òð¸õ äóõîâíûõ õðèñòèàíñêèõ ãðóïï: ìîëîêàíå, ïðûãóíû è
— ïåñíè, ïðàçäíèêè, ïðîðîêè, îáùåíèå è êíèãè
In-Progress: (Updated 7 May 2013) Comments, corrections welcome — Administrator @ Molokane. org
After a century of misuse, the Russian term molokan(1) unfortunately has two very different confused meanings —
The purpose of this page is to explain (a) how the incorrect misnomer was created, transformed and misused, (b) why it should not be used, and (c) to present an empirical classification system of 3 unique terms for these 3 Spiritual Christian groups — Molokane, Pryguny and Dukh-i-zhizniki. Please use these terms in respect, as a standard. Other Spiritual Christian (non-Orthodox, sectarian) groups in North America, like Subbotniki and Canadian Doukhobors, are not included in this taxonomy, though they are sometimes mislabeled as "Molokan" along with other faiths.
These 3 Spiritual Christian groups are easily identified by their characteristic liturgies.
* Most adapted from Russian folk songs and borrowed from German Anabaptists.
** After services at weddings, funerals, child dedication, holidays.
Dukhovnye khristiane—molokane (Äóõîâíûå õðèñòèàíå-ìîëîêàíå : Spiritual Christian Molokans) is a registered religion with an international organization and headquarters in Russia. Members of this organization are officially internationally recognized as Molokans.
Of these 3 Spiritual Christian groups (Molokane, Pryguny and Dukh-i-zhizniki), Molokane are the oldest and most organized confession group. They have a central hierarchy, meetings, conventions, buildings, interfaith representation, and a long a history of publications.
In contrast, the Prygun, Dukh-i-izhiznik and many other non-Orthodox sectarian faiths that mislabeled themselves, or are mislabeled by others, as "Molokans" have no central office, no phone number, no official representatives or organization, no official website or centralized world-wide network, and no current general publications. To contact them, one must approach each congregation, organization and group separately and preferably verbally, in person, because they typically will not respond in writing, even if they they personally know you, or are required by law. About the best contact an outsider can get is from one or a few individuals who may only speak unofficially and/or in secret. An outsider may be immediately turned away, treated like an intruder at a private meeting for members only. They have no inter-faith tradition or charity.
Why then do thousands of people around the world who are not Molokan by faith, many despising Molokane and non-members, oddly also claim the same label? Because (a) historically they had no unified identity, (b) by nature and principle they cannot organize or accurately document themselves, and (c) many are afraid or reluctant to reveal their religions to the world.
The relatively few who migrated to North America took the Russian name of another faith for a combination of reasons, which include: (a) to falsely claim that their faith was given religious freedom by the Tsar in 1805, (b) to claim in 1905 that Lev Tolstoy was petitioning on their behalf in 1905 for religious freedom or to emigrate, and (c) to hide their various secret faiths to avoid discrimination and deportation from America. Now they are free to have a meaningful unique descriptive name: Dukh-i-zhizniki, since 2007.
In the Russian Empire since the 1400s, many ethnic Russians (those not Jewish, Muslim, or Buddhist) who refused the mandatory Orthodox faith for Russians called themselves dukhovnye khristiane (Spiritual Christians) or other terms; but the Russian Orthodox Church, government, historians and journalists called them sektanti and described them by various alleged characteristic heresies (eresi) and traits — khlysty (whips), dukhobortsy (spirit/spirits/soul-wrestlers/strugglers/fighters/champions/warriors), pryguny (jumpers), skakuny (skippers, leapers), molokane (milk-drinkers), Maksimisty (followers of Maksim), Ilin'sty (followers of Ilin'), Popovtsy (followers of Popov), kvarkeri (Quakers), mormoni (Mormons) etc. Some dukhovnye khristiane adapted their exonym by combining terms, like dukhovnye khristiane— molokane, dukhovnye khristiane— dukhobortsy, dukhovnye khristiane— pryguny. Some of the alleged labels were not correct, like kvarkeri (Quakers) and mormoni (Mormons), and many were misclassified or had no label. Many changed labels to get privileges. By 1900 there may have been as many as a million followers of such non-Orthodox protestant-like faiths in the Russian Empire, about 1% of the population. They were a huge administrative problem. Official committees were assigned to investigate, report and propose remedies to save their souls, resulting in a guidebook for converting sectarians, and conflicting changing policies for governing them.
In 1805 the Spiritual Christian Molokane were given religious freedom in an decree (order, Russian: ukaz) — Petition to the Tsar Aleksander Pavlovich, July 12, 1805. Other Spiritual Christian faiths were not named in this decree. Freedoms for Subbotniki were given in a separate decree, and Dukhobory and Molokane got separate degrees for settlement territory.
The Spiritual Christian Pryguny-Skakuny (Jumpers-Leapers), a different heresy faith labeled in the 1850s (about 80 years after the Molokan label appeared), whose members often lived near and recruited other Spiritual Christians, also wanted this same freedom of religion for themselves and began to often falsely claim the label "Molokan." Pryguny evolved from a union of several faiths and ethnic groups concentrated in New Russia, now the South Ukraine, beginning in 1833 with a focus on the Apocalypse in the "South."
It was common for exiled sectarians, even Jews, in the Russian Empire to change faiths to get a privilege, like declaring conversion to the Orthodox faith to get a work or travel permit. Some sectarians changed faiths several times before arrest, which recorded their identity-changing practice. (See Breyfogle's 1998 PhD thesis.) The 1897 Russian census counted Pryguny as a separate group. Many times the Pryguny testifies to the government and reporters that they were not Molokane. Some Dukh-i-zhizniki today hate Molokane for reporting that their Prygun ancestors impersonated Molokane, and some diaspora hate this exposé you are now reading for revealing their secret identity and giving them a meaningful label.
The "ethnic Molokan" misnomer arose again in the United States immediately upon immigration beginning in mid-1904 among a few thousand mixed Russian dukhovnye khristiane, mostly Pryguny, Klubnikinisty, Maksimisty, with minor clusters of Molokane, Subbotniki, Stundisti, Zionisty and Novie Israeli, and others, who were all falsely collectively presented as Molokane — not by their separate actual Spiritual Christian faiths, nor by their collective label: "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians." The easy-to-pronounce, single Russian word (Molokan) was mainly used by outsiders to simplify the process of selling them all as one group of cheap White labor and ideal colonist settlers to get them out of Los Angeles.
Upon learning English, many who lived in the immigrant slum-ghetto in Los Angeles became afraid and ashamed to be known by their actual Russian faiths — such as Pryguny or “Jumpers” in English, Zionisty about which local Jews protested in court, or by any other term except “Molokan,” though their religions were not Molokan and the most zealous despised Molokane.
Before arriving in America, the leaders of the Spiritual Christian immigrants borrowed a term used in Russia by neighboring German Anabaptists and Spiritual Christian Community Doukhobors — "Brotherhood" — to present themselves in America as the "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians." Soon the Pryguny with others separated as the "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christian Jumpers." The most zealous Spiritual Christians and those aspiring to remain in America feared that their faiths must be concealed, as in Russia, so they took advantage of journalists' and land agents mistakes to camouflage their identity using the new English word "Molokan" in place of Maksimist, Zionist, Novie Israel, Prygun, Jumper, Holy Jumper, etc.
In contrast to those in Los Angeles, Pryguny who moved to San Francisco maintained their original Russian religious identity as "Holy Jumpers" with no shame into the 1960s when their meeting hall was sold, and they merged with Molokane. And in San Francisco, all the non-Orthodox Russian congregations on Potrero Hill joined in purchasing their Russian Sectarian Cemetery, in Colma, properly named to show they were not Orthodox.
After 1928, the most zealous Spiritual Christians in Southern California and Arizona, not Molokane, insisted that all their faiths and the faiths of other Spiritual Christians must be converted to Dukh-i-zhizniki (people who use the ritual book: Kniga solnste, dukh i zhizn'). The new book created a family of somewhat similar religions haphazardly formalized in America. They had no simple one-word name for their secret faiths, nor wanted one. They gathered in separate assemblies and could never agree to unite or submit to any secular (temporal)* hierarchy. [* Definition #3. Of or relating to the material world, as opposed to spiritual.] In retrospect, they could have called themselves something like "Spirit and Lifers" in English and peacefully divided from the Molokane and Pryguny. Instead, they insisted on dominating all congregations, in which Molokane were a minority.
The most zealous Dukh-i-zhizniki in America exported the "Molokan" misnomer by sending their ritual books to the Soviet Union and Turkey beginning in the 1930s where most Maksimisty adapted the Dukh-i-zhiznik ritual books, and inferred from the American book that they were a non-Russian nationality(3) of Molokane, though definitely not of what they believe is the "false" Molokan faith. Scholars, like Klibanov and Young, who used the Kniga solnste, dukh i zhizn' as a reference confused the various faiths along with most all who cited the scholars. In the 1900s, only two American scholars accurately labeled the separate faiths among immigrants from Old Russia — Sokoloff (1918) and Speek (1921).
In the 1950s, the Prygun congregations were mostly exterminated in Southern California and Arizona by Dukh-i-zhizniki but continued in the Soviet Union, Mexico, San Francisco and Turkey. In the US, Pryguny who immigrated from Iran to Los Angeles were harassed by dominant Dukh-i-zhizniki unless they converted to a Dukh-i-zhiznik faith. In 1957 in Los Angeles, Pryguny from Iran held their Rozhestvo holiday at the Young Russian Christian Association (YRCA), whose young members unsuccessfully tried to advocate for their acceptance. By the mid-1960s, Prygun congregations survived only in the Soviet Union.
In 1991 Molokane in the Former Soviet Union (FSU) reestablished as a registered faith. Some Prygun congregations in the FSU registered with the Molokane to gain official status, but Dukh-i-zhizniki did not. By 2000, about 90% of the descendants of Spiritual Christians around the world had abandoned practicing their heritage faiths. In 2005, not one Dukh-i-zhiznik attended the 200th Anniversary of Religious Freedom communal meeting in Stavropol' province, Russian Federation, hosted by the Molokane.
In 2007 most Dukh-i-zhiznik congregations in Russia agreed that the easiest way to differentiate themselves from the organized Molokane is to honestly identify their faiths with their common ritual book (short name: Dukh i zhizn') despite the many differences among them. The meaning of this new label was clear to them when shown a list of all congregations in the world being compiled. If they wanted to be published in a world directory of Spiritual Christian congregations, they did not want to be shown as Molokan, Prygun, Subbotnik, or Dukhobor, rather as Dukh-i-zhiznik. No other identity label was suggested, nor has been submitted.
In America, extensive repetition of the "Molokan" misnomer for a century has unfortunately semantically changed, or brand-jacked, the original meaning into a broad erroneous generic term, which when used, will always need an awkward and confusing explanation, presented as a compound term: Original Molokan, Jumper-Molokan, Molokan-Jumper, Charismatic Molokan, Molokan-Prygun, Constant-Molokan, Maksimist-Molokan, … Molokan-Molokan. The term is so widely abused that some scholars, and many reporters and government officials, falsely think Molokans are a type of Orthodox or Old Believer faith. Occasionally the term is mistaken as a non-Russian nationality. No wonder many authentic Molokane feel they are misrepresented in the press, by historians and zealous impersonators. Their mistaken identity as hindered the Molokane from getting recognized for their actual faith, and from getting land in the Former Soviet Union (FSU) to build meeting halls.
It's much simpler, honest and Christian, to use one correct term for each faith group, rather than hiding behind a false label popularized by those who assimilated in metropolitan Southern California and are afraid to reveal their heritage faiths.
Use of the very broad Americanized "ethnic Molokan" term for any Russian immigrant (Orthodox or not) should be avoided, and substituted preferably with the original term (transliterated Russian: dukhovnye khristiane, English: Spiritual Christians) or the historic Russian Orthodox pejorative term (Russian sectarians). Though many Russian-literate readers will recognize these correct terms, writers (journalists, students, scholars) should always define them.
