July 24, 2014

Moscow 1, Constantinople 0

This is the Church in which Constantinople interfered, to the consternation of the Russian Orthodox Church. Looks like a retreat.

HT: International Orthodox Christian News

Patriarch Bartholomew urged Ukrainian dissenters to join the Orthodox Church

Strelna, May 31, Interfax – Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople urged Ukrainian dissenters to repent and join the canonic Orthodox Church.

“Let them (dissenters – IF) not hesitate, but join the canonic Orthodox Church which is a ship of salvation,” Patriarch Bartholomew said in an interview to Vesti 24 TV which was recorded Sunday in the Constantinovsky Palace in Strelna near St. Petersburg.

He noted that speaking with Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and all Ukraine he wished him that “he be honoured by God to see the solution to this problem while alive, and that the schism ceased to exist.”

“Our Church does everything with due respect to the existing canonic order (in Ukraine – IF),” Patriarch Bartholomew commented current standpoint by Constantinople Patriarchate on Ukrainian schism.

He expressed willingness of his Church to pray both for “Russian and Ukrainian people.”

Comments

  1. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Steve says:

    “Our Church does everything with due respect to the existing canonic order

    When did this start??

    Notice again that the ROC refers to Black Bart as Patriarch of Constantinope NOT EP!

    I propose an agreement: We will not use the term EP on this site but use the proper term P of C. Either that or refer to him as “the so-called” EP.

    It does seem that there were some serious discussions between Bart and +Kiryll. I wonder how this will affect the EAs around the world.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Fr. Andrew says:

      Notice again that the ROC refers to Black Bart as Patriarch of Constantinope NOT EP!

      For what it’s worth, Patriarch Kirill called Patriarch Bartholomew “Ecumenical Patriarch” during the recent visit to Moscow. Read Kirill’s address to Bartholomew on the Moscow Patriarchate website here.

      I don’t think there’s much disagreement over whether to use the title (though there may well be disagreement over its meaning). Even the OCA calls him “Ecumenical Patriarch” when he’s commemorated at Divine Liturgies celebrated by their primate and on its own website.

  2. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Steve, you’ve got to refrain from terms like “Black Bart” etc. on this blog. I want the conversation to remain civil.

  3. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Chris says:

    http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=7320

    Patriarch Bartholomew is willing to advance convening of the All-Orthodox Coucil

    Strelna, May 31, Interfax – Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople thinks it necessary to advance convening of the All-Orthodox Council with the participation of all local Orthodox Churches.

    “We decided to facilitate the process of convening the holy and great Council of all Orthodox Churches,” Patriarch Bartholomew said in an interview to Vesti 24 TV which was recorded Sunday in the Constantinovsky Palace in Strelna near St. Petersburg.

    He referred to the Council as one of the major objectives for the Constantinople Church and stated that the Council and its outcomes would “have the greatest impact on the entire Orthodox world.”

    According to him, the event’s agenda “has been already set up and is well-known to the Orthodox community,” it covers ten major points, including the principles of autocephaly and autonomy of the Orthodox Churches, challenges of fasting, and a set of issues related to diptych (the order of mentioning Churches during service – IF.)

    “Our Orthodox Church continuously seeks to keep up with the times avoiding to give up anything of its teaching, but at the same time, respond to the spirit of the time helping believers to stand up to the current real world,” Patriarch Bartholomew said.

    The preliminary work to convene the Council was started as far back as 1960s. The All-Orthodox Council is preceded with the meetings of All-Orthodox Pre-Council Conference and Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission. The Council shall decide the problems which have been accumulating within several centuries, from the time of the last 7th Ecumenical Council, which should be addressed by the entire Church.

  4. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Chris says:

    Question: What does “keeping up with the times” mean?

  5. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Harry Coin says:

    Doing the math… carry the 3…. so, Moscow gets EP to make nice near to Moscow and Moscow takes passive approach in the USA.

  6. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Dean Calvert says:

    Hi Guys,

    Yeah Harry, I guess we all figured out what the deal was….MP stays out of the way in America, and the EP (or P of C), leaves Ukraine alone.

    By the way, did anyone else see this article, issued earlier in the week from Interfax:

    *********26 May 2010, 11:45*********************

    Primates of Orthodox Churches of Constantinople and Russia express condolences over the death of people in car crash in Antalya

    To: His Excellency Dmitry Medvedev
    President of the Russian Federation

    To: His Excellency Recep Erdogan
    Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey

    Your Excellencies,

    While in Moscow together, we have learnt with grief about the traffic accident in Antalya that took away the lives of Russian and Turkish citizens.

    We hasten to express our sincere condolences over the accident. Please convey our sympathy to the families and friends of the victims.

    With profound respect,

    +KIRILL
    Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

    + BARTHOLOMEW
    Patriarch of Constantinople

    Moscow May 25, 2010*************************************

    Interesting use of titles eh? I’ve noticed all week, Fr. Andrew’s comments notwithstanding, that the title “ecumenical” has been consistently avoided….all the articles on the Moscow patriarchate have simply referred to Bartholomew as the “Patriarch of Constantinople.”

    But the signatures at the bottom of this one…that really blew my mind.

    Perhaps a deal is in the works regarding the diptychs as well? MP goes to #2 spot, and the EP gets to stay the EP? Oops…my bad…that’s probably somewhere between “self-appointed psychoanalysis and semi-prophetic pronouncement, Information-vacuum commentatorship, and Trivial, conspiracy theory” manufacturing again!!! Old habits are tough to break..LOL

    In any case, I found the article about Ukraine a fascinating about face. On the other hand, I think it was the EP’s visit to Ukraine last year, with it’s implied potential of the EP recognizing an autocephalous Ukrainian Church (like Georgia in 1990, Estonia later), that began the change in attitude toward Pan Orthodox activities to begin with. I always thought it was interesting how the EP was “for” autocephaly (Georgia, autonomy in Estonia) anywhere but in America. It kind of goes along with that Corleone negotiating stance of “what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is debatable”.

    Y’know, I used to think it was a really stupid idea…but I’m starting to agree with those who think we should be under the omorphorion of these Old World patriarchates. I mean, you can just feel the love. Their concern for the souls of the faithful is truly touching. I mean, it takes a special kind of concern to whip up independence hopes one year, and then sell 50 million people down the river the next.

    So I’m starting to come up with some serious possibilities. For example, I wonder if the Catholicos of Georgia would take us – (we could put the Georgian Orthodox cathedral in Atlanta – who would know)? Or maybe the Czech church? Or Cyprus? Or maybe we could just resurrect the Church of Trebizond….after all, the GOA is using the title Bishop of Troy. There’s no doubt in my mind that for a price ($$$) we could transfer the metropolitan of Philadelphia from Turkey to PA..and start there. On the other hand, we could just all go under the Antiochian patriarch (of all the East)…I always wondered, who’s to decide at what point “all the East” turns into “the West?” Seems like he has as good a claim on America as the Roman pontiff would. Finally, perhaps the Church of Sinai (St. Catherine’s) would take us…they are also autonomous. Sinaitic Orthodox would be obtuse enough to just confuse everyone. I actually asked the See of Alexandria about it, but they referred me to the P of C.

