*Signposts* – Nonfiction

Praise for the Series

Honestly, I was always a bit skeptical about the ability of a Western person to understand Russia and its history. Not even because of the “mysterious Russian soul”, but simply because (as I thought) without having this experience in your own life, it is very hard to understand life in that part of the world. … perhaps a person who was not directly involved in Russian (Soviet) life, is exactly the person to provide a fresh look from a new side that may expose things that were not seen by people from the former Soviet Union.

RFW cover with Mont award

The SIGNPOSTS series started by accident in October 2012, when I encountered a publishing agent at a book signing event being held for one of my dear friends in the IT community in Atlanta.  We got to talking and the subject of my strange educational background — from science to history (Russian intellectual history, no less!) back to science, technology and IT — and I told her the thumbnail sketch about the story of The 160.  She was intrigued.

But nothing might have happened, had I not received a letter from my Father just a few weeks later…

He had been asked to speak and decided to make his talk on Catherine the Great (Tsarina of Russia). It went well and he resolved to read my essay on Nikolai Berdyaev, Religious Communism, that I’d written more than 15 years prior:  “Enjoyed Cathy’s article on the 3rd way – a choice between capitalism and communism. Berdyaev was expelled from Russia in 1922.”

Then a week later, he wrote me this:

Dear Cathy,
I have re-read your 1995 article on “Religious Communism” in the Canadian Journal of History. It was very interesting and enlightening and is much more relevant now that dogmatic communism has faded away – even in Russia, Cuba, and China.
Robert Service of Oxford, with full access to Kremlin archives, rote “Lenin” in 2000 and “Comrades – Communism: a World History” in 2007.They are published by PAN Books. You would enjoy them.
I told your mother that now is the appropriate time for you to write a popularised version – or a novel – based on your thesis.
Just a suggestion.


I did, and I did – and here we all are.  It’s been an amazing adventure learning the “book trade” over the past two years in the publication and promotion of that popularized version we call Revolution from Within.  Quite different than academic articles and monographs.  And there’s still over 2/3s of the material from my past historical life remaining to find its way into articles, short stories and other nonfiction books!

But what is this Series? these Signposts?

In essence, these writings are Contemplative Narrative Nonfiction, à la Isaiah Berlin, William F. Buckley, Jr., or G. Edward Griffin.  Clearly my books reflect my background as a trained historian and philosopher, but given the fact that I’m no longer constrained within the groves of academia I can let my multidimensional interests and awareness take flight to connect the dots in unusual ways and provide commentary on changes I’d like to see us make today to make the world and this lifetime a richer and more joyous experience.  From this basis of freedom, I’ve been able to create writings that include…

history, political machinations, conspiracies, economic definitions of value, spirituality, miracles, ascension and enlightenment into different densities and dimensions, art, music, the noosphere and DNA frequency resonance, technology and the paradigm of the technocrat controller, spontaneous creation of local, organic community groups, service to other and service to self …

the simple stuff of inquiring minds and an overactive imagination.

 As the authors explained their central message than a century ago:

“Their common platform is recognition of the theoretical and practical primacy of spiritual life over the external forms of community. They mean by this that the inner life of the personality is the sole creative force of human existence and that this inner life, and not the self-sufficient principles of the political sphere, is the only solid basis on which society can be built.”

The books, articles and other media I’ve created for the Signposts series are themselves unique as I’ve chosen formats and forms most suited to the type of information I’m working with at a given moment. The unifying theme of them all derives from what, for me, was the most influential expression of Russian ideas that I’ve ever read: the collection of essays Vekhi which means variously “milestones”, “landmarks” or “signposts” when translated into English.  For me, Vekhi was an eerie forecasting of all the terror and oppression which Russians (and the world) were to experience with the rise and takeover of Bolshevism. But even more, it encapsulated in 7 short articles a renewed central paradigm… worldview… that turned my perception of politics, economics, social structures, culture, law, art and religion upon its head.

Yet each is designed to be stand alone.  After all, I never knew when I wrote one that another would soon be knocking at my door, nor who was going to pick up something I’d written, where, and so I certainly couldn’t expect readers to ferret out all my previous books before they’d be able to enjoy reading this one.  Nor is a degree in History, or Russian History specifically, a prerequisite to read any of the books in this series.  Source blessed us with great editors … many in my own family … who take great delight in finding and pointing out to me those sections where I’m getting a bit assumptive and forgetting to provide context.