Of all the faiths who call themselves Molokane, only the official international Molokan organization actually hosts a constant website — SDKM.ru. Many temporary websites were started by Dukh-i-zhizniki falsely identified as Molokane, the few which persist are commercial or somewhat clandestine, requiring registration, as does an e-mailing list.
Again, the purpose of this page is to explain in detail how the misnomer was created, why it should not be used because it is offensive and inaccurate, and to present a simple classification system of 3 unique terms for these 3 different faith groups of Spiritual Christians — Molokan(e), Prygun(y) and Dukh-i-zhiznik(i). In respect, and for honesty in journalism and scholarship, please use these 3 simple terms as a standard.
2. Spiritual Christian Groups
Over 250 ethno-religious congregations of Spiritual Christians around the world today that are too often mis-labeled as "Molokan" are actually of 3 different religious groups — 2 denominations of Molokane and Pryguny; and a diverse denominational family of Dukh-i-zhizniki. The mis-lable sometimes is applied to other Russian sectarian faiths, Russian Jews and Russian Orthodox. How to identify which faith is which is simple. These 3 Spiritual Christian faiths is are easily distinguished by their liturgy — songs, holidays, books and rituals.
* Most adapted from Russian folk songs and borrowed from German Protestants.
** After services at weddings, funerals, child dedication, holidays.
This taxonomy uses the transliterated original labels from Russian (shown in italics) because the historic Russian terms have definitions. I deviate from Russian by capitalizing the labels, as common in English, which are not capitalized in Russian. Lax translation to English, sometimes intentional, has altered original Russian meanings. For example, Spiritual Christians in Tsarist Russia never called their meeting location a tserkva (church), a term only applied to Orthodox Church buildings. Because their faith was illegal, most were not allowed to have separate prayer buildings, a notable exception was in Blagoveschensk where Molokane dominated the economy and politics. They usually met in the largest houses or, when possible, a molitvenyi dom (ìîëèòâåíûé äîì : prayer house, prayer hall, assembly hall) or obschii dom (îáùèé äîì : community hall, assembly) for a sobranie (ñîáðàíèå : meeting, gathering, assembly). Currently in Ivanovka, Azerbaijan, the term tserkva (öåðêâà : church) is being used during interviews with young reporters who typically do not know their Russian historical terminology. The most significant semantic translation shift in the U.S. is that the Russian term Molokan is never translated in a title or legal document as “Milk-Drinker,” but Prygun is translated as “Jumper” on some legal documents, never using the Russian term. Since these faiths originated in Russia, the transliterated Russian terms should be used exclusively to preserve their original meanings, especially when the English meaning and usage deviates from the Russian.In Old Russia (before 1900) these three faith groups, and the Doukhobors* and others, historically called themselves Dukhhovnye khristiane (Äóõîâíûå õðèñòèàíå : Spiritual Christians), Similar to European Protestants, these groups opposed about 90% of Russian Orthodox Church (ROC, Pravoslanoi, Ïðàâîñëàâíîé — “right worship”) doctrine. For being Russian and not Orthodox, these dissenting faiths, when identified by authorities, were ruled by the ROC to be heresies (eresei : åðåñåé), sektanty (cåêòàíòû : sectarians), sekty (cåêòû : sects), and given many labels which described their deviation. Over 100 labels have been used to describe dissenting sects and schismatics,** which totaled at least 10% of the Russian population.
In 1900, sectarians (non-Orthodox Russian) totaled about 1 million, or 1% of the total population of the Russian Empire. In some areas about 80% of the local population opposed the Church and/or State, particularly on the periphery — new territory, borders heavily populated by German immigrants, sectarians and schismatics. In Russia, no Germans were Orthodox.
Often several labels are applied to the same people or different peoples, which adds to historic confusion, especially when the subjects use different labels or interpretations than authorities — for examples: Luidi Bozhe (God's People, People of God) versus Khlysty (Whips, Flagellants, self-castigators), or Dukhobortsy* (fighters or strugglers against the spirit, versus wrestlers with the spirit, spirit-wrestlers).
People often migrated among the sects and intermarried, changing their affiliation. Some Spiritual Christians adopted the ROC labels self-redefined, like Dukhhovnye khristiane-molokane. These 3-word labels were often shortened to the latter term used by the ROC, like molokane.
* Spiritual Christian Doukhobors in Russia divided by leaders into 3 groups named by size and leader. The most zealous third who moved to Canada further divided into 3 different groups by leader and obeying new laws. See Taxonomy of Spiritual Christian Doukhobors.
** Note that raskol'niki (schismatics, ðàñêî́ëíèêè) — Starovery (Old Believers), or Staroobriadtsy (Old Ritualists) — are also often called “sects” in English but rarely in Russian. In 1900, about 10% of the Russian population were raskol'niki. In the late 1800s, Western journalists often used “sect” in a broad manner to refer to a particular religion, like "Russian Orthodox sect" or "Mormon sect." Some reporters today confuse Molokane with Old Believers, probably thinking the term means “old faith.” For a comprehensive overview of Russian sectarian history see: A.I. Klibanov, History of Religious Sectarianism in Russia (1860s-1917).
Unlike those who document them, practicing Molokane and Pryguny in Russia and San Francisco, California, never confused their own faiths. Historic records indicate that confusion about who or what is Molokan began in the U.S. immediately upon immigration in mid-1904 to Los Angeles, California, of relatively small numbers (less than 1%) of total Russian Spiritual Christians whose leaders declared they were a united "Brotherhood" of various Spiritual Christians. The first such label in print was "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians," which was soon modified, variously adding and/or deleting: "Jumper," "Pryguny," "Molokan," "Russian," "Sectarian," and "Brotherhood." (Research in-progress.)
The mixture of various non-Orthodox Russian Spiritual Christian immigrants in Los Angeles probably described themselves by many terms in Russia in 1900 and upon immigration when they first met other faiths, such as:
Some of these labels (1-25 above) have specific meanings used only among the most zealous Dukh-i-zhizniki, while the meaning and use of other terms has been forgotten in their oral tradition. For one example, #6. Ierusalem and #25. Zion are opposites. Some diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki in Los Angeles define Zion as those "saved" by the prophesy of Klubnikin because they migrated to California from 1904 to 1912, in contrast with Ierusalem, the 99% who stayed in Russia. In contrast, many Maksimisty in Russia believe that those who left for America abandoned "their" Holy Land near Mount Ararat. In short, each conflicting faith believes they are "saved" in their own way.
Individuals could claim or be assigned multiple labels. Except for the term Molokane, many of these labels in America could easily suggest they were a mystical Russian sect, or confused with a strange minority faiths, like: Quakers*, Shakers*, Mormons*, Jews*, nudists*, the holiness movement (Zion City, House of David, Burning Bush), Spiritualists, or queer (abnormal) apostolic religions in North America nick-named: “Holy Jumpers,” "Holy Rollers," Holy Kickers," "Tangled Tonguers," "Holy Ghosters," "Angel Dancers," "Jerkers," "Ranters," etc. All theses terms were in misuse when Russian Spiritual Christians began to arrive in California in 1904.
* Similarly, each of these is terms are simple misnomers used by outsiders as short, easy to pronounce, one-word labels for a general collection of faiths, most of which they do not understand:Russian-speaking immigrants living in an urban cluster on the east side of downtown Los Angeles were fractionated by faith, territory, dialect, ancestry, nationality, intermarriage, education, wealth, etc. By broad faith or ethno-confessonal group, they were Russian Jews, Russian Orthodox, or Russian non-Orthodox-non-Jewish (includes : Spiritual Christians, Evangelical Christians, Shtundist, Baptist, ...). Newspapers rarely specified which religious group they were reporting about as "the Russians," "the Russian colony," "the Russian community," "Russian-town," "little Russia," "Russian Flats," etc. In the 1900s, only two researchers accurately labeled the distinction between these different Russians — Sokoloff (1918) and Speek (1921).
All Russian-born groups were represented in the Flats and Boyle Heights districts, and elsewhere in Southern California there were clusters of Russian Jews, Russian Orthodox, and non-Orthoodox-non-Jewish Russians. To date, no comprehensive census study has attempted to segregated or map all these various Russian-born clusters, and a lack of specificity has allowed sloppy historians to lump them together with a false label. In 1918, a Russian-speaking Home Teacher, Lillian Sokoloff, published the only population survey of Russians in her school district (The Russians in Los Angeles). No comparable follow-up study has been done. A further complication is that descendants if immigrants soon divided, even siblings, among various faiths and by assimilation path — brother marries Russian Baptist, sister marries zealous Dukh-i-zhiznik, brother marries Prygun but attends "American" Christian church. To label all these descendants as "Molokan" is obviously not correct.
Discrimination of American Holy Jumpers
Despite religious discrimination against fanaticism, and prejudice against illegal and unwanted immigrants, the variety of developing and evolving Pentecostal churches in California provided a somewhat welcoming environment for the Pryguny-etc. In their first years they were temporarily compared to the “founding fathers” of America, the “Pilgrims,” for fleeing oppressive Russian Orthodoxy to form religious colonies in the new country and in Hawai'i. In Los Angeles, many Pryguny-etc. attended American evangelical Christian services in local churches and tents, praying and jumping with Negroes, and often with Russian translation. Interfaith visits occurred. The Prygun-etc. immigrants learned that others in this new world also shared their beliefs about manifestations of the Holy Spirit (baptism, visions, trances, jumping, raising hands, speaking in tongues, healing, casting out demons), Zion, millennium, and plainness (spartan prayer house architecture, worship, and dress). But, their zealous rural peasant heritage clashed with government and urban life.
Many wanted to return home where they had freedom from mandatory education, freedom to arrange marriages, freedom from registered marriages, freedom to sing loud and jump all night, and clusters of rural villages of relatives with whom they lived for generations near Mt. Ararat praying for their Apocalypse. Most important for Maksimisty was their prophesy to join both their leader M.G. Rudomyotkin (Ðóäîì¸òêèí) and Jesus Christ on Mt. Ararat or to be buried nearby.
Their most zealous prophet in Los Angeles, Afonasy T. Bezayeff, became alarmed about news of the San Francisco earthquake and 3-day fire, and after seeing many drunks and destitute people in the Los Angeles courthouse during his son's court hearing, Bezayeff prophesied an earthquake. He ordered all Spiritual Christians in Los Angeles to flee to the mountains. Public health authorities intervened preventing a mass panic. Later he was alarmed of the mixing of cultures in Los Angeles and, while standing on a pile of lumber at a lumberyard where he worked (possibly San Pedro), declared (prophesied) that all Pryguny-etc. must close their services to non-believers and stop contact with the false faiths of the world, yet he never moved from Los Angeles and drilled his followers to conduct spiritual marches to City Hall. He also initiated (via the Holy Spirit) placing the new ritual book: Kniga solnstse dukh i zhizn' on the alter tables of all congregations in Los Angeles in 1928 as a Third Testament to their Old Russian Bible. Some believed their new book replaced the New Testament.
Was it Bezayeff who prophesied to burn all photographs? My grandmother Sasha Shubin reported watching people in the Flats dump boxes of family photos into incinerators, in many backyards. She disobeyed and kept her photos hidden for decades. Many of the behaviors of Bezayeff, as reported by Berokoff and the press, appear similar to symptoms of a brain disorder.
In Los Angeles, the Americanizing Russian Spiritual Christian youth needed a neutral unique identity to facilitate their assimilation and intergraton, mediate hostility against strange religions and foreigners, and prevent deportation as was done to 100s of unwanted poor Russian Jews, Russian Bolsheviks, and other "undesirable immigrants." The term “Molokan” was undoubtedly selected its for its neutrality and uniqueness by those who chose to maintain their ancestral Russian religious dogma even though they were not Molokan by faith. They did not use the English translation, “Milk-Drinker,” which was probably also confusing if used for a group identity; rather they kept the Russian term and changed its definition to a very broad term applied to nearly all non-Orthodox Russian immigrants depending on the usage — hijacking the word for more than a century.
