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On the Edge of the World [Paperback]

Nikolai Leskov
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Christian evanglism from Orthodox perspective Nov. 23 2011
This charming story is framed by a central salon question, of evangelizing others. The story is told in response to those Russians who preferred the positive approach of direct action typical of Protestants and Roman Catholics, offering to them the fundamental approach of Orthodox Christianity. The history Russian Orthodox missionary effort in the far north, Siberia, and Alaska, is one led by silence-loving monastics, such as St Herman. Leskov presents a semi-fictional account of a newly assigned, if overly zealous bishop, who discovers in a dramatic wilderness experience, the inherent beauty and effectiveness of the humble way. The Orthodox Christian does not presume their own salvation but views life as a process of turning their sinful life over to God in the hope. Hence, the Leskov's powerful illustration at the end of the story, validating the observation of St Seraphim of Sarov, that, one who seeks his/her own salvation saves a thousand about her/him. For a nonfiction historical discussion of how the Orthodox approach to missionary activity played out in Alaska, see Michael Oleksa's excellent book Orthodox Alaska: A Theology of Mission. For a fuller appreciation of Russian Orthodox monastic activity in the far North, see Fr, Seraphim Rose's The Northern Thebaid: Monastic Saints of the Russian North. For insight into life and teaching of St Seraphim of Sarov see: St Seraphim Of Sarov.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story that is as true to our time as the mid-19th century Feb. 23 2010
By S. Condray - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Leskov captures the spirit of his time in this beautiful story, but also manages to convey a level of theological understanding and nuance that is lacking in so many other books with religious characters. The transformation of the main character through his harrowing experience in the wilderness chastises those preachers today who live in crystal cathedrals far removed from reality and cast down pronouncements on the "heathen" of the world. Leskov also shows how the current fundamentalist movement is not orthodox (that is it is actually NOT following tradition... in a more Wesleyan model it also doesn't follow scripture, or reason and definitely does not reflect experience), and how evangelicalism that focuses on converting people without first seeking to understand and know them is damaging and dangerous. Lastly the book lambastes the political elites who seek to use religion as a political tool, and the church leaders obsessed with political power who enable this to happen. What a powerful book for our time and generation, and what a truly beautiful story.

The author's introduction and end notes in this version are extremely helpful for placing the book in literary and historical context. Kudos for a job very well done!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Human dignity July 5 2009
By Paul Mbelele - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I do not agree with the previous review. This is not the adventure story of someone like Jack London. Rather it is the story of human dignity. It looks at the clash beteen the state and the church in bringing indigenous people into modern society. The story treats these people with sympahy. However, Leskov is too clever to make the story tendentious. The passage where the narrator is subjected to the snowstorm is both terrifying and genuinely funny. This book is well laid out ith a good introduction, end and footnotes. They are not overwhelming and demonstrate the depth of the story. Again it is not the narrow struggle of man against nature found in London. Like anything by Leskov it is to be recommended
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Russia's version of our Jack London Aug. 15 2005
By Newton Ooi - Published on Amazon.com
When people hear the term Siberia, they usually think of a wasteland destination for Russia's criminals, scapegoats, and political prisoners. What is forgotten is that this huge expanse of land is rich in life both animal and human, that the latter has existed her for millenia and have created their own cultures, languagues, and lifestyles. This fiction book tells the story of some of these natives, as described by a Russian author with personal experience of this region. The book does a good job in describing how people everyday interact with nature and with each other. One of the best scenes in the book describes the experience of living through a snowstorm. For those familiar with American literature, this book closely resembles the writings of Jack London, naturalism with an emphasis on human - nature coexistence. I recommend this book as a good way to learn about a part of the world most of us will never see.
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