It has been announced that Archbishop Mark of Berlin is ‘shortly’ to resign as bishop in charge of the ROCOR Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland. The Diocese will temporarily become stavropegic under Metroplitan Hilarion. It is hoped that the Metropolitan will deal with the backlog of ordinations and other issues before a permanent resident English-speaking bishop is at last installed in London next year.
Put not your trust in princes, nor in the sons of men, in whom there is no hope.
Psalm 145, 3
As the Truth of God begins to be revealed, so everything in Russia will change.
Elder Nikolai (Guryanov)
My interest in Gregory Rasputin was first sparked by a television programme fifty years ago on the fiftieth anniversary of his assassination. Although, as a child, I could not investigate the claims made, I knew instinctively that there was something wrong with what was being said. I sensed a manipulation. Forty-two years ago I went to study at Oxford at the oldest college in Oxford, where Prince Felix Yusupov, the supposed murderer of Gregory Rasputin had studied and visited the ‘Yusupov room’ where the prince had lived. I still could not understand the story since, with the Soviet Union and the Cold War still in full swing, I could not access the necessary archives on either side. Others have since done that and their results, given below, provide long-awaited justice.
‘Rasputin? A horse thief, a mad monk, a fraud with hypnotic powers, a priest-charlatan who manipulated stupid, hysterical women, a flagellant sectarian and pervert, a criminal who ruled the Russian Empire, dictating all policies and making all political appointments through bribery, a debauchee who organized orgies, a drunkard (like all Russians), a primitive barbarian, a Satanist, a German spy, the reason for the downfall of Russia, even his name means ‘depraved’. I know, I have read the book and seen the film’. So goes the view of the average ‘educated’ Western person, as also largely that of the average Soviet citizen. However, they are all the brainwashed victims of the same slanderer and we recall that the Greek for ‘slanderer’ is ‘o diavolos’, ‘the devil’.
In reality, not one bit of the above has been proved true, including that he was a debauchee and a drunkard, and most of it is patently untrue. It is all classic self-justifying Russophobia which says ‘Russians are primitive, we are superior, therefore we can do anything we like’. He was certainly not mad, never a priest, monk, thief or spy, never a flagellant sectarian or a Satanist, and had very little if any political influence. He was a pious Christian peasant, married with three children, who gave generous alms, understood the Holy Scriptures better than professors of the Bible, and was so pious that God gave him miraculous powers of healing. As for his surname, a nickname, it was common in Siberia and denotes someone who lives where roads meet, a crossroads.
On the other hand, what we do know, and this ever since the publication of the memoirs of Prince Nikolay Zhevakhov in the 1920s, is that he was murdered by British spies, with the co-operation of rich, decadent, jealous and apostate Russian aristocrats, one a transvestite prince who dabbled in the occult and savagely and ritually battered Gregory Rasputin’s corpse, as the sadistic freemason and decadent Prince Yusupov himself boasted of doing, one a more or less Fascist politician, another a Romanov prince of notoriously loose morals who betrayed his relative the Tsar. All of them through their murderous betrayal, indirectly, handed Russia over to the genocidal Bolsheviks and their imported alien ideology for three generations, 75 years of hellish torment.
What we also know is that he was much respected as a holy elder (‘starets’) and wonderworking healer by innumerable clergy and laity and that the incredible slanders against him were invented by corrupt sources, both just before the Revolution and immediately afterwards, when his body was dug up and incinerated by fanatics, frightened that veneration for him would grow. All these slanders and the mindless gossip that spread them have to this day been repeated by the sensationalist mammons of Hollywood, by Western and Soviet hack writers and by embittered émigrés who could not accept their responsibility for their self-punishment of exile. They only furthered their self-justifying lies and scandals, which they knew they could make money out of.
The Sources of the Slander
Recent research since the downfall of the Bolshevik regime a generation ago in 1991 has led to several new studies of Gregory Rasputin by professional historians and even veneration of ‘the Martyr Gregory’ by some, including by the Elder Nikolai Guryanov, with an akathist composed and icons painted. So far unchallenged and also untranslated, because Western publishers only translate scurrilous works like those of the Soviet novelist Edvard Radzinsky, and not professionally-written works or the unsensational lives of the pious, these new Russian studies of professional historians like the seven volumes by Sergey Fomin and the books by Alexander Bokhanov, Yury Rassulin, Igor Evsin, Tatiana Mironova and Oleg Platonov lead us to take a very different view.
All the myths about Gregory Rasputin were invented from 1910 on by those jealous of the Tsar – without much need for imagination, because they attributed to him what they themselves did, that is, they were talking about themselves and their own deeply-held and practised vices. They were jealous because they wanted the power of the Tsar and therefore wanted to discredit the legitimate holders of that power, the Tsar and his family, including his ill heir and his healer, and the Orthodox Christian society that he ruled over, which they so hated. And so these rich hedonists and decadents spread their lies and gossip in the worldly salons of Saint Petersburg, among the futile wealthy and aristocratic debauchees, and in the gutter press of the time.