During their 100+ years in America, self-use of the terms “Jumper(s)” and Prygun(y) diminished rapidly, falsely replaced by "Molokan" and variant combinations. Hopefully, use of the descriptive internationally recognized term Dukh-i-zhizniki will increase in this century, the 2000s, with education. It is expected that most diaspora will initially be reluctant, even refuse, to officially accept a label that accurately describes their secret faith. It will no longer be a secret. They will have to define it by explaining their secret book. After nearly a century of imposing upon and being offensive to Molokane and Pryguny, users of the book Dukh i zhizhn' should take ownership of this international label which uniquely defines only them. Dukh-i-zhizniki have no need to hide any longer, except those who remain indoctrinated with fear and believe they must obey their old prophetic order to hide from the world, while ignoring the fact that they live in a free country and Rudomyotkin's order for secrecy was made in a different time (about 150 years ago) and place (Russia).
3. “Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians” in 1902, 1904, 1907
In 1902, the Rev. Dr. Dana Bartlett met a traveling member of the "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians" which he described in his first book, The Better City (September 1907) on pages 79-81. On page 229 he reported "the Bethlehem building .. for a year .. was the meeting place for the Russian Church, known as the Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians." On page 76A see photo: "Our Russian Neighbors From the Transcaucasus." In this book, Bartlett only used these 2 terms — "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians" and "Russians."
Upon arrival in mid 1904, the Prygun leader Vasili G. Pivovaroff introduced his first group in Los Angeles as the "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians." No other terms were used to identify his faith other than saying that they were from Russia. In December 1904, when Pivovaroff performed the first wedding in Los Angeles, the press only identified the "little band of Russian exiles" as "brotherhood" (3 times), while using the term "Russian(s) 17 times.
By mid January 1905, news from Europe via New York reported that 300,000 Russian Quakers, Molokanys, were coming to Los Angeles. The county government was facing a tsunami herd of peasants, which would double their county population. The educated, wealthy aristocrat Russian immigrants already established in Los Angeles (Demens, de Blumenthals, Cherbak, and associates) began to advocate for their fellow country men and branded all factions of immigrant Spiritual Christians in California collectively as “Molokane / Molokans” when speaking to the press and governments. These advisers must have known that American “Holy Jumpers” were hated in Los Angeles, evicted from Southern California, and a policeman threatened to dynamite them. Also, they may not have been openly befriended by the more secretive zealous faiths that planned to return to Mt. Ararat. The press was confused about what to call them — Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians? Jumpers? Pryguny? Quakers? Molokane?
The single false one-word fabricated brand name of Molokan greatly simplify representing the diverse herd of Spiritual Christian immigrants to the government and businesses for colonization, especially when accompanied by a false description that they all were meek, frugal, hard-working, strong, honest, temperant (don't drink, smoke, gamble), Christian peasant farmers, who will become ideal citizens. Neither their Russian-American advisers nor their American advisers ever called them “Jumpers” or Pryguny in the press or correspondence (found yet), though many Pryguny-etc. insisted on that term and other terms for themselves to show they were not of one faith, or united. Reporters and land agents were confused about what to call them, and many simply referred to them as "Russians." More confusing, from 1904 through the 1920s the press reported as many as 5 different Russian colonies in the Los Angeles area, as if they were all the same people, mixing Russian Jews, Russian Orthodox, Slavs and the many diverse varieties of Spiritual Christians. The first and only approximate faith census was conducted from 1915-1918, by Home Teacher Lillian Sokoloff, to plan for integrating them for citizenship.
Those who tried to report about or help these Spiritual Christians were always confused. Before and during immigration they were called "Russian Quakers" which attracted a delegation of real Quakers to inspected them and report. Though Pryguny followed some Jewish traditions, Jews rejected them and they should not be confused with Russian Jews; nor should they be confused with Russian Bolsheviki or anarchists who were being deported; nor with their historically related Spiritual Christians in Canada who split from Doukhobors and were protesting nude against the Canadian government and petitioning to move to the U.S. and Mexico. They should also not be perceived as a problem sect like the much discussed Mormons, many of whom already moved to Mexico for religious freedom, and whose short label also started with "Mo" and looked similar. Those assimilating in Los Angeles did not want to be confused with American “Holy Jumpers,” though many were attracted to and joined these emerging American charismatic Pentecostal faiths.
Companies which invested in large agricultural colonies for these Russian immigrants were confounded as to why they immediately divided into groups and quarreled, causing a farm colony to fail before it could start. Oral history by J.K. Berokoff, reports that in 1904 a mystery woman was insulted while trying to give them land and withdrew her offer. In 1906 in Hawai'i, when the host plantation realized their “Molokans” were actually 3 opposing groups, Demens telegraphed that “Molokans” in Los Angeles were actually divided into 5 or 6 unnamed districts of various sizes, from 45 villages. The first combined Spiritual Christian farm colony experiment in Hawai'i failed within 6 months. In 1910 Cherbak organized a meeting of all Spiritual Christians on the Pacific Coast to help them jointly purchase a ~50 square mile tract in Central California for all to settle, as many elders had requested. Though they had the money, Cherbak reported 12 leaders confronting him resulting in the well-funded huge Russian colony never starting. The tycoon Huntington railroad and land family tried to help Spiritual Christians colonize in California, but gave up. In Arizona there were 4 congregations up to 1920, and 2 until about 1950. In the 1930s there was a failed effort to unite all in Los Angles into a bolshaya sobraniya (big assembly, English slang: "Big Church"); only half of the 6 Russian congregations joined, and none of the Armenian Pryguny or Subbotniki. Later in Los Angeles, 2 of the dissenting congregation divided; and similar adjacent faith divisions reoccur today in central Oregon and in rural Central California near Kerman and Porterville. The trend among Dukh-i-zhizniki is to divide, not unite.
After August 1906 most Molokane, led by those retuning from Hawai'i, resettled in and near San Francisco. In September 1915 in Los Angeles, Shanin and Kobziv published their first Prygun-etc. songbook: Ïѣñåííèêú (Pesennik), Ïî ñîãëîñiþ Ïðûãóíñêîé Äóõîâíîé Áðàòñòèì (Po soglasiyu Prygunskoi Dukhovnoi Bratstim : By agreement with the Jumper Spiritual Brotherhood). In 1917, V.I. Holopoff, one of the pioneer Molokan migration scouts, entered his religion on a government form as "Brotherhood" with no room to write more; while the Pryguny identified themselves in a petition and letters to the US government as "Spiritual Christians-Jumpers." In 1918, American John Valov reported his religion as "Russian Spiritual Christian." This “Brotherhood,” in various forms, published the Dukh i zhizhn' in 1928, and is shown on government letters from 1940 through 1945 (Berokoff, Addenda XVII). After the 1940s the term "Brotherhood" was no used in print. Why?
After most Molokane relocated to San Francisco in 1906, a tug-a-war over the use of Pryguny occurred in Los Angeles as the younger Americanized generation adopted “Molokan,” and/or abandoned their Russian faiths to be American; while a zealous minority transformed into what became opposing Dukh-i-zhiznik faiths, which lacked a label for over 75 years.
The meeker Spiritual Christians (Molokane, Subbotniki, Armenian Pryguny, etc.) who were marginalized by the more zealous Dukh-i-zhizniki, integrated faster. The term Pryguny was apparently applied publicly to the most zealous, then nearly vanishes in favor of the terms Molokan and/or Russian Spiritual Christian, for all factions, or "Molokan Christian", and eventually to just the single term “Molokan.” The "Molokan" label was desired because is was unique, simple, and translated as “milk-drinkers,” projecting harmless wholesome people. It is strange that this is the only label that these Spiritual Christians insisted must be preserved in Russian transliteration, rather than the English "Milk-Drinker," while all other labels are translated, or transformed into more socially acceptable English forms — like "church" for "prayer hall" or "meeting."
After 1933, the label “Spiritual Jumpers” remained in public view on the front sign (above) of Big Church (Lorena Street), and Prygun in Russian was on the original first cemetery sign (below right) at 2nd Street and Eastern Ave, East Los Angeles. "Big Church" did not preserve their sign or label after their front building was demolished about 2000. The "Old Cemetery" did not refurbish or replace their sign which misspelled dukhovnykh khristiyan prygunov (Spiritual Christian Jumpers) on top in Russian.
At the newer Slauson Ave cemetery, the Prygun label only appears in public view in Russian on one sign (above right), but omitted in the English translation. The Russian says: Kladbische russkikh khristianskikh molokan-dukhovnykh pryunov = Cemetery of Russian Christian Molokan-Spiritual Jumpers. Contrary to the sign, this cemetery is recorded with the State of California as “Russian Molokan Christian Spiritual Jumpers Cemetery Association, Inc.”
This label camouflage resulted in nearly all practicing diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki descendants being misled to believe they are Molokane by their ancestors who immigrated as Pryguny, and brand-jacked the label Molokan while they transformed into a faith opposing Molokane, using the book: Dukh i zhizn' (Spirit and Life), published in 1928. Dissenters were outcast or hid. Though journalists and scholars often documented that these people “called themselves Pryguny,” they ironically nearly exclusively used the wrong term “Molokan,” popularizing a false label. This identity disinformation was transported to the Soviet Union and Turkey with the book: Dukh i zhizn' where it clashed with the registered religion of Molokane after 1994.
4. Is Molokan one faith, many faiths, an ethnic group, or a non-Russian nationality?
After a century of misuse, the Russian term “Molokan” has unfortunately lost it's original meaning, which must be restored to make sense of the history of Spiritual Christians and to intelligently discuss them. In Old Russia, Molokan was a single, non-Orthodox religion; but in Southern California American English it was falsely broadly used for all Russian sectarian faiths and their descendants, an ethnic group and a different family of religions. This mistake was transferred from the US to the Soviet Union where the most zealous expanded it to label themselves as a non-Russian nationality. The misuses are very confusing and should be corrected to correspond with the original meanings properly used in the 1800s.
The misuse of the word "Molokan" has caused a long-term
broad-spectrum of religious and political arguments. A
liberal* use allows anyone, whether of Russian descent
or not, to mistakenly declare they are “Molokan” though
they may be intermarried, joined another faith, water
baptized, served in the military, eat pork and oppose
the faith of their ancestors. On the most
rigorous/conservative* extreme, users of the Dukh i zhizn' only
consider “their” (íàøè : nashi) people, or selected members of
“their” congregation and closely affiliated
congregations who profess their own group-accepted
beliefs and behaviors to be their mistaken version of
"Molokan." Outsiders and guests are forbidden, bullied,
even other Dukh-i-zhizniki.
Between these extreme population definitions, about 5000
households (~20,000 descendants) were willing to be
listed in an English language unpublished 1985 Ìîëîêàí Directory,
though about half are not practicing Dukh-i-zhizniki or Molokane by
mistaken use of the term "Molokan" for an ethnic group
or nationality should be replaced by the original term
Christian), or the pejorative category term
used by the Russian Orthodox Church (sektanti,
* Isajiw, Wsevolod W. Definitions And Dimensions Of Ethnicity, in Paul R. Magocsi (Ed.),
The Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples (University of Toronto Press, 1999), pages 413-418.
5. Three Faiths
This is a summary to facilitate identifying major factors of 3 of the Spiritual Christians faiths — Molokane, Pryguny and Dukh-i-zhizniki.For more detail, see 11. Classification below.
Less than 1% of Molokane have ever witnessed jumping, and fewer have read or held the book: Dukh i zhizn'. If allowed to attend a Dukh-i-zhiznik service, Molokane are often intimidated, sometimes disgusted, by zealous Dukh-i-zhiznik spiritual jumping, raising hands, shouting, forced jumping, prophesy, verbal bullying, using non-Biblical ritual books, and singing songs from other faiths, and non-Biblical songs with Russian and American folk-melodies. In contrast, those accustomed to the fast-shout-singing, jumping, prophesies, and mystical theatrics of Dukh-i-zhizniki, are typically bored among reserved Molokane limited to the Bible and slow singing with no physical aerobics or spiritual and mystical outbursts. These are very different faiths and cultures.
