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Comedian Mocked the Bible Until It Changed His Life

In the days of the Russian revolution, the Soviet state tried to stamp out Christianity and convert everyone to atheism. A popular Russian comedian developed a stage act in which he played a drunken Orthodox priest. Dressed in wine-stained robes, he did a comic imitation of the ancient but beautiful liturgy.

Part of his performance was to chant the Beatitudes. But he used distorted words—such as “blessed are they who hunger and thirst for vodka” and “blessed are the cheese makers”—while struggling to remain more or less upright. He had done his act time and again and been rewarded by the authorities for his work in promoting atheism and in making worship seem ridiculous.

But on one occasion things didn’t go as planned. Instead of saying his garbled version of the Beatitudes in his well-rehearsed comic manner, he chanted the sentences as they are actually sung in a real Liturgy. His attention was focused not on the audience but on the life-giving words that were coming from the Bible, words he had learned and sung as a child. He listened to the memorized words and something happened in the depths of his soul.

After singing the final Beatitude, he fell to his knees weeping. He had to be led from the stage and never again parodied worship. Probably he was sent to a labor camp, but even so it’s a story of a happy moment in his life. He had begun a new life in a condition of spiritual freedom that no prison can take away. Whatever his fate, he brought the Beatitudes and his recovered faith with him. Truly, the Bible can change one’s life.

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