Monthly Archives: July 2020

The Church and the Holy Spirit

Quench not the Spirit.

1 Thess. 5, 19

When the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?

Lk 18, 8

It seems strange that we should talk about the Church and the Holy Spirit, as if they were in some way contradictory. Surely the Church is the Body of Christ which radiates the Holy Spirit? Sadly, sometimes this is not the case, though only when we talk of the Church in the sense of the Church authorities. There is such a thing as the persecution of the faithful by Church authorities and this has been seen very many times in Church history.

This always happens whenever the Church authorities (not the Church) have allied themselves with the rich and mighty of this world, seeing the Church only as an opportunity for power and a well-paid career and church buildings as mere real estate, and not seeing the Church as the Body of Christ and suffering human souls who seek the Revelation of God.

Of course, this does not excuse the sectarian counter-reactions to them which often occur at the grassroots, at the present time in the form of old calendarist groups, which repeat the errors of Donatism of long ago. We have quite recently seen these phenomena even in the question of mask wearing.

Thus, just like atheists, the careerist, modernistic, liberal-inclined and secular-minded Church establishment, those who want and are the institutionalisation of the Church, are for masks. Seeing the Church as a mere corporate organisation, an anti-missionary business, they are also for many almost blasphemous practices which appear to deny the holiness of the sacraments. Some of them clearly think that the Body and Blood of Christ are merely bread and wine, just like those others who long ago lapsed from the Church, the Protestants and increasing numbers of Roman Catholics. Like secular people who so weakly believe, they fear death.

On the other hand, there are those whose faith is blind, having zeal not according to reason, and who behave irresponsibly. They would take no precautions whatsoever, sure that you can catch nothing from other people inside a church building. This is clearly a mistake. If there were an outbreak of cholera or the plague, they would not frequent other people, including inside the church building. Just because Covid-19 is less serious, it does not mean that we should not avoid it. We do not fear death, but this does not mean that we seek death.

We Orthodox, in the mainstream between the persecuting extremes, keep our churches open as far as State persecution, widespread now, allows us. We take reasonable precautions in obedience, but we do not avoid God’s Will, knowing that all is in His hands. In the past we have seen off perverts, freemasons, slanderers. We are not frightened of a new wave of persecution by the jealous. We shall stand up to the new persecution, wherever it comes from, left or right, with three unconquerable weapons:

The prayers of the Old Saints of Europe, the Saints of the First Millennium.

The prayers of the New Saints of Europe, the New Martyrs and Confessors.

The prayers of the Imperial Martyrs, the Royal and Holy Family of Europe.

Nobody, however jealous, rapacious and cunning they are, can take these away from us.

 

 

On the Contemporary Challenges Faced by the Russian Orthodox Church

Introduction: Excesses and Extremes on the Margins

After the fall of the militantly atheist Soviet Union nearly thirty years ago, the Russian Orthodox Church appears to have gone from strength to strength, both inside and outside Russia. In some respects this is clearly true, but in others it is not the case, as a whole set of enormous challenges remains. The Church suffers from the presence of many marginal individuals, including some clergy, and trends which are outside the mainstream of the Orthodox Tradition and so have little to do with Christianity. As a current example we have the case of Schema-abbot Sergei Romanov, whom I met in 2018 when I visited the Urals.

After meeting him, I was left with a whole set of questions: Why was such a man from a recent, violent criminal background ordained? Why did he have no qualifications? Where did all his great deal of money come from? Why was he left to conduct spurious exorcisms, humiliating his victims, creating obvious psychological damage and dependency? Why was he left in authority when he clearly set himself against Orthodox teachings? Why had he been allowed to set up a cult? Why did his bishop not act? Here are questions that are only now, two years on, being answered, only after much harm has already been caused.

  1. Organisational Temptations

Scandals

Like the case of Romanov, over the last thirty years many mistakes have been made. Desperate to cater to the spiritual needs of the scores of millions of newly baptised, the wrong people were sometimes ordained and consecrated. This is not an opinion, but a fact, as we can see from the number of defrockings and exiles of careerist bishops now in disgrace. There have been too many ‘young elders’, pseudo-elders, charlatans, money-extorters, perverts, careerists, obscurantists and also cultish sects, such as the neo-renovationist Kochetkovtsy. We cannot help thinking that at least some of these scandals are linked to money or else are sexual in nature.

