Monthly Archives: February 2016

What is Art?

We can define art in its broadest sense by its etymology: art means something artificial, that is, manmade. However, anyone can see that there are great differences between manmade things, manmade things fit into different levels. Thus, there is a great difference between a spade and an antique vase, or a 1960s block of flats and a palace, a Picasso and a Rembrandt, or heavy rock music and a Strauss waltz. All are manmade, but the former examples reflect a lack of inspiration as compared to the latter. What then is inspiration?

Inspiration is the reflection of the soul. Hence the attraction of art made by more refined souls, who have put thought and effort, technique and skill into art. The nobler and finer the soul, the nobler and finer the art. Here then we have the fundamental difference between two different levels of art – what can be called low art and high art. Indeed, so low are mass-produced manmade items, for instance, consumer goods, that some would say that they are not worthy even of the name ‘low art’. After all, they are not manmade, but machine made. On the other hand, there is art that clearly belong to the world of ‘high art’, art that can move the soul by its beauty. However, there is also a world of art higher than ‘high art’.

Here we are talking not just about art inspired by noble and fine souls, but about art inspired by the Divine Spirit. Here we are in the world of Orthodox Christian art. What is the difference between Orthodox Christian art and all other art, low or high? We have spoken already of low and high art, for example a piece of modern art and a Rembrandt painting. But higher than this there is the icon. What is an icon? It is a painting in front of which we want to pray. I have not yet heard of anyone wanting to pray in front of a painting by Picasso, or a painting by Rembrandt, even if its subject was religious. But people want to pray in front of icons. Why?

This is because an icon represents a Divino-human reality and it is painted not just through inspiration of the soul, but through Divine inspiration acting on the spirit. The same is true of Church music, Church architecture and Church artefacts. They all inspire prayer. However beautiful or interesting high art, a piece of classical music, a palace or an antique vase, it does not make us pray. We admire it or are even moved by it, but no more. We cannot forget the stories of SS officers who listened to Mozart before they went off to slaughter some more concentration camp prisoners. Here is the difference between high art and Orthodox Christian art, much greater than the difference even between low art and high art.
We can conclude that there are three levels of art: low art, high art and Orthodox Christian art.

Low art includes everyday manmade or artificial objects, like spades, mugs, cars, flatpack furniture, blocks of flats. This art is so low that only the broadest possible sense of the word art can include them. Low art contains very little inspiration, very little ‘soul’, rather it reflects the fallenness of humanity.

High art is inspired, it is handmade, it contains thought and soul, effort and skill, it reflects the values, nobility and finesse of the soul of its author and can even move by its beauty – but no more.

Finally, there is Orthodox Christian art. This is the art that can bring us to prayer and repentance. It reflects Divine inspiration, the Spirit of God that has inspired the soul and mind and hand of man. In this respect it approaches the beauty of the Unfallen Creation, of Paradise, which can sometimes be picked up by the soul as it looks at what remains of God’s Creation in even this fallen world, the Divine Inspiration behind the forests and the oceans, the mountains and the stars, for these too can bring us to prayer and repentance.

On Local Episcopal Assemblies, A Fixed Common Easter, Churchgoing in the Russian Church and Orthodox Magazines

Q: Do you think that the local Episcopal committees under the chairmanship of the local Constantinople bishop that began around the world a few years ago will lead to the birth of new Local Churches?

J.T., Chicago

A: There is a big difference between an episcopal committee or assembly and a Local Church. As the old saying goes: God so loved the world that He did not send a committee. In other words, the danger has always been of the committees developing into mere talking shops. Some of these committees meet regularly, especially in the USA, others infrequently. That in the British Isles and Ireland seems to have been suspended for the moment because ‘there is nothing more to talk about’.

While the Russian Church was captive in the Soviet Union (and other Eastern European Local Churches captive to atheist regimes as well), the hierarchy in Constantinople had a wonderful opportunity to begin to set up Local Churches in the Diaspora and carry out missionary activity. Sadly, enslaved to phyletism (the word for Greek racism), it utterly failed to do this and instead engaged in aggressive and appalling hellenization and unprincipled modernism and ecumenism at the behest of those who were paying it in dollars. This politicized lack of faithfulness to the Tradition put most Orthodox off Constantinople for good. Since the Russian Church and others have been free, it has become ever clearer that Constantinople missed the boat, throwing away the opportunity given it.

In reality, virtually all missionary activity in the Diaspora has not been carried out by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, or the Romanian, Serbian, Bulgarian and Georgian Churches (which are the only Local Churches with diasporas), but either by one part or another of the Russian Church or else by the Antiochian Church. The former has not always been up to the task by any means, but on the other hand, it has generally, though with some hugely lamentable exceptions, adhered more to the Tradition and the canonical and liturgical Tradition and disciplines of the Church. On the other hand, the latter has displayed an admirable openness and missionary ‘outreach’ (to use a Protestant term), but on the other hand it has been prone to modernism and a disastrous lack of canonical discipline. As one of our parishioners said to me, ‘they have the right spirit and are completely sincere, but unfortunately they know nothing, so tend to make it up as they go along’.

