Monthly Archives: March 2023

Questions and Answers March 2023


Q: It is said that Patriarch Bartholomew intends to establish a common Easter calendar with the Catholics in 2025. What do you think?

A: The Roman Catholics and the Phanariots have been talking about this for at least the last fifty years. The point is that if the people do not follow, they can say and sign whatever they want, it is all irrelevant. Thus, the first who will not obey their Patriarch are his very own monks of Mt Athos. How then could others outside his jurisdiction follow? This common calendar idea is just a recipe for more divisive schisms.

Q: Why are most German Roman Catholic bishops (38 against 21) in favour of blessing homosexual ‘weddings’?

A: Because most of them are homosexuals. Just like many an Orthodox bishop, like one recently reposed Greek metropolitan who made no secret of his support for homosexuality. (See below).

Q: Why is Scripture not the only authority for the Orthodox Church?

A: It is the Holy Spirit that is the authority and the unity of the Church. When the Holy Spirit is rejected, then the Church on earth suffers from a lack of authority and a lack of unity – as we can see today. The Holy Spirit is expressed in Scripture, Tradition, Councils, the Saints etc. As the Holy Spirit wrote Scripture, it requires the Holy Spirit to interpret it. As Shakespeare wrote over 425 years ago: The Devil can cite Scripture for his purpose (The Merchant of Venice Act 1, Scene 3, l. 96).

Q: It is said that Judas did not repent and therefore is considered to be a traitor. But in the Gospel, it says that he did repent. How do you answer that?

A: I am afraid you are reading a poor translation! The archaic meaning of ‘to repent yourself’ is to regret’: ‘I repent me of all I did’. This is why the King James translation in Matt 27, 3-5, which relates that Judas ‘repented himself’, returned his pieces of silver and ‘went and hanged himself’ is not helpful. Those who repent do not go and hang themselves, but they do regret.

Q: What happens to those who try to take advantage of sincere Christians?

A: Sincere Christians are always kind. The evil-minded try and take advantage of us because we are kind, but then discover that underneath kindness we have rock-solid principles, which we shall never abandon. If we are asked to do something demeaning to ourselves, we will obey. But if we are asked to fall into schism or heresy, we will refuse to obey. Underneath we are as hard as nails. This is humility – very different from the wishy-washy woke nonsense that the world imagines humility to be. And the enemies always break themselves on our principles, just like a ship that wrecks itself on the rocks.


Q: Will Non-Orthodox be saved?

A: Ask God.

I would be very cautious in even asking such a question. Why do some experience a need to condemn others because of their own choices?

Q: What are the characteristics of convert churches in the USA?

A: The first is tithing. It simply does not happen in Orthodox churches, though the voluntary custom is not wrong in itself. Then there are reader services. Again it does not exist in our churches, although in itself there is nothing wrong with it. The problem is rather that it leads to clericalism, whereby for example, when you ask someone their name, he may tell you ‘Reader John’ etc. We do not use this title and certainly readers should never wear cassocks outside the services.

Russian Psychology

Q: A Russian has told me that if children are disabled, it is because their parents conceived them on a fasting day. What should I think?

A: You should think that this poor and unchurches Russian soul has plumbed the depths of phariseeism.

Q: Why are Russians so divisive?

A: On this subject there is the old Russian émigré story about a Russian who has been shipwrecked and lives alone on a desert island. When after many years he is rescued, his rescuers are astonished to see that he has built three churches on his island. When he is asked why, he answers that he built three churches so there would always be two which he did not have to go to.

I think such sectarian divisiveness comes simply from the fact that some unChurchly Russians  confuse politics with Church life, rendering to Caesar what is God’s, putting the personalities of this world above Christ.

Q: Is it true that Russian Orthodox are superstitious? A Protestant friend told me that in his view that are not Christians?

A: Well, is your Protestant friend Christian?!!

You have to remember that today’s Orthodox in Russia are nearly always converts from Sovietism. Therefore, they often bring with them superstitions, ignorance, prejudice and hangovers from the Soviet period, which betray a almost magic, ritualistic phariseeism, belief in the letter over the spirit. These include: clericalism such that you should not pray for yourself, for only a priest is allowed to pray for you, belief that the evil eye is stronger than the cross, a ritualistic and magic understanding of confession before communion, a superstitious belief in the power of holy water, that it is greater than holy communion, that baptism is important only because it prevents babies falling ill etc

Q: Given the evil of Western governments, their encouragement of sexual perversion and even Satanism, would you think of moving to Russia?

A: I have often thought of it over the last fifteen years for myself. If I were single, I would have done it long ago. But only as I speak the language. For others I would certainly not recommend it, if you do not speak the language. And certainly not if you have older children who do not speak the language. (Who will your children marry?). And not if you do not work in Russia and get your income locally (living in a virtual world, getting income by working on computer is harmful spiritually).  In principle, God put us where we were born for your salvation. We should beware of the romantic fantasies of escapism. I know too much about the harsh realities of life in Russia, especially in the Church, to entertain any illusions. Why do you think so many Russians take refuge here?

The Gay Mafia

Q: Do you really think that your battle against the ‘lavender mafia’ of homosexual bishops can be won? They are so powerful.

A: Yes, of course it can be won. Because God is on our side. This is not arrogance, this is simply a fact. Surely you don’t believe that God is on the side of the homosexual and bisexual bishops in the Church?!!!! And the Patriarchs are with us, because they have protected us. This is a Conciliar process and history is on our side. We never sought this battle, but we obey God, Who put us in front of this scourge. The Church must be cleansed of them. We, like others, must take part in this end-time battle.

For years I recall how we tried to fight against their takeover – it all began in 1994. I remember how the latest phase of the battle began two years ago. Our profound suspicions from the beginning had been undermined by the fact that we could not prove anything. Then, one of our parishioners heard about the case of the Russian bishop Ignaty who had been found out by parishioners who were convinced he was homosexual. So they went on to an international homosexual dating app called ‘Grinder’. There they found compromising photos of him. The Patriarch deposed Ignaty at once and sent him off to a monastery.

