Russian to judgment?
Note: I've made some changes and additions to the "Anastasia" segment since I first published this post.
~CC, 24 September 2009
I've been doing a lot of soul-searching lately, and I have to own up to my tendency to be entirely too judgmental at times, in the sense that when I read about New-Wagers, I am entirely too willing to judge them for being a bit mental. I know I really need to be more open-minded about this stuff, especially since we're about to enter a new era of humankind and so forth, and some of the
nutjobs visionaries I've snarked about could very well be the wayshowers who will lead us into the new era. I've been thinking more deeply* about these issues since I wrote my Russia-themed post the other day. Say what you will about Russia, in recent years there have been tons of remarkable things happening there, spirituality-wise. I mentioned some of these in passing in my previous post, and I've written about one of them extensively in a couple of other posts, but I think they all deserve a closer and more reverent look.**
"I smell dead people..."
Consider, for instance, Pyotr Kuznetzov, a former engineer who until fairly recently was the head of a dynamic though smallish underground movement, and when I say "underground," I mean it literally. Pyotr was able to persuade a group of about thirty-five souls, mostly women and a few children, to abandon their homes and most of their material possessions and, in November of 2007, to move into an underground cave about 600 kilometers (375 miles) southeast of Moscow. Actually it was a tunnel, complete with bedrooms and a ventilation system, that Pyotr designed and constructed under the roots of a tree.
Why would he do such a thing? It was that menacing Apocalypse, you see, which Pyotr informed his disciples was set to occur in May of 2008, at which time the Devil would finally get his due. The alarming thing, according to Pyotr, was that in the months leading up to the big event, the human race was going to be overtaken by waves of cannibalism and a desire to have frequent sex, though he didn't say how or if these two phenomena would intersect. Pyotr told his followers that they'd better get themselves underground to avoid those horrors. And so they did, proclaiming themselves to be the True Russian Orthodox Church. They apparently lived mainly on honey and jam, and were forbidden to watch TV, which probably didn't matter so much, considering that the reception down there might not be so great anyway. They were also forbidden to listen to the radio or handle money, and plastic was verboten as well; Church members believed, as did their leader, that credit cards and the bar codes on food packaging were Satanic. (In regard to credit cards, I have to say that I can almost see their point.)
Interestingly enough, Pyotr, or Father Pyotr, as he was known to his followers, did not join them underground. My first thought when I read this was that he stayed on the surface so he could minister to some of those sex-mad women who would be swarming the streets on their way to the Apocalypse – a ministry that was certainly a noble calling, and someone had to have the courage to do it. But that is just wild speculation on my part, and you know how unreliable I can be. Others have speculated that, being a structural engineer by training, Father Pyotr was aware that a cave built under the roots of a tree might not be the most structurally sound place to be. But Pyotr merely said that God had given him "different tasks." At any rate, the Russian authorities, as well as friends and relatives of the cave dwellers, and even a Russian priest who specialized in the Apocalypse, repeatedly tried to get Pyotr's disciples to come out of the cave. But their efforts were met with gunshots, and the cave people threatened to blow themselves up. Now, we know how that would have ended if this had happened in the United States, but the Russian authorities chose to just let them be, more or less, though they didn't give up in their efforts to persuade them to resurface or, lacking that, at least to let the little children go. For their part, and despite being called "cult members," the cave dwellers considered themselves to be Orthodox Christians who were simply saving themselves from the evils that were to come to all who remained on the surface.
The weather grew colder, but the hardy followers braved the bitter winter. The following spring, however, as the snows began to melt, the roof of the True Russian Orthodox Church people's underground world started to cave in, as local geologists had been warning it would probably do. This frightened some of the cave dwellers enough to convince them to emerge from their shelter. Pyotr was apparently upset that his Church was falling apart (literally) and his vision sullied, and, more importantly, that the Apocalypse was not coming to pass as he had predicted it would. Even the boldest leaders sometimes have moments of agonizing self-doubt and true dark nights of the soul, and Father Pyotr was no exception. It seems he attempted suicide by repeatedly hitting himself on the head with a log after his followers began coming to the surface. Other reports said he was attacked by some female cult members who hit him with a log. What seems clear is that he had an unfortunate run-in with a log, and ended up in the hospital as a result. No one ever said that being a visionary spiritual leader is easy.
