The world’s oldest national church, the Armenian Church (or the Armenian Apostolic Church) traces its origins to the missions of the apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus. It was established in 301, when Armenia became the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion. The Armenian Church is a key topic in Journey to Virginland, the debut novel by Armen Melikian.
Ever since its founding, it has played a decisive role in Armenian history. The Church has resulted in magnificent legacies in terms of literature, music, architecture – medieval Armenian church architecture is viewed by many as the precursor to gothic architecture – and manuscript illumination. It has also often stepped in to assume national leadership in times of foreign invasion or occupation, providing the masses with guidance and even physical protection.
In the novel Journey to Virginland, Armen Melikian explores the lesser-known, and even less-often discussed, dark side of the Armenian Church, presenting a powerful and unprecedented critique of its failings and its very raison d’etre.
Essentially, Melikian views it as the conduit of an imported ideology that has not only obliterated the rich heritage of Armenia’s pagan civilization, but continues to hamper the development of the Armenian people’s human potential by perpetuating a credo of subservience (to masters both domestic and foreign), fatalism, and complacence vis a vis the larger patterns of history.
A novelist of extraordinary erudition and wit, Melikian reserves some of his most ferocious brushstrokes for exposing the hypocrisy of the many men at the helm of the Armenian Church, who, far from embracing Christ’s tenets of humility and participation in humanity’s sorrows and struggles, pursue a path of greed, political power, and unfettered egotism.
In a review of Journey to Virginland, Paul McCarthy, New York Times bestselling author and a professor at the University of Ulster, Ireland, wrote: “I am struck by the extraordinary writing, vision, and, perhaps rarest of all, originality, which abounds in every way, and at so many levels and depths of meaning, theme, narrative, etc., that I had to keep slowing my pace, until I could read and ‘inhale’ each word.”
Looking for writings about the Armenian Church? Get your copy of Journey to Virginland today!