Category Archives: Extremism

Some Autobiographical Notes

I have been asked a number of questions about how, coming from a simple, earthy English background in rural England, I came to be a Russian Orthodox priest of the Church Outside Russia. Making use of some unexpected time this week, I have looked back through some old papers which I had forgotten and can now answer those questions with some dates.

Q: How did you come to the Russian Church?

A: After a countryside childhood strangely filled with interest in faraway Russia, I started teaching myself Russian in October 1968. I was told to do so in a particular spot in Colchester, which I could take you to now, by a voice heard coming, brought as it were by a wind from the east. So I began to read a lot of Russian literature in translation and Russian history. Two years later, in 1970, I had decided that I wanted to be part of the Russian Church and had begun reading as much as I could to find out about it (very little was available at that time). However, it was only after my sixteenth birthday that I managed to visit Russian churches.

Q: Where? In London?

A: No, my family never went to London, which we always looked on as a different planet, ‘the smoke’ as we still called it. The countryside was our home. I won a bursary and at the end of February 1973 I managed to visit a Russian church in England. This was the tiny Russian Patriarchal house chapel in Oxford, where I prayed at vespers on two successive Saturdays. Then in the same year I won another bursary to visit the then Soviet Union; in fact the first church I visited there was St Vladimir’s Cathedral in Kiev. As I entered those churches, I knew that I wanted to be part of their inner life and that this was my destiny, the whole meaning of my life, regardless of all the barriers that would be put in front of me. I felt that I had always been here, that this was in my blood. (Only in 2004 did I discover any possible though very distant explanation in a Carpatho-Russian great-grandmother – my mother’s mother’s mother). At the end of 1973 I also managed to visit the Patriarchal Cathedral in London, of which I had heard. ROCOR then had no existence outside itself, being largely unknown to the outside world, at least in England.

Q: Which part of the Russian Church did you join?

A: As soon as I was free to do so at the age of 18, in 1974, I asked to join the Russian Church. Of course, there were two parts then. Firstly, I met two representatives of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), who solemnly informed me that I would not be allowed to join their Church since it was in any case ‘for Russians only’. I also met other, rather fanatical and sectarian individuals from ROCOR, who completely turned me away. I therefore took the only option left to me and joined the Patriarchal Church, presuming that this was identical to the Church that I had seen in Russia and the Ukraine.

However, I very soon found out that the small Oxford Patriarchal parish was dominated by two opposing clans – on the one hand, by haughty Parisian-type modernists, and, on the other hand, by Soviet chauvinist nationalists, for whom the Communist Party could do no ill! I gave myself spiritual life by reading Russian theological books I ordered from Jordanville and elsewhere. Visiting Soviet Russia for a second time in 1976 and spending time there, I saw again how the real Russian Church was different from the Oxford cliques. In 1977 a priest I had met in Russia the year before suggested that I study at the Moscow Theological Academy. I would very much like to have done that, but at the height of the Cold War this was absolutely impossible. That was tragic.

Q: What did you do?

A: I did the next best thing and in 1978 went to live and work in Thessaloniki in Greece for one year. Here, I saw how traditional the ethos could be, quite different from the Church of Constantinople, which I had seen in England, but also, unfortunately, I saw narrow Balkan nationalism and came across the semi-Protestant Zoe and Sotir organizations – closer to Methodism than Orthodoxy! However, I also visited Mt Athos and was especially influenced by Fr Ephraim at Philotheou and the very poor and heroic monks at the Russian St Panteleimon’s Monastery. I remember especially Fr Seraphim, Fr Misail (who wanted me to join the monastery and be the librarian) and the choir director from Odessa. These were real, exemplary Orthodox. It was at this point that I decided that I should go and study at a Russian seminary.

Since I had been told (in fact lied to) that Jordanville only accepted Russians, I took the only option left and went to St Serge in Paris. (The two ‘seminary’ establishments of the OCA held no interest for me since they were both on the Catholic/Protestant calendar and deviated in other ways from the ethos and practice of the Russian Church inside Russia. I knew enough from talking to people who had been to them and from my visits to Russia to understand that they were not right for me. I wanted the real thing).

Q: What happened next?

A: I went to study at St Serge in Paris. There I experienced the battle royal between the two factions in Paris at that time. The first, led by Protopresbyter Alexis Knyazev, a wonderful teacher, was the pro-Russian one that was clear-sighted enough to see that the only future was to rejoin the Russian Church, but on some autonomous basis.

The second group, the Fraternite Orthodoxe, led basically by the Jesuit-educated Count, Fr Boris Bobrinskoy, notorious for having celebrated the liturgy in a Catholic convent with the filioque (!) – so as ‘not to offend our Catholic brethren’, was virtually composed of Uniats. Other members included the fantasist and Athos-hater Olivier Clement and a Georgian priest who spent his time extolling the Second Vatican Council. I soon gave up going to their courses. The modernist and manipulative Fraternite was populated by patronizing aristocrats and fantasist ideologues who preyed on naïve Catholics and converts. Descendants of those who had carried out the Revolution, they absolutely hated Russia and had no intention of ever returning to the sobriety and discipline of the Russian Church. Naturally, I supported the first group which alone was authentic and also realistic.

These two groups depended on the Rue Daru bishop, the weak, elderly but saintly Archbishop George (Tarasov). The Fraternite was clearly waiting for him to die and then seize power, which they only managed to do in full twenty years later. Members of the Fraternite, some soon to become priests, used to hiss, mock and boo Archbishop George publicly. It was awful. I believe that Archbishop George, a former WWI Russian pilot from the Western Front, was a saint. Had he been in good health and lived another fifteen years, he would have returned the group to the Russian Church with the status of an autonomous Metropolia.

Q: Where did you go after St Serge?

A: Having met my wife, who is basically of Anglo-Italian-Romanian origin, and married in Paris, we returned to England. We stayed here for three years, trying to find some sort of balanced spiritual life between the extremes of the pseudo-Patriarchal Church and the Church Outside Russia, with their cliques which were not Churchly at all, quite different from the Church inside Russia, which I had seen in 1972 and 1976, and again at St Panteleimon’s on Mt Athos.

Having discovered the scandalous truths about the extremists dominating both groups in England, we returned disillusioned to France and my wife’s jurisdiction (Rue Daru). Here the new German Archbishop had personally promised us that he was going to steer the Church away from the modernist and ecumenist Fraternite Orthodoxe and back to Russian Orthodox Tradition, but using Western languages whenever necessary. Enthused by this sensible direction and the support of Fr Alexis Knyazev, who was still alive then, I was ordained in Paris in January 1985.

Q: What happened?

A: I had fallen from the frying pan into the fire. Within four months I was asked to become a freemason, which I refused to do, thus signing a kind of spiritual death warrant for myself. Through weakness of character, the new Archbishop had by then taken a suicidal path. He was ordaining freemasons and other members of the Fraternite, while also forbidding the use of local languages, doing exactly the opposite of everything he had promised. He was guaranteeing the death of Rue Daru, whose only hope for survival was in fact to return to one or other of the parts of the Russian Church.

So I surrendered to God’s Will. And in 1987 I was granted the grace of meeting the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, a representative of the real ROCOR, just waiting to return to a politically free Russian Church. Coming from Kiev, where I had first been to an Orthodox service, Archbishop Antony showed me the real, multinational ROCOR, which I had read about, but totally failed to meet in London with its nationalism and sectarianism. In July 1988, Rue Daru held a service in honour of the millennium of Orthodoxy in Rus, attended by the modernist Catholic Cardinal of Paris, but from which all Russian bishops had been banned!

