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These Are The Dates That Destroyed America, 1865

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It has been three years since I wrote on this subject. Readership of this column has grown substantially since then. Therefore, I am sure many people have not read my sentiments on this topic. So, here is my list of dates that I believe have helped, and are helping, to destroy our country and why.    

April 9, 1865

This is the date when General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Regardless of where one comes down on the subject of the War Between the States, one fact is undeniable: Abraham Lincoln seriously dismantled the Jeffersonian model of federalism in America.

Ever since Lincoln’s presidency, virtually every battle that free men have fought for the principles of limited government, State sovereignty, personal liberty, etc., has stemmed directly from Lincoln’s usurpation of power and subjugation and forced union of what used to be “Free and Independent States” (the Declaration of Independence). In fact, the philosophical battles being waged today regarding every encroachment upon liberty and State autonomy by our federal government have their roots in Lincoln’s autocracy.

July 9, 1868

This is the date when the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified. This amendment codified into law what Lincoln had forced at bayonet point. Until then, people were deemed citizens of their respective states. The Constitution nowhere referred to people as “U.S. citizens.” It only recognized “the Citizens of each State.” Notice also that citizenship was only recognized among the “several States,” not among people living in non-State territories. Until the Fourteenth Amendment, people were “Citizens of each State.” (Article. IV. Section. 2. Paragraph. 1.) The Fourteenth Amendment created a whole new class of persons: “citizens of the United States.” This false notion of “one nation” overturned the Jeffersonian principle that America was a confederated republic, a voluntary union of states.

February 3, 1913

This is the date when the Sixteenth Amendment was ratified and the personal income tax and IRS were instituted. This was a flagrant repudiation of freedom principles. What began as a temporary measure to support the War of Northern Aggression became a permanent income revenue stream for an unconstitutional–and ever-growing–central government.

April 8, 1913

This is the date when the Seventeenth Amendment was ratified. This amendment overturned the right of the State legislatures to elect their own senators and replaced it with a direct, popular vote. This was another serious blow against State sovereignty. The framers of the Constitution desired that the influence and power in Washington, D.C., be kept as close to the people and states as possible. For example, the number of representatives in the House of Representatives was to be decided by a limited number of voters. In the original Constitution, the ratio of “people of the several States” deciding their House member could not exceed “one for every thirty thousand.” (Article. I. Section. 2. Paragraph. 3.) And when it came to the US Senate, the framers recognized the authority of each State legislature to select its own senators, thereby keeping power and influence from aggregating in Washington, D.C.

The Seventeenth Amendment seriously damaged the influence and power of the states by forcing them to elect their U.S. senators by popular vote. Senators who answered to State legislators, each answering to a limited number of voters, were much more accountable to the “citizens of the several States” than those who are elected by a large number (most states now numbering into the millions) of people. For all intents and purposes, U.S. senators are more like “mini-presidents” than representatives of sovereign states.

December 23, 1913

This is the date when the Federal Reserve Act was passed. This Act placed oversight of America’s financial matters into the hands of a cabal of private international bankers who have completely destroyed the constitutional principles of sound money and (for the most part) free enterprise. No longer would the marketplace (private consumption, thrift, growth, etc.) be the determinant of the U.S. economy–which is what freedom is all about. But now a private, unaccountable, international banking cartel would have total power and authority to micromanage (for their own private, parochial purposes) America’s financial sector. Virtually every recession, depression, and downturn this country has ever had (including the Great Depression) was the direct result of the Fed’s manipulation of the financial markets.

1913 was not a good year for the United States or for freedom.

June 26, 1945

This is the date when the United Nations Charter was signed and America joined the push for global government. It is no accident that America has not fought a constitutionally declared war since we entered the UN–and neither have we won one.

Furthermore, it is America’s involvement in the United Nations that has spawned this pathetic push for a New World Order that George H.W. Bush, Henry Kissinger, Tony Blair, Walter Cronkite, et al., have talked so much about.

The United Nations is an anti-America institution that works aggressively and constantly against the interests and principles of the United States. But it is an institution that is ensconced in the American political infrastructure. Like a cancer, the UN eats away at our liberties and values, and both major political parties in Washington, D.C., are equally culpable in allowing it to exert so much influence over our country.

May 14, 1948

This is the date that the Zionist State of Israel was created. Nothing has blinded America’s pastors and Christians like the advent of the modern State of Israel. And I was just as blinded as anyone about this subject for most of my life. And anyone who wants to better understand why I have taken the position on Israel that I have now should be sure to read my postscript at the end of this column.

Many–if not most–pastors and Christians believe that modern Israel is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy preceding the appearance of Christ (as I used to believe). But it is much more likely that this faux Israel is a devilish counterfeit preceding the appearance of antichrist.

