Monthly Archives: September 2013

Modernism, Post-Modernism and Post-Postmodernism

Modernism is a very old-fashioned concept, dating back to the nineteenth century. The concept passed through artists like Matisse, Gauguin and then Picasso and a whole school of thinkers. However, its culminating point – and also death – came only some fifty years ago in the 1960s, which itself culminated in the youth revolutions of 1968. ‘Modern’ meant anti-Victorian, the rejection of any kind of ‘old’ value, of anything ‘old-fashioned’, regardless of whether it was worthwhile or not. Typical of this culmination of Modernism were the Second Vatican Council, liberalism, feminism, divorce, drug-taking, alcoholism, pornography, abortion, and the collapse of marriage and stable family life. Most of its revolutionary and rebellious advocates have died from a way of life that was full of vice.

A decade later, after the culmination of Modernism, the rejection of any sort of tradition, good or bad, inevitably came the culmination of ‘Post-Modernism’, that is, cynicism, scepticism, disbelief and nihilistic ‘deconstruction’. Although Post-Modernism is also an old concept, its culminating-point could only come after the 1960s in the cynical destructiveness of the period between the 1970s and 1990s. Typical of Post-Modernism are the lack of belief in anything constructive, spiritual emptiness, depression, nothingness, ‘anything goes’, the mocking of heartfelt belief, irony, throwaway products, shallowness, cheapness, passing fads and fashions and superficiality. Most of its faithless and often bitter, disbelieving advocates are now ageing or else are already dead.

The question is, if Post-Modernism comes after Modernism, what comes after Post-Modernism? This is a question that intellectuals have debated for well over a decade and about which they still have not come to any conclusion. This is because of the faithless and spiritually empty nature of Post-Modernism. After a vacuum, anything is possible. And consensus on what makes an epoch cannot be achieved while that epoch is still in its early stages. On the one hand, it is possibly to continue to wallow in the negativism of Post-Modernism and make a cult or delusional consciousness out of it. On the other hand, it is equally possible to reject something as primitive and negative as Post-Modernism with something positive and constructive.

‘Something positive and constructive’. These are words which have little meaning in Western society, which alone has generated both Modernism and Post-Modernism. Interestingly, it may therefore be that the Western world will have to stop being ethnocentric and look outside its self-absorbed culture to find the qualities to regenerate itself. The fact is that ‘something positive and constructive’ can only be built on Faith, which is the very baby that was thrown out together with the bathwater in the Western Modernist 60s and Post-Modernist 70s and after. ‘Post-Postmodernism’ is an awkward name. ‘Metamodernism’ and ‘Trans-Modernism’ have been suggested. They too seem very awkward. Perhaps a single syllable, ‘Faith’, is what is really needed by this disbelieving Western world.

Praying for the Resurrection of Europe

Already in the nineteenth century prophetic Russian writers and thinkers like Khomyakov and Dostoyevsky described Europe as a cemetery, its gardens well-kept, its lawns manicured, its trees pruned, its cleaned tombs and monuments of great artistic beauty, but still a cemetery, where lie the dead of past history. A cemetery, in Latin languages, cimetière, cimitero, cementerio, (from the Greek for ‘to sleep’), in German Friedhof, in Dutch Begraafplaats, in Swedish Kyrkogard, is, literally, a place of sleep, rest and burial, a churchyard. This is the place where are buried dear ancestors, friends and family, whom we visit and pray for. For the only life in a cemetery is that which we bring there.

A cemetery is the image which conveyed the fact that European culture was already in the nineteenth century dying out because it was rejecting the roots of its culture, and cultural roots are always spiritual. In other words, by rejecting the founding spirituality of its civilisation, Orthodox Christianity, whether actively by fighting against it or passively by not resisting its loss, Europe reduces itself to a land of historic monuments and museums, remarkable, outstanding, but not living. Europe, the historically admirable, far Western corner of Eurasia, is to be visited by becameraed tourists and even pilgrims for its past, but it is incapable of generating new culture in the present and future for lack of spiritual roots.

As the decades have passed, we have found the above prophetic image growing ever truer. The culture of death and the death of culture, whether through wars and concentration camps, whether through abortion and euthanasia, have taken over a secularised but also increasingly Islamised, thus polarised Europe, which is intent on its spiritual and so physical suicide. Our Orthodox churches in Europe are ever more like oases amid the contemporary Western culture of death. They are like cemetery chapels, where, as we pray for the resurrection of Europe’s Orthodox past, we bring the only spiritual life. Today, Europe seems no longer to have any self-belief, any fire in its soul – only ashes where once a fire so keenly burned.

