Monthly Archives: January 2016

On the So-Called Council

In a few days time there will be a meeting in a modernist concrete building in Calvinist Geneva (instead of at the historic Russian Orthodox Cathedral) to discuss the possible forthcoming meeting of Orthodox bishops (Where? When?), which the US State Department has pretentiously billed as a ‘Pan-Orthodox Council’. In the Ukraine, from where I have just returned (graffiti like ‘Down with Poroshenko’s Party of Thieves and Murderers’ are now even more common), I found two attitudes to this ‘Council’. One was pure ignorance (‘never heard of it’), the other attitude was fear and rejection (‘whatever they decide, we shall ignore them’). If this meeting, against the background of civil wars in the Ukraine and Syria, happens, it does indeed seem to be a most inopportune time.

Popular attitudes like those in the Ukraine are to be expected when there has been no consultation with monastics, parish clergy and people about this ‘Council’, let alone about its virtually unknown and meaningless agenda (try googling for it), and when all preparatory meetings are conducted behind closed doors and no reports on those meetings are issued. As the much-respected Metr Hierotheos of the Church of Greece has written, this ‘Council’ should be stopped, for its agenda contains not a single theological issue (unlike real Councils). And yet the ailing and elderly Patriarch of Constantinople is desperate to see the ‘Council’ take place before he dies, even reconciling himself with Metr Rostislav of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia. Going from negative to positive, what are the possible outcomes?

1. The meeting (‘Council’) will not take place. With the difficulty between the Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Antioch, between the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Church of Greece, with the political impasse between Russian and Turkey (and the representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople are all Turkish citizens), with calls from senior churchmen in the Ukraine and Greece for the meeting not to be held at all, with its secular agenda on which there is no agreement, this outcome seems quite possible. A non-event.

2. The meeting takes place somewhere and some time in 2016, but it will issue some vague and meaningless statement full of secularspeak, ensuring unanimity but also meaning that the meeting is still a non-event.

3. The meeting takes place but begins and ends in disagreement. Faithful monasteries and parish churches declare that they belong to ‘the Church of the Seven Councils’; schismatic and modernist ones declare that they belong to ‘the Church of the Eight Councils’. Although this may seem the most negative outcome of all, perhaps it is time for there to be a cleansing and that the small minority of Halfodox at last leave the Church, taking their heresies with them, in their apostasy becoming Uniats or forming some new ‘Protestant with icons’ sect, whatever they want. Let the dead bury the dead.

4. The meeting takes place and a miracle happens. It obtains an eternal meaning, becoming a Council. Once hesitant Local Churches affirm Orthodoxy and reject spiritual death; the minority of Orthodox who have compromised return to the Orthodox calendar, refusing to die out in the worship of the past as a 1453 nationalistic irrelevance in a global world, rejecting ecumenism and modernism, adopting the global missionary responsibilities of the Church, launching worldwide mission. In this way this Council confirms, seals and extends the Seven Universal Councils of the Church and the Creed and refuses to act as a secular organization like the Vatican or CIA-run Protestant sects, confirming Christ and rejecting Antichrist.

The End of the EU?

Recently the much-respected Metropolitan Athanasius of Limassol said in an interview that the end of the EU is not a matter of if, but when. As an observer, it does indeed seem that the stresses inside the EU are too great for this purely artificial and unnatural structure to survive much longer. Like all the other short-lived feudal ‘Reichs’, the First of Charlemagne, the Second of Bismarck, the Third of Hitler, so too the EU Fourth Reich is also doomed to collapse. A child of the early 1990s, it has now been around for nearly a generation – it cannot continue for much longer.

First of all, there is the stress of Northern and Southern Western Europe, in reality largely the stress between Germanic/Protestant and Latin/Catholic Europe Europe. Protestant, or more precisely Calvinist, Europe lives for petty-minded money and philistine savings; the banking capitals of Europe are in Protestant Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. On the other hand, Catholic Europe is less interested in Protestant Mammonism. It wants to enjoy life, to live. This fundamental division explains why supposedly unitive EU institutions are sited on the Catholic-Protestant fault-line in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg.

On top of this division, the EU elite then dared to introduce the euro. One size fits all, they said. Of course, it does not. Europe, Greece included, is not Germany and nobody wants a German Europe, which is what the EU is actually about. Some countries even rejected the euro, so hated by the German people. Notably, the UK elite rejected it. Now the patronizing UK Establishment elite is for the first time actually offering its subjects the freedom to leave the EU. It is just possible that by a small majority, the people may indeed seize back their freedom, to the despair of Washington which has always run the EU as its protectorate and is astounded that the UK elite could offer its plebs freedom and democracy.

Finally, there was the hubristic foolishness of the Western EU elite in thinking that the Western EU, already weak and divided, could also absorb Eastern Europe, which had emerged from Communist tyranny after some 45 years. Communism was certainly a tyranny, but it also had advantages. For example under the protection of Communism, everyone had a job (of sorts), a home (however modest), everybody had free education and health care, and crime was virtually non-existent. Even more significantly, Communism also protected Eastern Europe from the Western moral decay of the 1960s, which has led Western Europe to mass Muslim immigration on the one hand and Eurosodom on the other hand.

Today not just Hungary but also Slovakia, the Czech Republic and now the new nationalistic government in Poland are opposing the Western-run EU. The three EU Baltic States have been economically and politically crippled, many of the young people forced to emigrate. Romania and Bulgaria, run by hopelessly corrupt, post-Communist elites, are no-go areas. EU expansion to Montenegro and Moldova, let alone to the Ukraine, where the collapse of the US-installed, neo-Fascist Kiev junta is expected soon, is now unlikely. The peoples of Eastern Europe (and in fact those of Western Europe, but nobody asks them) do not want mass Muslim immigration, nor do they want gay parades and the obligation to recognize the Church of Satan, as the EU immediately imposed on the Ukraine.

Will the EU in its present form survive? We doubt it. As one of the foremost bishops of the Church of Cyprus has said, its collapse is not a question of if, but when. This is because only the Cross can unite the four corners of the Earth, North, South, East and West. And the EU is not the Cross, in fact it is the anti-Cross, Satan’s star. Thus, when some suggest that the EU needs baptizing, we say to them that that is not the solution, for it would refuse even the preparatory prayers of exorcism at the beginning of the baptismal rite. The devil’s own cannot reject and spit upon its master.

On the Financing of the Church

Recently someone complained to me that the price of the large candles that we sell in our church, 30 pence, would be multiplied by six or seven times in churches in London, even though the cost price is much less than 30 pence. He asked why. I told him that it is because in London the priest receives his salary from those who buy candles. They are not buying a candle, they are paying the priest. This fact raises the whole question of how we should pay for our churches and our priests. What are the options?

