On May 11, 2008, students from Petersburg’s New Street University performed the action Religion Is Stomatology on the front steps of Our Lady of Kazan (Russian Orthodox) Cathedral. The action was meant to protest the Russian Orthodox Church’s increasingly aggressive claims to political influence and cultural hegemony in Russian society. These newfound hegemonic aspirations are actively cultivated by the Russian political elite, as demonstrated not only their enthusiastic support for the church’s own actions and initiatives (partly described in the press release, below), but also by their appearances at Easter night services (broadcast live on several national TV channels) and by the role accorded to church hierarchs in such state ceremonies as President Dmitry Medvedev’s recent inauguration.
During the action, one of the students attempted to read the poem “Religion Is Stomatology,” which we have translated, below. Meanwhile, his classmates prostrated themselves on the steps of the cathedral in a fit of religio-dental ecstasy. Various parishioners and other God-fearing types forcibly attempted to disrupt the action. Fortunately, NSU students were able to leave the scene of their “crime” unharmed by the faithful.
Religion Is Stomatology
In the beginning was the word, but only for the few,
And therefore the word was with them and them alone.
The majority was simply not allowed to open their mouths,
And therefore they didn’t know any other words. Continue reading