Bureaucracy

The pre-Revolutionary Church already suffered from profound careerism and  bureaucratic centralisation, from the use of decrees and protocols – words that cannot be found in the Gospels. Today’s Soviet-style centralisation is even worse. Paperwork is one of the main complaints of parish priests in Russia. They are being made into administrators, ‘effective managers’, businessmen. This all means money: money-grasping bureaucrats have to be paid. The Apostle Paul did not suffer either from bureaucracy or money; he worked as a tent-maker, not as a careerist. Do we not confess the Apostolic Church? Should we not venerate the saints like him in deed, as well as in word? Why kiss the Gospels, if we are not going to live by them?

Money

This brings us to money problems. Some bishops and priests appear to be extremely rich and many think that all clergy live in their way, with 4 x 4s, Mercedes, yachts and villas. In reality, many clergy are poor. Here there is a total lack of transparency and also a poor distribution of resources. Partly this is to do with the post-Soviet nouveau riche class. They like to donate money to the Church – which is good – but why this obsession with gold, marble and luxury in church? They should first read the Gospels and find out about mammon, as their money so often acts as a source of temptation. For every ‘monumental church’ with its kilos of gold, ten plain but community/ congregational churches could have been built. Money is the rot in the Church today, an infectious disease that spreads everywhere.

  1. Internal Temptations

Churching Society

Three generations of militant atheism and violent persecution left Soviet society completely spiritually ignorant, ready to believe everything and anything, extraordinarily superstitious, with at one time almost African levels of animism at the extremes. In a society of converts, often ritualistic, and with very few experienced clergy and people, all kind of primitive errors still abound. The task of baptising society was not so difficult, but to change the faith of the people from nominal-instinctive to active-conscious is far more difficult. All the more so today when some representatives of the Church have discredited themselves through their careerist love of money and luxury and so made most indifferent.

Liberals

The educated extremes of Russian society (the masses are indifferent and look only to survival) have long been divided into Westernisers and Slavophiles. The very small but very active minority of extreme Westernisers are often highly-educated, with doctorates, and are liberal, modernistic, ecumenist. They condemn the Church, hate piety and support LGBT (they are often themselves homosexuals). As regards coronavirus, they are faithless and so wear masks at every opportunity. Clearly, they have no interest in missionary work, converting others to Christ, as they long ago rejected Christ in favour of the Secular West.

Conservatives

The conservatives are also very small in number but narrow and nationalistic. The extremists among them still think that Lenin and Stalin were wonderful. They rarely attend Church, which is just a nationalistic banner or flag for them to hide behind, so that can like the pharisees condemn others, in self-justification. Often Third Romists, they can often be paranoid in relation to the Western world, confess anti-Semitism, indeed, anti-everythingism, and love conspiracy theories. They would certainly never wear a mask, probably not even believing in the existence of coronavirus. Clearly, they have no interest in missionary work, converting others to Christ, as they consider that Christianity is purely nationalistic and probably think that God is Russian anyway.

  1. External Temptations

Dealing with the Post-Soviet State

The main problem here is the refusal of the State to change, to give up its Sovietism. There is post-Soviet, but there is also outright Soviet too. Thus, in Moscow still lie the remains of that revolting mass-murderer Lenin and in Ekaterinburg, where the Royal Martyrs were massacred 102 years ago, as everywhere, there are street names and statues of the murderers and the whole region is still named after one of them. The media and the education and health sectors (after all there is an abortion industry to support) are full of those opposed to the Church. The State still has little practical concern about the chronically low birth-rate, the chronically high divorce rate and does little to further the cause of ecology.

Relations with the Other Local Churches

Half of the Orthodox Local Churches basically support the Russian Church, but the other half, undermined by petty nationalism, has been bought out by US aggression. This is clear with regard to obvious US imperialism in the Ukraine, the Baltics and the Balkans, where its ambassadors, like pagan Roman governors, new Pilates, have bribed and blackmailed the tiny Greek Orthodox world into the crudest infringements of Canon Law and simple human justice. That world, only a few million in number, has thus discredited itself and it remains a mystery as to why anyone voluntarily belongs to it any more. This is the final Greek tragedy.