One option is the Greek-Romanian one: the State pays the clergy so that in fact the priests are civil servants. In our view this is a very bad option. First of all, the State is a notoriously bad payer. For example, Romanian priests receive a miserable 200 euros a month, on which they cannot live. However, far, far worse than this, it means that Romanian clergy, from the Patriarch down, are all servants of the State. Sometimes there are the most unfortunate consequences of such a loss of freedom. There is a parallel here with the slavish Church of England, which for the most part follows the policies of whatever atheist Prime Minister is in power. He, after all, appoints all the bishops of the Church of England, making it even more into a bastion of the Establishment. For instance, as one Anglican put it recently, 100 years ago the Church of England was against sodomy, but in favour of fox-hunting, whereas today it is in favour of sodomy, but against fox-hunting. So flows the Establishment tide; the Gospel can easily become irrelevant.

Another option is the ‘candle one’. Not just candles, however. You can charge a great deal for icons, books, crosses, holy water and you can charge, according to a fixed tariff, for baptisms, weddings, memorials, services of intercession etc. The problem with this is that people may well complain about how expensive it is. How can an hour’s work on the part of the priest be priced at £100 and more? (I am told that in the Church of England a wedding costs £400!). How can a 1,000% profit on a candle or an icon or a book be justified? Naturally, people will then, inevitably, start looking at the priest’s car, his wife’s clothes, his house etc. And that is how nasty rumours start and even people stop coming to church. And this, even though the priest’s possessions and his family may all be modest. This is because most of the money raised does not in any case go to the priest at all, but towards the costs of running the church, paying for repairs, maintenance, insurance, heating, electricity, water, the choir etc.

For me there is only one way of financing a church. This is that people become parishioners and begin giving a proportion of their income to the church, paying it directly from their bank accounts to the parish bank account. One question remains. How much should they give? Certainly not a tithe, as in the Jewish Old Testament. We would suggest 2%, of which 1% should go to the priest and 1% should go for the upkeep and adornment of the church. This would mean that for every 100 wage-earners there would be a priest who earns exactly the average wage of his parishioners, and there would be a parish church. On the basis of the ability of a priest to confess 100-200 adult parishioners (of whom 100 are wage-earners) and look after their children, as well as deal with another 100-200 or more irregular visitors, this proposition would surely seem reasonable.

Manmade Climate Change

The doom and gloom media love an apocalyptic sensation, however false. Thus, before the Year 2000, they invented the millennium bug, then they thought of bird flu, later ebola. Inbetween them there was terrorism, financial crises, ever imminent world wars and, above all, ‘climate change’. The most recent absurd statement is that the ‘North Pole is melting’. The scenario of climate change conveniently ignores the fact that the word ‘climate’ implicitly implies change. The climate has, by definition, always changed. Those of us who remember the 1970s and how the selfsame doom and gloom merchants promised us ‘a new ice-age by 2000’ remain sceptical.

The fact is that between about 1250 and 1850 the world went through what has been called a mini ice-age, when, in this country, the River Thames froze and fairs were held on the river, the last such ‘frost fair’ being held in 1814. Only today are we returning to the climate of the 12th century and earlier. At that time, and certainly as far back as the Roman Occupation, grapes were grown as far north as Yorkshire and the climate of southern England resembled that of today’s Loire Valley in France. This mini ice-age was all due to natural climate change – which no-one would deny. However, anyone over the age of 50 in England, as in many other countries, can confirm that the climate has changed since their childhood. This has been confirmed in recent weeks by terrible flooding in small parts of Britain, in the US and many other parts of the world.

What we are talking about, however, is possible ‘manmade’ climate change. But here there is no agreement. True, a majority of ‘scientists’ believe that the emission of gases from burning fossil fuels is changing our climate, with potentially catastrophic effects. However, a minority of ‘scientists’ do not agree with them. They point out that a great many ‘scientists’ (whatever that word means) are paid by Western governments, which do not like oil-producing countries, which are Non-Western, and paid also by Western-run solar and wind power industries. Therefore their claims are not be taken seriously. Let us, however, suspend our scepticism and assume that the manmade climate change lobby is correct and that most modern climate change is manmade. After all, pollution of any form cannot be good for the air, earth and water of the planet. What is to be done?

The first thing to be done is not to hold huge conferences with thousands of delegates jetted in from all around the world where discussions generate immense amounts of ‘hot air’. The first thing to be done is not to blame governments for lack of spending on flood defences; governments are not responsible for ‘natural’ catastrophes. The first thing to be done is to get down on our knees and repent, praying to God, Who Alone can control the climate, Who Alone can avert the catastrophes of the unnatural, fallen world, and ask Him to save us. Only if we do that first, will we know what we have to do next.

Examining the Hatred of Vladimir Putin and Russia

As usual, and at Orthodox Christmas too, I receive papers asking me to commemorate ‘President Vladimir’ at the Proskomidia. This is becoming more and more common throughout the Orthodox world. There are good reasons for this.

Those suffering from ignorance, anti-Christian prejudices or brainwashed by anti-Christian propaganda would do well to read the following article from a well-informed, Non-Russian, New Zealand source (biography at end), so that they can begin to revise their views in the light of the Truth.


Anyone who has followed the ongoing crisis in Eastern Europe and Ukraine knows the very hostile view that the establishment news media and Washington political class have of President Vladimir Putin of Russia and his policies. In the halls of Congress and in the mainstream press—almost every night on Fox News—serious charges are proffered against Russia’s president and his latest outrages. Sanctions and bellicose measures get enacted by the House and Senate overwhelmingly, with only meagre opposition and almost no serious discussion.

The mainstream American media and American political leaders seem intent to present only a one-sided, very negative picture of the Russian leader.

Various allegations are continually and repeatedly expressed.

How do these charges stand up under serious examination? What is their origin? And, what do they say about the current political and cultural environment in America and the West?

The allegations against Putin can be summarized in five major points:

Putin is a KGB thug and is surrounded by KGB thugs;

Under Putin the Russian Orthodox Church continues to be controlled by KGB types;

Putin wants to reassemble the old Soviet Union, and he believes that the break-up of the USSR was the greatest tragedy of the 20th century;

Putin is corrupt and has amassed billions of rubles personally skimmed off the top of the weak Russian economy;

And he is an anti-democratic authoritarian who persecutes homosexuals, in particular.

The charges against Putin go from disingenuous to the dishonest. The “KGB thug” and the “break-up” of the USSR accusations have been addressed in a variety of well-researched books and in-depth articles. The documentation contradicts these allegations, including some charges that have been made by usually conservative voices. It is extremely curious that such ostensibly conservative publications as The New American, for example, find themselves parroting accusations first made by notorious leftwing publicists and, then, by international gay rights supporters.

