Category Archives: Orthodoxy

The Last Civilization

The question of how many civilizations there have been and are in the world is an open one. For example, among others, there are the Babylonian, the Chinese, the Hindu, the Egyptian, the Buddhist, the Greek, the Roman, the Japanese, the Christian, the Muslim, the Amazonian, the Mayan, the Aztec, the Incan, the North American Native, the Western, the Polynesian, the Zimbabwean.

One thing is clear, however: civilizations are always inspired at origin, and are then shaped by, spiritual faith, religious belief. Indeed, it can be said, that the purer the original spiritual inspiration, the finer the civilization, the less pure, the more barbaric. And if spiritual inspiration and purity fail, then the civilization fails, it becomes barbaric and decadent and finally collapses.

Here we should not be surprised by the description of a civilization as ‘barbaric’. Many were barbaric. We know that, among others, the Aztecs and the Mayans, practised some human sacrifice; most others at times practised slavery. All at times practised wars, sadistic cruelty and torture. The Western practises massive child-sacrifice, killing millions of its own children every year in abortion. And each time, absurdly, these civilizations justified their wars, cruerlty and torture by religion, so making it into an anti-religion. We have just seen this in the Western invasion of Iraq, in which hundreds of thousands of people have died, been cruelly tortured and maimed in the name of the Western ‘crusade’ for ‘freedom and democracy’, which words are spelled ‘oil and gas’.

Indeed, this barbarism is particularly clear in the case of Western civilization. This first came into being in the eleventh century and so has now existed for 1,000 years. Overlaying its original spiritual inspiration, it began among Frankish tribes by reviving Roman paganism and then ruthless asserted itself, slaughtering all possible rivals. These then included Jews, Muslims and Orthodox Christians, in its so-called ‘Crusades’ – genocides in the name of the Cross. It tried to deny that they even existed – ‘go away and shut up’ as a British politician said to it last week.

As this Western civilization developed, it became global and ever bloodier, attempting and achieving the total elimination of rival civilizations with less aggressive military technology, in the Americas, in Oceania, in Africa, murdering those with bows and arrows with guns. Thus, it ensured that the great civilizations of the Amazon and the Mayas which it destroyed have only just been rediscovered from beneath the jungles that overgrew them. In this way, it strove to ensure through its unparalleled global aggression (‘globalization’) that it would become the last ‘civilization’ left on the planet, leaving no choice.

This it did by consistently replacing its inherited religious inspiration of 1,000 years before with its apocalyptic technology, asset-stripping the rest of the world after applying the technology of death to those who resisted it, creating: castles, armoured horsemen, bows, cannon, muskets, grenades, industrialization, financial control, rifles, artillery, machine guns, concentration camps, aircraft bombs, poison gas, tanks, submarines, rockets, atomic bombs, chemical and bacteriological weapons, missiles, the illusions of virtual technology….And if these do not destroy the world and poison its food, other Western-invented pollutants, chemicals, plastics and modified genetics, will.

We can compare this with Christian civilization, the greatest rival to Western civilization, which for that reason Western civilization so hates and has again and again attempted to annihilate. Christian civilization is a Eurasian civilization, far broader than simply Western civilization. This, founded on the tiny, Westernmost tip of Eurasia, cut itself off from the rest of the world, creating in its self-imposed isolation the myth of ‘Europe’, a purely artificial construct. It invented itself and defined itself by aggressive technology, becoming the evil empire.

On the other hand, Christian civilization, founded in Jerusalem, quickly spread to East (the word ‘Asia’ means ‘East’) and West (the word ‘Europe’ means ‘West’), to India in the East and Africa in the West. This has had in its near-2,000-year old history three capitals after Jerusalem, the First Rome, the Second Rome (Constantinople) and the Third Rome (Moscow), and thus, by transferring the centre of its power has miraculously survived for almost two millennia.

Western civilization has again and again tried to wreck and destroy the centres of Christian civilization, as in the 13th century, in the 17th century, and then in 1812 and 1854. However, its aggression has become especially clear since 1914. Thus, it invaded the remaining centre of Christian civilization again in 1914, usurping the legitimate Christian power there in 1917, sending in Russian-speaking enemies to destroy it, invaded it again in 1941, murdering 27 million human-beings, declared a Cold War on it for nearly fifty years, crippling it between 1992 and 2000 and, as it miraculously revived against all the odds, again attacks it today, surrounding it and menacing it with its weapons of mass destruction, eating away at its borderlands.