Relations with the Non-Orthodox World

Here too the tensions are purely political. The Protestant world, consciously and unconsciously, has long been instrumentalised by the Western secret services to destroy the Orthodox world, in order to divide it and rule it. Since its 1960s protestantisation, much the same has happened in the Roman Catholic world, most obviously under the CIA-appointed Polish Pope. However, it was already opposed to Christ anyway and prepared to invade and destroy the Orthodox world at the drop of a hat, as can be seen in the history of the Crusades, in Uniatism and then in co-operation with the Bolsheviks. All this provokes Russian nationalism and makes many unable to appreciate the remnants of Orthodoxy in the Western world.

Conclusion: Towards the New Jerusalem (1) through Churching the Masses

The Russian Orthodox Church is three-quarters of the whole Church. Thus, its main challenge is that of responsibility. How can the mainstream, often paralysed by such excesses and extremes among certain bishops, priests and people, bring the world’s seven and a half billion people to Christ and His New Jerusalem without compromise? The answer is the same as that when the Twelve Apostles, opposed by all and compromised by Judas, also set out to do the impossible. The few must first Church the masses, the 2% of the Churched setting the example by converting the 98% of the unChurched and showing them that the Church is not about the money-grubbing of the new Judases. And how is that possible? Only by the Holy Spirit.

Feast of the Royal Martyrs, 4/17 July 2020

Note:

  1. The Cathedral of the Wisdom of God in Istanbul was long ago made into a mosque, then a museum and now is to become a mosque once more. Why? Because the local Orthodox have for 567 years failed to convert the local people to Christ. Failing to love their enemies, they have hated them and so made enemies for themselves. What are we to do? We are called on to create a new Church of the Wisdom of God, a New Jerusalem.

 

 

Samaritans, Scribes, Pharisees, Saducees and Prophets

The coronavirus epidemic has, officially, infected 0.02 % of the world population, 5% of whom, officially, have died from it. It has now taken as many victims as swine flu did in 2009-10. According to UK government statistics, 85% of victims are aged over 70, the average age of victims in the UK is 84, the over 90s have an 85% chance of recovery and 96% of victims had serious underlying health problems. The lives of most of these victims have been shortened by several weeks and even months.

However, the virus has also revealed that there are those who are called Christians, including certain clergy, who are actually afraid of death. The scandal among the faithful is naturally enormous. Clearly, there are those who claim to be Christians who do not seem to be in reality. All has been revealed.

What can we say of these false or weak Christians? As I have grown older, I have realised that there is indeed nothing new under the Sun. Human nature and the results of spiritual impurity do not change and we can categorise those who call themselves Christians into exactly the same categories as those whom Christ encountered when He lived on earth. Namely:

The Samaritans

These are the nominal masses who identify the faith with a particular place, like the Samaritans who would only worship on Mt Gerizim. Their faith decides events because, with their mood swinging one way or the other depending on the elite, it affects the whole of history, as we saw in Russia in 1917. The battle is to Church them –our Faith does not depend on a place or a nationality. We have to bring them onto the side of Christ, telling them that ‘God is a spirit and that they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth’ (Jn. 4, 24).

The Scribes

These are the modern intellectuals and dreamers, who make the faith into some sort of Protestant personal opinion in a completely disincarnate way. They will refuse to baptise babies until their parents and godparents have been made into intellectuals like themselves. They love to read and write books, whose titles are barely comprehensible. However, they despise others and consider themselves to be ‘very spiritual’, far above the common masses, who for them are just peasants not clever enough to understand them. In fact, the Scribes are not spiritual at all, because they live in their brains and imaginations. They do not supply spiritual food, but only wordy, academic food, nourishment for the brain in clubs for intellectuals. Woe unto them.

The Pharisees

These make the spiritually living faith into a mere institutional religion, the manipulating arm of the State. In history the Pharisees, rich men who lived luxuriously next to the Temple in Jerusalem, operated a money racket. Why else did Christ overturn the tables of the moneychangers in His Temple? (Matt. 21, 12). The Pharisees co-operated closely with the Roman oppressors, shouting ‘We have no king but Caesar’ (Jn. 19, 15), since their interest was to be next to money and power wherever it was. Today, the Pharisees represent the episcopal tyranny of the ‘princes of the Church’, clericalism, and love being close to the State, to orders, protocols and driving fancy cars. They have no love for the people, for the faithful parish priests whom they persecute and for the monks. They hate confessing and mixing with the flock. They seek the support of the nominal masses by asserting only their ethnic, that is, worldly, identity. Woe unto them.