6. New Label : Dukh-i-zhizniki
In 2007, a new and unique label incorporating the book name Dukh-i-zhizn' was unanimously accepted by 50 congregations of all 3 of these faiths in Stavropol'skii krai, Russia, as a fair descriptor for use in a world directory of Spiritual Christians, in-progress. These labels were accepted not at a huge meeting, or conference, but during personal visits with individual congregants alone or in small groups, over a period of 3 months that Summer. Due to the antagonistic social nature of some Dukh-i-zhizniki, they will never all assemble in one meeting nor unanimously agree. Occasionally members of different congregations met with me together. The 3 most zealous Maksimist congregations in, Stavropol'skii krai, avoided contact with me as is their policy with non-members of their congregation. The Dukh-i-zhiznik label appears to be the best fit for their lexicon. (Send comments to <Adminstrator @ Molokane.org>) When congregations that use the Dukh i zhizn' were presented a choice of the 3 labels, they chose Dukh i zhizn' despite the many differences and splits between congregations of Dukh-i-zhizniki.
Dukh-i-zhizniki are less united and more diverse in liturgy than Molokane, and fragment more. Only Dukh-i-zhizniki exclusively use the book Dukh i zhizn' for religious rituals and faith guidance. Before 2007, Dukh-i-zhizniki had no distinct label and often referred to other Dukh-i-zhizniki as “our people” (Russian: nashi : íàøè) or “believers [in the Dukh i zhizn']” (veruschy : âåðóøû) when Molokane or Pryguny were nearby.
The inside-outside distinction is typical among many peoples around the world. For example members of a native North American tribe used the autonym Nēhilawē (those who speak our language) to identify themselves, but among outsiders they used the white man's label: "Cree."
When no Molokane are nearby, Dukh-i-zhizniki tell outsiders they are Molokane. Other terms used by journalists include “extremist” and “maximalist.” Some call themselves Maksimisty (Russian for “followers of Maksim”, MGR), but not all Dukh-i-zhizniki are Maksimisty, and some despise that term. Minorities sometimes call themselves Davidisty, Novyi Izrail', or Zionisty. All alternate labels were rejected in 2007 in Stavropol province, Russia, in favor of their common identity with their book Dukh i zhizn', hence: Dukh-i-zhizniki.
In the U.S. the term Dukh-i-zhizniki is new, strange and too exact for those who were indoctrinated to hide from the worldly non-believers. For these and other reasons, which they are afraid to reveal, or cannot explain, diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki will probably continue to mislabel their faith and institutions as “Molokan,” or “True Molokan,” though they are not Molokane by faith. Most will continue to say my/our “Molokan faith/religion" unless probed to reveal their actual secret faith. It may take a generation or more to establish the accurate term : Dukh-i-zhiznik. The irony is they claim they want religious freedom, but only to be dishonest with their identity. No one is brave enough yet to meet to discuss this error, or change their title.
These three religions (Molokan, Prygun, Dukh-i-zhiznik) have a common ethnic origin with other Russian sectarians, Spiritual Christians; iconobortsy (iconoclasts); use the Russian Bible with Apocrypha; and pray, sing, and read in Russian; but their holidays, rituals, liturgy, services, songs, and openness vary significantly and separate them into different faiths. Members within and between congregations today may be relatives, neighbors, friendly or unfriendly, intermarried, yet different in behavior and belief, sometimes hostile and/or secretive. If a marriage is allowed between members of these denominations (or an outsider), one usually must convert to the faith of the congregation performing the wedding, then tolerate scrutiny.
This section is for diaspora readers indoctrinated with the wrong terms, or convinced that whatever their grandfather or elders said must be correct. A comparison of several classification systems below illustrates how honestly choosing a simple descriptive method and words greatly aids understanding which group is which. As Christians you must decide for yourself how deceptive you want to be with the identity of your faith(s).
1. Car — To argue ownership of the brand-hijacked label "Molokan," some Dukh-i-zhizniki boast that they are the newest model of Molokane, like a modern car compared to an antique. They omit, or forget, that their religious predecessors were Pryguny, and should claim to be improved versions of Pryguny. Anyway, they say the Molokane are like the Ford Model T, but never modernized — are constant, postoyannie. But what happened to the Model-T? Competitor Chevrolet emerged as a separate company (faith) with faster cars (like Pryguny) which used Buick parts (borrowing from other faiths), produced many newer models with automatic transmissions (Malibu, Impala, Camaro, Corvette, Tahoe, Suburban, ... ) which are like the many divided faiths among the religious family of Dukh-i-zhizniki. We recognize these as “cars” (Spiritual Christians) but each model is different in parts, shape, performance, and attracts different buyers (members). Why don't people who own Corvettes call them Model T's because they are the newest most modern version? Why aren't all cars called Model T's? This sounds silly, but Dukh-i-zhizniki still call themselves the antique term Molokane, which they never were, nor were most of their ancestors, while hiding the their actual original term Pryguny. Why didn't they choose a new improved name? Who are they hiding from?
2. Fruit — What if all "fruit" was locally called apples, and each tribe in the world only had one kind of fruit which they called "apple" because it was the only word they had? They did not know the word "fruit." In the tropics a tribe had long curved yellow apples (bananas). In Hawaii their apples were huge grown on spiny bushes (pineapples). In Georgia their apples are thin skinned and orange (tangerines). In central Russia their apples are green (simirenko). Each tribe did not know about the others and only one word was needed as long as they remained uneducated in their village, and did not travel or see imported fruit. But in the large import market in Europe, where fruit is sold from around the world, each fruit needed a different name to tell them apart. If the tribes refused to learn the international terms, they had problems communicating. If they wanted a banana or grape, they would have to describe which kind — the long yellow curved apple, or the small round apples in a bunch.
If those diaspora in Los Angeles county, who only called themselves Molokans only stay in East Los Angeles county, never attend services in San Francisco, never in the FSU, never read about their history from outside books, they can easily believe they are whatever they called themselves. The same applied for those isolated for decades in Turkey and Armenia. Their self-definition can continue as long as they close off their congregation from education, Internet, outsiders, all worldly contact. If you are one of "them" and have been reading this taxonomy, you are now contaminated with new information — oops — :))
3. Middle Asia — "Middle Asia should not be confused with the Central Asia or Inner Asia." The maps show that different definitions include or exclude vasts areas of Asia. Depending on who is writing and when (Russian Empire, Soviet Union, United Nations, Islamic tribe, professor, etc.) and topic (ethnicity, geography, religion, language, history, climate, politics). The various terms from different languages describing this territory have vastly different overlapping meanings. Which name is correct? All are correct to the writers, but the readers can easily be misled if they do not know what area was actually intended. When M.G. Rudomyotkin wrote about Tika (his "land of refuge"), he most likely referred to the area which was originally generally called "place of the Turkic people's" or "Land of the Turks" («Òóðêåñòàí», Turkestan). The Persian name is Turan: "the land of the Tur." As more knowledge was documented and dispersed in maps and books, and people educated, it should be easier to specify this area. Yet, many mistakes are easily made unless one provides a map.
4. Jew — 100s of books and articles have been published debating "Who is a Jew?" Dukhizhizniki consider themselves somewhat Jewish, eating kosher-like, sharing somewhat similar holidays. Changing the word "Jew" in the introductory text of Who is a Jew? (edited in Wikipedia.org, see archived text) to "(ethnic) Molokan" produces a broad awkward statement no more definitive of "ethnic Molokans" than for ethnic Jews:
Who is an ethnic Molokan is a basic question about Molokan identity and considerations of ethnic Molokan self-identification. The question is based in ideas about ethnic Molokan person-hood which themselves have cultural, religious, genealogical, and personal dimensions. … The definition of who is an ethnic Molokan varies according to whether it is being considered by Molokans based on normative religious statutes, self-identification, or by non-ethnic-Molokans for other reasons. Because ethnic Molokan identity can include characteristics of an ethnicity, a religion, … the definition of who is an ethnic Molokan has varied, depending on whether a religious, sociological, or ethnic aspect was being considered. … The issue has given rise to legal controversy, … There have been court cases … which have had to address the question.
A court ruling in 1984 resulted in a California man, Benjamin Stackler, not of Russian or Spiritual Christian descent, who testified that he was a member of a Molokan church of one member (himself), successfully petitioning to not show his photo on his driver's license, using a 1964 Dukh-i-zhiznik precedent (by Maksimist Ivan Shubin). The truth is that all Molokane have photos on their passports and documents with no code against photographs. This is like a chicken that can't quack telling everyone it is a duck, and everyone, including the government, believing it is a duck, not questioning why it does not look, walk or quack like a duck. The same holds for Dukh-i-zhizniki who are not Molokane or Pryguny but falsely tell everyone they are, register their organizations with false terms, and falsely title their publications and property signs. Even though a court ruled Stackler was "Molokan," the American Dukh-i-zhizniki would not have allowed him to join their congregations because he was ni nash (not ours), nor would they bury him. Who is he? Îí ÷åé?
A similar case occurs in 2012. The Pivovaroff brothers Morris (California USA) and Jim (South Australia) attended the August 1997 Molokan Youth Conference in Tambov, Russia with younger family (Morris MMorris Pivovaroff Jr, Micheal John Mendrin, Steven James Shubin) — 5 Dukh-i-zhiznik men. When their names were posted on the event attendance roster on the Internet, read by many lurking diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki, their relatives were immediately chastised in both countries before they returned home, because their names were shown on a web page with Molokane and the Tambov Orthodox priest. They were "unclean." For months the brothers were in a frenzy calling my parents in Arizona, demanding that their names be removed. I did not know about their fits during the 3 months I was in Russia, getting married and collecting data. In Tambov they said they will come to our Prygun wedding, but never contacted us. It was excruciating for the Pivovaroff brothers, as if they were facing excommunication or worse. (The original website was hosted by a Russian professor, which I could not edit until I returned to Arizona 5-6 months after the conference, though news was added by e-mail from a Tambov university.) The Molokans in San Francisco were bewildered. Why would someone claim to be a Molokan brother, attend their event in good faith, take pictures with them, sing with them, pray with them, eat with them, then demand shouting that they were not there? At the same time the Pivovaroff's believed in the Dukh i zhizn' and stated that all "Molokan" congregations who use the Dukh i zhizn' in services must be Maksimsity (actually Dukh-i-zhizniki). Brother Jim returned to Russia to steal papers and strands of M.G. Rudomyotkin's hair from the St. Petersburg archive, artifacts which he believed spiritually belonged to his faith, and was arrested. 15 years later, on July 15, 2012, elder Morris M. Pivovaroff spoke in the San Francisco Molokan prayer hall during services. (He was shocked I was there, doing archival research.) Like a chameleon, he again changed his identity. He stated every reason he could think of that he was a "Molokan" (We are all one big Molokan brotherhood. My heritage village was named Semyonovka, after Semyon Uklein who founded our Molokan faith. My grandfather attended the 100th Molokan Jubilee for Religious Freedom in Voronstovka in 1905. He also attended the 150th celebration in San Francisco. I attended the 1992 Molokan convention in Russia. My family attended the 1997 Molokan youth conference in Tambov. I attended weddings and funerals in your church. People here attended my wedding in Kerman. You prayed for my sick relatives.) Durign lunch, when asked by the Molokan presbyter Kapsof: "Who is Rudomyotkin? How can he claim to be king of the spirits?" Morrie Pivovaroff declared: "I am not saying anything." After lunch, Pivovaroff met with the Molokan komitet to petition that his youngest daughter and her American fiance be allowed to join the Molokan faith and be married in San Francisco. On October 7, Ona and Brian alone joined the Molokan faith, with no relatives on either side attending to participate in their ceremony. (I happened to be there again doing research.) Wedding to be announced. Per Pivovaroffs' recent testimony, I restored their names to the 1997 roster. If all congregations are of the same faith, why don't they get married in Kerman?
5. Mennonite — "Mennonite" is also misused. By changing the word "Mennonite" to "ethnic Molokan," changing "church" to "assembly," adding "informal affiliation" and decreasing the numbers in the summary text of Mennonite, Organization Worldwide (Wikipedia.org), another awkward definition results which gives the reader no better resolution than the original term: "Spiritual Christian."