These sources included the cunning Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich who, rather like the French and British generals on the Western Front, had led his troops to massacre and defeat, trusting in infantry and cavalry against machine guns, and had had to be replaced, the freemasons Maklakov, Dzhunkovsky and the hack journalist Amfiteatrov, the defrocked apostate Sergey (Iliodor) Trufanov, the conscienceless politician Guchkov, the atheists Milyukov and Gorky, the liar Rodzianko, the pervert and occultist Yusupov and the stupid Purishkevich. They were all traitors who wanted to impose their pagan Russia on Christian Russia. These were the very ones who accused Gregory Rasputin of their own sins, which is why their descriptions were so eloquent.
They accused him of lying, of debauchery and of interfering in the affairs of State – everything that they themselves either did or yearned to do. Belonging to the elite, they were in such a state of demonic delusion that they even convinced themselves that they were doing Russia a service by pandering to their own vanity and plotting against the Tsar and those faithful to him, including the healer of the Heir, and so seizing power. They believed their own slander and forgeries, when in fact they were talking about their own sins. Gregory Rasputin was the useful scapegoat invented by ‘princes and sons of men’ to justify their ruthless ambition. If they had not chosen him, they would have chosen another – peasant Russia was there only to be exploited by them.
Views of Those Who Knew Gregory Rasputin
If we look at those who actually knew him, we obtain a different view. Thus, Bishops Barnabas (Nakropin) and Isidore (Kolokolov) were close friends of Gregory Rasputin till the end of his life, trusted him completely and Bishop Isidore celebrated his funeral service, for which he in turn was much slandered. In his memoirs another, General Kurlov, wrote that he had been ‘struck by Rasputin’s profound knowledge of Holy Scripture and theological questions’ and characterized him as a good man who ‘constantly expressed the sense of Christian forgiveness for our enemies’. Such affirmations are confirmed by other devout and well-educated clergy and laity, impressed by Gregory Rasputin’s piety, and they naturally revered him as an elder.
In his memoirs the head of the Police Department, A. T. Vasiliev, wrote that the results of his many investigations confirmed his initial supposition that there was no compromising correspondence with Rasputin, no letters from the Tsarina. Indeed, why should there have been? Rasputin was only semi-literate, he would have had difficulty reading anything. Vasiliev wrote: ‘I also investigated to find out if Rasputin kept any documents, money or valuables in a bank. My investigations were fruitless, another proof of my conviction of the absurdity of the scandalous rumours about Rasputin’. But these witnesses are only the beginning. There are many others of integrity and indeed holiness who say the same, confirming the absurdity of the slanders.
Among these are of course the future saints Tsar Nicholas, Tsarina Alexandra, their five pious children, Archpriest Alexander Vasiliev, the spiritual father of the Imperial Family, the pious virgin Anna Vyrubova (later Mother Maria of Helsinki, who is venerated as a saint today), Prince N. D. Zhevakhov, Julia Dehn, other bishop admirers of Gregory Rasputin like the future St Macarius of the Altai, Metropolitan of Moscow, the pious Metr Pitirim of Saint Petersburg, and a great many other righteous, chaste, sober and honest men and women who loved Holy Rus. None of these believed in the Rasputin myth and this for a very simple reason – they knew him personally, had seen him working miracles of healing and prophecy and knew the motivations of the jealous slanderers.
Of course, there were others. There is the case of the young and naïve Bishop Theophan (Bystrov), who first enthusiastically introduced Gregory Rasputin to the Imperial Family. He only changed his mind because he believed slanders told him in confession. Later he was horrified when he discovered that he had been lied to. Then there was the case of the Grand Duchess, Abbess Elizabeth in Moscow. She too believed the slanders, although at the end her sister the Tsarina seems to have persuaded here that, since she lived in Moscow and had been fed slanders, she had been greatly misled. None of those who believed the slanders had met Gregory in person, they had no first-hand experience, they had simply taken part in a slanderous game of Chinese whispers.
Why the Slanders Have Been Repeated To This Day
Why are these slanders still repeated and believed today? First of all, because scandalous sex stories make many people rich and they are what the mob wants. Secondly, because those who believe and repeat them want to believe and repeat them because they are motivated by self-justification. The alternative would be to repent and most do not want to repent. The murder of the Russian Orthodox peasant Gregory Rasputin in fact began the Revolution, not a Bolsehevik Revolution but a Revolution long desired, since at least December 1825, by a jealous aristocracy and a growing middle-class, all apostates from the Russian Orthodox Church. The descendants of all those who thought they would benefit from the Revolution do not want to repent.
These include not just brainwashed former Soviet citizens, not only the descendants of émigré aristocrats in Paris and elsewhere, but also all the other Western victims of Russophobic propaganda who want to believe that the so-called ‘Tsarist regime’ (that is to say, the legitimate Christian Empire, founded by St Constantine) was corrupt, primitive, barbarian, depraved, drunken and plainly evil. Therefore, it was demonized and so could be overthrown by the ‘pure’ West and all was justified. Such Russophobia is in the direct line of the self-justifying propaganda of the secularism of Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. But what if Gregory Rasputin was the victim, the more or less innocent scapegoat of the machinations of traitors?
