Category Archives: Britain and Ireland

May 2017: The Third Episcopal Visit to our New Diocese

The reborn Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland of the Church Outside Russia has received its third episcopal visit in four months, this time one made by Bishop Irenei of Sacramento, accompanied by the Myrrh-Giving Hawaiian Iveron Icon. The backlog of outstanding pastoral problems dating back many years has been further shortened and two more priests ordained, as requested fifteen months ago. However, the list of candidates for ordination is lengthening, with six more in the Colchester parish alone. With us local Orthodox having been visited by a bishop twice in the previous twenty years for a few short hours only, we have now been visited by a bishop twice in four months and for days each time.

Each recent visit to the Diocese has been much, much longer than any in the previous thirty years. Thus, on Saturday 13 May there took place the first ever Diocesan pilgrimage to St Albans. This was attended by about 200 faithful, a great many of whom took communion in front of the very fragrant Icon. There followed a service of intercession to St Alban in front of his holy relics. Then Vladyka was taken to Colchester where he was shown the main church, dedicated to our former Archbishop St John of Shanghai (+ 1966), which is the largest Russian Orthodox church in the British Isles and Ireland. He also visited the second (winter) church, dedicated to All the Saints of these Isles. There followed the Vigil Service in the main church.

On the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, at the Divine Liturgy took place a long-awaited tonsure and priestly ordination, the first ever to take place in the Colchester parish. Communion was, as usual, out of two chalices, all four priests in this multinational parish, English, New Zealand, Romanian and Bulgarian, three of whom have come in the last year, two of whom have been ordained in the last two months, concelebrating with Vladyka. The Icon streamed myrrh and an accompanying monk commented that he had never seen so much myrrh given out by the Icon, literally dripping with it, which is a great consolation after so many years. After this, all ate in the Church Hall and then we visited a retired and ill priest who lives to the east of Colchester.

On Monday 15 May Vladyka visited the site of St Botolph’s seventh-century monastery in picturesque and remote Iken, whose thatched church particularly impressed him. Having read the canon to the saint, we then went on to Dunwich and its museum, where we ate. Then we headed for Burgh Castle, behind whose high Roman walls once probably stood St Fursey’s monastery. Vladyka then made his way to St Alexander Nevsky parish church in Norwich for a service of intercession to the Mother of God at 5.00 with all of the flock who were able to get away from work. Then there was tea in the parish kitchen, after which Vladyka went on to the private chapel at Mettingham in the north of Suffolk for another service.

During his ten-day visit Vladyka was able to visit other parishes, in London, Birkenhead, Cheltenham and Oxford, as well as the parish in Cardiff in Wales. It is our great hope that he will return in August to visit others, especially the parishes in Ireland, perhaps accompanied again by the extraordinary and previously little-known miraculous Iviron Icon from Hawaii. As we desperately need a monastery in our diocese, we hope that he could help found one for our English monks. However, our greatest and long-held hope is that he will come and live here permanently, uniting Russian Orthodox of all nationalities in these islands.

The Mother of God Visits the Isles

As the peoples of the Western part of Europe labour beneath the EU yoke – an elitist project, if there ever was one – there has come the hundredth anniversary of Fatima. Then the Mother of God, through three innocent and semi-literate peasant children in provincial Portugal, called on Western Europe to repent. If its leaders did not repent, She said, so the spiritual disease of atheism, sent to Russia from the West, would infect the Western world. And so it has happened. When martyred Russia finally freed herself from the burdensome illusion of the Soviet Union, the demons abandoned her and settled to create the European Union of atheism and depravity. The results we see daily before us.

Here in the Russian Orthodox world in England and Wales we have been blessed by the coming of the Mother of God through her Hawaiian Iveron icon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqJc0Knt7Ao), pouring forth myrrh. A monk accompanying Her stated that he for one had not witnessed such an abundant outpouring of myrrh before. The Mother of God is still waiting for the Western world to repent, for the swamp to be drained.

An Anglo-Russian Alliance?