The most basic unit of organization among ethnic Molokans is the assembly. There are hundreds of ethnic Molokan assemblies, many of which are separate from all others. Some assemblies are members of a conference, others are formally and informally affiliated. Some, but far from all, regional or area affiliations are associated with larger national or world affiliations. Thus, there is no single authorized organization that includes all ethnic Molokan assemblies worldwide.An Anabaptist historian advises: “... it is meaningless to use the same term ‘Mennonite’ to describe differing spiritual traditions whose fundamental values were often in direct conflict with each other” (C.F. Plett, The Story of the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren Church, 1985, page 6)[check]. This Newspeak process (social control by language reduction) was coined by George Orwell in 1949 to describe a repressive society.
Instead, there is a host of separate assemblies along with a myriad of separate affiliations with no particular responsibility to any other group. Independent assemblies can contain as few as part of 1 family or more than a 1000 members. Similar size differences occur among separate affiliations. Worship, assembly discipline and lifestyles vary widely between progressive, moderate, conservative, Old Order and orthodox ethnic Molokans in a vast panoply of distinct, independent, and widely dispersed classifications. For these reasons, no single group of ethnic Molokans anywhere can credibly claim to represent, speak for, or lead all ethnic Molokans worldwide.
6. The Church of Jesus Christs of Latter-Day Saints — Most outsiders call them "Mormon" not L.D.S. because they use the Book of Mormon and the Bible. Let's change Book of Mormon to Dukh i zhizn' and see if that analogous definition makes sense:
The Word of God
Missionaries are not handing out copies of the Dukh i zhizn' Book of Mormon all over the world, even as you read this. So what is this secret book? If it’s given out for free, why do so many Dukh-i-zhizniki members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints count their Dukh i zhizn' Book of Mormon as one of their most valuable possessions? What kind of book can cause so many readers to change their lives, their minds and their hearts? What kind of book can answer life's seemingly unanswerable questions?
The Dukh i zhizn' Book of Mormon is the word of God, like the Bible. It is Holy Scripture, with form and content similar to that of the Bible. Both books contain God's guidance as revealed to prophets as well as religious histories of different civilizations. While the Bible is written by and about the people in the land of Israel and surrounding areas, and takes place from the creation of the world until shortly after the death of Jesus Christ, the Dukh i zhizn' Book of Mormon contains the history and God’s dealings with the chosen people who lived in Armenia the Americas between approximately 1850 and 1877 600 BC and 400 AD, and their descendants. ...
Most Dukh-i-zhizniki would probably agree with the above text while insisting they have nothing to do with the false faith of L.D.S., or any of the 666 false faiths Rudomyotkin warns them to avoid. In contrast with L.D.S., Russian Spiritual Christians had no missionary program for the past 100 years, though their oral histories report that many converted up to that time. In America, there are several families of Dukh-i-zhizniki who joined the L.D.S. church and call themselves (enthic) Molokans.
6. Pancakes — How can one explain and describe pancakes (olad'i), waffles (vafli), and crepes (bliny)? Are these three kinds of pancakes or are they all the same? Or, in secret, are they 3 types of bliny? The first is a breakfast dish, the others were designed to be desserts. Do they really need different words? Pancakes, olad'i, are the original version of a thin fried batter bread, flap-jacks. But the same batter can be enhanced in a mold, cooked on both sides with impressions, and made thicker and more intricate, but it no longer looks or feels like a pancake even though the batter is nearly the same. Why are those called waffles, vafli, and not pancakes? Add a little milk and butter and the same batter can be cooked into very thin versions. Those are called crepes, bliny, with many varieties. Are these also pancakes, waffles or something else? Should bliny claim the title of pancake because they are the most varied — rolled, folded, stuffed with many fillings — and so sacred and fancy that they should not have a name? If they are all basically the same material, why not one name for all? If you called bliny waffles, or waffles pancakes, would you be telling the truth? In this sense, olad'i, vafli, and bliny, are as different as Molokane, Pryguny and Dukh-i-zhizniki.
What if you asked for blintsy with tvorok, varenia and smetana, but got oladiki instead? You'd probably get a similar reaction telling a Dukh-i-zhiznik that Pryguny and Molokane in America celebrate Christmas, or most American Jews do not eat kosher.
8. Pizza — To be fair to debaters, here's another classification example. Though similar to pancakes (round, flat food), pizza is named differently, as a class with sub-classes. If you ask for pizza, you need to specify attributes and sub-attributes — size (small, medium, large, ...), thickness (thin, thick, ...), shape (round, pan), ingredients (many toppings) and style (deep pan, cheese in crust, ...) — 100s of combinations. Such a multi-word classification system is only useful within the sub-class of Dukh-i-zhizniki, particularly where a congregation remains singular, separated from others nearby. Because Dukh-i-zhiznik congregations can be clustered but separate, members identify them with a combination of location (state/province, city, district, street), original village, presbyter and/or nickname. In contrast, there are no cities/villages in the world with divided Molokan congregations (except Novokumskoe), so they a re simply identified by current location (state/province, city/village).
9. Indigenous peoples — In America the native peoples were mislabeled Indians because early explorers thought they arrived in India. In Australia the natives are called aborigines (Latin: from the original). Outsiders use these 2 simple words to refer to 100s of distinct cultures with different languages. The people among themselves have 100s of words to accurately identify their tribal members and other tribes. With education anyone should learn to identify the much fewer faiths of Spiritual Christians.
Many classification examples come to mind. Hopefully these analogies will illustrate, to even the youngest reader, how choosing the right words can most accurately define these 3 Spiritual Christian faiths. By following the KISS-principle, the classification system chosen is similar to that for pancakes and fruit — each Spiritual Christian religion has a unique original descriptive Russian label, historically known around the world — Molokan(e), Prygun(y) and Dukh-i-zhiznik(i). and all are part of a larger group called dukhovnye khristiane (äóõîâíûå õðèñòèàíå : Spiritual Christians).
8. Molokan Label Falsified For Many Reasons
Upon arrival in America, most Spiritual Christians remained in the city, or returned to urban life after most of the American land deals failed. While Maksimisty failed to return to Mt. Ararat, Klubnikinisty failed to find a land of refuge, and Novyi izrail' failed to relocate to Israel, by default their promised land transformed into a kingdom in the city — the “Mother colony” in the Flats — a “melting pot” of various nationalities and races. The Southern California metropolis greatly aided these poor immigrant peasants with mild climate, a huge year-round food supply, free meeting rooms, abundant utilities (water, gas, electric, sewage), free medical care, free child day care, free county burials, free education, free supervised playgrounds, free clubs, free sports, free English and citizenship classes, free job training and placement, low-cost convenient public transportation, indoor plumbing, urban entertainment, police and fire services, and much higher wages than rural life; and a choice of many Protestant faiths and city temptations. They found economic and religious freedom in an urban ghetto.
After the Hawai' i colony failed in mid-1906, most Molokane resettled in San Francisco and most Pryguny-etc. in Los Angeles and Mexico. The minority of Pryguny in San Francisco had no Maksimisty to cause them embarrassment, they rejected the Dukh i zhizn' and kept their original “Holy Jumper” identity until they merged with the Molokane when their building was sold in the 1960s.
In Los Angeles, upon learning English, most of the Americanized younger Pryguny-etc. were taught to say they were “Molokan” or "Protestant," while the most aggressive Maksimisty and associated charismatic zealots reported to the press they were Pryguny and Holy Jumpers, and they eventually changed the faith of all congregations in Los Angeles to Dukh-i-zhiznik. Dissenters left the faiths, were pushed out, or were marginalized (allowed to attend if paid members, but not participate).
The last active reporting by Dukh-i-zhizniki in Southern California that they were "Russian Molokan Christian Holy Spiritual Jumpers" was in September 1964 when 2000 gathered in San Pedro to send off 32 people on a ship to Australia. The less- zealous majority who remained intensified their identity camouflage and issued a press release on October 2, 1964, stating they were not leaving America.
Reasons for the pre-1930 Prygun-etc. cover-up continued by Dukh-i-zhizniki are extensive:
Pryguny never claim to be Maksimisty. Maksimsity sometimes claim to be Pryguny. In a semantically abusive compromise, zealots ganged up on their enemy and claimed to be "True Molokans," simply "Molokans."
Having arrived at the American promised land, Spiritual Christians were free to join any faith in America, which most did. Some camouflaged their Russian heritage by legally changing their Russian surnames or Americanizing them — Adnoff/Ednoff (Evdokimoff), Andrews (Androff, Veronin), Bolder (Bolderoff), Brewer (Pivovaroff), Chicken (Chickenoff), Conway (Konovaloff), Durain (Urane), Eagles (Orloff), Fettis (Fettisoff), Jackson (?), Johnson (Varonin), Kalp (Kalpakoff), Kazy (Kasimoff ?), Kissell (Kisseloff), Klubnik (Klubnikin), __ (Kochergen), Hall (Hallivichoff/__, Golovachev), Martin (Fetesoff), Liege (Ledieav?), Martin (Slivkoff), Melnick (Melnikoff), Mosser (Moiseve), Niles (?), Pluss (Plujnkoff), Preston (Popoff), Riley (Galitzen), Ruddy (Rudometkin), Saber (Tikhunov), Seaking (Syapin), Tolmage (?), Sharon (Chernabieff), Thatch (?), Thomas/Tolmas (Tolmasoff), Young (?), Wolf (Volkoff), Wren (Uren), etc.
Many Americanized Spiritual Christian youth did not like to kiss old people, the long services in Russian (a foreign language to them), hard backless benches, old-world traditions and clothes, and/or be forced to jump; and, homophobics hated same-sex kissing. Dukh-i-zhizniki had little contact with, or opposition from, actual Molokane organized 400 miles away in Northern California.
By the 1940s, most all U.S. descendants of Pryguny outside of Northern California who remained in the faith transformed into Dukh-i-zhizniki with varying degrees of acceptance of their “new ritual” (novyi obryad). About 90% of Pryguny descendants in the U.S. rejected the new Dukh-i-zhiznik faith for American faiths, many joining or attending in groups. Many doubted that their ancestors were Christian. Some were ostracized for questioning the elders about beliefs and rituals, a process which continues more than 100 years after immigration.
After 100 years, the “Molokan” brand-jacking continues to confuse the people it intended to protect from deportation. Though a majority of diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki appreciate aspects of their Russian cultural heritage, most do not know that real Molokane accept the divorced and intermarried, that Molokane celebrate the Birth of Christ (Christmas), Molokane do not demand peasant Russian dress for worship or beards on men, parting hair in middle, and other things contradictory to their experience with Dukh-i-zhizniki. After a century, most diaspora descendants live scattered in cities, melted into America, and do not know their history or relatives, or care to know.
Zealous Dukh-i-zhizniki continue to shun, insult and chase out non-conformists of their rituals, effectively reducing their membership, and either causing new congregations to form or ostracizing members forever. Some of the most zealous Dukh-i-zhizniki believe Molokane are their historic enemy, and dogmatically scorn Molokane, Pryguny, Subbotniki and Americanized members as heretics, yet insist in print to the government and to each other that they are “Molokans,” even the “True Molokans.”
In Russia their enemy was the Orthodox government and Church. During the first 2 decades in America their enemy was the government and other faiths, until they were denied to return to Turkey. After 1940, the American-born Dukh-i-zhizniki took command and identified new enemies within their own faiths and families. Today the worst enemy of these self-professed ethnic “Molokans” are other self-professed ethnic “Molokans.” Dukh-i-zhnizki still retain the Old Russian Orthodox law that apostasy and proselytizing are crimes worse than murder. Diaspora prophet and pundit, Fred Vasilich Slivkoff, since the 1960s often quipped: “We fled Russia to escape prosecutions of the Orthodox Church, came to America and invented our own Orthodox Church!” Slivkoff refers to unwritten rules about behavior, dress, rituals, language, etc. Since the 1990s, a Los Angeles elder singer and historian James John Samarin quotes Pogo: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
In contrast, to the above two comments about their new tribal Orthodoxy, the late "Big Church" elder, Alex Shubin, summarized: "Molokans are the most democratic people in the world. Every one does as he damn pleases!" A clash of animositites among Dukh-i-zhizniki resulted in a variety of independent congregations and individuals, including this free-speech website.
