being reborn in Russia turns, for there has not been any other religious-spiritual creativity in the Diaspora at all.” (Vestnik, 112-113, ii-iii, *1974, pp. 5-6.) We hope to answer that self-important question, and hope to be able to refer to your book as already published.

Is there any chance of our seeing the manuscript of your book when it’s finished? We might be able to make some suggestions based on Russian sources. There are excellent articles on Soloviev, for example; we haven’t the time to translate them, but we could translate parts if we knew there was something in them worth adding to what you already have. At any rate, we look forward to a progress report on the manuscript.

We ask your prayers for us. We have had a difficult winter with heavy snowfalls, difficult machinery, etc. But somehow we prefer our poor struggling along to all the glory of the newly-discovered “Paris Orthodoxy.”

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

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