It was the last straw and, thanks to God, Archbishop Antony gladly received a group of 17 of us spiritual refugees into ROCOR at the end of that year. This was actually a turning-point for the Rue Daru group, as ever since then the flow of serious Orthodox leaving it has not ceased, giving up the fight to save it. We now realize of course that that fight was impossible and we had undertaken it out of misplaced idealism. The well had been poisoned from the outset. It was also a turning-point for us, from which we have never looked back.

Q: Looking back, what would you do if you had your time again?

A: A purely hypothetical question. Hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful thing. At the time I had no advice at all, except for very bad advice, and there was no internet. Today, there is no doubt in my mind at all that I should have studied in London and then, in 1977, gone and studied at Jordanville. However, if I had not done what I had done then, how could I know all this now? Only experience teaches.

If I had not done what I did do, I would never have understood the Church of Greece, I would never have met the saintly Archbishop George Tarasov, the heroic Archbishop Antony of Geneva and so many other saintly figures, like the last representatives of the real White Russian movement, Fr Silouan of Athos of the Patriarchate (the disciple of St Silouan), the wonderful Baroness Maria Rehbinder, that exquisite Parisian poetess Lyudmila Sergeevna Brizhatova, the last White officer Vladimir Ivanovich Labunsky, and so many others, the representatives of the real Holy Rus in all jurisdictions of the Russian emigration.

Neither would I ever have understood the tragic renovationist decadence and absurd Soviet nationalism within parts of the Patriarchate outside Russia at that time, the two sides of the suicidal Rue Daru jurisdiction (sadly, today there is largely only one side left) and how ROCOR was nearly enveloped by the marginal extremes of narrow Russian nationalist chauvinism and fanatical old calendarist converts, but saved by the holiness of Metropolitan Laurus and the many with him, who so exactly expressed our values in Holy Rus, Eternal Russia.

There is in even this short, forty-year experience a lifetime of joys and sorrows. I have been privileged to know it all. In that sense I do not regret anything, even though I have met many tragic individuals, seen much waste and many lost opportunities, and seen parts of the Russian Diaspora committing suicide through spiritual impurity. However, I have been even more privileged in that I have also seen the old and artificial disunity fall away and become heartfelt unity and so life in the dynamic present and future. The worst, and it was really bad, is over and the best is now and in the future. Over nearly the last twenty years Providence has allowed me to work freely for the Russian Orthodox Church in missionary work in my own homeland of the three counties of the East of England.

A New Year Message: Flee Extremes!

One of my favourite photographs in our Church hall shows the Serb St Justin of Chelije standing side by side with the Romanian Fr Cleopa (Ilie). The former lived and became a saint on the old calendar. The latter, his saintly fellow-ascetic, lived on the new calendar. Despite his views that this calendar was an error, he naturally, as all must, preferred humble obedience to the pride of schism. The photograph shows the balance that I have always sought, away from the ridiculous extremes of the trolls, be they naïve and deluded amateurs or paid and hardened professionals. Although I have only ever seen physical violence from two old calendarists, it is today the new calendarist ones who are the most violent verbally, even to the point of issuing a death-threat. It is interesting that such people call themselves Orthodox Christians!

Looking back at controversies in the USA in the late sixties, seventies and onwards, the state of polarization between those on the old calendar and the new calendar made such photographs and such harmony impossible. Why? Because of extremism, that is, not so much because of the old calendar and the new calendar as because of old calendarism and new calendarism. The dread isms again. In the 70s and 80s I met representatives of the two groups, who summed up the two extremes for me. One was Bishop Gregory (Grabbe), an old calendarist. I met him and discovered in him an incredible and depressing negativity. He later died tragically, in a sect outside the Church. The other was Fr Alexander Schmemann, a new calendarist. I met him in 1980 when he was dressed as an American businessman and discovered that he was a chain-smoker who was not strong-willed enough to give up the deadly habit.

The old calendarist tendency was profoundly negative and gloomy, indeed depressing. It appeared to have no hope, mankind was doomed, almost Calvinistically. (And Calvin is a heretic). Everything new was bad, mankind faced the Apocalypse tomorrow. Possible salvation could come only through hiding out in ghettos. For the rest of the world there was only criticism and censorious condemnation; conspiracy theories thrived. This was the ideology of the sect and the pharisee. The attitude to regular communion was singularly negative – only with the strictest preparation could it possibly be contemplated. I remember well being told that I was unacceptable to membership of such groups – apart from being the wrong nationality (!), I was too young and too well-educated. Two cardinal sins, ‘unforgivable’, as one such senior and very elderly ‘Christian’ said to me in 1986! I was certainly destined for hellfire.

The new calendarist tendency was over-positive and over-optimistic to the point of fantasy. Everything was possible, the modernist fantasy of salvation for all (the heresy of Origenism, so beloved of Protestants claiming to be Orthodox) was on the agenda; no room for gloom and doom here. With an unreal ideology, it was over-open to the world, wanting somehow wanting to merge the Church with it, it was ecumenically-minded, wanted to revolutionize and change everything and had only spite for those who thought otherwise. The attitude to communion was singularly positive – it was more or less open to all without any preparation at all. I remember being welcomed on first meeting members of such groups – I was young and well-educated. As to whether I believed in anything, that seemed to be totally irrelevant. Far from the dark, all was light. With them I was certainly destined for heaven.

The two things that both tendencies had in common were intolerance and narrow-mindedness.

Looking back, as a Non-American, ironically I see in the culture of Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) and Fr Alexander Schmemann, both apparently Russians, the extremes of American culture. Bishop Gregory appeared not so much to represent Russian Orthodoxy as New England doom and gloom Calvinism (Let us remember that the Calvinists left England because of their intolerance). The world was predestined to perish and there was no hope. Ahead there was only darkness. Fr Alexander, as his Swiss cousin, a faithful of ROCOR, said to me in 1989, had ‘become a Protestant’. For him, in typical 60s, Kennedy-like fashion, the future was with the young and everything was possible for such ‘All-Americans’, as can be heard in SVS recordings of the time. Sometimes Fr Alexander sounded like a US self-help manual: ‘Just do it’ seemed to be his slogan.

All of this was alien to sceptical Europeans who found such Americans naïve and extreme. Fortunately, both tendencies are now dying out, apart from among the to be ignored, anonymous trolls, as we mentioned above. Thus, the extremist fringes and margins of the Church Outside Russia, infected by old calendarist sectarianism, have gone, just as the extremist fringes and margins of the Orthodox Church in America are apparently being buried with the plastic 1960s, where they came from. The Church, now in unity with the freed Church inside Russia, has moved on and both extremes now seem hopelessly old-fashioned, museum-pieces, indeed, totally irrelevant to the new generations.

The extremes forgot that Christ is both the Merciful Saviour and the Just Judge, that both Truth and Mercy are met together (Ps 84, 11). To the old calendarists let us recall that we are called to save the one lost sheep among the ninety-nine (Luke 15), that, as the proverb says, it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness, that repentance happens even on the death-bed, for God does not want the death of a sinner (Ezekiel 33, 11) and with Him all things are possible (Luke 18). To the new calendarists let us recall that death is the one thing inevitable, that the Apocalypse and the Second Coming are drawing closer with the passing of every single day, that the Last Judgement will certainly follow and that not all will be saved, for not all will repent.

The Russian Orthodox Church: Yesterday and Tomorrow

The Emperor and the Empress thought that they were dying for their homeland. But in fact they died for all mankind.

Pierre Gilliard, Swiss tutor to the Tsar’s children.