However, it is true that this Western aggression has only been possible because of internal treachery, the apostasy of most of the elite and then of other traitors within Christian civilization itself. This can clearly be seen by the successive defection down the centuries of Russian-speaking boyars/aristocrats/oligarchs from the values of Christian civilization.

However, Western civilization has over the last fifty years or so systematically rejected the source of its own inspiration, ever accelerating its apostasy. This apostasy at first emptied its churches, but now undermines even the most fundamental and universal cultural values of all civilizations, for example, denying that a man is a man and a woman is a woman, as was prophesied by the apostle in his second letter to Timothy.

Thus, the nations of Western civilization, only 10% of the world, gradually become over 1,000 years an anti-religion and so anti-civilization, die out, renouncing the source of all civilizational inspiration. Thus, even its families die out, its peoples are denatured, and Western civilization ensures not only its collapse, but its suicide and extinction.

Conversely, over the last fifty years or so Christian civilization has slowly set out on the path of restoration, accelerating its return by repentance, especially in the last thirty years, to the source of its inspiration in Christ and His Church. It is still not clear how far this still very fragile restoration will go, but there are great hopes – our only hopes for the last Civilization.

Converts

There is a Russian-American saying about converts, based on the fact that the Russian word ‘konvert’ means an envelope. The saying is: The trouble with ‘konverty’ (envelopes) is that they are often empty and often come unstuck’.

If this sounds unfair and racist we should remember first of all that today’s Russian Church is a Church of converts, about 150 million (including those now departed this life), who were all baptised there over the last 30 years.

I would also like to recall how a certain person, trying to justify the imbecilities of a certain priest said to me recently: ‘Yes, but he’s ‘a cradle Orthodox’ (an awful expression – there is no such thing). To which I replied: ‘So was Stalin’.

It is noticeable that nowhere do the apostles refer to themselves as converts, nor were they seen as converts. And yet they were. So what is the difference between a convert and an Orthodox?

Converts, in the sense that the word is used here, are neophytes, that is, they are new to the faith. The question is then, how do we stop being new to the faith and make the faith into an instinctive part of our nature, how do we become ‘old to the faith’?

It is sometimes said that ‘converts have zeal, but Orthodox have knowledge’. This is incorrect. If it were true, it would mean that you could simply become Orthodox by reading many, many books. It is just the opposite (1). In fact, converts have zeal, but Orthodox have experience. So, in order to stop being a convert, you have simply to obtain experience. This means mixing with Orthodox, senior to ourselves, who have experience, and following them in practice, not in theory.

A very simple example is how some converts think that they can ‘become Orthodox’ by copying the externals of monastics. I remember 40 years ago how, for some reason I could not understand then, male converts seemed to believe that they had to have a beard and long hair and female converts had to dress in dreary long black skirts and put huge cloths over their heads. Both sexes had to wrap prayer-knots around their wrists and wear some sort of strange boots. This was the uniform of the convert and you could spot them a mile away. It was anything but elegant and seemed to owe more to hippydom than anything else.

The strange thing was that none of the Orthodox did any of this: Orthodox men (apart from clergy) were always clean-shaven and Orthodox women dressed in brightly-coloured, just-below-the-knee-length skirts and dresses and wore small and modest head-coverings. All the converts had to do was look around themselves and copy, rather than shut themselves away into convert ghettoes and hothouses, guru clubs and cliques.

The apostle Paul says that men should cut their hair (1 Cor, 11, 14). He writes this in a context where he rebukes effeminacy. This is right, we agree with him. St Paisios of the Holy Mountain would take a pair of scissors to laymen who came to him with long hair and a long beard.

At this point some Protestants, of the Methodist or Baptist sort especially, may ask the question, why then do Orthodox monks (and also some monastic-minded priests) have long hair and long beards? The simple answer is because they are under obedience. They are not doing it out of some delusion that they are holy, they are doing it out of obedience, to their Abbot. In this sense, male monastics are not ‘men’, for they belong to a different order, outside the world.

Orthodoxy is not some weird sect, where people dress strangely. It is a way of life. It is in fact quite simply the Christian way of life, where people’s actions are the only thing that counts. It is as simple as that.