Since the creation of the Zionist State of Israel in 1948, nothing has influenced and even dominated American politics, government, business (especially banking), the mainstream media, and the entertainment industry more–and all for the WORSE.

August 16, 1954

This is the date that the infamous Johnson Amendment to the 501c3 tax code was signed into law by President Dwight David Eisenhower. This review from Regent University accurately summarizes the Johnson Amendment:

“The Amendment appears to be nothing more than an attempt by a powerful senator [Lyndon Johnson, D-TX] to silence political opponents that he feared were hurting his chances for reelection. Johnson knew how to work the system and inserted his Amendment into a large tax overhaul bill. There was no referral to a committee for further study and hearings. There was no legislative analysis of the effect of the Amendment on tax-exempt organizations. And there was certainly no attempt to understand the effect that the Amendment might have on constitutional rights, especially those of churches and other religious organizations. The Johnson Amendment plainly targets speech because it prohibits statements that are published or distributed, yet Congress made no attempt to reconcile the Johnson Amendment with the First Amendment. There was absolutely no discussion at all of the First Amendment, and Johnson’s Amendment simply sailed through Congress as a small addition to a popular tax overhaul bill.” (Regent University Law Review, Volume 24, 2011-2012, Number 2)

Nothing has done more to gag America’s pulpits and churches like the repressive speech restrictions of the 501c3 non-profit tax status instituted under the Johnson Amendment. And nothing has done more to destroy America than these gagged and muted pulpits and churches.

June 25, 1962, and June 17, 1963

These are the dates when the U.S. Supreme Court removed prayer (’62) and Bible reading (’63) from public schools. Think of it: since the time that our forebears settled this continent, children had been free to pray and read the Scriptures in their various schools. We’re talking about a period of more than 300 years.

Of course, the State legislatures–and the vast majority (if not all) of municipal and county governmental meetings–still open their sessions in prayer, as do the U.S. House and Senate and even the U.S. Supreme Court. But this same liberty is denied the students of America’s public schools.

There is no question that America has not recovered from these two horrific Supreme Court decisions. And since the federal government expelled God from our public schools, it has been methodically expelling God from virtually all of our public life.

November 22, 1963

This is the date that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. As I wrote previously in this column:

For all intents and purposes, the American people lost control of their government with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. With the exception of Ronald Reagan, every President since Kennedy has been completely controlled by the establishment elite that ordered Kennedy’s murder.

A retired Air Force Brigadier General friend of mine (who, before he retired, probably flew every jet the Air Force had and who had been assigned to both the White House and Pentagon during his illustrious career) told me in no uncertain terms that he was convinced that President Kennedy was assassinated by government insiders (with the help of the mob, of course) for two reasons: 1) he intended to disband the CIA, and 2) he intended to dismantle the Federal Reserve.

The assassination of President Kennedy and subsequent cover-up was much more than a killing; it was a coup.

October 22, 1968

This is the date when President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Gun Control Act of 1968. Before this Act, the Second Amendment was alive and well in the United States. The Gun Control Act of 1968 turned a right into a privilege and forever forced the American people to bow at the altar of government when seeking to exercise their God-ordained duty of self-defense. Interestingly enough, Johnson’s Gun Control Act of 1968 borrowed heavily from Hitler’s Gun Control Act of 1938.  

Our Founding Fathers could have never imagined that the American people would ever allow their right to keep and bear arms be infringed as they are today. In fact, it was the attempted confiscation of firearms cached at Concord, Massachusetts, that triggered the War of Independence on April 19, 1775. Pastor Jonas Clark and his Lexington Minutemen must be turning over in their graves at the egregiously restrictive gun control laws imposed in their beloved State of Massachusetts today.

The hundreds and hundreds of draconian gun control laws that currently plague the American people–and that have cost thousands of American lives (including the 1993 Brady Bill)–have all come about as a result of Johnson’s Gun Control Act of 1968.

January 22, 1973

This is the date when the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions, which, in effect, legalized abortion-on-demand and has resulted in the legal murders of nearly 60 million innocent, unborn babies. Imagine: since these two Supreme Court decisions, more innocent human beings have been killed in the United States than were killed in the holocaust of Nazi Germany or in the great purges of Stalin’s Russia or in the communist revolution of Mao’s China.

The Roe and Doe decisions expunged the Jeffersonian principle that all men are endowed by their Creator with the unalienable right to life (Declaration). These decisions opened the door to a host of big-government programs and policies that have resulted in the wanton destruction of human life both in the United States and overseas. It has created an entire industry whose express purpose for existing is the destruction of human life. It has desensitized the conscience and soul of America. Furthermore, it has forced men of decency and good will to finance–with their tax dollars–the unconscionable act of killing unborn children.