Foreword

Ten years ago, in 2005, debate raged in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) about our relations with the Church inside Russia. Was it at last free and so could we enter into canonical communion and work together, building the future? Such was the debate that a Pan-Diaspora Church Council was called in San Francisco in 2006 in order to answer the questions posed. At that time we had to counter some very false arguments which were advanced in favour of sectarian self-isolation, arguments that were shaped by the impurity of politics and psychology, and not by the purity of theology. Below are examples.

Yesterday

The human weakness of Metropolitan (later Patriarch) Sergius (+ 1944) and his followers, as revealed in compromises with the atheist persecutor Stalin, known as ‘sergianism’, was erected by some into a ‘theological’ heresy. In fact, it was just another form of erastianism, of placing the State above the Church, of which there had already been so many examples in other forms in the Old Testament and in 1900 years of Church history. There was nothing theological in this, for it was only human weakness on the part of one who had found himself under huge pressure from a militant atheist State. No-one is to judge him for his weakness, there is no place for phariseeism here, for God is the Judge of all.

Though there was nothing of a dogmatic or theological nature in such compromises, certain individuals, partly under the influence of North American political puritanism, even concluded that the present-day sacraments of the Church inside Russia had somehow mysteriously ‘lost grace’ on account of this compromise of three generations before. As a ROCOR priest, I first came across this astonishing piece of politics masquerading as theology in 1992 from someone who was under the influence of this North American error. In fact, of course, sergianism is not a heresy, whereas puritanism, with its inherent impurity of Novatianism, Donatism and Eustathianism, as seen in the light of the canons of the Council of Gangra of 340, most certainly is.

The political and diplomatic support which a few in the Church inside Russia sought from Roman Catholics and Protestants, and called ecumenism, was also condemned. However, it was a very curious idea that the opinions or actions of a handful of individuals could be held up as a sign that the whole of the Church inside Russia, 160,000,000 people, was therefore somehow tainted by the heresy of ecumenism! In reality, most of the faithful inside Russia had never heard of ecumenism and those who had were utterly opposed to it. This was all the stranger, in that by 2005 ecumenism had in any case come to mean something very different from in its political heyday between the 60s and 80s. Instead of concerning itself with politically-enforced syncretistic compromise, in fact heresy, it had turned to having good-neighbourly relations with heterodox, something that ROCOR, with the many mixed marriages among parishioners and regular need to use heterodox premises for services, had always cultivated.

The strangest argument heard at that time was that we could not associate ourselves with the Church inside Russia in any way because of the compromises of a few individuals in it. This was an appalling error, for it would have meant that we could not associate ourselves with the Church of the New Martyrs and Confessors. True, we, in freedom, had canonized the New Martyrs and Confessors first, in 1981, 19 years before the Church inside Russia had been able to do so by freeing itself. However, many, including myself, had wondered why we in the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), living in freedom, had so scandalously not canonized the New Martyrs and Confessors long before, from the 1920s on. We felt shame for ourselves.

The sad reason for the delay had been because elements in ROCOR were themselves contaminated with politics. Indeed, I well remember how in 1981 certain parishioners at the ROCOR Cathedral in London, as also elsewhere, had actually been opposed to the canonization. And in any case, the ROCOR canonization had only ever been a first step, a beginning. As I wrote at the time: What has begun in New York must come to completion in Moscow. Moreover, for lack of trustworthy information we had canonized only some 8,000; the Church inside Russia, with greater access to archives, has canonized well over 30,000 and that number is increasing.

Others said that we in ROCOR could have nothing to do with a Church whose bishops belonged to the KGB. I would have agreed with this – if any had belonged to the KGB, such as, we suspect, the defrocked schismatic Filaret Denisenko, now the darling of the CIA. In fact, they did not. The senior bishops inside Russia merely had KGB code names – in the same way as Western secular leaders, whom we prayed for in our services as civil leaders, had KGB code-names. The Church inside Russia could just as well have said: ‘We will have nothing to do with ROCOR because you pray for individuals who have KGB code-names’. It would have been just as false an argument.

Some in ROCOR admitted that there were members of our Church, in good standing, who worked or had worked for the CIA and other Western spy services. They countered this by saying that there were members of the KGB in churches inside Russia. This was totally false: the only KGB members who attended churches there were those who went there to spy, to note down names of priests or young people and create problems for them.

Sectarian elements in ROCOR objected that if we entered into canonical communion with the Church inside Russia, we would then be in communion with the rest of the Orthodox Church! I first heard this incredible argument, I think, in about 1999, when a ROCOR priest from London concelebrated with a priest of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. This had raised an objection from a sectarian priest trained in North America. In the Western European Diocese of ROCOR, where I had been ordained and celebrated until 1997, such concelebrations were perfectly normal and happened regularly. As a ROCOR priest, I was amazed at this sectarian spirit, which I had hardly met before. The logic of this argument would be that we in ROCOR were no longer in communion with Mt Athos, which is in the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Absolutely unthinkable! (Naturally, such sectarians later left ROCOR).

On a much more serious and practical level, there were those who pointed out that among representatives of the Church inside Russia in the Diaspora there were still corrupt and renovationist clergy at even the highest level, even though several had by then died out. This was a problem. Although these renovationists called us slanderers for telling the Truth and so shaming their false idols (as renovationists elsewhere still do), the problem was largely overcome in 2006, when most such clergy in England and France left the jurisdiction of the Church inside Russia in a schism which they created; since then, two or three other such individuals have simply been removed, so they can no longer cause scandal and can at last learn the basics of the Faith.

Finally, there were those who said that we could not work together with the Church inside Russia because the situation in Russia was not as it had been before the Revolution. Soviet practices had infiltrated Russian society, alcoholism, abortion, corruption and divorce were rife, the mummy of the Russophobic murderer Lenin still lay on Red Square, and the squares and streets of Russia were littered with his statues or named after his henchmen. They demandingly demanded in fact that the post-Soviet Russian State (in charge of such matters) behave as though it were part of the Russian Church! In the face of this argument we pointed out that pre-Revolutionary Russia had not been ideal either (otherwise there would never have been a Revolution), we asked for compassion for a people deprived for three generations of a free Church, asked for patience and said that with time the Church will influence the State, since repentance, which we too are in need of, changes people.

Victory

The above arguments were rejected, with repentance for ever having entertained them, by well over 95% of ROCOR, dismissed as the arguments of schismatic impurity, of a tiny, sectarian, inward-looking and politicized minority, which had been trying to take over ROCOR, holding us back and impeding us from fulfilling our universal calling together with the rest of the Russian Orthodox Church, the great majority. As we know, in 2007 the vast majority of the hierarchy, clergy and people of our little ROCOR were happy to enter at last into canonical communion with the vast majority of the rest of the Church, of which we had always spiritually been a part. The separation, caused purely by political events exterior to the Church, was over. We were sure that the Church inside Russia had freed itself, as had already been made evident by the Jubilee Council of 2000. At long last, our inward unity could become outwardly apparent and, impediments removed, we could progress together towards our common destiny and ever more urgent mission.

Tomorrow

A generation after the fall of State atheism in the Russian Federation, we see in Russia today most interesting developments, promising for the future. After the awful period of ‘law of the jungle’ capitalism in the 1990s, with its rule of seven bankers, ‘Wild East’ bandit privatizations and the appearance of pro-Western criminal oligarchs and liberals, Russia has largely seen through that alternative to Communism that was offered it by the consumerist Western world, which we too, living in the Western world itself, had already seen through.

