Falling in Love
Q: Do you believe that there is only one man for each woman and vice versa, that it is impossible to fall in love and find a new spouse again after widowhood or divorce, that we only have one chance of falling in love and finding happiness?
A: I think that there is only one ideal man for each woman and only one ideal woman for each man – though, of course, here the word ‘ideal’ is relative in our imperfect world. In this fallen world, the real and deep, and not silly and romantic, meaning of ‘to fall in love’ includes loving the imperfections of the other, without illusions. This is ‘ideal’. This does not mean the sort of falling in love repeatedly which teenagers with ‘crushes’ imagine is happening to them.
However, there are cases where widows or widowers remarry and do find a second happiness, perhaps not quite the same as the first, but still great happiness. But this is only because they have found someone very similar to the first, whom they are willing to die for – which is what real falling in love means. On the other hand, there are those who choose badly the first time (usually because they were too young or wanted to escape from parents), divorce but do find happiness the second time. I know of one case where happiness, true love, was found – the third time round.
Q: How do converts stop being converts?
A: Virtually all Orthodox today are converts. After the fall of Communism, tens and tens of millions of people converted to Christ and were baptised in the faith of their ancestors because they were at last free to do so. In Greece too, many people fell away from the Church after the 1960s, but some of them have returned from very far, discovering Orthodoxy for the first time, despite their nationality and presupposed Orthodoxy. All these examples are proof of the obvious truth that ethnicity has nothing whatsoever to do with being Christian, a weird idea that would never have occurred to the apostles, martyrs, saints and Church Fathers.
Converts have to go from neophyte Orthodoxy, a fascination with, what seems to them in their estrangement from normality, to be esoteric or exotic (it is not at all esoteric or exotic for us who live it daily). This involves coming to the realisation that real Orthodoxy is simply the Christian way of life, real Christianity, and that what they may previously have thought was Christianity (Protestantism/ Catholicism) never was. That is a shock to them – yet it is the truth, as many will confirm. And all have to discover that Orthodoxy is not about crosses of gold and hearts of wood, but about hearts of gold and crosses of wood.
Converts may start as Orthodox with flames of zeal, but these flames will sooner or later die down. They will turn to ashes in the face of the difficulties that come to us through reality – unless the converts have the fuel that feeds the heart. And that fuel comes from liturgical life, standing at services, prayer (standing at services forces you to pray, otherwise you will be bored), fasting, the sacraments and loving our neighbour. (Books and theories, obviously, do not feed the heart, they feed only the brain, which just causes headaches, literally, mental constipation).
However, it is precisely the difficulties of life which destroy illusions. Thus, to lose illusions does not mean to become disillusioned or cynical, it means to become realistic. For we owe our faithfulness not to illusions, but to Christ. Our Faith is simply the Christian way of life, the Christian values, the Christian culture, the Christian Civilisation – there is no other.
Q: There seem to be so many rules to Orthodoxy. What is the difference between Orthodoxy and Phariseeism?
A: You are a beginner. Do not let the old Pharisees – who claim to be the only true Orthodox in the world! – make Christianity into rule-bound Phariseeism for you, as it is for them. Do not let them make the Church into a stick for your back. Take things gradually. True, Orthodoxy is strictness with yourself, whereas Phariseeism is strictness with others.
However, as you learn Orthodox life, you will learn that there are two Books. One is the written Book of the Rules, which is made up of many books, such as the Bible, the Canons, the Typikon etc, and the other is the unwritten Book of Exceptions. Just as the first Book is not a Book of harsh punishment which brings black despair, the second Book is not a Book of lax liberalism, which brings cynical indifference. The first is our ideal, the second is our reality. You need to know and have both Books because together they form the One Great Book of Orthodoxy, known as the Book of the Wisdom and of the Love of God. This Book is not available in any bookshop, only time will teach you it, if you have the patience and the humility to learn from experience.
Q: Should Christians be optimists?
A: Of course we should. Christ defeated death. Our faith is built on the positive. However, that does not mean we should be unrealistic or live in our imaginations, we must know our enemies: be as gentle as doves and as wise as serpents. The whole point of our faith is the struggle against death – that makes us realistic – but because Christ was victorious, we too will be victorious, as long as we remain faithful to Christ.
Western European History
Q: If the Schism did not really occur in 1054, which is only a symbolic date, when did it occur?
A: The Western Schism has been a process and is still continuing. Ecumenists and modernists are still falling into it, preferring the anti-Christian secularist mentality, which is the essence of the Schism, to the Church of God, preferring to believe that man is greater than God, which is what the Schism is about. Thus, the heresies promulgated in Crete in 2016 and the 2019 Constantinople Schism are only continuations of the Schism, the falling into secularism, which was formalised, as you say, in 1054.