If Gregory was innocent, then they, the ideologues of the anti-Christian Western world, therefore most of the Russian aristocracy and the State Duma, most of the generals and even some clergy, most of the journalists and most of the people, as well as the Western-founded Soviet State, are guilty of slandering him, murdering him and are also guilty of the murder of the canonized Imperial Family. Guilty too are all who believed in the lies without question and all who continue to believe in these money-making (money is always a motive for evil) lies and myths and even spread them. After all, these are the people who three months after the murder, on Kerensky’s Masonic orders, dug up Gregory Rasputin’s corpse and on 11 March 1917 incinerated it.
Was this the act the act of Orthodox Christians or any other Christians? Was this the act of Christian patriots who loved the Tsar, the Little Father? Who could have carried out such a blasphemous act, but apostates, occultists and anti-Christian secularists? Even if all or just part of what they claimed had been true, would that have justified such profound hatred for a corpse? Nobody has done this or even proposed to do this with the corpse of the Bolshevik mass murderer and blasphemer Lenin, which, amazingly, still lies in its chemical soup in Moscow. Surely the only people who could have carried out this act were atheists and Satanists? However, in some sense, all who continue to spread these slanders are indirectly taking part in this same blasphemy.
Gregory Rasputin was a symbol of peasant Orthodox Russia, a useful scapegoat for those who wanted to seize power and whose slogan was ‘Demonize your enemies and then anything you do is justified’. His murderers symbolized all that was wrong with Russia – ‘treason, cowardice and deceit’, in the words of the martyred Emperor Nicholas II. Treason came from the elite class and intelligentsia which betrayed the Imperial Family and the Church to the Germans and the Western-financed Bolsheviks, cowardice came from those who were too weak to resist the elite and instead swam with the tide, and deceit came from the supposed Allies who also plotted against the Tsar. All of them slandered the Imperial Family and therefore also Gregory Rasputin.
Through Gregory Rasputin we see exactly who were the enemies of Russia and of the ideals of Holy Rus: all those who believed in and spread the slanders about him and the Imperial Family. The fact that many of these were treacherous and jealous members of the Romanov Family and other millionaire aristocrats makes no difference. Nor does the fact that among these were most of the generals and also senior members of the clergy like Protopresbyter George Shavelsky. The fact that, as Prince N. D. Zhevakhov, the deputy lay head of the Holy Synod, revealed over 90 years ago, Gregory Rasputin was murdered by British spies makes no difference. They could not have operated without the widespread and even popular support for such Russian traitors.
It is no secret that Gregory Rasputin had a gift of healing that medical science could only jealously acknowledge without understanding – it is a fact of history. That he had the ability to heal the Tsarevich Alexei, who could have become the greatest, most merciful and wisest of all Russian Tsars, is a fact of history. That he was a devout man of prayer and pilgrim to Jerusalem and the holy places of Russia who very well knew the Holy Scriptures, the Lives of the Saints and Orthodox services is a fact of history. That he made several prophecies about the future of Russia, the Tsardom, his own murder and the future of the world, all of which came true in detail, is a fact of history. For Gregory Rasputin knew the price of suffering, both moral and physical.
If he was innocent, then the untold suffering after December 1916 makes sense. The foreign Bolshevik yoke and its millions of victims, the murder of the Anointed of God, the second German invasion that began on the forgotten feast of All the Saints of the Russian Lands in June 1941, the taking of Vienna and Berlin on St George’s Day in 1945, which could have happened, without any such comparable sacrifices, in 1917 under the leadership of Tsar Nicholas II, the plagues of alcoholism, abortion, corruption and divorce after 1945, the collapse of what was effectively the Russian Empire in 1991 and today’s torment in the Ukraine are all part of the long and slow path of repentance still ongoing 100 years after 1916. The end to our suffering has not yet come.
In France, the terrorist-threatened country where terrorism was invented 227 years ago, certain mayors have banned the burkini. Now the burkini is modest beachwear for Muslim (and potentially non-Muslim) women, more or less identical to beachwear worn by all European women 100 years ago. Today, however, we have the public spectacle of women sunbathing topless, and almost bottomless, but a few yards away policemen patrolling the beach and ordering women to unclothe themselves, because they are too modestly dressed, and threatening them with detention if they refuse. In other words what all European women wore on the beach 100 years and less ago is, under today’s anti-Christian militant secularist dictatorship, a punishable offence, because it does not correspond to ‘secular Republican values’.
It is official: insanity now prevails. God help the Western world.
Q: What is the role of ROCOR today?
A: The same as that of all Russian Orthodox – to remain faithful Imperial Christian clergy and laypeople, in other words, to keep faith with the best of the Christian Empire, Imperial Russia, working for its restoration and guarding the international and missionary approach of its saints like St Seraphim of Sarov, St Innocent of Moscow, St John of Kronstadt, St Nicholas of Japan, the Optina Saints, the martyred Tsar Nicholas II and those with him, St John of Riga, St Seraphim of Vyritsa, Metropolitan Pitirim (Oknov) of Saint Petersburg, of the fathers of ROCOR and above all of our three ROCOR saints, for we are the Church of the Three Saints: St John of Shanghai, St Jonah of Hangchow and St Seraphim of Sofia. However, I also firmly believe that there are many more ROCOR saints who will be revealed.
Q: When you say to keep faith with ‘the best’, I presume you mean that there has also been the ‘worst’?
