Akrivia and Ikonomia

The above two words are Greek. The first means the strict or exact teaching of the Church, the second means its practice, what is done as pastoral dispensation. For example, akrivia states that no-one should be ordained deacon until the age of 25, priest until 30 and bishop until 35. However, in reality the canons giving these ages are broken by the vast majority of the world’s 750 or so Orthodox bishops, sometimes exceptionally, sometimes regularly. Why? Because the bishop in question considers that in certain cases, it is for the benefit of the majority not to practise or take literally that particular canon. Indeed, if we were to take every canon literally, the Church would long ago have ceased to exist on earth because all clergy, bishops included, would have been defrocked and all laypeople excommunicated because the canons are strict. Not taking or practising literally a canon is called ‘ikonomia’, the opposite is ‘akrivia’.

This may seem like a defence of ‘ikonomia’. It is not. Sadly, especially in Western countries, ‘ikonomia’ seems to be the norm. It should not be. When Orthodox of all nationalities in Western countries hear about akrivia, they can be shocked. In other words, they have never heard, for example, that we should always read morning and evening prayers; that we should always read the full rule before taking communion (three canons and prayers); they have never heard that we should not take communion without first attending the vigil service; they have never heard that confession before communion is the norm; that confession and communion should be taken several times a year; that he who does not take communion at least once every three weeks is excommunicated (according to the canons); that the place where we live should be blessed; that there is a pious custom for widows and widowers to take up monastic life (and not remarry); that the Orthodox ideal is not to use contraception; that the fasts are not just fasting from meat, but from meat, fish, eggs and all dairy produce; that we do not sit down at church but stand through all services, except during the kathismas etc etc.

Yes, all the above is true. However, none of it is absolute. One of the problems in contemporary Church life is that on the fringes of the Church there are those who wish to absolutize ‘akrivia’ and those who wish to absolutize ‘ikonomia’. Both are in error. Does this mean that there is no absolute truth in Church life, that ‘all is relative’?

Of course not. All the absolute truths of the Church are enshrined as dogmas, they are in the Creed: the Holy Trinity, the Creator God, the two natures of Christ, the Incarnation, the Virgin Birth, the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ become man, the Second Coming, the Last Judgement, the Procession of the Holy Spirit, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, One Baptism, the Life of the World to Come. If you do not believe in these things, you are not a member of the Church, you are not Orthodox, you are not a Christian, but something less. The Creed of the Church is not a consumerist supermarket, where you can pick and choose. However, whatever is not in the Creed, is subject to pastoral dispensation, to ‘ikonomia’.

‘Too much of anything is bad for you’. So goes the saying of popular wisdom. In other words, too much akrivia will lead people to the depression and despair of the sect and phariseeism. On the other hand, too much ikonomia will lead people to laxist leniency, to relativism and to anything goes. Too much akrivia and too much ikonomia both lead people out of the Church. It is for us to flee the extremes, not to seek the opinions of individuals, like Protestants (1), but to find the consensus of the Church. Only thus can we avoid the fringes and margins and keep in the mainstream. This means a balance between strictness, which is good where it is necessary for the salvation of the soul, and pastoral dispensation, which is good where it is necessary for the salvation of the soul. It is never a question of akrivia or ikonomia, but always akrivia and ikonomia.

Note:

1. Many Protestants and sectarians appear to seek not after Christ, but after ‘Apollos and Cephas’, after isms such as those named after Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Joseph Smith (Mormonism), Charles Russell (Jehovah’s Witnesses) or Rev. Moon. Similarly, there are some Orthodox who seek after the views of individual, non-canonized elders, whose sayings, made to one person in one particular context, they may then take out of that context and generalize. This is dangerous, as it can create movements that go against the catholicity of the Church. It is notable that many Protestants and sectarians (as well, ironically, as many Roman Catholics) have no concept of the catholicity of the Church; in the case of Orthodox, this tendency tends to concern those, and of all nationalities, who are new to the Church and have not yet had experience of wider Church life. We seek the consensus of the Fathers, the consensus of the Church, not individualistic concepts.

On Fasting

1. The Present Time

Nowadays food is very important. There is a crisis of obesity in this country, but in other countries that is not so. We could even say that half the world east too much and half the world does not eat enough. There are problems of anorexia (eating too little) and bulimia (eating too much). Many, many people try and slim, going on diets. People try and lose weight, joining gyms and fitness clubs, spending a lot of money. Many are worried about additives in food, too much sugar or salt or fat. Others are worried about genetically modified food. What was simple is now complicated. Look at the lists of ingredients on any packet of food. What is our solution? It is to avoid extremes, to eat natural and fresh food, lots of fruit and vegetables. That is why we have fasting in the Church.

