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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

LOVE & DEATH: Cathedral's Rules Could Perplex Even the Pious




Sinners in shorts don't have a prayer at Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior.


That's the message I got Sunday when we took my boyfriend's mother to see Mayor Yury Luzhkov's "little" miracle. Despite his doubting Thomases, Luzhkov managed to secure funding to have the massive cathedral f destroyed by Stalin in 1931 and replaced with a public swimming pool f reconstructed in 1997 in time for the capital's 850th birthday.


Although the cathedral remains closed f except on Russian Orthodox holidays and the occasion of visiting foreign dignitaries f the lower level of the cathedral has the tricky task of functioning as both a museum and a church, playing host to tourists and worshippers. There is a sign at the entrance to the cathedral that warns, among other forbidden activities, shorts are not to be worn inside.


That said, the spiritual scene was set: Priests in colorful robes, a choir chanting ancient verses, candles aglow before vibrant icons and a room full of believers losing themselves in reverence. But out of the corner of my eye I saw a male member of the church approach a teenage girl holding a candle she was prepared to light and gesture angrily at her attire: black T-shirt, black "short" shorts and tennis shoes. He was kicking her out of the house of God.


From across the church I watched the stunned girl tell her mother and brother what had happened and witnessed their equally stunned expressions. But rather than leaving with her children, the mother led them inside to do what they'd come there to do: Pray. I wanted to shout "Amen!"


Speaking of mothers and their children, my boyfriend had his arm around his mother, who was so moved by the sights and sounds of the service that she had tears in her eyes. That spiritual moment was literally snatched away from her when one of the °†°??™†-™?_???..." units came up behind them and tried to physically separate mother and son while whispering rudely, "?*...""?!"


The clergy at this church obviously aren't familiar with the popular expression, "What would Jesus do?" Being an "orthodox" religion, the Church can't help but have its traditions and "regulations." But whether or not you subscribe to the Christian faith, you have to admit that showing a young girl the door at a house of worship because of what she was, or wasn't, wearing isn't exactly what Jesus was about. And I have a hard time picturing the man from Galilee trying to pry apart two family members during a church service.


It was recently reported that the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church is set to vote in August on a social, moral and cultural "code." I suppose it's too much to hope for suggestions on ending the war in Chechnya. I'll be looking for the fine print about what to wear and how to act.