Europe had from the outset the choice between Christ and death. At first Europe chose Christ and many centuries ago before the Great Misfortune, the best of Europe in its hermits prayed to Christ, whether from their lonely rock fastnesses in the wild North Atlantic, from Mediterranean islands or Alpen pastures, or from many other lonely places in Europe. But then Europe replaced the Risen One with a single mortal man, a new Ceasar (‘we have no king but Caesar’, they said), and then replaced Him with all mortal men, thus choosing death over life. Thus, the God of Europe was killed and put to sleep in the great European cemetery. Without God, Europe no longer believes in itself and so is intent on self-abolition

After Europe had killed God, it created a vacuum of faith. And where there is a vacuum, the demons rush in, and so, having pronounced its God dead, Europe then began to kill His creation, man, in the tens of millions. But we do not despair, for one day the hermits will return to the North Atlantic, to the Hebrides, to the whole Kingdom of the Isles, and all over Europe, and they will pray again to Christ for resurrection, just as the hermits of Russia in their forest monasteries and caves pray for resurrection. But this will happen only when the Orthodox Christian Empire is restored. For the restoration of the Christian Emperor in Russia will be the restoration of the Christian Empire, even to the uttermost ends of Europe.

The Road to Damascus

‘We brought you the Apostle Paul, but you brought us Islamist Terrorists’.

A Syrian priest speaking to the Western Powers in a report later censored by the BBC.

But the Western Powers and their Islamist Allies, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if they found any belonging to the Way, men or women, they might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as they journeyed they approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about them. And they fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to them, ‘O Western Powers and Islamist Allies, why do you persecute me? And they said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting in Syria, Egypt, Kenya, Pakistan, Nigeria, the Sudan, India, Mali, Indonesia, the Philippines, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrein, and in Western Europe and in North America……

On the Importance of Sobriety

Questions and answers compiled from recent conversations and correspondence

Q: In an article in ‘Orthodox Christianity and the English Tradition’ entitled ‘The Present Situation of the Orthodox Church’ and written nearly 25 years ago in July 1989, you wrote about the two extremes to be found on the fringes of the Orthodox world, new calendarism and old calendarism, and the pressures they exerted on the free voice of the Church, the voice of the New Martyrs. You said that these New Martyrs would be canonised inside Russia, providing that the Church could free itself from the Communist government. This happened. So my question is if these two isms or extremes, which were then a considerable problem, are still a problem despite that canonisation?

A: Yes, they are definitely still present, though they are not as influential as they were. This is because the Centre of the Church, that which is outside the extremes, has been much strengthened through the prayers of the now universally canonised New Martyrs.

Q: But why do these isms still exist?

A: Both extremist isms still exist for historical reasons, appearing after the Centre fell, that is, after the Russian Revolution in 1917. The Centre ‘did not hold’, ‘things fell apart’, that is, there was a polarisation. This became clearly and immediately visible in Russia in the 1920s with the renovationist new calendarism – although the renovationist temptation had existed for several years before the Revolution, certainly since Gapon in 1905. (Incidentally, Patriarch Kyrill’s grandfather, Fr Vasily Gundyaev, suffered much from that renovationism). And of course there were individuals who then went to the opposite extreme of renovationism, falling into a sort of old calendarist sectarianism.

At the same time Renovationism also became visible outside Russia in Constantinople, which had long been under British masonic influence. Thus, the renovationist Constantinople hierarchy actually recognised the renovationists in Russia, rejecting the saintly Patriarch Tikhon and the legitimate Church. Then, together with the Church of Greece, it introduced the secular (so-called ‘new’) calendar for the fixed feasts. Here a lot of Anglican money, £100,000 of that time, changed hands. Immediately, there was a reaction to all this and old calendarism began.

Q: What has your position been towards these two extremes?

A: It has always been to stand in the middle and support the Centre, even though it fell in 1917. My position has been a consistent straight line, from which I have never wavered, and this as early as 1973 in a booklet which I wrote then and which was published a few years ago in ‘Orthodox England’. My support has always been for a free Russian Orthodoxy, uncompromised by either extreme.

Q: Are you not criticised for this unwavering line?

A: Of course. But, in fact, pressure from the extremist margins only strengthens us. As an example of this, I would like to mention a fellow priest in Bulgaria who wrote to me a little while ago. He has one of the Church calendar parishes in Bulgaria which is under the new calendar Church. Thus he remains faithful to the Tradition, but does not participate in schism. And he receives as much criticism from new calendarism as from old calendarism. This is exactly our situation here, where both fringes criticise us. Interestingly, the fringes often work together and are friends. As they say, ‘extremes meet’. And when we are criticised by both extremes, it is a sure sign that we are doing something right, standing in the middle. Remember that the middle is where Christ was crucified, between the two thieves.

Q: You mentioned how it all began in 1917 with the fall of the Centre in Moscow. But did the extremist pressures get worse?

