When a country returns to the faith, it inevitably begins to protect in law the religious feelings of its citizens. This is one of the stages on the way to a country becoming Christian again, a process that ends with the restoration of the Monarchy. We are especially aware of this fact in this year when we commemorate the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan. When, on the other hand, a country deChristianises, then it stops protecting the religious feelings of the faithful. The article below is then significant. Once more it suggests that contemporary Russia is heading towards reChristianisation and dewesternisation, whereas the contemporary West is heading towards deChristianisation – two trains heading in opposite directions.
It seems to some that the political and business elites of many European countries have over the decades sold their souls and sold out their countries for the sake of EU lucre. Today more and more believe this and are deciding to retrieve their independence and freedom. They want no more to do with a ‘Fourth Reich’, as they call it. They do not want a Germanisation of Europe, but a Europeanisation of Germany, the latter being divided into its constituents parts, instead of dominating Europe as at present. Whether the United States, whose project the EU was and is, would allow this, is another question.
In England, where the ‘Conservative’ Party which, in this as in many other areas, has not been conservative for decades, this situation has led to the rise of a political Party called the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). A new movement in Germany, Alternatives for Germany, Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), also wants to escape from the straitjacket of the EU dystopia. Moreover, these movements are mirrored in new political parties, resistance movements and street protests in other countries in the EU, whether in Poland, Czechia, Greece, Spain, Cyprus, Italy or elsewhere.
All these new parties and protest movements face their problems and temptations, notably of falling into extremism or racism. For example, UKIP seems to want independence from Brussels and yet at the same time seems to refuse independence for Scotland. Brussels is after all only Westminster magnified, with the same anti-democratic and totalitarian ‘one size fits all’ mentality. Indeed, this Party’s error may well be in its very name, UKIP. It would perhaps be better if it were simply called the Independence Party (IP). Otherwise, it may simply be seen as a party of past-worshipping nationalists and racists.
Similarly, in Greece, the EU ‘Golden Dawn’ Opposition appears to have Fascist tendencies, in Germany AfD has been reproached as a party of academics and intellectuals, in Italy the protest movement has been accused of political irresponsibility, and so on. However, it has still not been explained why in 1975, when the UK was granted a referendum on possibly leaving the Common Market, as it then was, the vote counters were sworn to secrecy by the Official Secrets Act, and the majority in favour of remaining in it was astoundingly large. In any case it is easy to criticise the EU.
There is the obvious failure of its absurd euro project; its clear anti-democratic ethos; its openly admitted lack of transparency, especially of financial transparency. Little wonder it has been called a mafia superstate. In a global world, this EU customs union is surely totally out of date, a mere hangover from the reaction to the murderous European tribalism of the Second World War on the part of wealthy politicians who are now all retired – or should be. But what if the EU were to break up? What could it turn into? One possibility might be smaller groups of countries. For example:
A Northern European Confederation of some 140 million with Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
A Central European Confederation of some 165 million with the German Lands, France, Benelux, Switzerland, Austria, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania.
A Mediterranean European Confederation of some 185 million with France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Malta.
A Eurasian Confederation of some 350 million with the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan (the present Eurasian Union) and the other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, together with Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Greece, Cyprus, the Lebanon and Syria.
In other words we would suggest that the future of Europe may be in confederations of countries which actually have a shared history and culture, rather than in an unwieldy and centralised bureaucratic conglomerate.
http://www.pravoslavie.ru/put/61577.htm (See 3 February for the English)
The visit of His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill to China is over. He has travelled widely, celebrating notably in Beijing and in the Cathedrals in Harbin and Shanghai, remembering the work of the Russian and Chinese clergy and faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia there, notably of St John of Shanghai. Thus, the groundwork is being laid for the restoration of the national Chinese Church, dependent neither on the Catholic Vatican nor on Protestant America.
Professor Yury Kosov, Dean of the Faculty of International Relations of the North-Western Academy in Russia, commented today: ‘Not so long ago I was attending the defence of a doctoral thesis at the Faculty of International Relations in St Petersburg, entitled ‘Orthodox spiritual mission in the context of global processes of modernisation’. ‘Today we see that the Orthodox mission of the Russian Church is spreading the faith not only among Russian citizens, but worldwide. The Russian Church is active in furthering the spread of Orthodox values wherever it is possible…We must understand that in our world politics and spirituality are interconnected. If we do not defend national sovereignty…it is hard to keep spirituality in a country’.
The Russian Church also has a role to play in freeing bankrupt Cyprus and Greece and NATO-occupied Serbia. It is also active in Syria. Here it seems that the attempt to seize power by mainly foreign Islamist terrorists, financed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and backed by Western Special Services in the Jordan and Turkey, and armed even with chemical weapons to commit their atrocities, is failing. What they achieved with Western backing and arms in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt is perhaps not going to succeed in Syria. What the Islamists achieved in Iraq, with 80% of the Christians now expelled, and what they are trying to achieve in Egypt with the expulsion and massacre of the Copts, may not work here. The Patriarchate of Antioch, its flock often in exile in the Lebanon and Europe, may be reformed under the Russian Church.
Whatever criticisms may be levelled at the Russian Church inside Russia and its unworthy representatives outside Russia for their compromises in the past, it has to be recognised that with its canonical territory of 26.2 million square kilometres, between one fifth and one sixth of the world’s land area, and with that population, 1.755 billion, exactly one quarter of the world’s population, the Russian Church as a global power must now be recognised. In the last forty years we in the Russian Orthodox Church have come a long way, even from only a few years ago, when we were still a persecuted minority, mocked, buffeted and spat upon by all and sundry, both locally and globally.