2. Why do we fast?

Adam and Eve were expelled from Paradise because of food. We abstain from certain foods at certain times of the year, so that we can re-enter Paradise. In history, no-one ate meat until the time of Noah because by his time people had become weak and needed strength. Basically, we are what we eat. If we eat lots of animal foods, we may become like animals.

3. When do we fast?

We fast on most Wednesdays and Fridays (Wednesday was the day that Judas betrayed Christ and Friday the day that they crucified Him) and during four fasts per year. These are: the forty days and Holy Week before Easter; the weeks before the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul on 12 July; the two weeks at the end of August for the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God on 28 August; the forty days before Christmas. So we fast for 6 months of the year and for 6 months we do not. This is balance. We fast so that we can pray more easily, so that we can feel lighter. If you don’t pray when you fast, you will feel irritable. Fasting and prayer always go together. We can use the money that we save from buying less food, especially expensive meat, to help poor people or charities. This is called almsgiving.

How do we fast?

5. Fasting means not eating foods that come from animals and eating the rest in moderation. Fasting is purely voluntary and there are different levels of fasting, according to our age, ability and experience. In simple terms, the first level is not to eat meat, the second not to eat fish, the third not to eat eggs, the forth not to eat dairy produce (cheese, milk, yoghurt etc). Of course, no-one expects small children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and ill people to fast. But still everyone can make an effort!

First published on 1 March 2017 in ‘Searchlight’, the quarterly magazine of St Alban’s Orthodox Youth Club.

Towards the Post-Western New World Order

Since the dissolution of the failed Marxist experiment of the Soviet Union in the last days of 1991, the US elite has had its quarter of a century of fame. As ‘the only Super-Power’, it barged its way into the internal affairs of many countries, creating havoc either directly or through its NATO terrorist wing, in ex-Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe, the Ukraine, Syria and the Yemen, or else economically and politically. In a word, the slogan ‘let’s bomb them back into the Stone Age’ went to the heads of the neocon elite, infected by the hubris of the absurd ideology of dependence called ‘The West is Best’ with its power craze for universal control.

Now the whole world has seen the results of its terroristic ‘we shall bomb them into democracy’, as today in Mosul. With seventy years of CIA ‘regime changes’, corrupt puppet regimes and rigged elections, in Latin America, Asia and all over Western Europe, especially in Italy, France and Eastern Europe, and its recent history of hacking into other countries’ computer systems, the world has seen its double standards and spiritual and moral bankruptcy. Many are now abandoning the Western fantasy, recognizing that different countries have different identities and need independence from the ‘one size fits all’ West. In other words, we are moving to a post-Western New World Order.

Here there is a challenge for the neocon-founded European Union especially. Deserted by the Brexit British and by the new American administration, which praises Brexit and sees the EU and Cold War vestige NATO as urgently needing reform, and rejected by hundreds of millions of Europeans, the old EU elite will have to abandon its neocon New World Order, launched by Bush Senior a generation ago. This was invented, as explained by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, at the International Security Conference in Munich last weekend, by an elite group of Western States in order for them to dominate the rest of the world, to create dependent vassal nations worldwide.

In other words, the present new Cold War, aggressively launched by transnational arms merchants and failed ideologues like Clinton, Blair, Bush and Obama, just like the old Cold War, must come to an end. A bankrupt United States and puppet European Union simply cannot afford the bloody games and arrogant meddling of yesterday’s men. Not so much peace at any price, but peace for economic and human survival. The terroristic, anti-international neocon class and its paid media hacks, ironically calling themselves ‘the international community’, is being forced to opt for peace, freedom and justice. This is the post-Western New World Order. We welcome it.

The Future for Europe

Introduction

Just as long ago predicted, the EU is collapsing. It has never recovered from the Unionist, Fourth Reich project of Empire, finally unveiled in full in the 1990s by those who had long before foreseen it and prepared it, like the Americanophile Jean Monnet. The grotesque euro that came into being with the hubris of over-reach after a decade of integrationism in 2002 was the symbol of such centralized Unionism. Today, after its failure, instead of absurdly remaining in denial in the dying past and arrogantly and patronizingly berating the free choice of the peoples of Europe, as the EU Establishment does, it is time to be forward-thinking and consider what will replace the EU. Here are three principles which we believe should underpin the future, post-EU Europe.