And, once again, another Jeffersonian principle was eviscerated. He said, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” The Roe and Doe decisions violate this principle in the most egregious manner possible.

December 8, 1993

This is the date that President Bill Clinton signed the job-killing, manufacturing industry-gutting, anything-but-free-trade bill, The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), into law. NAFTA had been ceremonially signed by President George H.W. Bush on December 17, 1992.  The U.S. House of Representatives passed it on November 17, 1993, and the U.S. Senate passed it on November 20, 1993.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, “The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was the door through which American workers were shoved into the neoliberal global labor market.

“By establishing the principle that U.S. corporations could relocate production elsewhere and sell back into the United States, NAFTA undercut the bargaining power of American workers, which had driven the expansion of the middle class since the end of World War II. The result has been 20 years of stagnant wages and the upward redistribution of income, wealth and political power.”

“Second, NAFTA strengthened the ability of U.S. employers to force workers to accept lower wages and benefits.”

“Third, the destructive effect of NAFTA on the Mexican agricultural and small business sectors dislocated several million Mexican workers and their families, and was a major cause in the dramatic increase in undocumented workers flowing into the U.S. labor market.”

“Fourth, and ultimately most important, NAFTA was the template for rules of the emerging global economy, in which the benefits would flow to capital and the costs to labor. The U.S. governing class–in alliance with the financial elites of its trading partners–applied NAFTA’s principles to the World Trade Organization, to the policies of the World Bank and IMF, and to the deal under which employers of China’s huge supply of low-wage workers were allowed access to U.S. markets in exchange for allowing American multinational corporations the right to invest there.”

September 11, 2001

This is the date that the Twin Towers in New York City and Pentagon in Washington, D.C., were attacked. It is very difficult to not notice the Orwellian reaction by the federal government in Washington, D.C., to the 9/11 attacks–whoever was responsible–including:

*The creation of the Department of Homeland Security
*The passage of the USA Patriot Act
*The passage of the Military Commissions Act
*The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan
*The exponential escalation of the global (and endless) “war on terror”
*The rise of burgeoning Police State within the United States

But many people (including experts) are firmly convinced that the attacks on 9/11 were carried out or at least facilitated by elements within our own government. Which, if that is the case, would constitute the greatest conspiratorial hoax against the American people since Kennedy’s assassination.

October 26, 2001

This is the date when President George W. Bush signed the USA Patriot Act and the federal government’s war against individual liberty began in earnest. This is the exact same bill that Bill Clinton and Al Gore tried to push through a Republican Congress during the 1990s but were unable to do, because Republicans said the bill was “unconstitutional.” But it was those same Republicans who passed this same bill in 2001, because it was now being proposed by a Republican administration. That’s how these pathetic politicians from both parties play this game, folks.

Most of the unconstitutional eavesdropping, snooping, wiretapping, phone-call-intercepting, email-reading, prying, financial-records-tracking, travel-watching, ad infinitum, ad nauseam by federal police agencies began with the implementation of the Patriot Act.

The Department of Homeland Security, the “war on terror,” and the usurpation of local and State power at home have all come about as an outgrowth of the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act forever shifted the focus of American law and jurisprudence away from constitutional government and individual liberty and toward a police-state mentality.

March 20, 2003

This was the date that President George W. Bush launched his moronic invasion of Iraq–a nation that had absolutely NOTHING to do with the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon on September 11, 2001. In fact, the invasion of Iraq had been planned since Bush first became President. The events of 9/11 were merely the excuse George Bush and Dick Cheney needed to launch their preconceived invasion.

The invasion of Iraq led to the destabilization of the entire Middle East, the rise of ISIS, America’s phony war on terror, and unprecedented Muslim immigration in Europe and the U.S–not to mention the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent victims.

October 17, 2006, and October 9, 2009

These are the dates when President G.W. Bush signed and President Barack Obama re-signed the Military Commissions Act. This Act is another outgrowth of the Patriot Act and has, in effect, terminated the fundamental protections of individual liberty, which are found in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. For all intents and purposes, the Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act (along with the indefinite detention sections of the NDAA) eviscerated the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and do serious injury to several others. The Military Commissions Act also expunged the constitutional right of Habeas Corpus.

March 21 and 23, 2010

These are the dates when Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” the so-called “health care reform” bill–aka Obamacare. While Social Security and various Welfare programs have toyed with socialism in the United States, this bill is the largest and most expansive endorsement of socialism in American history. By socializing the healthcare industry in America, some 18% of the U.S. economy has been socialized. The fallout and ramifications of this bill are going to be horrific. Costs of this medical monstrosity are already skyrocketing and care is already suffering. Left standing, Obamacare will destroy the finest medical system the world has ever known.