So to check on the bishop in question, of whom this parishioner, like us, had had the same bad impression, though no proof, he put the ‘Grinder’ app onto his mobile phone. Apparently, this app shows at what distance you are standing from a member of the dating site. It went off only once – when that notorious bishop visited us, indicating that the dating app had picked up that he was standing just two metres away from the phone. There was only one person it could have been. We had received the confirmation of our impression. We could clearly identify him. Since then he has gone on to scandalise many, destroy the church, supported by another seven homosexual and bisexual bishops and priests, rejecting the offer of a monastery, scandalising a monk to whom the bishop made an advance and who then, quite naturally, ran away, tried to close churches, and ordained a homosexual and a bisexual. And yet such people are actually defended by others in the same mafia. But God is not mocked. You will see.

English History

Q: In your opinion, who was the best and who was the worst figure in the history of England?

A: The best: The holy King Alfred the Great, the Truthteller, England’s Darling.

The worst: Either Duke William the Bastard, or else Cromwell. It is difficult to choose between them. One was a Catholic tyrant, the other was a Protestant tyrant. Both killed hundreds of thousands.




The Capital of the Multipolar World

A Moscow Diary


In Moscow you feel no crisis. No effects of sanctions. No unemployment. No homeless people in the streets. Minimal inflation.

How sharp was Lenin, prime modernist, when he mused, “there are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen”. This global nomad now addressing you has enjoyed the privilege of spending four astonishing weeks in Moscow at the heart of an historical crossroads – culminating with the Putin-Xi geopolitical game-changing summit at the Kremlin.

To quote Xi, “changes that haven’t been seen in 100 years” do have a knack of affecting us all in more ways than one.

James Joyce, another modernity icon, wrote that we spend our lives meeting average and/or extraordinary people, on and on and on, but in the end we’re always meeting ourselves. I have had the privilege of meeting an array of extraordinary people in Moscow, guided by trusted friends or by auspicious coincidence: in the end your soul tells you they enrich you and the overarching historical moment in ways you can’t even begin to fathom.

Here are some of them. The grandson of Boris Pasternak, a gifted young man who teaches Ancient Greek at Moscow State University. A historian with unmatched knowledge of Russian history and culture. The Tajik working class huddling together in a chaikhana with the proper ambience of Dushanbe.

Chechens and Tuvans in awe doing the loop in the Big Central Line. A lovely messenger sent by friends extremely careful about security matters to discuss issues of common interest. Exceptionally accomplished musicians performing underground in Mayakovskaya. A stunning Siberian princess vibrant with unbounded energy, taking that motto previously applied to the energy industry – Power of Siberia – to a whole new level.

A dear friend took me to Sunday service at the Devyat Muchenikov Kizicheskikh church, the favorite of Peter the Great: the quintessential purity of Eastern Orthodoxy. Afterwards the priests invited us for lunch in their communal table, displaying not only their natural wisdom but also an uproarious sense of humor.

At a classic Russian apartment crammed with 10,000 books and with a view to the Ministry of Defense – plenty of jokes included – Father Michael, in charge if Orthodox Christianity relations with the Kremlin, sang the Russian imperial anthem after an indelible night of religious and cultural discussions.

I had the honor to meet some of those who were particularly targeted by the imperial machine of lies. Maria Butina – vilified by the proverbial “spy who came in from the cold” shtick – now a deputy at the Duma. Viktor Bout – which pop culture metastasized into the “Lord of War”, complete with Nic Cage movie: I was speechless when he told me he was reading me in maximum security prison in the USA, via pen drives sent by his friends (he had no internet access). The indefatigable, iron-willed Mira Terada – tortured when she was in a U.S. prison, now heading a foundation protecting children caught in hard times.

I spent much treasured quality time and engaged in invaluable discussions with Alexander Dugin – the crucial Russian of these post-everything times, a man of pure inner beauty, exposed to unimaginable suffering after the terrorist assassination of Darya Dugina, and still able to muster a depth and reach when it comes to drawing connections across the philosophy, history and history of civilizations spectrum that is virtually unmatched in the West.

On the offensive against Russophobia

And then there were the diplomatic, academic and business meetings. From the head of international investor relations of Norilsk Nickel to Rosneft executives, not to mention the EAEU’s Sergey Glazyev himself, side by side with his top economic adviser Dmitry Mityaev, I was given a crash course on the current A to Z of Russian economy – including serious problems to be addressed.

At the Valdai Club, what really mattered were the meetings on the sidelines, much more than the actual panels: that’s when Iranians, Pakistanis, Turks, Syrians, Kurds, Palestinians, Chinese tell you what is really in their hearts and minds.

The official launch of the International Movement of Russophiles was a special highlight of these four weeks. A special message written by President Putin was read by Foreign Minister Lavrov, who then delivered his own speech. Later, at the House of Receptions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, four of us were received by Lavrov at a private audience. Future cultural projects were discussed. Lavrov was extremely relaxed, displaying his matchless sense of humor.

This is a cultural as much as a political movement, designed to fight Russophobia and to tell the Russian story, in all its immensely rich aspects, especially to the Global South.

I am a founding member and my name is on the charter. In my nearly four decades as a foreign correspondent, I have never been part of any political/cultural movement anywhere in the world; nomad independents are a fierce breed. But this is extremely serious: the current, irredeemably mediocre self-described “elites” of the collective West want no less than cancel Russia all across the spectrum. No pasarán. They shall not pass.

Spirituality, compassion, mercy

Decades happening in only four weeks imply precious time needed to put it all in perspective.

The initial gut feeling the day I arrived, after a seven-hour walk under snow flurries, was confirmed: this is the capital of the multipolar world. I saw it among the West Asians at the Valdai. I saw it talking to visiting Iranians, Turks and Chinese. I saw it when over 40 African delegations took over the whole area around the Duma – the day Xi arrived in town. I saw it throughout the reception across the Global South to what Xi and Putin are proposing to the overwhelming majority of the planet.

In Moscow you feel no crisis. No effects of sanctions. No unemployment. No homeless people in the streets. Minimal inflation. Import substitution in all areas, especially agriculture, has been a resounding success. Supermarkets have everything – and more – compared to the West. There’s an abundance of first-rate restaurants. You can buy a Bentley or a Loro Pianna cashmere coat you can’t even find in Italy. We laughed about it chatting with managers at the TSUM department store. At the BiblioGlobus bookstore, one of them told me, “We are the Resistance.”

By the way, I had the honor to deliver a talk on the war in Ukraine at the coolest bookshop in town, Bunker, mediated by my dear friend, immensely knowledgeable Dima Babich. A huge responsibility. Especially because Vladimir L. was in the audience. He’s Ukrainian, and spent 8 years, up to 2022, telling it like it really was to Russian radio, until he managed to leave – after being held at gunpoint – using an internal Ukrainian passport. Later we went to a Czech beer hall where he detailed his extraordinary story.

