Beliefnet
Rod Dreher

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Just got word that my dear friend and godfather Vladimir Grigorenko today became an American citizen. He is the iconographer at St. Seraphim Orthodox Cathedral in Dallas — pictured above — and an emigre from Ukraine. Vladimir was raised without religion in the former Soviet Union, but converted to Christianity as an adult. Trained as an engineer, he followed his vocation as an artist, and ultimately into iconography. He has so much integrity as an artist and a Christian that when Time magazine contacted him about painting an iconographic image of Vladimir Putin for the cover of its Person of the Year issue a couple of years ago, he didn’t give it a second thought: he told them no, that iconography is sacred. It wasn’t a political judgment against Putin, but a religious judgment about the profane use of sacred art. He could have become world-famous and well-paid. But he wouldn’t have been Vladimir had he chosen that path.
In our church community, Vladimir and his wife Olga are pillars. It’s hard to express the admiration and affection I and so many others have for this couple, and their gifts to all of us. You can stop by the cathedral itself to see the artistic and liturgical gifts Vladimir brings to our community, but you have to be part of the community itself to experience the rest. (You can commission an icon from him if you like; the Christos Pantokrator icon he wrote for us is my most treasured possession). Follow this link to see images of Vladimir’s work for yourself (read his personal story here) and to learn more about him. Here’s a short video The Dallas Morning News did of Vladimir at work in the Cathedral last year. He always was your Christian brother, and now, Americans, he’s our fellow American. Lucky us. Our great country just got a little bit greater.

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