Note:

  1. On the subject of books, we would advise the following in this order: Read the Gospels, your prayerbook, the Epistles, the Psalter, the Lives and writings of the Saints, the rest of the Old Testament, the Lives of Orthodox elders (still uncanonized – but make sure that they are real elders, popularly venerated, and not self-proclaimed frauds). There is also a host of peripheral introductory books about the Church: Timothy Ware (for Anglican academics), Metr Antony Bloom (for intellectuals from an atheist background) Olivier Clement (for French intellectuals), Fr Sophrony Sakharov (for philosophers), Fr Alexander Schmemann (for educated ex-Protestants), Fr John Meyendorff (for historians) etc etc. But none of these is essential reading.

 

 

On the Christian Understanding of Patriotism

A British man, who was forced into joining the Patriarchate of Constantinople as he was not allowed by his government employer to join the Russian Orthodox Church (so much for freedom in the UK), asked me about patriotism and nationalism and how we can be British but also ‘support Russia’.

Nationalism is an artificial, manmade construct of the State and entails racist dislike and even hatred for everyone who is not of your own ‘nationality’. It is therefore not Christian. Though there are examples everywhere, Nazism and Zionism are prominent examples of racism. The United Nations agrees.

Conversely, patriotism entails a love for the positive sides of the country where, by God’s will, you have been born. It is, in other words, a love for God’s creation and inspiration. It also implies the innate ability to love the positive sides of other countries where others have been born.

As Christian patriots, we ‘seek the kingdom of heaven first’. This means that we obey our governments only inasmuch as they obey the Gospel. In other words, we are first of all patriots of God. We do not put any Establishment/Deep State, those artificial constructs, first. However, in obedience to the Apostle Paul, we do pray for Non-Orthodox secular authorities. Moreover, if they are Orthodox Christian, we pray for them by name.

Some people who claim to be Orthodox, but in fact are still pagans, are shocked that we pray for Non-Christian authorities, for example, for enemies of Russia, Greece, Romania etc. These people have not yet understood that the very definition of Christian is someone who not only loves his friends, but also loves (and so prays for) his enemies – so that they may stop doing evil.

Therefore, the old words of the German national anthem ‘Deutschland ueber alles’ (Germany above all) are a piece of pagan blasphemy. (The French national anthem is even worse – it is full of a barbaric desire for bloodshed). As for the 18th-century invented British imperialist national anthem ‘God save our gracious Queen/King’, it seems a good wish, but when the anthem goes on to proclaim ‘Scatter her/his enemies, And make them fall; Confound their politics, Frustrate their knavish tricks’, we begin to sense nationalism.

As for ‘supporting Russia’ (or Romania or Greece or any other ‘Orthodox country’), this is only possible if that country is actually Christian. (Obviously, I use the word ‘Christian’ as a synonym for ‘Orthodox’). Thus, I have no time for today’s corrupt oligarch Russia, created by the consumerist West, just as I had no time for Soviet atheist Russia, nor for the pre-Revolutionary aristocratic traitors who carried out the anti-Christian palace coup (‘Russian Revolution’) of February 1917. Inasmuch as the ‘Reds’ were atheists, Orthodox could not support them. However, according to St John of Shanghai and a host of others in the emigration (and I can confirm this from my own experience), 90% of the ‘Whites’ also had no time for the Church.

In other words, we are patriots of God, patriots of the Church, patriots of Orthodoxy. Our patriotism for countries is strictly limited to their Christian content. Thus, I am a patriot of Christian (= Orthodox) England, but also of Orthodox Scotland, Wales and Ireland, as also of Orthodox Russia, Orthodox Lithuania, Orthodox Greece, Orthodox Argentina or Orthodox anywhere else. But I have no time for anti-Orthodox Britain or for anti-Orthodox Russia.

Our Credo

We Orthodox Christians are chosen by God to fulfil our appointed destinies. In this age it is our destiny to defy all who deny the Holy Trinity, whether in word or thought or deed. Our God is not the god of others, including those who have for all practical purposes lapsed from the Church and Faith, despite their outward label. Our God is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

We confess the Father and reject manmade nationalism and idolatrous ritualism, which place themselves above the Father from everlasting. Their victims put their tribal and racist local cultures above God, rejecting His Church.