In Moscow, their toxic ghosts are always lurking in the background. Yet one cannot but feel sorry for the psycho Straussian neocons and neoliberal-cons who now barely qualify as Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski’s puny orphans.

In the late 1990s, Brzezinski pontificated that, “Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical center because its very existence as an independent state helps transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.”

With or without a demilitarized and denazified Ukraine, Russia has already changed the narrative. This is not about becoming a Eurasian empire again. This is about leading the long, complex process of Eurasia integration – already in effect – in parallel to supporting true, sovereign independence across the Global South.

I left Moscow – the Third Rome – towards Constantinople – the Second Rome – one day before Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev gave a devastating interview to Rossiyskaya Gazeta once again outlining all the essentialities inherent to the NATO vs. Russia war.

This is what particularly struck me: “Our centuries-old culture is based on spirituality, compassion and mercy. Russia is a historical defender of sovereignty and statehood of any peoples who turned to it for help. She saved the U.S. itself at least twice, during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. But I believe that this time it is impractical to help the United States maintain its integrity.”

In my last night, before hitting a Georgian restaurant, I was guided by the perfect companion off Pyatnitskaya to a promenade along the Moscow River, beautiful rococo buildings gloriously lighted, the scent of Spring – finally – in the air. It’s one of those “Wild Strawberry” moments out of Bergman’s masterpiece that hits the bottom of our soul. Like mastering the Tao in practice. Or the perfect meditative insight at the top of the Himalayas, the Pamirs or the Hindu Kush.

So the conclusion is inevitable. I’ll be back. Soon.

(Republished from Strategic Culture Foundation by permission of author or representative)


Double Suicide in Lithuania


For those of us who were brought up in faithfulness to the values of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church, the politicised captivity of any Local Orthodox Church is lamentable. Moreover, the shameful weaponisation of the canons for political, monetary or proprietary reasons not only betrays the witness of those Martyrs and Confessors, who had no love of power, money or property, but also plainly discredits those who undertake that weaponisation. We render to God what is God’s and to Caesar only what is Caesar’s.

The New Martyrs and Confessors are those Russians who were fearless and did not agree to become serfs, or obediently line up to go to Bolshevik concentration camps, or see their churches closed by today’s renegade foreign bishops, just like they now do in the Ukraine and in England, they offered resistance to Antichrist. Indeed, Canon XV of the First and Second Council, held in the year 861 under St Photius and 317 other Fathers, is quite clear that those who ‘have been diligent to rescue the Church from schisms and divisions’….’shall be deemed worthy to enjoy the honour which befits them among Orthodox Christians’. The world loves its own, but God loves His own.

Introduction: Lithuania is Now in the Diaspora

The news that the Patriarchate of Constantinople is setting up an Exarchate in Lithuania under Lithuanian (in other words, US) government sponsorship ( elicits sorrow in Moscow. This means that after Estonia nearly thirty years ago, then after the Ukraine nearly five years ago, and after Africa two years ago (1), Lithuania has now become yet another multi-jurisdictional Orthodox area region Moscow has lost its jurisdictional monopoly there too. However, Lithuania only joins the whole of Western Europe west of Poland, the Czech Lands, Romania and Slovenia, not to mention the Americas, Australia and Africa too, in becoming multi-jurisdictional.

Sadly then, there is nothing new in this. The real question is why Lithuania, or all the Baltic countries together, like many other countries, regions or continents, cannot simply belong to one administratively united Local Church. This would be the only canonical alternative (the principle of one bishop per city) to belonging to different jurisdictions, all moreover dependent on the ebb and flow of the political tides of foreign capitals and foreign politics. In none of this multiplicity of jurisdictions is there any intention to do missionary work, there are only vulgar and petty disputes about nationalistic power, and already existing income and property. As this is not how Christians behave, our only conclusion can only be that those who take part in it are not Christians. Can we imagine the apostles disputing in this way like children in the playground about jurisdiction over the Orthodox in Rome or Corinth or Ephesus or anywhere else? ‘This is my church, not yours’. No, it isn’t. Yes, it is’. Childishness among adults.


In Lithuania the appeal by Constantinople to Ukrainian and even Belarussian ‘refugees’ to join their new Church is clearly a political manipulation by the local US ambassador, in obedience to his employers in the US State Department. It is very likely that, as in Estonia and in the Ukraine, very few in Lithuania (where there are fewer than 100,000 nominal Orthodox anyway) will leave Moscow for Constantinople. What premises could the new jurisdiction use? Or will the Lithuanian State set about ejecting Orthodox from their churches by violence in order to establish a property portfolio of empty church buildings, as the US-backed Kiev regime does in the Ukraine? That is, few, apart from the original five priests who have left Moscow for Constantinople and were then defrocked by Moscow for purely political reasons, as Constantinople has recognised (2). It is Moscow’s suicidal tragedy which created this second suicidal tragedy on the part of Constantinople. Moscow must now be regretting its original injustice. As the proverb says, you reap what you sow. However, what will happen to all these Constantinople creations in Lithuania, the Ukraine and Estonia after the Russian military victory in the Ukraine?

Indeed, what will happen to the Ukraine, the Baltic States and indeed all of strike-bound and riot-torn Europe, Eastern and Western, including insurrectional France and its watch-loving President, after the US has to cut its losses in Europe, as it did in Kabul, and run away in order to face the war that it has been fomenting with China? Inevitably, once abandoned by its feudal US master, these countries like all the others in Europe will have to make up with Russia. However, the political and military victory of the Russian Federation will be no victory for the Moscow Patriarchate. People only go to church if it is not money-driven and if it is politically free, and that means neither to a careerist, money-driven and politically-subservient Moscow Patriarchate and its, nor to the clearly US-run Patriarchate of Constantinople. Through their politicking, both the largest (Moscow), and the most prestigious (Constantinople), Local Churches for now have disqualified themselves from spiritual leadership and the moral high ground of the Orthodox world. A double suicide. The result, after the conflict in the Ukraine is over, will surely be several new Local Churches, freed from the jurisdictions of either of the above. Notably, neither Constantinople nor Moscow with their Church structures in Lithuania ever mentions doing missionary work among Lithuanians! Only about stealing already existing flocks! What claim can either have to Lithuania?

