After making the acquaintance of the Birukovs, the author described their living room as "a replica of Mahatma Gandhi's ashram in every detail." There were four photographs on the walls, two of Canadian Dukhobor
camps, the third of Gandhi and the fourth of Tolstoy.
One of the lesser known non-saluting sects is the Molokans, a Russian Orthodox Church splinter group founded by Simeon Uklein, the son-in-law of a prominent Dukhobor
leader.(18) Most were forced to flee from the Trans-Caucasia area of Russia, and they settled in California between 1905 and 1907.
(Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996); general information on the Dukhobor
sect is found in George Woodcock and Ivan Avakumovic, The Dukhobors
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1968).
As the Dukhobor
case illustrates, people could move around in their categories and undermine foundational ideas about how groups should be defined.
Boch-Bruevich, together with Tolstoy, organized the emigration of Dukhobors
to Canada, and spent a year with them there.
Perhaps even, they believed that God loved them better than He loved the Dukhobors
[sic] and the Mennonites; this notion apart, they seemed to dwell in wisdom" (Street of Riches 120-21).
The resettlement of the Dukhobors
in Canada occurred at the same time.
Although they recognized the Bible, these Spiritual Christians--later labeled "spirit-wrestlers" (dukhobortsy or Dukhobors
) by heresiologists after the (completely unrelated) fourth-century heresy of the pneumatomakhoi--believed that their own oral tradition and contemporary divine inspiration took precedence over the scriptures.
She is strong on the detail of Russia at the time and on tangential subjects such as Tolstoy's visits to Samara, his interest in the Chechens and his support for the Dukhobors
. His friendship with Turgenev is also well charted, but the book never really engages with the compelling cornerstone of the story--Tolstoy's complex personality and the intensely volatile relationship with his wife.
Although the Reformation, which transformed the religious landscape through much of early modern Europe, did not come to Russia directly, the 18th century did see the emergence of various small groups (including the Khlysty, Skoptsy, Dukhobors
, and Molokans) who questioned whether religious rites were necessary for spiritual fulfillment and, in the case of the Molokans, encouraged individual reading of the Bible (Russkii protestantizm, 21-22).
Most troublesome were the Mormons for their practice of polygamy, the Dukhobors
for following their own divorce traditions, and the Ukrainians who were often criticized for enforcing child marriage.