Of course these are generalizations, and I am sure that you can think of exceptions. There are in the Patriarchate of Constantinople as in the Patriarchate of Antioch, as in both parts of the Russian Church, some excellent pastors and missionaries as well as lamentable and scandalous failures. As they say, there are good and bad everywhere.

When will there be new Local Churches? When it is God’s will. And that means when we are worthy of them and when there are enough Orthodox in the Diaspora who think of themselves as indigenous and not attached to a Church based elsewhere, and so want new Local Churches. Very simply, as long as the overwhelming majority of Orthodox in the Diaspora do not want new Local Churches, we will not have them.

Q: What do you think of the Archbishops of Canterbury’s idea of a fixed common Easter?

C.W. London

A: Perhaps I am getting old, but this really is ‘an old chestnut’. I can remember exactly the same proposal in 1975 (or 76) and it was dismissed then by Patriarch Dimitrios as the wishful thinking of travel agents. This time too it is merely the private fantasy of the latest secular-minded Archbishop of Canterbury.

In the Orthodox Church we cannot go against the decisions of the Universal Councils: Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring equinox, and if that should fall at the same time as or within the days of the Jewish Passover period, then Easter will follow on the next Sunday. And by the way, the Spring equinox is a date fixed not by astronomers (we are not pagans who worship the sun and the moon – the sun and the moon worship the Creator), but by the Church, and that currently falls 13 days after the astronomical Spring equinox.

If secular-minded Protestants (and the Roman Catholics with them) want to alter the date of their Easter yet again, then let them, we Orthodox shall carry on in obedience to God and His Church.

Similarly, if secular states want to abolish Easter and create some sort of ‘Spring Feast’ for the chocolate, greetings card, stuffed toy and travel industries, then that is their affair too. In France in the 1970s the masonic government of Giscard D’Estaing abolished Easter holidays in schools and established fixed ‘Spring holidays’. The same can be done by secularists here. It makes little difference to Orthodox.

Q: In the secular West very few people go to Church, less than 5% in most countries. But it is the same in Russia. So why should the Russian Church be listened to?

M. S., London

A: What you say is factually true and the revival in the Russian Church has very, very far to go. However, all this needs to be put into context.

In the West churches are closing down very rapidly, being turned into shops, clubs, stores, halls – just like they did with churches in the Soviet Union in the 20s and 30s. And this in churches where services are short, where you sit down for them and practices like confession, preparation before communion and fasting are virtually unknown. Most churchgoers in the West are aged 70 and over. Very serious voices are suggesting that the Church of England, for example, will have disappeared by 2050. Finally, Western culture is no longer being influenced by the Church and Christian values. In fact, quite the opposite and very rapidly.

In the jurisdiction of the Russian Church 30,000 churches have been built or restored in the last 25 years and the number of clergy ahs increased eightfold. Moreover, this process is continuing. Over the last 25 years well over 120 million people have been baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church. In Russia most churchgoers are under 50 – it is the old people who do not go to church. Very serious people are suggesting that the number of churches could easily double again in the next 25 years. Finally, Russian and East Slav culture is more and more being influenced by the Church and Christian values as Christianity is incarnated into life.

In other words, what you have to look at is not the numbers who go to church in the West and in the Russian Lands today, but the direction that the West and the Russian Lands are travelling in: they are diametrically opposed. We are express trains travelling in opposite directions. And that is why you should listen to the Russian Church.

Q: What advice would you give someone who wanted to launch an Orthodox magazine?

L.O., Manchester

A: Firstly, some practical advice:

The best bit of advice I was given exactly 20 years ago was to have ready enough material for the first ten issues. If you do not, you will simply run out of impetus and you will close down after two or three years. It has happened.

Next: in the last ten to fifteen years the Internet has killed off small-circulation postal subscription magazines. Do not dwell in the past, what was true thirty or forty years ago is no longer true. You should think about going electronic. On line you can have colour pictures for nothing and any format, font and size of font that you want. It is what we did nine years ago.

Next: do not include news in your magazine because inevitably it will be out of date. You can go online and read news immediately, nobody wants old news.

Next: think about how often you would produce such a magazine. As a result of the internet, postal charges (especially going abroad) have quadrupled in about ten years. Three or four times a year could be ideal. But again, you should think about going electronic from the start: no postal charges.

Secondly, some advice on content:

Aim at producing something to be kept and to be referred to, not to be thrown away twenty minutes after it has been opened. Aim therefore at producing quality, something unique, something which teaches and is edifying. Nobody wants to read something that they already know or brings no spiritual benefit. That, sadly, already exists.

Next: avoid a sectarian new/old calendarist spirit. It is not edifying and at once you will lose most of your readership. And if you are not on-line, your readership numbers are important because you will start losing money. That has happened too.

Next: avoid stories of only local interest. You are not producing a parish bulletin. Details of local, insular news are not of interest to others. We belong to something greater, not to something insular. Look at the big picture, the wider church in space and time and beyond space and time. Give people something to think about.