June 26, 2015

This is the date that the U.S. Supreme Court attempted to officially redefine marriage as being between same-sex couples via their hideous Obergefell v. Hodges decision. This decision forces states nationwide to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Not only is this dreadful decision an assault against State sovereignty, it is an assault against the sanctity of marriage itself.

Of course, in reality, it doesn’t matter to a tinker’s dam what the Supreme Court said; God is the creator of marriage, and, therefore, He is the only One Who can define it–and He already determined that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman. But what this decision does is open the doors of criminal and civil prosecution against any person of faith (such as Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore) who refuses to recognize this immoral, unconstitutional, and blasphemous ruling.

As I have written before, marriage is much more than a civil contract; it is a spiritual union and, therefore, is outside the boundary of civil government. In other words, the government should never have been in the marriage licensing business to begin with. However, this does not excuse or justify the Supreme Court’s effort to give Almighty God the middle finger and attempt to desecrate this most holy of all institutions.

There is no historical record of a nation long surviving after having legitimized and normalized the unnatural act of sodomite behavior. And an unrepentant America will NOT be the first exception.

November 8, 2016

This is the date that the final nail might be put in the coffin of America should Hillary Clinton be elected President.

When future historians review the demise of our once great republic, they will observe that the above dates were the dates that destroyed America.  

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Lou Reed: The Velvet Underground: an inside look at the band that gave a voice to the outsiders | USA

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The importance of The Velvet Underground has been endlessly discussed. They are, with a nod to The Beatles, the modern rock group par excellence. Formed by Lou Reed and John Cale in New York in 1965, the band was immediately endorsed by Andy Warhol, with whom they would collaborate until 1967, although his influence would never leave them. The Velvet Underground were a sixties group that, during its five years of existence, failed to fit into their era for a single day. While others sung of love and good vibrations, they designed a revolutionary and perverse alternative for rock.

It was an alternative that remains valid to this day, half a century after the group was mortally wounded by the departure of Reed in August 1970. To corroborate this, Apple TV will premiere The Velvet Underground in October. Directed by Todd Haynes, the documentary is full of never-before-seen footage and interviews with people who were in the thick of it at the time, more than compensating for a dearth of movies about a band that can be described as legendary without fear of slipping into musical nepotism.

Lou Reed in ‘The Velvet Underground’ documentary.
Lou Reed in ‘The Velvet Underground’ documentary.

The documentary arrives in good company. At the end of September I’ll be your mirror: A tribute to The Velvet Underground & Nico was released, an album of cover versions of the group’s influential debut album when the line-up consisted of Reed, Cale, Sterling Morrison and Moe Tucker. A posthumous work by producer Hal Willner, who died of Covid-19 in 2020, it features contributions by Thurston Moore, Sharon van Etten, Iggy Pop, Kurt Vile, Courtney Barnett and Michael Stipe, among others.

Speaking about the original The Velvet Underground & Nico, released in 1967, Haynes said in an interview with Uncut magazine earlier this year that it is music that makes you think about how fragile identity is, and also about life. The journalist Susana Monteagudo concurs with Haynes. “The Velvet Underground were the first punk group in terms of transgression of codes and creative freedom,” says the author of books including Illustrated History of Rock and Amy Winehouse. Stranger than her. “As well as practicing the philosophy of do-it-yourself and rejecting the commercial course of the music industry, they subverted the establishment by making dissidence visible on every level, not just in artistic terms. They embraced the marginal and they were too nihilistic, cynical and sinister for the Flower Power era.”

The Velvet Underground did not belong to their time, but to the future. Cale wanted to fuse rock and roll with experimental music. Reed’s lyrics were open to the influence of writers like Burroughs, Delmore Schwartz and John Rechy. They were a loud and screeching band, but they also composed melodic songs. This contrast is most evident on The Velvet Underground & Nico, which contains some of the group’s most beautiful songs. I’ll be your mirror and Femme Fatale are sung by Nico (who also provides vocals on the chorus of Sunday morning, originally written for her but eventually sung by Reed), one of the most conflicting elements of the band.

For trans artist Roberta Marrero, Nico, the German model and singer who died in 1988, was an “icon of undisputable beauty, as well as being a pioneer who opened the door for other greats like Siouxsie.” In spite of her beauty, Nico did not fit the prevailing pop girl model of the time. Her singing style was far removed from traditional rock and openly reflected her Germanic and Gothic roots. Her inscrutable personality was married to a talent that after she left the Velvet Underground would manifest itself in unclassifiable works such as The marble index (1969), whose idiosyncrasy – tearing up the blueprint of pop music and exploring musical latitudes reserved for men – would inspire Kate Bush and Björk, as well as more contemporary artists such as Julia Holter, St Vincent and Anohni.