A: Of course, the good and the bad, the wheat and the chaff, always go together. However, although Judas was indeed among the disciples, he notably failed to become an apostle. Such is the fate of all traitors. Who were the worst? Firstly, for example, some ill-informed say that our task is to restore Russia before the Revolution. This is blindness, for that would mean also restoring the worst from before the Revolution when it was precisely that bad that created the Revolution. Thus, if we restored all that went before, without distinction, we would simply have another Revolution. Therefore we must keep faith only with the best from before.
Secondly, and linked with this, there was in ROCOR, that is, after the Revolution, the presence of right-wing politics and racist nationalism inherited from before the Revolution and as a result elements in ROCOR were corrupted and compromised by Western spy services like the CIA, MI5, the DGSE in France, the BND in Germany and the CSIS in Canada. Such political operatives began from the 1960s on to encourage the infiltration of our part of the Russian Church by schismatic old calendarism. Fortunately, this spirit more or less died out after the Cold War, and by 2001 these fringe elements had at last been defeated by the majority whom they could no longer oppress.
Q: You say the good and the bad always go together. How do you resist such bad or secular influences and yet keep the good, the purity of Holy Orthodoxy? How can the wheat grow alongside the chaff which surely hinders it?
A: We carry on despite those influences that are always worldly, making opportunities out of the chaff, living for the long-term and so for the greater good of the Church, not living narrowly for the short-term, continuing to fight for the Faith. For example, the persecution (the word is not too strong) by several well-known bishops and senior clergy that I met both for the veneration of Western saints and for the New Martyrs and Confessors only spurred me on to promote them. If it had not been for such vigorous opposition, perhaps I would not have insisted so much. Now the same people or their heirs are falling over themselves to venerate them. Bad always withers away and dies, providing that we are patient. The chaff is here today, gone tomorrow. Only the good lasts on Christ’s winnowing floor. It is very important to understand that.
Q: If ROCOR had its problem, what was the problem of the Russian Patriarchal Church?
A: Without a doubt, its problem was renovationism, the rather pathetic, dying vestiges of which still survive here and there, both inside and outside Russia. However, apart from among a few elderly and marginal figures or unconverted intellectuals, these Soviet-period vestiges now mainly live on, outside the Russian Church, in schisms. For instance, there are the dying embers of the Paris group, founded by treasonous decadent aristocrats and freemasons from Saint Petersburg, or groups in Finland and Estonia, the latter of which had been infected by the masonic, Parisian YMCA movement before the Second World War.
This ‘democratic’ renovationism, or ‘Kerenskyism’, so obvious in politicized decisions of the 1917-18 Moscow Council (which, thank God, have never been implemented inside Russia), is in fact just protestantization. It is dismissed by such sterling contemporary hierarchs of the Russian Church inside Russia as Metr Onufry of Kiev, Metr Agafangel of Odessa or Metr Benjamin of Vladivostok, who, with so many others, guard the conscience of the Church today.
Q: There has yet again been talk of a ‘British Orthodox Church’. What do you say?
A: I think this theme has been exhausted. First of all, the word ‘British’ can simply not be used in a Church context. It is the local equivalent of ‘Soviet’, in other words, it defines a purely political myth, a fantasy and delusion. We do not talk of a ‘Soviet Church’, so why do we speak of a ‘British Church?’ Soon, there will be no Britain (UK) or EU left, like the already defunct SU (Soviet Union). The State concept of Britain has had its day and we shall at last move on to profounder things. Churches are named after geographical and spiritual realities, not passing political myths invented by political hacks. We should rather speak of the Church of the Isles.
But, in any case, at present, ‘Britain’ is home to only a tiny number of practising Orthodox, with hardly any infrastructure, without monastic life, even sometimes with an insular, provincial, visionless outlook and living in a kind of Anglican phyletism, and phyletism is always spiritual death, as we can see from all the phyletist parishes in this country that have closed or are closing. Phyletism always puts the State Establishment above the Gospel. Indeed, last year one such ex-Sourozhite convert actually wrote me a letter, vigorously accusing me of putting the Gospel above the Establishment and slating me for that! At present we should be taking the broad view of a Metropolia of Western Europe, which can later develop into a Local Church of Western Europe, not a narrow view of a tiny, insular one.
Q: Who could found such a Metropolia?
A: No Local Church will ever found a Metropolia and future new Local Church in Western Europe, except the Russian Church. For example, of the seven groups that exist in the Diaspora, the four Local Churches of Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Georgia are all strictly mononational, with no interest in missionary work and founding new Local Churches. As for phyletist Constantinople, it has never freely given anyone autocephaly: the Russians had to wait for nearly 600 years until they seized it themselves and the Bulgarians had to wait for over a millennium and had to create a schism in order to obtain it! As for the Church of Antioch, the Church of four families, as some Antiochians themselves call it, with its all-Levantine episcopate, it even took back the limited autonomy it once gave its small archdiocese in North America. The Antiochians have an admirable though naive zeal, but you need knowledge as well as zeal. Naivety always ends up in disaster, as we have seen.
Q: What, spiritually, is naivety?
A: It is a lack of spiritual experience and so of spiritual maturity. It is always linked with superficiality and a lack of suffering. Real Orthodox live in the arena, are always ready for martyrdom, and are always persecuted and suffer.
