This article accompanies the fable
From Russia with Love
Ilya Yefimovich Repin: Easter Procession in the Region of Kursk
This painting from 1880-83 represents the agnostic option. Agnostics generally enjoy the grand sweep of history, even when it has a religious aspect. Agnostics are more likely to become absorbed by the detail in this picture, in the lives of other people, in other times, in other places. This painting says much about provincial Russia but little about what it thinks of it. It avoids commentary, instead drawing in the viewer.
Repin is for me the greatest Russian painter of the late 19th century. He did not produce simple nationalist paintings (národnost) celebrating the Russian heartland - note the hunchback, the poverty and the dust, the tree-stripped landscape. Rather it was because he captured a nation on the move better than anybody else.
This is your painting and your opera...