A: Yes, they did. The Cold War after 1945 definitely made it all worse. For example, in 1948 the USA installed a new Patriarch of Constantinople called Athenagoras. He was flown in by the CIA on Truman’s personal plane from America. When the legitimate Patriarch, Maximos, was deposed and exiled by the CIA, he was heard to say, ‘The City is lost’. This is a close parallel to the situation in the first millennium when a number of heretical patriarchs of Constantinople were installed by heretical emperors. Interestingly, the legitimate Patriarch Maximos V, supposedly ‘ill’, died three decades later in 1972, the same year as the illegitimate Patriarch. Since 1948 Constantinople, co-opted into the anti-Soviet and then anti-Russian war of the USA, has been the plaything of the ‘iconoclastic’ US State Department. The City is lost indeed – but the Church lives on outside the City. Fortunately, the Church does not depend on a geographical location – otherwise there would still be nothing outside Jerusalem.

The situation was no better in the Local Churches that survived under Communism during the Cold War. As regards the Russian Church, the situation worsened greatly under Khrushchev, a virulent and primitive atheist, not just because he persecuted the Church physically, but also because he and the Soviet Communist Party imposed ecumenism on the Church as a political tool in the early 1960s. The other Communist Parties in Eastern Europe did the same to their Local Churches. The idea was to make ecumenism and ecumenical organisations into tools for Soviet propaganda.

Q: What happened when the Cold War ended?

A: Just because the Cold War officially ended, that does not mean that persecution is over. Today the militant atheism of the Soviet Union is gone, but now we have the militant atheism of the European Union. The EU ideology is trying to destroy not only the Local Churches of EU member countries in Romania, Greece, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Cyprus, but also the Churches of countries which the EU one day hopes to colonise: Serbia, Moldova, Georgia, even the Ukraine. The victims of such political pressures, some senior bishops, are hostages to this, so we do not listen to the things that their political masters force them to say, especially in Serbia.

Q: Do others listen to these bishop-hostages?

A: You should not listen to hostages. Unfortunately, old calendarists do listen to these bishop-hostages and, in search of self-justification for their schisms, quote them. Thus, they deliberately ignore the 99.999% of the Local Church which is solidly Orthodox and with whom they put themselves out of communion. They want black and white situations, everyone else must be black and therefore only they can be white. This is pride and it is also to fall into the divide and rule game of the powers of this world, which want to divide the Church in order to rule it. It is like refusing to be baptized by the disciples because Judas had been a disciple. And so you remain unbaptized, outside the Church, all because of someone else who put himself outside the Church. This is to cut off your nose to spite your face, to deprive yourself because another has deprived himself.

I would add that old calendarism itself is no better in terms of political dependence. I will always remember one of their bishops writing to me six year ago and complaining that I did not support the CIA. He actually said with great pride that some of his best parishioners in the USA work for the CIA! We also recall how the US ambassador in Kiev actually plotted a schism in the Ukraine. This we know because we stood in front of him as he plotted it with a bishop at the Russian Church’s San Francisco Council of 2006. And that is exactly what that bishop then did and he is now in communion with the CIA-supporting old calendarist bishop. It is a small world!

Q: Obviously, the liberal and modernist threat to the Church, with ecumenism, liturgical modernism, intercommunion and so on, is well-known. But is it still a reality?

A: It is a reality, but mainly for old people. Today, for instance, ecumenism is largely dead. This is why old calendarists are always quoting events from the 60s, 70s and 80s. They look to the past when ecumenism was active. Thus, a favourite hate figure of theirs is Patriarch Sergius – but he died in 1944! The dead present no threat. And most of the modernists I can think of are either dead or else in their 70s and 80s. They are very old-fashioned. All we can do is pray for them that they might repent before their end. But even if we see them as our enemies, the Gospel tells us to love our enemies. Here we see that old calendarism lacks love.

Q: Do the old calendarist fractions have points in common with the new calendarist fractions?

A: Yes, they do, and several things. For example, both are old-fashioned, many of their people are elderly. Both are extremely Russophobic. And both the new calendarist and old calendarist movements are utterly split. This is because they are concerned not with the unity of the Church, which comes from following Christ, but with following personal opinions, which are always divisive, precisely because they are personal. They do not understand the importance of the conciliar mind of the Church, which is above opinions, because it follows the Holy Spirit.

Old calendarism in particular wants dogmatic precision in every detail from every individual. This is not how the Church works, the Church is not a totalitarian monolith. For instance, I have been told that there are now 14 old calendarist synods in Greece, all, it seems, hating each other. Often when one of their metropolitans dies, they split again. Many of these synods only have a few dozen communities under them and often the communities themselves are tiny, at most a few dozen. The synods are often dominated by clericalism. And here we should remember the ordinary people who are hoodwinked into following them. These synods have a large turnover of sincere, but naïve neophytes. I am sometimes contacted by such people from this country. They want to leave the sects where they are and come to the Orthodox Church, which they have just discovered. Such ordinary people are not guilty. This is why they are received into the Church by confession and communion.

Q: Why are both new calendarism and old calendarism Russophobic?

