Friday, November 18, 2016

Fast, Cheap, & Out of Control: A Russian Orthodox Baptism in 1976

To honor Organized Religion Day, I thought I'd post this fast, cheap, and out-of-control collection of vintage baptism snapshots. They were taken at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Russian Orthodox Church on Green & Van Ness in San Francisco, and they can only be described as Instagrams from Hell.

Russian Orthodox Baptism at Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco in 1976

These dinky little prints really are holy terrors. I wish I knew who took these lemons so I could properly shame them. A baptism is a big deal. They could've at least spent over $10 on a camera, or called Sears Portrait Studio, or something.

Russian Orthodox Baptism at Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco in 1976

How am I supposed to take my relationship with God seriously if this picture taker couldn't take his/her assignment seriously? If they won't do their job, then I can't do mine! Sorry, it's not Christ-like to judge vintage snapshots so harshly, but seriously—this photographer blows.

Russian Orthodox Baptism at Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco in 1976

In case you haven't figured it out, I was the baby—and these were my Godparents, Seoul Sister Tatiana "Tanya" Sarsfield née Vasilev (left), and Alexander Sven Zabelin (right). Godparents present a child at baptism, respond on its behalf, and promise to take responsibility for the child's religious education. But Tanya was an atheist, and Alex left a week later for Italy to appear in "art films," so my subsequent religious education didn't end up being very comprehensive.

Russian Orthodox Baptism at Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco in 1976

Once again, I just have to mention—these pictures really are bad. But there's something kinda cool about them, like my baptism into the Russian Orthodox Church was an Andy Milligan movie. I don't remember who this priest was, but he may as well be Guru the Mad Monk.

Russian Orthodox Baptism at Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco in 1976

I can hear you right now: "You spoiled little child! Who cares that they used an inexpensive, semi-disposable Kodak 110 nightmare camera to commemorate your unholy baptism and make it look like lost stills from a horror film? You should be grateful that someone cared! Nobody took pictures of my baptism! They drunkenly sketched it with charcoal, then buried the drawings in the backyard to be dug up by raccoons and pissed on!"


Russian Orthodox Baptism at Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco in 1976

In that case, I guess I should be a little more thankful. It is Thanksgiving season after all. What would the Great Pumpkin say?

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