The Russian authorities and numerous friends and relatives of the cave people continued in their efforts to get them all to come out. Finally, in mid-May of 2008, the authorities, friends, and relatives got their wish as the remaining members of the True Russian Orthodox Church returned to the surface. Apparently, however, it wasn't because the Church members were disillusioned by the realization that May was halfway over and there were indications that their leader had, after all, been wrong. No, they left because the stench of two of their cave mates who had died a while back – one from severe fasting for Lent, and the other from cancer – finally became unbearable. So bad was the smell that it was even noticeable above ground, so you can imagine how it must have been to the cave dwellers. And so, six months after they had descended, the last keepers of Pyotr's bold vision broke the faith and came out of their hiding place.
As for poor Father Pyotr, he was declared to be suffering from schizophrenia and was held in a psychiatric hospital for treatment. Isn't that often the case with visionary leaders? Sigh...the secular world just does not understand.
Rus' Resurrecting: Putin a new face on worship
While it seems that the era of Father Pyotr's True Russian Orthodox Church has passed (although I don't think we should take anything for granted, given the general spiritual milieu in Mother Russia), other mystical movements are alive and well in that strange and vast land of ice and fire. For one group, Russia's former president and current Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, is The Chosen One. The Putin worshipers perform daily devotions to a "Presidential icon" (or would it now be a "Prime Ministerial icon?") that mysteriously appeared to them one day. They believe that Putin is the reincarnation of both the Apostle Paul and King Solomon.
The "Mother Superior" of the sect is Svetlana Frolova, aka "Mother Photinia," who says that she and her followers didn't choose Putin; God did. When Boris Yeltsin named Putin as his successor, Mother Photinia's soul just exploded with joy. And the rest is history, or heresy, depending upon your point of view.
As for Mother Photinia, she apparently did some prison time for fraud back in the 1990s. But that was then, and this is now. I'm sure that
serial scammer health and nutrition crusader Kevin Trudeau could tell you that a little bit of time in the pen is utterly irrelevant when it comes to spreading The Truth.
In the Year of Our Lord, 49...
Though my Jewish friends currently observing Rosh Hashanah are welcoming in the year 5770, and it is 2009 according to the Gregorian calendar, for a growing group of devotees in Russia it is only the year 49. That is because their leader, an ex-cop named Sergei Torop, now known as Vissarion, has convinced thousands of people that he is Jesus H. Christ Himself. And for followers of this Jesus of Siberia, this Messiah of the Steppes, time is measured by the life of Vissarion.
He says he realised that God had sent him to Earth to teach mankind about the evils of war and the havoc we were wreaking on the environment.
With Christmas abolished his followers mark the day of his first sermon on August 18 as their special feast day.
Time in the community is measured by Vissarion’s life and so as he is 48 years old his Church is now living in year 49.
His followers, who have given up their lives to follow him, are strict vegans and are banned from smoking and drinking or handling money.
Around 300 of them live in wooden huts in the village that has grown up around his church and which does not appear on any maps.
Many thousands more have made their homes in the small villages that surround Petropavlovka and survive the vicious Siberian winters so that they can be close to their Messiah.
Hmmm....banned from handling money.... shades of Pater Pyotr?
For Russians to whom Vissarion doesn't appeal, there are many more Jesuses to choose from, as blogger Andy Hume writes on Jewcy.com.
(Is it just me, or does the old woman in the pic above bear a remarkable resemblance to Monty Python's Eric Idle?)