They say, for example: ‘I cannot join the Orthodox Church because of my Western culture’. How many times we have heard the above myth. Such an attitude comes from the placing of our ethnic conditioning above Christ. They do not understand that Europe itself is an illusion: East and West were joined together in Christ’s Church. At the furthest tip off Eurasia, Europe was invented by cutting itself off from Eurasia 1,000 years ago, in order to justify its aggressive domination and annihilation of all else.

We confess the Incarnation and reject academic theories and disincarnate fantasies, which have no spiritual or moral effect in life. Their victims put their impure imaginations above God, rejecting the universal sacrifice of the God-man.

They say, for example: ‘I cannot live a Church life because of my personal views’. How many times we have heard the above selfishness. Such an attitude comes from the placing of our egoistic conditioning above Christ. They do not understand that the self is an illusion: we are all part of God’s Creation, joined together in Christ’s Church. The Western world invented such individualism, cutting itself off from solidarity with the rest of God’s Creation, man and nature, to justify its aggressive domination and annihilation of all else.

We confess the Holy Spirit and reject pharisaic bureaucracy and unprincipled careerism, which deaden and destroy Church life. Their victims put their worldly interests above the Holy Spirit, rejecting God’s Free Spirit, Who blows where He wills.

They say, for example: ‘Our rules and interests are higher than all else’. How many times we have heard the above artifice. Such an attitude comes from the placing of worldly conditioning above Christ. They do not understand that the world is an illusion: the world was overcome by Christ. Petty bureaucracy and careers will all fade away with time and death, for they were invented only in order to promote passing, manmade customs, with their attempts at the aggressive domination and annihilation of all else.

We Orthodox Christians are chosen by God to fulfil our appointed destinies. In this age it is our destiny to defy all who deny the Holy Trinity, whether in word or thought or deed. Today this destiny calls us to gather together before the end, for ours is the apostolic mission to preach to all and gather the faithful remnant out of all the nations before the Second Coming.

 

 

The Council of Moscow has Buried the Pseudo-Council of Crete

 

From 29 November to 4 December 2017 the Council of Moscow, attended by nearly 400 patriarchs and bishops, more than at certain Universal Councils and representing nearly 95% of the Orthodox Church, buried the Pseudo-Council of Crete, attended by about 150 bishops representing 20% of the Orthodox Church. Clearly, this Council was a triumph for Universal Orthodoxy.

The triumph was more or less ignored by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Church of Greece, under strict orders from the State Department in Washington, which they are too weak to stand up to. At the Council all the attempts of Constantinople’s 2016 Pseudo-Council of Crete to undermine the Orthodox teaching on the Church were rejected by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev).

The meeting of the heads of the Local Churches with President Putin gave the Council a Universal and Pan-Orthodox character, unlike Crete. The pilgrimage of the President and Patriarch Kyrill to the New Jerusalem Monastery just before the Council added to the effect of Russia as the leading Church in the world, the centre of Universal Christendom. The globalist project of Babylon-Washington is looking ever weaker, as all gathered in Moscow the Third Rome.

 

 

 

 

Our Combat

For our God is a consuming fire.

(Hebrews 12, 29)

Introduction

Seeking justification for their pagan Rome of unending greed for material riches and unquenchable thirst for global power that will end in the now foreseeable Apocalypse, some post-sectarians believe in a man called Jesus. However, we Orthodox Christians ‘worship the indivisible Holy Trinity, Who has saved us’. This Trinitarian Belief is embodied in the single phrase, Church, Empire and People, as also in the words Altar, Throne and Cottage, or Orthodoxy, Sovereignty and People.

The Kingdom of the Father

As we confess the Kingdom of the Father, so we confess the sacred Altar of the Church of Christ His Son. That is why we are opposed to Antichrist, whose prophesied reign is being prepared by Babylonian globalism, in opposition to our Jerusalem Church. For we confess the primacy of our Faith (Matt. 6, 33).

The Kingdom of the Son

As we confess the Church of the Son, so we confess His Incarnate Empire on earth. The Ruler on this Throne must oppose the Anti-Christianity of Secularism and fight for freedom, as we have just seen in Syria, for we oppose all centralized tyrannies and defend the freedom and sovereignty of the peoples.

