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Jesus Jehovavich
October 16, 2009 1:25 PM   Subscribe

Welcome to the charming world of Vissarion: the Siberian, vegan, reincarnation of Christ, who also happens to be a Polygamist. When he lost his job as a traffic cop in 1991, Sergei Torop changed his name to Vissarion and began spreading his message about how to attain moral perfection, drive out negative energy, and survive the coming Apocalypse. Today the Community of Vassarion in the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia numbers around 10,000, while a further 50,000 follow his teachings in the world beyond. posted by Secret Life of Gravy (28 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've been burned on these reincarnated-Christs before. Is this guy the real deal?
posted by Joe Beese at 1:27 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


He's a false prophet. The real Jesus has been back for a while now.
posted by mullingitover at 1:31 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


The world beyond what?
posted by rocket88 at 1:33 PM on October 16, 2009


And I thought you had to be able to write mediocre sci-fi to be a false Messiah and start your own religion. Whatever happened to standards?
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 1:33 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Weird factoid: "Vissarion" was also Joseph Stalin's father's name.
posted by zarq at 1:34 PM on October 16, 2009


a further 50,000 follow his teachings in the world beyond

And the lurkers support me in email.
posted by Zed at 1:42 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know, a post about a Siberian, polygamist, reborn Christ would go well on Metafilter.

A post about a vegan, Siberian, polygamist, reborn Christ is just asking for trouble.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 1:44 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


According to the travel article link, "Vissarion" means "he who gives new life."

I find his religion fascinating because it blends many tenets of other religions. Like Joseph Smith, Vissarion wrote a new testament, teaches that women are put on earth to serve their husband (and should allow that husband to have other wives) and after the coming Apocalypse, the reincarnated souls will populate new planets. Like Buddhists, he believes in reincarnation, negative energy, achieving perfection, and vegetarianism (or possibly veganism-- accounts differ.) Also he holds sessions where he acts like a Rabbi, clearfying rules and passing judgements.

He is a cult leader, no doubt, but his cult is in many respects a good one. The villages rely on solar and wood power. There is an emphasis on crafts and making do with handmade goods. For every tree they cut down, another one is planted.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:55 PM on October 16, 2009


gaaah....solar and wind power....
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:56 PM on October 16, 2009


Why is the messiah always a polygamist?
posted by melt away at 2:04 PM on October 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Not all of 'em are polygamists.
posted by zarq at 2:12 PM on October 16, 2009


Gaius Baltar, Ph.D.
posted by joe lisboa at 2:16 PM on October 16, 2009


I'm going to contact his church so I can send him a pogo stick. All good returning messiahs should have pogo sticks.

Plus he can be Jumpin' Jesus Jehovavich.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:22 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why does a community that seems to have a lot of really good things going on have to be a cult?
posted by Corduroy at 2:26 PM on October 16, 2009


Also, these buildings look really, really wonderful, and I want to visit them, but then I'd, you know, be visiting a cult.
posted by Corduroy at 2:29 PM on October 16, 2009


I would think this is suspicious except for the fact that it's Russian.
posted by gallois at 2:36 PM on October 16, 2009


A religion based on one charismatic leader is the definition of a cult: In the Community of Vissarion (note the name) a bell rings 5 times a day and the community members stop what they are doing in order to turn and pray in the direction of Vissarion's house.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:38 PM on October 16, 2009


Corduroy: "Why does a community that seems to have a lot of really good things going on have to be a cult?"

That's a very good question.

Maybe social progress and diversity of thought are fundamentally incompatible.

I'm not saying they are. It just strikes me that we always assume those two great things should go great together... but is there any real evidence for that?
posted by Joe Beese at 2:39 PM on October 16, 2009


Why is the messiah always a polygamist?

Why waste time and energy tuning a new grift when the old ones still work so well?
posted by Lazlo at 3:33 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Did Vassarion not fight Voltron in one episode?
posted by GuyZero at 3:39 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe social progress and diversity of thought are fundamentally incompatible.

It's an interesting notion, given that some cults are unusually socially progressive, but there are too many counter-examples that spring to mind. Ancient Miletus, for one, despite being a small city-state with no central religion and relatively ad hoc political representation, managed to produce some of the greatest thinkers of its time and lay the foundations for Western philosophy over the next thousand years. Most ancient historians cite Miletus as fostering a particularly encouraging atmosphere for diversity of thought.
posted by Demogorgon at 3:47 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


This man is either a fraud, a lunatic, or God Himself. There's just no getting around it.
posted by moss at 5:23 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe social progress and diversity of thought are fundamentally incompatible.

I think it's more about social and political isolation/independence. What are the best means to keep local power that may not agree with you out of your hair? Break the ties that obligate you to them. If you have your own water/power/arable land, it is more difficult for the state or local populace to deny you resources based off of their disagreement with your beliefs. The state can't cut off your power and utilities, the locals can't keep you from buying supplies, etc.

If you have a stated ideology and worldview, you need the control structure to keep your views the ONLY views. The leader of the organization becomes the state, and can use his power to keep the flock in line, just as the rest of the flock will keep the lone dissenter in line.
posted by chambers at 5:56 PM on October 16, 2009


When the leader of a young religion is a polygamist, it didn't just "happen" to be that way.
posted by grobstein at 6:08 PM on October 16, 2009


So, to sum up my point, using the technology (or intended lack thereof) intensely on a small scale allows you to get the full benefit of the results, without all that pesky bureaucracy and huge infrastructure change to deal with. Also, since the guy in charge is in a monarchy/dictator position, none of that pesky disagreement!
posted by chambers at 6:11 PM on October 16, 2009


Secret Life of Gravy, I'm pretty sure "religion that, like almost every other goddamned religion, treats women like property" and "good religion" are not compatible. No matter how many wind powered houses they put up, treating women as nonpersons/secondary negates that right out of the gate.

So, you know, go fuck yourself, Vissarion.
posted by emjaybee at 6:27 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


you know, the journalist wondered why all the followers are so smart. well, i might pay homage one day a week to that guy to live off the grid in "tolkien" land. But then again, there's the whole vegan and no drinking thing...
Can they at least smoke tobacco from a long churchwarden pipe beneath the belfry? 'Cause that might make up for some of the other inconveniences.
posted by weathermachine at 7:56 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can they at least smoke tobacco from a long churchwarden pipe beneath the belfry? 'Cause that might make up for some of the other inconveniences.

Alas, there is no smoking either.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:33 AM on October 17, 2009


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