A: Out of self-justification. Both denigrate the Russian Church especially because She is old calendar and therefore from their viewpoint a competitor. They need to justify their isolation from Her and desperately want to see scandals and corruption. Thus, they will repeat anti-Church Cold War propaganda against the Russian Church, whatever the origin, atheist or other. Thus, they seize on the most minor scandal, blow it up out of all proportion and generalise it, rather like the anti-clerical media. One priest is bad, therefore all are bad, therefore they cannot be in communion with a whole Local Church. This is self-justification and also Donatism, as the righteous Metr Philaret of New York described old calendarism.

However, the main impression is not so much of Russophobia, nor even of the rejection of episcopal authority, but of the rejection of the people of the Church, the unChurched but recently baptised masses both of the Russian Church and other Local Churches, who are not good enough for them. This is the contempt of the elder brother who rejected the Prodigal Son. It is the refusal to recognise repentance that is characteristic of old calendarism and also new calendarism. That is another thing they have in common – their elitist, esoteric disdain for the masses. It is just another sign of the pride that infects all schism.

Q: To what extent was the Church inside Russia affected by new calendarism, what Russians call renovationism?

A: There was a serious battle against renovationism inside Russia, but it was over by the 1930s. Renovationism simply died out there for lack of support. People knew that it was a Communist trick. However, it did survive far longer in the foreign parishes of the Church inside Russia and in the Paris Jurisdiction, where many of the renovationists went, so intense was their hatred of the Russian Church. Many of the old emigres brought this renovationism, in fact a sort of ‘art nouveau’ pre-Revolutionary decadence, into the emigration with them and preserved it abroad, long after it was dead inside the Soviet Union. So it survived as a curiosity. However, most of its last elderly supporters have died in the last twenty years.

Q: Wasn’t ROCOR, on the other hand, affected by the opposite extreme, old calendarism or traditionalism?

A: Yes. Communism inside Russia created renovationism which the Church there had to defeat. However, during the Cold War Capitalism created anti-Communism. In ROCOR in the USA this took the form of a nationalist right-wing movement. The supporters of this movement were the very ones who put St John on trial in San Francisco fifty years ago. In the 1960s they accepted a Greek old calendarist monastery into the Church. To their horror the old calendarists turned against the hand that had fed them and tried to take over ROCOR.

Realising that they had failed in their takeover bid, in 1986 many of the old calendarists left ROCOR, but their influence lingered on and the 1990s were a battle ground between that influence and the original ROCOR Tradition. The battle was between the Tradition, such as we knew it in the Western European Diocese of ROCOR, the Tradition which had come out of pre-Revolutionary Russia, and that new and alien old calendarist influence. As you know, in the end, the old ROCOR was triumphant. The alien influence reality affected very few, about 5% of the whole, but led them to leaving the Church in the early 2000s, which was tragic for them, but at the same time allowed the restoration of ROCOR’s old spiritual independence and integrity.

Q: How do you try and remain faithful in the middle?

A: Sobriety is the key to this. The left, or new calendarism, and the right, old calendarism, are equally self-exalted. The Centre is not self-exalted at all and remains sober. Both new calendarism (renovationism) and old calendarism (traditionalism) must be avoided because both equally lead to schism. Schism is always caused by a lack of sobriety. We steer our course by the star of Christ, the star of Bethlehem, in other words, by grace.

I remember in 2007, just after the concelebration between Patriarch Alexis and Metropolitan Laurus in Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow, in which we had all participated with great joy at our unity, two senior ROCOR priests were speaking. One said: ‘Well, we’ve done it’. The other answered, ‘No, father, the grace of God has done it’. And this is exactly the case. The grace of God brings unity in truth (and that is the only real unity, the only unity that exists); the devil brings disunity and untruth.

Q: How do such new calendarist and old calendarist schisms arise from inside the Church?

A: The leaders of the small groups that leave the Church for either extreme are people who have been in difficulty in Church life for decades. But they are tolerated because God tolerates them. Eventually, such people are either healed by the patience shown to them, or else they leave the Church of their own accord.

Q: What lies behind schisms? Why are theological and historical arguments not successful with those who leave? Why can’t the leaders of schism see their error?

A: It is not theology or history that lies behind most schisms, but psychology, that is, personality conflicts. And that is always irrational. Irrational psychology cuts off its nose to spite its face, it resists grace and grace is always rational. For example, seven years ago I predicted that few would return from the Sourozh schism in England, though we would remain open to their return. And, just as predicted, few did come back. Why? Why do tiny minorities, which will clearly die out, prefer occasional services in ‘voluntary catacombs’, in back rooms and sheds, temporary rented premises, to regular services in normal churches? It is because they do not want the Church, they want the inward-looking, sectarian atmosphere of cliques and clubs, of small ponds, where they can be ‘big fish’.

Q: What is the psychology of traditionalist and modernist schisms?