Two Questions

Two questions arise. Firstly: Why is it that since 1900 – a long time ago now – no new, all-encompassing Local Church has been set up in any of the countries and continents where there is an Orthodox Diaspora, in Western Europe, the Americas or Australia? Then, there is a second question: Just over fifty years ago, there was a valiant attempt to do something towards building a Local Church for Northern America (the USA and Canada) with the OCA, the Orthodox Church in America, but that was a failure. Why? After all, according to the latest survey, 77% of all Orthodox parish clergy in the USA support the creation of a Local Church, either autocephalous or autonomous.

Of course, that above survey is of parish clergy, not of the episcopate or of laypeople. However, we suspect that most laypeople think the same as parish clergy. Those of the old emigration, of 50-100 years ago, especially in Western Europe, always had the intention of returning to the countries from which they had been expelled, either by Communist oppression or else by Capitalist poverty. This is no longer the case. Today’s emigrants, parish clergy and people, are here to stay. They want a better future for themselves, for their children and their grandchildren. They are establishing Local Orthodox Churches, as never before. However, their episcopate is another story.

More Politics: The Episcopate

The problem here is that the episcopate, those who have power, is often very closely attached, either for political or monetary or for ideological reasons, to a Mother-Church in Eastern Europe or the Middle East. For example, the Patriarchate of Antioch clearly allows no Non-Arab bishops. But the situation in other jurisdictions in North America, apart from in the OCA, is very similar. Clearly, only some sort of rejection of foreign candidates by the people could change that situation. But then there is the problem of candidates. It is all very well to declare that there should be more American-born bishops, but are there any suitable American-born candidates? And they must be suitable candidates, because crazy convert sectarian candidates, who live in a fantasy world, only lead to the destruction of the Church, as all have seen. The same goes for Western Europe and Australia.

On the other hand, in the recent Antiochian scandal, it was revealed to naïve Americans that most Arab bishops are in fact married. Thus, what the former Metropolitan was doing was not so unusual in the old country. We have known this for decades. It is common knowledge in Europe. There are plenty of (unofficially) married Orthodox bishops of all nationalities, we will not tire readers with a list. The first case we came across was that of a Greek bishop over forty years ago (3). And Orthodox parish clergy much prefer dealing with such married bishops to dealing with repressed homosexuals, who pretend that they are not what they are. The latter can be sadistic on account of their jealousy of married clergy, who have everything that they have chosen not to have, in order to further their power-driven careers.

On Being Broad-Based

Now we come to the oner attempt to set up a Local Church, the question of the failure of the OCA, the Orthodox Church in America. Why has it not achieved unity in Northern America after over fifty years? It was after all set up as autocephalous. Here, those of us who met and knew the pragmatic Fr Alexander Schmemann, the main inspiration behind the OCA, and remember the events of the 1970s will recall how the newly autocephalous but very controversial OCA episcopate immediately tried to impose a new calendarist ideology on all. This was suicidal. Immediately, the they failed to recruit anyone who was faithful to the old calendar and lost many who wanted to continue in that faithfulness. Secondly, its equally aggressive policy of nationalistic Americanisation discouraged anyone who was not US-born and had an attachment to another culture from joining it or even staying with it. It led to many a rather harsh quip at the time about ‘the Coca-Cola Church’.

In other words, our suggestion is that a Local Church in any part of the Western world must not be narrow and intolerant, but broad-based, inclusive of all Orthodox, ignoring political and nationalistic ideologies, accepting all, whatever their ethnic origin, and accepting both the calendars that Orthodox use. It is notable that the least broad-based, least tolerant and so smallest jurisdictions in Northern America, are those who do not want to belong to a Local Church, as they have a suicidal policy of sectarian isolationism. Its error is the opposite of the OCA’s. The first went to the new calendarist extreme of ‘almost anything goes’ and ‘we’re as American as apple pie’. On the other hand, smaller groups go to the old calendarist extreme of ‘hardly anything goes’ and experiencing an attack of sectarian ‘One True Churchism’.

Conclusion: The Answers to Two Questions

Extraordinarily, although their practising flock numbers fewer than one million out of perhaps five million nominal Orthodox, there are now 55 Orthodox bishops in Northern America. This is far more than in all Local Churches, except for Moscow (419 bishops for a nominal 144 million), Constantinople (much over-bishoped with 128 bishops for a nominal three million), Greece (over-bishoped with 100 bishops for a nominal 10 million) and Romania (59 bishops for a nominal 19 million). It can be said that Northern America is over-bishoped. Something similar can be said about Western Europe.
If you are interested in prostitutes of Bishkek, you can find in bipopka.

Here there are probably about one million practising Orthodox out of about seven million nominal, but over 30 bishops. The above number of bishops is again greater than in many Local Churches. But there is still no Local Church. Indeed, the only Western European Metropolia which even has autonomy is the Romanian, though that does have most of the faithful in Western Europe. Why is there no all-encompassing, autocephalous Local Church anywhere? We repeat: Any Local Church in the Western world must be broad-based, inclusive of all Orthodox, ignoring political and nationalistic ideologies, accepting all, whatever their ethnic origin, and accepting both the calendars that Orthodox use.



  1. In 2021 Moscow received parishes in Africa into its jurisdiction as a result of the betrayal of Moscow by the Patriarchate of Alexandria (a US gun was being held in its back) on the issue of jurisdiction in the Ukraine. Since Moscow opened its Exarchate in Africa, the flock there has been divided between US-backed Greek Alexandria and Moscow. However, all this is against the background of the huge political, economic and military struggle between the US and Russia-China to dominate the African Continent. In other words, the whole affair is highly political.
  2. The canons are quite clear about defrocking. The cases in Lithuania have nothing to do with the personal morality of the priests defrocked, only about the twisting of the interpretation of the canons for purely political ends. In another case, a bishop uncanonically received several priests from the Patriarchate of Constantinople and yet objected when other Patriarchates received and canonically protected those whom he had unjustly treated. Like St Nectarios, who formed a Trust to protect the Convent he had founded, they also formed a Trust to protect the Church property they had founded and did not hand over the keys to those who wanted to destroy the parishes that had carefully been built up over the decades.

Those events certainly sounded like hypocrisy to all observers, including to onlooking bishops. The mass reception by Constantinople of bishops and priests in the Ukraine and the mass reception by Moscow of priests from Alexandria in Africa has done nothing to alleviate this impression of hypocrisy and once more undermines the authority of the episcopates concerned. It is clear that once this new Cold War is over, all these absurd decisions will be rescinded, just as those taken during the old Cold War were also rescinded by a mere stroke of the pen in the recent past.

