Thursday, March 21, 2013

Orthodox Thursday: Testament of a Memory

Testament of Memory is the memoir of Fr. Mikhail Chevalkov, translated into English by John Warden. In this book the reader is taken to the 19th Century Russia, where we see various tribes of pagan people. Fr. Chevalkov started out as an illiterate pagan of the Altai region, but under the guidance of Father Macarios began a humble journey to Orthodoxy. By assisting Fr. Macarios and other priests as a translator, the author became a great missionary and helped translate many portions of the Bible and church service books to his native tongue.

The book starts off slow. In the first 2 pages alone, I got discouraged by all the complicated Russian names that I had trouble reading and pronouncing, but I plugged though it. The book is written in a very simplistic style, but it does not detract from the message. One can learn a lot about faith, humility, and thankfulness in all things by reading this memoir. My favorite part was the final chapter, "Admonitions to my Children." In these few pages, Fr. Chevalkov gave advice that is reminiscent of Proverbs or Wisdom such as, "Guard your tongue," and, "Do not sing the praises of your own knowledge."

If you have an interest in 19th Century Russia and how people from this era lived, this book might appeal to you. I don't particularly, so the book had a hard time keeping my attention. That's not to say that it wasn't well-written with a positive theme and message. I just couldn't dive completely in and get engulfed in this world. For those reasons I am giving this book 4 out of 5 stars. It was a good book. It just didn't appeal to me and wasn't a book I would actively seek out to read.