Next: avoid an unhealthy and superficial fascination with ‘Byzantinism’, ‘personalities’ and recipes, beloved of the narrow interests of Anglican converts. Remember that most Orthodox are not Anglican converts and have a completely different perspective!
Finally, as far as possible, avoid factual inaccuracies, something that all journalists must struggle against.

An Old Man Remembers

The Englander, 31 January 2100

In this, the last week of the 21st century, we continue our series in which centenarians sum up for us their most vivid memories of turning points in the past century. Today, we hear from Tim Smith, aged 103, who recalls the events of 24 June 2016.

‘Even at my age I remember it well, though I was only a youngster then. The greatest turning-point of this ending century came for our country on 24 June 2016. There were masses of people celebrating in London, well over a million, they say, and of course millions of others in every town, city and village across the country. Everywhere we had Freedom parades and Victory meals – that’s what they were called. I was with the group on Freedom Square (in those days it was called Trafalgar Square), which we filled as well as all the streets around it.

One group there had a whole lot of European Union flags, some said they had been stolen from the offices of the Mayor of London, others said that the Mayor had personally donated them, and these were being burned. Huge cheers went up, as each one was burned. Then they burned effigies of various politicians, one of the old Prime Minister – sorry I’ve forgotten his name but I know it was Scottish – another of the German leader, a woman, though I can’t remember her name now either. It was all filmed, some of the footage must have survived. We were chanting ‘Freedom, Freedom’ and ‘Down with Tyranny’, until we were hoarse. That’s how 24 June came to be a national holiday in England.

Of course, lots of political changes followed, a new Prime Minister, a new political system, new alliances. I mean, think about it: the European Union, as it was called then, collapsed a few years afterwards. Now some say it would have happened anyway, but even if that’s true, the decision of what was then called the ‘United Kingdom’ – doesn’t that sound so old-fashioned! – to leave certainly hastened the end. Then Scotland became independent, a few years after that Ireland was reunited and Wales left in the 2030s. That’s how England got her independence back. But there were lots of other changes, I mean who could have predicted the break-up of what was then still called the United States of America?

The arguments that won? Well, of course there were some nationalists who said ‘we want our country back’. They were mainly poorer people, not very well-educated, unemployed and so on. Then there were the people who had principles, who just wanted freedom from Establishment tyranny – they were calling on Alfred the Great and other figures from history. They were called the ‘Anti-Normans’. Then there were right-wingers called ‘sovereignists’ and left-wingers called ‘anti-globalists’, but they were a mixture of left and right, as it used to be called. But that was far from the majority. Most people who voted for freedom said that we should continue as a global country and not be locked into a customs union in a little corner of Europe. They were internationalists – I was one of them – we wanted more trade with China, India, Russia and so on. They said staying in the Union would mean suffocation.

The people who did not want to leave were generally rich, in those days, they were what was known as ‘Establishment people’, people in Big Business and organizations that have long since disappeared like ‘The Church of England’ and the ‘BBC’, if you’ve heard of them – they were people who had second homes in Italy and France, that type. They used scare tactics, told everyone we would be dirt poor if we voted for freedom and left.

Then there were the Americans; in those days they controlled everything. They were furious with the vote for freedom and tried to make out the vote had been corrupted. They had various organizations under their colonial control, one was called NATO, another one called the IMF and another one called the World Bank. They’re all dead and buried now. Anyway, from that day on, 24th June, everything changed. I’ve told my great-great grandchildren about it – of course they can’t believe it!

The main thing is in those days a lot of people were very pessimistic, they used to say, if we go on like this, the world will end soon. Well, I’m going to be 104 next year and the world is still here and so am I!’

On the Foolishness of Schism

There is now almost hysteria among a few, as we predicted in our article after the release of the draft documents for the Crete meeting, as regards relations between the Church and the heterodox world. This hysteria began when those draft documents were released, but since then there has also been the meeting between Patriarch Kyrill and Pope Francis and its joint statement. What we have seen so far is that a few simple and little-educated, seeing everything in terms of black and white, sometimes out of insecurity in the faith, sometimes out of an incredible lack of faith and loyalty, have been very upset by the vagueness of expressions used in documents issued at both events. We agree that vagueness of terminology is to be avoided, but we would never agree with making schism out of vagueness.

The Gospel of St Matthew tells us that we are to be ‘as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves’. On the left side there are those who are only doves and on the right side there are those who are only serpents. We are told to love the sinner but hate the sin. On the left side there are those who love the sinner but also love the sin. On the right side there are those who hate the sin but also hate the sinner. In other words those who have created schisms from vagueness of words, lack subtlety and have over-reacted – just as the enemy wanted. They have fallen into the hands of the enemy! What is the real problem?

The real problem is very simple: the Patriarchate of Constantinople had throughout the nineteenth century been a plaything of the British and French ambassadors in Istanbul and their rivalry to control was exploited by the Ottomans. In the early 1920s the Anglicans actually handed over £100,000 to get the British freemason Meletios Metaksakis elected as Patriarch. He then pushed through various modernist and anti-Orthodox changes, for which he was chased out of the City by the enraged faithful, though too late. However, in 1948, with Britain bankrupt, the US took control of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The late Greek Bishop of Birmingham in England was the Patriarch’s deacon at the time and as an eyewitness told us the story.