Q: If there were one day to be a Local Church in Western Europe, how do you see it?
A: Clearly, without the arrogant mistakes made in the past by the OCA, for example. Firstly, it would use the Orthodox calendar and not impose the divisive Roman Catholic one (though some exceptions might have to be made for some spiritually weak communities) and would avoid modernism of all sorts, insisting for example on confession before prepared communion, modest dress and head coverings for women, correct services and correct liturgical language. All these are not some ‘local customs’, as mocking and despising modernists would have you believe, but are all integral parts of the Tradition.
Secondly, it would have to avoid esoteric Parisian personality cults, like those seen in England and France, of the sort whose first question is, ‘Have you got a doctorate?’ Thirdly, it would have to avoid the patronizing racist mentality of the type to be found in England, that of anti-spiritual, Anglican Establishment phyletism, which automatically excludes the vast masses of people and only ordains Anglican vicars to the priesthood. In a word, it would have to avoid all the falsehood and superficiality of academic, theoretical, convert Orthodoxy. It would have to be the real thing, showing integrity, which is sadly so rare, yet is the only thing that preserves us from the spiritual disease of modernism. Our aim is to become saints, not fantasists.
Q: What is the present situation in the Ukraine?
A: Although I have not been there since May, my impression is that the situation is largely calm on the surface, but underneath is volcanic. Nothing much may happen until the US elections in November, but then the volcano could well erupt. For example, there is already huge dissatisfaction with the ‘thieves and murderers’ (I quote from graffiti seen in Odessa) of the corrupt Poroshenko regime. This at present only controls the area around Kiev, rather like earlier corrupt Fascist US puppet regimes which controlled only Latin American capitals or capitals like Saigon, Manila, Athens, Pretoria, Kabul or Baghdad, but not the countries themselves.
The rest of the Ukraine is controlled by local oligarchs, the new princes. It seems that the component parts of this artificial conglomerate called the Ukraine are falling apart. Poland, Hungary and Romania are looking on, preparing to take back what Stalin stole from them some 75 years ago. The whole of the east and the south of the so-called Ukraine, over half of the country, stolen from Russia by Lenin in 1922, are also yearning to return to Russia and freedom, as the Crimea has already done. Only Little Russia, the region around Kiev, can survive as an independent entity, creating a country similar in size to Belarus to the north.
But I feel that nothing will happen until the Clinton-Trump contest is over. If Clinton the globalist neocon wins, the agony may well get worse and the war could become terrifying, but if Trump the American nationalist and anti-globalist wins, freedom may yet come.
Q: Are you saying that Trump is good?
A: No. I think we all agree that Trump is something of a clown, a primitive nationalist, aggressive, rude and strident like Jean-Marie Le Pen was in France or Nigel Farage was in England, but even if he is not a Christian, he could on balance still actually be the lesser evil. He may actually have a sense of social justice and is surely a social conservative, whereas Clinton calls abortion a blessing, supports the Fascist banksters and as a globalist and Zionist is preparing the coming of Antichrist. Of course, I don’t know for sure, Trump may or may not be the lesser evil: only people can make up their minds about who is the lesser evil.
Q: What is the greatest threat to the Orthodox Church? Politicians like Clinton or Trump?
A: Of course, not. The greatest threat is not others, but ourselves, our own nominalism, which precisely includes blaming others for our own shortcomings. Most Orthodox, 95%, here or elsewhere, are only nominally Orthodox. For example, in this country, how can you take Orthodox seriously when they are even unable to buy or build their own church-buildings? Academic dreamers who call themselves Orthodox rant on about their theories and fantasies, preaching about the ‘Beauty of Orthodoxy’, but when they are asked where their churches are and where authentic liturgical life can be experienced, they can provide nothing, it is all fictitious, in their heads and imaginations. Academics feed only the fantasy, not the heart, because they have no spiritual food to give.
Q: Given this level of nominalism, how can we not fall into despair?
A: Holy men have prophesied that, if we repent, we will be saved by some event in the East. This may mean China and the neocon war now being threatened against China by the hubris-obsessed Obama government in the South China Sea. But it may mean something else. We shall see. Only one thing is certain, and that is that only repentance leads to salvation.
Rumours on the the internet suggest that the Patriarchate of Constantinople is in a fragile state. It has been suggested that the situation of Patriarch Bartholomew has been compromised by his close relations with the US political elite, several Greek-American billionaires and the CIA. The intermediary between them all is the Greek-American priest Alexander Karlutsos, who is in charge of financing the Patriarchate from the US. In this way the US political elite strongly influences the Patriarch’s policies. (This would explain the strange (from an Orthodox viewpoint) and divisive policies it tried to promote at the recent failed Orthodox meeting in Crete).
It has also been suggested that the Patriarch entertained close relations with Fethullah Gülen, the Turkish preacher who lives in Pennsylvania and who directed the recent failed coup d’etat with help from the US base in Turkey, which has now transferred its nuclear weapons from there to Romania. Gülen was helped to flee to the US by the same Fr Alexander Karlutsos with CIA assistance and it is widely believed that the whole coup was an attempt by the US to make Gülen Turkish President, after assassinating President Erdogan. The Patriarch met Gülen on several occasions and even called him ‘my friend’. Many observers noted that Patriarch Bartholomew quit Turkey on the eve of the coup and went to Switzerland, which they did not see as a coincidence.