In recent days anti-democratic EU bureaucrats and others in Brussels and Berlin have declared war on the UK, even interfering in the UK elections. They are angered by the UK people’s choice to leave their customs and political union. In their crass words, they have declared that Brexit UK owes it 100 billion euros. In the UK, many consider that the EU owes it 400 billion euros, the sum overpaid to the EU during the years when UK governments treacherously signed away our sovereignty to the EU for its mess of pottage without popular support. They arrogantly refused to consult the people – until Cameron, who at last allowed a referendum, but only because he was so blinded by arrogance and out of contact that he thought he could easily win it.

Now the EU is openly and treasonously trying to destroy the UK by prising away Northern Ireland and Scotland. In the UK there are those who consider that it is time for Ireland to be reunited and for Scotland and Wales to receive independence, but that the four countries should then immediately form a Confederation outside the EU, perhaps with a new Parliament building on the Isle of Man, from where all four countries of the Isles are visible. The old Victorian Parliament buildings in London, now falling down, could then become tourist sights. In an electronic age there is no need for a multinational Parliament to be in the English commercial capital of London.

The EU itself is bitterly divided and in chaos. The euro has been a disaster. Many of its countries, like Austria, the Baltics, Poland, the Czech Lands, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary, are disobeying Brussels as regards immigration controls. Greece is bankrupt. Cyprus is almost. Catalonia wants its independence by a clear majority. Hungary rejects EU meddling. Eastern Europe has in general been ravaged by German economic imperialism, its factories closed and its young people forced to emigrate to Western Europe. Many in France want to leave the EU. As Marine Le Pen correctly said last week, the next President of France will be a woman: either herself, or else Mrs Merkel. It will certainly be no-one else in this Fourth Reich world.

The EU has declared war. It is thus achieving the opposite of what it wants, as it is uniting the British people and ensuring a landslide victory in the UK elections for the Conservative Party. This is now seen as the only Patriotic Party and the only Party with a strong leader, now fortified by the return of UKIP voters, most of whom had left the Conservative Party disillusioned with its takeover by modernists. People always unite around a strong leader in times of war, even though they would otherwise never vote Conservative. The Opposition to the Conservatives is laughable, but also treasonous.

Thus, on the western and eastern edges of the EU are two countries which should be uniting in this time of war against the EU: the UK and the Russian Federation. An unlikely couple: after all such New Cold War NATO British warmongers as Johnson and Fallon are sending British troops and arms to Estonia, controlled by its US puppet regime, in order to threaten Russia. These clowns are even overflying Russian territory in the Baltics, giving war equipment to the EU-sponsored and CIA-run anti-Ukrainian junta in Kiev, sending a British destroyer to patrol off the Russian coast in the Black Sea.

Not natural allies? True. And yet despite this and the imperialist British invasion of Russia in 1854-56, 210 years ago, 100 years ago and 75 years ago Great Britain and Russia fought together side by side against Continental Western European tyrants, Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler, the forerunners of today’s EU leaders. Today, again, there is a common enemy. Not to unite today and not to give up ridiculous, Russophobic Cold War rhetoric, would be a missed opportunity for the UK. Perhaps Non-EU Norway and Iceland would join us? And the rest of Scandinavia too? All could sign a friendship pact of mutual non-aggression and thus, we would form a geographical, political and economic bloc towering over the isolated and divided EU.

The UK and Russia are both pro-European countries and want to free the oppressed peoples of Europe from the EU monster. In this centenary year of the British-orchestrated elitist conspiracy that overthrew the greatest European leader of all, Tsar Nicholas II, founder of the Hague International Court of Justice, speaker of five European languages and builder of 18 Russian churches in Western Europe, it would be an act of repentance on the part of Britain to proclaim a new alliance with the Russian Federation.