Thanks largely to the chaos and misery that the Western Powers have been causing in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Libya, Syria and above all in the Ukraine, Russian society has seen through Eurosodom and Gomorrhica. If the CIA-installed Poroshenko junta, set up in Kiev, the Mother of Russian cities, wants the suicide of ‘European values’, it can have them. We will remain faithful to the values of St Vladimir and St Olga of Holy Kiev. Believing in Christ, Who trampled down death by death, we choose life. Believing in satan who tramples down life by death, they choose death. That is the difference between us.

Providentially, through the Western attacks on Holy Rus, Russian society has for the most part now come to understand that the West is not the solution. Russia must follow its own, historic, God-given way, the way that our saints and other lucid elements in ROCOR have always preached. As for Russia, it must heal itself and restore Holy Rus. Outside Russia, we can only pray and encourage, learning as we go, for our main task is to spread Orthodoxy outside the Russian Lands in faithfulness to Holy Rus. We are only humble disciples who follow the precepts of Holy Rus.

Interestingly, voices have been saying that Russian society today resembles 1917 Russia. However, unlike in 1917 the direction of today’s Russia is not 1918, but 1916. In other words, although the situation is delicate, Russia is not heading towards catastrophe as it was in 1917, but is heading back from it. Here is the difference. If, God willing, we continue on this God-given path, the Church of Russia will lead us to our destiny. What is this?

On account of the utter failure of imposed Western ideas there, we can say that Russia has seen the future and knows from bitter experience that it does not work. Today it is struggling its way back up from the pit, at the same time as the Western world, led by the United States, is hurtling headlong into it. Today, some of the more aware Western politicians and thinkers are going to Russia or following events in Russia in order to learn. Gerhard Schroeder, Nicolas Sarkozy, Phillippe de Villiers, Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul, Paul Craig Roberts, Franklin Graham and others all follow events in Russia closely or visit.

Russia’s mystical and historic role now is to act as an intermediary between East and West, between China and Western Europe. For the spiritual destiny of China is to enter the authentic Orthodox Christian world, becoming the Eastern provinces of Holy Rus, just as the spiritual destiny of Western Europe, with its roots in Orthodox Christianity, is to return to it, with the help of its ancient saints, by becoming the Western provinces of Holy Rus. True, the towering national pride of Europeans largely prevents this, for where there is no humility, there is no salvation. Indeed, Russia’s task is now not to save Europe from the USA, as some have put it, but to save Europe from itself. Just as Russia, and not the West, was to blame for choosing the Western ideology that created the Russian Revolution in February 1917, we do not blame others for the present misfortune that Europeans have chosen for themselves.

The key to universal salvation in these last times is atonement, in the restoration of Holy Rus and in Holy Rus becoming universal. Following the Holy Trinity, we are called on not only to be Guardians and Gatherers of Holy Rus, following the Father and the Son, but also Spreaders of Holy Rus, following the Holy Spirit. Those, in East and West, who want to work with the Russian Orthodox Church and so, by following the Tradition, build up new Local Churches are welcome to do so. If some do not wish to do so and set themselves against the prophetic and mystical Church Tradition in tired, old, secularist and humanist neo-renovationism, then God be with them. We shall do God’s Will without them. We force no-one to follow the Church; the Church sails ahead without those who reject Her.

In 1917 the last Christian Emperor, the Tsar, did not abdicate. In 1917 Russia and the whole world abdicated from him, from the Christian Emperor and Christian Empire, and so from Christ. Since then there has been no peace on earth so that we have all had to atone, each receiving our penance in order to learn humility. Inside Russia the people faced the penances of persecution and Nazi invasion, outside Russia those in the emigration faced the penances of exile and isolation. As for Europe, like today’s USA also, it has faced the penance of war and humiliating loss of power and greatness. As for the rest of the world, it has faced constant strife and war, ever since ‘he who restrains’ (2 Thess 2, 7) was in 1917 removed. All the suffering of the world since 1917 has been the opportunity of all to learn humility.

Our destiny, mystical and prophetical, is to preach Holy Rus, the message of the last Christian Emperor, to the whole world for repentance before the end. The time is coming when the world will at last be ready to hear of Holy Rus, of the universality of the Incarnate Christ, authentic Christianity, and not the two diluted isms shaped by Western heathenism, pagan Romanism and northern barbarianism, that is, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.

Afterword

My great-grandfather was born in the same year as Nicholas II, the last Christian Emperor who was martyred in Ekaterinburg in 1918. One hundred years after the Emperor’s birth and fifty years after his martyrdom, I, born on the anniversary of the day when the remains of the Imperial family were finally destroyed, received the message from the east that I was to learn and then go and speak of Holy Rus, Christ Incarnate, to those whom I met. This is not only my personal destiny, but also that of many others, as described so well in the poem ‘The Apostles’, written in exile in 1928 by the bard of the Tsar, Sergey Bekhteev:

Amid the darkness of the slavish world
We bear the spirit’s torch in victory
And we call loud to those chosen by God
To enter the hall where the Orthodox feast.

We walk along a road of thorns,
We soar above worldly vanity,
We are the apostles of Christ’s Faith,
We are the heralds of holy truth.

We call the races and the peoples,
Made scarlet with their brothers’ blood,
To the kingdom of true, eternal freedom,
To the kingdom of goodness, light and love.

The hopes and prayers for the future turn to Ekaterinburg, to restoration and coronation.

Questions and Answers from Recent Correspondence (October 2015)

Q: What is happening in the Serbian Orthodox Church at present?

A: As far as I can see, the Western neocon elite, which has been trying to manipulate the Serbian government ever since it bombed Serbia, is continuing the same old Communist policy of divide and rule. Just as the Communists separated Macedonia and set up an ‘Orthodox’ nationalist sect there in the 1960s, so Washington and its allies have since separated Montenegro and Kosovo from Serbia and are trying to set up nationalist sects there through their local puppets. Opposition is coming from the people. In Montenegro the people do not want to become another NATO base and in Macedonia they do not want to become another Muslim republic like Kosovo. This political opposition creates opposition to the nationalist and schismatic sects, as people realize that is what they are.

This is the very policy that the US is trying to implement in the Ukraine also. There, three different small, foreign, politically-concocted sects, one of which has a very aggressive leader, Denisenko, who has visited the State Department in Washington as an honoured guest, are trying to undermine the vast majority. They belong to the only Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is led by Metropolitan Onuphry.

Q: Isn’t it strange that the Yugoslav Communists fifty years ago under the Croat Tito and today’s neocons follow the same policy?

A: Not at all. The Yugoslav Communists were put into place by the Western Powers during World War II, with Churchill switching sides to them from the Orthodox Serbs and supporting them. The Communists and the neocons share the same basic materialistic ideology. The only difference is that the Communists promoted the materialistic concept of amassing State wealth, the neocons of amassing personal wealth. State Capitalism or individualist Capitalism, Mammon is the same everywhere.

Q: What can be done?

A: I am an outsider, so it is difficult for me to say anything about the Serbian Church. That is an internal matter. However, it does seem vital to me that in general all of us, whatever Local Church we belong to, must keep to Orthodox canonical principles and resist US/EU, or any other, political interference and, at the same time, we must advance non-nationalist, confederal structures. This is what the Russian Church did over 20 years ago, granting extensive autonomy to its local parts, for example to the Ukrainian Church, the Moldovan Church, the Latvian Church and the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). If this is not done, there will be new schisms or else old schisms will continue.

Q: On the subject of schisms, who were the small groups of dissidents who went into schism from the two parts of the Russian Church at their reconciliation in 2007?