    There are actually quite a few possibilities…. :) :) :) And I’m really starting to appreciate the wisdom of remaining under a patriarch thousands of miles away.

    Best Regards
    Dean

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Harry Coin says:

      Yo! Deaniac!

      I think the EP has taken a page from the Pope’s playbook: He has lots of titles and the one he decides to use on this or that occasion is good, nice, wonderful and fine. Tomorrow he can use one of the others.

      I wonder when a Pope will notice in his bucket of available titles ‘His Holiness, Universial Ordinary (diocesan) Bishop, Christ’s Vicar on Earth’.

      Or the EP will look in his pheme (title) basket to come up with ‘All-Holiness and Ecumenical ” etc. etc.

      Sometimes I wonder whether it’s the same with Met. Philip’s speeches. Swing for the fences and rally everyone — until.. until…

      Just trying it on… The Church of Sinai. With a parishes in Peoria, Ann Arbor, Murfresboro, San Anselmo, and Stamford.

      • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
        Isa Almisry says:

        Don’t laugh: Sinai once had title to a significant part of Romania: a third or fourth of the arable land belonged to the Phanar, where the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem hung out, and Sinai.

        I await Met. Jonah’s assessment on the matter, as to whether the MP is too stupid to realize that once the Phanar’s claims are codified, it can resume its designs on Ukraine, Estonia, Japan, ROCOR….

        • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
          Dean Calvert says:

          Harry,

          I’m glad you like the idea. Yup…Sinaitic Orthodox Church of Murfreesboro…that ought to confuse just about EVERYONE!!!

          Isa – RE:“whether the MP is too stupid to realize that once the Phanar’s claims are codified, it can resume its designs on Ukraine, Estonia, Japan, ROCOR….”

          The MP may be a lot of things, but I don’t think stupid is one of them. I think this is a very straightforward C.O.D. relationship – hence, the EP didn’t make the Ukrainian comment until the EA was OVER. No chance of being double-crossed.

          Yup..you can just feel the love. LOL

          Think “Corleone” guys…and we’ll be in the right pew.

          Best Regards
          Dean

        • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
          George Michalopulos says:

          Isa, I don’t think that the MP is anything but brilliant. Let’s not forget, that he hasn’t “given up” anything in North America. The PC has been playing from a very weak hand which was obvious in many ways especially during his recent trip to Russia (as noted).

          Why do I say that he hasn’t given anything up? Because according to the Chambesy protocols, he’s perfectly free (mandated actually) to come and go as he pleases in any of the EAs where an MP presence exists. Don’t forget, in all of these EAs, his exarch is automatically on the presidium, as “2nd Vice Chairman.” (When the dyptichs are “adjusted” look for the MP exarchs to do a switcheroo with the Antiochian exarchs.) Therefore, he can’t logically not interfere in North America.

          What does this mean for the OCA? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that no “deal” was in the works; i.e. Estonia for the OCA, Ukraine for the OCA, etc. Why? Because the tomos of autocephaly for the former Metropolia from the ROC still exists. Honestly I don’t know if he can even canonically rescind it. I realize that this is a risky prediction, but let’s look at recent events: why would he have deigned to cocelebrate a liturgy with the OCA’s representative there? And hear +Jonah’s name mentioned during the Dyptichs? Also, did anybody notice that no mention was made of the Estonian autonomous church while he was at the same liturgy?

          Speaking of Ukraine, I see the possibility for great unintended consequences. Now that the independent Ukranians eparchies (in the Ukraine) have been sold down the river, what will the Ukrainians of North America think about this? Question: will they likewise be forcibly removed from the EP’s eparchy here and transferred to the MP-USA jurisdiction? Or will they be so revolted by what happened that they secede on their own from the EP/GOA axis?

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Isa Almisry says:

            Indeed the question of why the Ukrainians are voting with the Greeks when their Mother Church is part of the Patriarchate of Mosocow is going to eventually come up, if the Phanar is trying to set up a collective colonization scheme for the “diaspora.”

  7. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Dean Calvert says:

    George,

    My point was really not to prognosticate where all of this is going to end up – besides, along with being called an atheist, I’ve been warned not to engage in “semi-prophetic pronouncements“..LOL

    Personally, I think the Holy Spirit is going to confound ALL of them…i.e., cause the right thing to happen, despite selfish and parochial motivations on the part of all of these Old World patriarchs.

    My point was simply to underline that this is NOT simply an ecclesiological issue, following the canons, or anything else. And anyone who even imagines that autocephaly follows some proscribed path is particularly clueless and going to be disappointed.

    What we are witnessing, real time, is no different than what happened in Bulgaria in the 9th century, Russia in the 15th, the Balkan countries in the 19th and 20th centuries etc etc ad infinitum and will be continuing to occur until the end of time.

    This should simply teach all of us the bitter reality – which is this: from a secular point of view, the Church is far too important an institution to be left under the control of a foreign ruler. If you go back and read the correspondence between the Bulgarian ruler, the Pope and the Byzantines – just before the Bulgarians received autocephaly…it was more akin to making a deal at the local used car sales lot than ecclesiological. He was “shopping around” for the best deal for his nation…asking the Pope, then patriarch and emperor what the attitudes of the church would be in different situations…essentially playing the Roman pontiff off against the Byzantines. While it was cloaked in ecclesiological language and questions, the message was very clear to the Byzantines: Boris to Byzantium – “How’d you like to have a loyal son of the Pope on your doorstep??” Just following the age old Byzantine dictum – the enemy of my enemy is my friend. He had learned his lessons well…as should we.

    Which is why I’m not bashful about comparing these things to the Corleone’s… When they stop acting the part, I’ll be the very first one to stop calling them that. Until then…”if the shoe fits”…

    Best Regards,
    Dean

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Harry Coin says:

      Parallel to Dean’s theme: in re ‘Moscow is So Wonderful ..swoon..swoon’ Remember that there are some still living who remember the Tsar, many more who saw the church lead Russia and the Tsar so well everything both represented was totally rejected by the people to usher in Lenin, who then got trumped by Stalin (schooled in the church’s ways of doing things) and then the ever memorable generator of widespread suffering, the Soviet government.

      The extent to which Russia has a future depends on the extent to which the church learns it’s responsibility is to the people and not to the temptations of trading support for personal, personal, personal and of course institutionally personal govermental favors — at taxpayer expense.

      • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
        George Michalopulos says:

        Harry, in the interests of fairness, I’ll point out that the people did not reject the Tsar in favor of Lenin. The people rejected the Tsar in favor of Kerensky, who was a democrat. It was only when he got stabbed in the back by the Bolshies that Lenin came into power, and then only after a bloody civil war when the majority of the Russian people sided with the White Army against the Reds.

