Wednesday, 27 December 2017

messianic complex

Norwegian photo-journalist Jonas Bendiksen set out on a three-year spiritual sojourn (trying to be open-minded and receptive to the experience) to document the lives of seven individuals who style themselves as the Second Coming of Jesus and it was from those intimate portraits readers get the community of believers as profiled in The Last Testament.
The big questions of whether the spiritual leaders rise to their followers’ expectations is perhaps not outside of the scope of the book but leaves them unanswered, allowing readers instead to contemplate the crusades done in the name of original namesake. All those appearing in the gospel, who seem blissfully tolerant of their pretenders (perhaps there is enough geographical separation to avoid competition) despite the apparent stakes, are worth investigating but Vissarion, the charismatic figure of Siberia who leads a worldwide congregation of around ten-thousand centred around a settlement in a hollow called Minusinsky. Vissarionites preach a message of reincarnation, vegetarianism and sobriety of the soul (many points in common with his Japanese and Brazilian, Inri Cristo, counterparts) and consider their leader to be technically the word of God (the Logos) returned and not divine, despite some elaborate personal hagiography and celebrating Christmas on Vissarion’s birthday, 14 January—which is even closer to the Orthodox observation date.