The Velvet Underground, clockwise from top left: Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison, John Cale, Moe Tucker and Nico.
The Velvet Underground, clockwise from top left: Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison, John Cale, Moe Tucker and Nico.

The Velvet Underground also broke with the heterosexual tradition of rock music. In Monteagudo’s view, in addition to creating a literary imagery “where there was room for homosexuals, trans women, prostitutes, junkies and outsiders in general,” they were also “a band not exclusively made up of males, and men who at the same time did not identify with a heteronormative masculinity, especially in the case of Lou Reed. They integrated and normalized diversity in their sphere because their way of life was linked to this concept. It was also the dawning of the ambiguous, the queer.” Marrero believes that “they brought non-normative sexualities to the forefront, such as sadism, more so than homosexuality. Although when I think about it, I’m waiting for my man could be talking about a gigolo and not a drug-dealer. In reality, it’s very ambiguous.”

This divorce from the prevailing canons also had a lot do with the presence of Maureen “Moe” Tucker. Her drum work with the band anticipated a trend that would not take hold until 1977, with the explosion of punk. From that point on, the female role in groups ceased to be principally pigeon-holed into certain instruments and roles. In Monteagudo’s opinion, Tucker is “a key element of this breaking of stereotypes and, as such, a figure to be held up by feminism. Her playing style, as unorthodox as it was influential, is one of those achievements that should be emphasized by the movement. Furthermore, her androgynous image and her discretion made her a counterpoint to Nico’s glamour.”

Revered by bands such as The Jesus and Mary Chain, who dedicated a song to her, and as Marrero asserts, a precursor to drummers such as Hannah Billie, formerly of Gossip, Tucker is, along with Cale, one of the survivors of the Velvet Underground’s original line-up. Due to her social media stance on Donald Trump and gun ownership, Tucker has also become the band’s least popular member.

Warhol’s influence was a determining factor behind The Velvet Underground developing such a peculiar personality. In the strictly musical sense, the band projected through their instruments some of the ideas on repetition, improvisation and saturation that the artist applied to his experimental movies. On the literary side, the people who frequented Warhol’s Factory left their mark on songs including That’s the story of my life (inspired by Billy Name, the Factory’s archivist) Femme fatale (inspired by the ‘it’ girl Edie Sedgwick) or the Reed-penned Candy says, which is about Candy Darling, an icon of the trans community.

“When Candy says was released in 1969 nothing changed,” says Marrero, “but I think it was a marvelous celebration of trans culture on the part of the group. It is one of my favorite songs. You have to read the lyrics in a historical context because all that stuff about being trans and hating your body is a discourse that is now quite outdated in our community.” Marrero also notes that, years later, Reed was in a relationship with a trans colleague, Rachel Humphries, the two sharing a “romantic relationship that was utterly silenced by the hetero-ciscentric music press.”

When he started his solo career Reed would again talk about Candy Darling and other trans actresses on Walk on the wild side, one of the hits on his acclaimed 1972 album Transformer, a record that finally delivered many of The Velvet Underground’s artistic ideas to a wider audience. By that time, David Bowie, Patti Smith, Suicide, Modern Lovers and New York Dolls we ready to do the group’s legacy justice.

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A Treasure of Old Christian Paintings in a Russian Church in a Remote Forest

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One of the editors of RI actually visited this church this summer, and we can assure you, it is REMOTE!  Brumfield, in his understated way, doesn’t describe the condition of the road leading to this village, but it is barely passable at times.  The number of remarkable architectural and other treasures hiding in the Russian hinterlands, especially in the north, is rather extraordinary.


This article is from a series by the invaluable William Brumfield, (Wikipedia), Professor of Slavic Studies at Tulane University, New Orleans, USA.

Brumfield is the world’s leading historian of Russian architecture.  He makes frequent trips to Russia, often to her remote regions, and records the most unusual examples of surviving architecture with detailed, professional photography.  

His most recent book is a real treasure, Architecture At The End Of The Earth, Photographing The Russian North (2015). (Amazon).  This truly beautiful book was made possible by the support of a US philanthropist, and its true cost is 3 times its retail price, and we can’t recommend it highly enough.  Here is our 2015 review of it.

Bravo to RBTH for making Brumfield’s work possible, and providing such a great platform for his beautiful photography.  We recommend visiting the RBTH page, which has a slide show for each article with many more pictures than we can fit in here.

Don’t believe in miracles?  Well, we can assure you, Brumfield’s work is undoubtedly just that.  You can find a complete list of his articles on RI here.