Flying in on the personal aeroplane of President Truman (he who had massacred almost 250,000 Japanese civilians with just two bombs in three days), a group of CIA gangsters (there is no other word for them) told Patriarch Maximos that he had to leave for Switzerland and that if he resisted he would be tortured and killed. He left, saying the words, ‘The City (= Constantinople) is lost’. On the aeroplane that had flown in sat the next Patriarch, the freemason from the US Greek Archdiocese, the notorious modernist Archbishop Athenagoras. Since then the City has indeed been lost.

The US elite wants to finish off the Orthodox Church, just as it did Roman Catholicism 50 years ago, reducing most of it to the malleable, spiritually empty Judeo-Protestant culture of the West. This takeover of all ‘organized religion’ is merely an excuse for the longer-term plan, already obvious in the 1960s, to promote secularism and through it anti-Christianity. In order to finish off the Orthodox Church, the US elite is using the ‘weak underbelly’ of the Church, that which has been weak ever since the fifteenth-century treachery at the ‘Council’ of Florence, elements in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and also elsewhere by interfering in Patriarchal elections.

Sadly for the US elite, the plan is doomed to failure (although it can create a lot of chaos and division on the way). This is because the Orthodox Church is the Church, not an ‘organized religion’, that is, not a top-down clericalist club, like the Protestant denominations or Catholicism. With them, all they had to do was infiltrate the leaders and future leaders, the episcopate or the Vatican, spread some money around, blackmail the corrupted, and they had complete control. In the Orthodox Church, on the other hand, the episcopate is only a very small part of the Church. We can already see how the US plan is failing:

Firstly, the Russian Church insisted that no document could be accepted by any future ‘Council’ without unanimity. Individuals in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, urged on by Biden, launched a propaganda campaign using Greek clerics in the USA and the compliant, State-controlled US media, to cast the Russian Church as the villain that would sabotage ‘the Council’, because it does not want to be friendly to Non-Orthodox and in any case, is ‘only a tool of the Russian State’. To that last September the Russian Church replied by organizing the February meeting between Patriarch Kyrill and the Bishop of Rome.

Secondly, the Russian Church and others threw out the pro-gay agenda that Obama and Kerry tried to impose on the future ‘Council’. This was a defeat for those who were trying to promote it for personal reasons.

Thirdly, the Russian Church has forced individuals in the Patriarchate of Constantinople in a humiliating climbdown to accept Metr Rostislav as leader of the Church of the Czechs and Slovaks.

Fourthly, the Russian Church has obliged the Patriarchate of Constantinople to promise never to interfere in the Ukraine, as the US State Department was urging it to do.

Fifthly, the Russian Church has forced the venue for the meeting to be moved from premises in NATO Istanbul, filled with CIA bugs, to Crete. Here the premises can be swept for bugs by Russian security men.

Sixthly, the Patriarch of Constantinople has now stated that not all the Local Churches have to be represented for there to be a Council. The Russian Church and others are resisting this by refusing any change to the original agreement.

On each occasion the Russian Church has replied to the attempts to weaken Orthodoxy and has won the day.

Those hotheads who are too simple to see this and are entering or are promoting schism are not strategically-minded, but literally-minded. Their danger is that of phariseeism – an enemy of the Church. For phariseeism always divides, which is exactly what the devil wants because it weakens the Church. Today the draft documents for the Crete meeting are being torn apart by the Churches of Georgia and Antioch, not to mention the severe criticism they are undergoing throughout the Orthodox world, not least in Greece and Cyprus. For the moment at least the Russian Church can leave protests at the draft documents for Crete to others.

Former Czech President: “US/EU Propaganda Against Russia Ridiculous”

A Terrible Warning to the Anti-Christians

Cursed are the spiritually proud,
for theirs is the republic of hell.

Cursed are they who do not repent,
for they shall not be comforted.

Cursed are the arrogant,
for they shall inherit hell.

Cursed are they who hunger and thirst after unrighteousness,
for they shall never be satisfied.

Cursed are the merciless,
for they shall not obtain mercy.

Cursed are the impure of heart,
for they shall not see God.

Cursed are the warmongers,
for they shall be called the children of Satan.

Cursed are they who persecute righteousness,
for theirs is the republic of hell.

Cursed are you when men shall flatter you and praise you
and say all manner of good things against you falsely, for Satan’s sake.

Lament and weep exceedingly, for great is your reward in hell.

The Anti-Christian Empire and the Resistance Movement

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

(Matt 10.16)

Introduction: The Case of Britain

After the Norman invasion of 1066 and the ensuing genocide (150,000 dead) and national degeneration into Roman Catholicism, there took place the further degeneration into Protestantism under the tyrants Henry VIII and Elizabeth I (150,000 dead). Then, almost 400 years ago, there took place in these Isles the genocide of Cromwell. Jewish-financed, this left nearly 900,000, mainly Roman Catholic, dead. From then on and until some fifty years ago, the lands of the UK further degenerated into Judeo-Protestantism (so-called ‘Judeo-Christian’, but in fact Judeo-Protestant, culture).