An Anglo-Russian alliance? Most probably not, but a friend in need is a friend indeed…

Orthodox Christianity in the British Isles and Ireland: Seven Orthodox Churches, Nine Dioceses, One Deanery, Four Choices

Introduction

Every Christian denomination in every country of the world is divided into dioceses and parishes which reflect the geographical area where they are located. Moreover, there may also be internal, sociological divisions. For example, in the town where I live there are several parishes of the C of E (Church of England), but two of these parishes refuse to talk to each other because their views and patterns of worship are utterly different, one is ‘Anglo-Catholic’, elderly and wealthy, the other is ‘happy-clappy’, middle-aged and financially modest. There are also two Baptist churches which refuse to talk to one another, because one is strict, the other is liberal.

In the cities there is a similar situation in Roman Catholic parishes, which can have completely different tendencies (Polish/Irish/liberal/ traditional/‘charismatic’…) and also in monasteries, which belong to different orders. Nowadays, larger Roman Catholic parishes have masses at different times for different ethnic groups in different languages and with different Roman Catholic rites, Polish, Syro-Malabar, Greek-Catholic Ukrainian etc. There is often very little communication between these diverse groups. What is the situation regarding the Orthodox Church in this country? What sort of divisions are there here?

Seven Local Churches and Ten Groups

Of the fourteen Local Churches that make up the worldwide Orthodox Church only seven are represented outside their home countries. In the British Isles and Ireland these seven Churches have nine dioceses and one deanery. These are the following: the Serbian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Georgian, Constantinople (two dioceses, Greek and Ukrainian, and one deanery, Paris), Antiochian and Russian (two dioceses, Sourozh and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia). These nine dioceses and one deanery are not territorial, but are superimposed on one another on the same territory. However, even so there is often little communication between them, as each caters for its own ethnic group. Of these ten groups, the first six, the Serbian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Georgian and the big Greek and the tiny Ukrainian nationalist dioceses of the Church of Constantinople, are largely concerned only with their own ethnic members.

Thus, the above generally appear not to observe the Gospel commandment of Matthew 28, that we are to go out into all the world and teach and baptize all. For example, although a small minority of parishes in the big Greek-speaking Diocese of the Church of Constantinople, mainly Cypriot by ethnicity, do sometimes accept English people, generally these people are Hellenized or even come from a Hellenophile public school background. Moreover, its archbishops, who must have Greek or Cypriot nationality, usually impose Greek names on any they may ordain, such as Kallistos instead of Timothy, Meletios instead of Peter, Aristobulos instead of Alban, and imposes names like Athanasios, Panteleimon and Eleutherios on others. This leaves four choices to the majority of native English speakers who are interested in trying to live according to the teachings of the Orthodox Church without having to change their name and national identity.

Four Choices

The first two of these choices, the Parisian and the Antiochian, appear to cater for two specific small English sociological groups, whereas the last two groups are both part of the Russian Orthodox Church. These are at once sociologically much broader as regards the range of English and other local people within them, but those people sometimes have a Russian connection and they are in a majority Russian Church.

1. The Paris Deanery (also called the Exarchate)

This is a very small Deanery belonging to a Diocese under an elderly and sick French bishop, received and ordained into the Church in 1974, based in Paris under the ‘Greek’ (Constantinople) Church. It has virtually no property of its own. Founded in Paris in the 1920s by anti-monarchist Saint Petersburg aristocrats, who had tried but failed to seize power from the Tsar, it had a small parish in London until 1945. However, in 2006 the group was refounded in this country after a noisy, aggressive and unfriendly divorce from the Russian Orthodox Sourozh Diocese (see below) and it strongly dislikes the Russian Orthodox Church as it is. In 2006 it was 300 strong, out of a then total of about 300,000 Orthodox in the UK, so it represented about one in a thousand Orthodox. Despite its tiny size, in 2006 its foundation was strongly supported by the Russophobic bastions of the British Establishment, the Church of England, the BBC, The Times, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph. It is known for its attachment to the arts, philosophy and intellectualism and ordains easily, providing that the candidates come from ‘the right background’.