Thus, in 1054 there was little realisation that the Schism had happened and even in Constantinople itself there was hardly any realisation that its cause was the Western heresy against the Holy Spirit. The few who were conscious of it at the time thought of it in ritual terms, that it was about the Papacy enforcing the use of unleavened bread, fasting on Saturdays, beardless and celibate clergy etc. Even at the top, the Schism was seen as being about Papal arrogance in attributing to itself an absurd supremacy, the universal jurisdiction of Antichrist, which was in fact only the result, not the spiritual cause, of the Schism. So practical results were visible to those who saw at the time, but not the spiritual roots.
Another error in this field is the vocabulary used. For example, some reduce it to a mere geographical division of ‘East versus West’ or even to a racial or ethnic division of ‘Greeks versus Franks’. In reality, this was a spiritual division between Christians and Non-Christians. Many in the West, in Sicily or in Ireland for instance, long remained Orthodox, but in Constantinople itself there were also ‘humanists’ who fell away, as they have again today.
However, as you say, 1054, is only a symbolic date, very much an end-date of the first part of the process of the Schism. There are other dates which mark the falling away of individuals and small groups in the West. Among many others, there are, for example:
782: The barbarous kinglet Charlemagne commits the genocide of the Saxons at the massacre of Verden: the sword or baptism is what they are offered. 4,500 were slaughtered in the name of ‘the Church’.
794: The iconoclast Charlemagne has the ‘Carolingian Books’ published, rejected the Christian creed by promoting the filioque, which had been invented among the Jews in Spain. He accused the (Orthodox) Christians of being ‘Greeks’ / heretics and calling the barbarians (himself and his ruling clique) Christians!
812: The barbarian Charlemagne had an organ, a purely secular instrument which came out of Greek paganism, installed in his chapel in Aachen. By the eleventh century, there were perhaps six organs in use in Western Europe, including one in England, in Winchester. Slowly their use spread until in the nineteenth century virtually all heterodox churches are fitted with them.
867: St Photius explains the filioque heresy against the Holy Spirit, which was aggressively being promoted by political circles in North-West Europe. He also condemned the ‘novel’ practice of using unleavened bread in the Eucharist, which began among the Franks and spread to Rome in the middle of the eleventh century. This use of unleavened bread was also the beginning of depriving laypeople of the Blood of Christ.
946: The first ever statue of the Mother of God is made for Stephen II, Bishop of Clermont in France. It harks back to local pagan statues of Venus and Diana. It is the start of Roman Catholic statuary.
970: The Gero Crucifix, showing Christ-God not as the Vanquisher of Death but as a dead man is installed in Cologne Cathedral. It is the beginning of pietism.
991: In what is now Northern France the ruthless warlord Fulk the Black wins the battle of Conquereuil and anti-Christian feudalism, with its serfdom, evil castles and knights, becomes exponentially ever more visible.
993: Bishop Ulric of Augsburg was the first person to be canonised by a Pope, John XV, rather than by a regional bishop. Papal canonisation did not become the norm until the 13th century.
1009: Pope Sergius IV confesses the filioque, which had spread to Rome from the Franks.
1014: The filioque is sung in Rome for the first time.
1040: Peter Damian records the first case of stigmata, self-inflicted by an individual called Dominic.
1048: The filioquist heretic and warmonger Bruno of Toul is crowned as Pope Leo IX in Rome.
1061: The Normans invade Orthodox Sicily.
1066: The Normans invade Orthodox England with the blessing of the anti-Christian Pope.
1077: Canossa – Hildebrand, Pope Gregory VII, probably the grandson of a Jew, declares himself more powerful than emperors and kings.
1095: Pope Urban II declares war and sends barbarians and thugs to massacre Jews in the Rhineland and Christians and Muslims in 1099 in Jerusalem in the name of ‘the Church’.
1102: Anselm writes the first defence of the filioque heresy ‘against the Greeks’.
1123: The First Lateran Council forbids clergy to be married. Beardlessness, which came from Roman paganism and homosexuality, is also enforced as a sign of this celibacy.
The above are just a few dates which illustrate the process of the falling away of Orthodox Christians from the Church in parts of Europe between the eighth and twelfth centuries. There are many more, but they would almost all fall within the same 350 years. Other changes, like Purgatory, invented in 1164, came later. For example, it was not until the 13th century that the Popes changed their title from ‘Vicar of St Peter’ to ‘Vicar of Christ’ and in the same century babies began to be deprived of chrismation and so of communion. Another instance is the reversal of the way that Christians have always made the sign of the cross which began after the 12th century, even though Christ sits on the right of the Father, not on the left.