The Saducees

The Saducees rejected the Resurrection, for it was a miracle too far for their narrow and unbelieving minds. These are the liberals, modernists and ecumenists who follow the secular tide, whatever it is and wherever it goes. They are ‘woke’, supporters of LGBT, they are the politically correct who follow health and safety rules and the recommendations on coronavirus to the letter, making them into legally binding laws, which they are not, masking themselves and masking others, preventing them from worshipping Christ. They can have no principles because they have no beliefs. Conformists to the core, they will obey whatever the spiritually impure tell them to do.

The Prophets

These are the faithful, the Orthodox, who venerate the persecuted Saints of God. They may not be Prophets as such, but they are infused with the spirit of prophecy, the Holy Spirit. These are the spiritually living, the real Orthodox, the pillars of the Church, who live the faith despite the oppression of bishops and false pastors, who are Scribes, Pharisees and Saducees. The Prophets spend their time fighting for and maintaining the Faith and Churching the Samaritan masses. We are responsible and do not seek death, but we certainly do not fear it, for Christ long ago defeated it and all the machinations of the Scribes, the Pharisees and the Saducees.

 

 

Chickens Always Come Home to Roost

Honesty is the best policy.

 

I have been asked to write down what the most important spiritual law I know is.

It is to be found in St John’s First Epistle: ‘If a man says, I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar’.

If you say that you love God but do not love your brother, then you are a scribe and a pharisee, a hypocrite, and woe unto you. Why woe unto you?

Woe because the bill always comes due, chickens always come home to roost, what goes around, comes around, there are always consequences to your actions, there is always blowback, like a boomerang, the consequences will come and hit you. As the French say, ‘Do not spit in the air’ (think about it), or as the Russians say, ‘Do not spit in the well, for you may need the water’.

In other words, I am saying that there is such a thing as spiritual responsibility. You only have to think of meddling in the Ukraine and then finding that your main church has become a mosque. God judges that you are not worthy of it, unless you repent. For over 500 years the Greek Church in Turkey has failed to convert the Turkish people to Christ and just made them into national enemies. Why? Surely we are supposed to love our enemies? When a church stand empty, you are not worthy of it and it will be handed over to others. But there are many other cases in other lands. Stand in fear and trembling.

I once knew one well-known, self-styled ‘spiritual father’; one who said that if ever he saw someone again, it would be over his dead body. Within six months he was dead. Be warned. You cannot get away with it. So they fall, one after another.

Hot News: The Cold War Is Over!

The Church Has Only One Enemy: Ourselves.

 

The first Cold War ended some thirty years ago. True, forces in Washington and in poodle-town London and EU/NATO Brussels have tried to create a second one. True, those forces, have hesitated to turn their military might and huge deficit budgets against today’s Russia, but only because it is nuclear-armed. Instead, they have tried to take over Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, thus aggressively encircling the Russian Federation with bases. They have also invaded Muslim countries, slaughtering many and losing many wars there at a cost of six trillion dollars. All this has forced the Russian Federation to ally itself with China and now to declare its sovereignty through a very popular new Constitution. This has brought countries like Iran, Syria and Turkey into the joint orbit of these Allies, making them invincible.

However, so far the end of the Cold War has not greatly affected Church life in the Diaspora. True, after the petering out of spiritually poisonous Soviet and American influences, in 2007 the Russian emigre Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) entered back into communion with the by then free Orthodox Church inside Russia. The small Parisian fragment of the Russian emigration, about one tenth of the size of ROCOR, did the same as recently as 2019. All fragments still have to work together with the Mother-Church, members of whose flock and clergy make up some 90% of their flock and clergy. The Mother-Church has its own newly-organised structures outside Russia, especially in Western Europe. So far only in South-East Asia has this integration already taken place, with former ROCOR communities in Indonesia entering the Mother-Church.

