Not Forgetting Beauty by S. M. Hutchens

Column: Mortal Remains

Not Forgetting Beauty

by S. M. Hutchens

In a famous passage from the Russian Primary Chronicle, the a.d. 988 conversion of the pagan Vladimir I, Prince of Kievan Rus, is prefaced by the following explanation of events leading to his decision to choose eastern Christianity over Islam, Judaism, and the Roman Catholic West:

Vladimir summoned together his vassals and the city elders, and said to them: "Behold, the Bulgars [Muslims] came before me urging me to accept their religion. Then came the Germans [Catholics] and praised their own faith; and after them came the Jews. Finally the Greeks appeared, criticizing all other faiths but commending their own, and they spoke at length, telling the history of the whole world from its beginning. Their words were artful, and it was wondrous to listen and pleasant to hear them. They preach the existence of another world. 'Whoever adopts our religion and then dies shall arise and live forever. But whosoever embraces another faith, shall be consumed with fire in the next world.' What is your opinion on this subject, and what do you answer?"

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S. M. Hutchens is a senior editor and longtime writer for Touchstone.

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