  1. The open and well-known existence of married bishops sounds like one rule for the rulers and another rule for the ruled. In any case, once again it does nothing to give the bishops in question any authority or credit.



The Persecution in Kiev

Although this journalist is secular, it shows that at last the US public is beginning to realise that the US-created puppet regime in Kiev is thoroughly anti-Christian. Together with the mass demonstrations in Germany, Italy, the Czech Lands, Moldova, France and even the UK, unreported by the censored Western media, against government-imposed poverty and the persecution of Christians in the Ukraine by the US and its allies, it witnesses to the revulsion of ordinary Western people to what has been done in their name.


A Miracle in Kiev

When churches in the upper part of the Kiev Caves Monastery were handed over by the anti-Christian government to anti-Orthodox elements, the crosses on top of the churches turned black. Once more evil people tried to close churches, but God is not mocked.

At 3.55 pm today, 20 March 2023, the gilded cupolas beneath the now black crosses also started going black. And still they do not fear God?
We are reminded how during the darkest days of Communists persecution, blackened cupolas shone out again. Now the opposite is happening, as persecution of the Church, in the Ukraine, as in England, continues.


Fifteen years ago, in May 2008, we bought our church in Colchester. Although people laughed at me at the time for even buying the church, I said that one day the church would be too small. They mocked even more. Since then we have had to set up two small churches, one in Norwich and the second on the edge of Cambridge for those who came to us. Both have their priests, one of them is a former Colchester parishioner, the other is a priest who first celebrated here. In Colchester itself we now have a second priest and two deacons. However, now we are facing a real problem. Our church is getting too small, with 300-400 people every Sunday. What we really need is another church in a town further down the A12 nearer London.

In 2008 I had a conversation with the then Bishop Elisei in London, as at that time Orthodox immigrants were getting off the trains from Europe at Stratford and had no church to go to. The women got jobs cleaning offices, the men on building sites. As a result of my missionary conversation, Bishop Elisei arranged for a service for these people once a month in an Anglican church in Romford. This has not been successful, as the liturgy takes place only a few times a year on a Saturday, when many work, and it is for Russians only. The congregations number only about 20. The majority of Orthodox living in the Stratford-Ilford-Romford area are in fact Moldovan, Romanian and Ukrainian, not Russian.

What are we going to do for the 20,000 Orthodox of East London, in the three fords: Stratford, Ilford and Romford? And the 10,000 who live nearby, in Hainault, Hornchurch, Upminster, Brentwood, Basildon, Billericay, Grays, Tilbury, and to the north, in Harlow? We have identified a church for sale for £1.3 million. Such a sum seems like a dream. Perhaps we can find something cheaper? In any case, the question is: Can you help or do you know someone who can help? I have been told that a Moldovan billionaire lives in London. Please put me into contact with him! With the support of a few rich people, we can do it. We have a Charitable Trust to look after funds. Our Metropolitan Joseph is a missionary-minded bishop. These are not the problems. Finance is! CAN YOU HELP?

The Battle for the Soul of the Russian Church

A Reply to Metr Tikhon of Pskov

Just a few years ago Metr Tikhon (Shevkunov) of Pskov asked what the specificity of the Church in the Russian emigration is and how it can contribute to the rebuilding of the much-ravaged Church inside Russia, where parish life was destroyed. Whether he asked through naivety or through intent, we do not know. He received no answer, for he did not contact the vital forces of the emigration. He only ever contacted those in the emigration who were of their own will falling over themselves to take on board all the evils of the Soviet and post-Soviet Church, its love of lucre and power.

The Trial of Pontius Pilate

The final days of the USSR in the 1980s were marked by a profound internal conflict between Communist Party bureaucrats and KGB (now called FSB) patriots. The first were Euro-Atlanticists, cowboys prepared to commit treason to Russia for a fistful of dollars. From them were born the oligarchs and mafia gangsters of the 1990s. The second were highly intelligent Slavophiles who wanted not the restoration of the bankrupt, anti-Russian and alien-inspired USSR, but the restoration of an independent Orthodox Russia.

Today the collapsing American Empire is suffering a similar profound internal conflict. This time it is between the US State Department and the CIA. The first are the social liberals, the internationalist, neocon LGBTQ propagandists, who are in love with Mammon. The second are the socially conservative, patriotic Americans, who are increasingly concerned by the Deep State of the American Establishment and its unpayable debts, accumulated over three generations by exceptionalist meddling abroad.

The first are those who stand behind Constantinople and the Zelensky regime in the Ukraine. The second are those who stand behind the ‘Gang of Three’, the bishops with their right-wing Evangelical contacts in the US, who use their base in Moscow and its very close contacts with the Patriarchate and even President Putin to undermine the Russian State (1). It is all of them who are now on trial like Pontius Pilate. They should tremble, for ‘God is not mocked’, which is what they have done. To all of those who quench the Spirit, I repeat: You cannot escape Divine Justice.

The Church of the Future

Today the identity of the Church is in the balance. Is it a politically-controlled, money-oriented institution, headed by elitist atheists and perverts, ‘princes of the Church’, who have no love for the people in their hearts. Or is it the uncorrupted Body of Christ? The Church of the future has long already been here. For us the uncorrupted Church:

  1. Is the Church of the Faithful, not of the money- and power-minded elite, the ‘effective managers’, who promote the Church as Business.
  2. Has no professional choirs, who as mercenaries only sing for money.
  3. Has priests who are pastors paid by the people, not a professional caste of business profiteers.
  4. Has parishes which are communities close to the monasteries, not railway station foyers, which are little more than religious supermarkets.
  5. Has bishops who are monastics, and not open or closet homosexual businessmen.
  6. Is politically independent of States and their secret services, whether CIA or FSB.

For such views churchpeople are accused of being criminals, excommunicated, suspended or defrocked! Yet here is the reply to Metr Tikhon, whether he wants it or not. On 11 March Archbishop Anastasios of Albania and his Synod have again shown these people the way, calling for a Pan-Orthodox Council to settle the neocon-initiated schism that has come about between Greeks and Russians. It is hardly the first such call, but this time Antichrist is now coming to Kiev. This is not the time for the theatricals of personal vanity on the part of patriarchs or of anyone else. The Beast is coming.