That said, Russian names can present a challenge for Western readers, at least initially, due to our difficulty in pronouncing the consonant-driven alphabet.  When I first was introduced to Dostoevsky, my fabulous English teacher had us first memorize the cast of characters and recite the names to each other before attempting to read the story.  That was brilliant!  Like getting the basics of middle English before you attempt Shakespeare, this prep work made the resulting reading experience fluid and simple; we could just enjoy the story without stumbling over the unfamiliar (names) words.  To this end, in Revolution from Within and all books and articles that follow, I have added a comprehensive glossary and cast of characters section to facilitate the same adoption and we continue to build out The Catalysts section of this website to help people become familiar with, what are for many, these unknown Russians.



Below is a list of books (with example of cover art) in my SIGNPOSTS series with links to their webpages:

RFW cover with Montaigne 2015 Finalist awardRevolution from Within

REVOLUTION FROM WITHIN is the popularized story of how the YMCA became the unexpected sponsors of a small group, The 160, of prominent Russian thinkers exiled by Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik Party of the Soviet Union in 1922. It describes the battle that ensued for the hearts and minds of the Russian people, within and outside the Communist Party, over a 70-year period and how ideas and writings published and preserved can become the seeds for change, for overthrow, from within. This is the story of determination, unlikely partnerships, and concepts that are increasingly relevant — worldwide. Freedom, Creativity and Compassion sit at the heart of this book as events from over a century ago tie back to parallels occurring today.

How did The 160 and their ideas, survive? Not just survive, but continue to persuade for generations, in the end undermining even the most dedicated Communist Party officials…

“I liked the combination of great history, compelling ideas, and fascinating characters. Overall, this is an astounding and little-known story about a remarkable moment in time—about two or three years in the early 20s when an extraordinary conflux of historical events, outstanding individuals, and big ideas came together to help lay the groundwork for one of the greatest historical events of the 20th century—the fall of Communism. Wow!” — Beth Haddon, journalist and former broadcast executive of the CBC.”


Book five (Signposts Series)

Book five is the (as yet untitled) continues the story of The 160 and the French Personalists, but this time delving into their relationship from the basis of philosophy and political theory. What did these intellectuals believe and why?  What did they agree on, dispute, fight bitter battles around?  And how did these ideas lay the foundation for political, social and economic realities that we have seen manifested in Canada, in the formation of the European Union, at Vatican II, in the collapse of the Soviet Union…

How do they continue today in themes of ecologically sustainable business practices, unity consciousness, the collapse of centralized banking and one word governments in favor of local, regional sovereignty?  How are these ideas being manifested today in a move away from “pyramids” (hierarchies) to freely forming, loose associations of people… “clouds” (holarchies)… from separation to holistic paradigms?  How Russian spiritual philosophy pierced the very heart of Roman Catholic mysteries that underlie the entire justification for the papal hierarchy!

At this, Gabriel Marcel who was such a recent convert to Catholicism had to comment: “But, the original Fall implies such a distinction!”  “No,” responded Berdyaev, “there was no distinction between nature and grace before the Fall” … “The Father is transcendent, the Son is transcendent and immanent, the holy ghost is immanent in nature…and man is the hypostasis of God.” With great passion, Maritain concluded: “This [Berdyaev’s theory] would be a humiliation that God would not impose on us!” 



Religious Communism?

RELIGIOUS COMMUNISM? is an essay I wrote at the height of my Ph.D. studies which gratifyingly won the Graduate Essay Competition at the Canadian Journal of History in 1995.  This 20-page article explains in detail how the ideas developed by Russia’s spiritual philosophers – most specifically those expressed by Nikolai Berdyaev – helped Emmanuel Mounier elaborate his initial definition of French Personalism.  The material I write about in this article was mostly drawn directly from the personal diary that Mounier kept of the spiritual-philosophical meetings he attended at Berdyaev’s home in Clamart and the Maritains’ home in Meudon.

It can be downloaded for free as a PDF directly from the Canadian Journal of History website here.


The Third Way CoverThe “Third Way”

THE THIRD WAY tells the story of Russia’s Religious Philosophers in the West and describes the philosophy they evolved with French Personalists around a “third way.”  “Neither Communism nor Capitalism!”  “The revolution would be moral, or it would not be!” “Unity!”

After the devastation of the Russian Revolutions of 1917, three generations of Russian intellectuals found themselves suddenly displaced in foreign lands around the globe.  They had been celebrating an artists renaissance for nearly 20 years in their homeland, when suddenly their lives were rudely disrupted by war and destruction, leaving them destitute.  How were they to begin again?  Through a small band of catalysts and the kindness of strangers, their cause and efforts were reignited and channeled into facing immediate threats:  Saving Russian Orthodox Christianity from extermination; Unifying the fragmented Christian faiths into one ecumenical church in the face of barbaric new enemies (Communism, Fascism, Nazism, Capitalism, and Bolshevism); attempting to salvage the shattered faith and inspiration of lost generations of young people in those tumultuous years between World War I and World War II.

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