Zhukov came back as a priest

My sceptical attitude to reincarnation is shaking at its foundation. For I’m struggling to explain in any other way the demonstrable presence of Marshal Zhukov’s soul in the body of a Russian priest.

Marshal Zhukov, aka Fr Mikhail Vasiliev

Zhukov, second only to Stalin in the Soviet high command, was known for his snappy retorts, especially when the value of human life was mentioned even tangentially.

When told that his troops were suffering an inordinate casualty rate, he dismissed the comment with a wave of a hand. “The wenches will just have to give more births,” said the peerless warrior.

Now, Zhukov has his detractors. But hey, à la guerre comme à la guerre, as the French say (in today’s England another spelling would be more appropriate: à lager comme à lager).

Western generals may tend to avoid casualties as much as possible, while their Russian colleagues have always adopted a cavalier attitude to their subordinates’ lives. But no generals can ever match priests in their feelings about the value of every human life – their remit is different.

However, the Russians prove that, though generals can’t be like priests, priests can be like generals, of the Zhukov school of martial thought. So much so, in fact, that one has to revise one’s views on reincarnation.

This convergence is best illustrated by Fr Mikhail Vasiliev, chaplain to the Russian airborne and rocket forces, nicknamed the ‘paratrooper padre’. The other day he was killed by a US-made HIMARS rocket in the Ukraine, thereby proving that what goes around does indeed come around.

For Fr Mikhail served as chaplain on various bandit raids launched by his employers in the Kremlin: Kosovo, Bosnia, Abkhazia, Kyrgyzstan, the North Caucasus, Syria, the Ukraine. You name it – Fr Mikhail was there, blessing every rocket about to destroy another residential building, absolving such little peccadilloes as murder, looting and rape.

All in a day’s work, one would say. Yet so far nothing suggests Marshal Zhukov’s soul found a new home in Fr Mikhail’s body. This, however, will.

Addressing the weeping and wailing Russian mothers whose soldier sons had been killed in the Ukraine, Fr Mikhail allowed his Zhukov soul to shine through. Rather than offering solace, he used the occasion to berate them for not having enough children, mainly, he suggested, because of too many abortions.

This is what he said: “I understand perfectly well that in most cases God has given women the natural ability to give birth to many children. If a woman, fulfilling this commandment of God to be fruitful and multiply therefore refuses the wide array of artificial means of pregnancy termination, then obviously she’ll have more than one baby, in most cases. This means it won’t be so painful and scary for her to part with a son…”

Essentially the holy father suggested that a woman blessed with more than one child would just shrug nonchalantly if one of her sons got killed. “Oh well,” she’d supposedly say, “there’s more where this one came from.”

Can you hear Marshal Zhukov’s voice there? Conversely, do you detect much priestly compassion, which is after all a cleric’s stock in trade? Fr Mikhail sounded more like a crass gunslinger than a worshipper of a God who wept with bereaved mothers.

I number priests of three different denominations among my friends, and I’ve met many others. But I’ve never known one who would respond in that fashion to the anguish of a woman who has just lost a beloved son in an unjust war. And my own observation differs from the padre’s: I’ve known women grieving agonisingly all their lives the loss of a child even if they had others.

Using the occasion for an anti-abortion lecture, much as one may agree with its essence, goes beyond any recognised norms of decency. Such a priest should have been summarily unfrocked, but God chose an extreme form of that censure by using a HIMARS rocket in lieu of His customary lightning.

“Like priest, like parish,” goes the Russian saying. However, on this evidence, the reverse is equally true. “Each nation gets the government it deserves,” quipped Joseph de Maistre on leaving Russia in 1815. Also, the priests, one is tempted to add.

I wonder which body Zhukov’s restless soul will next choose as its home. My advice would be to expand its horizons and look beyond our species. A wolf or a jackal might work.

5 thoughts on “Zhukov came back as a priest”

  1. A high percentage of priests (even higher percentage of bishops) in the West have forgotten their remit: to help souls reach Heaven. As silent as they are on the subject of sin, I believe Father Vasiliev has bested them with this outburst. I suppose this is what they get, with a KGB agent as the head of their church.

  2. The Russian has historically seen themselves as the Third Rome and having a “holy mission”?

    Has Vlad been able to stop the demographic decline of the Great Russian population to his satisfaction? He wanted that cohort of young able bodied men for his army of conquest and was planning far ahead?

    Father Mike his death we must consider within the context of Proverbs 24:17.

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