Russia and the West Have Swapped Spiritual and Cultural Roles

St. Nicholas Cathedral in Kronstadt, Russia

St. Nicholas Cathedral in Kronstadt, Russia

Editor’s Note: Readers will argue about the author’s positive assessment of Russian culture in this essay. Don’t get caught up in that. Look instead at the descriptions of ‘Democratic’ West, particularly the spiritual exhaustion we face and our refusal to resist the culture of death that grows around us. Those are indisputable.

Source: Russia Insider

By Iben Thranholm

Russians are returning to Christianity in a modern and contemporary context.

They are familiar with the bitter fruit of atheism and have no appetite for the bleak and barren wasteland it produced.

In Russia, Christianity is associated with being modern and progressive.

The young, the hip, the wise and the wealthy, express their Christianity as a completely natural and straightforward thing.

Today, the spirit of communism shows itself in western worship of human rights, freedom of speech and the elite’s utopian notions of so-called open societies. We are headed for the very wasteland that the Russians were relieved to leave behind.

Russians perceive activists like Pussy Riot as latter-day Bolsheviks.

The subject of this interview is a Danish journalist and theologian  who hosted a series of five programmes, entitled “From Russia with Love” on Danish national public service radio, Radio24syv, with the sub-heading “An Unbiased Look at Putin’s Russia.”

Inspired by Emperor Constantine, she believes Christianity in the West can be rejuvenated by looking to the East. Iben is aware of the sheer enormity of this task. “Such, alas, is the depth to which Western hatred for Christianity has sunk,” says the theologian, who does not hesitate to defend President Putin, on whom the Western media delights in heaping derision and scorn.

Pussy Riot desecrating Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow

Pussy Riot

“The Pussy Riot case opened the door to Russia for me,” she explains.

“I understood that Russia is a country that refuses to compromise on Christian values. Russia is not just a country or a nation, Russia is a spiritual concept, a state of mind. Criticism of President Putin was not the crime for which the activists were tried and convicted. Their crime was the invasion of the Christ-The-Saviour Cathedral, the holiest of places, and engaging in a blasphemous act in front of the iconostases.

In the West, freedom of speech is widely deployed for the purpose of desecrating religion, but Russia does not permit crossing the line into blasphemy. That really fascinated me, and so I travelled to Moscow to learn more and this eventually resulted in a series of radio programmes trying to help Danes move beyond the tedious and unhelpful caricature-like clichés and provide them with a nuanced view of Russia.”

What was your impression of Russia?

“I experienced a fantastic energy, a moral energy similar to America in the ’50s with the old moral values. I met helpful, poetic and cultured people with a spirit of self-sacrifice I have not seen before. The atmosphere in Moscow is completely different from that of any capital in Europe, and unlike here in the West, I feel much more spiritually free in the East.

While the West is deriding and disowning Christianity and Europe revels in self-loathing, Russians are returning to Christianity in a modern and contemporary context. Bear in mind that Christianity was suppressed under Communism, which was atheistic. Russians are familiar with the bitter fruit of atheism and have no appetite for the bleak and barren wasteland it produced.

The interesting thing is, that in Russia, Christianity is associated with being modern and progressive. It is the spirit of the young, the hip, the wise and the wealthy, who express their Christianity as a completely natural and straightforward way of life. Christianity is simply fashionable, but not in the superficial Western pop manner. Christianity’s roots grow deep in the soil of Russian life, and they look with amazement at how we guard, or rather, disregard, our spiritual heritage.

Not only that: They discern in our obsession with political correctness, and the social liberal opinion policing of the general media and academia, a new manifestation of the terror of totalitarianism they counted themselves blessed to escape after 75 terrible years.

After the Cold War, East and West swapped roles spiritually, culturally and morally. Cultural Marxism now holds unrestrained sway in the West.

But Communism and Social Democracy are probably not the same?

“Let me put it a different way. During the rule of Communism, Russia found itself in the grip of a culture of death, but she is returning to life, in the sense of Christian culture with a strong awareness of the historical roots and continuity.”

The situation in the West is the complete opposite. We celebrate death and have surrendered to the satanic view of man in a self-righteous rage and rant against God. We can divorce with ease on-line. We prioritise work and career above family responsibilities especially raising children. We favour euthanasia, abortion on demand, homosexual rights and same-sex marriage while our cities are submerged in Islam and growing segregation.

Russia has chosen a completely different direction, and it is one of the reasons that many Russians perceive activists like Pussy Riot as latter-day Bolsheviks. They invade and desecrate the sanctity of the church, a holy place. The West celebrates this as progress and prosperity. Russians are reminded that the spirit of communism is still alive. It merely assumes new forms and takes up residence in the West, where liberals and progressives love and adore Pussy Riot.

Today, the spirit of communism shows itself in western worship of human rights, freedom of speech and the elite’s utopian notions of so-called open societies. We are headed for the very wasteland that the Russians were relieved to leave behind. Patriarch Kirill has warned the West: “Do not take the path we took. We tried it and it leads to destruction!”

Recently the Russian military held an exercise based on the scenario of an attack on northern Norway, Aaland, Gotland and Bornholm. Do we just turn the other cheek?

“Well, that’s not the true way to look at it. The Russians hold such an exercise because of the geopolitical pressure that NATO creates by deploying hostile military forces along the Ukrainian border and in the old Warsaw Pact countries.

Russian foreign policy has long been demonized. Russia is compelled to respond to a situation it did not create, which is not the same as aggression. Why should Russia accept being cut off from access to the sea, from Saint Petersburg to Vladivostok? Such a thing is unthinkable. With bald-faced hypocrisy, the West makes it look like Russia is our new enemy. The truth is exactly the opposite. The West is its own worst enemy.