        I do agree with your point however to not “swoon” in the presence of the MP. That being said, I’ve seen them shoot straight when it comes to the Gospel, at least in comparison to the Phanar, which relies on sophistry and fraudulent science to maintain its role on the world stage. Whatever else can be said, at least the current crop of ROC hierarchs is not concerned with the glitterati of this world. (This is not to say that they won’t in time become corrupt –such is the nature of man.)

        • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          Always a good point to make George: the Bolshevik Revolution was not a popular revolution. Lenin took over the Dumas with rifles.

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            George Michalopulos says:

            Hitler was more of a democrat than Lenin ever was. Hitler at least won election as chancellor (then subsequently had the Reichstag pass an enabling act that made him dictator).

        • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
          Harry Coin says:

          George,

          Yes, well the time between the February and October revolution, being less than a year, didn’t seem worth mentioning. Generally the October Revolution of the Commies is referred to as the ‘second phase’ of the Feb revolution. The people wanted as far from what the Tsar and Church at the time represented as they could possibly get. Their first option was Lvov in Feb 1917, the Kerensky, for a grand total of 6 entire months. Then Lenin in Oct of the same year– etc. and so on.

          There were ‘whites’ and so forth that remained (and yet remain– even right now) faithful to church-Tsar combo (n.b. canonization effort these days toward the Romanovs). But the majority of the Russian people wanted none of it, or rather enough of them wanted and supported the Bolshies either alot or lukewarm– this over against the deep support of the smaller minority that were willing to go to bat for the whites (and who generally were the beneficiaries of education and other perks being supportive of the tsar entailed).

          Yes there was a 4 year civil war to follow with many factions but the bolshies generally had enough of the support of conscripts and peasantry that they prevailed.

          The people ran mostly from the manner of policies they felt the Tsar represented and (like Greece and the Colonels in some respects) the church ran as hard as it could to seek favors from the powerful government figures in exchange for rallying support for their powerful government friends among the church’s people. To a significant extent this is where the idea of the state supporting the church financially (over against the people supporting the priest and parish) leads even now to a suspious view toward donating to the parish that exists among many people who remember those days. Indeed only here in the USA where there is zero government financial support for the parish has the church actually operated in a historically purer form. There is very little Christian conscience justification for money taken from the people by force by the government in the form of taxes and given to pay church clerics by the state.

          The church leadership was wrong, wrong, wrong to conflate its purpose with political personalities.

      • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
        Isa Almisry says:

        Not quite. Although I don’t find Czarist Russia heaven on earth (the Governing Synod was an abomination of ecclesiology, the ruling class was rife with disbelief, the phyeletism of Russification etc.), the Bolsheviks had to seize power, rather than risk an election, had to imprison Pat. St. Tikhon and prevent the implementation of the Russian Council because the “Living Church” was quite dead, had to kill off the Imperial family lest the restoration come, etc.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      George Michalopulos says:

      Dean, I completely agree with you. My point was that for all those who were looking for some “deal” between the PC and MP, I’m saying that there’s less here than meets the eye.

      If I may paraphrase, the Church is too precious an institution to be left fallen men, bishops included. We’ve got to stop putting all our faith in one class of people and remember that this is God’s Church, not ours. So yes, I do agree with you, God will confound all the byzantine intrigues that are going on.

  8. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    cynthia curran says:

    Lenin belived in an elite to carry off the Revolution-the vanguard which is similar to modern leftist today.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Harry Coin says:

      Cynthia, right. But without the support the vanguard becomes like the band leader without a band. The old Russian majority really, really felt like they were being used by a king-and-church that sat atop a hugely self serving corrupt government– and that for decades and decades. WWI and aftermath weakened the Tsar&Co enough for this to overwhelm them. If the mostly rural population (a great majority of the total) who lived there were happier it is unlikely Lenin’s ideas would have been supported enough for what happened to happen. Always a little cheap to say what might have happened ‘if’ because there’s no way to really know for sure, of course.

      So Lenin got support– in no small part because the rural population bought Lenin’s theory they’d get more control and to retain more of what came of the land they worked. Reading Lenin’s history I rather suspect he really thought it should have worked out that way and was sincere at least in that dimension, wrong in so many tragic ways according to history, but sincere.

      At any rate had the church really worked to stay close to the people and its mission and not so closely associated with political personalities and dynasties it isn’t as likely it would have been repressed when the political wind changed.

      I rather suspect the ‘atheistic’ part of Communism wasn’t really essential to the communist economic agenda (indeed Christianity in the Gospel has quite a few ‘radical’ phrases an economic communist might have upheld as ‘proof texts’ much as Rome deemed it wise to interpret the Peter-as-rockfirm faith means Peter was to ruled the rest) but was included to increase what a leadership could do without feeling moral constraint.

      Ah well. Let’s hope the present Russian church adopts a more bottom-up approach of inspiring and connecting with the locals and stays out of supporting political figures that do favors for more senior clerics (or who know career ending things about ordained-young-never-married clerics…) But that’s another subject…

      • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
        Fr. Andrew says:

        Make no mistake: Communism is at its essence totalitarian (because it is anti-property), which can only find its proper expression through atheism. It’s impossible to impose a communistic system without totalitarian methods, and it’s impossible to use such methods while there’s any sort of transcendental metaphysics in play. No true communism can permit religion, which is why it never has.

        Fr. Hans has written a lot more on the relationship of this economic ideology and the atheism that necessarily accompanies it.

        • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          Let me sharpen this a bit. Communism is at its essence totalitarian because it repudiates God. The economic dimension (no private property) derived from it temporalized Christian Messianism, that is, the top-down enforcement of the social and cultural vision that emerges from the repudiation and temporalization.

          Communism comes from Marx’s philosophical materialism, that deep current of thinking that rose in the west like a tsunami and informed the three great shapers of modernity: Freud, Darwin, and Marx. Those were heady times, fueled in large part by a faith in progress that would not apostatize until the blood flowed on Flanders Field. The Existentialists responded.

          Philosophical materialism sees all reality as the product of natural forces (think Darwin’s idea of randomness preceding the self-ordering of nature, or Marx’s denial of the “ideal”, that is, all thought, belief, ie: non-empirical processes as emanating from the material brain, etc.). Any appeal to God, that is, moral authority above and apart from the individual lies in the realm of superstition, ignorance, etc.

          The denial of private property emerged out of the Marxian social and cultural vision which in turn emerged from faith in the myth of progress built on the precepts of philosophical materialism. At bottom, the repudiation of God drove this train.

          Here’s a good definition of philosophical materialism written from the atheist point of view: Philosophical Materialism.