A: As I have said before, there were two groups. The first left English and French communities officially dependent on the Church inside Russia. Their leaders (and their naïve followers who knew no better) were renovationists, who had been poisoning Church life in the Diaspora for decades, in obedience to their by then mainly dead Paris-School ideologues. They left for the US-controlled Patriarchate of Constantinople, where freemasons, semi-Uniats and anti-Russian political or nationalist dissidents seem to be made welcome. The second group left ROCOR and were a strange mixture of operatives of the CIA and other Western spy services, right-wingers of the Peronista type in South America and ideologically-minded old calendarist converts who did not love the Russian Church and persecuted those of us who do.

Q: Looking back on your own life in the Church, do you regret the things that happened to you in the 70s and 80s?

A: If the things that happened to me had not happened, I would not know now what I have learned from bitter experience, however painful. So, in a sense how can I regret anything? Everything was necessary to learn a little wisdom and see through the myths of the ‘Orthodox’ Establishment. However, if we are to daydream (!) and I had known then what I know now, I would in 1971 have joined the London ROCOR parish. Then, having finished studies at University in London in 1977, I would have asked to go to Jordanville in 1977.

I greatly regret not only that in those pre-internet days I was given no facts, no guidance, but instead was given active misinformation and misdirection. Such was the spiritual corruption and prejudice against the Russian Church at that time. The scribes and pharisees of the Establishment did not want a Church outside its control, a free, uncompromised and spiritually independent Russian Orthodox Church, free of both left-wing renovationism and right-wing politicking. They wanted an impure, spiritually degutted and compromised Establishment organization. This is why they did their best to undermine us from both outside and, through their agents of both left and right, from inside.

Q: How do you see the future for the Russian Church in the East of England?

A: In recent years we have encouraged the establishment of both what became the little rural mission with Fr Anthony in Mettingham in Suffolk and of St Panteleimon’s skete outside Clacton in Essex. This latter is under Fr Sergei, whose simplicity is an example to us all. Now, with God’s help and that of many kind and generous benefactors, we are buying property for a church in the city of Norwich and hope to have a man ordained for the new parish in God’s good time. Perhaps this is all we can do; certainly we need more clergy in order to expand. One or two candidates now seem to be appearing at last, but we need more.

We can dream of parishes in the county centres elsewhere in the east: a church building for Suffolk in the county centre of Bury St Edmunds, a church dedicated to Sts Peter and Paul in Peterborough for Cambridgeshire, a church of the Resurrection in Bedford for Bedfordshire, a church dedicated to St Alban in St Albans for Hertfordshire, a church dedicated to St Nicholas in east London, a church dedicated to Sts Constantine and Helen in York for Yorkshire and a church dedicated to All the Saints in Canterbury as the centre for Kent. However, realistically, if that is not God’s will, none of this will happen.

Q: Why is it important to have property in central and populated places?

A: Because if we do not, the communities will die out as property promotes continuity. This is a law. When you have your own property, then you also have spiritual freedom. I have seen dozens of parishes closing in England and France over the last forty years. Why? Because they had no property. It is just a fact of life. And communities must always be in centres, in cities and large towns, where the people are. You do not open a church where no-one lives. Church buildings follow the people, for they are the Church. It is not the other way round. That is common sense.

Q: Some people fear the coming Pan-Orthodox Council in 2016, calling it the ‘Eighth Oecumenical Council’ that was denounced in the prophecies. What would you say?

A: There is a certain hysteria and paranoia among some who seem to know very little of Church history with respect to this meeting, which is most certainly not the ‘Eighth Oecumenical Council’. It is pure fantasy to call it that. The Inter-Orthodox meeting next year is not a Council, but a meeting of a minority of Orthodox bishops, about 25% of the total. It will discuss administrative and canonical issues; all the dogmatic issues have already been decided for all time by the Seven Universal (‘Oecumenical’ is a misleading translation) Councils.

No meeting can become a Council if its resolutions are not received by the faithful, but sadly we the faithful have never been consulted about the discussions leading to this present meeting. The whole thing is happening behind closed doors in Calvinist Geneva (of all places), a situation unheard of in Orthodox practice, and I think this is why a certain hysteria and paranoia is growing up in some circles. They are inevitable, given the near-total lack of transparency.

The faithful are the guardians of the Faith, which is why a meeting can only become a Council if its decisions are received by the faithful. If a meeting is a Council, then it means that the Holy Spirit is present there, as He is among the faithful. At present it seems that some of the 1960s-style liberal Protestant agenda being promoted by the Phanariots and which frightened us in the 1970s, has already had to be dropped at the preparatory meetings. That is good. We do not need any more old-fashioned modernism. However, there is no agreement among representatives of the Local Churches who are preparing this meeting on several important issues. Moreover, with the latest condemnation by Constantinople of Metr Rostislav of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, this meeting may never even take place, for it cannot if one of the fourteen Local Churches is absent. So Greek nationalism may yet put an end to the meeting altogether.

More generally, the situation is so highly politicized that one wonders if anything meaningful can take place even if these bishops do meet. Let us recall that no fewer than three patriarchs of Local Churches are now US appointees (against the canons of the Church) and they repeat the policies of the State Department, that is, of Obama, who may be an atheist or may be a Muslim (no-one is sure), of the abortionist Biden and of the warmonger Kerry. Parts of the Church are simply not free to meet. Just as St Justin of Chelije called for a boycott of any such Inter-Orthodox meeting in the 1970s because so many Local Churches, notably the Russian, were then enslaved by the atheist SU, so today other Local Churches are enslaved by the atheist US.

Q: So can any meaningful meeting take place?

A: I think that in the longer term it may be irrelevant whether a meeting takes place or not. I see a different outcome. As the number of bishops in the Russian Church climbs inexorably to 400 and more, and the total will soon exceed 50% of the total number of Orthodox bishops, the meeting in Constantinople is becoming irrelevant. It may be that the Russian Orthodox Church, as the one and only obvious Centre of Orthodox Civilization, may soon hold an episcopal meeting together with the other free Local Churches, Antioch, Georgia, Poland, Czechoslovakia etc.

Such a meeting of over 500 bishops would be far more representative that that the Geneva-prepared one in the Phanar, and would be more likely to become a Council. It could take place at the New Jerusalem Monastery outside Moscow, which is now nearly fully restored. This is what the Russian Church intended the Monastery for in the seventeenth century, as a centre of World Orthodoxy, but was prevented from becoming by the interference of the Russian State both then and since. Such a Council could speak freely, without reserve ‘for fear of the Jews’, that is, unintimidated by the Soviet-style censorship of political correctness.

Such a situation would reflect the reality of the Church today, not the situation of a thousand years ago when Greek ruled the roost. It is time to catch up with reality. The Greek-ruled Churches, mostly with flocks of scarcely a million and nationalist outlooks, are simply unable to cope with the reality of today’s global world. In order to respond, the Church today must also be global. Only the Russian Church is that.

Q: Some would call that ‘Russian Imperialism’.

A: Imperialism of any sort is to be condemned because it is nationalism. What we are talking about is an Imperial Church, the Church of the Christian Empire. Imperial means multinational unity in diversity, with new autocephalous Local Churches being born through missionary activity, whereas Imperialism means nationalism, central control and the ‘one size fits all’ mentality of the papist model, which, sadly, now exists in Istanbul.

Q: What is the situation after the latest round of episcopal consecrations announced by the Russian Church on 23 October?

A: The news that Fr Tikhon (Shevkunov) is now a bishop is most welcome, and the news that Italy now has for the first time ever a resident Russian Orthodox bishop in Bishop Antony (Sevryuk) is historic. It seems that we are at last seeing the appearance of a young generation of bishops, all at least trilingual (the local language, English and Russian), resident in the country, with an understanding of the local culture and politically free. We also noted that Fr Gennady Andreyev of the Sourozh Diocese in Manchester has been nominated bishop.