On the contrary, various historians and researchers, including Professor Allen C. Lynch (in his excellent study, Vladimir Putin and Russian Statecraft, 2011), Professor Michael Stuermer (in his volume, Putin and the Rise of Russia, 2008), M. S. King (in The War Against Putin, 2014), Reagan ambassador to the USSR Jack Matlock, Reagan Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts, former Congressman Ron Paul (his web site,, contains numerous scholarly articles defending Putin), Reagan budget director David Stockman, and conservative writer William Lind—none of these men on the Left—have pointed out that those allegations have been ripped out of context and are largely untenable. Additionally, numerous conservative religious authors have investigated and defended Putin, including Catholic journalists such as Michael Matt in The Remnant, Dr. E. Michael Jones in Culture Wars, Dr. Joseph Pearce in The St. Austin Review, and Gary Potter, and writers for conservative Protestant organizations like the Gospel Defense League. Nevertheless, the charges made against Putin are presented as fact by many Neoconservative “talking heads” on Fox (e.g., Charles Krauthammer) and on talk radio (e.g., Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck), as well as by the Leftist establishment media. Disinformation is clearly at work here, even among some of the strongest voices on the American right.

Professor Lynch reveals in his detailed study that the evidence for the “Putin KGB thug” allegation is very thin and lacks substantial basis. First, Putin was never “head of the KGB,” as some writers mistakenly (and, often, maliciously) assert. That is simply a falsehood. Rather, he served as a mid-level intelligence bureaucrat who sat at a desk in Dresden, East Germany, where he was stationed with his family for several years before returning to Leningrad. His job was to analyze data, and he had no involvement in other activities. [Lynch, pp. 19-21] Contemporary American intelligence reports confirm this fact. Indeed, this was one of the reasons that early on, during 1990 and 1991, Putin was considered a hopeful figure among the generation of younger Russians by American intelligence sources.

After the fall of Communism during the administration of Boris Yeltsin, he very briefly served at Yeltsin’s request as head of the FSB intelligence service. But the FSB is not the KGB.

Lynch treats in some detail the question of Putin’s supposed continued subservience to KGB ideology, with particular reference to the events surrounding the abortive Communist coup by the old hands at the KGB in August 1991. Putin, by that time, had resigned his position in the KGB and was serving as deputy mayor to pro-American Leningrad mayor, Anatoly Sobchak, one of the fiercest critics of the KGB and the old Soviet system. It was Putin who organized the local Leningrad militia to oppose the attempted KGB coup and protect Mayor Sobchak and the forces of democratic reform:

Putin played a key role in saving Leningrad for the democrats. The coup, which lasted but three days, was carried out on August 19. That same day Mayor Sobchak arrived on a flight from Moscow. The Leningrad KGB, which supported the coup, planned to arrest Sobchak immediately upon landing. Putin got word of the plan and took decisive and preemptive action: He organized a handful of loyal troops and met Sobchak at the airport, driving the car right up to the plane’s exit ramp. The KGB turned back, not wishing to risk an open confrontation with Sobchak’s armed entourage [led by Putin].” [Lynch, p. 34]

This signal failure in Russia’s second city doomed the attempted KGB coup and assured the final collapse of the Soviet system and eventual transition of Russia away from Communism. It was Vladimir Putin, then, who was largely responsible for defeating and preventing the return of Communism in Russia. It is very hard to see how a secret supporter of the KGB would take such action, if he were actually favoring the return of Communism.

As Professor Lynch recounts:

Putin accepted the irreversibility of the Soviet Union’s collapse and came to terms with the market and private property as the proper foundations of the Russian economy. [Lynch, p.28]

It is true that Putin lamented the break-up of the old Soviet Union, but not because he regretted the disappearance of the Soviets, but, rather, because of the numerous and intimate economic, linguistic, social, and cultural connections that interrelated most of the fifteen constituent republics of the old USSR. His comments on the topic were very clear, but have been selectively taken out of context by the Putin haters. [See the book-length interview with Putin, with comments from other Russian leaders, First Person: An Astonishing Frank Self-Portrait by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, New York, 2000, pp. 165-190]

Much like the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian empire after World War I, which left significant ethnic minorities cut off from their historic former homelands — for example, millions of Austro-German Sudetens in Czechoslovakia, Hungarian Transylvanians in Romania, etc. — and a number of economically non-viable states in the Balkans, the dissolution of the Soviet Union created the same situation in Eastern Europe. The present intractable crisis in Ukraine is a clear example of what can happen and has happened as a result. It was this situation that Putin rightly lamented; it was this break-up that he foresaw correctly as a tragedy.

The much-criticized—by the American press—secession of Crimea from Ukraine and its subsequent re-union with Russia clearly illustrates this. What too many so-called “experts” in America fail to understand (or, if they do, skillfully omit in their reports) is that Crimea was an integral part of Russia for hundreds of years until Communist Nikita Khrushchev sliced it off from Russia and gave it to Ukraine in 1954, despite the fact that 60% of its population is ethnically Russian and its culture and language completely Russian. [See the Wikipedia article, “Crimea”]

Moreover, the Ukrainian “oblasts,” or provinces, of Lugansk and Donetsk, have a similar history and ethno-cultural make-up. They were arbitrarily added to the Ukrainian socialist republic in the 1920s after the Communist revolution, despite being historically part of Mother Russia for centuries.

Interestingly, at the same time Putin made the “break-up” of the Soviet Russia comment, he visited Poland to denounce and condemn the Communist massacre and crimes in the Katyn Forest at the beginning of World War II, as well as the horrid Soviet gulags. On more than one occasion, especially at the meetings of the international Valdai Discussion Forum in 2013 and 2014, he has harshly condemned in the strongest terms Communism and the atrocious crimes committed by Communists. In so doing, he made extensive reference to Russia’s Christian heritage (also criticizing same sex marriage, abortion, and homosexuality as being “opposed to the most sacred values of our traditions”).

Putin’s remarks at the Valdai Forum in September 2013, in front of representatives from most European countries, deserve extensive quoting. Here is some of what he said:

Another serious challenge to Russia’s identity is linked to events taking place in the world. Here there are both foreign policy and moral aspects. We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their historic roots, including the Christian values that constitute the very basis of Western civilisation. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual. They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan. The excesses of political correctness have reached the point where people are seriously talking about registering political parties whose aim is to promote paedophilia. People in many European countries are embarrassed or afraid to talk about their religious affiliations. Holidays are abolished or even called something different; their essence is hidden away, as is their moral foundation. And people are aggressively trying to export this model all over the world. I am convinced that this opens a direct path to degradation and primitivism, resulting in a profound demographic and moral crisis. What else but the loss of the ability to self-reproduce could act as the greatest testimony of the moral crisis facing a human society? Today almost all developed nations are no longer able to reproduce themselves, even with the help of unlawful migration. Without the values embedded in Christianity, without the standards of morality that have taken shape over millennia, people will inevitably lose their human dignity. We consider it natural and right to defend these values. One must respect every minority’s right to be different, but the rights of the majority must not be put into question.

