April 24, 2014

Solzhenitsyn: Men Have Forgotten God

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Over at Voice Crying in the Wilderness, Chris Banescu reminds us not to forget Alexander Solzhenitsyn's penetrating analysis into the decline of Western Culture. Solzhenitsyn's conscience was forged in the crucible of suffering under the Soviet Communists. It was in the Gulag's where he received the critical insight that the line between good and evil rests in the heart of every man. Sanctification, or holiness to use the translated Greek, begins within. Healing of culture first begins with interior repentance -- the changing of the mind, the clearing of conscience, the putting off of sin -- and from there the healing salve of the love of God begins to enter the darkened world anew. Solzhenitsyn was one of the last century's great moralists, and we need real moralists more today than ever. He showed us that true morality, that locus or touchstone between man and God exacts a cost, just as Christ said it would. His examination of the murderous mechanisms of Communism, particularly … [Read more...]

Fr. Hans Jacobse: Liberty

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I love my country and several years back I wrote an essay expressing my gratitude to her. It describes immigrating to America when I was a young boy. "Wake up," my father whispered. "We're almost there." It was a cold March morning. I was six years old. My family was sailing from The Hague, bound for New York,a single Dutch family aboard a ship crowded with Hungarians in exodus from their abortive revolution. The voyage had been thrilling, at least to the wide eyes of a six-year-old. My parents, my two sisters, my brother, and I had spent the trip in a cabin the size of a small bedroom, but I had enjoyed virtual free run of the ship and its seemingly endless maze of hallways. We roamed for hours at a time, peering behind each open door. Occasionally, a Hungarian family would invite us into their cabin. There we would sit, not understanding a word that was spoken, but basking in the warmth of welcoming smiles. One night, during a storm, the steamer's engine failed. … [Read more...]

Patriarch Kirill: European Population Will Die if it Fails to Come Back to its Spiritual Sources

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow

Source: Interfax Moscow, June 22, Interfax - Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill urged European religious leaders to make collective efforts to pursue the revival of Christianity within the continent. "The Russian Orthodox Church proposes that European Christian communities unite to become partners of the states and European civil community in pursuing the revival of tangible connection between the human rights concept and the pan-European spiritual heritage," the Patriarch said at the Moscow meeting of the European Council of Religious Leaders. According to him, only economic and political ties in Europe cannot be "a sustainable basis for the well-being of European community" and existing social values of human rights and rule of law and democracy may remain just "the forms which are unlikely to benefit in the conditions of moral relativism and sometimes may even cause harm." Patriarch Kirill quoted "the decline of family values causing depopulation in Europe" as … [Read more...]

Shades of Grey: The Record of Archbishop Stepinac

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As a long-time upholder of friendship and alliance between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditionalists, I am disheartened by Pope Benedict XVI’s uncritical portrayal of Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac (1898-1960) as a saintly figure during his visit to Croatia earlier this week. In a homily at the Zagreb Cathedral the Pontiff called Stepinac “a fearless pastor and an example of apostolic zeal and Christian fortitude, whose heroic life continues today to illuminate the faithful of the Dioceses of Croatia, sustaining the faith and life of the Church in this land”: The merits of this unforgettable bishop are derived essentially from his faith: in his life, he always had his gaze fixed on Jesus, to whom he was always conformed, to the point of becoming a living image of Christ, and of Christ suffering. Precisely because of his strong Christian conscience, he knew how to resist every form of totalitarianism, becoming, in a time of Nazi and Fascist dictatorship, a … [Read more...]

An Open Letter To Orthodox Anglicans

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Source: Journey to Orthodoxy Highlight: Years ago, my search for historic, English Christianity led me to read the Ecclesiastical History of the English Church by the Venerable Bede. What did I find? An early encounter between the evangelist Saint Augustine, and English king Ethelbert struck me as somehow strange: Augustine's companions carried images of Christ, painted on boards - (icons) as they are commonly known. That's strange, I thought - that's what Greeks and Russians do, not English Christians. The reasons soon became clear. Until the eleventh century, the English Church shared more than a love of icons with the whole body of the Church: they shared a communion of beliefs, moral practice, and liturgical life with the Church throughout the world. This lasted for centuries, but it was not to last forever. I was born and raised a proud Anglican. For generations, my family were patrons of churches, ardent monarchists, and defenders of all things English and … [Read more...]

Wisdom from John Adams

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“Be not intimidated… nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice.” … [Read more...]