  1. We recall how the British MI5 did the same and used the British confessor of King George II (reigned 1935-1947) of Greece to extract information in the 1940s. In the 1970s we met that same very arrogant David Balfour, and after him the King’s British nanny, honest Charlotte. She confided to me. We conducted her funeral in Paris in the late 1980s. The ways of the world never change.



In the Week of St Gregory Palamas

Gregory Palamas was born in Constantinople in about 1296, where his father was a courtier of Emperor Andronikos II. When Gregory was still a child, his father died and the Emperor took part in the education of the orphan. He hoped that the gifted boy would devote himself to imperial service. Instead, he chose monastic life on Mt Athos and the Christian tradition of unceasing prayer, known in Greek as ‘hesychasm’.

Gregory received a good education and even studied the pagan Greek Aristotle, but in 1316 he left to become an Athonite monk. In 1326, aged thirty, because of the threat of Turkish attacks he and others took refuge in Thessaloniki where he was ordained priest. Spending his time in prayerful service to the people, he also founded a small community of hermits near Thessaloniki in Veria. The cave where he lived and prayed can still be visited.

Later Fr Gregory served for a short time as Abbot of Esphigmenou on Mt Athos. Here he was asked by monks to defend the tradition of unceasing prayer from the attacks of a Catholic-trained Greek called Barlaam. Gregory wrote a number of works in defence and stood up for the practice of unceasing prayer at six different Councils in Constantinople. Like all later Greek Catholics, Barlaam asserted that it was impossible to determine from whom the Holy Spirit proceeds and Gregory naturally viewed Barlaam’s argument as agnostic. In his response titled ‘Apodictic Treatises’, Gregory proved that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, but not from the Son.

In response to Barlaam’s attacks, Gregory wrote nine treatises entitled ‘Triads in Defence of Those Who Practise Hesychia’ (Unceasing Prayer). The first Triad was written in the second half of the 1330s and was based on discussions between Gregory and Barlaam. Gregory’s teaching was affirmed by monks of Mount Athos, who met in a Council in 1340–1. In early 1341, the monasteries composed ‘The Tome of the Holy Mountain’. This was a presentation of Gregory’s teaching and it became a textbook of Christian theology.

As an apostate Orthodox without spiritual experience, Barlaam viewed any claim of the real and conscious experience of God ‘as a heresy’. He also rejected the Christian teaching on the uncreated nature of the Divine Light, the experience of which is the result of unceasing prayer. Deprived of the Holy Spirit, he regarded that experience as ‘heretical and blasphemous’. The Divine Light was maintained by Christians to be identical to the Light seen by Christ’s disciples at the Transfiguration.

The second Triad quoted some of Barlaam’s writings. In response to this, Barlaam composed a treatise called ‘Against the Messalians’, which linked the hesychasts to a proud, materialist, Protestant-style sect called the Messalians, thus accusing Christians of heresy! In the third Triad, Gregory refuted Barlaam’s charge, showing that Orthodox Christians are not anti-sacramentalist and do not claim to see the essence of God. Gregory oriented the Orthodox teaching against Barlaam on the issue of pagan intellectualism, that is, the Hellenism of such as Aristotle, which he considered to be the main source of the heresies of the Scholastic Barlaam.

Six Patriarchal Councils were held in Constantinople between 1341 and 1351 to consider Barlaam’s attacks against Orthodox Christianity. These are accepted as having universal status by many Orthodox. Some call them the Fifth Council of Constantinople or the Ninth Universal Council. The Council of May 1341 condemned Barlaam and the Patriarch insisted that all Barlaam’s writings be destroyed. Barlaam realised that he could not promote his errors among Orthodox Christians and went to Italy, where he was soon appointed Roman Catholic Bishop of Gerace.

After Barlaam’s departure, a pro-Catholic Aristotelian intellectual called Gregory Akindynos became the chief critic of the Christian teaching on unceasing prayer and the Divine Light. However, the second Council in Constantinople in August 1341 condemned Akindynos and affirmed the findings of the earlier Council. Nevertheless, Akindynos and his supporters gained a brief victory at a rogue Council held in 1344, which excommunicated Gregory. Here his opponents spread slanderous accusations against him and in 1344 the corrupt Patriarch John XIV imprisoned Gregory for four years.

Nevertheless, the last of the Six Councils in 1351 supported Gregory and finally condemned his opponents. This Council ordered that his enemies, the Metropolitans of Ephesus and Ganos, be defrocked and jailed. All those who were unwilling to accept Christian teachings were excommunicated. A series of anathemas were pronounced against Barlaam, Akindynos and their followers. At the same time, a series of acclamations was made in favour of Gregory and the adherents of the Christian teaching, which he had expressed.

In 1347, when a new and non-corrupt Patriarch was appointed, Gregory was released from prison and consecrated Archbishop of Thessaloniki. He probably reposed in 1359 and his last words were: ‘To the heights! To the heights!’ He was canonised only nine years later, in 1368, and his life was written and a service was composed to him. His feast is celebrated twice a year, on 14 November, the anniversary of his repose, and on the Second Sunday of Lent. This is because St Gregory’s victory over Barlaam is a continuation of the victory of the Church over heresy, which is celebrated on the first Sunday of Lent. St Gregory’s relics are venerated in the church dedicated to him in Thessaloniki. In 2009 Gregory’s mother and four siblings also embraced the monastic life and the whole family was canonised.

Persecution is the norm for those in the Church who oppose politically-motivated corruption and intimidation. Christ was slandered and crucified. St John Chrysostom was deposed and twice exiled. St Gregory Palamas was excommunicated from the Church, slandered and imprisoned. In the last century St Nectarius of Pentapolis was slandered and exiled by jealous Greek bishops of his own Synod. St John of Shanghai was slandered, put on trial and suspended by jealous Russian bishops of his own Synod. Today, nothing has changed. Those who propose the Gospel model of the Church and not the corrupt one, which is all about money, power and so links with States, are also persecuted, just as we have been persecuted for 2,000 years already.