Anastasia: real because thousands say she is
"In general, it is impossible to stop the Ringing Cedars movement, just as it is impossible to stop the sun from rising, as it is impossible to stop the moon from rising. But it's possible to fight the movement, to slander it, to speak badly of it, cast suspicion on it. And perhaps there are some forces that somehow, for some reason, are acting in this way."
~ Vladimir Megré, perpetrator of the Anastasia/Ringing Cedars phenomenon
Finally, when I'm wrong, Dear Ones, I'm not afraid to admit it, and I was wrong, wrong, wrong when I suggested, back in April of 2007, that in order to get the greatest mileage out of his New-Wage scheme, Russian entrepreneur Vladimir Megré should have invented a disembodied or Ascended imaginary friend (a la Abraham-Hicks) rather than a supposedly living one like Anastasia. I speculated that hordes of folks would be traveling to the remote Russian forest where Megré's lovely blonde babe is allegedly holed up, in order to see for themselves if she really exists. I imagined that Vlad might eventually have some serious credibility issues because he gave too many details about Anastasia, details that, in theory, could be subject to intense scrutiny.
Well, I was wrong, at least regarding my speculation that credibility issues would be in any way deleterious to the Anastasia myth. The truth about Anastasia's existence is this: It. Does. Not. Matter. Whether she literally "exists" or not is completely irrelevant, because the Anastasia movement, originally inspired by Megré's series of books on the flaxen-haired recluse, has torn like a wildfire across Russia, some parts of Europe and, more recently, North America as well. Vlad's made-up gal pal has become not only the basis for a growing sustainable-living movement, but also for a bona fide religion, complete with rituals and practices, such as, in some cases, smearing oneself with mud, to symbolize the sanctity of Mother Earth. Part New-Age, part environmentalist, the Ansastasian movement is kind of like the Findhorn movement (which originated in Scotland), but it seems to be growing much more rapidly. It has even made its mark on Russian politics.
Stateside, devotees in Ashland, Oregon and Mt. Shasta, California have been busily engaged for the past couple of years in setting up an Anastasia-inspired eco-village (or Kin's Domain, in Anastasian parlance). The challenges in the beginning were daunting:
Here in Oregon we are working on a plan to create a Kin’s Domain on several hundred acres of land. The logistical challenges around doing this are extraordinary, but by the grace of Anastasia we will succeed! Some of the biggest challenges seems to be dealing with local and state zoning ordinances, urban growth boundries [sic] and money.
"By the grace of Anastasia"?!? See what I mean about the religion bit?
Logistics aside, nothing can stop a movement whose time has come, and in September of 2007, one of the leaders of the project wrote:
The wave has finally hit Ashland. The hundreth monkey has been realized here. After our meeting last night and the inspiration and information that was downloaded I am now confident that everyone in Ashland / Mt. Shasta will know about Anastasia. Our work has shifted to a new gear now and we can start to focus more energy onto implementing her ideas.
On 15 May, 2008, there came this "breaking news" (all-caps theirs):
THE ANASTASIA ECO-SETTLEMENT PROJECT HAS FOUND ITS HOME IN NORTH AMERICA ON SACRED MOTHERLAND!!! MANY GREAT THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO CONTRIBUTED TO THIS SUCCESS AND TO MANY WHO HAVE SUPPORTED THIS DREAM AND VISION WITH YOUR LOVE FROM NEAR & FAR. SHAMBHALA-SHASTA COMMUNITY HAS TAKEN BACK 466 ACRES OF PRISTINE MOTHERLAND. FREE AND CLEAR. NO DEBT. NO ENCUMBRANCES. NO LIENS. FREE AND CLEAR!!!
In case you're interested in joining the community, here's their Settler Sign-up Form.
I have to tell you that some things have shifted a bit since I first reported about 'Stasia and Vlad in Spring of 2007. F'rinstance, in my zeal to appeal to the lowest common denominator, I made a big deal out of Anastasia being nude or nearly nude. And, indeed, she was portrayed as a scantily dressed nymphet on the rather cheesy covers of the original English-language editions of the books. Now, however, the nekkid bit is being de-emphasized. And the books have been given more modern-looking, artsy covers, apparently in an effort to appeal to a broader market, make the books look less like either children's books or fantasy novels, and avoid offending the easily offended – although nudity does not seem to be the main offensive factor, judging from the way it was 'splained on the FAQ page of the Ringing Cedars Books web site:
- Why did the publisher change the covers?