Let us be clear: Spiritually speaking, the only reason to love a country and its culture is because of their spiritual content. Therefore, spiritually speaking, the only reason to dislike a country and its culture (we never dislike any people, because, like ourselves, they are God’s Creation and are therefore redeemable) is because of their lack of spiritual content. As regards any phobia towards any people, this must be due to a lack of love.
For example, I remember my last visit to the Soviet Union in 1976, when Brezhnev ruled. I remember saying then that I would never return until that government was free of official atheism and had stopped persecuting the millennial Church of the people. And indeed I did not return until 2007, when, in utterly different circumstances, the President stood by the Patriarch in repentance before us in the rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow.
In speaking of Russophobia, we are not speaking of the temporary political captivity of the Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia and its representatives outside Russia during the Soviet era. Given the decadence of most, though not all, of its parishes outside Russia at that time, as we discovered to our cost, anyone who wished to join the Russian Orthodox Church had only to join its free part, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR).
Here then, in speaking of Russophobia, we are speaking of the refusal to have anything to do with any part of the Russian Orthodox Church. What can lie behind such a refusal? It can only be cultural prejudice – which, like all prejudice, is a spiritual disease, a lack of experience and faith. Let us take, for instance, those who say that they cannot have anything to do with the Russian Orthodox Church because they are ‘Western’.
A first example:
This was an American I met a year ago, who told me that: ‘I will join your Church but only when Russia is a member of NATO and run by Americans’. And yet his is the country that welcomes newcomers not with a statue of Christ or His Cross, but with the statue of a colossal, ‘neo-classical’ (= neo-pagan), horned goddess on ‘Liberty Island’ in New York Harbour. This prophesies the prophetic words of St John of Shanghai – that the USA will fail because of its licence and greed.
A second example
This was the case of an Anglican about four years ago, who said that he could not join us because it was ‘alien to his Western culture’. Strangely enough, a little later, he ended up by joining one of the Greek Patriarchates. Out of pure curiosity I then asked him why he had made this choice. He answered that it was because ‘these people are Western, they give communion to all, they do not have confession before communion, they have adopted ‘our’ calendar, they have pews and seats and I can continue to be a freemason’. I said nothing, but thought his reasoning spiritually shallow and even empty. Later he lapsed. It came as no surprise to me.
A third example:
For years, indeed decades, we showed great patience with a convert from Anglo-Catholicism – how he loved to call himself a convert – never Orthodox. On paper he was a member of the Russian Church, but continually criticised it very harshly. Eventually, and it must be said that many felt relieved at this, he left to join a sect – which is what really he had always wanted; a Protestant wants to protest and ends by setting up his own personal church, that is, by forming a sect. I understood this fully when a year after he had left, his new ‘bishop’ wrote to me on another subject, asking why I thought that the CIA was not an honourable organisation, since many of his members worked for it!
A fourth example:
Seven years ago, like a little group in Estonia a few years before them, like a little group in North America decades before them and like a little group in France even before them, a small group of mainly elderly ex-Anglicans in this country left a strange part of the Russian Church, though claiming to retain its ‘Tradition’. For decades that group had persecuted any who had tried to restore that part of the Church to normal practices, forcing them to leave. Now they failed to explain how, now even formally outside the Russian Church, they would be faithful to something to which they had never been faithful.
In each case, a prejudice, a lack of love, a spiritual deformity, a spiritual disease causing spiritual blindness was responsible for Russophobia.
Today the seventieth anniversary of the Dambusters raid is being celebrated as a patriotic triumph in Britain. ‘Operation Chastise’, the official name of the action, was an attack on German dams, carried out on 16–17 May 1943 by the Royal Air Force, using a specially developed ‘bouncing bomb’. Many planes were shot down and many young RAF airman died, sacrificing themselves for the war effort.
As a result of the raid, the Moehne and Edersee Dams were breached, causing catastrophic flooding of the Ruhr valley and of villages in the Eder valley. An estimated 1,600 people were drowned. Although German war production was temporarily affected, the damage was mitigated by rapid repairs by the Germans, with their production returning to normal in September.
Initial German casualty estimates from the floods when the dams broke were 1,294 killed. This included Allied POWs and, in particular, 749 Ukrainian women, kidnapped slave workers. Later estimates put the estimated death toll in the Möhne Valley at about 1,600, including people who drowned in the flood wave downstream from the dam. Today, let us remember in prayer the Ukrainian Orthodox women, innocent victims of the most barbaric war in human history.
To the Innocent Victims of the Dambusters Raid, Eternal Memory!
Q: What is the essential difference between the Western world and the Orthodox world
A: The Orthodox world chose to follow the Gospel. However, at the start of the second millennium the Western world finally chose to follow the pagan Roman Empire, from which it inherited its pride and aggressiveness. Thus, when the British set up their Empire, their symbol was Britannia – the Roman name for Britain. And the French and the Germans, let alone the Italians, also used the Roman Empire and its symbols and insignia as their models. Even today, the heir of Western Europe, the Far West, the USA, treats the world as its Roman Empire, sending out its legions to conquer it and exploit it.
Q: What does this mean for Western religion?
A: As for the religion of the West, it was long ago deformed by the filioque heresy, which expresses the concept that all the Spirit and authority of God lies with Western man. This is not Christianity, this is racist neo-paganism. As a result of this humanistic deformation of the filioque, the West has come to lack the sense of the sacred, of the presence of God in its midst. As a result of this, it has in turn come to lack the sense of the ascetic, the sense that we can raise ourselves up to God through inner cleansing, and therefore it also lacks the sense of compassionate love, the fruit of this ascetic struggle. And as a result, it makes continual war, having developed the most incredible and costly technology to destroy all humanity several times over and indeed our whole planet, thus achieving the ability to end the world.