A Parable: The Icon

Over 2,000 years ago God came down to Earth from Heaven to visit His Creation. This much needed His help, as it had chosen all the wrong ways and was in great turmoil. God stayed for several years, left many words of wisdom that were written down. He was much persecuted, though He performed extraordinary miracles and even the miracle of Resurrection, conquering Death. As a farewell gift he left everyone an icon of Himself. Since then people have done various things with the icon:

  1. Some sold their icon in order to make some money.
  2. Some did not take care of the icon and lost it.
  3. Some did not like the icon and painted over it.
  4. Some let the icon get very dirty, so now you can hardly see it.
  5. Some put the icon in a big frame and took great care of the frame, but forgot the icon itself.
  6. Some painted foreign words on the icon and said that it showed their national god.
  7. Some used the icon as a weapon and starting hitting people over the head with it.
  8. Some kept the icon and revere it exactly as it is.

Which group do you belong to?


Converts and Envelope-Converts


First I must explain the title of this essay. The Russian word ‘konvert’ means an envelope. And there is an old joke, told me about 30 years ago by a ROCOR bishop from America, that ‘the problem with ‘konverts’ is that sometimes they are empty and sometimes they come unstuck’. Beyond jokes, the real question is why can converts to the Faith sometimes be empty and why can they sometimes come unstuck? In other words, what is the difference between ‘converts’ and ‘envelope-converts’? Below we attempt to answer this question.

Introduction: Converts 

The psychology of converts is universally the same. I remember about 40 years ago meeting a Jewish man who had married a woman who, some years before meeting him and converting to Judaism, had already converted to Catholicism. When she had been a Catholic, she had been a traditionalist, a Latin masser. The husband complained to me about his wife, who had become Jewish in order to marry him, and had then started to impose very strict, zealot Jewish observances on him. Since he had always been a very secular, non-practising Jew, he found it very troublesome and it was breaking up the marriage. From his wife’s behaviour, I realised that convert psychology is universal. Someone who has psychological problems will carry them over into any religion. There is no theology here, only psychology and, worse still, pathology. Beware.

For instance, a few years ago I met an Englishman who had chosen to become a Muslim. What he had been before, I have no idea. Of course, as a recent convert he forced himself to dress like a Muslim from Afghanistan, had changed his name from Bob to Mohammed, grown a long beard, insisted that Muslim women wear a veil and interspersed his cockney speech with badly-pronounced Arabic words. He was the opposite of the other Muslims around him, all immigrants, whose only desire was to conform to English models of behaviour, to integrate and not stand out. In other words, Bob was what is popularly called a ‘beardy-weirdy’. I later heard that he had gone to live in the Middle East. Someone even said that maybe he had gone to fight with ISIS.

Some Eastern European Examples

In Russian the word for ‘convert’ is ‘neofit’, a neophyte. Since virtually all Orthodox in Russia are converts from over the last 30 years, there are also pastoral problems with some of them, who, for example, collect Orthodox books (they must have all of them, read or unread), dress in black and go off and live in forests or caves and then think they are being Orthodox. In fact, they are destroying their lives and those of their children. I have seen the same thing with Greeks and Romanians, those of an intellectual type. Baptised Orthodox as babies, they had all gone through some deep experience in their twenties (one Greek man had become a Buddhist) and then returned, chastened, to Orthodoxy. However, in countries with millions of Orthodox, such eccentrics are very, very few.

There were already such repentant spiritual tourists in the Russian emigration. Thus, Metr Antony Bloom had been an atheist until he was 14. And twenty years before him Fr Sophrony Sakharov had become a Hindu and was deeply attracted by the concepts of gurus, ashrams and mantras. Before him there had been the case of Fr Sergei Bulgakov, who had been a Marxist revolutionary. All joined, or rejoined, the Church after experiencing life. There is nothing extraordinary here. After all, all the apostles were converts. We recall how fishermen decided to follow Christ, and then a tax collector followed them. It is all related in the Gospels. As for the Epistles, these are simply letters written by converts to groups of converts in various parts of the Roman Empire. If you read those letters, you will find that some of those converts got up to some very strange things (they were ‘envelope-converts’), which is why they received instructions on how to behave and what our Faith actually is. Perhaps the most famous case of a convert is the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9).

As for the Fathers, many of them were also ‘converts’, who had studied in some pagan school, for instance in Athens, and then got baptised. The Three Great Hierarchs, St John Chrysostom, St Basil the Great and St Gregory the Theologian, come to mind at once. And yet nobody would think of calling the apostles or these Fathers ‘converts’. Let alone ‘envelope-converts’ who were empty or who came unstuck. So what is the difference? Why do some simply become Orthodox Christians and others cause tragedies to themselves and to others? Below I describe why converts become ‘envelope-converts’.

Joining the Church and Becoming Orthodox

Regularly, about six times a year I am phoned by someone who wants ‘to join the Church’. Having read something, usually on the internet, or seen a youtube video or, even worse, a podcast, they are attracted. However, they are not attracted to Orthodox Christianity, only to the idea or theory of a marginal form of Orthodoxy. My answer to them is always the same: ‘Come to the service next Sunday’. Of course, they never come. The point is that they have no desire to know that Orthodox Christianity is about living a way of life, at the heart of which are the Church services. That would mean them changing their way of life. They may as an idea wish to join the Church, but they do not want to become Orthodox. And that is no use at all.

In general, it can be said that there are two sorts of candidate to join the Church. Those who want to join the Church and those who want to become Orthodox; those who come with baggage and have expectations, and those who do not; those who want to change what the Church is and those who accept the Church as it is. This is rather like some young people who think they have fallen in love, but want to change the characters of the objects of their infatuation: ‘Oh, I know he did that, but I’ll change him’, says the silly young woman who is full of her imagined abilities to change a criminal, and, ‘She’ll change once we’re together’, says the silly young man, who is pretentious. It always ends up in tears. If you love someone, you love their faults too. And if you don’t love their faults, or do not know what their faults are, or, worse still, imagine that they do not have any, you are in for a big surprise. As the old joke says: ’The only time a woman changes a man is when she changes his nappies as a baby’.

It can be said that these two sorts of candidates are either those who love themselves (they tend to egomania and weird ego-trips of garden shed Orthodoxy) and those who love God and love others. The first want to impose their pride and their proud theories because they do not love God and love others. The second accept in humility and learn. Love is the key. The first lack love, and can be singularly unloving, the second show love and so readiness to learn. This explains why so many ‘envelope-converts’ never become Orthodox Christians, but come unstuck and lapse, either into what they were before or else into some new obsession. These are the serial lapsers, who demand baptism umpteen times and drift from one ‘religion’ to another. They are empty, they take but do not give, they destruct but do not construct.