And Putin gained firm support and endorsement from that inveterate and most intransigent anti-Communist, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Before his death in 2008, Solzhenitsyn praised Putin and stated that he believed Putin’s personal acceptance of Christian faith to be genuine. American ambassador William Burns visited Solzhenitsyn (April 2008) shortly prior to his death and quoted him as stating that under Putin, the nation was rediscovering what it was to be Russian and Christian. [See article at, Thursday, December 2, 2010] The great Russian anti-Communist also gave a long 2007 interview with the German magazine, Der Spiegel, saying the same thing. So, then, if the Putin-haters are correct, did Putin fool the great Solzhenitsyn who was by far the greatest and most intransigent anti-Communist of the 20th century? Not likely.

About the personal corruption charge Lynch offers substantial detail and discusses how it got going, basically spread by Putin’s liberal opponents. To those who suggest that Putin stood to make a fortune off his political choices, Lynch (and others) offers substantial documentation to the contrary:

Putin was not corrupt, at least in the conventional, venal sense. His modest and frankly unfashionable attire bespoke a seeming indifference to personal luxury. While as deputy mayor. He had acquired the use of the summer dacha of the former East German Consulate and even installed a sauna unit there, but when the house burned down in the summer of 1996, his $5,000 life’s savings burned with it. To have accumulated only $5,000 in five years as deputy mayor of Russia’s second-largest city and largest port, when hundreds of less well-placed Russians were enriching themselves on government pickings, implies something other than pecuniary motives behind Putin’s activities (….) In sum, Putin was honest, certainly by Russian standards. He lived simply and worked diligently. Accused by a foe…of having purchased a million dollar villa in France, Putin sued for slander and won his case in court a year later. [Lynch, pp. 33, 35]

Some of the hostility towards Putin emerged when he became interim president of the Russian Federation after Boris Yeltsin stepped down in December, 1999. Putin had established himself as a loyal and forthright political leader since serving as deputy mayor for the pro-democratic Mayor Sobchak. He had also served Yeltsin faithfully.

But Putin was no Yeltsin. While initially following the Yeltsin pro-American and pro-Western lead in foreign policy, Putin was also aware that Russia was undergoing a radical transition from a decrepit and collapsed Communist state to the recovery of some of its older traditions, including a mushrooming, vibrant return to traditional Russian Orthodoxy, a faith which he has publicly and personally embraced. [See various confirming reports, including Charles Glover, “Putin and the Monk,” FINANCIAL TIMES Magazine, January 25, 2013, and video clip. During the days of oppressive Communist rule, the Russian Orthodox Church, at least the official leadership, was subservient to Marxism, with many of its leaders at least mouthing Communist ideas, if not serving as agents. The former Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Alexei (who died in 2008), had been criticized as a collaborator with the Communist regime. However, the so-called “intelligence proof” that suddenly “appeared” in Estonia stating that he was a secret KGB agent has been placed in very serious doubt (see Wikipedia, “Patriarch Alexei” article). Apparently, the “documents” were most likely fabricated and not genuine. Indeed,as the Encyclopedia Britannica in its biography of him relates, Alexei was “the first patriarch in Soviet history to be chosen without government pressure; candidates were nominated from the floor, and the election was conducted by secret ballot.” Not only that, after the fall of Communism, Alexei publicly denounced Communist crimes and called for the freedom of Christianity in Russia. It became something of a moot point when Alexei died in 2008; his replacement as head of the Russian church was Archbishop Kirill, someone who is known for his staunch opposition to Marxism and his defense of historic Christianity and traditional morality.

As Russian religious scholar Professor John Garrard exhaustively demonstrates in his excellent study, Russian Orthodoxy Resurgent (2008), from 1991 onwards the Russian Orthodox Church began a necessary purification, with older collaborators and Communist agents gradually stepping down or being removed. Today the Russian Orthodox Church is, by far, the most conservative, traditional and anti-Communist religious body in the world. It has gone so far as to canonize dozens of martyrs killed by the Communists and celebrate the Romanov tsar and his family who were brutally murdered by the Reds in 1918. Significantly, since 1991 over 26,000 new Christian churches have opened in Russia, and the fact that Christianity is being reborn in Russia has not gone unnoticed among some Christian writers in the America and Europe, although generally ignored by the secular press. [There are numerous articles and reports chronicling this amazing rebirth, e.g., Russia has experienced a spiritual resurrection, Catholic Herald, October 22, 2014; see also, “Faith Rising in the East, Setting in the West,” January 29, 2014, Break Point Commentaries. Such a phenomena is not some Communist plot, but represents a genuine desire on the part of the Russian people to rediscover their religious roots, ironically just as a majority of American now seem to embrace same sex marriage, abortion, and the worst extremes of immorality and the rejection of traditional Christianity.

In support of his goals Putin has championed Russian laws that: (1) have practically outlawed abortion in Russia (no abortions after the 12th week, and before that time in limited cases, and also the end of financial support for abortions, reversing a previous Soviet policy); (2) clamp down on homosexuality and homosexual propaganda—absolutely no homosexual propaganda in Russian schools, no public displays of homosexuality, with legal penalties imposed for violating these laws; (3) strongly support traditional marriage, especially religious marriage, with financial aid to married couples having more than two children; (4) have established compulsory religious instruction in all Russian schools (including instruction in different Christian confessions, in different regions of the country); (4) implement a policy instituting chaplaincy in Russian military regiments (and religious institutions now assist in helping military families); (5) have made religious holidays now official Russian state holidays; (6) have instituted a nationwide program of rebuilding churches that were destroyed by the Communists (the most notable being the historic Church of Christ the Saviour in Moscow); and (7) officially support the Russian film industry in producing conservative religious and patriotic movies—interestingly, the most popular film in Russia in 2009 was the movie “Admiral,” a very favorable biopic of the leader of the White Russian counter-revolutionary, Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak, who was executed by the Communists in 1920. The film was supported by the Russian cultural ministry. Can we imagine the American NEH doing anything similar in the current United States? [See reports,, January 23, 2013; LifeSiteNews, October 26, 2011, August 1, 2013; Scott Rose, Bloomberg News, June 30, 2013; see also Garrard on some of these actions]

As American Catholic author, Mark Tooley, has written Understanding a More Religious and Assertive Russia, April 2, 2014:

Putin has formed a close association with Russian Orthodoxy, as Russian rulers typically have across centuries. He is smart to do so, as Russia has experienced somewhat of a spiritual revival…. Orthodoxy is widely and understandably seen as the spiritual remedy to the cavernous spiritual vacuum left by over 70 disastrous, often murderous years of Bolshevism. Resurgent religious traditionalism has fueled Russia’s new law against sexual orientation proselytism to minors and its new anti-abortion law. Both laws also respond to Russia’s demographic struggle with plunging birth rates and monstrously high abortion rates that date to Soviet rule. Some American religious conservatives have looked to Russian religious leaders as allies in international cooperation on pro-family causes.