Here is the difference with the Orthodox world. And there are few places in the Orthodox world where this sense of the sacred, the sense of the ascetic and the sense of compassionate love been better kept than among Russian Orthodox. This is exactly what the 20th century Russian Church Father, Metr Antony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev understood so well. Those Orthodox who have not been contaminated by the West still possess the sense of God and man, whereas the West made sinful man into a god; already by the Renaissance, man was declared to be a half-god. This is why today the strange idea of homosexual marriage was born in the West. This is a throwback to the religion of pagan Rome and Greece, where gods and goddesses cavorted with men and women alike.
Q: Western religion is divided into Catholic and Protestant branches. Is there any difference between them?
A: There is no essential difference between Catholic and Protestant; they simply represent different stages in the process of degeneration, in the process of the loss of the sense of the sacred, of the ascetic and of compassionate love. These three values were replaced by scholasticism (the cold, calculating reason replacing the warm heart), ritualism (the outward replacing the inward), and nationalism (hatred for others replacing love of the familiar). In Catholicism this loss of the sense of the sacred can be seen very clearly over the last fifty years. Today, in their services Catholic priests turn their back on God and face the people who sit down; they have mostly done away with the veneration of relics, with fasting and ascetic struggle. Aseticism has been replaced by its opposite – consumerism. And yet, remarkably, traces of the sense of the sacred and the sense of the ascetic and even of compassionate love, can be found in Islam, Hinduism and even Buddhism, which is not a religion, but a philosophy. In this respect, the contemporary Western world stands out as the one exception in the history of civilisation, which is a sure sign of its decadence and coming collapse.
Q: You said that Western religion is racist. In what way is this true?
A: Western religion at first concerned only the Western elite, only later in general Western man (not even Western woman). It certainly was not concerned with other races, whom it looked on as inferior. For example, many of the American humanists of the eighteenth century had slaves – just like the Roman humanists some 2,000 years before them. And the belief of the British Empire was: ‘God is an Englishman’. It is only in the last fifty years that Western humanism has decreed that women, Africans, Asians, the handicapped and now homosexuals, and people of all races, are also gods – only provided of course that they first adopt the deluded Western ideology.
Q: But there are plenty of Orthodox who can be as cruel and proud as such Western people and there are many Western people who are neither cruel nor proud. What do you say?
A: Oh, there are a great many nominal Orthodox, those who have been baptised in recent years, especially in the ex-Soviet Union, who have not yet been Churched. And there are plenty of lapsed Orthodox in Westernised countries like Greece and Cyprus and in Patriarchates like those of Constantinople and Antioch, who have been Westernised and lost their roots. For them all religions are the same; some of them are clergy! But I am not talking about those, but about real Orthodox. And as for Western people, thank God that by His grace there are many Western people who have not accepted this self-deifying Westernisation; they are the authentic West, the West that Satan tried to bury a thousand years ago, but which keeps coming back by the prayers of the Western saints who call out to the souls of those who have kept a little humility and modesty. I constantly meet such people. They give cause for optimism.
Ironically, even Western people who accept this Western mentality prove to us the truth of Orthodoxy. Take Darwin, for instance. What is he saying? He is saying that without God man is an animal. He is right. Fifty years after he died Hitler proved it. Take Freud, for instance. What is he saying? He is saying that without God, man is reduced to his base instincts. He is right. Fifty years after he died the Western world proved it. Take Dawkins, for instance. What is he saying? He is saying that without God, man faces despair. He is right. 2013 proves it.
The sense of the sacred, the sense of the ascetic and the sense of compassionate love are the essential features of Orthodox Christianity. These are the opposites of Darwin, who denied God’s presence in His Creation, of Freud, who denied the importance of ascetic struggle, and of Dawkins, who denies compassionate love, proclaiming only genetic self-interest – egoism. Dawkins is only a reflection of the pure selfishness of the age of consumerism.
Q: As you are pessimistic about the Western world in its present state, what role do you think that Orthodoxy can play there?
A: The only institution left in the Western world with a claim to spiritual authority is Roman Catholicism. However, its authority has been suicidally undermined by of some its own clergy, who have been established in compulsory celibacy despite common sense and the proclamations by a minority of Roman Catholic bishops and thinkers who still have some common sense. The problem here is one of pride. A change in course as regards compulsory priestly celibacy would be tantamount to Roman Catholicism admitting to what the Orthodox Church has known all along – that it has been wrong ever since its creation 1,000 years ago. There have been and there are places where Roman Catholicism resembles a pedophile club. In many places its credit is at the greatest low it has known for hundreds of years. Given its failure, the few left in the Western world with faith and spiritual memory, spiritual consciousness and a sense of responsibility have turned or will turn to the Orthodox Church.
Q: But in concrete terms, what does that mean for people who live in the Western world? The Orthodox Church is a communion of Local Churches; which one should they join?
A: Only seven of the fourteen universally recognised Local Churches exist in the Western world. These are: The Russian Church (the vast majority of whose representatives in the Western world belong to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia); the Patriarchate of Constantinople; the Patriarchate of Antioch; the Romanian Church; the Serbian Church; the Bulgarian Church; the Georgian Church. However, the choice is more limited than this because in reality only the first three accept Western people; the last four, apart from being very small in most places (there are local exceptions) are usually mononational. In other words, they are often inward-looking, turned towards serving only their own national groups, sometimes with openly nationalist agendas.
Q: So in order to enter the Orthodox Church, there is a choice of three Local Churches in general?
A: In general, yes. However, as I said, there are local exceptions. For instance, in Italy the largest Local Orthodox Church is the Romanian. In North America there is still what is in fact a Cold War fragment of the Russian Church, which is called the OCA (‘Orthodox Church in America’). Although not canonically recognised by all Orthodox, there are places, perhaps especially in Alaska and Canada, where it represents a spiritual presence. And even as regards the three Local Churches which provide a choice, they have parishes in some places, but not in others; some of those parishes, especially in the ageing Patriarchate of Constantinople, are just as mononational and inward-looking as those of the other four Local Churches, poaching the clergy and people of other Local Churches, especially of the Russian Church. This is political meddling – strongly and openly backed by Western countries, particularly today by the USA.