It tends to cater for rather elderly, upper-middle class Establishment figures – which is why it belongs to the Western-run Church of Constantinople, which uses the Roman Catholic calendar for the fixed feasts, and not the independently-run Russian Orthodox Church. It is thus rather politicized and its perhaps clubby, county-town members tend to support the elitist Liberal Democrats. Its members, often in groups as small as five or ten, may, like their founder, be attracted to spiritual techniques, such as Buddhism, Sufi Islam, yoga or what is called ‘the Jesus Prayer’ (= noetic prayer in Orthodox language). It is not incarnate in any Local Orthodox Church and mixes different practices and customs, also introducing ‘creative’ customs of its own. Some of its more effete members quite unrealistically call their tiny Deanery ‘The Orthodox Church in Britain’, despite the fact that it is dwarfed by nine much more proletarian Orthodox Dioceses. This is rather like some members of the ‘Orthodox Church in America’, a US Orthodox group with a huge title which the Deanery much admires, but which is also dwarfed by others, numbering only some 30,000 out of 3,000,000 Orthodox in North America.

2. The Antiochian (Arab) Diocese

This very small ethnic ‘British Orthodox’ group, originally 300 in number, was founded as a Deanery as recently as 1996 by and for dissident Anglicans. They came from backgrounds as diverse as conservative Evangelicalism, moralistic Puritanism and charismatic Anglo-Catholicism, but all were dissatisfied with Anglicanism. Having since then converted only a few other Anglicans and apparently (??) without much interest in Non-Anglicans, its ex-Anglican clergy sometimes rely on Romanians to fill their churches. The group is known for its missionary zeal and sincerity, providing pastoral care where other Dioceses have failed to do so, but is also known for its lack of knowledge, pastoral and liturgical, and lack of realism. It has little property of its own. In 2016 this Deanery, which uses the Roman Catholic calendar for the fixed feasts, became a Diocese and the first task of its new Arab bishop, without an Arab base and tradition, is in his own words to teach his clergy how to celebrate the services and so enter the mainstream. In the past it has ordained very easily, providing that its candidates are Anglican vicars. This, however, may be changing.

3. The Sourozh Diocese (also incorrectly called the Patriarchal Diocese) of the Russian Orthodox Church

Directly under the control of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, this Diocese has existed for 55 years. It has had a varied history, having been marked by tendencies of liberal modernism as well as Soviet patriotism under its former bishop and founder, the late Metropolitan Antony Bloom of Paris, with his unique personality cult and curious personal views. After his death most of his closest followers, mainly ex-Anglicans, left to found the Paris Deanery (see above) and now the Sourozh Diocese seems to be more and more for the many ethnic Russian immigrants who have settled in this country over the last 20 years. However, there are exceptions and it still has some very active English groups (as well as dying traces of a Bloomite past), though most of its English clergy are now elderly.

4. ROCOR, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (also incorrectly called ROCA or ‘the Church Abroad’)

This Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland of the Church Outside Russia is one of many dioceses under a Synod of fifteen Russian Orthodox bishops (three of them retired) centred in New York. It was originally founded in 1920 by Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow for White Russian émigrés exiled throughout the world. Self-governing and only indirectly under the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, with which it has excellent relations, ROCOR, once worldwide, is now dominant only in the English-speaking world, especially in the USA and Australia. It has seen many of its ethnically very closed parishes in South America and continental Western Europe shut or else dissolve into the more missionary-minded local dioceses of the rest of the Russian Orthodox Church, centred in Moscow. However, in the English-speaking world it is the voice of Russian Orthodoxy and its missionary-minded Canadian Metropolitan, formerly Archbishop of Australia and New Zealand, is, symbolically, the head of dioceses in New England and ‘Old’ England.