I remember serving at a Russian church in Brussels about thirty-five years ago. There were perhaps 250 people there. I immediately spotted two converts among the crowd. How? One was a woman dressed in what seemed to be ballgown with a huge headscarf/tablecloth on her head and the other was a man dressed all in black and with a huge beard. All the other women were dressed normally in knee-length skirts or dresses, most had no head covering at all. As for the men, they were all clean-shaven and I do not think any of the clergy had a beard anything like that of the convert.

This obsession with externals is typical of the ‘envelope-convert’. Eccentric dress, beards and long hair for men, wearing prayer-knots around the wrist, lapel or even pectoral crosses, icons, incense, books, fasting. Just so as you know: This disease of convertitis will not save you. This confusion between means and ends is a kind of idolatry, as it confuses creation with the Creator. No externals will ever save you, even if, when accepted in humility, they can help you. Only humility will save you. I always say to such strange dressers: look at the others in Church. They have been Orthodox for decades, for their whole lives, as their ancestors for centuries before them. None of them dresses like you. Dress like them. None of them bothers about fasting from vertebrates and invertebrates (what are they anyway?), none of them reads the ingredient labels on foodstuffs. Stop being different. Salvation is not there. Salvation is in humility.

The root of this idolatry, as that of all fantasies, is the same: pride. It is pride which is behind all envelope-converts. This can be seen in their open self-justifications for weirdness: ‘I am better than the others’; ‘I am not like them’; ‘they haven’t read the books that I’ve read’; ‘they don’t understand’; ‘they haven’t been to Mt Athos’. (These are all actual quotations). These are the people who want to be ‘more Orthodox than the Orthodox’. And they all end up being less Orthodox than the Orthodox, that is, they all end up outside the Church. Such converts always want to give advice to others, as they know everything. Yet they know nothing, apart from externals and their desire to condemn others. It is sad.

More Pride

Such envelope-convert laypeople, sometimes married with families, want to imitate monastics. However, to live in a monastery, you first of all need obedience. And that is precisely what they do not have. I remember one such family in France. They went off to live in the Cevenne mountains, living in a ruin, getting water from a stream and without electricity. The nearest shop was six miles away. After a time the fed-up wife left the fanatical, hippyish husband who spent his time ‘meditating’ and had forced her and the children to live back in the Middle Ages. (Apparently, he thought this was ‘Orthodox’). As for the children, they left with her and never set foot in an Orthodox church afterwards. The husband died a few years ago, a lonely and embittered old convert. And precisely a ‘convert’, because he had never actually become Orthodox.

Convert pride is often manifested in idealism, as was the case above. Never think that idealism is good. It forces others. Lenin was an idealist. So was Hitler. Beware. Convert pride makes the convert think he is ‘special’ and ‘different’. This is not only in outward appearance, but also in speech, in the use of words such as ‘a temple’, instead of ‘a church’, or they will tell you that they are ‘under the omofor’ of someone. Ordinary lifelong Orthodox never tell you that, indeed they often do not even know whose diocese they are in, still less, care.

Then there are the converts who go on and on about their ‘spiritual father’ or, worse still, ‘starets’, who is probably just a very ordinary parish priest. But they want to belong to a cult. Here we encounter the problem of ‘guruism’. Twice in my life I have come across converts, one English and one Russian, who wanted me to become their ‘spiritual father’. I refused to play at being a guru. They both went elsewhere and ended up outside the Church, one lapsing completely, the other joining a cultish sect from America. The pride here is that they want a guru so as to make a saint out of him and can then flatter themselves that, as their guru is a saint, they too must be saints. ‘I am special, I have a spiritual father’, is their secret mantra.

Yet More Pride

The obsession with books can also play a role here. The ‘envelope-convert’ must have an ‘Orthodox library’. When asked to recommend an Orthodox book to read, I always reply the New Testament. This really puts them off, as what they want is some piece of exotica (because they are ‘special’, ‘not like other men’ (Lk. 18, 11)). If they reply that they have already read the New Testament, I answer: ‘You may have read it, but you haven’t understood it’. The difference between Protestants and real Orthodox is that the Protestants have read it and not understood it and therefore do not live it, whereas the real Orthodox have generally not read it, but understood it and therefore live it.

Pride is not just unpleasant, it is also extremely dangerous. Some may have read the warnings given by St Ignatius (Brianchaninov) and St Theophan the Recluse, both of the century before last, about pride. For example, there is the convert who became crazy through the prayer of the heart. How is this possible? Simply because he said the prayer without love and humility. His intention in repeating it thousands of times a day was to become a saint, that is, to become ‘better than others’. It was not to become humble. He became mentally ill not through a prayer, but through his deluded pride. The source of most mental illness and all delusion is precisely pride. I have seen this happen. This is real. If you have no love and humility, this can happen.

Some may be shocked by this, but think about what the Apostle Paul wrote nearly 2,000 years ago. ‘Whoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord…For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you and many sleep’ (I Cor 11, 27-30). They become ill not through holy communion, but through pride. The danger is when such ‘crazy converts’, as the Americans call them, or ‘novices’, as the Apostle Paul calls them, become clergy. And yet the Apostle is clear: ‘A bishop then must be…not a novice, unless being lifted up with pride, he falls into the condemnation of the devil’ (I Tim 3, 2-6). Such clergy create whole cultish sects full of their clones.

Conclusion: Conversion Without Pride

Christ speaks of ‘envelope-converts’ in the Gospel, the ones he calls pharisees and proselytes: ‘Woe unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass sea and land to make one proselyte and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves’ (Matt. 23, 15). The problem is not of course with converts who have really converted, but with non-converts, those who claim to have converted, when they have not. I have met such people who, even after fifty years, have not actually converted. Some are indeed ‘children of hell’. When someone says that he is a convert, I always ask him: ‘A convert to what?’

Every time we go to confession is a conversion. Indeed, if you do not go to confession, you will not be converted, but will always remain at that selfsame primitive level of: ‘I haven’t done anything wrong’, or, ‘I haven’t done anything different from everyone else’. I have met several Orthodox like this. Every Sunday for decades they have taken communion, but have never ever been to confession. And this from lifelong Orthodox in their fifties. There is nothing wrong with conversion. On the contrary, there is everything wrong with unconversion. But conversion is not a point, it is a process. In order to become (Orthodox) Christians, we have to convert every day. Otherwise, we shall just remain ‘envelope-converts’, empty through lack of zeal, or else come unstuck, as the Apostle writes, through ‘zeal not according to knowledge’.