Therefore, in reality, most Western people simply join whichever Local Church is available locally, having no choice at all.
Q: Is this situation likely to improve?
A: If only I knew the answer to that question! Given that two of those three Local Churches, the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Antioch have, despite their noble history, to some extent become fringe Churches, small, impoverished, politically dependent, sometimes ready to twist the canons to survive, the obvious choice is the Russian Orthodox Church, which is 75% of the Orthodox Church in any case. However, in fairness, that does not always correspond to reality.
In principle, the Russian Church has kept the faith more integrally than the other two Local Churches, remaining faithful to Orthodox practices, such as only giving communion to Orthodox, using the Orthodox calendar throughout the year, celebrating the services in full, or standing in church. However, here too, there are considerable problems. The main problem is the 75 year gap in Russian Orthodox history after 1917, caused by the Western export of Marxism to Russia and the deliberate Western sabotage of the Orthodox system there. This caused chaos inside and outside the Russian Church, from which it is only gradually recovering. It faces huge demands and huge responsibilities.
Q: What are these demands and responsibilities?
A: Firstly, the Russian Orthodox Church has had to restore the Church life that was lost inside Russia both before and after 1917. This restoration began in the late 1980s, immediately after the saving canonisation of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church, but this restoration is still ongoing with continued extensive Church building and instruction.
Secondly, it has had to unify itself with the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). This took place in 2007, but the process is ongoing, with parishes in the Western world still to be prepared to be given over to ROCOR, the unprincipled errors of the Cold War being erased, as the Church inside Russia restores Orthodox practice and canonicity to its parishes outside Russia. Sometimes it has a heavy price to pay for its unprincipled ‘legacy’ of the past.
Thirdly, and this has hardly begun, it has to convert the Russian State back to Orthodoxy away from corruption, so that the Church can use the State’s strength internationally in order to unify the Orthodox world, restoring the practices that have been lost there since 1917, reversing the Americanisation of, for example, the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Here we can see the hopes and efforts of Russian Orthodoxy to deliver countries like the Ukraine, Georgia and Serbia from NATO aggression, to save Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania from the tyranny of the EU trap and narrow nationalism, and today to rescue Syria from Western-backed Islamism which has been tearing that country apart in atrocities, in the hope that a restored Syria, like other countries, can integrate the new Eurasian Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.
Fourthly, and this has hardly begun, it has to restore the foreign policies of the Tsar’s Russia and send out missionaries to countries where it was active before 1917. In Asia, these include Thailand (100 years ago, Siam), India, for which Duleep Singh, the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, called on Russia to free from British imperialism, Hawaii, which invited Russia to become its protector, Alaska, which alas! Russia was forced into selling by the threat of Western Imperialism, China, Tibet and Korea. In the southern hemisphere, there is much to do in Africa and Latin America. And then there is the Western world itself, where Russia has begun building churches again, as before the Revolution, notably in Rome and Madrid, but tomorrow in Paris, Berlin and in hundreds of other cities and towns, oases in the spiritual desert that is contemporary Western Europe.
Q: Is this likely?
A; The first two processes have already begun, although more time is needed to complete them. As for the second two processes, they require political backing, finance, vision, an international consciousness, freedom, a sense of mission, above all, a sense of responsibility, of God’s destiny, and a sense of urgency. This is a high and noble calling.
Q: What do you think is necessary for the Russian Church in Western Europe now?
A: Apart from finance, we need suitable bishops of the younger generation, who have a natural command of Russian and of at least one Western language, and understand Western culture and Western people, so that they can unify. It is incredible that we have no such permanently present bishops in the British Isles and Ireland, in Benelux, in Scandinavia, in Italy and in Spain and Portugal.
Q: What needs to be avoided?
A: We need to avoid extremes. For example, there are those who are closed, whose only care is Russia and Russian, who have no time for Western people and mission to them, refusing to learn Western languages and understand local culture and history. They do not achieve anything; under them the Church stagnates. At the other extreme there are those who Westernise themselves and end up losing Orthodoxy through their idolisation of Western religion (Catholicism or Protestantism), even making ‘secret’ agreements or compromises with them. For example, the Patriarchate of Constantinople refuses to accept Catholics, because of its concordat with the Vatican, and refuses to accept Anglicans because of its ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with Canterbury; the Patriarchate of Antioch does the same in Italy; in England Metr Antony Bloom, strangely of the Russian Church inside Russia, an adviser to the Anglicans, refused to take a group of Anglicans, who were then forced to go out on a limb and join the Patriarchate of Antioch.
Sadly, in recent generations the Russian Church – and other Local Churches – in the Western world has been dominated by one extreme or the other.
A: But there have been exceptions, haven’t there?
Q: Yes, but St John of Shanghai far outshines any others.
The dictionary defines a ‘legacy’, in its non-monetary sense, as ‘anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor’. Here we should be careful to distinguish between those who leave a good legacy and those who leave an indifferent or bad legacy. Those who leave an indifferent or bad legacy leave only a bad reputation. For example, those who are driven by a personal and cultish lust for power, and not a vision of the well-being and unity of those who come after them, leave only bad reputations.
However, the saints leave good legacies. Their reputations are good because of their legacies. This is because their lives are not centred on their own personalities, but on the Holy Spirit, Who is outside their personalities or ‘reputations’. Their legacies are then the result of the grace of God, Who is Eternal. Conversely, those who are centred on themselves, and not on God, develop reputations. These last for as long as they live; once they die, their reputations die with them and their legacy is seen to be illusory.