- The first edition covers were not commissioned works. The artist (an entomologist specializing in the study of butterflies) was inspired to produce these images after reading the books in Russian. The publisher—Dr Leonid Sharashkin—selected these images for their authenticity of feeling—especially the artist's obvious reverence for Nature.
Many people judge a book by its cover. Many have judged these to be children's books or fantasy novels. The image of a "white" woman in a short dress was found to be offensive to some nationalities. Major international wholesalers said they would not distribute books with such covers because the "Russian look and feel" suggested a story not necessarily appealing or applicable to Western readers. The list goes on…
In summary, since the books contain such important and valuable information, relevant to readers everywhere in the world, the publisher has released the second revised edition in "new clothes", with the hope that many more people will be able to enjoy these books.
Regarding Ana's alleged nekkidity, even Mt. Shasta Anastasians seem drawn to the more modestly attired "Anastasia in a dress," who looks for all the world like a chaste teenager on her way to the local Renaissance Festival.
But, getting back to the original issue: even though it really doesn't matter (and, many would argue, shouldn't matter) whether or not Anastasia is "real," her existence apparently remains a matter of concern for some. This is so despite the clear implication, in this copy from the Ringing Cedars Press web site, that more than one other person has actually seen her:
She consistently displays the most developed psychic and mental powers including remote viewing and healing, mind reading and seemingly perfect memory. When challenged to solve some of society's most complex social, health and environmental problems, after only a few minutes lying on her back on the ground, with eyes closed and just her fingertips twitching, she has provided answers in such incredible detail, that witnesses have been left flabbergasted.
She says these powers are natural to Mankind and in these books she describes exactly how they may be regained by any one of us.
Granted, the copy doesn't specify exactly who the flabbergasted witnesses are, but I am sure they are very reliable, or they wouldn't be mentioned on the Ringing Cedars Press web site. For those who still might be in doubt, Dr. Leonid Sharaskin, aka "Dr. Leo," Vlad Megré's translator and the founder of Ringing Cedars Press, conducts $300.00 workshops in which, among other things, he discusses the matter of Anastasia's existence:
Session 8. The Return of Anastasia
- This is Dr. Leonid Sharashkin's awe–instilling one–and–a–half–hour–long answer to the question as to whether Anastasia really exists.
- Learn from Leonid's years of scrupulous scholarly research of the Anastasia phenomenon and expand your understanding of who she is well beyond anything you can read in the Ringing Cedars books.
You might be wondering why it takes a whole hour and a half for Dr. Leo to answer a simple question. I wondered the same thing. But maybe it's a far more complicated matter than our puny and limited consciousnesses are able to fathom.
In an article published in 2005 (a few years before the Anastasian eco-villages had caught the fancy of some Russian politicos), Megré attempted to 'splain why Anastasia hadn't proven her existence by, for example, appearing on television. "What TV station would be willing to give her air time?" he asks, by way of explanation. And he answers his own question:
Not one, I can assure you. You can try to speak with the television networks yourselves. Another question: Would you want to watch Anastasia's appearances mixed in with commercials for diapers, orbits, and beer?
Would the networks allow Anastasia to speak if she would say that the products being advertised are harmful to people?
What do you think the reviews of Anastasia's appearance would be like? Judging by the organized persecution that occurs in the press, it is clear what they would be.
Vlad also wrote that after two of the Anastasia books had been written, various female preachers emerged and claimed to be Anastasia. At least one was bad-mouthing him, claiming that Vlad had stolen her thoughts and was now writing books based on her ideas. The nerve of some people. Anyway, if you still harbor doubts of your own about whether or not Anastasia is real, you simply must read Vlad's article, which will erase your doubts entirely.