Inclusive of All Europe

Firstly, the future, post-EU Europe must not repeat the suicidal mistakes of the First European (so-called First World) War of 100 years ago. That was an attempt on the part of the nations of the Germanic-Latin Western corner of Europe not only to dominate each other through bloody rivalry, but also through an elitist Russian conspiracy to smash once and for all Russian Europe. This covered the vast majority of European territory, which was then, as it still is, in a Russian Empire, albeit today much reduced through the incompetence of the atheist Soviet regime. Any future Europe cannot be an isolated corner of Europe, either the post-Hitlerian Western corner, or the post-Stalinist Eastern corner. It must be inclusive of all Europe.

Therefore, it must, as many of its keenest though rejected thinkers and leaders like De Gaulle, ousted in the 1968 American coup, have long recognized, include all Eurasia, from Reykjavik to Vladivostok. Europe must recognize that it is only the artificially separated and self-isolated corner of Northern Asia. For this is precisely the territory populated by Europeans. These are Slavs (360 million – by far the largest European ethnic group), Latins (213 million), and Germanics (208 million), as well as small ethnic groups, like the Celts, the Hungarians, the Greeks, the Finns, the Albanians, the Baltic peoples, the Georgians, the Armenians, the Basques and small groups in the Caucasus and Siberia, as well as new immigrant groups in Western Europe.

Neither Unionist, Nor Nationalist

Secondly, the future Europe must avoid extremes. This means it must avoid the Nationalism that was inherent in Western Europe so often during the 900 years until 1945 and cost Europe so much blood in what were in reality civil wars between Europeans. But it must also avoid the other extreme, the reaction of Unionism that interrupted Nationalist Western European history and created tyranny in it. Centralizing Unionism began in the incredibly cruel and barbaric Roman Empire, but spread its ideology to such tyrants as Charlemagne, who wanted to revive pagan Rome, and those who followed him and who were also consciously or unconsciously neo-pagans, like Medieval and Renaissance Popes, or Napoleon and Hitler.

The future Europe must therefore be Confederal, a Company of Sovereign Nations freely co-operating with one another. Such was the vision of perhaps the greatest European in the second millennium of its history, Tsar Nicholas II, when he established the Hague Peace Conventions of 1899 and 1907. Understanding the aggressive evil intentions and bloody rivalries of the Western corner of Northern Eurasia, of Germany, Austria-Hungary, France and Great Britain, he wished to put an end to them. Speaking fluent Russian, English, French, German and Danish, he married a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria, who was born to the sovereign Grand Duke of Hesse, he accurately foresaw the potential True Europe, a Europe of sovereignty and peace.

Christian

Thirdly, the future Europe must refer to its roots, which are not just vaguely Christian, that is semi-Christian, let alone atheist, but refer to the full Christianity of the first millennium, of which the Orthodox Church is the heir today. This does not necessarily mean that the future of Europe is racially white, it is a Europe populated by those who accept, if only nominally, the full Christian roots of all Europe. Those who refuse to accept this reality and only live in Europe for economic reasons or as a result of the injustices of Western European exploitation of their homelands in Asia and Africa should be helped to return, if they wish to, to their countries of origin, which must be restored by Western Europe in repentance for its exploitation.

Conclusion

The future Europe will not be defined by the professional career politicians of the elite, who have so utterly failed ordinary Europeans over the last 70 years and divided Europe. It will be defined by the peoples of Europe themselves, by the grassroots, and not imposed from on high. However, this can only happen if the peoples of Europe consciously repent for their past apostasy and irresponsibility, especially that of the last fifty years. It is this that has led to such catastrophic consequences, including all but destroying their sovereign identities under the hail of secularization come from North America, which Western Europe itself created in its bid for suicide. The United States of Europe, intended by Monnet and all the other Unionists is not the solution.

Unionism, like Nationalism, is only worldliness, attachment to this world, by definition denies the Christian roots of Europe. In so doing, it destroys European culture. This was precisely the experience of the Soviet Union, which attempted to build a new man and a new culture, promising paradise on earth. However, because it explicitly denied Christ, it brought hell on earth instead of paradise on earth. If the Western corner of Northern Eurasia can learn from the Soviet experience, there is still hope. However, if it refuses to learn from this, it too will create a Soviet-style hell on earth. Some will say that it is all too late for any of this, that hell on the Western European earth is inevitable. However, we say that it is never too late to repent.