Today, as a result of the centuries of Judeo-Protestant degeneration in its inherent, ever-deepening worship of Mammon in a worldwide commercial empire, the UK has become an anti-Christian country. This cannot even be blamed on the EU, where Mr Cameron has recently been making some window dressing rearrangements – rather like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. The fact is that, regardless of the EU Atheist Union, the UK has plenty of its own atheism to go around and it is doubtful whether leaving the EU alone (presuming that the electorate will be far-sighted enough to do that) can save us.

The Worldwide Empire

The British Establishment elite freely takes part in the once secret, millennial worldwide anti-Christian project, now openly called ‘The New World Order’. This anti-Christian project involves not only the UK and all former Judeo-Protestant countries in the Anglosphere, Scandinavia and elsewhere. Ever since the latest chapter in the apostasy of Roman Catholicism at the Second Vatican Council, it has also involved former Roman Catholic countries. In other words, it is irrelevant whether the previous culture was Judeo-Protestant or Judeo-Catholic, the whole Western elite has come to form an Anti-Christian Empire.

Today headquartered in the USA, its elite, now called neocons, has been trying for generations to control Europe and through it the whole world. It has done this by destroying European nation-states, deforming them into artificial international unifications like the UK, France, Germany, Italy, which inevitably led to Europe-wide wars become World Wars, and then to the EU. So it has built its Anti-Christian Empire on the ruins of the nations. The messianic ideology of this Anti-Christian Empire is today called globalism, which it has been spreading around the world especially over the last two generations.

After the dissolution of its main opponent, the Soviet Empire, a generation ago, the Anti-Christian Empire immediately destroyed the surviving Soviet-style remnant in little Serbia and began to destroy its other opponent –the Islamic world. Here the Anti-Christian Empire has over the last generation caused chaos and ruin, as we can see today from the Himalayas to Nigeria, passing through Syria, so dividing and ruling over most of the Islamic world. In this way, having created artificially chaos and war, it hopes to create a popular demand for One World Government to bring order and peace.

The Resistance of Rus

Having killed millions, made millions of others into refugees and created chaos and destruction in a multitude of Islamic countries, though still not having conquered them, the Anti-Christian Empire now faces unexpected resistance. This resistance comes from what is organically reviving in the place of the old Soviet Empire – the Sacral Christian Empire of Rus. The Secularist Anti-Christian Empire fears this Christian Empire most of all. One of its main ideologues, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has even called its ‘greatest enemy’ the Russian Orthodox Church, which is at the heart of this reviving Christian Empire.

The Anti-Christian Empire greatly fears even the present modest revival of the Christian Empire. So much so that its propaganda outlets (‘media’) actually try to make out that the Church is not in fact reviving there or that it is only a tool of the political leaders of Russia, who, they say, shape it as they wish. Of course, in reality, the exact opposite is the case: it is not these political leaders who shape the Church, it is the Church that shapes them, through its age-old culture. Like the pagan Romans of old, the Anti-Christian Empire is happy for there to be any false religions, and therefore not Christianity.

This is because Christianity alone can shape political leaders who can challenge the Anti-Christian Empire. For only Christianity is Incarnational, that is, not some mere private practice, but a teaching that transfigures social, political and economic life also. The Anti-Christian Empire’s fear the revival of this Christian Empire, both inside and outside the ancient bounds of ‘Rus’, for Secularists fear nothing more than the Sacral. It also fears that it may find allies, in the traditional Muslim world, for example in Iran, or in China and India, and also among Roman Catholics who are still free of the Judeo-Catholic degeneration of recent times.

Allies of Rus and Temptations

Here the Christian Empire finds allies in Latin America, Africa and the Philippines. In Eastern Europe it finds allies among traditional Roman Catholics in the Vyshegrad group of Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland. In Western Europe it finds allies among sovereignist, national resistance movements of both left and right. Promoting either the social justice of the left or the traditional values of the right, these national movements are active in France, Germany, the UK, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Austria, Greece and elsewhere. They all oppose the dictatorship of the Anti-Christian Empire.

Having destroyed the Soviet Empire and then weakened the Islamic world, in the early 2000s the Anti-Christian Empire saw itself on the verge of triumph, a triumph that was suddenly snatched from it, to its fury. For ever since the failed invasion of Russia from Georgia in 2008, the reviving Christian Empire has begun to resist, frustrating the Anti-Christians. For as long as there is a Christian Empire, even embryonic, the anti-Christians cannot enthrone their Emperor in Jerusalem. The Christian Empire is the last barrier to their triumph.