But there are other welcome events. Despite vigorous French political opposition which much delayed the project, the cupolas are now on the new Russian Cathedral in Paris and all should be finished within twelve months. We are moving ahead at last.

And as regards the veneration of the local Western saints, 60 years after St John, we are now moving forward to their inclusion in the Russian calendar inside Russia and perhaps even elsewhere. It is not just a case of better late than never, this represents real repentance on the part of those who resisted, reproached and actively persecuted us for venerating them for over 40 years. It is sad that several of the persecutors are now dead and therefore cannot repent, so we will have to pray for them, for Christ calls us to pray for our enemies, regardless of whether they are dead or alive. It is the same situation as with those who refused to venerate the New Martyrs and Confessors and put icons of them in their churches. They have all been proved wrong as well.

Q: Many people are very pessimistic about the situation in Russia and criticize it. What would you answer them?

A: There is a huge amount to criticize in post-Soviet Russia, the old classic of ABC – Alcoholism (nearly as high as in Finland), ‘Bortion (abortion) (near Asian levels) and Corruption (about the same as in Italy), to which could be added D for both Divorce (nearly as high as in the USA) and Drug-taking (not yet at the levels of Western Europe). However, the Russophobes and their propaganda deliberately omit the vital fact: the direction Russia is going in is right, whereas the direction that the West is going in is wrong. It is a huge historical irony that in proportion as Russia is deSovietized (a process well under way despite the propaganda, opposition and fear of the West), the West is being Sovietized.

Q: Who are these Russophobes who criticize?

A: There are two groups. Firstly, there are the neo-colonial Western ideologues who, still living in the imperialist arrogance of the nineteenth century, are convinced that ‘West is best’ and as for ‘the rest’, they can go to hell. These people are in reality mere primitive racists and extremists, like the Russophobe Senator John McCain who has now been photographed at a meeting with Islamic State, so anxious is he to be anti-Russian! (Here is the proof that the Westernists are at one with Islamists, whose movement they founded in Afghanistan in the 1980s and who have always supported the murderous regime in Saudi Arabia with its beheadings, crucifixions and massive bombings, with US warplanes and British bombs, of civilians in the Yemen. The extremes always meet, in the same way that the British imperialist and Jewish convert Disraeli backed the Ottoman massacres of Bulgarian Christians in the 19th century).

Secondly, there are the Russian Westernizers, many of them oligarchs, Jews or homosexuals. They are often to be seen at the US embassy in Moscow. They represent the same aristocratic, military and industrialist class (senior Romanovs among them), and also renovationist career clergy in the Church, that betrayed Russia in 1917 (when they were to be seen at the British Embassy in Saint Petersburg), overthrowing the Tsar because they wanted power (and even more money) for themselves.

They have their exact parallel in the Ukraine today, where the legitimate and democratically elected Yanukovich government (whatever its many shortcomings) was overthrown by the nationalist Galician Uniat minority, led by oligarchs like the Jewish Poroshenko and other billionaire industrialists who sold their souls to the CIA in exchange for its backing. Elected by 25% of the people, and that was only achieved with harsh Secret Police repression and US PR propaganda, these people are ruthless because they are completely without principle. That is why they hate the Ukrainian people and Orthodoxy. Unlike them, we Christians have principles.

In fact, it would be more exact to call such individuals Orthodoxophobes than Russophobes and Ukrainophobes, because that is the essence of their hatred, hatred for Christ, however deludedly they may claim that they are for Christ. As with the Bolsheviks in Alexander Blok’s revolutionary poem, ‘The Twelve’, they think that they are following Christ, but in reality they are following Antichrist. And he will lead them to the perdition of their souls in Gehenna. That is how serious their situation is.

Q: What is happening to the ‘British Orthodox Church’?

A: The so-called ‘British Orthodox Church’, in fact neither British, nor Orthodox, was a tiny group of vagantes and other eccentric Anglo-Catholics, whose leader used to call himself ‘the Patriarch of Glastonbury’(!). However, they were received and ordained by the Coptic Church some 20 years ago. In 1999 they had one bishop, 18 vicars (clergy) and 72 faithful! In early October this year they left the Miaphysite Church and, apparently, have now gone back to being vagantes. The problem was that the ex-Anglicans in question could not accept the inherent anti-Chalcedonianism which is now once more coming to the fore among the Copts in what I think is an outburst of nationalism. (Anti-Chalcedonianism goes hand in hand with local nationalism, which to a great extent caused it).

I am told that the group now has one bishop, 2 priests and about 100 faithful, mainly Establishment ex-Anglicans, mainly, I am told, elderly, though I am not sure if that is true. What the group will do now is unclear. Sadly, I doubt that they will wish to join the Orthodox Church because that would mean accepting catechism and being received as laypeople. I very much hope that I am wrong in this pessimistic view of their clericalism. There is one ex-Anglican group which they might join; it ordains ex-Anglican vicars almost immediately and virtually without training. Who knows? I think it will make little difference because it is such a tiny group, not even one normal parish.

Q: Given its critical situation, it has been suggested that the Rue Daru jurisdiction be directly governed by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and join the local Constantinople dioceses, like that of Metropolitan Emmanuel in Paris. What do you think of that?

A: I agree. I think that this is so logical that it is inevitable. Once all those who love the Russian Tradition have left Rue Daru, as they have been doing over the last thirty and more years since the repose of the saintly Archbishop George (Tarasov) and the fall into decadence after him, what will be left? Freemasons and naïve converts, new calendarist modernists and ecumenists. Obviously, they should all be together in Constantinople’s local diocesan structures and lodges. On the other hand, they should first have the honesty to hand back Russian Church property, which they are effectively occupying.

Q: What do you make of the recent Roman Catholic Synod in Rome?

A: Catholicism is now at a turning point. Will it keep the remnants of Catholicism (which date back in one form or another to Orthodoxy), or will it become completely Protestantized, a process that was initiated by wealthy US, German and other liberal cardinals over fifty years ago at the Second Vatican Council. With the present Jesuit Pope, for whom the means seem to justify the ends and who seems to agree with everyone and no-one, it is impossible to say what will happen, but that is what is at stake. This is important because Roman Catholicism is the very last Western European institution with an Orthodox past to survive. However, today Roman Catholicism, Uniatism included, looks so weak, so Americanized, that is, so Protestantized, that there seems little hope for it. I have always believed that only Orthodoxy can fill the spiritual abyss left by it.

Its situation is symbolic of Western Europe in general, whose cities now seem to be on the verge of disappearing beneath the tidal wave of the Muslim invasion. This was brought about by Western interference in the Middle East and North Africa, the notorious CIA-orchestrated ‘Arab spring’, which has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands. Will Western Europe survive at all? That is now the question. However, I would like to disagree with the Western xenophobes, who blame ‘Arabs’ or ‘Muslims’. These wretched people are not the cause of the problem. The cause of the problem is Western apostasy, the fact that Western people have abandoned Christ. As nature abhors a vacuum, so it is being filled – and by Islam. If Western people had not abandoned Christ and Christian culture, there would be no spiritual vacuum and no Muslims here to fill it.

Q: How should we look at the situation in Syria?

A: We live in times when the prophecies are being accomplished before our very eyes – in Iraq, in Syria and in Turkey. The present catastrophe began in 1991 with the beginning of the fall of Babylon (Iraq) in the first Gulf War. This was accomplished in 2003. In 2000 Iraq had nearly 2,000,000 Christians, now there are fewer than 200,000. Even someone as obtuse and deluded as Blair is just now beginning to admit that he is partly responsible. As for Syria, it is next to Armageddon. The third player is Turkey, whose fall is also prophesied. Then will come the drying up of the Euphrates. Before that I think we shall also see changes in the Ukraine next year.