Q: If, as you assert, Western Europe was fundamentally Orthodox in the first millennium, how did it get into a situation of creating colonial genocide and producing world wars?
A: The short answer to this is because anyone can lose their faith and so can go from Christianity to anti-Christianity. (Look at the now suspended Protodeacon Andrei Kurayev – who wants to be taken into the Phanar – or Fr Cyril Hovorun, as contemporary examples and dire warnings). This happened in the Soviet Union – most members of the Red Army (and of the White Army) were composed of baptised, but not practising, Orthodox, and so they killed each other. A non-practising Christian is but an empty shell, a house of cards, always ready to collapse into practical atheism, as we can see in the contemporary civil war between (baptised Orthodox) Ukrainians today.
Here is a more detailed answer as regards Western Europe:
In the first millennium, Western Europe was poised on a knife-edge between its old, native paganism and the new Orthodox Christianity coming from the East. There were three such pagan influences. They were those of the Ancient Greeks like Aristotle, with his profound racism (only Greek speakers are civilised, the rest are ‘barbarians’ – what today’s atheists Greeks or Hellenists confess), sexism and the justification of cruel slavery, the second was that of ruthless pagan Roman imperialism and conquest, and the third was that of Germanic (first Teutonic, later Viking-Norman) heathenism.
After 250 years of martyrdom, there opened a golden age of holiness between the fourth and eighth centuries, ‘The Age of the Saints’. However, then a 250-year-long decline began and in the eleventh century these forms of paganism finally triumphed over Orthodoxy. As the Roman Catholic historian Christopher Dawson wrote in his ‘The Making of Europe’ (P. 284) some ninety years ago: ‘There is no doubt that the eleventh century marls a decisive turning-point in European history – …..the emergence of Western culture’. In other words, this produced something called ‘Catholicism’, which was just a mixture of these three forms of paganism in a vaguely Christian wrapper. Everything in Catholicism, a local claim to universal empire to be enacted by violence (the definition of the post-Schism West), is Orthodoxy paganised.
Thus, Aristotle and what Roman Catholics like to call ‘Byzantine humanism’ (= Hellenist paganism) dominated the intellectuals (scholastics) like Thomas Aquinas, for the West failed to conquer pagan philosophy with Christ. Roman imperialism dominated the papal administration from Rome, for the West failed to conquer Caesar with Christ. The shock-troops or implementers of this pagan mentality were the thuggish Viking-Norman-Teutonic knights, as can be seen in the Crusades, for the West failed to conquer brute-force with Christ.
It was precisely the combination of all these three influences that triumphed over Christianity (Orthodoxy) in the West, whittling it down to the few sad fragments that remain outside the Orthodox Church today.
When you read the accounts of atrocities of the Normans in England (and later in Wales and Ireland), of the Crusaders or the Spanish conquistadors (whose almost total genocide (50 million dead?) of enslaved native Carribeans and natives of what became Latin America gave rise to the need to replace them with African slaves), of the ‘Wars of Religion’ in Europe (Cromwell, ‘God’s Englishman’, who slaughtered one million in Ireland for example), of the British genocides in North America, India and China (the ‘Opium Wars’ = British genocide in China), of the stories of the Belgian and German Empires in Africa, of the First and Second World Wars, of the Atomic Bombs, of the post-War Dutch genocide in Indonesia, of the French genocides in Indo-China and North Africa, it is clear that the second-millennium West was not Christian at all, but thoroughly pagan and barbarian.
It said: ‘We are the shock-troops of the civilisation of the Vicar (= Replacement) of God, we are God on earth, the Holy Spirit comes from us, all authority flows from us, therefore whatever we do is right, our God is on our side’. It had kidnapped what it imagined to be God, a white European man who sat in the clouds and blessed the genocide of all Non-Western Europeans.
This can also be seen in the later ideologies that justify Western racism, like Puritanism (‘only we are pure, the rest are savages and can be exterminated like wild animals’), Darwinism (‘the survival of the fittest’ = ourselves), Marxism (destroy everyone who does not agree with me) or today political correctness (= persecution and censorship). This is why although the Non-West has always quickly adopted convenient Western technologies, civilisations like the Christian (= Orthodox), the Muslim, the Japanese, the Indian, the Tibetan and the Chinese have never adopted Western religion. It is merely a religion that justifies organised violence. The West never won anything by asserting that it had a superior religion or values – which is why in the end it will fall, just as the other Western ideology of Communism has already fallen.
Q: What makes you show sympathy to Non-Western peoples?