  1. Oleg Pohotsky says

    If only it was so. If only Patriarch Kirill’s pastoral concepts so eloquently stated were also the basis for practice, It is striking how the commentator transitions from the spiritual to the political within just a few paragraphs. The Danish theologian may have benefited from observation of church life in the provinces where showcasing is not so prevalent. This is to take nothing away from the strength and fervor of many true and practicing believers.

    Greetings with the feast of the Transfiguration.

  2. The West will become an even worse enemy to Russia when Islam overwhelms it and destroys the nations to the west of Poland. Russian volunteers will have to come and fight the Muslims with us and for us, or Russia will have to nuke the seething cauldron of jihadism Europe will have become.

  3. True. Many spiritual leaders and theologians around the world are seeing this picture. It is showing to all of us, who take the human history recorded in The Holy Scriptures as a guide for nations in the present day, that God is with us, He is never changing, and He continues to teach us – just the way He taught the Jews. This is good here:

  4. Reginald Smith says

    I wonder …
    Could this be why Mary was so insistent about the consecration of Russia? For the salvation of the west of all things?

  5. I wouldn’t be so sure about Iben Tranholm conclusions, communism was better-it really cared for the poor- than today’s West so-called values , which are a a natural degeneration of the French Revolution not of communism

    • Gregory Manning says

      V. Lenin detested the poor. He considered them to be a drain on the state and society because they were not productive. Remember, it was touted as a “Workers Paradise”.

    • Hi, John–

      The French Revolution was not in any way ontologically different from Communism. It was, in fact, the precursor of Bolshevism and
      in many ways its model. The French Revolution:

      a. Began with a violent proletarian revolution, that…
      b. murdered the nobility and…
      c. turned the churches into public buildings after desecrating them and…
      d. establishing atheism as the law of the land,
      e. promoting licentiousness and debauchery before…
      f. ruthlessly stamping out “excesses” of public mirth,
      g. all of it enforced b y the “Committee of Public Safety,” which…
      h. established a police state with show trials and “lettres de cachet…
      i. all of which grew out of the “rule of the proletariat” envisioned by the Paris Commune.

      The only thing different about it was that the French people came to their senses sooner. Neither soon enough
      nor thoroughly enough, however, because the shadow of the Revolution still lingers over France.

      Communism, in any of its forms, does not “care” about anybody, John. It is entirely about political power, and
      the manipulation of the resentments of the people to keep the leaders in power. It just keeps talking about “caring”
      and “justice” and “equality” while concomitantly establishing a rigid class system of its own, at the top of which are
      the most politically-favored.

      • Texan Girl by the Grace of God says

        Father James, thank you! Truth spoken right here! Communism says there is no God. satan is the father of lies and the master of deception. Those who “care” about “justice” and “equality” are really minions for satan. They have been deceived and they are all about deceiving. Manipulation and resentment are the hallmarks of Communism. God forbid it!

    • Reginald brings up an excellent point, and in response, I believe this is exactly what Fatima is about. (BTW, I am an Anglo-Catholic, not Roman Catholic, but I also take some of what happens into consideration too).

  6. Communism=West values? I wouldn’t be so sure

  7. The passing attacks on the decline of the West are correct but trite. Everything else is just Putinist propaganda. Russia is NOT becoming a Christian nation. While 70% of the population identifies as Orthodox, 30% of those supposed Orthodox Christians do not believe in God, and only 10% of them actually attend services. If you want to see culturally Orthodox nations, look to Russia’s enemies, Georgia and Ukraine. Russia cannot even produce enough priests to staff its churches – it has to import them from Ukraine.

    Putin is Orthodox like Don Corleone is Catholic: He values its contribution to his respectability, but he doesn’t let it interfere with business. Everyone knows that the prosecution of Pussy Riot was motivated by the group’s attacks on Putin, not their “invasion” of Orthodox cathedrals. The charge against them – hooliganism motivated by religious hatred – is nonsense. They were criticizing Putin for his abuse of Christianity – and the Church for allowing itself to be coopted. I wrote a lengthy blog post on the PR episode a few years ago:

    • The god- father to Putin’s children is Valeri Gergiev who is not a believer but like Putin is culturally orthodox . The Russan church is Christian in the same way that the Mafia is Roman Catholic … Something like that.

  8. Sir (since you prefer to conceal your name),

    In your BlogSpot article you have defended:

    1. Violation of an Orthodox cathedral by intent;
    2. Disregard of a protected area before the Holy Iconostasis;
    3. Violation of the Solea;
    4. An obscene performance in an Orthodox church;
    5. Deliberate disturbance of the peace of those (however “few”) who were there to pray.

    In short, you have advocated for the desecration of a holy place, on grounds it was conducted
    on behalf of a political position with which you agree.

    You come off as a curious sort of “Orthodox Christian,” Sir, considering your cavalier attitude
    toward a Temple of Christ. If you ever do manage to make it to seminary, you’re going to have a rough
    time. It will, however, be worth it, if you are obedient (ooh–there’s that word…) to your spiritual director.

    Joseph of Arimathea–the founder of the Western Church–is the Patron of my parish. He and his followers built
    the first above-ground structure ever to be dedicated to the worship of Christ. It was made of wattle and daub, and
    stood for six hundred years before the larger, stone Lady Chapel was built over it. I am convinced he would not share
    your dismissive attitude toward such behavior in God’s House.

    in Christ,

    Fr. James Rosselli
    St. Joseph of Arimathea Orthodox Church
    and House of Prayer
    ROCOR (Western Rite)

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