The Kingdom of the Holy Spirit

As we confess the Holy Spirit, so we confess His potential to sanctify and save People living in the world from evil. We fight against the oppression of the Establishment elite/aristocracy/oligarchy and its bureaucrats/parliamentarians /hireling media, who deny the People Christ’s saving Truth and Justice.

Conclusion

The above explains why we fight for the Purity of Holy Orthodoxy against deviations, whether liberalist-secularist or ritualist-obscurantist. We believe in Christian Rome, the Sacred, which is why we so firmly opposed the documents of Crete, prepared by secularism and treachery. We do not confess and bless globalism through imitation of a mere human-being, we confess and bless the Kingdom of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Eternal God Who is in Three Persons.

From Recent Correspondence (November 2017)

Theology

Q: Why does heterodoxy speak so little about the Holy Spirit?

A: The short answer is because of the replacement of the Holy Spirit by the Pope of Rome, and then by anyone with Western values, as expressed by the ideology of the filioque, which changed the Creed. Instead of the Holy Spirit, heterodoxy preaches Western power politics (colonialism and neo-colonialism, the invasions, genocides and asset-stripping of other countries, beginning with that of the Saxons by Charlemagne).

This is combined with ‘contemplation’ and ’meditation’, which is either intellectualism (for example, the Jesuits and Dominicans) or else sentimentalism (pietism with its ‘Jesus loves you’ and charismaticism – which has almost nothing to do with sobriety and the Holy Spirit). Intellectualism says that we must study and show off our intellectual knowledge. It is pagan philosophy (Aristotle and Plato) mascarading as theology. Sentimentalism is all about ‘love’, but never explains how we can attain love through, which is in repentance, fasting and sobriety.

Unlike intellectualism and sentimentalism, real spiritual knowledge comes from the nous, the heart, not as the seat of the emotions, but as the purified centre of the human-being, illumined by the Holy Spirit, which expresses itself as Love.

Q: For Orthodox there is not only Scripture, but also Tradition. But is one more important than another?

A: I must disagree with you. What you say is pure Scholasticism a la Timothy Ware. For us there is no difference between Scripture and Tradition, for both are manifestations of the same Holy Spirit. For Orthodox there is only the Holy Spirit, Whom we must acquire as our aim, and He is the authority of the Church. He is manifested to us in many different ways, through Scripture, the Dogmas of the Church, the canons, the lives and writings of the saints, those who have received ‘theosis’, liturgical life, the Fathers, Church Councils, the sacraments, prayer, asceticism, martyrdom, prophecy etc.

To insist on ‘Scripture’ alone is a sort of Bibliolatry, Bible-worship, made possible only through printing, and to insist on ’Tradition’, or any other items from the above list, including Councils, lends itself to a dangerous vagueness. The Church is governed by the Holy Spirit because the Church is the Glorified and Risen Body of Christ. It is as simple as that.

Q: What are your views of the trends in Orthodox Theology called Personalism and Eucharistic Theology?

A: For me they are not part of theology, the knowledge of God, but are philosophical and belong to the domain of privileged upper and middle-class academics, not of those who pray, who are real theologians. Personalism was part of the then existentialist philosophical current in France and was adopted by anti-monastic Paris Russian intellectuals, who included even the more Orthodox Lossky. Based purely on Western secular humanism, personalism exalts sinful human-beings to the level of the Persons of the Holy Trinity. It thus has little concept of the Fall, repentance and asceticism.

Eucharistic Philosophy (as I prefer to call it) was also a Paris invention, with the same philosophical and anti-monastic origins, written about especially by Fr Nikolai Afanasiev, then adopted and developed by Metr John Zisioulas. The Paris Russians adopted it as anti-ascetic ideology, based on Protestant congregationalism, but Metr John developed it in a Roman Catholic direction as self-justification for Papal-like episcopal power, which is part of the ideology of the Phanar. With its titular bishops, one of whom is Metr John, the Phanar has ironically, based itself on a philosophy of the understanding of the Church as the eucharist presided over by a bishop.

Both philosophies are spiritually primitive, now old-fashioned and dying out, and belong to the realms of psychology and sociology, more than to theology.

Q: Do you have a favourite Church Father?

A: Yes, St Ambrose of Milan, as he was a particularly pragmatic theologian, always putting into practice and living his faith.

Q: Roman Catholics talk about the Four Latin Doctors and the Four Greek Doctors, as though there was a kind of equality between East and West. Is this the Orthodox view?