A: I will take one example which I know well – the Sourozh new calendarist schism. This came about from the convert desire to merge Orthodoxy with Anglicanism (the Establishment). This is why the schism was supported at the time by the Establishment Church of England, albeit discreetly, but quite openly by newspapers like The Times and The Daily Telegraph, which support the British Establishment and whose journalists are fed by MI5 and the CIA, just like BBC journalists. However, to wish to merge Orthodoxy with Anglicanism is in fact to state that you remain unconverted to Orthodoxy, under the cloak of culture, hiding behind cultural excuses.

To take a minor detail as an example, they said: ‘Orthodoxy will have to adapt to us because we are English and so, for example, we have milk in our tea even on fast days’. Although this is a very minor detail, it is symptomatic of a far more serious spiritual illness – cultural arrogance, worldliness and nationalism. Thus, I remember that I was contacted at the time by one who complained that I had written that her group practised intercommunion and that was quite untrue. However, I pointed out to her that I had only been quoting from her group’s website which openly boasted that it allowed intercommunion!

As regards traditionalist or old calendarist schisms, they come from convert insecurity, the neophyte’s need to be against other Christians (especially against other Orthodox), rather than for Christ. It is interesting that such groups pride themselves on being ‘converts’. It is strange because we stop being converts once we are integrated, which should happen, at most, within a few years of reception into the Church. For example, the apostles do not speak of themselves as converts. That is unthinkable because they are part of the Church. And this was the same throughout history. Those who are part of the Church are not converts.

Q: Why are so many Anglican converts involved in schisms and hardly any Russians, at least in England?

A: Interestingly, a few Russians are involved, but they are always highly anglicised and want to become part of the Establishment despite their origins. Anglicans are Protestants and they have a very weak sense of the Incarnation. Therefore, for them the Church is just an individual choice, a personal matter, a private opinion, without any collective or social repercussions and so the Church is just a club. In Protestantism individualism is so highly developed that if you do not like the Church where you are, you simply go off and start another one. There is an inability to get on with others, to adapt, to accept and tolerate other opinions in community. That is why there are thousands of Protestant denominations, which to us Orthodox all look the same and indeed are essentially the same.

So the collective, the community, the Church, suffers at the hands of individualism, sectarianism. That is why in England, for example, there are five different small groups of ex-Anglicans who have joined the local dioceses of Orthodox Churches, but they are all split up. They cannot get on with each other or with other Orthodox. The only ex-Anglicans who do get on with each other are those who get on with other Orthodox of other nationalities, who are already integrated into Local Churches and multinational parishes and have forgotten that they were once Anglicans. They are Orthodox.

Q: When will old calendarist and new calendarist schisms end?

A: Only when the Centre has been fully re-established, when we reverse all the decadence of the past 96 years, when we go back to the pre-1917 situation. Thus, old calendarist schisms will exist for as long as the Greek, Romanian and Bulgarian Churches remain officially on the secular calendar for the fixed feasts. Once those Churches have returned to the Church calendar, and they would never have dared leave it before 1917 because the Russian Church would not have allowed it, those schisms will fall apart, only clerical careerists or the ill will be left. As regards new calendarist schisms, they will last for as long as the Centre is not strong enough to quell them, as long as there are conformists whose faith is weak, who swim with the Western tide, who are too weak to stand up to the passing fashions of this world.

Q: If we can slightly move away from this theme, what can we say about the future of diaspora unity between the parishes of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and the foreign parishes of the Church inside Russian, outside Russia but still not under ROCOR, as they logically and canonically should be?

A: As you say, logic and the canons say they should be, but there is such a thing as economy – a temporary dispensation for pastoral reasons, for the greater benefit. Much patience is needed to implement the 2007 agreement between the two parts of the Russian Church. We knew this at the time. As you know that agreement involved the Church Outside Russia giving up its representations inside Russia and the Church inside Russia giving up its representations outside Russia. However, as the Church Outside Russia had very few and only very recent representations inside Russia, it was easy to give them up. On the other hand, the Church inside Russia had a lot of longstanding representations and property outside Russia – as a result of the Cold War.

Wisely, no timetable was agreed on the issue of transfer of parishes to ROCOR because this is a pastoral issue. This should all happen calmly, as has happened in Australia, without anyone’s feelings being hurt. So what has been happening since the 2007 agreement is that the foreign parishes of the Church inside Russia are being readied for their transfer to the Church Outside Russia – but I would say that this process will take a generation. We are only at the beginning.

Q: How can such a transfer work in terms of practices? For example, ROCOR practises reception of heterodox by baptism, foreign parishes of the Church inside Russia practise reception of heterodox by chrismation?

