Father Alexander Men: An Unorthodox Priest

By Demourova, Dasha | Russian Life, January-February 2005 | Go to article overview

Father Alexander Men: An Unorthodox Priest


Demourova, Dasha, Russian Life


"Christianity today cannot be understood without understanding the life
and work of Fr. Alexander"
Orthodox Bishop Seraphim (Sigrist)

From the beginning, Fr. Alexander was no ordinary priest. He did not fit the standards set by the authorities and knew the spiritual needs of some believers, especially Moscow intellectuals and students, better than more conventional Russian Orthodox priests. Prominent literary scholar Sergei Averintsev, in his article about Alexander Men, even called him "a missionary for the intelligentsia tribe."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In the church in Novaya Derevnya (30 miles north of Moscow), where Fr. Alexander served for 20 years, there was an odd mix of urban intellectuals (mathematicians, biologists, doctors, writers etc.), youth, pious elderly women, blue-collar workers, and peasants from nearby villages. Men was a beloved pastor to thousands and had the ability to win people's trust, from highly-educated intelligentsia like Andrei Sakharov, to the simplest of believers. He also brought many people to the Church, including Alexander Galich and Alexander Solzhenitsin.

And yet today, even though Fr. Alexander has been dead for 14 years, many still revile his memory. Anti-Men pamphlets are still sometimes distributed in churches and it is difficult to publish anything in his defense in official Orthodox magazines and newspapers.

The Russian Orthodox community is divided on Alexander Men's role. For some, including his former friends and parishioners, Fr. Alexander became a symbol of a free-minded, ecumenically open, intellectual Russian Orthodoxy. Men's opponents are conservative Russian Orthodox priests and laymen who consider Men the symbol of Jewish (sometimes "Judaic-Masonic") efforts to destroy Russian Orthodoxy from the inside, with the help of Biblical criticism. Men's opponents often misrepresent his views and deliberately forget that he was a brilliant apologist who could explain Christian truths in a simple, lively manner.

Alexander Men was born on January 22, 1935, in Moscow. Later that year, he was baptized alongside his mother, Yelena Men, a Jew and a non-believer. Men's mother became a member of "the catacomb church" in Russia during the years of Soviet repression. They were baptized by Fr. Seraphim Batyukov, who lived a clandestine life so that he could avoid being coopted by Soviet authorities. Batyukov, together with a few other priests who had not been put in prisons or concentration camps, founded this "catacomb church."

From childhood, Alexander Men wanted to be a priest, but resolved to first get a secular education. He entered college in order to study biology (at the time, one of the most atheistic sciences), but was expelled before he could graduate, when it was found out that he had been attending church. Nevertheless, his love for biology remained with him the rest of his life. "God has given us two books," Men said, "the Bible and Nature."

When, in 1958, at the age of 23, Fr. Alexander decided to be a priest, it was an extraordinary event. Much stood in his way: he was a biologist by education, a young intellectual by inclination and a Jew by birth. But these were overcome by the fact that the Church faced a new wave of persecution under Khrushchev: Church authorities needed all the priests they could get.

Men received his formal training at the Leningrad and Moscow Theological Academies, was ordained as a deacon in 1958 and as a priest in 1960.

Fr. Alexander was a happy and extremely gifted man of many talents. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Father Alexander Men: An Unorthodox Priest
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.