The local Diocese has a chequered history, with various incarnations. These range from noble White Russian roots, which especially after 1945 were infected by unpleasant, very right-wing and nationalistic anti-Communism and a generation after that by equally unattractive Anglo-Catholic sectarianism. The latter movement even tried to prise the Diocese from its faithfulness to Russian Orthodoxy. However, these generational nightmare incarnations thankfully died out with the end of the Cold War, quit the Church or else were pushed to the margins, where as relics they have almost disappeared. Over the new generation, after decades of neglect and nearly dying out in the early 1990s, this Diocese has been returning to its White Russian roots, understood as faithfulness, in Russian or in English, to the Orthodox Tradition, which has so much revived among Russians. Today’s ROCOR mission is to spread the Orthodox Faith and values of the reviving multinational Christian Empire of Holy Russia here and throughout the English-speaking world, as well as in its missions from South America to Western Europe, Haiti to Hawaii, Pakistan to South Korea, Costa Rica to Indonesia, and Nepal to the Philippines.

On Orthodox Missionary Work

Now that the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) has officially taken up the task of missionary work in the renewed Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland after several decades of disruption, it would be well to consider the nature of the missionary work that we need to do.

First of all, we must understand that there is only one sort of authentic missionary and pastoral work. This serves the people as a community, it is not an ideological plan on a map with pins in it, it is not top-down, but down-top, from the grassroots. Now, wherever there is a demand, ROCOR will do its best to meet that demand, setting up parishes where there is a need, now with official support. Where there are thirsty Orthodox people (at least one of whom can sing and read) and where there are premises, we will provide a priest. We can think of many cases in history of such missionary work, for example the mission of St Augustine in England in 597 or that of Sts Cyril and Methodius to St Rostislav, always in answer to a request. We can build nothing where there is not a spiritual need and a willingness to make sacrifices.

But what of areas where there is no actual demand, but just unconverted souls, potential Orthodox? Here we can take the examples of St Herman in Alaska and St Nicholas in Japan. They lived simply in a place for many, many years, praying, learning and understanding the people among whom they lived, before missionary work began. They waited for people to come to them, they did not serve themselves by imposing themselves on others. Self-serving (usually in the name of some personal problem and unfulfilled ambition) is pseudo-missionary work. It tries to impose itself, being characterized by gurus, vagantes and clericalists who like fancy titles, dressing up and having their photographs taken. They who do not look after the people, do not travel to meet people, even despising them for their simplicity.

We should be wary of the sort of ‘missionary’ work that despises the people, their languages and their customs and tries to force them into a strange mould that is not theirs. That is the false missionary work of those who use their personalities, not heartfelt faith in God, to convert others.

A Diocese is Reborn

Within a few weeks, the Russian Orthodox Church has gained a new diocese. This is the Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland, which is part of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR).

For long become a tiny group of abandoned disparate parishes and orphaned, it has been reborn under His Grace Metropolitan Hilarion, whose secret is simply that he loves his flock. With many ordinations and tonsurings, we can now envisage a time when our diocese will grow enormously, with priests and parishes in Ireland north and south, in Wales, Cornwall, Scotland and in an ever increasing number of major cities and towns in England. Out with the old and in with the new.

In this way our ROCOR Diocese can further develop our identity, not just as faithful heirs to the authentic and uncompromised Russian Orthodox Tradition from pre-Revolutionary times, with our love for all the New Martyrs and Confessors, including the Imperial Martyrs, but also as faithful heirs to our local Anglo-Celtic saints and our local languages. We stand as a foundation of a future Local Church in Western Europe, for we are local, self-governing, independent, but also faithfully incarnated in the Russian Orthodox Tradition.
Thank you, Vladyko!

Some Constructive Suggestions Towards Overcoming the Chronic Pastoral Crisis in Both Dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church in the British Isles and Ireland

Introduction: The Russian Orthodox Presence in the British Isles and Ireland

There has been a Russian Orthodox presence in England for 300 years. And yet, incredibly, both dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church in our countries (that of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and that of the Church based inside Russia (the Diocese of Sourozh)) have faced battles to get even the name of their diocese right! Although it is thirty years since the late Fr Mark (Meyrick) of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) painted his Icon of All the Saints Who Have Shone Forth in the British Isles and Ireland with the correct title, we recently had a battle at the Theological Commission of the Inter-Orthodox Committee of Bishops even to establish this title, since most of the foreign bishops had no concept that there was a difference between Great Britain, the United Kingdom and the British Isles and whether any of these names included Ireland!