New Footage of the Destruction of Smyrna in 1922 Made Public [VIDEO]

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Source: The National Herald A never-before-seen video containing historic scenes from the destruction of Smyrna in 1922, which was shot by George Magarian was made public by his grandson Robert Magarian, who discovered the film at his grandmother's New York home, where it had laid forgotten for decades. Source: The Economist | May 1st 2008 WHEN Smyrna—modern Izmir—fell to the Turkish army in 1922, and much of it was destroyed by fire, the city's role as a bastion of Greek and Christian culture, going back nearly 2,000 years, came to an abrupt end. Before that, the port had been home to a diverse and cosmopolitan population; by the standards of the region, it was a beacon of tolerance and prosperity. In addition to the Greeks, Armenians, Jews and Turks, there were also Americans and Britons and what Giles Milton calls the “Levantines”, rich families of European descent, who spoke half a dozen languages and occupied vast villas. Their dynasties dominated the … [Read more...]

Fr. George Calciu: First Century Christian in the Twentieth Century

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Wesley J. Smith is a frequent commentator on the AOI Observer. Source: First Things | Wesley J. Smith Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. I had no idea. To be more precise, before I converted to Eastern Orthodoxy, I knew that the Orthodox Church had been harshly suppressed by the communists, but I had no idea that the cruelty of persecution often equaled that inflicted on the early church. Father George Calciu (1925–2006) was one such sufferer for Christ. A Romanian by birth, an Orthodox Christian by upbringing, and a priest by vocation, Calciu spent a total of twenty-one brutal years in prison—tortured and subjected to brainwashing—for his outspoken evangelism and criticism of communist materialism. Fr. George’s remarkable story of faith and courage is vividly told in the exemplary book, Father George Calciu: Interviews, Homilies, and Talks. The book is primarily a first … [Read more...]

Russian Orthodox Church Urges Political and Legal Treatment of Crimes Committed by Bolsheviks

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Moscow, April 18, Interfax - Proposals on de-totalization recently made by the President's Council for Development of Civil Society and Human Rights have long come to a head, the Moscow Patriarchate believes. "It is quite evident that such proposals should have been made long before. It is necessary to give legal and political treatment of the crimes committed by the Bolsheviks' regime. Not only do they include Stalin's crimes, but also those committed by Lenin, Dzherzhinsky and Trotsky," Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations said in an interview to Rossiyskiye Vesti weekly. He believes it is necessary to commemorate the victims of the bloody Bolsheviks' coup and "stop glorifying the butches by naming streets in their honour." "At the same time, we should avoid replacing the Soviet society, despite its distorted attitudes, with the consumer society which prevents people from having any big goals," Father Vsevolod … [Read more...]

A Hidden History of Evil: Why doesn’t anyone care about the unread Soviet archives?

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Source: City Journal | Claire Berlinski In the world’s collective consciousness, the word “Nazi” is synonymous with evil. It is widely understood that the Nazis’ ideology—nationalism, anti-Semitism, the autarkic ethnic state, the Führer principle—led directly to the furnaces of Auschwitz. It is not nearly as well understood that Communism led just as inexorably, everywhere on the globe where it was applied, to starvation, torture, and slave-labor camps. Nor is it widely acknowledged that Communism was responsible for the deaths of some 150 million human beings during the twentieth century. The world remains inexplicably indifferent and uncurious about the deadliest ideology in history. For evidence of this indifference, consider the unread Soviet archives. Pavel Stroilov, a Russian exile in London, has on his computer 50,000 unpublished, untranslated, top-secret Kremlin documents, mostly dating from the close of the Cold War. He stole them in 2003 and fled Russia. Within living … [Read more...]

Acton Institute: Atlas Shrugged – See the Movie, Skip the Book [VIDEO]

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I received permission to reprint this blog post by Acton Institute blogger Bruce Edward Walker. Walker, correctly in my view, draws out the authoritarian impulse in Rand's philosophy of "Objectivism" that can be distilled down to this: The libertarianism (man's moral agency is self-referencing) that describes Rand's Objectivism stands against the classical liberalism (what we today would call moral conservatism) of a Burke, Kirk, or even Tocqueville which see the bonds between people and thus society and culture as fundamentally religious in character. Rand stood against the cultural leveling of statism, particularly the loss of character and mediocrity it fosters. That is the appeal of her philosophy. There is little difference between, say, Soviet materialism and the state-sponsored corporatism of the modern welfare state (Europe in particular but increasingly so in the United States). However, the final refutation of this debilitating journey into what Friederich Hayek warned is … [Read more...]

Death Warrant of Ancient Christianity

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If American liberals and neo-cons get their way and America invades Syria, the Syrian Christians will be persecuted and forced out of their ancient homeland. Source: Real Clear Politics | Philip Jenkins Ever since the wave of popular movements started sweeping the Middle East, Western media have rarely found much good to say about the authoritarian regimes under attack. Few observers deny that the last generation or so of Arab rulers were indeed greedy despots, and it seems desirable for Western powers to intervene as forcefully as they can on behalf of what are commonly billed as pro-democracy movements. The arguments against intervention are obvious enough, most obviously that it is much easier to begin a military intervention than to end it, while we rarely have much idea about the political character of the supposed democrats we are trying to aid. But in one case above all, namely Syria, debates over intervention have missed one overwhelming argument, which is the … [Read more...]