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The old Serbian joke goes like this. An elderly Serb peasant invites his friends over for some drinks and they notice that the crucifix on the wall of his hut is positioned between two portraits: one of Stalin and the other of Tito. When his buddies express their surprise, bordering on outrage, the peasant responds: "Was the Savior not crucified between two criminals? Nothing sacrilegious here".
Recently, the newly built, magnificent-looking Church of the Resurrection in Podgorica, Montenegro came to the world's attention for one of its frescoes. The anonymous painter portrayed Tito in hell, in a sea of fire, right next to Marx and Engels, surrounded by diabolical figures. The 15th century Ostrog monastery, also in Montenegro, depicts Tito in the company of Judas, Lenin, and Hitler. According to the Voice of Russia, the Ostrog monastery is "widely believed" to have sheltered Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.
Surprisingly, for a part of the world that suffered so much from communist terror, the fresco found its critics in Montenegro. A forty-three-year-old lawyer named Rade Stankovic had this nonsensical response: "The Church should not interfere in the secular world and determine who deserves a place in hell or heaven". Sounds like an ACLU liberal to me. The malevolent influence of the Eurocrats extended even to tiny, parochial Montenegro. Perhaps the EU will succeed where the Ottomans, the Hapsburgs, the Axis powers, and communist Yugoslavia failed and conquer the previously unbowed people. Only time will show.
However, twenty-three-year-old Milos supported the fresco, decrying the evil of communism and telling the BBC that "Many people were killed in the name of the ideology promoted by Marx, Engels and their followers". Hopefully, most Montenegrins agree with Milos, and not with Rade.
[Image Attribution to Diego Delso [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]
What a beautiful Church! I just finished re-reading Ducan G. Stroik's book "The Church Building as a Sacred Place: Beauty, Transcendence, and the Eternal." I have to believe that Mr. Stroik would be pleased with the Church of the Resurrection. Perhaps he had something to do with it. As to hell, I, a Southerner, would like for them to insert General Sherman into the painting. It would give it a trans-Atlantic flair. My maternal grandmother, a genteel soul if there ever was one, never letting a foul word cross her lips although they likely crossed her mind, nevertheless, one night as we cousins between the ages of 4 and 7 sat listening to her stories one evening, said of General Sherman who came up in one of her stories the following: "He is kicking cinders in hell!" Grandma never ever said "hell," so we could all at that moment smell the sulfur and feel the heat and almost hear the eternal lamentations of General Sherman. There should be a painting or an icon in every Church which reminds of that hell is real and that real men are to be found there. Judge not lest ye be judged? Well, by their fruits shall ye know them. The "judge not" verse is, of course, likely one of Rade's favorites if he knows any verses, although his take on it would be of wrong interpretation. I usually say that I am not a judge but merely a fruit inspector; and I know bad fruit when I see, touch, taste and smell it. Marx, Lenin, Hitler and Tito smell, and so does General Sherman!
Dr Peters, I second the motion. While the Church doesn't make any official pronouncements as to who is seated in the smoking section, churchmen have always been free to take a stab at it. And some bets are safer than others.
I should think, considering the yet more recent history of the former Yugoslavia, that similar murals anywhere in what is or once was Serbia may well depict the Clintons and Mr. Blair beside their illustrious forebears--Sherman not excepted.
As a Northerner, I'd like to second Mr. Peters idea about positioning Sherman in the infernal regions. I would only suggest that a spot there be reserved for the sainted genius who sent the general on his way there in the first place.
Just last Saturday I read in the WSJ a review of a new book about Sherman that actually blames the South for the wanton destruction of the infamous March; the writer (or reviewer perhaps) even claims that the whole thing was "not as bad an experience" as people believe. It boggles the mind to think that someone could be both historically so ignorant and so indifferent to the suffering.
Lest we here be labeled chauvinists, sexists and genderphobic, let us insist that in addition to Mrs. Clinton, already suggested, that we include Madam Albright.
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