Following Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya have all called for Russian help. It is difficult to know whether Russia will be able to put out all the conflagrations started by incredible Western hubris, but we shall see. It is not easy to be the world’s fireman when you face American arsonists.

Q: What lies behind this hubris which is inherent in the West?

A: Historically, it is a mixture of the imperialist superiority of the pagan Romans mixed with the ruthless plundering of the barbarian Germanic peoples being harnessed by Satanic powers. Thus, what is at the origin of the British Establishment? It is the Norman mentality, in other words, the mentality of a Viking warband, which is what the Normans were. When they came to England in 1066, having already destroyed the older Christian traditions of pre-Norman Normandy, they came to plunder the gold and riches of a Christian kingdom and destroy its half-millennial Church.

The gleam in Norman eyes then was the same as that in the eyes of the gold-hungry Spanish conquistadors five centuries later, and the same as that in the eyes of Texan oilmen when they got their greedy hands on Iraqi oil five centuries after that. Even modern Western science fiction talks of asset-stripping and strip-mining other planets in exactly the same way. Exploit the mineral resources of a country until they are exhausted and then move on to the next country, or planet, and strip it bare too, plunder and pillage ruthlessly – all under the pretext of freedom and democracy. As the imperialist British Prime Minister Palmerston said 150 years ago, Britain has ‘no friends and no enemies, only interests’. In other words, the Western Establishment is nothing but a Viking warband intent on plunder and pillage, intent on its own interests, and without any principles whatsoever.

Q: What would you say of the general situation? Doesn’t it make you despair?

A: No. The world, as ever, is divided into three groups: God’s, Satan’s and the undecided. This means: the real Orthodox (those who are willing to die for Orthodoxy); Satan’s people (including so-called ‘Orthodox’ apostates); and the rest, including many nominal Orthodox, who have not made up their mind whose they are. Some among the rest are two-faced and agree with everyone, but among the rest there are also those who one day will be willing to die for Orthodoxy. It is in the hope of the repentance of all that the world continues through the mercy of God.

I think in dealing with the things of the world (political events etc), we have to be in the know, but not despair. Be as gentle as doves and wise as serpents, says Christ. We must always remember that though man proposes, God disposes. Satan’s forces do what they want, but it does not mean that they will win. They will not. We know that for a fact. The scheme of the prince of this world and his over-educated minions is obvious – their great plan is to restore the Temple in Jerusalem so that they can enthrone Antichrist there. But it may be hundreds of years till they achieve that, even though there are days when it seems that it is going to happen within just a few years.

God, not man, disposes. Do not despair. We have already seen one miracle – the fall of militant atheism in the old Soviet Unionand the beginning of the restoration of the Christian Empire there. Other miracles are possible. Never underestimate either the wisdom of God or the foolishness of man. Never doubt God’s power.

The Universal Message of the Russian Orthodox Church

Introduction: The Fringes

With the fall of the Soviet Union and the advent of religious freedom, tens and tens of millions of former Soviet citizens were baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church during the 1990s and after. The baptisms were rushed because we did not at that time know how long we would have. We believed that atheism might come back and the final persecution of the Church would begin. People were baptized, but instruction generally started only afterwards. With just a few thousand priests and open churches, we had to cope with a flood of tens of millions who clamoured for baptism. As a result of lack of instruction, some small groups of newly-baptized on the fringes fell into different extremes, both in fact as secular as each other. The first forgot that, though we are in the world, we are not of the world; the second forgot that, though we are not of the world, we are in the world.

Nationalism

Firstly, there were a few who, horrified by the collapse of the Soviet Union, became what the Russia media call ‘Orthodox Stalinists’. In other words, for reasons of psychological insecurity and through spiritual impurity, they tried to bring the world into the Church with themselves. In their case, the world meant Soviet nationalism. For example, together with the real saints, they began to make out that such individuals as Ivan IV and Stalin were also saints.

True, Ivan IV, in the West incorrectly called ‘the Terrible’ (the translation ‘the Formidable’ would be correct), was not at all as bad as he is made out by Russian Westernizers like Kurbsky, Karamzin or the oligarchs of today, let alone by Western Westernizers. Certainly, Ivan was more innocuous than his Western contemporaries, for example, in England Henry VIII, who murdered 72.000 people and destroyed the monasteries. But Ivan IV a saint? No, he was not, whereas his contemporary, the martyred Metropolitan Philip of Moscow, is a saint. As for Stalin, it is true that the post-Nazi invasion Stalin was more patriotic than the pre-1941 mass murderer Stalin, but I know no-one who could possibly think much good of a dictator whose unspeakable crimes involved slaughtering millions, not least martyring millions of Orthodox.

The fact is that such ‘Orthodox Stalinists’ are not Orthodox. They are simply nationalists and every nationalist is an idolator, a worshipper of this world. The last thing we want in the Russian Orthodox Church is narrow, balkanized nationalism, the flag-waving that, sadly, we can daily see in other, far smaller, Local Orthodox Churches and Patriarchates, where sometimes the cult of a single nationality seems to have replaced the worship of Christ. After all, it was Greek Orthodox nationalism, that is, the loss of a multinational, Imperial vision, that led to the fall of Constantinople.

Disincarnationism

Among the newly-baptized masses of the 1990s, there also appeared a small group, mainly of Western-minded intellectuals, who fell under the influence of Protestantism – which seemed to be the remedy for ‘Orthodox Stalinism’. In the ‘free market’ of Western religion, private pietism, ‘heavenly citizenship’ reigned. This was why His Holiness Patriarch Alexey II called the extreme elements here ‘neo-renovationists’. For they were merely imitating the old Protestant renovationism from before the Revolution. This had died out inside Russia by the 1930s, but continues to poison Church life abroad even today, though the influence of the so-called ‘Paris School’, which also infected North America.

In the 1990s American Protestant ‘missionaries’, encouraged by the CIA for ideological reasons, tried to buy the souls of Russians with their dollar bills. They failed; the sincere missionaries converted to Orthodoxy; the majority returned to the USA, poorer but no wiser. However, they did manage to influence a few in the generation of newly-baptized Orthodox. Thus, you can meet Russian Orthodox who have uncritically adopted Protestant Creationism and its obsessions with the Six Days of Creation, the age of the Universe, the Flood, Noah’s Ark etc. Such individuals often seem to know nothing of the New Testament and the Church that was founded therein and Her life over the last nearly 2,000 years, but, like every Protestant, know every detail of the Old Testament. They will even, with only a literalist, almost pharisaical understanding, quote Church canons at you, just as real Protestants quote chapter and verse at you.

Orthodoxy with them is often reduced to narrow-minded bigotry and moralizing puritanism – just as in Protestantism. Rationalist understanding of everything, as in its extreme form of Kochetkovism, is the only thing that counts. Worse still, just as Protestants consider religion as a mere piece of disincarnate ‘God-slot’, personal pietism or ‘spirituality’, without any political, economic and social implications and ramifications, such fringe Orthodox have no concept of the Incarnation. In other words, such intellectuals do not understand that Orthodoxy is about Christianizing ‘ourselves, one another and all our lives’, not just a private, theoretical part of ourselves.