In this way, the lives, writings and sayings of personalities are forgotten by new generations. This is because a reputation built on a personality is as ephemeral as that personality, whereas those who are centred on God leave something that is not ephemeral, but by definition eternal. In Church terms we can see that builders of the Church like Sts Cyril and Methodius, St Herman of Alaska or St Nicholas of Tokyo leave legacies. However, those who destroyed and divided leave only reputations. History shows us who is who.
However, with all the talk of ‘legacies’ and ‘reputations’, we overlook the greater picture; by looking at trees, we fail to see the forest. Both legacies and reputations are concerned only with the past. We should be concerned with the future, for that is our Church life. We have no desire to return to the nightmares of the past and the ‘legacies’ and ‘reputations’ of those who have gone. ‘Let the dead bury the dead’, says the Saviour. Enough of the past; let us turn to building the Church of the future.
1) Please could you introduce yourself and how you became an Orthodox priest?
I was born and grew up in a modest family in a small town in the north of Essex, my father was local, though my very anglicised mother was of Russian origin. They had met during the War. I passed my 11 +, went to the local grammar school and then studied Russian, the language my mother had lost, at University. Next I went to work in Greece for a year, after which in 1979 I decided to study at what was then the only Russian Orthodox seminary in Western Europe, called St Serge, in Paris. In 1981 I was made reader in the Russian Orthodox Church. Four years after this I was ordained subdeacon and deacon and, seven years later, priest. I lived and worked in France between 1983 and 1997. I am married and have six adult children.
2) What is the vision behind Orthodox England?
I first began writing in the 70s, but my work was not published until the early 90s. Orthodox England began as such only in 1997 as a journal and, from the new millennium on, it developed into a website. After ten years, in 2007, the journal went fully online. Our vision is to call back English people and others living here, to their spiritual roots in original Christianity. In other words, our vision is to restore something of what was, so that we can survive by keeping our spiritual integrity today.
3) Why do you see Orthodoxy as the true faith of the British Isles and England and not either Roman Catholicism or Protestantism
Rather than ‘true faith’ I would say original faith.
Protestantism, in its many forms is obviously an invention of the sixteenth century, developed as a moralising reaction to Catholic deformations. Roman Catholicism, however, was itself only an invention of the eleventh century. It was developed as a geopolitical project by the Western elite out of the original first millennium Christianity in Western Europe as an ideology to justify its attempt to conquer the world.
First millennium Christianity in Western Europe was very different from both Protestantism and Catholicism. Any historian can tell you that. The main difference was a different Creed, which meant a different set of values and way of life, so that the Christianity of the first millennium here was in communion with the Church in the homelands of Christianity, in Jerusalem, the Middle East, Asia Minor, the Roman Capital in Constantinople and so on. The native people in Jerusalem and all these places belonged, and still belong, to the Orthodox Church. Therefore, the Christianity of the first millennium West can also fairly be called Orthodox. Thus, today’s Catholicism and Protestantism are fragments and vestiges of this original Orthodoxy, which fell out of communion with it through introducing its new Creed.
4) Could you explain what the Orthodox understanding of Church-State relations is and how it mainly differs from the Papal or Protestant view?
The Papal view of Church-State relations is called ‘papocaesarism’, the idea that the Pope should control the world. The Protestant view is called ‘caesaropapism’, the idea that the ruler (or parliament) decides on the faith – examples are Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, or the fact that whoever the current Prime Minister is – and he may be an atheist – appoints all bishops of the Church of England.
The Orthodox view is based on the Incarnation; as God became man, so man is called to become God-like. Therefore Orthodoxy calls for balance between Church and State, known as ‘symphony’, the idea that the secular ruler is dominant in affairs of State, the Church in spiritual matters that concern the salvation of the soul. However, spiritual matters do not mean some sort of inward navel-gazing, disassociated from social action. In fact, spiritual matters inevitably profoundly affect political, social and economic matters, the two spheres overlap and interpenetrate one another, hopefully in a positive way. We believe that as God is incarnate in the world, so the Church is incarnate in the world and must be active in transfiguring it.
5) Could you explain as to what you feel is of central significance as to the Western Churches’ historic adoption of the filioque and how this has affected Western Christendom both theologically and culturally?
The filioque is the local alteration to the Christian Creed, rejecting the consensual Creed and Faith of the Universal Councils. This alteration officially took place in Rome in 1014, one thousand years ago next year. (Unofficially, it had begun as a slow process over two centuries before, but only in certain provincial areas and then not with the later significance and in Rome the popes had then categorically rejected any alteration to the Creed). In other words, the Christian Faith was changed in the West at the outset of the second millennium and led to its isolation from the roots of the Church and mainstream Christianity.
The filioque, a Latin phrase that means ‘and from the Son’, secularises our whole understanding of the Christian God, the Holy Trinity. In combination with the claims of the Pope of Rome, also developed and enforced soon after 1014, the filioque says that the source of the authority and spirituality of the Church, the presence of Christ in the world, is no longer spiritually freely available through the Church. In other words, authority and spirituality are no longer dependent on the Holy Spirit, they are held captive, dependent on a human being. With the filioque, authority and spirituality depend on whoever makes himself recognised as the representative or ‘vicar’ of Christ on earth. According to these innovations of the 11th century, in Western Europe this representative was deemed to be the Bishop of Rome. Thus, all authority and spirituality was put into his hands.
The much later Protestant reaction to this was to make everyone into a pope; this was the innovation that led to modern individualism and secular humanism, man-worship. None of this would have come about, if it had not been for the introduction of the filioque, which had already been defined by the late 11th century by Anselm of Canterbury as the single distinctive motto of the arrogant and imperialistic ideology of Western Europe, which opposed it to all other cultures. Already in the eleventh century this ideology lay directly behind both the colonisation of England, known as ‘the Norman Conquest’, and the later colonial movements of plunderers known as ‘The Crusades’.