As the largest nation in the world, with historic connections to the rest of Europe, but also to Asia, Putin understood as well that Russia, despite the Communist interlude, was still a major power to be reckoned with. A reawakened Russian conservative nationalism and a return to the traditional Orthodox Christian faith did not, he initially hoped, predetermine an eventual clash with the European Union nor with the United States.

Indeed, after the 9/11 attack on the “twin towers” in New York, Putin’s Russia was the first nation to offer its full support to and its cooperation with American intelligence agencies to combat terrorism and bring the culprits to justice. Having combated Chechen Islamic terrorism in the Caucasus region, Russia had experience dealing with Islamic extremism. [Lynch, pp. 100-105; Stuermer, pp. 5-6]

Nevertheless, Bush administration Neoconservatives basically kicked Russia in the teeth. With their zealous belief in liberal democracy and global equality, to be imposed on offending nations if need be , as Allan Bloom once boasted, they condescendingly refused Russian collaboration. As leading Neocon publicist and “talking head,” Charles Krauthammer, expressed it, “we now live in a unipolar world in which there is only ONE superpower, and that is the United States.”

The Neoconservative condescension towards Russia, first after 9/11, then with the threatened placement of missiles in Poland, pushing NATO to the very borders of Russia, and finally following the bungled American diplomatic escapade in Georgia in 2008, cemented a conviction among Russians and by Vladimir Putin that the desired partnership with America was unrealizable, at least for the time being. [See Lynch, ch. 6, generally, for a thorough discussion of Russian foreign policy; Stuermer, pp. 196-199]

The desire for Russia to become a “collaborative partner” in any kind of situation resembling international parity was just not acceptable to American Neocons. Whereas Yeltsin had been welcomed in Washington as “America’s poodle,” willing to do America’s bidding, Putin believed that the largest nation in the world, which had thrown off the Communist yoke, merited a larger role. His desire was for a real partnership. But aggressive attempts spearheaded by the United States to incorporate formerly integral parts of Russia—areas that were and continue to be considered within the Russian “sphere of influence,” even if independent—into NATO, largely dashed Russian hopes for partnership with the West. [Stuermer, pp. 191-196] In 1996 the late George Kennan cautioned the American foreign policy establishment that expansion of NATO into those areas “was a strategic blunder of potentially epic proportions.” Kennan warned against a foreign policy that was “utopian in its expectation, legalistic in its concept … moralistic … and self-righteous.” [Robert Sidelsky, Kennan’s Revenge: Remembering the Reasons for the Cold War The Guardian, April 23, 2014, ] Henry Kissinger echoed this warning on November 12, 2014, calling in Der Spiegel the American response to Russia “a fatal mistake.”

Perhaps it is no coincidence that many of the present-day Neocon publicists descend from immigrant Jewish Labour Zionists and inhabitants of the Russian “pale of settlement,” who experienced tsarist pogroms in the late 19th century and who later formed the vanguard of Marxist efforts to overthrow the tsar and establish a socialist state? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s mammoth study, Two Hundred Years Together (still untranslated into English, although a French edition exists: Deux Siecles Ensembles, 1795-1995, Fayard, 2002), offers fascinating detail on this process. The Socialist internationalism manifested by those revolutionaries found its incarnation in Leon Trotsky, murdered at Stalin’s orders in Mexico in 1940. Despite the supposed migration of the Neocons towards the political Right in the 1970s and 1980s, the globalist and “democratic” legacy of Trotsky remains a not-so-distant lodestar for many zealous partisans.

At times this paternal reverence continues to break forth, in unlikely sources. On National Review Online, a few years back, Neoconservative writer Stephen Schwartz wrote:

To my last breath, I will defend Trotsky who alone and pursued from country to country and finally laid low in his own blood in a hideously hot house in Mexico City, said no to Soviet coddling to Hitlerism, to the Moscow purges, and to the betrayal of the Spanish Republic, and who had the capacity to admit that he had been wrong about the imposition of a single-party state as well as about the fate of the Jewish people. To my last breath, and without apology. Let the neofascists and Stalinists in their second childhood make of it what they will.” [See Professor Paul Gottfried’s commentary on, April 17, 2007]

For the American Neocons, the emergence of a nationalist, Christian, and undemocratic Russia is perhaps too reminiscent of the “bad old days.” And despite very different circumstances, a non-conforming Russian state demanding any form of parity with the world’s “only remaining superpower” is out of the question.

On the contrary, Boris Yeltsin was a Neocon favorite. Yeltsin’s tenure as president seemed not only to echo a second-rate “America’s poodle” status, his handling of the Russian economy proved disastrous for the average Russian, but lucrative for a handful of Russian oligarchs, who in turn were connected to American business interests. Wikipedia (article on Boris Yeltsin) sums up his actions in this way:

In 1995, as Yeltsin struggled to finance Russia’s growing foreign debt and gain support from the Russian business elite for his bid in the early-1996 presidential elections, the Russian president prepared for a new wave of privatization offering stock shares in some of Russia’s most valuable state enterprises in exchange for bank loans. The program was promoted as a way of simultaneously speeding up privatization and ensuring the government a much-needed infusion of cash for its operating needs.

However, the deals were effectively giveaways of valuable state assets to a small group of tycoons in finance, industry, energy, telecommunications, and the media who came to be known as “oligarchs” in the mid-1990s. This was due to the fact that ordinary people sold their vouchers for cash. The vouchers were bought out by a small group of investors. By mid-1996, substantial ownership shares over major firms were acquired at very low prices by a handful of people. Boris Berezovsky, who controlled major stakes in several banks and the national media, emerged as one of Yeltsin’s most prominent backers. Along with Berezovsky, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Vladimir Potanin, Vladimir Bogdanov, Rem Viakhirev, Vagit Alekperov, Alexander Smolensky, Victor Vekselberg, Mikhail Fridman and a few years later Roman Abramovich, were habitually mentioned in the media as Russia’s oligarchs.

On his assumption of the presidency and his election to a full first term, Putin resolved to end this economic domination by “the oligarchs,” but in so doing, he antagonized their internationalist capitalist partners in the West on Wall Street and in Bruxelles.