9. Name Confusion
Molokane have been confused with Mennonites, Mormons, Quakers, Dukhobortsy, Sons of Freedom, Pryguny and a new religion formalized in the U.S.— Dukh-i-zhizniki — for many reasons.
10. Web sites by and about Spiritual Christians
Reader beware! Many websites, most temporary, were started in the United States by Dukh-i-zhizniki falsely identified as Molokane. Research about Spiritual Christians on the Internet is in-progress.
Authentic Spiritual Christian Molokan information is extensively posted on 4 websites in Russia and this one (molokane.org) in the U.S.:
Spiritual Christian Dukh-i-zhizniki
Spiritual Christian Dukhobory (spirit-wrestlers) — A comprehensive list of 40+ Doukhobor-created web sites with links to 100+ related web sites is maintained by attorney, genealogist, historian Jonathan Kalmakoff, founder of the Doukhobor Genealogy Website. Since before Doukhobors arrived, the Canadian press has persistently mislabeled all Spiritual Christian groups in Canada with the Doukhobor or other false labels, even non-Russian groups, sometimes calling them Molokans. These mistakes originating in Canada have been repeated around the world.
Molokane, Pryguny, and Dukh-i-zhizniki can easily be differentiated by their use of songs for worship. All melodies are memorized and sung without instruments.
Molokane sing and read only from the Russian Bible, occasionally reading from an English Bible in the U.S. for non-Russian-speakers. Molokane do not use a songbook or prayerbook during worship, nor are these books on their altar table (ïðåñòîë : prestol ). Molokane may sing borrowed songs after prayer service on occasions such as weddings, funerals, and during meals. A notated songbook was composed in the Far East in the early 1900s by a talented Molokan sent to study musical notation in Europe, but never widely used.
Pryguny borrowed songs from neighboring faiths and adapted folk songs for spiritual jumping and spiritual whirling and dancing. Pryguny share many traits with Methodist Jumpers organized in Wales in the mid-1700s — borrowing pagan folk songs, loud singing, raising hands, spiritual dancing and jumping — similar to some charismatic Pentecostals. Charismatic Christianity appears to have been transmitted from Europe to Spiritual Christians by German sectarians resettled in South Ukraine in the early 1800s and earlier by various Europeans who worked in Russia. About 2005, the first exclusively Prygun songbook and prayer book were published in Stavropol'skii krai, Russian Federation, with no Dukh-i zhiznik songs. Song 181 (Sionskii pessennik) describes the Prygun holidays.
Dukh-i-zhizniki are transformed Pryguny who sing and read from many books: the Russian Bible with Apocrypha, Dukh i zhizn' (intended to replace the New Testament) and their own prayer books and song books. They are the only faith in the world which uses the Dukh i zhizn'. They display much more jumping, prophesy, and shout-singing than their predecessor Pryguny. Dukh-i-zhniki song books evolved through several editions which collectively show over 1200 songs and verses, retaining many songs from the Molokane and Pryguny, many borrowed while in Russia from German Protestants, some composed in America and Australia with Western folk melodies. Though the published collection is large, the repertoire actively sung is about one-fourth, with most congregations unable to sing more than 100. Many congregations prefer songs composed by diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki, especially fast songs with mystical words to induce jumping.
* Most adapted from Russian folk songs and borrowed from German Protestants.Molokane, Pryguny, and Dukh-i-zhizniki can most easily be differentiated by their religious holidays.
** After services at weddings, funerals, child dedication, holidays.
Within each faith group the styles and melodies vary by geographic territory due to decades of isolation among congregations. For example, Molokane in Central Russia (Tambov) use less polyphonic protyazhnaya (ïðîòÿæíàÿ : long-drawn-out) songs than in the Caucasus. Those in Arzerbaijan adapted sounds more similar to Muslem chants than Old Russian folksongs heard in Tambov. In the US, Dukh-i-zhiznik melodies for the same song can differ between Los Angeles County and Central California. When about 50 families of Dukh-i-zhizniki were imported from Armenia to Australia and the US after perestoika, their songs and styles clashed so much that the Armenians formed their own congregation in Australia, and in the US many cannot sing with them.
2010-2020 Spiritual Christian Molokan Holiday Calendar in Russian (left) and English. (From Vest', 2009 Vol. 6, page 4)
A. Molokane — 10-11 holidays depending on congregation. The original religion of Dukhhovnye khristiane-molokane (Russian for: Spiritual Christian Molokans, Äóõîâíûå õðèñòèàíå-ìîëîêàíå) as organized by Simeon Uklein (many believe the religion preceded him), which separated from Ikonoborsty (image-wrestlers, iconoclasts) in the 1760s (some relabeled Doukhobors, “spirit-wrestlers”, in 1785).
Molokane were so named for their heresy of drinking milk during the Great Fast (Lent) and splitting from the Orthodox, and other origins exist in the oral history [REFERENCE].
Molokane in Kars Oblast (now Turkey) fasted and held services for three days before each holiday — Thursday, Friday, Saturday — making each holiday a four-day event, with a feast on Sunday. The practce was continued by those who returned to Russia in the 1920s, and continued today. The scope of this three-day holiday fast among all Molokane in all reagions today is not yet known.
The only international Molokan organization is the Souiz dukhovnykh khristiane—molokan (Russian for “Union of Spiritual Christian Molokans” (USCM), Ñîþç äóõîâíûõ õðèñòèàí—ìîëîêàí (ÑÄÕÌ), website: SDHM.ru), founded in Moscow in 1990, and transferred about 1994 to Kochubeevskoe, Stavropol' territory (krai), Russian Federation, after a plea to relocate to the Northern Caucasus to serve the thousands of refugees from the Caucasus. Today many still object to the transfer because in Russia a “Center” must be in Moscow. In 2007, the SDKM had about 45 dues-paying member congregations in the Russian Federation, and one in San Francisco, California — First Russian Christian Molokan Church : Molokanskii molitvanyi dom (Russian: Molokan prayer house/hall, Ìîëîêàícêèé ìîëèòâàíûé äîì). People of all faiths are welcome to attend.
American Molokane celebrate 8 holidays. Molokane welcome visitors, photography, and conversion; have open communion; and celebrated 200 years of religious freedom in 2005. Molokane differ somewhat between congregations but agree they are all one unified religion, and rarely split over liturgy. One “Old- Constant” congregation (Russian: staro-postoyannie, ñòàðîïîñòîÿííèå) still uses the Old Slavonic Bible and language for reading and singing; and claims the others have fallen away from their original Russian religious language. Molokane are somewhat critical, yet tolerant of Pryguny and Dukh-i-zhizniki for adapting non-Biblical versed songs during their services borrowed from other faiths. Molokane have little contact with the zealous and contradictory prophesies of the Dukh-i-zhizniki who use the label Molokan while avoiding, often condemning, original Molokane. About 224 congregations counted world-wide since 1950.
B. Pryguny, Dukhovnye — 10 holidays. Pryguny is Russian for “Jumpers” or “Leapers.” The full Russian label is dukhovnye khristiane-pryguny, äóõîâíûå õðèñòèàíå-ïðûãóíû, Spiritual Christian Jumpers. Today in Russia most call those in the same congregation who do not jump dukhovnye (Russian for Spirituals, äóõîâíûå), and those who jump pryguny. In this taxonomy, the term Pryguny is used to categorically distinguish these congregations from Molokane and Dukh-i-zhizniki. Historically, other descriptive terms were used, translated as Bouncers, Dancers, Prancers, Noisy-nose-breathers, Molokan-Whips, etc.
Pryguny are a hybrid, with origins and membership from Molokane, German Anabaptists, subbotniki (Sabbatarians : ñóááîòíèêè), Russian Orthodox, Lyudi bozhii (People of God : Ëþäè Áîæèé), Novyi izrail' (New Israel : Íîâûé Èçðàéëü), and other sectarians.
Before the label “prygun,” these Spiritual Christians belittled original Molokane by saying we are dukhovnye and they are postoyannie (Russian : ïîñòîÿííèå, constant, steadfast, unchanged, original). This nickname continues, mostly used by Dukh-i-zhizniki to defend their using the Molokan label.
Molokane-Subbotniki, who refused to worship on Sunday, were labeled “Saturday Molokans” in the Russian Empire Census of 1897, while the original believers remained “Sunday Molokans” (voskerseniki). Some Sunday Molokans, who in 1817 begin migrating to Tavria guberniia (now South Ukraine), adapted features from other Russian Spiritual Chirstians and from German Protestants (Russians' Secret) — a focus on the Apocalypse, prophesy, songs and mind altering spiritual acts like fasting (postnichestvo), ecstatic dances (radeniia), jumping, skipping, walking in the spirit / in joy (khozhdenie v dukhe), and actions (deistviia, äåéñòâèÿ).
The label pryguny first appeared in Russian print about 1854 (according to Dr. Breyfogle), though earlier reports described jumping, dancing, leaping, and rapid breathing. Many Saturday Molokane, mostly Subbotniki, in the Former Soviet Union merged with Adventists, and no longer use the label Molokan, yet associate with Molokan and Prygun friends and relatives. The 1897 Russian census counted Pryguny separate from Molokane in the Transcaucasus. While in monastery confinement in Suzdal, Maksim G. Rudomyokin (Rudometkin) was registered as prygun, and Shvetov was registered as molokan. ( Sign text: "Íà÷àëüíèê ñåêòîâ ìîëîêàí Ñåì¸í Øâåòîâ 1835-1844 ãã. Íà÷àëüíèê ñåêòîâ êàâêàçñêèé ïðèãóíîâ Ìàêñèì Ðóäîì¸òêèí 1860-1877 ãã".)
Pryguny divide their holidays into “God's holidays” and “Christ's holidays” (Russian: Prazdniki Gospodni i Khristovy, Ïðàçäíèêè Ãîñïîäíè è Õðèñòîâû). Christ's holidays were retained from their Molokan origin from acceptable Orthodox holidays. God's holidays were added by the Subbotniki who used the Old Testament.
Song 181 of the American Dukh-i-zhiznik Songbook of Zion (Sionzkii pesennik : Ñèîíñêèé ïåñåííèê) documents these Prygun holidays. This diaspora songbook appears in about 10 progressive versions, each after the second version adding songs used by all 3 faiths in America, but deleting very few as the versions grew. The lower numbered songs are the oldest, hence this was definitely a Prygun song.
** Ñêèíîïèãèÿ (Greek: σκηνοπηγία = skenopegia) : "the pitching of the tent" (John 7:2)
Several Dukhovnye-Prygun congregations migrated to America, but by the 1950s were forced, along with Molokane and the United Molokan Christian Association (UMCA, a Sunday school and youth social center), to either join a Dukh-i-zhiznik faith group, join the 2 Molokan congregations (San Francisco, or Sheridan), or leave to another faiths. By 2007, as many as 90% appeared to have left the Prygun faith in the diaspora. In the Former Soviet Union, several Dukhovnye-Prygun congregations are members of the USCM and have good relations with Molokane. Most welcome visitors, photography, conversion, but mostly retain closed communion.
About 30 Pryguny congregations counted world-wide since 1950.
3. Dukh-i-zhizniki — 5-6 holidays. Dukh-i-zhizniki is Russian for “people who use the book Dukh i zhizn'.” They are descendants of different Spiritual Christians who transformed to a new faith based on the book Dukh i zhizn' (short Russian for Book of the Sun, Spirit and Life ; Kniga solntse, dukh i zhizn' ; Êíèãà ñîëíöå, äóõ è æèçíü).
Dukh-i-zhizniki evolved mainly from a few Prygun congregations mainly from what is now Central Armenia among followers of the Prygun presviter Maksim G. Rudomyotkin, also called Maksimisty, who instructed them to half of their Prygun holidays shared with Molokane (Christ's holidays) because they were adapted from Orthodoxy, to keep only the Old Testament holidays (God's holidays) adapted from Subbotniki, and to shun Molokane and Subbotniki — forming a new sect.