The Present Crisis

Both Russian Orthodox dioceses here have been in crisis in recent decades, facing three problems.

The first problem faced by the small Diocese of Sourozh, directly under Moscow, has been a mixture of modernism, liturgical renovationism and a personality cult characteristic of small organizations, all problems inherited from the Paris School of modernist Orthodoxy. This battle for the integrity of the Faith against what was in reality Protestantization resulted in the 2006 Sourozh schism, when the Diocese lost over half its mainly convert clergy and 300 people, also mainly converts. Though this is all in the past, there is still a hangover from that period. The second problem faced by that Diocese is its chronic lack of properties because of its defective ecclesiology in the past. This entailed dependence on Church of England for borrowing properties and so a lack of independence and freedom to preach the Gospel in the Orthodox way. All that the Diocese possesses is a smallish Cathedral in west London and tiny chapels in Oxford, Manchester and Nottingham. The third problem is its chronic lack of (overworked) clergy, whose average age is about 65 and few of whom speak the language of the masses of the Russian-speaking people, whose average age is about 35 (excluding children)!

The first problem faced by the even smaller ROCOR Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland, has been a narrow nationalism mixed on the fringes with old-fashioned Anglo-Catholicism, which in the past created a dead end of insularity. This battle for the integrity of the Faith against such Sectarianism, mixed with personality conflicts characteristic of small organizations, resulted in the 2007 ROCOR schism, when the Diocese lost its only monastery and convent. Though this is all exactly ten years in the past, there is still a hangover from that period. The second problem faced by the Diocese is its chronic lack of properties because of its over-strict narrowness and rejection of any form of mission (there was even a missionary tax!) in the past. This entailed total exhaustion and demoralization of the clergy and so a lack of any encouragement to preach the Gospel in the Orthodox way. With one exception, the Diocese largely only exists in London (and missions dependent on London) and in East Anglia. All that the Diocese possesses is a very small Cathedral in a sidestreet in west London, the largest Russian Orthodox church in the British Isles and Ireland in Colchester (not London) and tiny chapels in a house in Essex, in a private garden in a Suffolk village, in Norwich in Norfolk and near a village in central Ireland, far from where Orthodox live. The third problem is its chronic lack of overworked clergy, whose average age is about 65 and few of whom speak the language of the masses of the Russian-speaking people, whose average age is about 35 (excluding children)!

A Future Solution?

As can be seen, the common crisis is today purely pastoral in nature. Given that two of the three problems of both dioceses, lack of church buildings and lack of clergy, who are elderly, overworked and exhausted, are identical, there should be some common solution. One shrewd commentator has said that the Diocese that will dominate will be the one that sets up proper, large churches in London to provide proper pastoral care for the tens of thousands of faithful there. Notably, churches are required in the south of London, around, Croydon, in the east, around Stratford and in the north, around St Albans. The scandal is that there is only one permanent Russian-speaking priest to cover the country to the east and south of London – one third of the whole country!

However, we should also take into account the wider Russian Orthodox world in continental Western Europe and beyond. The Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) dominates the Russian Orthodox presence in the English-speaking world, in North America and Australasia. However, the Russian Orthodox Church based inside Russia, dominates elsewhere, notably in South America and above all in Western Europe. Here, where 25 years ago ROCOR was dominant and representatives of the Church inside Russia hardly existed, today ROCOR hardly exists. Just the Diocese of the Church inside Russia in Italy is larger than all of ROCOR in Western Europe. This has only eight parishes outside its parishes in western Germany and the few in Switzerland. Surely it is the Russian Orthodox presence in continental Western Europe will one day come under representatives of the Church inside Russia, with its new Cathedral and seminary in Paris and active young bishops, large flocks and newly-built churches in Rome, Madrid and many other places?