6) What are your views on the “Pussy Riot” incident in Russia?
Let me put that incident into its historical context – otherwise it will be meaningless.
We know for a fact that the 1917 Revolution in Russia was organised and implemented by the Western Powers in order to destroy Russia, its rival, one which, in their own words, would have become more powerful than any Western country by 1950. Therefore, British and the Americans sent Trotsky and the Germans sent Lenin to carry out the Revolution in Russia. We also now know that the order to assassinate the Tsar and his family actually came directly from New York – just as the Tsar himself had predicted it would, some ten years before. The Soviet Union was a purely Western foundation, founded on the Western ideology of Marxism.
However, in creating the Soviet Union, the West made a strategic mistake, a rod for its own back, because of course the Soviet Union became very powerful, the second ‘Superpower’. This was not as the West had intended, for the Nazis were supposed to destroy the Soviet Union. The West had not counted on historic patriotism and sense of national identity, a movement far deeper than the superficial Soviet Union. Therefore, when the Soviet Union fell, over twenty years ago now, the West’s greatest fear was that a free and independent Russia would be born, that, having thrown off its shell, the tortoise underneath it would turn out to be a hare. Hence the ‘Wild East’ chaos which the West encouraged in the former Soviet Union in the 1990s with its ‘divide and rule’ policies and privatisation. This was nothing more than institutionalised theft from the people.
The problem for the West came in the year 2000 when Russia finally recognised that it had to recover from this ‘Wild East’ Capitalism, the Mafia State, and set out on the very, very long path of recovery under President Putin. Therefore, the West had to destroy Putin. In some respects, he is an easy target because he rules over a post-Soviet country, still full of that corruption and mafia mentality introduced there in the 1990s. Therefore, it is easy to attack Putin’s Russia (although it is doubtful if the amount of corruption there is any greater in reality than in the EU or the USA) and Putin has been lamentably slow and weak in tackling corruption.
Thus, what really upsets the Western elite is the fear that Russia may yet free itself from this corruption and the former Russian Empire largely reconstituted in a Eurasian Confederation. The only focus of Russian unity, the multinational Russian Orthodox Church, is also the only force which can overcome post-Soviet amorality. Both Zbigniew Brzezinski and Madeleine Albright have made it clear that they are utterly opposed to the restoration of the Russian Orthodox Church and want to dismember Russia – much as Hitler planned to do. So Western so-called ‘NGO’s and Evangelical ‘missionaries’ have done their best to undermine the authority of the Church, even publishing attacks on the Church in the ‘Economist’ and the ‘Harvard Business Review’!
It is in this context that we understand the obviously set up ‘Pussy Riot’ incident, based around a non-existent female punk band. It seems that the financial backer of this pathetic little plot was Boris Berezovsky, who sent these women money through his friend Alexander Goldfarb. His reason for doing this was the refusal by the Patriarch just a few weeks before to back Berezovsky’s political campaign to become President. His letter was well publicised by the media.
So it was all about petty revenge, using these foolish young women (one of whom clearly needs psychiatric help) as stooges. In other words, the whole thing was a very obvious and unsubtle political manipulation by Russophobes. And it failed, because people could see what it was, a put-up job. And now Berezovsky, a thief of the Wild East 1990s, a Robin Hood in reverse, who stole from the people and gave to the rich, who was associated with and perhaps funded the terrorists who massacred the children of Beslan and funded the murder of the spy Litvinenko, has apparently committed suicide. I fight against the thought of Judas coming to mind, but it does…..
7) What are your views on “Nationalism” and should this be better contrasted with instead “Patriotism” from an Orthodox perspective?
Nationalism is hatred of others out of ignorance and deluded pride, usually in what is worst in one’s own country, of the sort: ‘We are better than others’. ‘We are the best in the world’. We can see this in the xenophobia of racist movements, like the National Front, the British National Party and the so-called ‘English Defence League’. When I see their slogans and hateful ideology, I can find nothing in them with which I can identify; their strident nationalism, arrogance and ignorance are among the worst aspects of this country – not the best. Christianity can never approve of hatred.
On the other hand, patriotism is love of what is best in our country and culture. In a globalised world there is no place for nationalism, but there is place for both patriotism and what I call ‘inter-patriotism’, the love of what is best in all countries. In fact, if you do not love your own country, if you are not patriotic, how can you possibly love other countries and their cultures?
8) Do you look for a restoration of the Orthodox Tsar in the future and is Orthodoxy intrinsically monarchist ultimately in its political leanings?
The Orthodox Churches live and have lived in all countries and under all sorts of regimes: Pagan, Communist, post-Soviet, Fascist, Capitalist, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim etc. However, history shows that the Church is able to influence society for the best when there is an Orthodox monarch.
Here we must emphasise that the Orthodox use of the word ‘monarch’ means something quite different from the Western usage. In the West it means a right-wing figure, who is extremely powerful and rich and uses that power and wealth to exploit for egotistical purposes, a kind of permanent Tony Blair or any other self-deluded narcissistic megalomaniac. Conversely, in Orthodox language, a monarch means a popular monarch, whose power and wealth exist only for the people’s benefit. His sovereignty is the reflection of the people’s sovereignty. Christian monarchy is where the people are the guarantor of the monarchy and vice versa. That is quite different from the absolutist and despotic monarchies with which Western history is littered. In 1917 Russia fell because of thoroughly corrupt and self-serving aristocrats, oligarchs as we would call them today, who connived with foreign powers, overthrew the monarchy and betrayed the monarch-loving peasants and workers, whom they ruthlessly exploited.