          An unrelated point: Marx has fallen, Freud has fallen, and Darwin will be next. (This is not the same thing as saying that their thinking does not affect culture even today.) Regarding Darwin, the battles we see between Darwin and his detractors is really an argument between randomness and purpose (the myth of progress) fought out in the arena of science, specifically what narrative will we employ to organize scientific data into a coherent whole. In the end, Darwinian naturalism will be seen as another creation narrative (as opposed to “objective fact”). Call it the creation story of the philosophical materialist.

          More unrelated points. Some great books:

      • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        Actually, the rural populations fiercely resisted Lenin. Their loyalties were rooted in soil and Church, which is one reason why the destruction of the Church came as swiftly as it did. The cities, and in particular the intellectual classes fell to the seduction of Communism.

        And no, there is no appeal to misguided sincerity that mitigates the the relentless ideological drive of Lenin and his followers or the evil it unleashed. Lenin was a driven, highly disciplined, man who pursued his diabolical vision with a relentlessness that brooked no deviation. Read Solzhenitsyn’s “Lenin in Zurich” to learn more about his self-preparation. (The Germans, aware of the danger of Lenin’s ideas, allowed him passage back to Russia only if his train was sealed — as if the virus had to be encapsulated.)

        Further, atheism is central to the Communist ideology. That too, is another reason why the Church had to go. Communism is a variant of the Tower of Babel; a demonic rebellion against, ultimately, God. It has contours with Christian morality because all the variants take their shape from the deep cultural precepts of their age (Babel is timeless), in this case Christian Messianism temporalized, that is, the Christian teleology and vocabularly without the Messiah. That’s where the confusion between “sharing things in common” in Acts and communist ideology came from in the last century and why it still exists today among Christians. I touch on the these cultural variants and how they express themselves today in my essay The Artist as Vandal: Culture and the desecration of religious symbols.

        • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
          Harry Coin says:

          Fr. Hans,

          I do not argue that Lenin’s sincerity was appropriate, only that he was sincere in his stated views, such as you note his relentlessness and so on. His efforts, such as they were, he intended to drive down the road he advertised.

          I do not suggest that aethism was anything but central to communist ideology. I do suggest that much of the economic ‘heart’ of ‘Das Capital’ and the economic aspects of what the communists were trying to accomplish could have been possible without stamping so hard upon the church. I feel the reason the aethistic elements were so emphasized had more to do with the near axiomatic identification among so many of defacto church operations and the tsar.

          For example look at how so many orgainization elsewhere ‘of the left’ have coopted the Christian doctrine and churches by emphasizing suitable passages and overlooking the unhelpful bits. Had the church been seen as being more of service and help and closer to ‘the proletariat’ and less as ‘a means of control thereof’ — well who knows it’s anyone’s guess — but the aethism might not have been played up so much in what commusim turned out to be. Even Stalin recognized during WWII that in some ways he needed what was left of the church not in high places or for spying but among the general population for encourgement and human support. Not that it kept him from horrid contrary choices but it says something about how Communism might have come and gone without the need to murder clergy had only the church been perceived differently.

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            Yes, I understand what you mean Harry. But atheism (not the parlor atheism of Christopher Hitchens, but the kind of atheism that brooks nothing less than the radical overthrow of culture — like Chris Olifi in the piece I wrote about art) is at the heart of communism. There is a hatred of order, of the same spirit you see in, say, the smashing of the Pieta years back, or the slashing of Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” (whoever thought we would have to look at the masterpieces of Western civilization through Plexiglas?) In this matrix, sincerity fades into irrelevance. It has no interpretive value.

            If you really want to understand Communism read Chambers’ “Witness”:

            Your thesis that the Orthodox Church of Russia could and should have done more is one I agree with, although we differ on our historical interpretations of the thesis. I’ve often wondered why Communism succeeded in subjugating (it never took root) the people of Orthodox countries. In fact, if it wasn’t for Harry Truman, Greece might well have gone the way of Albania or Romania. It’s a historical question that still hasn’t been adequately answered in my opinion, but, like you, I think the lethargy of the Church played some kind of role.

            That’s the reason I object to Orthodox leaders softening their stand on issues like abortion, or remaining silent in the presence of tyrants. We must resist ideas that justify injustice by appeals to transcendent claims and reveal them for what they are lest we slip into the same lethargy and stand silent while greater evils emerge. There is a whole lot at stake here, but few seem to realize it.

            Fortunately, Pat. Kyrill seems to understand this, as does Pope Benedict. Pat. Bartholomew does not it appears.

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Harry Coin says:

            Fr. Hans,

            Yes I offer no argument re: the atheism that went hand-in-glove with Communism as it was articulated. My thesis (I think you did get it) is simply that had the church been less identified with civil authoritarian/dictatorial ‘bloodline’ leadership and more with the people it was given to look after what might have replaced the Tsar would not have included the need to stomp the church as well. Maybe Kerensky or similar ideas would have survived and Lenin’s ideas would have not won the day.

            My other, and more important thesis is to note that the Russian church is not so many years away from the total previous chaos and it cannot ignore its stewardship of Russia during the years prior that led up to the catastrophe of 1917-1921. Many argue that the suffering imposed on clerics and religious during the Soviet time was penalty enough– yet I do not offer argument in terms of penalties but only to cause all the suffering to mean something and it is this:

            For the church to recognize its mission is not to get conflated with the personalities in leadership to bring the people of God into line with the civil authority but instead to inspire the people of God to be the best possible people they can be and leave the resulting civil authority to the discernment of the royal priesthood.

            The idea sounded recently that the right people are more important than the right structure really resonates with me.

            So often, so very often, in both volunteer, business and governmental projects I see people who mean well and work well make things happen. Occasional missteps are expected and corrected and the group muddles or sprints ahead. So often I see when people feel the need to reach for the rulebook — it is in the manner of people looking for an arrow in a quiver, something they can use ‘to win’, and no matter the outcome much of the energy is gone and does not return.

      • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
        Scott Pennington says:

        Harry,

        You should really just refrain from commenting on the Bolshevik revolution until you’ve taken time to read about it.

        The tsar abdicated in the face of widespread unrest. Kerensky’s government took over and scheduled elections. The elections were held and a new government took office. However, the Bolsheviks had seized physical control during that period and, after the new assembly refused to accept their revolution, the Bolsheviks dissolved the new assembly at gunpoint. Actually, there’s an argument against representative democracy there. The Kerensky government was too weak to hold power in the face of the Bolshevik’s machinations. At one point, the Provisional government actually armed the Bolsheviks to assist them against what they thought was an immanent conservative assault on the government. The Bolsheviks never gave up the arms and later used them on the democratic socialists.

        There was no popular revolution against the Church or in favor of Lenin. Contrary to the name of their faction, the Bolsheviks were not even a majority of the socialists. I know that doesn’t fit the populist narrative your heart aches to believe, but you can’t make that narrative work given the facts – - unless you willfully disregard the facts, which you seem more than willing to do. This, of course, is similar to the attitude the Bolsheviks themselves had.