On the other hand, perhaps at this point we should consider what can be called ‘the Brexit Factor’. With the United Kingdom, at least, leaving the European Union, it is inevitably returning to closer relations with the rest of the English-speaking world, former colonies, especially in North America and Australasia. Surely, ecclesiastically, this means the Russian Orthodox presence in the British Isles and Ireland one day coming under ROCOR? Rather than the canonically absurd arrangement of two dioceses of the same Local Church on the same territory, there should surely be some rearrangement, at least in the British Isles and Ireland. It may seem premature to talk of this to some, but, after all, the two parts of the Russian Church have been united for ten years now, since 2007. The only delay on such matters can be because of pastoral considerations, in the interests of economy, that the people may not be upset.

Conclusion: Divine not Human

Of course, none of this can take place without the right leader, that is, without the right bishop, one acceptable to both sides, and this must be a bishop who speaks English and understands English people. A pastor. It is no wish of ours to hurt anyone’s feelings with the above considerations. The above is all written in the spirit of throwing a stone into a pond and seeing what ripples there may be. In other words, surely it is time at least to begin discussing such possibilities as we have outlined above in the spirit of pastoral love and unity. Let us remember: All crises are man-made and all solutions are God-made. Let us all strive to discern and do God’s Will.

Little Britain or Great England?

British Establishment Imperialists and Neo-Imperialists alike selfishly like to assert that their ideology is justified because the only alternative to a Great Britain is a Little England, an isolationist, xenophobic and inward-looking little country of ignorant and narrow-minded insular bigots. Such gerontocrats are living in the past. The age of Imperialism for the island of Britain has long since gone and it is not going to come back. Indeed, today Great Britain has dissolved into a Little Britain, an often shabby country that nostalgically but incongruously recalls the lost glorious past in an extremely inglorious and often downright vulgar, tasteless and styleless present.

We English Orthodox do not hope in either Great British or a Little British Imperialism or Neo-Imperialism, nor do we place any hope in a Little England. Our hope is in a Great England. By Great we do not have in mind some secularist, imperialist reality, but a spiritual one. When did Great England live? It lived in the seventh and eighth centuries, when our greatest national asset and our greatest export was not the cheap tin trays of the past or the financial parasitism of the present, but our saints. This greatness, laid low by paganism, was revived by the saintly King Alfred the Great (note, the Great, not the Little) in the tenth and early eleventh centuries.

However, since then, for more or less a thousand years, we have not had spiritual greatness. In that time we have for the most part exported war and trade, death and things in exchange for profit, so losing our souls. True, we have also exported ideas, but only the ideas that God is not our Creator and that there will be no Judgement for our iniquities. The path to greatness must therefore start by repentance for the past, which is just the opposite of what today’s Little Britain does. Such small-mindedness will have no part to play in the Great England of tomorrow, for only by returning from insularity to the worldwide Church can England ever become Great again.

On the Fringes of the Empire

Outside the Lands that were Orthodox Christian, that is, holy, in the second millennium and indeed, sometimes for much of the first millennium also, we in the Isles of the North Atlantic live on the fringes of the Empire. We have our examples of holiness, but they are far in the past. So what happens in the third millennium when the double-headed eagle of the Orthodox Christian Empire once more flies above us, despite a near millennium of apostasy in England?

At first sight it seems that only compromise happens. However, although there may be a need for superficial compromise, for empty platitudes, there are also those who confess the Orthodox Faith despite diplomacy, despite the failure to witness of those who are quoted as witnesses, but who in fact compromised themselves with the Norman Establishment. They may be Jerusalem, but we are Galilee and, without us, they are but stones without living voices.

Who understands us? It is not the personalities who demanded guru-worship, not the philosophers who lived in their intellectual fantasies, not the administrators with piles of gold who have little understanding of pastoral reality. It is the little people in the poor and ignored places who live the Faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, our saints St Elizabeth the New Martyr and St John of Shanghai the New Confessor, who give us food for our souls.