1783. I found the monastery without any difficulty. A Russian monastery in America is almost impossible for me to describe. It has all of the attributes one would imagine, but somehow it is all terribly wrong. The gilded onion domes and the crosses with the diagonal bar make you think of a set in a movie, or even some section of Disneyland. Out of the building come the monks in their brown robes tied at the waste, complete with shaggy beards but it is impossible to take any of it seriously.
1884. You think to yourself, "yes, it is a monastery, but here we have a Ford Mustang parked in the driveway, next to a Pontiac Bonneville." And what about the parking lot itself, what is a parking lot made of blacktop doing at a monastery, not to mention no parking signs and a reserved for handicapped parking space.
1785.The austere eastern religion and all of its visual manifestations has been transformed by the addition of every sort of modern thing. You climb the steps to the porch and ring the doorbell, and you wonder if a monastery in the wilds of Russia would have wrought iron railings from Home Depot, and doorbells that ring with that electric sound like a house in the suburbs.
1786. But sadly you realize that even if this were a real monastery out beyond the Urals, in a village with a truly Russian name like Volgograd, still, there too it would probably have been invaded by all kinds of contemporary furnishings. No institution ever avoided the march of contemporary aesthetic sense, whatever it happens to be. Even in time the Old Believers will show up wearing suits rather than Cossocks, even if those suits happen to be tied in the middle with a frayed rope.