On the other hand, the end of the Cold War has affected other, far smaller and spiritually weaker Local Orthodox Churches, mainly in the Balkans or else those Greek-run. Indeed, there the situation has worsened by far, as some of these have been bribed, blackmailed and instrumentalised into becoming part of a second Cold War, launched by Washington against Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church. Most notably, there has been the tragic case of the gerontocrats who run the tiny and spiritually enfeebled Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul. This has been pushed by the State Department in Washington into uncanonical and purely political actions in the Diaspora, in Estonia and, above all, in the far west of the Ukraine. ‘Divide and rule’ is the anti-Christian slogan of all these State and Church bureaucrats alike.

Not content with this, the aggressive Washington State Department elite has declared war against all Orthodox elsewhere, notably in Greece, Alexandria and Montenegro, and is also interfering in Romania, Moldova, Cyprus, Macedonia, Bulgaria and anywhere else it can, in an attempt to isolate as many Orthodox as possible from the Russian Orthodox Church, exploiting and stirring up the base motive of nationalism. The Church of Russia is, after all, three-quarters of the whole Orthodox Church and the only Local Church which is truly multinational and, quite often, missionary-minded. All the above has taken place in the last thirty years, since the fall of the Western-imposed Marxist yoke in Russia and Eastern Europe. So what could the next thirty years bring? In other words, what reconfigurations could there be by 2050?

Many scenarios are possible, but there is one which may seem more likely than others. The Western world, basically the USA alone, is already bankrupt, with 25 trillion dollars of unpayable debt. Moreover, the Western world is now only one eighth of the world population. Furthermore, China is today’s world leader, for the American century (1915-2015) is now over, just as the British century (1815-1915) before it and the French century (1715-1815) before that. Therefore, not only will the new Cold War fail politically, but it will also be unfinancable. Thus, the enemies of the Russian Orthodox world will also fail. However, this is on one condition: that the Russian Orthodox world proves that it can take responsibility for all Orthodox in an honest and non-nationalistic way, that it is not only the Patriarchate of Moscow, but also of New Jerusalem.

The mission is not to take over, it is nothing to do with ‘Soviet tank’ invasion, colonial bullying, oppressive exploitation or theft of money. The Church must never be a business. In the past many came to dislike and distrust ‘Russians’, confusing them with Soviets. Our mission is not to export kalashnikovs and missiles to the rest of the world, but to export Christ and His Church to the rest of the world, to bring as many as possible to Christ before the end, which now looms over us. The Cold War is over, despite the wishes of the aggressive warmongers to revive it. It is time to co-operate with Sovereign Orthodox Russia, seeing off the last vestiges of both Sovietism and Americanism – both arrogant, bullying and money-grubbing imperialisms are for us dead. We do not belong to either of them: we belong to Christ, as does His Holy Church.

 

 

 

 

From Correspondence – May-June 2020

Pastoral Matters

Q: Do you think that the government restrictions against churches during the coronavirus lockdown were really necessary?

A: Were government restrictions on churches during the peak of the coronavirus epidemic really necessary? What began as sometimes relatively sensible restrictions (stay at home if you are ill, stand back from others) to protect the poor health of the tiny minority of vulnerable in society has been used all over the world as an excuse to persecute us. Supermarkets were open for bread for the body, but bread for the soul did not matter. Car boot sales and beaches have for weeks been full, with thousands of people milling around. But churches are still officially closed.

This is all part of the persecution against us, from various channels. Clearly, the devil is behind it. If Christ had overturned the tables of the moneychangers, today’s Pharisees, now bureaucrats and literalists, would imprison Him, demanding a health and safety review, a risk assessment and impose fines because Christ was not wearing a mask and standing two metres away. Such is the cunning and ongoing persecution of the Church today, conducted from behind the (transparent) screen of health and safety and political correctness and promoted by all those internal traitors and narcissists who always swim with the secular tide.

There are those in the governing elite who, having seen this virus and the zomby-isation of large parts of the population under relentless State propaganda, who are thinking of the next time and how much further they can go then. Unless there is repentance, this really is the beginning of the end.

Q: What should our attitude to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement be? I have heard that an Antiochian priest in America has excommunicated anyone who takes part in their demonstrations.

A: Obviously, we would never support violence, anarchy, law-breaking, looting etc or Marxists or LGBT activists who have jumped on the bandwagon in the USA. However, those are just the opportunist fringes, it is not what that movement is about. It is about restoring the human rights of all human-beings. All Lives Matter. I cannot see how anyone can be against that. As for some untrained and unintegrated crazy American convert, or rather semi-convert, from the conservative evangelicals, I think we can forget him. No priest has the right to excommunicate anyone.