        And, by the way, it is foolishly callous of you to blame the Church for the attitude the Bolsheviks had toward religion. They shared the same attitude as Marx. Only later, when Russians were happy to surrender to the Germans during WWII because Stalin had made the place such a hell hole and persecuted the Church almost out of existence, did Stalin ease up on the Church in order to rally the people. But once Krushchev came to power the persecution began again in earnest.

        What did the Church do to deserve that? Fail to bow to the communist government with sufficient fervor? No, Harry, communism is inherently, violently anti-Christian.

        • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          And, by the way, it is foolishly callous of you to blame the Church for the attitude the Bolsheviks had toward religion. They shared the same attitude as Marx

          Yes, but…

          The Russian Church has a historical problem (perhaps already atoned for in its suffering under Communism) that historians have yet to untangle: Why was it mute to the cultural currents that would lead to the blood and tyranny as prophesied by Dostoevsky years before? Much of the Church was bound in chains of its own making, a condition that some in the Church were working feverishly to loosen — a council had been called for 1919 to address these problems but it came too late.

          See:

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Scott Pennington says:

            Fr. Johannes,

            Nonetheless there were those in the church like Fr. Georgi Gapon who attempted to work within the system to improve the conditions of the masses. It was after the massacre in 1905 that the people ceased to think of Tsar Nicholas as Tsar-Father and he became known as Bloody Nicholas. But that was a result of a violently suppressed demonstration led by a cleric.

            The problem with the departmentalization of the Russian Church dates back to Peter the Great, ironically sometimes referred to as the “First Bolshevik”. But that’s not what caused the Bolshevik revolution and the people stood by the Church, by and large, after Peter abolished the Patriarchate. There was a cultural history dating back to the first half of the 19th century of an “intelligensia” challenging the legitimacy of the powers that be. This was not the movement of the masses. It was the movement of those who felt sorry for the masses and who sought more power and attention for themselves.

            The Bolshevik Revolution was not a revolution led or spearheaded either by the masses or, for the most part, of those who had been workers. That is a rarity in socialist revolutions. Generally, the masses are taken advantage of by a small well educated clique who seize power not by popular support but by stealth and local, limited instigations.

            The Bolshevik revolution had nothing whatsoever to do with the Church. It had to do with a weak, ineffectual monarch who refused to either a) compromise and tolerate an assembly with real but limited authority, or b) supress liberal forces with sufficient severity to remain in power.

            Harry wrote:

            “While indeed it was despicable a great many of the people conflated church and tsar, that was as the church and tsar did not protest too much or indeed suggested the conflation. This is a stubborn and unhappy historical fact. Scott’s judgement upon me for mentioning it doesn’t change that.”

            You would have the same argument vis a vis the Byzantine Empire.

            No, Harry. What I originally characterized as “despicable” (I changed it to “foolishly callous”) was your attempt above to blame the Church for the Bolshevik’s attitude toward religion – - which others have taken the trouble to challenge as well. I should have left the original language of my post as it was.

            To recap: Once again you accused the Russian people of rejecting the Church and choosing Lenin. Once again your assertions were refuted as factually baseless.

            I wouldn’t be so abrupt about this except that it really is egregious to repeatedly make a claim that the Russian people rejected the Church and welcomed communism when the Russian people never rejected the Church and never embraced communism. It really is an insult to the millions murdered by the communists to claim otherwise. I know you have a problem with tsars, kings, emperors, etc. and “Caesaropapism” but you really should take that out on the Byzantines instead – - although the fact that the Fathers supported this symphony of church and empire should give you cause for pause.

            Harry, I find myself agreeing with you on some of the things upon which you comment and would have no desire to challenge you in this way if you would cease the ideological polemic regarding what the Russian people rejected or invited. Aside from that, I don’t have a bone to pick with you at all (though we may disagree about the optimal form of government, that is an honest difference of opinion).

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Isa Almisry says:

            Thanks, I’ve been trying to remember the title.

        • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
          Harry Coin says:

          While the finer points of the various Communist holdings and thougths are important to those who appreciate finer points, the simpler people in the country were unhappy and that for a long time. That the final result of their unrest was not what the simpler folk thought they were getting arising from their unhappiness is another subject.

          These folk were not happy with the tsar system and down deep where it counted if it meant repression of the chuch enough of the population was okay with that if it meant no tsar. Naturally the church had its more committed members that persevered at great cost. That the consequence wasn’t what the advertising suggested could have been predicted but the unhappy folk were more interested in what they knew they didn’t like over against accurately predicting the consequences of the transformation.

          While indeed it was despicable a great many of the people conflated church and tsar, that was as the church and tsar did not protest too much or indeed suggested the conflation. This is a stubborn and unhappy historical fact. Scott’s judgement upon me for mentioning it doesn’t change that. Try not to confuse the assessment of the situation with any thought I personally am anything other than very saddened by it.

          Communisms stated tenets I think could have been stated and offered without the need to repress the church had the church’s relationship seen to be closer to ‘the proletariat’ and not as a ‘another means of control by the owners of capital’. Again it is always cheap to suggest what history might have been if this or that were different since there is no way to test it, but it is reasonable to suppose if communists on balance saw the church as being not so involved in personality politics and generally more connected with, over against controlling of, the lower economic strata it could have been a lot further off the radar.

          The more educated ‘White Russians’ had and have a different view, they were not the majority across a broad enough cross section of the population to win the day. Again note the pressure to canonize the Romanovs, and intense focus on the leader of the church to be seen with the politcal leadership.

          Indeed one of the biggest cultural reasons for the existence of the ROCOR over against the OCA was the simpler earlier ‘Herman of Alaska’ Russian history here that generally predated the troubles in the USSR, and those who were displaced later with an eye to returning.

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            Communisms stated tenets I think could have been stated and offered without the need to repress the church had the church’s relationship seen to be closer to ‘the proletariat’ and not as a ‘another means of control by the owners of capital’.

            Not really. The nature of communism does not allow this softening of its utopian claims. Lenin called those who thought this way “useful idiots”. Solzhenitsyn writes of fellow prisoners who were thrown into the Gulags even though they were supporters of the State. Some believed to their dying day their imprisonment was the result of a clerical error. They never grasped that they worshiped a beast.

            Communism is fundamentally a religion — a moral vision that purports to order the workings of the creation. This is a point very difficult for Americans to grasp given our propensity towards fairness and equality as well as our high value on individual independence. Europeans see it more easily than we do, yet at the same time they seem more susceptible to the utopian claims.

            To books in the must read category that reveal how the deep structure of Communist ideology is necessarily and unremittingly totalitarian:

            Also see this article I recently posted: Whittaker Chambers: Man of Courage and Faith.