The original headline for this article was: The Church at Korovye: Abandoned Treasure of Russian Art


The turbulence of the past century has left many abandoned architectural monuments in Russia’s regions — parish churches, former estate houses, log houses and churches in villages where no one lives. However modest, they all reflect the history of their area, and some of them are — or were — masterpieces of creativity.

One of these monuments is located in the tiny village of Korovye near the Viga River just off the road to Chukhloma. Although the village name is modestly derived from the word for “cow,” its church has the imposing and unusual dedication to the Convocation of the Mother of God. Within the abandoned church is one of the most unusual displays of religious art in all Russia. On the walls of the main structure, the artist in effect created a miniature Renaissance palazzo for the display of the sacred images.

The village of Korovye was originally known as Verkhniaia pustyn (“Upper wilderness”), a reference to one of the three monastic retreats founded in the Chukhloma area by St. Avraamy Gorodetsky. Dissolved in the middle of the 18th century, the small monastery’s two wooden churches — dedicated to the Convocation of the Virgin and to Elijah the Prophet — were converted to use as parish churches. In 1797, parishioners provided resources to rebuild the former as a large brick church that would serve a group of 34 villages (most of which no longer exist).

Attributed to the noted Kostroma architect Stepan A. Vorotilov (1741-1792), the design reveals a professional mastery unusual for a rural church. Whereas typical parish churches had a sprawling refectory with additional altars that pushed the main structure away from the bell tower, here all the components are tightly integrated.

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The structure rests on a ground floor that contained secondary altars and was used for worship in the winter months. Above the ground floor rise the essential components of a parish church: the main worship space with two rows of windows and five cupolas, a rectangular apse for the primary altar at the east end and on the west, a compact refectory and magnificent bell tower over the main entrance.

This sophisticated, technically demanding design created a coherent visual tie between the primary components of the church: the bell tower and the core structure with five cupolas. The main interior space on the upper floor was dominated by an elegant neoclassical iconostasis. 

The majestic character of this design was demonstrated when the Convocation Church was chosen for a visit by Emperor Alexander I and his wife Empress Elizabeth on their way back from a visit to the Urals territory in the fall of 1824. Indeed, during the first half of the 19th century, this church could claim to be the most imposing in the Chukhloma region, surpassing even those in Chukhloma itself.

A fire in the late 1890s damaged much of the interior and led to a major renovation that extended from 1903 to 1906. On the ground floor, a refectory (containing altars to Elijah the Prophet, St. Nicholas and St. Avraamy Gorodetsky) was expanded on the north and south sides. The expansion was artfully hidden by a grand staircase that curved upward from both sides to the main portal on the second level of the bell tower. This skillful renovation — and particularly the stairway — gave the church a still more imposing appearance as it soared above the two main streets of the village.

Yet the great miracle occurred on the interior, whose walls were repainted under the direction of a Moscow artist identified as Anufry A. Bakhvalov, a native of this area. Although the work of Anufry Bakhvalov is little known, the scope of imagination represented by these wall paintings is extraordinary, even daring. The artist did not simply depict the religious subjects in a Renaissance-based style typical of academic painting, he painted the subjects within imposing Renaissance frames situated between neoclassical columns with lavish composite capitals — and all of this in trompe l’oeil (on a flat, two-dimensional surface). At some points, Bakhvalov even painted the shadows cast by the illusory frames. The interior space had become a miniature Renaissance art gallery.

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Surviving fragments of the paintings on the north and south walls include full-length figures of St. Vladimir, St. Catherine, St. Nicetas and St Macarius on the lower level between the windows. The upper level of the north and south walls is devoted primarily to a portrayal of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with their symbols — another unusual artistic decision. (The Evangelists are often depicted on spandrels beneath the main dome, but spandrels are absent in this structure.) On the south wall are John (now effaced) with the eagle, and Mark with an endearingly vivid depiction of a guardian lion. On the north wall are Matthew, compelling in his concentration and assisted by an adoring angel; and Luke with the bull (both largely destroyed). The north wall also contains a depiction of Christ with Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus — one of the most moving episodes in the Gospel account of the life of Christ.

Equal to the Evangelists in their artistry are the three scenes above the arch in the west wall: the Miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes (Christ feeding the Multitudes) on the left side; Pentecost (Mary and the Apostles) in the center; and a vivid depiction of Balthazar’s Feast on the north side of the west wall. Throughout, there is evidence of the artist’s knowledge of Renaissance art, particularly in Balthazar’s Feast, which depicts armed horsemen storming through the gate of the burning city. On the east, the apse contained a depiction of the Last Supper, now almost effaced.