A: Because I am not ‘Western’, that is, because I come from the English countryside, where the ‘Western’ Norman Yoke is still resented as the invention of the aristocracy imposed on us in and after 1066, who made London their capital (our capital, the capital of Alfredian England, will forever be Winchester). The word ‘Western’ is a construct, it is not a geographical term. Therefore I also belong to a Non-‘Western’ people, that is, the Old English people, just like all Non-‘Western’ peoples, Non-’Western’ whether in space or in time.
Q: Why did contact with the West lead Russia into Communism?
A: All over the world, from Charlemagne who began the process in the late eighth century (German versus Saxon), to England in the eleventh century (Norman versus English), to the Crusaders in the Middle East (Papist versus Christian, Muslim and Jew), to the Spanish in the Americas, to the colonial scramble for Africa, Westernisation always causes genocide and a profound schizophrenic division in its victim-countries.
Thus, by the late nineteenth century, only six civilisations in the world were resisting Western colonisation and imperialism: the Russian, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Persian, the Ethiopian and the Thai. All were independent Sovereign Empires, centralised monarchies, not controlled by High Finance like the Western and Westernised world – all therefore had to be discredited and slandered as ‘autocratic and tyrannical’ and destroyed by the Mammonist West.
After extensive weakening by native but Westernised traitors, allied with Catholic Poles and then Lutheran Swedes, in the seventeenth century, Russian Christian Civilisation was later attacked successively by Napoleon’s anti-Russian multinational invasion in 1812, by the Franco-Anglo-Turkish invasion of Russia in 1854 in the Crimean War, in 1914 the First ‘World’ (= Western European) War, in 1941 in the Second ‘World’ War and in the Western Cold War after 1945, which finally bankrupted Sovietised Russia.
In the same twentieth century, the other Non-Western Civilisations were also undermined. The Persian Empire began its fall in 1906, the Chinese Empire fell in 1911-12, the Japanese monarchy was finally destroyed by Atomic Bombs (needlessly dropped, in part also to scare the USSR) in 1945, the Thai monarchy was Americanised after 1945, and in the twentieth century the Ethiopian was undermined first by Italian Fascists in 1935 and above all by Marxists in 1974.
In Russia the West first divided society into the pro-Western elite versus the Old Believer people, with whom we cannot but sympathise. In the 19th century this crystallised into the division of Westerners versus Slavophiles, in the 20th century into atheist versus people of faith, in the 21st century into oligarch-thieves and consumerists versus Orthodox. This is the same process as all over the world, where the elite is bribed into submission, its children ‘educated’ (= brainwashed) in Western institutions, and opposed to their own people, whose country and possessions are duly asset-stripped. The booty is shared between this local corrupt English-speaking elite (from Latin American drug barons to Filipino and Ukrainian gangsters – ‘oligarchs’) and Western ‘business’ organisations – which take the lion’s share.
Q: Modern Russia is no doubt a lot better than Russia under the yoke of the Soviet Union, but surely you would admit that it is not an Orthodox country?
A: Of course, it is not an Orthodox country. Since 1917 there has not been a single Orthodox country in the world. Only under the banners of an Orthodox Monarchy will Russia and the surrounding lands, which are dependent on it despite what their petty nationalists claim, rid themselves of the terrible spiritual disease of Western materialism, which has infected the whole world over the last 500 years and more. Regardless of whether it is called Communism or Capitalism, this pestilence says that the only important thing is money – Mammon. Our resistance to this disease, wherever we live and whatever our nationality, is the only seed of tomorrow’s certain Resurrection.
Q: What should our attitude to modern art be?
A: This is a personal question. I am not sure that there is a general answer. I do not want to be moralistic and say that there ‘should be’ any attitude, I can only give a subjective response. This is only how I feel personally:
I really feel deep sympathy with Rachmaninov, who wrote of the post-Revolutionary world: ‘I feel like a ghost wandering in a world grown alien’. That is exactly my feeling too. Already before the First World War in Western Europe, Stravinsky and other modernist musicians had resurrected paganism. Artists had experimented with strange painting techniques, which expressed the disintegration of reality in tiny points, cubes, unnatural colours and jagged, dehumanised forms. All of them were merely expressing the ugly disintegration of their beliefs and values inside their disordered and distressed souls, the ugly disintegration which had come about through their loss of faith. The old Christian-based culture was lost to them and so they had founded the new atheist culture which underlay the ideologies and bloody wars of the twentieth century and all that followed it.
It seems to me that a believer may find ‘modern’ art (now over 100 years old) curious, interesting, even fascinating, but it is not the art which is natural to or expressive of a Christian soul.