Some say that the Patriarch’s fate now directly depends on how Ankara views the use they can make of the Patriarch’s circle of contacts in the US. However, the Patriarch’s influence in the Orthodox world is fairly weak, as was demonstrated by the failure of the Crete meeting. It has been said: ‘We saw that Patriarch Bartholomew is unable to unite the Orthodox world. Apart from this it has become obvious that his influence does not even touch half (sic – in fact not even 80%) of Orthodox Christians. The reasons for this are his authoritarian style, his stubbornness and enmity towards the Russian Orthodox Church’.
It is difficult to know whether such rumours are true, but they come from multiple sources.
In the largest Russian Orthodox Church in the British Isles:
Our Patriarch is Mordovan.
Our Metropolitan is Canadian.
Our Archbishop is German.
Our priest is English.
Our deacon is Romanian, married to a Latvian.
Our choir-director is French, but born in Africa.
Our visiting priest is a New Zealander.
Our main server is half-Russian, half-Chuvash, with Australian nationality.
Our oldest parishioner is half-Maltese, half-Irish.
Our boys’ construction club founder is Slovak, her nephews and nieces are half-Indian, half-Romanian.
Our beekeeper is Bulgarian.
Our altar boys are half-Italian, half-Russian / half-Ukrainian, half-English / half Guinean and half-Moldovan.
Our benefactors are English, Belgian, German, Venezuelan, Russian and Alaskan.
You are Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, English, Moldovan, Lithuanian, Greek, Latvian, Estonian, Cypriot, Syrian, Carpatho-Russian, Polish, Turkish, Scottish, Italian, French, Australian.
We are united by One Faith. Your parish is Colchester!
A pilgrimage to the village of Whatlington near Sandlake [Battle] in Sussex has been organized by the Guild of St Eadmund. This will take place at 11 am on Thursday 27 October 2016, the 950th Anniversary of Sandlake Fight (now commonly known as The Battle of Hastings), at the Church of St Mary Magdelene, Whatlington, East Sussex, about three miles north of the battlefield. The Memorial Service will be celebrated by Fr Andrew Phillips.
Whatlington was a Royal Manor and the place where Harold stopped to pray on his way to the battle itself, and therefore is an eminently suitable place for the service. The present-day village, on Whatlington Road, is just to the west of the main Hastings road (A21) (car park at TN33 0ND). There is a rail connection to Battle and Whatlington can be reached from there by bus, it is a 2-hourly service at an inconvenient time, so if you are reliant on public transport, please let me know and I will try to arrange a lift from the railway station. All are welcome to attend.
A lunch will then take place after the service at about midday at The Royal Oak, Whatlington.
1) Roast Lamb with Roast Potatoes, Vegetables (carrots, green beans & broccoli), Yorky & Gravy
2) Roast Chicken with Roast potatoes, Vegetables (carrots, green beans & broccoli), Yorky & Gravy
3) Chili con Carne with Rice
1) Caramel Apple Pie
2) Sticky Toffee Pudding
3) Ice Cream Sundae (toffee)
All with tea/coffee to follow.
The cost of this will be £15 per head.
If you are attending the service and would like to take advantage of this, please reply to
Eadmund Dunstall, 28 Quested Road, Cheriton, Folkestone, Kent CT19 4BY,
enclosing the appropriate payment (cheques payable to Malcolm Dunstall please) and being careful to state the number of people in your party and their choice of menu before 30th September 2016.
A short talk will follow the luncheon at approximately 1 pm in the Function Room of The Royal Oak, on the subject of the battle and its aftermath, and there will be a brief meeting of The Guild of St Eadmund at the end of the talk.
We look forward to meeting you.
First Services at Last!
The Russian Orthodox Church in Norwich is now complete – thanks to your generosity. The church will be blessed on Saturday 20 August at 11.00. All are welcome! The first Liturgy will take place on Saturday 10 September at 10.00. It will be in use most days so that members of the Church can pray together, as community life begins in earnest. 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 five 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 2015, Fr Andrew saw a leasehold property for sale on the rightmove website for £50,000 at 134, Oak Street, Norwich.
It measured 88 square metres externally and was then used as offices and rooms for a cultural centre. It had electricity, heating and water and was in very good condition. It was so cheap because it was 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 2015 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 2015, after over three and a half months!, we finally received planning permission to convert the building into an Orthodox church.
On Friday 15 April 2016 we were at last able to complete the purchase of our premises and prepare to engage a builder to start work on the premises.
On Wednesday 20 April we received the keys and saw builders to obtain quotes to do the necessary work of knocking down internal walls and then making good the electrics, plumbing, floor and ceiling.
On Friday 22 April, the electricity and water were reconnected and supply contracts prepared.
On Tuesday 3 May, we chose the building contractor we wish to use.
On Monday 9 May, electrical and plumbing work began and the structural engineer called in.
On Wednesday 25 May, almost exactly one year after our offer had been accepted!, demolition of internal walls began and Fr Andrew saw a locksmith to replace the broken lock on the main door and a signwriter to replace the signs on the outside, so that all will know that this is an Orthodox Church, and new lighting was bought for installation. Following this the electrical system and plumbing were adapted to our needs.