A: This sort of ethnic division is very artificial, very scholastic, humanistic, rather like the absurd myth of seeing the Church as a human body with two lungs, East and West!. In reality, there are only Church Fathers, whatever their origin, Syrian, Greek, Latin, Georgian, Egyptian, Russian, Serbian, east, west, north and south….For there are Church Fathers to our day, like St Justin (Popovich). And the Roman Catholic designation also excludes one of the greatest Latin Church Fathers, St John Cassian, and instead includes much less important figures like Blessed Augustine and Blessed Jerome!

The Convert Movement

Q: What do you think of Ancient Faith Radio?

A: I have heard of it, but have never heard it. I know that it is run by American ex-Evangelicals for converts and Evangelicals, whom it wants to convert. I do think that it has a strange name: my faith and that of 220 million other Orthodox is not ancient, but contemporary.

Q: Do you think that Fr Seraphim Rose will be canonized?

A: Only God can answer that question. What I have noticed, however, is that his popularity has waned over the last ten years, as the newly converted have moved onto more solid fare. I think we may find that interest in his writings for converts will fade further with time.

Heterodox History

Q: Why did the West historically fail to convert China and India to Christ? And what of contemporary Protestantism in China, which has had some success?

A: Western missionary movements succeeded superficially among animist peoples in the Americas, Africa and Oceania, but they failed miserably elsewhere. Not only in India, China and the Islamic world in Africa and Asia, but also in the Christian world in Eastern Europe and Russia, up until this day (the exception being among a few million pathetically nationalist Uniats in the Ukraine and a few sectarians). This failure came about because these movements were and are largely movements to spread Western imperialism, both economic and cultural.

Such Western missionaries were called foreign devils by the local inhabitants because, usually without realizing it themselves, the missionaries spread the propaganda of their paymasters, rather than the Word of God. This was crystal clear to the exploited local inhabitants. After all, devils do not realize themselves that they spread the message of Satan because they have no consciousness, but are merely slaves conditioned to obey. In India, for example, people said that they could not become Christians because it would mean ‘wearing trousers’, i. e. Western dress.

The US uses Protestant missionaries in Iran and especially China in order to try and sabotage those countries (just as they tried to do in Russia in the 1990s). From the Chinese Protestants I have come across, they seem to associate Protestantism with a get rich quick mentality, precisely the opposite of what Christianity is about. Put crudely, if you are not rich, it is because God has not blessed you because you are not Protestant like Americans. In other words, Chinese conversion is very superficial. Just as US missionaries ‘converted’ some Russians in the 1990s by giving them dollar bills, so too this is all shallow. It will not last.

Q: What do you think of the recent visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Moscow?

A: This is part of Church diplomacy, important when the present UK Establishment, as ever using its organs like the BBC and the gutter press to issue fake news, has taken such a violently Russophobic, neo-Cold War attitude towards Russia. Thus, the present Prime Minister has promised to waste a further £500 million of public money on fake news propaganda against Russia. For me the most interesting moment was when Patriarch Kyrill asked the Archbishop if he had the courage to resist the tyranny of political correctness of atheistic Western governments. There was no answer.

Q: What is the most important question that you would ask heterodox today?

A: The same as that I would ask all Orthodox: Do you belong to Christian Civilization and its values or not? This question is vital because we belong to a world which, whether it is geographically Western or not, is full of Western atheism. For example, do we consider the organized violence of ideological totalitarianism, on which Western countries have been based ever since the eleventh century (the Norman Invasion and the First Crusade, followed by the Inquisition, Wars of ‘Religion’, Puritan intolerance, Imperialism, Communism, Fascism and today’s New World Order Neo-Imperialism), as part of our way of life or not? In Western Europe: Do we accept that the State has the right to intimidate and persecute our free speech in the name of political correctness? In Russia: Do we accept alcoholism, abortion, corruption, divorce and ecological disaster (ABCDE) as permissible in the life of Christians? Are you ‘real Christians’ (which is what the words ‘Orthodox Christian’ mean), having a Christian way of life and confessing Christian values in all spheres of life, spiritual, moral, social, political and economic?

