April 19, 2014

Book Review: The Second Russian Revolution (1987-1991)

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Belows is the review I wrote of Leon Aron's new book Roads to the Temple: Truth, Memory, Ideas, and Ideals in the Making of the Russian Revolution, 1987-1991. It is a great read and I recommend it highly. It chronicles Glasnost, the period of awakening in Russia from around 1987-1991 that, Aron argues, was a moral awakening, indeed a repentance, of the first order that enabled the Russians to throw of the spiritual shackles of Communism. Nothing is more powerful than a word spoken in truth, wrote Alexander Solzhenitsyn, arguably one of the most influential moralists of the last century. Glasnost was the period where speaking the truths that got you killed just a year or two earlier resounded ever more loudly in the public square. Lest we complacent Westerners take this development for granted, let's remember that we have largely left off believing that truth even has an objective character. We are very close to the (philosophical) materialist assumptions that justified such great … [Read more...]

The Soviet Story [VIDEO]

ukraine-famine

"The Soviet Story” is a story of an Allied power, which helped the Nazis to fight Jews and which slaughtered its own people on an industrial scale. Assisted by the West, this power triumphed on May 9th, 1945. Its crimes were made taboo, and the complete story of Europe’s most murderous regime has never been told. Until now… WARNING: The video contains disturbing images of human suffering. Viewer discretion advised. … [Read more...]

Memo to Jim Wallis: Christ is not a crypto-communist/ socialist

Anthony posted this in the comments but it is so good I am posting it here. Source: On Living Simply: The Golden Voice of John Chrysostom St. John Chrysostom: Should we look to kings and princes to put right the inequalities between rich and poor? Should we require soldiers to come and seize the rich person’s gold and distribute it among his destitute neighbors? Should we beg the emperor to impose a tax on the rich so great that it reduces them to the level of the poor and then to share the proceeds of that tax among everyone? Equality imposed by force would achieve nothing, and do much harm. Those who combined both cruel hearts and sharp minds would soon find ways of making themselves rich again. Worse still, the rich whose gold was taken away would feel bitter and resentful; while the poor who received the gold from the hands of soldiers would feel no gratitude, because no generosity would have prompted the gift. Far from bringing moral benefit to society, it would … [Read more...]

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk: Culture is at risk of becoming anti-culture without the Church

Metropolitan Hilarion

Brilliant! Met. Hilarion's warning deals with what Nietzsche called the "transvaluation of values" -- what his dark prophesy warned would happen in the West because "God is Dead," by which he meant that Western culture was entering into a period where it functioned within the cultural structures shaped by Christianity but without concrete, existential communion with the Savior -- the kind of communion that would lead to martyrdom if required. Those structures would weaken as the historical memory of Christianity grew increasingly dim from one generation to the next. That is the period we are in today, call it secularism, but understand that secularism is just a layover from one city to the next. We have left the City of God (recalling Augustine) for what -- Islamic domination? Perhaps. Man cannot live by bread alone, and that includes the secularist as well as the believer. Met. Hilarion calls for nothing less than the spiritual transformation of culture. His clarity comes from … [Read more...]

Patriarch Kirill & Pope Benedict: A Tale of Two Leaders for a new Missionary Age

Pat. Kyrill and Pope Benedict

I've been asked to become an Orthodox columnist on Catholic.org and accepted. Below is my first essay. Regular readers will notice ideas we discussed on the AOI Observer. +++++++++++++++++ Catholic Online (www.catholic.org) NAPLES, FL. (Catholic Online) - Over four decades ago Pope John Paul II said that the restoration of the Russian Orthodox Church was necessary for the cultural restoration of Western Europe. At the time his words seemed audacious. Russia was still under the Communist yoke, the winds in Poland were just starting to blow, and the Berlin wall loomed invincible. Culture watchers dismissed the statement as the wistful longing of a faithful man. Yet John Paul, with his gift of seeing through the clutter of immediate events into the deeper and far-reaching ways of God, knew better. He believed that the fall of Communism would unleash a transformation that could only come from those who suffered. His words are proving true. The Orthodox Church in Russia, … [Read more...]

Pope Benedict’s message to Albanian Orthodox

Abp. Anastasios

From Zenit: Christ's Saving Message Has Borne Fruit in Your Country VATICAN CITY, DEC. 4, 2009 -- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana, Durres and All Albania, who is the head of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania. * * * Your Beatitude, "Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess 1:2). I am pleased to extend a fraternal welcome to Your Beatitude and to the other distinguished representatives of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania accompanying you today. I recall with gratitude, in spite of the sad circumstances, our meeting at the funeral of the late Pope John Paul II. I also remember with satisfaction how my same venerable Predecessor had the occasion to greet you in Tirana during his Apostolic Visit to Albania. As is well known, Illyricum received the Gospel in Apostolic times (cf. Acts 17:1; Rom 15:19). Since then, Christ’s saving message … [Read more...]