This is why they are intent on slandering it and destroying it, for its Sacral Tradition is death to it. Hence the attack on the Ukraine, toppling its legitimate government for a genocidal junta and creating chaos. Slandering and even destruction can come in two other ways also. The first is by infiltrating the renascent Christian Empire with modernism, which is what individuals have been trying to do in recent years and especially now with the divisive draft documents for the Crete meeting of selected Orthodox bishops next June. The second way is protesting against those unacceptable documents in a divisive and even schismatic way, exactly as Metr Onufry of Kiev and others predicted.

Conclusion: On Not Falling into the Trap of the Anti-Christian Empire

Such protests have already begun with several perhaps hot-headed priests in Moldova no longer commemorating their bishops. Other individuals are following. We suggest that this is an error. Two wrongs do not make a right. However understandable, the far better method of protest is, as we have suggested, for monasteries and parishes simply to petition their diocesan bishops stating that we do not accept the draft documents and that if they are accepted in Crete, we will tear them up, refusing to receive them. In any case, we should also know that several bishops in Greece and Cyprus, as well as the whole Georgian Church have already refused to accept these draft documents.

It is our belief that to fall into the temptation of non-commemoration is a simplistic error of schismatic proportions. This is the error of those who cannot see the wood for the trees, who lose the big picture because they are so intent on the details. The Anti-Christian Empire wants us of the renascent Christian Empire to be divided in reaction to the modernist expressions that it has infiltrated into the draft documents: non-commemorators have thus actually fallen into the trap set by the Anti-Christian Empire. Our opposition must take an organic form which respects the episcopal institution. Our canonical fightback against modernist infiltration has only just begun.

About Still Being Here: On Converts

The psychology of neophytes (recent or old) is universal because human nature is universal. To quote some real life examples, regardless of whether we are talking about a Protestant who has become a Roman Catholic, a Roman Catholic who has become a Protestant, a Frenchman who has become a Buddhist, an Englishman who has become a Muslim, or a German who has joined the Orthodox Church, neophyte idealism remains the same.

Yes, idealism, and often the bookish sort, because that is what we are dealing with when we deal with neophytes. Neophytes always want to live the ideal, the convert to Roman Catholicism wants to become a Papist now, the convert to Protestantism wants to know the whole Bible by heart by this evening, the convert to Buddhism wants nirvana straightaway, the convert to Islam wants to become a Sufi mystic today, the convert to Orthodoxy reads the Philokalia and wants to become a hesychast just like that.

But it does not work like that. The error of all neophytes is that they want to run before they can walk. By definition that means that they fall over. And when you fall over, you hurt yourself. And when you hurt yourself, you can do one of two things: you can pick yourself up and tell yourself, ‘I have been humbled, now I will listen to voices of experience and like everyone else will first learn to walk before I try to run, all the more so as no-one ever asked me to run, I imposed it on myself’; or you can pick yourself up and walk away in the bitter depression and despair born of pride, giving up the struggle for self-improvement.

This is called lapsing and that is extremely common among neophytes and is always caused by pride, lack of faith. I remember an elderly nun who had been in her convent for fifty years who would say: ‘I may not be a very good nun and certainly I am no saint, but I have seen them all come and go, one after the other, but at least I am still here’. And ‘still being here’ is what salvation is in part about because we cannot be saved without perseverance, which is faith, hope in God’s Providence.

To change deep down takes years. We cannot become saints just like that, as some converts think when they take some out-of-context quotes from the Church Fathers and contemporary saints to justify their pride. That is why God gives us a lifetime to live and we are to make use of every moment in that lifetime, for we do not know how soon that lifetime will end. However, we have to be realistic, we do not impose impossible burdens on ourselves of our own proud will, but measuring ourselves and ask the experienced first before taking on anything. We take on ourselves what God gives us and no more. To be idealistic in everything means to suffer from the pride of illusions and he who suffers from illusions always suffers from disillusions – that is from depression. In other words, depression comes from pride.

Over the decades we have seen many cases. The first error of the neophyte is to confuse the outward with the inward. For example, we have seen the neophyte join the Church and, though he or she is married, they have started dressing like monks or nuns. Such individuals, sometimes with anger and aggression, then despair because reality does not conform to their high ideals. Such rarely remain in the Church for long, either they lapse or else they end up in sects, which are only the exit-doors from the Church. When neophytes do remain, they start dressing normally like everyone else.

Another example is with birth control. Realizing that the ideal of the Church is no birth control, we have seen intellectual and idealistic neophytes have large numbers of children – whom they do not know how to bring up and as a result fall into depression. Common sense (though not idealism) tells us there are cases where we have to choose the lesser evil. There are non-abortive methods of contraception, compromises with the ideal, but they do allow us to bring up some children properly, children who then stay in the Church.

Some would say that they will live without contraception, and so they simply do not have sexual relations. However, we have also seen the result of such decisions in the wrecks of two marriages, where one woman sought comfort with another man because her husband refused her the affection that she so desperately craved, and where one man went off with his secretary. Contraception: we do not bless it, but we allow it as the lesser evil.

In the average parish let us first have the humility to follow average Orthodox. We certainly venerate the saints, but we are not saints and we have no pretensions that we are or will become saints. Yes, we are climbing a ladder to heaven, but we are only on the first rung and at the end of our lives we may only get to the second rung. We do not imagine anything else.