During his first term, Putin proved himself to be a clever and resourceful politician. He organized a powerful political base, his United Russia political party, and, like most successful political leaders, was able to parlay his economic successes and a favorable conclusion to the Chechen civil war into a strong base of support across the Russian Federation. Criticized by some domestic opponents for not following punctiliously all the hallmark benchmarks of Western-style “democracy,” Putin insisted that the difficult path to Russian democracy was different than that so often pushed (and imposed) by the United States around the world. Nevertheless, the average Russian citizen experienced more real liberties and more economic freedom than at any time in Russia’s long history, and the credit for that must be Putin’s. [Lynch, pp. 69-74; Stuermer, pp. 199-200]

The continuing charges that Putin is corrupt and has surrounded himself with ex-KGBers have as their origin, not surprisingly, leftist and liberal domestic opponents of the Russian president in Russia, as Lynch, Paul Craig Roberts, M. S. King, and others have shown. In fact, most of Putin’s advisors lack serious earlier Communist/KGB involvement. The charges, nevertheless, have been picked up by the Murdoch media and Neocon press. Just as they had lauded Yeltsin, they quickly turned on the nationalist Putin, who quickly became in the Western press a “KGB thug,” “corrupt,” and desirous of “restoring the old Soviet Union.

One of the major, if indirect, Russian domestic sources for the corruption charges comes via a prolific Russian politician, Boris Nemtsov. Nemtsov, identified as a “new liberal,” is a longtime opponent of Vladimir Putin and a favorite of John McCain and various “mainstream conservatives.” [See, “Russians React Badly to U.S. Criticism on Protests,” The New York Times, January 6, 2011] Over the years he has penned a number of election broadsides and pamphlets, charging Putin with everything from feathering his own “nest” with “billions of rubles,” to election fraud. [See Nemtsov, Putin: What 10 Years of Putin Have Brought, 2010] In each case, his allegations lack the kind of sources to make them creditable. It is as if Al Gore were to have written a pamphlet about George W. Bush in the 2000 election: it and its content would immediately be highly suspect.

That some supposedly conservative American publications and news sources could give these accusations credence just demonstrates the power of the liberal/left media and the international anti-Russian homosexual lobby who have tried desperately to propagate such ideas.

Although the Nemtsov origin for the constant media barrage is important, in recent months the nature of the Western opposition to Putin and Russia has been radically transformed. While Nemtsov’s canards certainly have found their way into the Western press, since Russia’s legal prohibitions (in early 2013) against homosexual propaganda (especially directed towards underage children) and its forthright defense of the Christian institution of marriage, the vigorous opposition to Putin has assumed a “moral” dimension, symbolized best, perhaps, by Obama’s appointment of several over-the-hill, openly homosexual athletes to head the United States delegation to the Sochi Olympics in early 2014.

Such an action demonstrated both the fundamental rejection by the American leadership (and Western European leaders) of Russia’s affirmation of traditional marriage and traditional Christianity, while illustrating the formal apostasy by the West from its own traditional Christian moorings.

Enter Russian-American journalist and author Masha Gessen. Numerous references to Gessen began to appear last year, and soon she was appearing as “the Russian authority” on several of the Sunday morning news programs and as a guest on the Establishment’s special programs dealing with Russia and Ukraine. Repeatedly, she is identified as “the noted expert and author on Russia and Vladimir Putin.” Her 2012 volume, The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, has been cited on such programs as “Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation” as critical to understanding Russia and its president. She is the most widely-quoted writer on Russia and Putin now in the West.

But just who is Masha Gessen? She is identified by the Wikipedia (not known for its right wing bias) as a Jewish lesbian activist, with dual Russian and American citizenship (how did she manage that?), who is “married” to another lesbian, with a “family,” but who advocates the abolition of the “institution of marriage,” itself.

She has identified herself as a violent opponent of Putin and of traditional Christianity. Yet, her book, The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, is held up as the best volume on Russia and its president, while even her defenders (writing reviews on, for instance, and elsewhere) admit that her study reads like “one, long, impassioned editorial.”

Let us add that Gessen is an unrelenting champion of the Russian lesbian punk rock band, “Pussy Riot,” who profaned the high altar of one of the most sacred churches in Russia, the Church of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. Her volume, Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot (2014), is a passionate apologia for that pornographic lesbian band and a vitriolic attack on both Putin and traditional Orthodox Christianity, especially the institution of marriage, which Putin strongly and publicly defends. Her attacks find their way into the whole spectrum of American opinion, including, sadly, into supposedly conservative publications. Indeed, many Neoconservatives are remarkably “soft” on issues surrounding homosexual rights. [See, for example, “Fox News Goes Gay,” Christian Newswire, August 14, 2013; James Kirchick, “Out, Proud, and Loud: A GOP Nominee Breaks Boundaries,” The Daily Beast, February 18, 2014; Andrew Potts, “Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer calls gay rights struggle ‘heroic’,” Gay Star News, January 1, 2014 ]

Gessen, then, has now become one major source for attacks as well as the “analysis” spewed out by the major networks. As one can see, the real key here increasingly is the issue of homosexuality and the fact that Putin’s Russia defends traditional Christian ethics and has clamped down on gay propaganda. Gessen finds this intolerable….thus, even though her journalistic writing purports to take a researched and scholarly view of Russian affairs, her attacks, the charges of corruption and anti-democratic tendencies, are all subsumed into something much more important to this vocal activist: an all-encompassing passion to advance homosexuality worldwide and an unremitting opposition to traditional Christianity.

But it is not just a prominent and influential publicist like Masha Gessen who identifies the issue of homosexuality as central to the hatred for Putin and contemporary Russia. Gessen’s views are now completely mainstream in the West, illustrated resoundingly by President Obama’s naming of those gay former Olympians to represent the United States at Sochi. The gesture was unmistakable, but its symbolism indicated something more profound in the West’s post-Christian mentality. Indeed, this salient aspect of what euphemistically is now called “defending human rights” underpins EU and American policies towards Russia. Such organizations as the Human Rights League, People for the American Way, and the United Nations have gotten involved on a global level, cementing this template. In the international political sphere, no clearer illustration of this pervasive influence on policy may be found than in the response of close American ally German Chancellor Angela Merkel to President Putin’s criticism of the collapse of traditional Christian morality in America and Europe. As reported by The Times of London, November 30, 2014, Merkel, who had for some time urged a softer approach to Russia and continued negotiations, finally realized:

that there could be no reconciliation with Vladimir Putin when she was treated to his hardline views on gay rights.The German chancellor was deep in one of the 40 conversations she has had with the Russian president over the past year — more than the combined total with David Cameron, François Hollande and Barack Obama — when he began to rail against the “decadence” of the West. Nothing exemplified this “decay of values” more than the West’s promotion of gay rights, Putin told her. The Kremlin and instead should adopt a policy of Cold War-style containment.

And Merkel is not alone. She joins Barack Obama and prime ministers David Cameron, Francois Hollande, and the leaders of the EU in expressing this important underlying rationale for Western policy towards Russia.

It is, then, the formal Western and American embrace of homosexuality, same sex marriage, and other deviations from traditional Christian morality as normative that has opened a steep chasm and motivates zealous proponents, for whom Vladimir Putin and a revived traditional Russia present a distinct challenge to their eventual global success.