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Harry Coin says:

            Fr. Hans,

            Again I don’t argue that communism didn’t reject God or that rejecting God wasn’t part of what they were selling from the start.

            What I do think is quite clear is that had the church not be so conflated with the tsar’s system in the minds of so many both high and low what replaced the tsar, even as lefty as it was, need not have included rejection of the church.

            Scott and others more or less take overcount and take as widespread the view of those faithful who did not reject the church and suffered and so on. Clearly had the church taken root in the hearts of the majority what replaced the tsar wouldn’t have included rejection of the church.

            I know Scott has an affinity for authoritarianism and has a need to thread the available history to support that, but I just don’t think in broad strokes it is supportable here. What replaced the tsar need not have included the requirement to stomp the church had the church not been so conflated with the tsar.

            I do agree this was extant in the Byzantine empire as well, of course the major difference being the attacking army was not defeated in the case of the Byzantines, while in the case of Russia the attackers were defeated yet the change came from within in the aftermath.

        • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          Scott, putting on my priest’s hat (which I never really remove, BTW): If you could remove the personal animus, this would be one fine comment. In fact, it’s a fine comment even with the animus. Remember though, you impose a penalty on the reader by forcing him to extract the animus from your ideas.

          Think of it this way: The animus adds a handful of dirt to otherwise clear water. After a while sifting the water gets tiresome and the reader will skip your pond to move to water he already trusts will be clear.

          Or think of it this way: Good manners are social lubrication, the oil that keeps the clashing parts of the engine running. Remove the oil and the engine will freeze.

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Scott Pennington says:

            Fr. Johannes,

            I understand your point; however, this is not the first time that Harry has made this assertion. In fact, I think it’s at least the third time and each time I’ve called him on it. I think he feels it’s necessary for it to have been that way to fit with his own personal politics. Some personal animus may indeed be called for in this situation. What he has done is to accuse the Russian people of rejecting the Church and embracing communism. Frankly, he is either ignorant of the facts or a liar. But it is hard for me to believe he is simply ignorant since he has been repeatedly corrected by a number of people but nonetheless persists. Something in him needs to believe in and propagate this narrative. Under the circumstances, I can’t apologize or see any reason to mitigate what I say (at least too much) until he realizes that the facts, widely available, are at odds with his assertion. It would not be a big deal at all except for the fact that many of the Russians he accuses of having betrayed the Church and embracing communism were actually persecuted, tortured, put into political re-education camps, committed to mental institutions or killed for their allegiance to the Church. They deserve better than to be slandered.

            Nonetheless, I will let it go. I think everyone has been made aware of the facts by the interchange. At this point it’s just beating a dead horse.

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Scott Pennington says:

            PS: Thank you for the compliment, Fr. Johannes, even with your reservations

  9. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Chris says:

    May you fellows, and ladies, recommend some books, online or not, and/or articles regarding Russian History discussed here today? :)

  10. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    We can summarize history: The truth is always hated, persecuted and slandered. There is abundant evidence of this in the past and recent times. In the West the truth is ignored, is being killed by indifference.

    In order to reduce the load of “must read” books I suggest to follow St. John’s example.
    An Orthodox Life of St John of San Francisco

    As a child, he was serious for his years and he later wrote, ‘From the first days when I began to become aware of myself, I wished to serve righteousness and truth. My parents kindled in me a striving to stand unwaveringly for the truth, and my soul was captivated by the example of those who had given their lives for it’. Following the desire of his parents, he entered law school in Kharkov. He was naturally gifted student, but spent more time reading Lives of Saints then attending academic lectures. ‘While studying the worldly sciences’, he wrote, ‘I went all the more deeply into the study of the science of sciences, into the study of the spiritual life’.

  11. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Father Arseny is speaking to his fellow Gulag inmates:

    You say that that Communists have arrested the believers, closed churches, trampled on the faith. Yes, it does look that way, on the surface, but let us look into this more deeply, let us glance at the past. Among us Russian people many have lost the faith, lost respect for our past, we lost much of what was precious and good. Who is at fault? The authorities? No, we are at fault ourselves, we are only reaping what we ourselves have sown.

    Let us remember the bad examples set by the intelligentsia, the nobility, the merchants, the the civil servants. We in the priesthood were the worst of all.

    Children of priests became atheists, and revolutionaries, simply because they had seen in their families lies and a lack of true faith. Long before the revolution priests had already lost the real right to be the shepherds of their people, of their conscience. Priesthood became a profession. Many priests were atheists and alcoholics.

    From among all the monasteries of our land, only five or six were real beacons of Christianity. Valaam Monastery, Optina Pustin with its great startsy, Diveyevsky Convent, and also the Monastery of Sarov. Others became communities with almost no faith in them.

    What could save the people from such monasteries? What kind of an example was set?

    We did not raise our people right, we did not give them the basis of strong faith. Remember all this! Remember! This is why the people were so quick to forget all of us, their own priests; they mainly forgot their faith and participated in the destruction of churches, sometimes even leading the way in their destruction.

    Understanding all this, I cannot point a finger at our authorities, because the seeds of faithlessness fell on the soil which we ourselves had prepared.

    – Father Arseny: Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father (1998, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press and Human Kindness Foundation; Vera Bouteneff, translator)

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Scott Pennington says:

      Let’s assume for a moment that Fr. Arseny actually existed and that the books aren’t just pious fiction. And let’s further assume that, as is certainly true, the people of Russia were far from perfect and many flirted with all sorts of faithlessness.

      I still say he’s dead wrong.

      “You say that that Communists have arrested the believers, closed churches, trampled on the faith. Yes, it does look that way, on the surface, but let us look into this more deeply, let us glance at the past.”

      It’s not that it “looks that way”. That is what happened. And, furthermore, they did not do it because some priests drank too much.

      “Among us Russian people many have lost the faith, lost respect for our past, we lost much of what was precious and good. Who is at fault? The authorities? No, we are at fault ourselves, we are only reaping what we ourselves have sown.”

      How many lost faith? How does he know this? To which bad examples is he referring?

      “Children of priests became atheists, and revolutionaries, simply because they had seen in their families lies and a lack of true faith. Long before the revolution priests had already lost the real right to be the shepherds of their people, of their conscience. Priesthood became a profession. Many priests were atheists and alcoholics.”

      So all of the children of priests who strayed have their parents to blame? How does he know how many of the tens of thousands of priests in Russia were athiests or alcoholics? How does he know why some of the children strayed into radical, revolutionary circles and ideas? Could it not just as easily in many cases be because the parents set good examples but revolution sounded more sexy and immediately satisfying?

      I’ll tell you where this comes from. Everyone, especially priests, want to love God. So how does one explain such a terrible turn of events as the Bolshevik Revolution and still love God? What kind of God would allow this? Answer: A God who was offended by whatever long list of offenses you can compile, real or imagined, serious or trivial. “Of course! It’s not God who’s to blame, it’s the victims themselves. If we would only be perfect, no harm would ever come to us!”