Q: Why do many people look on different religions in such an unstable way, always changing just as they might change the brand of goods they buy in a shop?

A: That is the reflection of the secular approach, imported from the USA under the name of ‘globalisation’, that is, of American imperialism. Secular people think of themselves as consumers and of churches as different supermarkets. The most important thing for them is not the Truth (which alone sets free), but their own individual choice, like a consumer in a supermarket, choosing a brand which suits their own comfort. Secular society is founded on selfishness, on whatever makes you comfortable. On the other hand, the Truth does not make us comfortable, but challenges us to repentance, to change, making us free.

The traditional approach to faith is not in selfish, individual and temporary choice, in some passing fad, but in our roots in a place and in our shared values. This creates stability.

Q: How do we square St Paul’s statement that ‘man is the head of woman’ with modern values?

A: You mean squaring it with secular values? It is impossible. For Orthodox Christians, as in the universal Orthodox proverb: ‘Man is the head and woman is the neck’. Or to put it more poetically: The king rules the country, but the queen rules the king’s heart.

Q: If a homosexual is not actively homosexual, why should he not become a priest or a bishop?

A: The problem is that even a sexually inactive homosexual still has a homosexual psychology. This psychology combines the worst temptations of both men and women, the male weakness being pride, the desire for power and control, which creates backstabbing jealousy and bitchiness, the female weakness being vanity, which creates the love of money and luxury.

Jealousy comes when homosexual bishops see married priests who have everything they cannot have: a wife and children. Homosexual bishops then ordain boyfriends and persecute the married clergy, trying to obtain power over them. This compounds as gay mafias form and this corruption destroys. I knew just such a Greek archbishop, not to mention others. One of his ordinees, a former boyfriend, realised the depth of the corruption he was in and, in despair, turned to alcohol.

The love of luxury – and the need for money to fund this – also corrupts Church life. Whistleblowers are suspended or sidelined. Let us recall that the main reason why the practice of married bishops stopped was because married priests were passing on Church property to their children. Yet the same sort of corruption is now happening because of homosexual bishops, whose interest in amassing money is so that they can live in luxury. A real monk loves poverty and has no interest in villas, luxury cars, antiques, ‘beautiful objects’ etc.

The only solution is to make only real monks, those who have spent many years in a monastery first, bishops. Celibacy cannot be the main criterion to become a bishop. That just creates career opportunities for homosexuals.

Q: What do you think about how some papists have both male and female names? Is this, ironically, the root of contemporary gender confusion and widespread sexual sins (sodomy and all that follows)? Seems like seeing names like “Jose Maria” should tip everyone off that something is remarkably off, but I’ve never seen this addressed anywhere.

A: I don’t think we should read too much into this. The Latin tradition (Romanians keep it as well) is to have two names, the name you like first and then a second name, to whom the child is dedicated, especially the Virgin. For example, the Romanians will call a girl, say, Christelle, but she will be baptised Maria. I think this is purely cultural. There are lots of Romanian men called Marian, Marius etc.

But I do think that the current gender confusion comes from Catholicism/Protestantism, whose Puritanism (it is deeply anchored in both of them) suppressed sexual identity. The present satanic movement is a revolt against this.

Q: What Orthodox name would you suggest for someone called Roxana?

A: Alexandra.

Q: What is a spiritual father?

A: The term ‘spiritual father’ is vastly overused, all too often used by the psychologically disturbed and weak who want a guru. Already in nineteenth-century Russia spiritual writers said that there were no more spiritual fathers left. Its use in Western Europe today, where and when there are certainly no spiritual fathers left, indicates dependency and psychological strangeness. The term confessor is, however, worthy of spiritual maturity.

Q: What is the difference between academic theology and theology that comes from ascetic suffering?

A: An academic theologian knows but does not understand. A real theologian knows and understands.

Contemporary Life

Q: A priest told me that the greatest problem of the Church today is that we have no leadership. What do you think of that?