Yes, we are not good Orthodox, but what we do know is that we are doing our best. That is not very much, but our hope is anyway not in our own feeble efforts, but in the mercy of God, which alone can save us. Average people are the people to imitate first. Let us recall the words of the Gospel: ‘In your patience you possess your souls’.

Comments from a Correspondent in Wales

‘And the Ukraine, then and now? Who will answer for the murders of laypeople and priests? Who set up the violent demonstrations on Maidan Square in Kiev? Was it not the Uniat clergy? And the Pope? Of course, he is completely innocent. He only cares about Christians in the Middle East, but he could not care a less about the Orthodox Slavs, he has more important things to do like not upsetting the gays and flattering the Jews, ‘his elder brothers in the faith’. Even infants know that all the recent popes have been puppets of those who hold global power behind the scenes. Their task is to level Orthodoxy down because it is the only power in the world that can stop Antichrist’.

Priest Savva Mikhalevich

Below we quote comments from a letter from a correspondent in Wales. We quote from it because it raises some very relevant questions, to which we give answers, which may be of interest to all our readers.

Comment: First, on occasions you have written apologies/explanations of your positions which, whilst providing new looks at the development of these thoughts/positions, are not really required: it is clear to any neutral or good-willed reader that you are a Truth seeker and that you are a servant of the Church. Those readers that don’t belong to these groups – we can only pray for.

Answer: You would be surprised how many people there are who are neither neutral, nor of good will, but, very sadly, are full of fantasy and spite.

Comment: On the ‘historical’ meeting of Patriarch Kyrill and Pope Francisco: I think I can see where your position comes from….There are two ways of looking at it, a diplomatic-humanitarian way and an Orthodox way.

Answer: That is why, as I said, a diplomatic or political agreement is binding only on the signatory and no-one else. It is a personal opinion and no more. What you call a diplomatic-humanitarian way’ says ‘we love the sinner’, but there is also a need for what you call ‘an Orthodox way’, that is, a dogmatic statement, which says ‘we hate the sin’.

This situation reminds me of the publication of the heretical ‘Thyateira Confession’ forty years ago by Archbishop Athenagoras of Thyateira. I remember a young convert at the time who told a pious Greek granny that her Archbishop had said that all religions were the same and therefore he was a heretic. She simply replied: ‘If that is so, I will go to church and light a candle for him’. The convert, who came from a Protestant background, was not satisfied. Why? Because those of a Protestant and literalist background do not have the concept of hierarchy, of the episcopate. When they disagree with their ‘church’, they simply go off and start a new ‘church’.

This is why old calendarist sects have not had much ‘luck’ in developing in Orthodox countries, but much more in Protestant countries or in ex-Protestant Africa. This Protestant mentality is alien to the Church. Just because we disagree, we do not leave the Church. Did St Gregory of Nyssa leave the Church? Did St Maximus the Confessor leave the Church? Did St Mark of Ephesus leave the Church? Of course not, they stayed and defended the Church and became saints of the Church, they did not go off and start new ‘churches’. The spirit of sectarianism, phariseeism, intolerance and the ghetto is not part of the Church. We stand and fight as soldiers of Christ inside the Church. All that is permitted is to change dioceses.

In other words, the personal opinions of individual members of the clergy as such do not concern us. We do not have a clericalist view of the Church like the heterodox. The Church is not the clergy, let alone the bishops. The Church is everyone. On the other hand, it is true that if a priest or a bishop or a Patriarch says that he believes AS A DOGMA that all religions are the same and that we do not need the Church for salvation, then of course he is a heretic.

This is why we need not worry about diplomatic and political PR documents signed by clergy, but we do have to worry about the draft document on heterodoxy that is being proposed for the Crete meeting next June, because that claims not to be a diplomatic or a political document, but a document expressing the Orthodox Faith. It is completely unacceptable as it stands because it claims in its first words that there is only One Church, the Orthodox Church and then goes on to contradict that statement in a haze of vagueness.

But even here we should be reassured. More and more simple parish clergy, people and monastics are speaking out against this draft document, let alone bishops like Metr Vladimir of Kishinev or Metr Athanasius of Limassol. One thing we have to understand is that the teachings of the Church are always set out very clearly, without any diplomatic fudging, which is the problem of the draft documents for the June meeting. They are written in Chancelleryspeak, they have no dogmatic clarity and are therefore not Church documents.
I think that the June meeting, if it happens, could be very useful, however. This is because all meetings can be useful, though not always in the way intended. Let us take the so-called ‘Council’ of Florence as an example. What was the use of that? First of all, it revealed the traitors who publicly shamed themselves. All became clear who they were. But above all the ‘Council’ of Florence was useful because it revealed St Mark of Ephesus and he revealed God’s Will. What do we remember about the ‘Council’ of Florence? Only St Mark of Ephesus, who defined the Truth. God can always make good out of bad.

Let us look concretely at what good can come of this June meeting and how even it could become by the grace of God a real ‘Council’ by ‘dogmatizing’, clarifying and defining the Truth.

