They hold an annual book festival here in Lviv, so I went out there with a camera to see what I could see. It was a lot of fun, but I couldn’t help but be grieved by something. I believe that everyone struggles with questions like, “Who am I?” “Where did I come from?” “Where am I going?” “What should I be doing in the meantime?” These questions are just too big to ignore. At the book forum, I met some people who are looking for the answers to these questions in all the wrong places. It really puts into perspective how important it is that we are here doing what we do: translation, teaching, and outreach. Here are some pictures:
You might recognize the orange/black book.; it is Dianetics by Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard. There is a volcano on the cover because Scientology teaches that Xenu stacked billions of ‘thetans’ around volcanos, blew them up with H Bombs, and then these thetans became you and me and everyone else… the lady promoting the books denied it, though (Scientology is famous keeping certain doctrines a secret). Ron was actually a science fiction author before he started scientology, and they had a booth selling his other science fiction work. Scientology is probably the most dangerous religion of size that’s out there today. I’d recommend watching a documentary or two about it and warning your friends.
The Hare Krishnas came out and had some books for sale. I talked with the representatives for a bit – they’re really nice guys. The movement falls under the umbrella of Hinduism, but a lot of Hundus would call it a cult. The Hare Krishna movement, as well as orthodox forms of Hinduism, believe in pantheism, which I consider to be the opposite of Christian monotheism. Some would say that atheism is the opposite of Christianity, since Christians have one god and atheists do not. I would say that one of the main themes in Christianity is the distinction between Creator and creation – Jesus is the Christ and you are not. Hinduism teaches that god is all and in all. But, then again, can we really declare what the “opposite” of a world view is? Probably not.
Paganism has a foothold here in Ukraine. A lot of people are trying to get back to the “native faith,” which was prevalent before the advent of Eastern Orthodoxy. The stories about Pagan gods are often so wacky and inconsistent that Pagans have to allegorize them and read them as metaphors or moral lessons… much like how we look at comic book heroes like Spiderman or Batman. If you look at the way that many Christians read their Bibles, you’ll see that a lot of them treat the Bible like it’s just some kind of allegory. But, that’s a topic for another day.
Speaking of Ukrainian-born theology, the Ukrainian author, Haraphina Makoviy, has written several books (pictured above). In 2011, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church considered her writings and condemned them as heretical for containing elements of occultism, paganism, magic, animism, superstition, karma, reincarnation, spiritual self-deception, and other non-Christian beliefs and practices.
The Grail Message
Now, this one was new to me. It’s called The Grail Message. In 1926, a German under the pen name, Abdruschin, wrote what he called, “A New Bible” that was to decipher the ancient myth of the Holy Grail. Apparently, this grail sits in the Castle of the Grail in a sanctuary on outskirts of the Divine Sphere where it is guarded by Eternal Primordial Spiritual Beings… anyhow, The Grail Message denies the resurrection, promotes reincarnation, and has a host of other false doctrines. You can read for yourself here.
There were a lot of Greek Catholic and Eastern Orthodox booths set up. Greek Catholicism is the most common religion for Western Ukraine and Eastern Orthodox is the most common in the East. Both are high liturgy and have works-based salvation messages, but the Catholics are under the Pope. They still maintain an Eastern Orthodox order of liturgy and the priests can marry. The differences are rather superficial, though, in light of what they teach regarding eternal life. If you look at the picture on the right, you’ll see a local Catholic university’s booth with the back of a blonde lady’s head on the left. That’s former Prime Minister, Yulia Timoshenko. I managed to get closer and take a selfie for my facebook profile picture.
I did manage to find one booth that had Protestant books… but they were also carrying a bunch of Greek Catholic and Eastern Orthodox books as well. While I personally do not think it’s a great choice of inventory, these types of bookstores (along with secular stores) could provide opportunities for distributing solid theological works, like the three books by Zane Hodges that we’re working on.
The Leopolitan Book Forum was fun and I got to meet some interesting people (I even met a printer and discussed our upcoming books with him), but the forum was a real wake-up call to how much Ukraine needs solid theological books and teaching. People are asking good questions and Christians need to be equipped to answer them. By the way, this isn’t just a Ukrainian phenomenon; I wouldn’t be surprised if there is someone in your life who would love for you to explain the Gospel to.
If you would like to learn more about our current Zane Hodges translation projects or pitch in to help us print some good Christian book, visit our ministry website at www.graceabroad.org.
Update: Operation Ukraine Zane complete! We have been getting positive feedback from all around Ukraine about how helpful our translations have been. We extend our gratitude to everyone who pitched in to make this project a reality!