Spring 2015

Dear Friends!

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

Religious Books for Russia has always tried to respond to the changes in Russian society.  

In the Soviet era, RBR smuggled Bibles and prayer books into the officially atheist state. After the fall of communism, it became possible for us to distribute legally to priests, parishes and seminaries books by such leading Russian emigre theologians and educators as Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr. John Meyendorff, Fr. Thomas Hopko and Sophie Koulomzin.

Today, even as Russia faces political and economic crisis, it is a country that is increasingly plugged in to modern technology.  IPhones, iPads and electronic readers have spread even to the Russian provinces -- at least to younger audiences there -- and made literature that was once inaccessible readily available in electronic form.  

Some of the books that RBR distributes in hardcopies are now also online, but it can take some searching to find them, wading through a jumble of sites to find usable links that are often in violation of copyright laws.

Late last year, Sergei Chapnin, editor of the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate and a champion of theological discourse, started, a site that is both a library of religious literature and a forum for discussion.  Chapnin's goal is to include many of RBR's titles on the site, and to do it completely legally, in accordance with copyright.

  Among the books that we plan to post on the site are the new edition of discussions with Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, "The Liturgy of Death and Contemporary Culture" and other books by Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, and the books of Sophie Koulomzin, Chapnin told RBR.

But, like most everything in Russia, the project has been hit by bureaucratic obstacles and the collapse of the ruble.  

  We could digitize 300-400 new books in 2015, but the funds we have will permit us to digitize not more than 180 books, said Chapnin. On average, we estimate that one book will cost us 70-80 dollars, he continued, saying that in a few short months has drawn 2000 members.

Through your generous donations, the platform can greatly expand RBR's audience and create a library of digital editions of these books, and RBR can continue with our traditional means of distribution as well, which remains a powerful way of reaching readers.

For example, Nina Ivanovna Kashuba, director of the library in Krymgireevskoye, a village in the Stavropol region, wrote recently to Maria Dorman, one of RBR's representatives in Moscow, about the immediate impact of a delivery of RBR books:

  We organized an exhibition of your collection and held an introduction to the books that you have given us, wrote Kashuba.  The books included Fr. Meyendorff's "Paschal Mystery" and Sophie Koulomzin's "Zakon Bozhii"  Three books were immediately signed out for individual reading at home.  We are very grateful to you and thank you for your help.

A donation of just $80 can add a title to, or provide a village library or provincial seminary with a small collection of books.

Please be generous in this Paschal season!

Sincerely yours,

Vera Bouteneff

Olga Poloukhine
Executive Secretary