It is, then, this rebellion against God-created human nature and against natural law, itself, that is bitterly opposed to Russia’s affirmation of traditional religious belief. It is this divide now that forms the deepest basis of the profound conflict between East and West. Indeed, the world has been turned upside down, with Russia now defending Christianity, while the American and Western political and media elites viciously attack it. As Patrick Buchanan now rightly asks: “On whose side is God NOW on?”

Boyd D. Cathey holds a doctorate in European intellectual history from the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, where he was a Richard Weaver Fellow, and an MA in American intellectual history from the University of Virginia (as a Jefferson Fellow). He was assistant to conservative author and philosopher the late Russell Kirk. In more recent years he served as Registrar of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. He has published in French, Spanish, and English on historical subjects as well as classical music and opera. He is active in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and various historical, archival, and genealogical organizations. Small sections of this article were originally published on the Communities Digital News website, April 16, 2014.

Leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Asks for Boycott of All-Orthodox ‘Council’

Speaking at the Diocesan Meeting in Kiev on 28 December, Metropolitan Onuphry, the ascetic and leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (representing some 30,000,000 souls in the Church of Rus’ (75% of the whole Orthodox Church) to abstain from the forthcoming All-Orthodox Bishops’ Council. He revealed that this is currently pencilled in to take place (in a still undisclosed location) next June.

The Metropolitan noted that there had been no agreement at pre-Council meetings on issues such as the order of seniority of the Local Churches, the granting of autocephaly, the calendar and the possibility of allowing a second marriage for clergy. He said that if there is no agreement on such issues, then they should be removed from the agenda. (We should note that only certain bishops have even been consulted on the need for such a meeting, let alone on the agenda, and that many in the parishes have never even heard of this forthcoming ‘Council’; an excellent recipe for its non-reception and/or schisms). Metropolitan Onuphry stated that only where there is full agreement, that is, consensus, can such issues remain on the agenda. Otherwise there would be schisms and public disagreements at the meeting. He also mentioned the possibility of trickery, that propositions that had already been rejected would be resubmitted for signature, but in Greek, before there was time for correct translations to be made. He was also concerned that issues which had not been discussed before the meeting could be added to the agenda at the last minute, resulting in what he called ‘farce’.

He declared that the Council of Bishops of the Church would therefore discuss refusing to take part in the ‘Council’ at all. He asserted that participation could become a greater evil than refusing to participate. If a Local Church refused to take part, then such a meeting could not be considered to represent all Orthodox. Calling the so-called ‘Council’ (organized by the elderly and ill Patriarch of Constantinople, who represents only a few million Orthodox) a ‘temptation’, the Metropolitan called on us to pray to God that this temptation be removed from the Church. He added that there was no need to ‘seek a new faith, but to seek the renewal of the human-being, for our faith is holy’. Mentioning the number of saints, he said that they prove that ours is ‘a saving faith’, that we ‘do not need to seek a faith more attuned to our passions’. ‘We do not need to break our faith because of our weakness and pride, but to break ourselves by adapting ourselves to the faith’. He added: ‘God has given us the faith, let us keep it and if someone else makes another faith, then that is his problem, he will have to answer to God’.


Bishops of the Church of Greece Condemn the Anti-Christian EU

The extracts below show that some in Greece are at long last waking up to the inevitable destruction of their country by the EU and coming persecution. However, this is only the beginning. Other formerly Orthodox, new calendar countries like Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria, which are also selling their souls for the EU mess of pottage, failing to heed the warnings of the spiritual forces in their countries, now face having to introduce exactly the same policies as apostatic Greece just has, probably in 2016. If Montenegro, Serbia, Moldova and the Ukraine are also spiritually feeble enough to fall into EU apostasy, the first stage of which is violently enforcing the Catholic-Protestant calendar and joining the US-run NATO, they too will inevitably have to institute anti-Christian laws.

Athens, 17 December 17 2015

Metropolitan Ignatios of Larisa and Tyrnavos:

“Sin is being officially legalized in our country… Homosexuality…leads people to inevitable spiritual death… The politicians are following the stench coming from “civilized” countries which before us recognized that black is white, that bitter is sweet, and that unlawful is lawful…

Thus, “Let us attend”. “Let us lift up our hearts”. This is Orthodox Greece. This is our treasure. They envy us and intend to take this treasure from us. Let us not fall into this trap! Let us not be traitors!”

Metropolitan Pavlos of Sisanion and Siatista:

“Perhaps it is time to close our doors before those ‘politicians’ who visit us allegedly for respect, but in reality for populist purposes?

“Does anyone sincerely believe that the Church can betray its eternal values and adapt to the momentary needs of each historical era?

“The undeniable right of the Church is to bear witness to the truth. And homosexuality is inconsistent with Church life.

“Gentlemen of the government! Perhaps tomorrow you are going to demand that the Church accepts bestiality and pedophilia? Some expect that as soon as ‘the Free Cohabitation Law’ is adopted, you will be forced to legalize pedophilia.

“Europe will put pressure on you. And you are ready to do anything. Do you really think that we will ever agree with this?”

Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus:

“The adoption of the new law is officially opening the page of state persecutions against our faith. The politicians shamelessly refer to the European consensus concerning legalization of sodomy, but they conceal the fact that post-Christian Europe has become Sodom and Gomorrah. Persecutions are approaching. We will be threatened, we will be reviled, we will probably be imprisoned and murdered. But we must remain faithful even unto death. We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29), remembering that In the world you shall have tribulation (Jn 16:33), because the world hates you, for the Lord has chosen you out of the world (Jn 15:18-19). And we should not forget the words: And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul (Mt 10:28).

“On behalf of the Holy Metropolis of Piraeus we officially announce to all the politicians who will vote for legalization of the moral insanity, that all contact with them will be stopped.”

Our Hope for a Russian Orthodox Church in Norwich (Update 9)

The Update

As of 1 January 2016 we are still waiting for legal documents to be exchanged for the premises we are buying in Norwich. After a three and a half month wait to receive planning permission from Norwich City Council, we have now had to wait an additional three and a half months for exactly the same organization to send our solicitor the lease. This means that the entire process has been delayed by over three months. Once we have signed for the premises and bought them, we can finally start building work to transform them into an Orthodox church. At last a permanent home for Russian Orthodoxy in Norwich after over thirty years of struggles. Thank you!


In the East of England there is at present only one multinational and multilingual church faithful to Russian Orthodoxy with its own urban premises. This is St John’s Church in Colchester. God willing and with your support, we have now been able to buy a second one, in Norwich, exactly 60 miles, 100 kilometres, to the north of Colchester.

Why Norwich? For the last four years I have been visiting Norwich and some of the 200 Russian Orthodox there, mainly recent immigrants from the Baltic States, especially from Estonia. I have baptized several in their homes, married couples in Colchester, buried, blessed houses, listened to confessions, visiting every few weeks, sometimes twice a month and am Orthodox chaplain at Norwich Prison.