A: That is untrue. Practices vary in both ROCOR and in the Church inside Russia. For example, in the Western European Diocese of ROCOR, we generally received by chrismation, as was the universal tradition of ROCOR until the 1970s. The priest would offer reception by baptism or chrismation, explaining why the choice was available. We always found that most chose to be received by chrismation. Practices in the Church inside Russia also vary. I think that once all the 825 or so parishes outside Russia are united under ROCOR, this mixed practice will continue according to the pastoral conscience of each priest. This is not a dogmatic issue, but a pastoral one. We all agree that there are no sacraments outside the Church, but approaches vary as regards the sacramental forms that have survived outside the Church and how we deal with them.

Q: You described how foreign parishes of the Church inside Russia were much affected by the renovationism or new calendarism that was brought out of Russia by certain emigres. Is this still a problem?

A: Much less of a problem every year. For instance, I remember someone telling me how when Bishop Elisey, the new Sourozh bishop appointed after the schism there in 2006, first came to England, he visited one of his communities in the provinces. The priest was an ex-Anglican and when Bishop Elisey got up on Sunday morning to serve the liturgy, he was asked by the priest’s wife whether he wanted a cooked breakfast, like her husband, or not. This came as a shock to him, but not to us, who knew exactly what had been going on in Sourozh for decades.

This was typical of the old Sourozh under Metr Antony Bloom and Bp Basil Osborne, where ‘English culture’ was more important than Church culture, where in fact phyletism reigned. They received Anglicans into the Church very quickly, never taught them much about Orthodoxy, ordained them and then never visited them or checked up on them. Cooked breakfasts before communion, just as in the Church of England, were the result. However, now that the Sourozh Diocese has been brought back to the normal practices of the Russian Church, such peculiar situations belong to the past.

Q: What is the main problem of doing missionary work in the West?

A: Most of our work is with immigrant Orthodox from Eastern Europe and it is a matter of Churching people who were baptised in the last few years. So our problems here are exactly the same as elsewhere in the post-Communist Orthodox world.

However, there is a second layer of work, which is with the mass of Western people who have no concept of what the Orthodox Church is. I would say that here our work is in overcoming a barrier of prejudices, what I call the ‘Dawkins Delusion’, which is the modern Western delusion. This is the problem of very primitive Neo-Darwinianism. This is actually irrelevant to those who have never held Protestant fundamentalist beliefs, like the Orthodox. So first of all you have to explain to these people that the Church has never held weird Protestant beliefs, which they are in revolt against, and then you have to explain that this is why we have no need to revolt against beliefs which we have never had anyway. This makes their Neo-Darwinianism irrelevant. In Catholic countries it is much the same story, but there they are in revolt against Papism. So the problem comes in explaining that we are not anti-Papist like them because we have never been Papist. It is irrelevant to us

Q: Do you not work to convert Anglicans, Protestants and Catholics?

A: First of all, in today’s West there are very few of those and they are mainly very elderly. We do not proselytise among them. We tend to find that those who have actually believed in Protestantism or Catholicism all their lives never become Orthodox. They are unable to learn to think and act as Orthodox. Of course, if they come to us, having understood the errors of what they have been taught, that is a different matter. But we do not proselytise. We wait for the grace of God to touch them. We do not work by human artifice. They must become natural, integrated Orthodox.

Local and Faithful, or Westernised and Hellenised

Since the Russian Revolution the Patriarchate of Constantinople has taken into its jurisdiction a variety of Russophobic dissidents. Their schisms have come about because the dissidents have been too spiritually weak to remain faithful to the Russian Tradition and so have been dragged down into party politics or personality cults. Thus, they have either been virulent nationalists or else anti-Tradition liberals and freemasons, cultivating political and theological schisms caused by that Revolution. Having lost sight of the big picture of Orthodox civilisational values, the Orthodox world-view, they have been brought down into petty, provincial concerns.

Some of the dissidents have been Slavs – Russians, Ukrainians or ex-Catholic Carpatho-Russians – others have been Western converts – Finnish, American, French, Estonian or ex-Anglican. Here we look at the dissidents, originally Russophobic, pro-Kerensky aristocrats from Saint Petersburg, who, leaving Russia, then the Church outside Russia and then the Church inside Russia for Constantinople, over 80 years ago formed the Rue Daru jurisdiction in Paris. After nearly a year without a leader, they are now hoping to elect a new archbishop in November 2013.

Although issued from the Russian Tradition and even claiming to belong to it, since they left the Mother-Church these dissidents have gradually become more and more Westernised and absorbed into the US and Turkish-controlled Greek Patriarchate in Istanbul. This can clearly be seen in their forsaking of the Orthodox liturgical calendar and Orthodox liturgical, dogmatic and pastoral practices for modernist, Western, secular practices. This simultaneous Westernisation and Hellenisation is inevitable and can only be avoided by their leaving schism and taking the path back to the Mother-Church.