 

 

Towards a Planet of Twelve Patriarchates

Today’s Reality

The first millennium saw the development of seven Local Orthodox Churches, arranged in five Patriarchates and two Autocephalous Churches: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and the Churches of Georgia and Cyprus. In theory, these covered the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. Their number decreased to six after the defection of Rome to its new creed of Papalism and the Western tip of Europe fell away from the Church.

However, in the second millennium the number increased. This happened when the Patriarchate of Constantinople was infected by Greek nationalism (Hellenism) and monolingualism. This nationalism had already played a role in the nationalistic foundations of Monophysite and Nestorian denominations in Egypt, Ethiopia, Armenia and groups in Syria, but it fragmented further in Balkanization. Thus, the autocephalous Serbian Church was founded, followed by the Russian, Romanian and Bulgarian, creating another four Local Churches.

In the 19th century Imperialist Britain also forced the Greek Church to separate from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, making eleven Local Churches. Then in the 20th century, the Polish and Czechoslovak Churches were carved out of the Russian and Serbian Churches for political reasons and the Albanian Church came into being, because the border between Greece and Albania was unjustly delineated, adding another three Local Churches. Thus, at the present time there are fourteen Local Orthodox Churches, so many of which exist only because of the vagaries of politics and nationalism.

What If?

What if the twelve apostles were to meet today in a new Council of Jerusalem, as they did before in 33 AD, with the above information, a map of the world as it is in front of them and information about history, geography, culture and present-day populations (Asia, 4.45 billion; Africa, 1.2 billion; the Americas 1 billion; Europe 740 million; Oceania 40 million), how might they divide the world amongst themselves? Perhaps into Twelve Local Orthodox Churches, something like this?

  1. The Patriarchate of Jerusalem and All the Holy Lands. (A Church based in the City of the Resurrection and covering today’s Israel, Cyprus, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and the Balkans (Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and ex-Yugoslavia), thus uniting two of the present ancient Patriarchates and seven of the present autocephalous Churches.
  2. The Patriarchate of Baghdad and All the Middle East. (A Church to cover all the Christian and Muslim Middle East, from the Lebanon, Syria and the Jordan to the Arabian Peninsula, to Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan).
  3. The Patriarchate of Nairobi and All Africa. (A Church based in Nairobi to cover the 1.2 billion people of the African Continent. Main languages: English, French, Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish and native African languages).
  4. The Patriarchate of Moscow and All the Russias. (A Church covering most of Northern Eurasia, one sixth of the planet, including Mongolia and the Korean Peninsula).
  5. The Patriarchate of Vienna and All Western Europe. (A Church based in the cultural heart of Central Europe, and not in off-centre Rome, to cover all of what was Roman Catholic and Protestant Europe, from Iceland to Hungary and Portugal to Finland, including the territories of the Local Churches in Poland and the Czech Lands and Slovakia).
  6. The Patriarchate of New Delhi and All India. (A Church to cover the ancient territory of Hindu Civilization with nearly 1.4 billion people, together with Nepal and Bhutan).
  7. The Patriarchate of Beijing and All China. (A Church to cover the nearly 1.5 billion Chinese population, Taiwan and Tibet).
  8. The Patriarchate of Tokyo and All Japan. (A Church to cover the ancient and unique Japanese Civilization).
  9. The Patriarchate of Bangkok and All South-East Asia. (A Church to cover the largely Muslim and Buddhist populations of Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia).
  10. The Patriarchate of Manila and All Oceania. (A Church to cover the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua, New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and all the Pacific Islands).
  11. The Patriarchate of Washington and All Northern America. (A Church to cover the USA, Canada and the Carribean. Main languages: English and French).
  12. The Patriarchate of Rio de Janeiro and All Latin America. (A Church to cover South and Central America and Mexico. Main languages: Spanish and Portuguese).

The Gap Between Reality and What If?

As we can see from the above, only Churches No 1, 2, 3 and 4 already exist, although: Church No 1 is at present tiny and seems to be run largely as a Greek clerical colony; Church No 2, though claiming to be the Church ‘of All the East’ is at present small, based in Damascus/Beirut, though claiming to be in Antioch in Turkey, and is largely run by four merchant families; Church No 3 is also small, and though claiming to be ‘of All Africa’ is governed almost entirely by Non-African bishops, is based very far from its flock, in Alexandria, and has converted only 1% of those in its canonical territory. Although Church No 4 would remain much as now, Churches Nos 5-12, to cover some 5.5 billion human-beings, do not even exist.