Conclusion: The Mainstream

Such fringe groups do not represent the Church. Opposed to both nationalism and disincarnationism, the mainstream of the Russian Orthodox Church is neither national nor anti-national, it is above both these narrow views, above both national bigotry and personal pettiness. The Church is Imperial, both Global and Local. It is the task of us Russian Orthodox to spread the spiritual enlightenment of Christ worldwide, incarnating it through example into lives, not just in the vast multinational Russian Federation, but from the Philippines to Cambodia, from Argentina to Scotland, from New Zealand to China, from Canada to Italy, overcoming narrow nationalism and petty pietism alike. Having come through the Golgotha of atheism and risen from the dead, we Russian Orthodox give this universal message to the world’s increasingly atheistic States, politics, economics and societies: Follow the Church of the Risen Christ.

The Rejection of the Highway of the Cross and the Resurrection Leads to the Byways

Introduction

In His earthly life Christ suffered not only from the cowardly Paganism of the Romans (and Hellenes), but also from the errors of two Jewish sects. These were the deceitful Pharisees, who rejected the possibility of repentance, that is, they rejected the Cross, and the treacherous Saducees, who rejected the Resurrection. Under different names these three errors, Paganism, Saduceeism and Phariseeism, which like all errors separate us from Christ, are still with us today. Human nature has not changed and it is still besieged by pride of mind, which is the origin of all errors.

Time and again we can notice how we make mistakes by pride of mind, lack of humility in our minds. The only guarantee that we are near to the God of Love, to Christ and therefore His Body, the Church, is when we are humble-minded. Pride of mind always results in spiritual catastrophe, separation from Christ and so the inevitable self-imposed obligation to think according to the ways of the world and so follow them. And prince of this world is the cunning devil, who is called Satan, the slanderer. Let us take three examples, one general and two specific to contemporary Russian Orthodox life.

Modern Paganism

Many assert that they cannot believe in a God of Love, Who wants suffering, wars, earthquakes, cancer etc. As a Russian Orthodox priest, I agree with them. For I believe in the God of Love, Who does not want suffering, which is why He became man and was crucified by those who do want suffering. However, unlike these modern pagans, or secularists, whose beliefs are entirely patterned by this world, I believe in the God of Love, Who because He is Love allows freedom of choice. It is not from choice, but from wrong choices that all human suffering stems. It is Satan’s greatest slander that God is responsible for suffering. In reality, it is pride of mind to blame God for suffering and Satan is the source of all pride. It is the refusal to recognize the Fall and so human sin and the sin of our own minds that is to blame for suffering.

Those who reject the God of Love because suffering exists are those who do not believe in the reality of sin, the human capacity for evil. They blame God for everything. They claim personal sinlessness and then make excuses to disguise their actual laziness by asserting that they cannot believe in a God Who allows suffering. For belief in God would entail responsibility, action for self-improvement and love of our fellow human-beings. And they are too lazy for that. So they reject God. This is why their atheism has been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions in the 19th and 20th centuries alone, slaughtered by Nazism, Communism and in the abortion holocaust. The rejection of the God of Love because of the Satanic illusion that God creates suffering creates yet more suffering. This Paganism, today known as Secularism, is the rejection of Jerusalem, of both the Cross and the Resurrection.

Modern Phariseeism

I know a very elderly Russian. He is honest, sincere and a model of integrity. But he belongs to a tiny sect. Why? Because he cannot accept the Russian Orthodox Church as She is, given that the pre-Revolutionary Russian State has not been restored. Only when everything associated with Soviet Communism is removed from Russia will he accept the Russian Church, for he confuses Church and State. He wants perfect restoration of the State now. He does not have the patience to wait for the gradual restoration of an Orthodox Christian State and Empire, for which we are all ardently working, and, worse still, he does not understand that we do not want a restoration of what existed before. We want a restoration to something better than there was before, not to those decadent aristocrats (including most Romanovs who were, to the despair of Tsar Nicholas, vain wastrels) and bishop-apostates who welcomed the Revolution and then later went on to become renovationists.

If what existed before were restored, then there would simply be another Revolution. This elderly man does not want to be with the Russian Church today. Why? Because not all Her members are as demanding as he is. And yet the very Church that he rejects is not only the Church of a great many nominal Orthodox, She is also the Church of the New Martyrs and Confessors. Here there is pride of mind. He wants a Church that is not made up of sinners who want to become saints, of penitents who are following the Cross, as the Church always has been made up of, but a Church of the pure, of ready-made saints. Here we see the pride of perfectionist idealism. He refuses to recognize that the direction we are going in is right, even though we have to allow for the weaknesses of the people we meet on the way, whose repentance is in progress. Sadly, this is the pride of Phariseeism, which joins up with the pride of Saduceeism, for extremes always meet through their mutual rejection of Christ.

Modern Saduceeism

If we come now to an example of pride of mind, specific in both time and place, we can see the same error in the Paris School of Philosophy (or ‘Theology’ as they self-flatteringly call it). Here a group of Russian revolutionary aristocrats and intellectuals, who rejected their oath of allegiance to the Lord’s Anointed in Russia, and overthrew the legitimate government in order to create a Protestant-type secular State in which they would have all the power. Failures, they were then exiled to Paris by the Bolsheviks and there they applied their liberal, modernist, pro-Protestant politics to Church life. The result was a liberal, modernist, pro-Protestant ‘theology’, that is, the basically secularist philosophy of the Paris School, of which the chief representative was the fantasist and heretic Fr Sergius Bulgakov, a Marxist who never cleansed himself from his Marxism, who continued to think that the only resurrection was a this-worldly resurrection, political, economic and social.

Unlike their renovationist cousins in Russia who, despite the support of the Bolshevik atheists, died out because the people would not follow their fantasies, the Paris renovationists did not die out. By cutting themselves off from the people and abandoning the episcopal and liturgical disciplines of the Russian Church, the Paris renovationists were able to survive and develop their peculiar sectarian philosophy. They and their descendants even infected individuals in the then Soviet-run Moscow Patriarchate in Western Europe (which is how it became so impoverished at that time), across the ocean and elsewhere and still practise their errors today. Beneath a mask of outward piety, they show themselves to be pro-Revolutionary and anti-Orthodox, anti-the People and anti-Russian. Little wonder that Western secularists admire them, for, like them, they too reject the possibility of the Resurrection and the importance of the preparation for it here and now. Sadly, their pride of mind is stronger than their nostalgia for inherited childhood memories of piety, which they have since deformed and distorted. This is the pride of Saduceeism.

Conclusion

Modern Secularism, like Paganism of old, rejects the Cross and the Resurrection. However, there are those who, though outwardly confessing Christ, in some way reject the Cross or the Resurrection through their pride of mind. The lack of humble-mindedness always detaches us from the Church and so from Christ and so from Love. Every heresy and every sect, every ‘ism’, from Gnosticism to Roman Catholicism, from Protestantism to Bulgakovism, is always based on human pride. It is visible in Syria today, where the Pharisaic Islamists reject the Cross and the Saducean Zionist West rejects the Resurrection. And, as usual, these two extremes meet and support one another in their hatred for Christ.

Human pride means the rejection of Christ, whatever the outward piety it may be disguised in. Modern Secularism, like Roman Paganism which it imitates, rejects the Jerusalem of the Cross and the Resurrection on account of its pride. Modern Sectarianism, like the Phariseeism of old, rejects the Cross and so crucifies Christ in His Body, the Church, on account of its pride. Modern Renovationism, like the Saduceeism of old, rejects the Resurrection, conforming itself to this world, so denying the power of the Church to prepare us for the life to come on account of its pride. Humility of mind, obedience to the Church of the Cross and the Resurrection, is the only highway, all other ways are byways, where we are no longer in communion with Christ and the Jerusalem on high.