On Monday 30 May and after, we learned that the building work would cost over £6,000 more than expected because of unforeseen structural problems, electrical problems and the need for professional painting. Although we did not have the money in the Norwich fund for this, we put our faith in Providence and decided to go ahead anyway.
On Monday 20 June workers at last began replastering the ceiling and walls and putting in the new floor.
On Wednesday 29 June we hired a lorry and took everything that had been prepared in Colchester to Norwich and set up the iconostasis.
On Wednesday 6 July painting of all walls and the iconostasis began.
On Tuesday 9 August the new floor was laid, icons hung on the newly-painted iconostasis, curtains hung and signs put up on the outside, as well as many other small jobs completed, creating a fourteen-hour day!
On Saturday 20 August the Little Blessing of the Waters and then the blessing of the Church and other premises will take place at 11.00. After this all will be able to meet in the large Church kitchen.
The first Divine Liturgy will be celebrated on Saturday 10 September at 10.00.
Introduction: Western Pride
There are two Europes, the Old Europe and the New Europe, that is, the Europe of the first millennium and the Europe of the second millennium, Orthodox Europe and Secular Europe. We belong to the First Europe, whose very existence is denied, deliberately buried and hidden beneath the Second. Whereas the main characteristic of the First Europe is humility, that of the Second Europe is pride. This came about from the millennial delusion that Western European peoples are superior to other races, as is expressed by the filioque – the boasting Western statement that the Holy Spirit proceeds from their human nature. Its consequences were first seen when the introducer of the filioque, the eighth-century Frankish barbarian kinglet Charlemagne (Charles the Tall – he measured six feet 3 inches), slaughtered thousands of Saxons when they refused baptism.
This became even clearer at the end of the eleventh century, after the official adoption and defence of the filioque, with similar massacres in Southern Italy, in the British Isles after 1066, in Spain and during the First Crusade. We can clearly see the various forms of this pride in the negative traits common among European peoples. Thus, at worst, France can tend to suffer from vanity, megalomania – for example, the ‘Sun-King’ Louis XIV, Napoleon or Mitterrand – narcissism and therefore chauvinism (Chauvin was a Frenchman). At worst, Germany can tend to suffer from the thirst for control and domination over others, the striving for perfectionism – nothing is ever good enough if it is not German, as we have seen most recently in two World Wars and in the history of the EU. But what of the English, often called the British?
Without doubt the English form of this Western pride is national pride, the love of national honour, as we can see in the history of the British Empire or in today’s cult of show-off cars and one-upmanship, ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. ‘British is best’, they say, regardless of how awful it may actually be. This false assurance of natural superiority breeds not only jingoistic xenophobia (encouraged by living on an island), but also the spirit of ‘since it’s British, it’s good enough’, when in fact something is either good or bad, never ‘good enough’. This encourages amateurism, ‘muddling through’, ‘coping’, ‘managing’, rather than doing things properly. And that in turn breeds narrow-minded pragmatism and practicality: if it works, it is good enough, we don’t care about the rest. Which is how the British car industry with its shoddy products destroyed itself.
It is true that there are other national failings, but these were or are the result of the deformations of Protestantism and are shared by other peoples who also became Protestant. For instance, there is the national weakness of always compromising – a vice that grew up out of the Reformation, neither Roman Catholic nor Protestant. Indeed, it was on this unprincipledness of always compromising that the State Church was founded, with a Roman Catholic exterior but a Protestant interior. Now, compromise is no bad thing if it concerns secondary matters and being good neighbours. However, on matters of principle, this is the vice of amoralism. You cannot compromise between truth and lie, between good and bad. As the Gospel says, there can be no compromise between God and Belial. Thus, I have heard one (atheist) Anglican vicar saying that his ‘Church’ is ideal because it reconciles those who believe in God and those who do not!
Then there is the obsession with money, as seen in the multitude of words like calculating, stingy, frugal, prudent, tight, mean and the Dickensian scrooge. However, this characteristic is the result of narrow-minded, tedious, boring, thisworldly, money-grubbing Protestantism, and is shared by ex-Protestant and Calvinistic European peoples like the Dutch, the Swiss, the Scots and the Scandinavians, all of them founders of modern capitalism and accountancy and all notorious for their banking systems. There is also moral hypocrisy – this too was caused by puritanical Protestantism, with its high moral standards, but anti-ascetic, spiritual inability to meet them, resulting in Victorian London being the world centre of prostitution and very high rates of infection by syphilis. Today, it has resulted in fifty years of the free-for-all, ‘let it all hang out’ depravity that has come from the reaction to the old Puritanism and moral hypocrisy.
Conclusion: National Redemption?
Any vice can be turned round. Thus, French vanity can become positive, if it is turned into the quest for spiritual beauty and good taste and German perfectionism can be spiritualized as the path of repentance, the quest for self-perfection through humility. Similarly, the English sense of defending national honour can lead to the desire to do things well, to break records, to meet challenges, to declare that there are more important things than money. Triumphalist English people are not to be courted, for the English have always done best when their backs are to the wall, as at Trafalgar in 1805 and during the ‘finest hour’ during the Battle of Britain in 1940. Challenges bring out the best, enabling people to break the mould, to fight back, to think independently. If this can be spiritualized, then the English can still do great things.