If, after the election of a new archbishop, they cannot return to the Mother-Church, they will consign themselves to remaining a small archdiocese of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, perhaps 5,000 in number in all, most of their parishes set up in temporary or rented premises and less than 25 strong. Their ethos will continue to be intellectual, not spiritual, philosophical, not theological, disincarnate, not incarnate, with mainly untrained clergy, without a living Tradition and without a Mother-Church, yet dependent on the Russian Church for vestments, literature, musical culture and people to fill its small parishes. Clearly, eventually, they will disappear, absorbed into Greek Church structures and practices.

However, if, after the election of a new archbishop, they can return to the Mother-Church, they will be able to rejoin the multinational and multilingual free Russian Orthodox Church, fifty times bigger than the tiny and captive Patriarchate of Constantinople. They will be able to take part in the construction of the Metropolia of Western Europe, with its hundreds and hundreds of real parishes and historic churches all over Western Europe, the stepping-stone to a future new Local Church and yet at the same time authentically faithful to the Russian Orthodox Tradition and Church in all ways. Local and Faithful, or Westernised and Hellenised: this is the choice that they face.

How to Be an Orthodox Christian

To be an Orthodox Christian, two things are necessary:

1. To be in communion with the Orthodox Church, for ‘there is no Christianity without the Church’ (St Hilarion of Verey).

Unfortunately, the word ‘Orthodox’ is much misused and abused, in similar ways to words like ‘Apostolic’ or ‘Catholic’. Thus, although there are those who describe themselves as ‘Orthodox’, if they are not in fact members of one of the canonical Orthodox Churches and in communion with them, they are not Orthodox, not part of the Orthodox family. In reality, in the narrower context of life in Western Europe, to call oneself Orthodox actually means to belong to one of only seven Local Orthodox Churches: either to the Russian, Romanian, Serbian, Bulgarian or Georgian Orthodox Churches, or else to the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople or the Arab Patriarchate of Antioch.

In concrete terms, if those in Western Europe who claim to be Orthodox do not belong to one of these seven Local Orthodox Churches, they do not belong to the Orthodox Church. What are they then? In reality, they may be Copts (Miaphysites), who reject the Universal Councils of the Orthodox Church, or they may belong to some tiny, perhaps nationalistic, uncanonical grouping which may have Orthodox rites and icons but which is not in communion with the Orthodox Church, or they may simply be fantasist vagantes. And in this country these individuals may in fact be former or retired Anglicans, who have found an exotic hobby, an unusual past-time, which they have shaped in their own image.

2. To think and live as an Orthodox Christian

It is one thing to be a nominal member of the Orthodox Church, but it is another thing actually to be an Orthodox Christian. Since Faith is at the root of civilisation and culture, it is clear that if we are Orthodox Christians, then we think in terms of Orthodox Christian civilisation and culture. And quite simply, Orthodox Christianity is a different civilisation and culture from other civilisations and cultures because the Orthodox Christian Faith is different from other Faiths. If people do not think as Orthodox Christians, have Orthodox civilisational values, then they will only be semi-Orthodox, watered down Orthodox, nominally Orthodox, outwardly Orthodox, compromised Orthodox, westernised Orthodox.

It is in fact only when people inwardly think as Orthodox Christians, instead of as Anglicans, Protestants, Roman Catholics or something else, that they speak and act as Orthodox Christians. And it is vital to understand this, for Orthodox Christianity is not an ideology, philosophy or personality cult, but a life based on an integrated view of the world, a conscious set of values made incarnate, a life imbued by a conscious mindset and mentality, in other words, a way of life with all its ramifications. If we live as Orthodox Christians, these ramifications mean consistently striving to obey in full the two simple commandments, to love God and to love our neighbours as ourselves.

The Recrucifixion of Christ in the Middle East

‘Again we pray for the suffering Syrian Orthodox people, for the salvation and preservation of their holy places and the lives of our brethren in Syria and the whole Middle East’.

Litany used in Russian Orthodox Churches

The USA, the world’s only Superpower and officially its largest Christian country, is presiding over and encouraging a brutal regional war in the Middle East. This was triggered, just as was predicted at the time, by shameless lies which were used to justify its destabilising war against Iraq ten years ago. That war, caused by Western armies, was supposed to bring ‘freedom and democracy’, but to the Christian presence, which had survived 1700 years of foreign oppression, they brought an end – in massacre, oppression and exile.

Although the present regional war is between Shia, Sunni and secular Muslims, its main victims are everywhere Christians. Present in the Middle East long before both Muslim and Western invaders, these natives have been driven out of their own countries, not only out of Syria as out of Iraq before it, but also out of Egypt, in their millions. The Christians who remain are being massacred and their churches desecrated in their hundreds. In Syria one of the last three towns where Aramaic, the language of Christ, is spoken, is being destroyed.