      Well, the life of Christ ought to show us the falsehood of that proposition.

      Doesn’t this sound a bit sick to you? If it doesn’t, it should.

      Now, I don’t mean to dispute that God sometimes chastises His people. No doubt about that at all. There are many examples of this in the Old Testament. However, generally the Old Testament prophets did not seek to absolve the chosen instruments of God’s wrath from guilt for what God allowed them to do. “Blessed is he who dashes the heads of thy little ones against the rocks.” Remember that verse?

      Sometimes bad things happen and we just have to live with the fact that we don’t know and may never know why – - other than the depravity of those that pulled the triggers.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Harry Coin says:

      Wow. Yes, exactly that. I should get a copy. Thanks!

  12. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    I don’t think this essay blames the victims. I think it calls responsible people to repentance, and warns that vigilance must be maintained, especially in the Church. “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17). Don’t forget, one of St. John Chrysostom’s exiles was presided over by a synod of Bishops led by the Bishop of Antioch. No real obedience to the Gospel there either even though it was sanctioned at the time by the Church.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Scott Pennington says:

      “Who is at fault? The authorities? No, we are at fault ourselves, we are only reaping what we ourselves have sown.”

      Sorry, Fr. Johannes. He explicitly tells his fellow inmates not to blame the authorities but instead to blame themselves. If that’s not blaming the victim, there is no such thing.

      In other words, “Those who are torturing and murdering us are not to blame, we, the ones being tortured and murdered, are.”

      Makes your skin crawl to hear what he said restated more directly, doesn’t it? Remember that the next time you hear some supposedly-spiritual-father equivocate about the actions of evil men. Masochism is also evil.

      • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
        Eliot Ryan says:

        Why did Christ say:

        Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.

        ?

        Because they were blind, spiritually dead. They did not become blind over night. It was a long process. The lack of faith around them is to blame… They were not raised properly.

        Without sufferings one cannot be made perfect.
        Trials and sufferings are NECESSARY to our salvation. Father Arseny was perfect in faith, perfect in Christ.

        • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
          Scott Pennington says:

          No Eliot, in this instance, he was not. Christ acknowledged that those who condemned Him were guilty and asked for their forgiveness. Fr. Arseny refused to acknowledge the culpability of the murderers and torturers and instead transferred blame to the victims (much like a modern liberal would do, searching for “root causes” to explain away the choice to do evil). Reread the quote above that Fr. Johannes posted. He simply refuses to hold the tormenters responsible for their own chosen moral actions. Moreover, he blames those victims (for he is talking to everyone around him) who may or may not have had some part in setting the stage upon which the tormenters’ moral choices were made. That’s inexcusable. He saves God’s honor by saying to the victims, essentially, “you deserve it”.

          No doubt trials and suffering can aid us in our salvation. That’s not in question.

          The reason that this matters is because if you are not willing to say that a person is responsible for their actions, true forgiveness is impossible. After all, it wasn’t their fault to begin with, what’s to forgive? We’re all just victims of circumstance. That isn’t really forgiveness at all. You ignore the perpetrator and instead chose to accuse yourself, probably out of the very human tendency to see onesself as unworthy. But this doesn’t really help anything. In fact, it adds insult to injury. How would it feel to be told that there’s no injustice in the horrible persecution being inflicted upon you? Probably not too well.

          This line of thought really deserves to be confronted wherever you find it.

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Eliot Ryan says:

            It will certainly benefit you if you read the entire book. Fr. Arseny is not defending the authorities, he is only saying that “we are only reaping what we ourselves have sown”.

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Scott Pennington says:

            “Who is at fault? The authorities? No, we are at fault ourselves, we are only reaping what we ourselves have sown.”

            “Understanding all this, I cannot point a finger at our authorities . . .”

            Eliot,

            The words speak for themselves. He does not hold the authorities responsible for their own moral choices but blames the victims for their imperfections. Defend it, rationalize it away, whatever. It’s still sick.

      • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        There is no suspension of judgment implied in the statement,Scott. He is speaking as a pastor, directing the gaze inwardly to reveal that those who blame also share a measure of culpability in the crime. At least that is how I read the intention of the dialogue.

        • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          One thesis I heard from Dr. Cunningham who wrote “A Vanquished Hope” is that Islam arose in the countries that were Arian and never returned to Orthodoxy. Islam, in other words, is an outgrowth/result/consequence of the Arian heresy.

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Chris says:

            Now this is interesting.

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Harry Coin says:

            Years ago an antiochian deacon out of HC/HC seminary (full M.Div program) a few years was recalling some history I’ll summarize as while Arius’s thought was the ‘intellectual framework’ for what became ‘Arianism’ or ‘The Arian heresy’ what gave it life and force in ‘arian countries’ was more to do with the desire to maintain separate / distinct civil government identity. Those so inclined were also inclined to accept what, to them, was a ‘how many angels fit on the head of a pin’ inconsequential theological distinction having no importance to daily life but useful politically.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Isa Almisry says:

      Worse yet, Pope St. Cyril helped his uncle Pope Theophilos exile St. John.

  13. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Harry #8.1.2.1.2

    My thesis (I think you did get it) is simply that had the church been less identified with civil authoritarian/dictatorial ‘bloodline’ leadership and more with the people it was given to look after what might have replaced the Tsar would not have included the need to stomp the church as well. Maybe Kerensky or similar ideas would have survived and Lenin’s ideas would have not won the day.

    Yes, I get it and largely agree. I phrase it a little differently (ie: The cultural soil that enabled the Communist victory was tilled to some extent by the conflation of the Russian Orthodox Church with the sate.) How it otherwise might have ended up is of course speculative, but the efforts towards internal reform that Cunningham outlined in his book shows the thesis was also operative by some within the Russian Church before the great persecution that started in 1918.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Harry Coin says:

      George’s point re: the Byzantines raises for me an old itch. I’ve really wanted to read a modern and frank analysis of why Orthodoxy has done so badly and for so long (centuries) in countries now predominantly Islamic.

      I wonder whether the same theme operative to some degree in pre-communist Russia — the church being conflated in the minds of the people with the civil authority — has much to do with why Islamic countries rejected Orthodoxy. Seeing it as merely a ‘stalking horse’ for a foriegn empire.

      I remember in a related theme much of the energy for the groups I think including the Copts and Armenians being different on purportedly theological grounds having more to do with contemporary political factors than theological ones.

      • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
        Scott Pennington says:

        withdrawn

      • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
        Dean Calvert says:

        Hi Harry,

        I’ve read in more than one of Fr. Meyendorff’s books that the reason the various heresies (I’m not sure it would be limited to Arianism) had such fertile ground in the Middle East was that the Orthodox Church had not acculturated to the local culture, and came to become viewed more and more as the “imperial” church. I believe the word “Melchite” actually means “imperial”, or so I’ve been told by a Melchite bishop.