Dukh-i-zhizniki solidified after 1928 when Prygun congregations in the U.S. allowed the book Dukh i zhizn' to be placed on their their altar tables (prestol), as a Third Testament to the Bible, and used it for worship and rituals. The editors of the 1928 edition signed as Áðàòñêié Ñîþçú Äóõîâíûõú Ïðûãóíîâú (Bratskii Soiuz Dukhovykh Prygunov : Fraternal Union of Spiritual Jumpers), but in the introductory pages the misnomer Molokan is used.
Some called themselves “Zionists” and/or “New Israel”, though they did not share communion with New Israel nor did they migrate to Palestine as did many Subbotniki. Molokane and Pryguny commonly call them Maksimisty (Russian for: “followers of Maksim G. Rudomyotkin”, maksimisty, ìàêñèìèñòû), but not all Dukh-i-zhizniki are Maksimisty. Rudomyotkin was registered in a Suzdal monastery as a prygun, where his death was documented by Nikolai Ilyin in 1877, yet disputed by some followers who believe he rose to heaven like Jesus Christ.
The precursors to the Dukh-i-zhiznik faith were transported to Los Angeles beginning in 1904, and begun to solidify in 1915 when a few Maksimisty who moved to the state of Arizona published in Los Angeles some of Rudomyotkin's notes in the Russian language in the book: Óòðåííÿÿ çâåçäà (Utrennyaya zvezda : Morning Star), then his Prayerbook (Russian: Molitvennik, Ìîëèòâåííèêú), and a songbook. They ignored the prayer books used by Molokane organized after 1906 in San Francisco. In the Former Soviet Union the Dukh-i-zhiznik books are often collectively called obryadniki (îáðÿäíèêè : ritual, ceremony books).
The first version of the Dukh i zhizn' was published in 1928 in Los Angeles by «Áðàòñêié Ñîþçú Äóõîâíûõú Ïðûãóíîâú» (Bratskii Suiz Dukhhovnykh Prygunov : Fraternal Union of Spiritual Jumpers). About 66% of the pages are credited to Rudomyotkin, with debate, plus sections by 3 prophets (Klubnikin, Sokolov, Yesseivich), and a short history by I. G. Samarin. About 60 pages of controversial text previously published was omitted.
The Dukh i zhizn' was placed “by the Holy Spirit” by the Prygun prophet Afanasy T. Beziaev (Bezayeff, Bezaieff), not by a democratic vote of members, on all Prygun altar tables in the U.S., except the Selimsky congregation in Arizona, and Holy Jumpers in San Francisco. The book was allowed in the Mexico prayer house as a reference, not on the table. The two Molokan congregations in America (San Freancisco and Sheridan) refused the book.
Before a failed migration back to the base of Mount Ararat in 1939, diaspora elders declared no need to to translate their books into English. To continue the Dukh-i-zhiznik faith in America, translations were needed to retain the youth. In 1944 John K. Berekoff in Los Angeles, conlcuded that migration to Russia is unlikely and began to re-publish the Arizona prayerbook translated in 1915 for Americans in Arizona, and his own translations. In 1965-66, John Volkoff, while a graduate student in slavic language at the Uinversity of California Berkeley (UCB), translated the entire book himself with occasional the help from local elder Russian Jews.
In the summer of 1966 in Los Angeles, after Wednesday Night Church, John Volkoff, driven by Andrei A. Shubin, arrived at the LA-UMCA after everyone left but 3 board members and me, Andrei Conovaloff. Volkoff hand-delivered a typed carbon copy of a sample first section of his translation to LA-UMCA president Paul Lukianov, vice-president Mike Planin, and former president Alex Tolmas, with instructions to publish the book and donate all proceeds to the UMCA general fund. He said they could pass it around to anyone to proofread. That summer I was given a sample copy to take to Arizona elders to proofread, which I delivered to Alex L. Conovlaoff. All groups apparently refused and/or were afraid to publish it. The project stagnated for more than a decade.
I met John Volkoff several times when he visited my maternal grandmother's house in Boyle Heights. He said that the book title as printed on the cover was inverted, and that the proper title is Book of the Sun, Spirit and Life, but in the triangular diagram, the words Spirit and Life appeared on top. This changed the commonly used title to Spirit and Life, or Dukh i zhizn'. Perhaps this was intentional to divert emphasis from the image of the "woman clothed in the sun," to emphasize the word "spirit," or just to shorten the title.
Independently in 1976, the first complete translation was published in South Australia (2 editions) by James M. Pivovaroff with an untitiled red cover and 11 gold stars (photo above). Pivovaroff said he consulted Russian-born immigrants in Australia for help with translating and proofreading. Critics in America say he paid ninashi to do his translating. In 1983, the postponed 1966 Volkoff tanslation was edited and published (photo above) by Daniel H. Shubin in Los Angeles county.
Only the Russian versions are used by Dukh-i-zhizniki for singing. Occasionally the English versions are read from, when giving speeches, depending on the congregation and guests present. Some claim the Dukh i zhizn' can only be understood in Russian by a few chosen with the gift of the Holy Spirit because many unknown mystical words appear in it.
Diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki apparently outwardly claimed the religious label Molokan for many reasons, including: (a) to avoid being confused with indigenous American Petecostal “Holy Jumpers” who were being bullied; (b) to camouflage their embarrasing religion because Pryguny were investigated, reported in the news, and some arrested for illegal activity (bride selling, not registering marriages, disturbing the peace with loud estatic jumping to exhaustion, unusually long funerals, declaring the end of the world has arrived and fleeing to the mountains, semi-nude children in public, refusing to allow children to attend school, exorcisms, failed resurrections, etc.); (c) to obey a prophesy by Afanasy Tim. Bezayiff in his later years (1920s, 1930s? Does anyone know?) in reaction to the scandals to hide their faith from the world, non-believers and the government; (d) a false belief that the Molokan faith perished in Russia and in San Francisco, hence the label was free for use without opposition; (e) a failed attempt to follow their prophesy back to the base of Mount Ararat in 1939; and (f) to appease Molokan and Prygun families to join their “true” faith by using a neutral label. By the 1940s, an effort to unify all denominations in the U.S. created a new five-word label: “Russian Molokan Spiritual Christian Jumpers,” which was shortened to “Molokan,” a complete camouflage.
The largest cemetery in the U.S. operated by Dukh-i-zhizniki (Commerce CA) posts the label “Spiritual Jumper” only in Russian, not in English. (See image above.) The signs on the gate and street display “Russian Molokan Christian,” as does an internal sign in Russian and English, but the Russian is not completely translated, hiding the embarrasing Pryguny identity from Americans and those who cannot read Russian. The original historic label “Spiritual Christian” is notably absent in English.
A wide spectrum of diverse Dukh-i-zhizniki exist around the world. The extent of use and acceptance of the Dukh i zhizn', various old Russian rituals and traditions, significantly divides congregations internally and between congregations, causing congregations to split, often after a dominate elder dies. All efforts to unify Spiritual Christians in the Americas into apocalyptic agricultural colonies failed. In 1933, the effort to unify all in Los Angeles into the “Big Church” failed mainly due to objections by Maksimisty against the komitet (Russian : “the committee,” board of directors) and the Prygun holidays, whose congregations remained separatist. In the 1950s, immigrant Pryguny who arrived in Los Angeles from Iran (Persia) were rejected (excommunicated) by local Dukh-i-zhizniki until they used the Dukh i zhizn' and abandoned half of their holidays. American Dukh-i-zhizniki who attended their "Persian" Prygyn services were severely reprimanded for attending a heresy faith, even if only suspected of attending.
In his autobiography The Memiors of Paul John Orloff (2008, self published, 568 pages) the elder singer documented how he was falsely accused and extensively harassed for allegedly attending a "Persian" Prygun holiday in 1961. In "The Story of Why I avoided Big Church Since Sept. 14, 1965" (pages 427-456), Orloff detailed the sequence of actions against him for allegedly attending a "Persian" Rozhestvo service (Birth of Christ, Christmas). This false accusation was easy to verify because witnesses could testify that Orloff actually attended a pomenki (memorial) service that same day in Porterville, Central California, about 170 miles away. His accusers repeatedly refused to check the facts and intensified their bullying until Orloff's left to join another congregation (Akhtinskii, Samarin's, Percy St). For more than 50 years the Big Church board and prestol have refused to review this case or apologize.
Dukh-i-zhizniki relatives of founders of the “Re-Formed” congregation in Orgeon (above) were harassed. The elder lead singer John Alex Efseaff was removed from his position because his son Phillip co-founded an English Prygun congregation, not using the Dukh i zhizn', and co-published the Bessednik (sic) newsletter in the 1980s which examined Dukh-i-zhiznik history. The sin of the elder Efseaff was not publicly ostracizing his son.
Ironically the oral history of these Spiritual Christians emphasizes religious freedom as a main reason for fleeing to America, yet many do not tolerate freedom of religion or speech. They have bullied people based on allegations and actions of relatives.
Dukh-i-zhizniki around the world have divided for many reasons (not rank ordered):
In Los Angeles Maksimist and Prygun-etc. families maintained their tradition of a customary "bride price" (kalym : Êàëûì) to compensate for their loss of a working daughter, and the expense of her wedding. In Russia the typical amount was 2 dairy cows, and in the U.S. it was $200-$500. In December 1911, Elsi Novikoff 17, fell in love with an American boy, though her father had already agreed to marry her to a Prygun boy for the highest price yet of $500 because she was very pretty. She worked as a maid, and her wealthy employer advocated for her, taking her case to court. The story was national news and the investigation exposed more cases reported for neary 3 years. To maintain their old world parental controls (marriage, education, dress, language) many Spiritual Christian families fled in groups to other states (Arizona, Washington, Utah, New Mexico), some reporting religious persecution in Los Angeles as their major reason for leaving to form remote farm colonies. Very fortunate for the Pryguny in Los Angeles, presiding Judge Wilbur was also on the board of directors of the Bethlehem Institutions and intimately knew these immigrants from many court cases and the work of Dr. Rev. Bartlett. The Russians got off easy after agreeing to register all previous marriages and re-do the weddings. In Arizona in 1920, 2 presbyters (presvitery) were to be arrested for the same crime. Mike P. Pivovaroff spent a night in jail, and Foma ("Homer") S. Bogdanoff turned himself in the next day before their trial. They were each fined $300 (nearly a year's wages each, bail paid by congregants) and ordered to re-do all marriages legally. Within a few years most all the hastily formed farm colonies failed, and most Spiritual Christians decided to tollerate American laws and returned to their kingdom in urban Los Angeles.
In the 1940s after being denied mass emigration back to Russia, they exported their newly organized Dukh-i-zhiznik faith to the Soviet Union. The ritual books (Dukh i zhizn', with prayer and song books) were mailed to Rostov (USSR), Armenia (SSR) and Kars (Turkey), where most Maksimist congregations adopted them and transformed their faiths to somewhat conform with instructions from America.
Dukh-i-zhizniki now in the the North Caucasus, Russian Federation, arrived in two waves — in 1962 from Turkey during a massive resettlement, and 1987-1990s from Armenia during perestroika. They are fractionated and sometimes claim to be the “true” Molokane but avoid and scorn the orgnaized Molokane, SDKM. The most zealous congregations in the Former Soviet Union (FSU) reject all diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki for abandoning their motherland, the prophesy to stay near Mout Ararat, other prophesies and communal traditions; living in cities; using ekrany (ýêðàíû : display screens, TV, movies, computers). In opposition, many Dukh-i-zhizniki in the diaspora reject those in the FSU for enlisting in the Soviet military (eating non-kosher-like), and because their grandparents did not obey the profesy to leave Russia call them "Jerusalem."
Since perestoika, about 50 Dukh-i-zhiznik families were imported from Armenia, half to the U.S. and half to Australia, primarily to enhance the local congregations with Russian-speaking co-religionists. The immigrants found that their songs, rituals and a new holiday were not fully accepted. Those in Australia formed their own congregation. Those in the U.S. clustered among a few congregations which showed the most acceptance and need for Russian-speakers.
