All heresies reverse spiritual progress because by their very nature they contain spiritual impurity. That is precisely why the Church, which as the Body of Christ is spiritually pure, perceives heresies as ‘wrong choices’, in Greek ‘heresies’. Essentially, what we are logically saying is that every choice that is not Christocentric contains spiritual impurity, for only Christ is without sin, all else is therefore tainted by sin. This includes all cases when groups of human-beings put their humanistic, impure cultures above Christ, so becoming ethnocentric instead of Christocentric. When humanity does this, it also condemns all other cultures and civilizations, whether existing today, in the past or possibly in the future, including Christocentric culture.
This why the famous Dr Johnson wrote that ‘patriotism is the last resort of the scoundrel’, meaning that scoundrels always use flag-waving nationalism as an excuse for their base deeds. In particular, scoundrels make cheap propaganda which demonizes their enemies, making them less than human, ‘subhumans’, ‘Untermenschen’ in Hitler’s language. This is merely a justification for the genocides which they commit. This is what Catholics did when slaughtering Christians (100,000 in England alone in the decade after 1066), Jews and Muslims in the Middle Ages, what Protestants did to Black Africans to justify slavery, what the Nazis did to Slavs (30 million of whom they slaughtered), Jews and Gypsies, what the Croats did to Serbs (some 800,000), and the Americans have done to umpteen peoples around the world, from Native Americans to Mexicans, from Japanese to Vietnames, from latin Americans to Iraqis, from Serbs to Russians. ‘They’, ‘the rest and not the West’, were and are all ‘subhuman’. Why? Simply in order to justify their power-grabbing and land-grabbing.
However, if nationalism (which is what Dr Johnson meant when he misused the word ‘patriotism’) is the last resort of the scoundrel, what is the first resort? The first resort of the scoundrel is always religion. This we saw very clearly in the anti-Christian Catholic ‘Crusades’ of the Middle Ages, which sacked and looted the Christian capital in Constantinople, in the Spanish plundering of the Americas in the name of God, in British empire-building (‘civilizing the natives’), in the blasphemous US dollar bill inscribed ‘In God we trust’ (meaning in Mammon we trust), in the German First World War soldier with ‘Gott mit uns’ (‘God with us’) inscribed on his belt, or in the Western-founded Al-Qaida and Islamic State, which use Islam (which as an Old Testament religion in spirit hardly has a record of tolerance in any case) to justify the most abhorrent crimes committed while land-grabbing and power-grabbing.
It is this that certain Western semi-converts to Christianity belonging to the various Local Orthodox Churches have to beware of. For long in this country, for example, we have seen an old generation of ex-Anglican semi-converts who reject ‘foreigners’ (i.e. anyone who has never been an Anglican), proposing their own unOrthodox and crypto-Protestant agenda, rejecting the Church as She is. These Establishment types regard the whole of England as their ‘territory’, set up small congregations of half a dozen here and there in order to justify their presence, try to eject others who do not belong to their mafia-like brotherhood, condescend and patronize, slander and backbite. Fortunately, that generation is dying out and we are now coming to a new generation of real Orthodox, who are not compromised by the ethnic religion of Establishment Anglicanism, which puts its culture above the Church, Which it condemns as ‘foreign’. Christ is indeed foreign to the racially and ethnically narrow, for in His human nature He was an Asian, not a Westerner.
Where did this ethnocentric Western mentality, which condemns all other civilizations and rejects the Christian condemnation of war as an absolute evil, as the Church Civilization of the Orthodox Christian world does (1), come from? Its origins are precisely in the eleventh century, of which the apostates of the Western world so proudly boast as the beginning of their much-vaunted Western ‘civilization’, from which ‘the Holy Spirit proceeds’ (2). That century marks the falling away of Western Europe from Church Civilization and the Christian Faith, the beginning of its spiritual degeneration, which it has since spread worldwide like a degenerative epidemic. It was that century which marked the beginning of the Western world as the future technological giant but spiritual pygmy. Until they purify themselves of that mentality of pride, which asserts that all Western actions are justified because of the imagined ‘innate superiority’ of Western culture over Christ and acquire a conscious and consistent Orthodox world-view, there will be no authentic conversion of such Western converts to the Church of God.