We should be ashamed of ourselves.

 

Why I Love My Parishioners

My three parishes in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk cover an area of over 5,000 square miles (13,000 square kilometres). That is why we have long needed and, at last have, two assistant priests. How big is my main parish in my native town of Colchester, in the biggest Russian Orthodox church building in the British Isles and Ireland? Well, there are about 100 people I can depend on to be there almost always. Then there are about another 400 parishioners, whom I know I will see within the space of a month. So there are 500 parishioners, of 25 different nationalities, born on four continents.

However, in addition to these 500 there are about another 4,500 people, scattered all over this region and up to 60 miles (100 kilometres) outside it, occasionally attending one or other of the three parishes. I may see them only once or twice a year, and some even less often than that. Many of them only come to church for baptisms and weddings, but when they do come, they come to us. Many of them I hardly know. So, not parishioners as such, but they are still in my mind and heart. There are all sorts of reasons why I see them only rarely, and it is not just a matter of distance. But I will not go into that here.

I want to tell you about two of them. With a title like ‘Why I love my parishioners’, you may think that I want to tell you about two of the 500 regulars. Since I do not want to embarrass anyone, I do not. I want to tell you about two of the other 4,500. They are of two different nationalities.

The first one is a real Orthodox man. In his forties, he is married with two lovely children. He has a business with employees. I first met him when he was in prison. Yes, in prison. Unfortunately, he had criminal competitors who tried to attack him and were jealous of him and his family. They threatened to throw acid in his wife’s face, if he did not take the blame for a crime of fraud which they had committed. He had no doubt that their threat was real. They were capable of it and had already done it to another. So, in order to protect his beloved wife, he went straight to the police and told them a lot of lies about himself. He went on trial and was sentenced. His only ‘crime’ was to lie in court in order to protect his wife. He had to go to prison for one year, but his wife was protected. There was such happiness and rejoicing in his house when he came home.

What a man. No, he has never studied theology, he has never heard of any modern ‘theologians’ (though he does know something of the Lives of the Saints), he cannot tell you about the history and structure of the services, has never met a bishop, does not know the Bible backwards, will not give you lots of pious talk about prayer and fasting, has never heard of ‘the Council of Crete’ and knows nothing about Catholicism and Protestantism. As a real Orthodox, he does not believe in God, he knows Him. So he has humility and there is no self-loving question of proud people about ‘Why has God allowed this to happen to me?’ Just acceptance of God’s will. He has protected and defended what is most precious to him. An example. He sacrificed himself, but has one of the best families in the world. They love each other. That is God’s reward to him. A real Orthodox man.

The second one is a real Orthodox woman, a lady with dignity and self-respect, which has become so rare these days. I first met her when I was making a pastoral visit far away. She married in her early 20s and had two children. But then her husband began drinking. And beating her. She was patient. They only divorced when he began harming the children. (He has since died). So she, then aged 34, brought up two children alone, struggling to pay her bills. She has made a good job of it too. The first went to University and now has a good career. A lovely person. The second, a girl, is finishing school. She has a very noble and idealistic disposition and is not afraid to stand up for the truth. She stands out from the others of her generation. (She has had her mother’s example). A year ago this Orthodox woman, who had shed so many tears for her broken dreams and broken heart these last 25 years, quite downhearted, came to church and there she met a man. The man. Within a week they had fallen in love. It was her dream, the one which she had wanted as a romantic teenager. She had been waiting all those years and then it all came true. Out of the blue.

What a woman. No, she has never studied theology, she has never heard of any modern ‘theologians’ (though she does know something of the Lives of the Saints), she cannot tell you about the history and structure of the services, has never met a bishop, does not know the Bible backwards, will not give you lots of pious talk about prayer and fasting, has never heard of ‘the Council of Crete’ and knows nothing about Catholicism and Protestantism. As a real Orthodox, she does not believe in God, she knows Him. So she has humility and there is no self-loving question of proud people about ‘Why has God allowed this to happen to me?’ Just acceptance of God’s will. She has protected and defended what is most precious to her. An example. She sacrificed himself, but has one of the best families in the world. They love each other. Her new husband adores her – as she deserves. That is God’s reward to her. A real Orthodox woman.

Now you know why I love my parishioners.