Or maybe it won't. In fact, I am sorry to tell you that even some passionate fans of the Anastasia books question whether the books are fiction or nonfiction. For example, take a look at this discussion on the Ringing Cedars forum. The person initiating the thread was feeling duped after reading a December 2007 interview in which Megré seemed to be explaining the real inspiration for his Anastasia fantasy.
MEGRE: I used to be a businessman. In general, I'm like that by nature. Then I had the good fortune to meet people like Agafia Lykova, who live in the taiga, far from any cities. Agafia herself was taken by force from her squatter's holding. She became ill. And went back. Where she continues to live peacefully. People like this interested me very much. But I noticed that everyone, including Vasiliy Peskov, wrote about the difficulties of their way of life. I, on the other hand, decided to write about their philosophy. This excited me so much that I gave up my entire business. I sat down for a year and wrote Anastasia.
Another participant had this to say to the disillusioned originator of the thread:
As if she is real or not we will probably never know. Even if it was all made up you need to ask yourself why you would be so upset if it was just a story. Granted no one likes to be told they are reading a true story only to find out later it was all made up. But if for any reason's [sic] it does upset you, you really need to ask yourself why? What was it from the story you needed to be true? Why would you put a story, real or unreal, ahead of yourself?
I would comment on that comment, but I think it pretty much speaks for itself. At any rate, the participants seem to be fairly evenly divided between believing Anastasia is real and thinking she may be a figment of Vlad's imagination. Several, however, say that they don't care either way, because they enjoy the books anyway and believe in the ideals discussed therein.*** It kind of reminds me of the endless arguments among fans of pop singer Clay Aiken before and after he officially came out and admitted he is gay. Before his self-outing, opinions on the fan boards were divided among those who thought he might be gay; those who indignantly insisted he isn't (because he's a good Christian, and besides, on numerous occasions he publicly SAID he's not gay); and those who said they didn't care either way because Clay is such a talented and good person who truly wants to make a difference. After he finally admitted his gayness to People Magazine, fans were divided between those who were outraged and grievously disappointed, and those who said they didn't care either way because Clay is such a talented and good person who truly wants to make a difference. But I digress.
For those who remain curious about Vlad Megré himself, good luck finding anything substantial about his earlier life, of which "little is known," as they say, leading one to wonder if even Vlad himself is ignorant of his past. There are, however, several lengthy "interviews" with Megré in which he expresses his thoughts on the Anastasia phenomenon and on his own troubles with detractors. Actually, these "interviews" are conversations between Megré and one of his admirers, psychotherapist/physical therapist/"Master Executive Coach" Regina Jensen, Ph.D. It appears that all of these exchanges were expressly produced for Ringing Cedars' online publication, The EARTH Newspaper, which means, of course, that they are an unimpeachable source of truth. (If the language sounds a bit stilted and awkward in places, that is no doubt due to the fact that it is a translation; Vlad, we're told, only speaks and reads Russian.)