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The ceiling vaults in their height represented a culmination of the visual program. Although much has been lost, fragments remain of the august display of the Synaxis (Gathering) of the Archangels, part of the larger concept of the Convocation of the Virgin. Crowned archangels and angels gather on the north and south flanks, while the east flank was devoted to the cartouche with the Crucifixion (destroyed). The west flank presumably had a depiction of the Mother of God enthroned.

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Unfortunately, the Convocation Church’s glory days were soon eclipsed by the rise to power of an avowedly atheistic regime. Although it survived longer than many other churches, the Convocation Church was closed in 1937 during a renewed wave of terror against religion. Subsequently the icons were removed, and the ground level was used as a storehouse for various purposes. The cupolas were destroyed, and in the 1980s, the area of the church was apparently used as a detention center for juvenile delinquents.

Unprotected and exposed to the elements as well as vandalism, the artwork of the upper level began to collapse. Recently, the roof of the church was replaced and the arch in the upper west wall was reinforced with a firm wooden brace. The upper level has been swept of debris, but the interior is still exposed and under threat of further deterioration. The fate of the remains of this extraordinary artistic creation is still in question.

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Munster grind it out to shatter Connacht hearts at the death

Voice Of EU

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Munster 20 Connacht 18

In time-honoured fashion, Munster dug deep and needed their 16th man to overcome their own faultlines and a smart, hugely motivated Connacht to ensure they marked the fifth anniversary of Anthony Foley’s passing with a win.

Somehow, because of the day that was in it, you sensed they would do so in the end, and in dramatic fashion as well. Their skillset and execution, especially in the opposite 22, was flawed albeit they rolled their sleeves up and threatened to bludgeon Connacht into submission.

Save for the pre-ordained tactic of Joey Carbery cross-kicking for Andrew Conway and Mike Haley’s fine counter-attacking into the first-half wind, their outside backs hardly featured. Simon Zebo hardly saw the ball.

It was hard luck on Connacht, who weren’t remotely in the mood to be sacrificial lambs, with the width of the upright and two questionable decisions heavily influencing the outcome.

Their launch plays were better, they opportunistically took their scores and were defiant in the midst of Munster’s second-half storm and Thomond Park’s traditional fervour when the going gets tough for their team.

Connacht’s defeat came at a cost too, with their outstanding flanker Cian Prendergast wheeled off the pitch with his leg in a brace. Encouragingly he didn’t look in much pain, but he’s a tough young player.

Prior to the game, in a classy touch, the visiting captain Jack Carty presented a Connacht jersey inscribed with the number 8 and Axel on the back to Peter O’Mahony.

Closer to kick-off, the date was formerly acknowledged over the PA system, with mention for his wife Olive and kids Tony and Dan (all of whom had been invited to the game along with the extended family) as an image of Foley in that familiar ball-carrying gait was displayed on the big screen.

A tribute on the big screen before the game on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of Anthony ‘Axel’ Foley’s passing. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho
A tribute on the big screen before the game on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of Anthony ‘Axel’ Foley’s passing. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

This prompted a minute-long standing ovation as the Munster players completed their traditional lap after their warm-up.

Heavy rain up until an hour before kick-off ensured the pitch was very greasy before there was that rarity, a clean break with a strike move off the game’s first lineout.

Even in defeat last week, Connacht’s launch plays were well executed and off Niall Murray’s take at the front, Carty used the decoy run of ex-Munsterman Sammy Arnold to hit Mack Hansen up the middle before he linked with Bundee Aki who had Conor Oliver, also returning to his old haunt, on his inside. When Tadhg Beirne went off his feet, Carty opened the scoring.

Connacht’s scrum, not unexpectedly, was in difficulty from the off, but Paul Boyle adroitly scooped the ball from between his feet and, but for Zebo racing back and diving full-length, Carty would have executed a 50-22 from inside his own 22.

As it was, he soon did manage the feat, although Munster survived thanks to Gavin Coombes’ strength over the ball.

As expected it soon became a feisty affair. When Peter O’Mahony took exception to Boyle trying to retrieve the ball from Niall Scannell after Arnold had won a penalty in the jackal it prompted the first two bouts of scuffling.

Peter O’Mahony catches a ball. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Peter O’Mahony catches a ball. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Aki wouldn’t have been alone in thinking the penalty against him for holding on was ridiculous but, when he came charging again, Cloete was pinged for not releasing, although not for the first or last time in the match Chris Busby showed no inclination to wait for an advantage.

Connacht went to the corner and after the maul was held up and Aki carried up, Tiernan O’Halloran cleverly palmed a loose ball out to Hansen for a finish in the corner, but replays showed the ball had gone forward.

Only Munster’s work over the ball, Cloete winning another turnover penalty, was keeping them above water. Cue a big maul and the option to go to the corner, only for Scannell’s overthrow to be gathered by Oliver.

It was very stop-start.