First of all, it is clear that everything that needs to be said has already been said at the Seven Universal Councils. (We do not talk about ‘Ecumenical’ Councils because that word has been corrupted in modern English. Therefore we speak of ‘Universal Councils’). Roman Catholics like to attack us, saying ‘the Orthodox Church is dead, they have not had a Council since the eighth century – the proof that they need the Pope to give them life’.

Of course, this is nonsense. We have not needed to have a Universal Council because the truths of the Faith have been expressed for all time by the Seven Councils. There will never be an ‘Eighth Universal Council’. On the contrary, Roman Catholics constantly need new councils because they are always changing, ‘updating’, their beliefs, reinventing themselves – because they lost their apostolicity when they invented themselves in the eleventh century and consciously rejected the integrity of the Church heritage of the first millennium.

The Seven Councils dealt with the truths of the Faith for all time. They began by defining the first articles of the Creed, that is, by defining the Holy Trinity and then went on to the Person of Christ and His two natures and then to the Holy Spirit. Yes, it is true that there was the anti-filioque Council of Constantinople in 879, agreed on by all the Patriarchs, including the Pope of Rome, and the so-called ‘Palamite’ Council of 1351, which some pious Greeks unofficially call the ‘Eighth and Ninth Universal Councils’. However, in fact, these simply elaborated on earlier Councils, defining in detail the relations between the Persons of the Trinity, especially the Son and the Holy Spirit, and then in 1351 the nature of the Holy Spirit.

Thus, in the Orthodox Church we have local councils, at which only some bishops are present, that can elaborate on, explain and affirm aspects of the Faith expressed by the Seven Councils. In other words, these councils elaborate on the words of the Creed. And this is what needs to be done today, only not as regards the beginning and middle of the Creed (that has already been elaborated on), but as regards the end of the Creed. There will never be any ‘Eighth Universal Council’, but there could be a ‘Council of Crete’. But what will it be about?

We do not need meetings of hundreds of bishops to tell us that fasting is important or to administrate the granting of autonomy etc. What we need today is a Council to elaborate on one of the last articles in the Creed, concerning the Church. ‘I believe…in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church’. This article is what is misunderstood today. In technical terms, what we need is a statement on Ecclesiology. For we believe in ONE Church; there are no Churches, not two or three Churches, only ONE. To say otherwise and talk as the heretics do of ‘the two lungs of the Church’ or ‘the Invisible Church’ or ‘the division of the Churches’ is to reject the Creed. It is as simple as that.

If the present anti-dogmatic diplomatic language and vagueness continues at Chambesy or elsewhere, I can foresee a time when a petition is going to circulate around the 80,000 or so Orthodox parishes of the world, saying: ‘There is only One Church, the Orthodox Church and we do not recognize any statements to the contrary’, and it will be signed by all and then presented at Crete. This is what the present vagueness and haziness could easily lead to. There is only one ‘Undivided Church’ – the Orthodox Church, which lives today because it is the Church of Christ, there is no other, there are merely fragments that have broken away from Her. I hope our bishops are listening.

I have no time to draw up such a petition. I am too busy doing Orthodoxy, looking after grandchildren, doing the washing up, baptizing, visiting the sick, blessing homes, celebrating services and visiting and confessing those in prisons throughout the 5,000 square miles of my three counties of parish. I have covered 300 miles in the last three days alone. But there are those who have more free time than I.

Comment: Metr. Nikodim’s end, at the feet of the Pope, is symbolic…’

Answer: I totally agree. But Metr Nikodim is dead and actually largely forgotten. Personally, I do not even know anyone who prays for him – perhaps they do that in the Vatican. But the real meaning of the Cuba meeting was not about old-fashioned ecumenism. It was firstly to ward off a World War in Syria, secondly to defeat Uniatism in the Ukraine, thirdly to prepare the world to see the leader of the Orthodox Church as the Russian Orthodox Church before the meeting in Crete, and finally it was part of a very successful pastoral visit by Patriarch Kyrill to the Russian Orthodox flock in Latin America, including meeting three local Presidents (completely unreported by the secular media).

And I think that was successful. Syria is all the talk and the Saudis and Turks have been warned off invading Syria to the fury of the neocons, the Uniats are also furious, as are the American diplomats who stand behind the scenes at the Phanar, whereas the Orthodox flock in Latin America is delighted. I think we may now at last see great Orthodox missionary developments in this very, very neglected part of the Orthodox world.

Comment: Do we really believe that the Vatican and the (Jesuit) Pope, those examples of strict hierarchical organisation based on careful cultivation of all levers of power and manipulation, have no influence on the Ukro-Nazi Uniats who are burning and stealing Orthodox Churches? Or on the Ustashoid Catholic church in Croatia?.…Some complaints or discontent of the faithful papist flock after the Cuban meeting should be interpreted cautiously; most likely they are simply down to the effectiveness of Jesuit tactics…

Answer: I think the Uniats really are very disillusioned. Of course, apart from them, we can ignore the sincerity or insincerity of expressions of discontent elsewhere. They are not our problem.