Among other issues, Vlad and Regina discussed the Big One, Anastasia's existence, in a conversation that took place at a Ringing Cedars conference in Turkey in 2008. You can see how Regina is enabling Vlad's perpetuation of the Anastasia fantasy...er...I mean, how she is helping Vlad clarify his policies regarding Anastasia:
Regina Jensen: Vladimir Nikolayevich, I personally hope that Anastasia does not make herself available to the curious public any more than she already has. Carl Gustav Jung, a celebrated author, analyst and psychologist said a long time ago that "people can die from mass-projection," such as people of great fame who are exposed to the masses of images which others project upon them day and night. While Anastasia, more than anyone on this planet, can protect herself from such onslaughts very well, don't you agree we need not burden her any more than we already have with unnecessary demands? Vladimir Megre: I don't think she is afraid of these onslaughts, after all, she herself said, "Evil of the world, leave your works, rush to me, try, I am alone before you, conquer for the sake of conquering, everyone fall on me, there will be battles without battles," and so on, and so forth. She is not afraid of this. As far as "making herself available" goes, I think that it is impossible for her to make herself available to the public more than she already has. Judge for yourself, a person emerges onto the public stage and says, "Look, it's me." He stands before the people, everyone looks at him. "So you've emerged, you're standing here, and now what?" People see some person in front of them, they don't know his thoughts, what his personality is like, what he has on his mind, what he has planned, they see only the body before them! What does this give them? Nothing, of course. Here in Europe, Canada, America, Russia, the countries of the CIS, the Baltic states, and Israel, so many different people all around the world have begun to understand each other without knowing each other's language only by saying the word "Anastasia." She is not making herself available, she has not become a "goddess" - she has become a friend, simply a friend. So, how much more can she really make herself available? Come out of the kitchen peeling potatoes? Or emerge in such a way that everything around her is illuminated by her radiant thought? I believe that she has made herself available. And what's more, I believe that she will make herself available to each man, but in the image of the woman he loves. And that will really be a masterful entrance!
Regina Jensen: Vladimir Nikolayevich, I personally hope that Anastasia does not make herself available to the curious public any more than she already has. Carl Gustav Jung, a celebrated author, analyst and psychologist said a long time ago that "people can die from mass-projection," such as people of great fame who are exposed to the masses of images which others project upon them day and night. While Anastasia, more than anyone on this planet, can protect herself from such onslaughts very well, don't you agree we need not burden her any more than we already have with unnecessary demands?
Vladimir Megre: I don't think she is afraid of these onslaughts, after all, she herself said, "Evil of the world, leave your works, rush to me, try, I am alone before you, conquer for the sake of conquering, everyone fall on me, there will be battles without battles," and so on, and so forth. She is not afraid of this.
As far as "making herself available" goes, I think that it is impossible for her to make herself available to the public more than she already has. Judge for yourself, a person emerges onto the public stage and says, "Look, it's me." He stands before the people, everyone looks at him. "So you've emerged, you're standing here, and now what?" People see some person in front of them, they don't know his thoughts, what his personality is like, what he has on his mind, what he has planned, they see only the body before them! What does this give them? Nothing, of course.
Here in Europe, Canada, America, Russia, the countries of the CIS, the Baltic states, and Israel, so many different people all around the world have begun to understand each other without knowing each other's language only by saying the word "Anastasia." She is not making herself available, she has not become a "goddess" - she has become a friend, simply a friend.
So, how much more can she really make herself available? Come out of the kitchen peeling potatoes? Or emerge in such a way that everything around her is illuminated by her radiant thought? I believe that she has made herself available. And what's more, I believe that she will make herself available to each man, but in the image of the woman he loves. And that will really be a masterful entrance!
One point brought out in another 2008 conversation between Vlad and Dr. Jensen is that in the years since the Anastasia books emerged on the scene and started getting more popular, Vlad has had his share of detractors and people who spread awful rumors about him (including, I suppose, those renegade female preachers mentioned above). As he tells Dr. Jensen:
Negative rumors have been circulating about me for as long as ten years. In all this, the mass media have been exploited in the most active manner. I live in Russia. Once, when I was sitting in my garden beneath an apple tree and working on my next book, a neighbor comes up to me in the garden with a newspaper in his hands and says, "Vladimir, you're sitting here, but the newspaper writes that you live in an Egyptian palace surrounded by Mafia gunmen and that you operate a totalitarian sect, and the readers of your books are going out of their minds."
I didn't have to explain anything to my neighbor, he saw with his own eyes that the newspaper was printing a lie. But after only several days, this same article was reprinted by a number of newspapers, including one Canadian newspaper. The Russian District Court told my lawyers that the newspaper had said nothing insulting, the journalist had simply expressed his opinion, and he had the right to do so. But this journalist had not even met with me. The editor of the Canadian newspaper, after Canadian readers appealed to him, and without the intervention of a court, made public apologies.****
Regarding the sharing of this special material, there seems to be an overt, concerted effort not to permit society to discuss the ideas and suggestions set out in the books regarding modern man's urgent need to improve their way of living. The libelous publications never earnestly discuss the issues raised in the books, but speak in uninformed generalities and degrading terms about me and my readers.