Dukh-i-zhizniki rarely seek new affiliations with Molokane or Pryguny. Though 100s of Dukh-i-zhizniki work in Moscow, they do not hold prayer meetings and never attend Molokan services, even when personally invited by Molokane. When intermarriage occurs between these 3 denominations the couple must decide which to join, if any. Occasionally a Molokan marries a Dukh-i-zhiznik and joins the mate's congregation, only after conversion and scrutiny. No Dukh-i-zhiznik congregation joined the SDKM by 2007, or attended the 200th Anniversary in 2005, though some attended the diaspora 150th Anniversary held in San Francisco in 1955, and many attended the 100th Anniversary held in 1905 in Vorontsovka, Tiflis governate (1844 Vorontsovka, 1935 Kalinino / Kalinin, 1992 Tashir, Armenia).
Confusing to outsiders and to themselves, many Dukh-i-zhizniki today self-claim to be “true” Molokans by faith. Few welcome visitors, photography, or conversion; and most have closed communion. About 86 Dukh-i-zhiznik congregations, many are small, counted world-wide since 1950.
12. Other Classification Systems
See Two Classification Systems for Spiritual Christian Molokane, Pryguny, and others, and Brandjacking the Doukhobors and Molokans. English version In-Progress
Ðåëèãèîçíûå òå÷åíèÿ è ñåêòû. Ñïðàâî÷íèê (Directory of religious denominations and sectarians)
Though many labels have been used for the varieties of Spiritual Christians, most are now extinct or the labels no longer commonly used, for example: Knowers-Seers, True Spiritual Christians, Zionists, Akinfevs, Water Molokans, Sunday Molokans, Don group, Krylovs, Molokan-Sabbatarians (Molokan-Subbotniki), Saturday Molokans, Communalists, Noisy-nose-breathers, Bouncers, Molokan-Baptists, Molokan-Fasters, Clean, Stundist-Molokans, Evangelicals, Molokan-Presbyterians, New Molokans, Evangelical Christians, Springers (German translation of Pryguny) Shtundo-Evangelicals, New Israel, Tolstoyan, Nemolaky (non-prayers, non-worshipers)...
The chart below shows a simple holiday taxonomy of Spiritual Christian Molokane, Pryguny and Dukh-i-zhizniki.
|Holiday (Christ's, God's)1||Group|
(*character set = Windows-1251)
|1 Bible reference
(more can be found)
(Passion Week, Easter)
|Mark 16:1-8; Acts 1:9||
|Acts 2, Leviticus 23:16-23||
|(Memorial, Blowing of) Trumpets***
Pamiat Trub, Ïàìÿò Òðóá
|Fast Day of Atonement***
Post Sudnyi Den', Ïîñò Ñóäíûé Äåíü
|Festival of Shelters/Booths*** 4
Feast of Tabernacles
Kuschei, Kuscha, Êóùåé, Êóùà
Urozhai, zhatva : Óðîæàé, æàòâà
(3-Day Fast, Thanksgiving4)
|Birth of Christ,
Rozhdestvo Khrista, Ðîæäåñòâî Õðèñòà
(Christmas Eve Youth Program,
Christmas Day Service5)
|Annunciation — March 25, announcement by angel
Gabriel to the Virgin Mary of the incarnation of Christ.
Ascension Day — 40th day after Easter, for the bodily passing of Christ from earth to heaven.
Transfiguration — August 6, festival for the supernatural change in the appearance of Christ on the mountain.
Epiphany — January 6, for the coming of the 3 gentile wise men, Magi, to Jesus at Bethlehem, and baptism.
|***||See Interpretation of American Jumper Holidays (with Jewish comparison)|
|Information is from many
The oldest is an 1874 Spiritual Christian (Molokan) calendar found in the Russian State Historical Archive (RGIA, St. Petersburg) by Edward J. Samarin in summer 1992 and published in Molokan NEWS (1993, San Francisco CA).
In 1997, I photocopied a holiday table typed by the head speaker (Besednik) of the Dukhovnye congregation in Inozemstvo, Stavropol'skii territory, Russia (near Piatigorsk). His table showed their holidays for the entire decade of the 1990s. His congregation resettled from Azerbaijan in the mid-1990s. The use of these holidays was confirmed by elders of the Piatigorsk Dukhovnye, who left Kars in the 1920s, whose elder prophet Botiev added that there are two categories of holidays — Christ's and God's — and that every holiday is important, but the Molokane and Dukh-i-zhizniki each reject half of our holidays.
For comparison see Holidays and Rituals of Doukhobors in the Caucasus, by Svetlana A. Inikova, Russian Academy of Sciences, and Calendar of Doukhobor Holidays in the Caucasus, compiled by Jonathan J. Kalpakoff.
|The first Molokane kept
the major Orthodox Christian holidays, which some now call
Holidays. Also in the beginning many judiazers
(Sabbatarians. Russian: Subbotniki)
joined the Molokane (See Miluikov)
and the Old Testament God's Holidays were
added. I suspect that early Molokane were allowed to chose their
sabbath day (Saturday or Sunday), and which holidays to
follow (all or some). In the 1700s a large group of
Sabbatarians in Saratov led by Dolmatov joined and many
original Molokane refused
the compromise causing a split — probably into Constants
Sabbatarians (Saturday Molokane),
and Dukhovnye. (See Miluikov).
In 1833, many of the Dukhovnye
became Pryguny in
the Milky Waters area (See
Hoover & Petrov, chap. 12: “Salt and Light”;
5). In the 1860s in the Caucasus, one leader
among the several Prygun
groups, M.G. Rudomyotkin, removed Christ's
Holidays for his followers (See Berokoff,
Addenda XXX), who were labeled Maksimisty in the
1920s (See Lane).
During the 1910s in America, the American Pryguny, who
dominated all but two American Constant congregations,
began to insist that "Maksim's rituals" (new rituals : novie obriad) be
Berokoff, chap 3) and removed Christ's
Holidays, which caused concern, and jealousy,
among youth who felt deprived of American Christian
celebrations like Christmas. Before WWII, the UMCA
sponsored youth activities during Christmas (carol
singing, gift stockings) and Easter (candy baskets). This
practice was mostly officially stopped by newer elected
officers before the UMCA relocated to East Los Angeles,
about 1950. In the mid-1950s, the Dukhovnye Pryguny who
immigrated from Persia (Iran) were told by the dominant
to abandon Christ's Holidays or be labeled
Berokoff, chap. 8), even though the American
Constant Molokane obeyed
these holidays. With no freedom of religion allowed by Maksimisty, all Prygun congegations
in America became
|Most descendants of Pyguny
in America (and those who moved to Australia ) who
claim to be ethnic and religious Molokans practice the Dukh-i-zhiznik faith.
In America, some dominant members of the Dukh-i-zhizniki
claimed to be the “center of Molokansim” while ignoring
the real Molokane.
Also confusing is that congegations and individulas who
use the book Dukhi
zhizn' are not in agreement. They differ widely
on interpretation and focus. Some believe Rudomyotkin did
not die, but rose into heaven, some say on a white horse.
Some sing songs to praise Rudomiotkin, others avoid such
songs. Some Dukh-i-zhizniki
primarily follow Klubnikin, or David Esseich, not
Rudomyotkin. Some are ashamed of, or hate the book, yet
tollerate it to be socially accepted, to keep their
position in their congregation, and/or be accepted by
other congregations. Dispite these diferrences and
politics, all Dukh-i-zhizniki
place the book Dukhi
zhizn' on their altar table and follow the Old
|This major holiday was added by prophesy among Dukh-i-zhiznik
congregations in Armenia as a perpetual Pentecost. Every 7
weeks throughout the year, Armenian Dukh-i-zhizniki
(Russian: Seventh), a spiritual fast and cleansing service
which they started before WWII. This new holiday is
practiced only in that region. Sed'moi became important during
perestroika and the Karabakh war (late 1980s), as families
(90%) were fleeing to safety in Russia. Sed'moi promotes
intra-group cohesion, so the refugees and those 10%
remaining in Armenia will rekindle their spiritual faith
and identity more often than on their few traditional
major holidays. There is some concern by a few of the
several dozen recent Dukh-i-zhizniki
migrants from Armenia in America and Australia that they
cannot perform this holiday with their new congregations.
In Australia in 2006, recent immigrants from Armenia
purchased their own building to hold their own traditional
services, and may have included Sed'moi
|Some Russian Molokane
celebrate the Harvest Festival (3-day fast) in
place of the Festival of Shelters for 8 days. The American
or substituted, American Thanksgiving because it is a
similar autumn harvest festival, but they schedule the
feast to be on the Sunday before American Thanksgiving
which occurs on Thursdays. In Central California, the Dukh-i-zhiznik
congregations near Kerman have celebrated a version of the
harvest festival, calling it an offering for the crops.
Formerly 2 congregations joined so each could perform the
blessing for the other, but disagreement over how a presviter was
removed has stopped their cooperation. For a history of
the Harvest Festival and the Old Testament, see: Ïðàçäíèê
Ñáîðà Óðîæàÿ èëè Ïðàçäíèê Êóùåé [ÄÁ34] (Christian
Churches of God, Australia, who may be descendants of Molokane.).
in Russia, as all Russians and Eastern Orthodox,
celebrate the Birth of Christ on January 7, according to
the Julian calendar, but American Molokane adopted the
American Christmas Day, December 25, to take advantage of
the national holiday which had the advantage of showing
they were American Christians.
|The active diaspora Spiritual Christians who mainly
learned spoken and recited Russian from elders, with
minimal or no exposure to Moscow Standard Russian in
college, the media or from recent immigrants, preserved
many characteristics of the oral dialects imported by
their ancestors more than 100 years ago, before the
Dialect (G > H) — Spiritual Christians whose ancestors spoke any of the 4 Southern Russian dialects, and confined their Russian-speaking to their homogeneous introverted communities, have retained the characteristic voiced velar fricative /ɣ/ (audio pronunciation) as sacred meta-communication. For them Prigun/Priguny must be sacredly pronounced Prihun/Prihuny (Pree-hoon/Pree-hoo-NEE), as do all non-loan Russian words with /Ã/ (/g/). Those indoctrinated for generations by the most zealous diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki evolved an over-stress (strongly voiced) in their pronunciation dialect; for example, ãäå (gde : where) became õåäå (HEH-de). Within their meta-communication, Russian Standard pronunciations from the outside world (ninashi) are scorned as disrespectful, sometimes heresy, which explains the over-stress, but their oral history has forgotten the reason. Diaspora Doukhobor oral history reported a belief, adapted from Church Slavonic, that God recognizes his chosen people who pronounce /Ã/ (/g/) correctly. (cite Iskra) (Also: Doukhobor Russian, Wikipedia; Q43: Is 'Doukhobor Dialect' Defended? Spirit-Wrestlers blog.)
Dialect (M > N) — In Arizona, the Dukh-i-zhiznik head singer Mike John Tolmachoff scolded anyone who did not pronounce words as he had learned. He insisted that the male name "Nikifor" and his ancestral village "Nikitino" must be pronounced "Mikifor" and "Mikitino." Russians recognized this shift from "M" to "N" as Ukrainian. Mikifor is a Polish variant, and a Russian variant spelling and popular form for Nikifor. M.J. Tolmachoff believed he spoke a sacred dialect. His clan is descended from the sister of M.G. Rudomyotkin (from Nikitino village), and some claimed to have inherited his "spiritual blood."
Dialect (Slavonic) — Diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki retained the pre-1918 Cyrillic alphabet, some archaic words and sacred Old Slavonic vocabulary in their liturgy. To the the most zealous, changing the words, or updating the Russian spelling or alphabet, is heresy.
The last 2 examples above appear in the Lord's prayer, which has been updated, reinterpreted and retranslated over time.
No matter what version one memorizes, it will offend others who were indoctrinated different.
"My deda [grandfather] told me it was this way!" "That's what I learned!"