Prophecies, which are always conditional, clearly state that, if the whole Russian nation repents, a suitable candidate will appear to be Tsar again, just as in 1613 after the Polish invasion. All Russian Orthodox, and all conscious Non-Russian Orthodox, look forward to this possible restoration, because it will change the whole future of the world for the better, rebalancing it and turning it away from its present, suicidal course.
9) Please could you explain the Orthodox concept of “Romanity”?
‘Romanity’ originally meant that part of the Roman Empire that had become Christian. When the Emperor Constantine realised that Rome was integrally pagan, he transferred the capital of Romanity (= the Christian Roman Empire or Christendom) to New Rome (much later called Constantinople). After the barbarian Catholic schismatics sacked the capital of this Roman Empire and Christendom in 1204, it became very weak and finally fell to Islam in 1453. From then the capital of Romanity was transferred to Moscow, the new ‘Centre’. Today Romanity simply means all Orthodox Christendom, Orthodox civilisation, the ‘Orthosphere’. However, it is true that there are considerable fragments of this in countries outside it, including in the Western world.
9) Is there an alternative Orthodox vision of a Christian England within a Confederate Europe that can be advocated instead of the current EU super state project?
We are for Europe, we are not anti-European (that would be self-destructive – the British Isles and Ireland are obviously geographically European), but we are anti-EU. The EU denotes a corrupt and tyrannical political, commercial and banking elite which serves only itself. We believe in a European Confederation of Sovereign Nations, not in a Babylonian Superstate, a Fourth Reich of the United States of Berlin, which is what is on offer today. (Anyone who has seen pictures of what is happening in Greece and Cyprus, where German bureaucrats are meddling in national banks and national ministries at this moment, can see this quite clearly).
We believe that a Free Confederation of Europe, balancing unity and diversity, would at one and the same time eliminate the old tribal nationalism of Europe, as seen in the two great European Wars (so-called ‘World Wars’) and also eliminate the Babylon internationalism of the EU Superstate, which is a mere US colonial superstructure. The United States of Europe is made in the image of its colonial master, the United States of America, a corrupt institution which came to power on the 600,000 dead bodies of Americans who died in the American Civil War.
Theologically, Confederation is a Trinitarian concept, in the image of the Holy Trinity, unity in diversity. This is quite different from the centralism of the EU, which is merely the modern equivalent of the old papal centralism of the Middle Ages. In other words, the only essential geographical difference between the Middle Ages and today is that Rome has moved to Brussels.
10) Do you see Islam as being a significant threat to the UK or Europe in the future?
No, not in itself. Islam is only a threat if Europe and the UK continue on their suicidal path of renouncing and annihilating their Christian roots. As it is said, ‘nature abhors a vacuum’. In other words, since Christianity as the foundation of Western culture is being renounced by Western society, why should Islam not take over? There is a free market in religion now. If the West wishes to inflict Islam on itself, that is not the fault of Islam, only of the West. That would be the West punishing itself in freely-chosen self-destruction. It is not easy to stop a suicide.
11) Please could you clarify what you see as being theologically suspect in the “Paris School”?
The ‘Paris School’ of philosophy (there was no theology or Orthodoxy in it) was a marginal movement affecting a few dozen intellectuals and their naive followers. It started in Paris in the 1920s. After the Russian Church had been taken captive in 1917, these uprooted fringe intellectuals, former Marxists, a former Hindu, a hypnotist, occultists, theosophists, freemasons, and others, often not of an Orthodox background, left the Russian Church. Without Church discipline or the living Tradition, they decided to attempt to merge Orthodox theology with Protestant-based secularism in a sectarian and cultish way, the apex of which they called ‘Sophianism’. This was a syncretistic pseudo-intellectual mish-mash, rejected by the vast majority, which is destined to die out completely in the coming years, now that the Russian Church is being restored.
12) What is your understanding of “Sophia” in Orthodox theology and mysticism? Also what do you think of the many Marian apparitions that have happened in the West particularly since Fatima which referred to the conversion of Russia etc as many of the “messages” behind these alleged visitations of the Theotokos appear to completely theologically contradict Orthodox doctrine and practice?
You speak in your question of ‘Sophia in Orthodox theology and mysticism’. I have to translate and demythologise such exotic and coded language. Firstly, ‘Orthodox’ for us whom the outside world calls ‘Orthodox’ means ‘Christian’; the word ‘mysticism’ has no meaning, for all authentic theology is ‘mystical’, inasmuch as it all comes from God i.e, it is not rationalistic; as regards Sophia, this is simply the Greek word for ‘Wisdom’, that is, the Person of Christ. So what your question means is simply my understanding of ‘Christ in Christian theology’.
In reply: In Christian Rome (much later called Constantinople), the main Cathedral was and is dedicated to ‘The Holy Wisdom’ (in Greek ‘Aghia Sofia’), that is to the Saviour. In other words, it is ‘Christchurch’. In the Gospels the Saviour is called the Wisdom (‘Sophia’) and Word of God. So in answer to your question, the Christian theology of the Wisdom and Word of God, is that He is the Son of God Who became Incarnate, was crucified and rose from the dead, and there is no Wisdom or Word outside Him. This means that the highest form of Wisdom and Literature reside in Christ the Saviour, Who Alone overcame death. All other forms of wisdom and literature are, however valuable, still deathly, mortal, not of the Resurrection.
There have been several ‘Marian’ apparitions since Fatima. Each one must be treated differently. Medjugorje, for example, is a fake – according to Roman Catholic authorities. It is possible that others have been fake too. However, I believe that both Fatima and Lourdes were real. Sadly, the messages involved were ruthlessly and deliberately deformed and manipulated by the Vatican machine.