Dr. Jensen and Vlad both go on to say that the criticism is the result of people in power not wanting the rest of us to know the truth. Vlad explains to Dr. Jensen:
... the spreading of all sorts of rumors about me are ultimately futile subterfuges to distract people away from the main issues at hand. Moreover even in the first book I disclosed about myself that I am not a saint, that I drank, smoked, flirted with women, and was involved in business. But now I don't. Yes, the blood of the businessman can still begin to rush, only now it is not like before. I am very proud that, with the help of my daughter and son-in-law, I have been able to set up the production of cedar oil according to Anastasia's technology. And I think there are not many products in the world equal to it.
For a long time I was unable to bring it up to the quality of Anastasia's oil, even though the modern technology of a medicinal compounds plant was used. But it soon became clear that it was impossible to obtain the required quality in the city, and it then became necessary to transfer the production to a village in the taiga 100 km from the city...and it worked out. With regard to Anastasia, she is always with me, in my heart, in my soul.
And for untold numbers of passionate devotees, Anastasia's presence in Vlad's heart and soul, not to mention in the pages of his books, is more than enough. I would say that this is pretty darned impressive for what started out as little more than a middle-aged man's wet dream.
* * * * *
Well, Dear Ones, I hope you've enjoyed our Whirledwind tour of Russian mysticism. I know I have, and I know too that I shouldn't have been so snide in writing about Russia the other day, seeing as how the place is so obviously a center of open-minded, openhearted spirituality. Once again I find myself wading in my shallow pool of snark, my tiny voice all but drowned out by the roar of the waves on the deep and endless ocean of
outrageous gullibility passionate belief. And in the wake of this stunning realization, I am left, not for the first time, with but one thought: I've gotta find me a scam.
* "Deep" in the sense of my usual profoundly shallow mulling on these matters.
** Okay, so I managed the "closer" look, but you will, I fear, have to search elsewhere for "more reverent." One out of two ain't bad, though.
*** Regarding the fiction v. nonfiction issue, it's also noteworthy that James Redfield's very clumsily written but wildly successful 1993 spiritual novel, The Celestine Prophecy, was marketed from the beginning as fiction. Redfield never claimed it was anything but fiction. Granted, the cover of the trade edition was kind of cagey, bearing the tag line, "An adventure," rather than "A novel." And the blurb above the title was similarly ambiguous. The fact that the story was framed in nine supposedly profound "insights" about life also may have led many readers to treat it as nonfiction. But the cover blurbs were created by the publisher; Redfield himself was pretty straightforward about Celestine being a work of fiction, albeit fiction with a message. In any case, the New-Agey concepts and principles discovered and discussed by the characters in the novel struck a deep and resonant chord in thousands of readers, and The Celestine Prophecy became a major bestseller, spawning a sequel, numerous auxiliary materials, and hundreds of workshops, study groups, meet-ups, and so on (and even, in 2006, a bad movie). A generation before Redfield, Carlos Castaneda captivated spiritual hipsters and even some academicians with his Don Juan wisdom books, which were originally marketed as nonfiction but later revealed to be mostly fiction – not that it mattered to those who believed Castaneda's books contained profound truths. My point is that the categories of "fiction" and "nonfiction" are all but irrelevant when people are so desperately hungry for what they believe to be Greater Truths.
**** Vlad doesn't specify which Canadian newspaper published the original "lies" about him and subsequently made the apologies, nor does he specify how they apologized, and I can't seem to find anything else on the Internet about it. But I'm sure that Vlad wouldn't lie to us. I suppose that like Anastasia's existence, the bit about the Canadian newspaper is just something we'll have to accept on faith.