Finally, there is the question of English humour. Its origin is in the absurd and even surreal contradictions in English society between the foreign, Norman Establishment and the English people, which is why this humour is so derisive of the Establishment and its class system, as in Monty Python. Unable to fight back against the Establishment, all the people could do in their frustration was to mock it and the situation that they found themselves in. On the one hand, this humour can be bitter and cynical, such as that in political satire, but on the other hand it can show the ability to mock oneself. Thus, the graffiti of Banksy can be bitterly satirical, but it can also be amusing and lead to thought. However, most English humour simply revels in the absurd and incompatible, and that can show humility.
The Church in the British Isles will only begin to grow when Orthodox there begin to venerate their own saints.
Saying Attributed to St Arsenios of Paros (+ 1877)
The Church is like a lighthouse, guiding us through the sea of life. However, like any lighthouse the Church is surrounded by dangerous rocks and many are the ships and boats that founder there. This happens whenever the non-serious, spiritual tourists, come to look at the Church out of curiosity, making Her into a game or hobby, or else are attracted to some outward aspect of the Church. For example, some are attracted to Church singing, icons, rituals or vestments, but never attracted to actually entering and living in the Church. So distracted are such by their spiritually impure interest in externals or, even worse, by their self-serving clericalist love of power, that they are burned, forget the rocks and founder. Such people, who love to call us English Orthodox by the Norman name of ‘Anglo-Saxons’ or ‘provincials’, we can call ‘Norman-minded’. Why?
After the papally-sponsored Norman invasion and occupation of England in 1066, the racist invaders with their new, compromised and heretical religion mocked the relics of the English saints and their non-Norman names, and even physically destroyed and desecrated them like the later iconoclastic Protestants, subjecting holy relics to fire. Thus, the Norman-installed Archbishop of Canterbury Lanfranc (+ 1089) derided the holiness of the former Archbishops, St Dunstan and St Alphege, and in St Albans the new Norman Abbot adopted a policy of wholesale destruction of the shrines of the English saints. Thus, it can be said that to be Norman-minded is not racial (Lanfranc was an Italian Lombard), but it is to be possessed of the mentality which mocks and denies the saints because it puts its alien cultural Establishment values above the Church.
Herein lies the radical difference between the old and now dying State Anglican Orthodoxy and authentic English Orthodoxy. The former is composed of Anglicans, regardless of whether they were liberal or conservative, who formally joined the Orthodox Church but did not become Orthodox, as they put their alien, rationalistic, post-Schism, Establishment culture above Church Tradition. The latter is composed of English people who have joined the Orthodox Church and actually become Orthodox, putting Church Tradition first, so becoming Orthodox-minded and thus returning to pre-Schism English cultural values. Thus, they return to the Alfredian civilization of the Church in their way of life, venerating the local saints. In the former case the alien Norman-founded Establishment comes first, in the latter case authentic Church Christianity comes first.
The vast majority of the Norman-minded are of course not ‘Normans’ at all. This is nothing to do with race. For instance, we can include among the extreme ‘Normans’ saint-haters and iconoclasts like the Protestant Cromwell, the Roman Catholic Napoleon and the mixed-race Bolshevik Lenin. Norman-mindedness means turning everything upside down. With no interest in inward life and inward values, the Norman mentality, as we have seen above, prefers invasion, occupation and desecration, externals, pomp and ceremony, outward ‘niceness’, academic theories and fantasies, that is, spiritual castration. Now, at long last, over the last fifty years since the 900th anniversary of the Norman Occupation in 1966, there has been a revival of the veneration of the English saints; we are at last de-Normanizing, reversing the ills of invasion and occupation.
For example, in the last fifty years holy relics have been returned to the Church, like those of St Edward the Martyr, some of those of St Alban have gone back to St Albans and some of those of St Edmund have gone back to Bury St Edmunds. Pilgrims go to St Eanswythe in Kent, St Botolph in Suffolk, St Walstan in Norfolk, St Frideswide in Oxfordshire and St Bertram in Staffordshire and many others. Why? Because today there are Orthodox pilgrims who want to venerate the saints, to ask for their prayers, who compose services to them and paint icons of them. Many of these pilgrims are English, many others are Russian. Thus, there is a service to St Edward the Martyr and an akathist to St Audrey of Ely in Slavonic. Icons of some fifty of these saints have been painted, services have been composed to them, individually and collectively, their feasts are celebrated.
More than this, there have been miracles. For example, St John of Beverley. St Morwenna of Cornwall and St Birinus of Dorchester have all shown their presence to the devout in the places where their relics lie. St Wite of Dorset, whose relics have remained in place all these centuries, is venerated for her miracles. St Nectan and St Edward the Martyr have worked miracles of healing and St Edmund has shown a light in the sky where he was martyred. As for the feast day of St Audrey of Ely, 23 June, it was marked by the Brexit vote, recalling that Ely was one of the very last bastions of Englishness against the Norman occupiers and desecrators, whom we shall yet defeat. If veneration grows, we can expect more miracles, which will profoundly transfigure national life for the better, gradually freeing us from the age-long curse of the Norman Yoke.