For five years I was the rector of the Russian Orthodox parish in Lisbon and collected information about the Fatima revelation, which happened precisely in 1917 and concerned Russia. For me the message is quite simple: the Mother of God was warning the Western world that if it did not stop plotting against Russia and did not repent, stepping back from the brink, it would destroy itself. And of course this is exactly what has happened and is happening now. I remember how President Putin warned Blair, I think it was in 2006, against encouraging atheism. The advice was ignored. The West ignores the Russian experience of Soviet materialism, so well described by Solzhenitsyn, at its peril.
13) What do you think of the late but influential Fr Seraphim Rose’s teaching as regards the “Toll Houses”?
I never thought that the late Fr Seraphim Rose, an Orthodox monk in California, was influential. This is news to me.
Fr Seraphim spoke in one of his books of the imagery of ‘toll houses’, which is used to illustrate symbolically what happens to the soul after death. Sadly, some people have misinterpreted and deformed his words and tried, very crudely and primitively, to make his words material, despiritualised. It is as if the Last Judgement was being presented as a law court with bewigged barristers and a judge. This is such a grossly materialistic, Kafkaesque deformation that it is unworthy of attention. I would say the same of the deformation of the Orthodox understanding of the image of the toll houses. Fr Seraphim was not responsible for this. He was merely trying to explain to the uninitiated. Perhaps, his fault, if any, was only in trying to ‘cast pearl before swine’.
14) Do you see any future for the Anglican Church? In your book “Orthodoxy and the English Tradition” you quote the Catholic historian Christopher Dawson from his book “Religion and the Rise of Culture” when he says “The West is different from other civilisations because its religious idea has not been the worship of timeless and changeless perfection but a spirit that seeks to incorporate itself within history. Other civilisations realised their synthesis between life and religion and maintained their sacred order but in the West the changing of the world became an integral part of its cultural ideal.” Would you say this is the spirit behind Anglicanism as it seems completely beholden to and compromised with modernity?
The Anglican Church was an invention of the power-grabbing and land-grabbing tyrant and serial wife-killer Henry VIII and then of Elizabeth I in the sixteenth century. Henry is said to have massacred tens of thousands, using atrocious tortures; Elizabeth, not a lot better, wrote the doctrines of Anglicanism. Anglicanism was invented as a nationalist compromise, necessary only to the State, Protestant in doctrine, though with some Catholic externals, notably stealing all the Catholic churches of the country, though ruining them with whitewash and sledgehammers. The idea was to unite everyone, Protestant-minded and Catholic-minded, in a single State-sponsored institution.
From the beginning, there was dissidence, even though some of the extreme Protestants were exiled to colonies in North America and Catholics were slaughtered, fined and exiled. The Anglican Church continually followed the State and its fashions, as an integral part of the Establishment, without spiritual independence, following whatever decision the State decreed, creating its ‘vicar of Bray’ scenario.
Never has there been a clearer example of nationalism, erastian caesaropapism, a so-called Church created by a State for a State. It is the same today; the State says ‘gay marriage’ and, lo and behold, many Anglican bishops and clergy say the same. Whatever the State commands, it follows. Someone said some years ago that the only difference between the Church of England Establishment today and 100 years ago is that then it was for fox-hunting and against buggery, but today it is against fox-hunting and for buggery.
Of course, it can be said that the Orthodox Churches have also been manipulated by States, with individual bishops vetted and even appointed in Russia by Tsars and Soviet Commissars, in Greece by sultans and Greek ministers and in Constantinople by the US Secretary of State. However, although all that is scandalous, it was also resisted by the vast majority, hundreds of thousands of martyrs and confessors, and also the Faith itself was not attacked and not altered. These unworthy bishops were appointed from the scrapings of the barrel that remained after mass persecution. But the Anglican Faith was altered – dictated by the State from the very outset.
What is the point of Anglicanism today, when the State is not only secular but openly and unashamedly anti-Christian? In this country it is a tiny group in any case. I would be surprised if the Anglican Church will continue to exist in another generation. A secular ‘Church’ is a contradiction in terms and has no more reason to exist. Its huge wealth will be grabbed by the greedy and bankrupt State. As a tiny minority, cut off from the broader currents of Christianity, Anglicanism is now breaking down into its unOrthodox component parts: the mass will lapse altogether into secularism; the practising will go to Protestantism; a small minority will go to Catholicism. This process has already been happening for centuries, but it is about to speed up.
15) What are your views on the Israel-Palestine question that so preoccupies current evangelical eschatological discourse?
It is an ironic fact that it was the persecution of the Jews in and by Western European culture that led to the foundation of Israel. However, the invention of Israel, an American colonial project, its Middle East base, just as the UK is its North Atlantic base, was a catastrophic event. It meant that the native inhabitants of Palestine were forced out of their own homeland. Many of their descendants are still living in refugee camps today, 65 years later. The existence of Israel has guaranteed permanent terrorist war in the Middle East and murderous attacks on the USA like 9/11 and on all Western countries that support this project, not to mention the purely terrorist (‘shock and awe’) invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. As long as Israel exists in its present form, there will never be peace.
Prophecies say that the end of the world will take place in Jerusalem, near Armageddon. In other words, the foundation of Israel in 1948 is of apocalyptic significance; it guarantees that the end of the world moves nearer. If we wanted to postpone that end, the best way would be to deconstruct Israel in its present form, though obviously with safeguards for the ordinary Jewish people, who are dupes in the affair.
16) What are your current projects and where can one find out more about Orthodox England please?
Currently, we are laying the foundations to extend the Russian Orthodox mission from Colchester to other centres in the East of England. We have a list of target towns to set up. Our target groups are Orthodox already in this country, but not practising for lack of local churches, as well as the vast masses of English people who do not practise any religion and probably never have done. (The tiny minority who already practise a religion, for example in the Church of England, should, we believe, stay there; we have never in any way tried to recruit them). To find out more, see: www.orthodoxengland.org.uk.