Fr. Symeon on the Manhattan Declaration

(HT: ONet) On the one hand there are those who find it [the Manhattan Declaration] “shocking” and part of the culture war, etc. These are frightened that the document will be perceived as harsh and unloving, etc.. God forbid that anyone Christian ever stand in public for Truth. And on the other hand those that are relieved to see an Orthodox Pastor with backbone to stand with others and speak truth to error, truth to power, and truth to the politically correct stricture in our society that is choking free speech and seeking to criminalize Truth. – If this much sets you off, don’t bother to read further. My Bishop, fifth generation Orthodox priest, survived the Holodomor, the systematic starvation of between 10 and 20 million people mostly Christians in Ukraine by the communist in 1932 and 33. His father was forbidden to celebrate divine liturgy – all Christian worship was forbidden. He celebrated liturgy anyway and at the end of the service the local commissar showed up and … [Read more...]

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MM2qq5J5A1s[/youtube] Twenty years ago today. The following is from "The Origin of Russian Communism" by Nicholas Berdyaev (published by Geoffrey Bles, 1937): Marxism is not only a doctrine of historical and economic materialism, concerned with the complete dependence of man on economics, it is also a doctrine of deliverance, of the messianic vocation of the proletariat, of the future perfect society in which man will not be dependent on economics, of the power and victory of man over the irrational forces of nature and society. There is the soul of Marxism, not in its economic determinism. In a capitalist society man is completely determined, and that refers to the past. The complete dependence of man upon economics can be explained as a sin of the past. But the future is otherwise; man can be freed from slavery. And the active agent which frees humanity from slavery and establishes the best life, is the proletariat. To it are … [Read more...]

Russian monasticism and the legacy of Communism

The Zenit news service interviews Fr. Peter Mescerinov, vice-director of the Center for the Spiritual Formation of Children and Adolescents of the Moscow Patriarchate, about the "new and enduring challenges of Russian monasticism." ZENIT: What is the reality of these [monastic] communities today? Father Mescerinov: The principal tragedy of our ecclesial life today is the absolute lack of community. There are communities that are born in contrast to the position of the Church in a general sense; however, there are no communities as such as a norm of community life. This is linked no doubt to the Soviet legacy, because in that period every aggregation was regarded with suspicion and in danger of being repressed; in fact, an anti-solidarity instinct has been created in the very conscience of many generations of persons. When people enter the Church today, educated according to this mentality, it is very difficult [for them] to feel and even to understand that it is a … [Read more...]

Russian Church: Martyrdom and Resurrection

russian orthodox church website logo

From an article by Nadezhda Kevorkova of Russia Now, published as a supplement to the Telegraph: The Russian faith, like the Russian revolution and like life in Russia itself, never condescends to the individual. In the 20 years since the collapse of the Soviet system, the Russian Church has been rebuilt from ruins inhabited by shuffling old women and somewhat eccentric zealots into the most powerful body on the post-Soviet stage. No other Russian social institution has experienced such a rising from the ashes. And no other country has seen such an obvious revival of faith as has occurred in Russia. … [Read more...]

‘Stalin’s Ghost Still Walks’

Writing in History Today, Catherine Merridale examines "competing versions of Russia's troubled past in the light of present politics." The excerpt below from "Haunted by Stalin" discusses the decline of interest in the Soviet past, and especially the work of Memorial, the research organization dedicated to keeping the memory of Communism's victims alive. For some Russians, Merridale observes, "the steady flow of soul-searching and criticism began to smell of treachery." In her conclusion, she writes that, "Stalin’s ghost still walks, in other words, and, though it is easy to condemn the Kremlin’s new occupants for invoking it in their pursuit of power and wealth, the strategy could work only because a large proportion of Russia’s people was ready to welcome the old villain home with open arms." Memorial ... was reporting increasing harassment. The St Petersburg branch was raided in December 2008 and electronic data from its archive seized. Although the raid was later … [Read more...]

Archbishop Hilarion: Stalin a ‘Monster’

HT: ONet blog Russian archbishop's censure of Stalin as “a monster” makes waves By Sophia Kishkovsky Tuesday, 04 August 2009 23:00 MOSCOW (ENI) -— Comments by a senior official of the Russian Orthodox Church condemning Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, accusing him of genocide, shortly before a European security forum equated the crimes of Stalin and Hitler, have stirred heated debate in the Russian media and blogosphere. "I think that Stalin was a spiritually-deformed monster, who created a horrific, inhuman system of ruling the country," Archbishop Hilarion had said in a June interview with the news magazine Ekspert. "He unleashed a genocide against the people of his own country and bears personal responsibility for the death of millions of innocent people. In this respect Stalin is completely comparable to Hitler." … [Read more...]