A: I would agree, but we must first be very careful to define the word ‘leadership’. Many think of it in a secular sense, that what we need is some bishop or patriarch who can manipulate the media, who is good at PR and soundbites. That is nonsense, that would be to fall into the same secularism as the current Roman popes. I am talking about those who have the authority of the Holy Spirit, who have spiritual presence, that is, apostolicity. And this is the problem today, the ‘shortage’ of the Holy Spirit in our leaders because real leadership is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, neither the fruit of academic and theoretical study, nor of the ability to manipulate journalists.

Q: Why are people suddenly talking about fake news nowadays?

A: Fake news is the result of the virtual, or fake, reality which is all around us. People are more and more living in a bubble world of fakery. This is the result of computer life, virtual life, the use of the imagination, which leads to spiritual emptiness. There is nothing more dangerous than living in the imagination. That is where the demons live.

Q: What do you think of the book ‘Being as Communion’ by Metr John Zizioulas.

A: This is philosophy, not the Gospel. I don’t even understand the title and I rather think the fishermen of Galilee would not have understood it either.

Q: Why do so many modern churches have such hideous architecture, made of great concrete blocks? Some of them look like gymnasiums or offices, but not like churches.

A: This is because those who built these monstrosities confused humility with bad taste. You can build beautiful buildings quite cheaply. Good taste is almost always cheaper than bad taste. You don’t need to use gold and marble (indeed perhaps those materials should be banned, though marble can be cheap if it comes from the local area). But also you don’t need to build eyesores. The whole point of Church Art (for some, of all Art) is to point to the sacred and transcendent, but using and so sanctifying human materials. Theologically, this represents the Incarnation. If the sense of the sacred is missing, then this is not a Church building, just a building of fallen humanity, without any presence of the Divine, as you say, an office or a gymnasium.

Western History

Q: What in your view is the essential difference between Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy?

A: If I may rephrase your question, the difference between Christianity and the Western deformations of Christianity is this:

Christianity is the faith in Christ the Life-Giver, as related in His triumph over Death in the Gospels, but the Western deviations are essentially a form of Gothic barbarianism with a Christian veneer. For example, the first, full-blown, anti-Orthodox form of Church architecture is known as Gothic, because it looks so barbarian. In the nineteenth century this dead style was revived and called ‘Gothic revival’ or ‘Neo-Gothic’ (the London Parliament was built in that style). In that century Dostoyevsky visited Western Europe and related that it was like visiting a cemetery, where dear friends had been buried. It was in the same century that the West became obsessed with reviving the dead, with novels like Frankenstein and Dracula and the concept of blood-sucking exploitation (Marx). Today the same obsession is there with the cult of death, with ‘Goths’, Hallowe’en, zombies and the undead. Having rejected the life in Christ, the Western world is haunted by death.

Q: When did it become normal for Catholics to kneel down to pray and hold up and fold their hands in prayer?

A: The position of feudal homage of the vassal began in the first half of the twelfth century. Until then it seems to have been unknown. It represents the feudalisation of Christianity in the West, its compromise with pagan culture, in the same way as the new ‘theology’ of Scholasticism represents the paganisation of Christian theology by Aristotelianism. This movement, beginning after 1050, later triumphed in the total repaganisation of the Renaissance with its largely pornographic art, painted by homosexuals like Michelangelo and those in Venice, and Caravaggio (probably also like many others in Florence a pedophile) or sex maniacs like Titian. No Christians ever did this or do this, though Protestants (and a few marginal Orthodox) imitate them.

Q: I find the Orthodox Church attractive, but it is all so disorganised. Surely that is wrong?

A: I have faith and live by faith. Faith comes from real spiritual (if you like ‘mystical’) experience. Therefore, quite naturally, one of the things that I dislike the most is religion. Religion is a fraud, a purely manmade manipulation used by the powers that be to control the masses. We can see this quite clearly in the Pharisees at the Temple in the time of Christ. We can see it in the elitist religion of Western Europe (Catholicism/Protestantism – it is all the same thing, the two sides of the same coin), which are designed to line up, make stand up and sit down, to order and to control. The more religion is organised or institutional, the worse it is. I therefore much prefer our Orthodox ‘disorganised religion’, that is to say, our faith, which is our spiritual belief made incarnate. Beware of organised, institutional religion, it is the practice of the scribes and the Pharisees (woe to them), atheists, careerists, bureaucrats with their paperwork and protocols, of those who have lost the faith – if they ever had it.