Little wonder that Archbishop Chrysostom of Cyprus has called for intervention to support the forces of the President of Syria against the terrorists and their chemical weapons. And yet tens of thousands of these armed foreign mercenaries, many of them belonging to the CIA-founded Al-Qaida, are being trained by Western special forces in camps in the Jordan and Turkey. Moreover, many are being paid $1200 a month by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the closest allies of the USA, to bring murder, rape and destruction to Syria.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan, members of the US puppet government, for whose establishment so many heroic servicemen, both American and of other nationalities, died or were maimed, are calling for anyone who becomes a Christian to be hanged. Little wonder that some affirm that it is true that the President of the USA is indeed a Muslim. How else can we explain the anti-Christian attitude of the US administration, as it finances, organises and encourages today’s genocide of Christians in the Middle East, this Recrucifixion of Christ?

On Being in Communion and Ecumenism


Thank you dear father for the quick response.

What do you think, is it time to leave communion with Constantinople because of the heresy of ecumenism? This is my personal opinion, but I admit I may be wrong… I am looking for answers to my questions about the consequences of communion with bishops who consider ecumenism as a path to the union of all Non-Orthodox with Orthodox.
Look at Patriarch Bartholomew’s meeting with a New York rabbi: (Preview)

…But the Jews still do not confess Christ!

I have also been a little bit confused when I saw a video with the then Metropolitan Kyrill in Canberra at the WCC in 1991: (Preview)

“The World Council of Churches is the cradle of the One Church of the future… it is our common home”, he said, “and we bear a special responsibility for its destiny.”

Could you help me to understand these things?



Dear X,

I now understand your confusion. There are two points to make here:

1. We do not leave a whole Patriarchate just because a few individuals in it speak heresy. Can you imagine falling out of communion with the fathers of Mt Athos and the many excellent and faithful laypeople and clergy in Constantinople just because of a few heretical, politically-appointed individuals? Fr Paisios on Mt Athos stayed in communion with that Patriarchate. So should we too.

Forgive me, here I think you do not understand what the phrase ‘to be in communion with’ means. What does it mean to be in communion? For example, the Patriarchate of Constantinople is in communion with ROCOR, but I have never celebrated on the new calendar and no heretic has ever celebrated in my Church. This is because when new calendar priests come to our churches to concelebrate, they immediately have to change to the old calendar (though the new calendar is not a heresy, just a mistake) and if ever a heretic came to our church, I would not invite him to celebrate. This is something I practise, since we know a nearby priest who is a heretic, giving communion to heterodox. (Of course he is not part of the Russian Church (or of Constantinople) and is totally isolated from all other Orthodox – basically because he has excommunicated himself). To be in communion does not mean that we concelebrate with heretics and they concelebrate with us. To be in communion means that we are in communion with other Orthodox, who can be found in abundance in every Local Church, and that they are in communion with us. In any case, heretical individuals do not come to our churches and we do not go to their churches to concelebrate and they do not invite us. So in fact those individuals have already cut themselves off from communion with us and the rest of the Church. They have already excommunicated themselves.

2. 22 years ago, in 1991, the hierarchy of the Patriarchal part of the Russian Church was still under the control of the Communist Party which had imposed ecumenism on it in the 1960s. Its hierarchy was therefore not in communion with the free ROCOR. It is true that the then Metr Kyrill did make this statement about the WCC in Canberra. Since then, however, he has become free and he has renounced this heretical teaching several times, for example, in 2000 when he accepted the statement called the Social Concept of the Church at the first free Council of the Patriarchal Church, again in, I think, 2004, when the Patriarchal hierarchy repented publicly before ROCOR for falling under the influence of Communism and making invalid political statements, and again in 2008 when Metr Kyrill openly called Non-Orthodox ‘heretics’ at a speech at the Trinity St Sergius Lavra. The Patriarchal administration today publicly rejects all prayers with heretics, in tune with the masses of bishops, priests and people, and Patriarch Kyrill today is a free man who is openly Orthodox, without any of the old compromises of the past.

In other words, we must allow for repentance. Since God allows for repentance, so must we, especially since we too are imperfect sinners, needing repentance ourselves. It is no good quoting statements from 22 years ago made by people who were then slaves of an atheist State, in order to try and incriminate them, if they have repented since then. And this is exactly the case. We do not live in the past, but in the present and we look forward to the future.

Similarly, it is useless quoting Patriarch Bartholomew, since he is the slave of the Turkish State (an American puppet) and of the American State Department. This took over the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1948, deposing the last legitimate Patriarch, Patr Maximos, flying in their American puppet on the US Presidential jet to replace him, and funding it ever since. Simply, Patr Bartholomew is not free, so of course he makes heretical statements as a political appointee. What he actually believes we do not know, he is not free – and that is why we pray for him, just as we pray for all, including all our enemies. Indeed, this is how we recognise sects – they refuse to pray for the people they see as their enemies, which is against the Gospel. After all we all pray for the government authorities which rule the country where we live, whether we agree with them or not, for they may be atheist, homosexual or Muslim. This is because we want God to influence them so that they avoid making mistakes and acting against the Faith.

May God keep you in His Church!

Fr Andrew