Until then, the abysmal Western genocides of people and culture around the world will continue, from Spain to England in the 11th century, from Jerusalem to Cyprus (3) in the 12th century, from Constantinople to Novgorod in the 13th century, from the Cathars of France (‘kill them all – God will recognize His own’) to the peasants of England in the 14th century, from Italy to Germany in the 15th century, from Amazonian natives (‘kill them – they do not have souls’), to French Protestants in the 16th century, from West African slaves to Carribean plantations in the 17th century, from Bengal to Native Canadians in the 18th century, from starving Irish peasants, the Plains Indians (4), New Zealand Maori, Tasmanian Aborigenes (‘animals’) to Sudanese Muslims in the 19th century, from the Belgian Congo, Boer South Africa (5), Carpatho-Russia, European Slavdom and Jewry to Vietnamese peasants in the 20th century, from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria to the eastern Ukraine already in the first grim years of this 21st century.
As a recent popular historian but no friend of the Church as he writes about himself and those like him, has put it quite accurately and apocalyptically:
‘The road to modernity stretches clearly from the first Millennium onwards, marked by abrupt shifts and turns, to be sure, but unriven by any total catastrophe such as separates the year 1000 from antiquity. Though it might sometimes appear an unsettling reflection, the monks, warriors and serfs of the eleventh century can be reckoned our (sic) direct ancestors in a way that the people of earlier ages never (sic) were. (This book) Millennium, in short, is about the most significant departure point in Western history: the start of a journey that perhaps (sic), in the final reckoning, only a true apocalypse will serve to cut short.
Millennium, Tom Holland, p. xxix, 2008
1. It was in the summer of 1053 that for the first time in history a Pope of Rome, ‘St’ (sic!) Leo IX, the Schism-Maker, formally blessed a standard of battle. Absolution from the stain of bloodshed – ‘an impunity for their crimes’- was promised to all who answered the call. This was the first launching of a papally-sanctioned ‘holy war’. This was to be repeated in England 1066, then in the Crusades, and today has been repeated by Western countries, which also ‘replace God’ and arrogate to themselves papal infallibility in wrecking Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and the Ukraine, to name but a few examples. On the other hand, when in his book ‘Tactics’, the Christian Emperor Leo VI ‘the Wise’ of New Rome (866-912) called ‘religious war’ simply ‘a licence to loot in religion’s name’, he was expressing the immutable Christian teaching that had been universal until the 11th century before the foundation of Catholicism.
Thus, as Sir Steven Runciman noted, Orthodox Christian history was remarkably free of wars of aggression. Peaceful methods were always preferable, even if they involved tortuous diplomacy or the payment of money. To Western historians, accustomed to admire barbarian militarism, the actions of many Orthodox statesmen appear cowardly or sly; but the motive was usually a genuine desire to avoid bloodshed.
Unlike the Christian view, the Catholic view had developed out of the militarism inherited from pagan Rome. The military society that has emerged in the West out of the barbarian invasions has always sought to justify its habitual pastime of bloodshed and interventionism, just as it does today. It gave prestige to the military hero; and the pacifist acquired a disrepute for which he has never recovered. Already Pope Leo IV, in the mid-ninth century, had declared that anyone dying in battle for the defence of the Church would receive a heavenly reward. Pope John VIII, a few years later, had even ranked the victims of a holy war as martyrs; if they died armed in battle their sins would be remitted.
2. We recall the famous words of Gandhi, who, when asked what he thought of ‘Western civilization’, replied: ‘An excellent idea’.
3. Including the cannibalism of the sadistic French King of England, Richard ‘the Lionheart’.
4. In 1866 General Sherman wrote to President Grant that, ‘We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children’. And, as quoted by his biographer Marszalek, he added that ‘during an assault on an Indian village the soldiers cannot pause to distinguish between male and female, or even discriminate as to age. As long as resistance is made, death must be meted out’. Together with the other Indian fighter, Philip Sheridan, it was he who wrote that ‘the only good Indian is a dead Indian’. The descendants of the same Plains Indians have recently supported the Russian Federation against the US government’s anti-Ukrainian and also pro-pedophile policies.
5. In the letter of Tsar Nicholas II to King Edward VII of 27 May 1901, we find the last Orthodox Emperor expressing his concern in English that although his ‘principle is not to meddle in other people’s affairs’ (unlike the modern West), his ‘conscience obliges’ him ‘at last to speak openly’ and that the Boer War ‘looks more like a war of extermination’ and that Britain must ‘put an end to this bloodshed’.