        I’ve always said that Orthodoxy has pursued two grand strategies during the past 2000 years. The first, what I’d call colonial Orthodoxy, was what was practiced in the Middle East by the Byzantines. It kept the Church in the Greek language (the lingua franca of the East) but came to be considered part of the occupying power. The second, the national model, is where the Church acculturated, took on the local language and culture. This is what ave us the Slavic churches – ie the bulk of the Orthodox Church in the world today.

        One path leads to extinction, the other leads to evangelism and life. This is essentially the same question that Terry Mattingly is asking in his article today at http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/religion-faith060210/religion-faith060210/

        By the way, one of the most amazing parts of Byzantine history is to read the accounts following the initial Byzantine losses to the Muslim Arabs. Keep in mind that Heraclius had only recently demolished Persian power and returned the Cross to Jerusalem. Then, suddenly, the Byzantines were seemingly swept away by these nomads.

        The real problem if you really dig into it, was that in many cases, the gates of the cities were simply opened up to the invaders. I remember one quote from a Syrian person of the time, saying “Whoever these people are, they could not possibly hate us as much as the Romans do.” Go and read about the way Alexandria fell….should never have happened…but the Monophysite population had had enough of the Byzantines.

        In any case…these two grand schemes have been pursued…and it’s pretty clear which one works. One gave us Rachmaninoff vespers, the other gave us minarets.

        Best Regards,
        Dean

        • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
          George Michalopulos says:

          Dean, you’re right about the “two strategies.” The imperial strategy was essentially a colonial one based on racialism. This antagonized the non-Greeks, thereby making the Islamic advance easier than it needed to be. (The Muslims were welcomed as liberators by many of the Monophysite, Nestorian, heterodox Christians.)

          “Melkite” comes from the Semitic root word M-L-K, which in Hebrew is melek and in Arabic malik. Both mean “king.”

        • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
          Harry Coin says:

          Dean, as the model that works appears to be ‘acculturation’, what’s it going to take to get folks in Islamic countries to consider changing?

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Dean Calvert says:

            Hi Harry,

            Re: what’s it going to take to get folks in Islamic countries to consider changing?

            Just like always…the blood of martyrs, courage, faith, prayer and fasting.

            Certainly not appeasers more concerned with retaining buildings than souls.

            Just my humble opinion…(which will not be appreciated in Phanar).

            Dean

  14. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Chris says:

    Thank you for the book recommendations.

  15. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    cynthia curran says:

    I agree that the Russians can’t be totally blame for the communists revolution but a small group seize powered and people were deceive. As for the Byzantines favoring the system they did is of course they grew out of the old Roman system and also had another model that thought along those lines the persians with the Zoroaster religion. Christians adopted ideas and symbols from pagans thru out the Roman period. Some of the oldest icons of Christ are of the good shephard in the catacombs this is not only to Christs calling himself the good shephard and the referance in the 23rd Pslam but relates also to pagan myth. One article I read online shows similaries to some of these icons and those of the Greco-Roman myth figure Orephius. Christians dealt with people from a pagan world that were familar with Orephius, so the early christians use these images. Also, they use the govenment system that was available at that time.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Geo Michalopulos says:

      I don’t think it’s right to blame the people as a whole in general except in this instance: when the people of God know in their hearts that the bishops and priests are erring, and they go along with it, in fact, lustily go down the same path, then truly, judgment will begin “in the house of the Lord.”

      The prophetic witness is not for the theologians alone. That’s one reason why there was such revulsion against the granting of a honorary degree to the Archbishop of Canterbury, why so many Orthodox (particularly former Anglicans) were scandalized. It’d be easy for us laymen to sit back and say “well, it’s all academic,” but we’d be missing the point, which is a little heterodoxy leads eventually to apostasy. Apathy, like ignorance, is no excuse.

      Since I’m on this line, that’s why so many Orthodoxy are similarly revolted by our membership in the WCC/NCC. To what end? What has our “witness” accomplished? Have they become more traditional? Far from it.

      Let’s pursue this further: where is the revulsion among the people of God for the way that certain members of the American episcopate was treated by the Phanar? How dare they tell us that we can’t invite all canonical bishops to the EA? I’m way past anger at the entire Chambesy process which codified a procedure for the “diaspora” in which no bishops from the “diaspora” were invited to. Does this make sense? Is this charitable? And why do so many of our ethnic jurisdictions keep on submitting to the abuse? Do we think that we will escape judgment?

  16. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    cynthia curran says:

    Also, Robert Conquest books are excellant.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Chris says:

      Yes – I marked that. But, I think I’m going to have to quit my job in order to read everything I would like to. :)

  17. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    cynthia curran says:

    Arian countries is where islam rose, Maybe in two places I can think of, North Africa- the area of Carthage and so forth but the Vandals were defeated in the 6th century before the rise of Islam and Spain ruled by the Visgoths who were arian when Islam came. Egypt was not arian by the time the rise of Islam but monophysite and so was Syria. Maybe, is theme is that Christ as a secondary God was replaced by the one nature which has the two natures. Sorry, I’m not a theologican. Also, Sicily and Sardinia and few parts of Italy came under Islam rule but the Ostergoths who were arian also were destroyed in the 6th century.

  18. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Chris says:

    I think that the OCA showed her worthiness of God with a mission of inclusiveness and charity in North America through His Beatitude, Met. Jonah’s+ speech at the St. Moses the Black national conference and the Synod’s endorsement of FOCUS. Glory to God!

  19. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    cynthia curran says:

    Christians that are sympathic to a Communist point of view use the book of acts where the early church voluntary had a system that everyone gave his property to help other members in the early church but this seems not have been a requirment as some left wing christians think. The christian group most suspectiable to this were groups in medival europe that challenge the authority of the Roman Catholic church. in the 1500′s, the early anabapists which hate traditonal Catholicism and thought the church was corrupted since Constantine seized control of a German town and started a christian communists society. Modern liberl left wing Protestants are infuenced to a certain degree by this early group of anabapists. Why some Orthodox Christians are attractive to the views of early anabapists on communistism I don’t know. I believe in rural areaa in Russia farmland was held more in common than in Western Europe,maybe I’m wrong here. Greece, like Italy was behind most Europe economically after world war II, hence like the Italians which also had a communists movement and the Italians of course were Roman Catholic tended to be attractive to communisism,maybe partly because of poverty.

  20. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    Scott,

    The words speak for themselves. He does not hold the authorities responsible for their own moral choices but blames the victims for their imperfections. Defend it, rationalize it away, whatever. It’s still sick.

    It is a matter of level of understanding. St John Maximovich did not blame those who took him to court. He blamed the devil. The problem was how come they have such sick/mad/possessed authorities. Can you blame a sick person?

    Anyway, read the entire book to see who Fr. Arseny was, rather still is. Saints do not die.

Care to comment?

*