All the stories here (real, apocryphal and fictional) have something in common. Something special, unique. Something human. Something Divine.
- The Pavlovian Paradox.
In the 1930s during the most vehement anti-religious campaign in Russian academician Ivan Pavlov, the famous biologist, a Nobel laureate and a committed agnostic suddenly became religious. He started to attend the Znamenskaya Church in Leningrad ( St. Petersburg) regularly dressed in full parade with all his numerous awards, including the ones he received from the Tzarist regime. Young militiamen who guarded the Church and did not know who he was called him ’an epitome of ignorance’ and a ‘ harmful old man’. Here we are entering the domain of apocryphal. According to some sources Soviet government was irritated too. Pavlov was invited to the official informal banquet where he met Maxim Gorky, the famous Russian proletariat writer. They knew each other for a long time. Gorky addresses Pavlov with a speech in which he expressed a surprise that Pavlov worshipped God while in his, Gorky’s opinion there was another perfect object for admiration and even worship- the Great Man he sees right there. With these words Gorky bowed to Pavlov in admiration for his scientific achievements and personality.
Pavlov got very angry, immediately left and broke all relations with Gorky.
When dying Pavlov invited medical students to record the process. He did not invite a priest and died as an agnostic. Immediately after his death Znamenskaya Church was demolished.
- The Saint for all Religions.
In 1943 during the ‘liquidation’ of the Warsaw ghetto a strange group was marching through the city to the railway station, destination Auschwitz. A group of children, organized and neatly dressed were marching under the green banner. They were lead by an adult , a famous doctor Henrich Goldshmidt more known as Janush Korchak, the author of the most popular books on childrens education, Korchak developed a methodology of parenting much earlier than Dr. Spok. Those were his children, the ones from the Jewish orphanage he administered and the banner was the one he designed for them.
Dr. Korchak was by no means a good Jew. His writings were devoted to all the children no matter what the origin. His novel ‘King Matias I’ does not have Jews in it. But on the platform, after the children were ‘loaded’ and the Gestapo officer offered him to stay, Korchak answered , ‘Only with my children.’ Off he went to burn in Auschwitz and with that ashes going up to Heaven he became a Saint for all Churches and all religions whoever recognizes a child as the primary miracle of Humanity.