We thought of dedicating our community to St Alexander Nevsky. We attempted to begin liturgies using the Greek Orthodox church building in Norwich, but were impeded. How are our people and English people and others interested in the witness of the Russian Orthodox Church, to be cared for pastorally? Only from a church building. And such life is required not only by Russian speakers, but also by Romanian, Bulgarian and English Orthodox. Most of our regular parishioners, only one of whom has a car, live within easy walking distance of this building.

On Friday 8 May, Fr Andrew saw a leasehold property for sale on the rightmove website for £50,000 at 134, Oak Street, Norwich. It measures 88 square metres externally and is at present used as offices and rooms for a cultural centre. It has electricity, heating and water and is in very good condition. It is so cheap because it is leasehold, in other words, you have to pay £100 rent per month for the ground it is built on. This amount is fixed until 2032. The lease itself is even longer – it lasts until 2047.

On Wednesday 13 May we organized a visit to these premises, attended by 9 local Russian Orthodox.

By Friday 15 May, Orthodox in Norwich had generously promised to donate £5,250.

On Monday 18 May Fr Andrew received Archbishop Mark’s blessing to buy the building if possible, meaning we could start obtaining pledges to donate.

On Thursday 21 May we heard from the surveyor that it would cost £3,000-£5,000 to knock down the internal walls and make good the floor and ceiling, so we could use this building as a church. This was lower than Fr Andrew had estimated.

On Wednesday 27 May we heard that our offer of £42,500 had been accepted. However, since conversion and furnishing costs will come to £12,500, this meant that we would need £55,000 in all.

On Friday 29 May we submitted the planning application for change of use from offices to a place of worship. This, we were told then, would take at least 6-8 weeks but should result in a positive answer.

On Wednesday 3 June we launched an internet appeal for £55,000 in order to set up our own church in Norwich.

By Wednesday 29 July, eight weeks after the appeal launch, total gifts and pledges had reached £55,000.

On Tuesday 29 September, after over three and a half months!, we finally received planning permission to convert the building into an Orthodox church.

A New Year Message: Flee Extremes!

One of my favourite photographs in our Church hall shows the Serb St Justin of Chelije standing side by side with the Romanian Fr Cleopa (Ilie). The former lived and became a saint on the old calendar. The latter, his saintly fellow-ascetic, lived on the new calendar. Despite his views that this calendar was an error, he naturally, as all must, preferred humble obedience to the pride of schism. The photograph shows the balance that I have always sought, away from the ridiculous extremes of the trolls, be they naïve and deluded amateurs or paid and hardened professionals. Although I have only ever seen physical violence from two old calendarists, it is today the new calendarist ones who are the most violent verbally, even to the point of issuing a death-threat. It is interesting that such people call themselves Orthodox Christians!

Looking back at controversies in the USA in the late sixties, seventies and onwards, the state of polarization between those on the old calendar and the new calendar made such photographs and such harmony impossible. Why? Because of extremism, that is, not so much because of the old calendar and the new calendar as because of old calendarism and new calendarism. The dread isms again. In the 70s and 80s I met representatives of the two groups, who summed up the two extremes for me. One was Bishop Gregory (Grabbe), an old calendarist. I met him and discovered in him an incredible and depressing negativity. He later died tragically, in a sect outside the Church. The other was Fr Alexander Schmemann, a new calendarist. I met him in 1980 when he was dressed as an American businessman and discovered that he was a chain-smoker who was not strong-willed enough to give up the deadly habit.

The old calendarist tendency was profoundly negative and gloomy, indeed depressing. It appeared to have no hope, mankind was doomed, almost Calvinistically. (And Calvin is a heretic). Everything new was bad, mankind faced the Apocalypse tomorrow. Possible salvation could come only through hiding out in ghettos. For the rest of the world there was only criticism and censorious condemnation; conspiracy theories thrived. This was the ideology of the sect and the pharisee. The attitude to regular communion was singularly negative – only with the strictest preparation could it possibly be contemplated. I remember well being told that I was unacceptable to membership of such groups – apart from being the wrong nationality (!), I was too young and too well-educated. Two cardinal sins, ‘unforgivable’, as one such senior and very elderly ‘Christian’ said to me in 1986! I was certainly destined for hellfire.

The new calendarist tendency was over-positive and over-optimistic to the point of fantasy. Everything was possible, the modernist fantasy of salvation for all (the heresy of Origenism, so beloved of Protestants claiming to be Orthodox) was on the agenda; no room for gloom and doom here. With an unreal ideology, it was over-open to the world, wanting somehow wanting to merge the Church with it, it was ecumenically-minded, wanted to revolutionize and change everything and had only spite for those who thought otherwise. The attitude to communion was singularly positive – it was more or less open to all without any preparation at all. I remember being welcomed on first meeting members of such groups – I was young and well-educated. As to whether I believed in anything, that seemed to be totally irrelevant. Far from the dark, all was light. With them I was certainly destined for heaven.

The two things that both tendencies had in common were intolerance and narrow-mindedness.

Looking back, as a Non-American, ironically I see in the culture of Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) and Fr Alexander Schmemann, both apparently Russians, the extremes of American culture. Bishop Gregory appeared not so much to represent Russian Orthodoxy as New England doom and gloom Calvinism (Let us remember that the Calvinists left England because of their intolerance). The world was predestined to perish and there was no hope. Ahead there was only darkness. Fr Alexander, as his Swiss cousin, a faithful of ROCOR, said to me in 1989, had ‘become a Protestant’. For him, in typical 60s, Kennedy-like fashion, the future was with the young and everything was possible for such ‘All-Americans’, as can be heard in SVS recordings of the time. Sometimes Fr Alexander sounded like a US self-help manual: ‘Just do it’ seemed to be his slogan.

All of this was alien to sceptical Europeans who found such Americans naïve and extreme. Fortunately, both tendencies are now dying out, apart from among the to be ignored, anonymous trolls, as we mentioned above. Thus, the extremist fringes and margins of the Church Outside Russia, infected by old calendarist sectarianism, have gone, just as the extremist fringes and margins of the Orthodox Church in America are apparently being buried with the plastic 1960s, where they came from. The Church, now in unity with the freed Church inside Russia, has moved on and both extremes now seem hopelessly old-fashioned, museum-pieces, indeed, totally irrelevant to the new generations.

The extremes forgot that Christ is both the Merciful Saviour and the Just Judge, that both Truth and Mercy are met together (Ps 84, 11). To the old calendarists let us recall that we are called to save the one lost sheep among the ninety-nine (Luke 15), that, as the proverb says, it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness, that repentance happens even on the death-bed, for God does not want the death of a sinner (Ezekiel 33, 11) and with Him all things are possible (Luke 18). To the new calendarists let us recall that death is the one thing inevitable, that the Apocalypse and the Second Coming are drawing closer with the passing of every single day, that the Last Judgement will certainly follow and that not all will be saved, for not all will repent.