Prendergast also thought he had scored from 45 metres but there had been a preceding knock-on, before Arnold was harshly binned for going in higher in a double hit with Aki and clashing heads with Haley. Not even the home crowd could summon much in the way of complaint when the incident was replayed.

Indicative of a patchy first-half performance, initially Munster couldn’t translate their numerical advantage into anything tangible. There was a clean break by Conway from Craig Casey’s sumptuously disguised left-handed behind-the-back flick, but Carty made the covering tackle and Carbery couldn’t gather the low offload.

But the best feature of Munster’s game had been Haley’s counter-attack, and he ran Crossfield to link with Conway for a trademark grubber.

When a sliding O’Halloran couldn’t gather the slippery pill, Munster recycled it and Rory Scannell crosskicked to four unmarked teammates on the left. Beirne tried to trap the ball on the volley before hacking on for Cloete to win the touchdown.

Surprisingly, TMO Brian MacNeice and Busby overlooked the still replay which clearly showed, with the help of the 10 metre line, that Beirne had been in front of the ball when Scannell kick-passed.

Carbery converted to give Munster a flattering 7-6 interval lead, and Connacht could feel rightly aggrieved with the Arnold yellow card and the award of the try.

On the resumption, Munster sought to maximise their advantage by going to the corner but Cloete was held up over the line by Carty, Matthew Burke and John Porch.

From a Coombes charge and offload to Beirne, Munster resorted to a route one, pick-and-jam assault, but when Cloete burrowed toward the line, Boyle won a penalty in the jackal.

However, Dave Heffernan’s overthrow went straight to Scannell and a penalty for offside enabled Carbery to make it 10-6.

Connacht weren’t done though, going up the line and stretching Munster on both edges after another clever launch saw Heffernan wrap around and hit Blade on an out-and-in line.

Boyle tapped a close-range penalty and when Jean Kleyn and Cloete both went low, he simply dived over them to score but, crucially, Carty’s conversion drifted onto the outside of the post.

Connacht’s Paul Boyle celebrates scoring his side’s first try. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho
Connacht’s Paul Boyle celebrates scoring his side’s first try. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Connacht mucked up the restart and Munster mucked up another attack before a maul penalty lead to Carbery restoring the home lead.

In one of the season’s more unusual entries, Shane Delahunt came on, immediately gathered a Munster overthrow inside his own half, hoofed upfield, saw the ball squirm away from Conway for a 50-22 and punched the air in celebration. Alas, his ensuing throw was crooked.

Even so, Connacht kept coming, Abraham Papali’i putting them on the front foot from turnover ball as they went through the phases up to the Munster 22 before he knocked on.

Whereupon, out of nothing, Carbery took too long in winding up for a downfield punt which was charged down by the alert Carty. He gathered and scored gleefully under the posts before adding a conversion.

Crucially, the referee awarded Fineen Wycherley a turnover scrum when seeming to continue playing the ball on the deck after Ultan Dillane’s take.

Coombes tapped one penalty before Munster opted for a five metres and then tapped another after an exhaustive pick-and-jam before, by way of variety, Jack O’Donoghue popped the ball for Diarmuid Barron to plunge over.

Carbery calmly nailed the conversion to nudge Munster in front at the last.

Scoring sequence: 2 mins Carty pen 0-3; 10 mins Carty pen 0-6; 39 mins Cloete try, Carbery con 7-6; (half-time 7-6); 49 mins Carbery pen 10-6; 53 mins Boyle try 10-11; 59 mins Carbery pen 13-11; 69 mins Carty try and con 13-18; 78 mins Barron try, Carbery con 20-18.

Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Rory Scannell, Simon Zebo; Joey Carbery, Craig Casey; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (C), Chris Cloete, Gavin Coombes. Replacements: Diarmuid Barron for N Scannell, Jeremy Loughman for Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer for Ryan (all 54 mins), Dan Goggin for R Scannell (57 mins), Fineen Wycherley for Kleyn (60 mins), Jack O’Donoghue for Cloete (68 mins). Not used: Neil Cronin, Jake Flannery.

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran; John Porch, Sammy Arnold, Bundee Aki, Mack Hansen; Jack Carty (capt), Caolin Blade; Matthew Burke, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Niall Murray, Ultan Dillane; Cian Prendergast, Conor Oliver, Paul Boyle. Replacements: Jarrad Butler for Prendergast (47 mins), Shane Delahunt for Heffernan, Abraham Papali’i for Boyle (59 mins), Kieran Marmion for Blade (61 mins), Jack Aungier for Bealham (64 mins), Greg McGrath for Burke, Eoghan Masterson for Dillane (74 mins). Not used: Tom Daly.

Referee: Chris Busby (IRFU)

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