Self-Obsession

The last few months have seen the Western elite furious with Western peoples. The self-obsessed Western elite, led by such has-beens and failures as Obama, Clinton, Blair, Hollande and Merkel, has brought its media to campaign against the people and their choices. In its censorship of free speech through the Soviet-style tyranny of political correctness, it arrogantly denies the people freedom. It patronizingly tells them that they are so stupid that they are unable to make the correct choices, unlike them, the elite. Now, The ‘the enemies of the people’, such as Washington Post and The New York Times, so beloved by the ever-patronizing, anti-people BBC, together with the whole Western liberal Establishment, have been fully launched against the people’s choice of Brexit and Trump.

However, the liberal Western Establishment and its hireling media hacks are doomed. The Establishment is made up of yesterday’s men, who have tyrannized the people for over fifty years. A new generation is appearing, as the third generation (75 years) since the end of the Second World War ends. The old and debt-ridden, US-designed, anti-Hitler but Hitleresque Union, gradually cobbled together after 1945, the EU, as well as its grotesquely outmoded Cold War NATO military wing, has been discredited. It will probably not survive much longer. We look to the future, not to the past. The people, the once silent majority, are casting off the shackles of liberalism of the last 50 years.

After Brexit and then Trump, now there is Le Pen in France. The only serious candidate against Le Pen, Francois Fillon, was shot down by the French branch of the liberal Establishment because he claimed to be a Christian. (If he was indeed corrupt, as the Establishment asserted, he was no more so than the whole French mafia elite). So blinded was the French Establishment by its hatred for a Christian that they destroyed him – who was probably their only hope of clinging on to power. Thus, they probably destroyed the only serious rival to Le Pen, so cutting off their nose to spite their face. Self-obsession is indeed blinding. If Marion Le Pen wins in France, the European Union, and so the sodomization of Europe, will be over.

The Russian Federation has led the way in the Western movement back to Western Christian roots. This is not because of some innate Russian superiority – it is simply because the Russian Federation has in its predecessor already been through, and survived, what the liberal Western Establishment is planning to create in the West: a new Soviet Union. It was no coincidence that the Soviet Union ended a few days before the European Union began. Just as the tyrannical Unionist Soviet dictatorship ended in disaster in the destroyed Russian Empire, so too the tyrannical Unionist Brussels dictatorship EU/NATO dictatorship is ending in disaster in the destroyed Western European empires.

The Russian Empire, still in fragments on its margins after 100 years since the 1917 catastrophe, though with 76% of its territory surviving intact in the form of the Russian Federation, has reminded the Western world of its roots and true destiny. They are not in futile consumerism and vain narcissism, but in Christ and His Saints. It is still not clear that the Western world will listen to the Russian experience and defeat of militant atheism; the liberal elite is fighting hard, with its usual mixture of disdain, slander and ‘fake news’, in favour of militant atheism against the Truth, which alone will set it free. However, the Saints of Western Europe (the real ones – from the first millennium, her roots) and the Saints of Russia, especially those of the last hundred years who defeated atheism, are a cloud of witnesses. They, together, are ignored at the peril of the West. He who has ears, let him hear.

Contemporary Pastoral Challenges for the Russian Orthodox Church

Introduction

After a generation of very hard work and great sacrifices, today, with over 350 bishops and over 35,000 churches, 900 of them outside the territory of the former Soviet Union, all may seem to be going well in our great, collective task of restoring the Russian Orthodox Church. But the number of churches is still only half as many in the Russian Empire in 1917 and today there is a higher population than then. Although Russian alcoholism has fallen rapidly and rates are now not much higher than in much of Western Europe and abortion is falling rapidly, halving over the last four years, that figure is still much higher than in Western European countries.

So there remains much to do. Corruption, divorce and environmental degradation remain huge problems. Only when there are 100,000 churches and 1,000 bishops and the old atheist-caused ABCDE – alcoholism, abortion, corruption, divorce and environmental degradation – hardly exist, will we begin to think that the situation has really improved. At present, we would say that there are four great pastoral tasks in Church life, the results of three generations of State-imposed atheism, which we think need to be urgently tackled.

Red or White

In this centenary year of the so-called Russian Revolution (in fact a Western coup d’etat), there are those who have created the false problem of whether Church people should be ‘Red’ or ‘White’ and where our sympathies should lie. Obviously, in reality we are neither Red nor White, but Christ’s. True, in Russian history, the Reds were atheists and mercilessly persecuted the Church and the Whites appeared to support the Church. However, in reality, at least some of the Reds, perhaps the naïve ones, had a sense of social justice, and most of the so-called Whites betrayed the Tsar and the cause of the Church.

Thus, such so-called Whites lost the loyalty of the masses by fighting for material goods, behaving much as the Reds, even using bandits as troops against their own people. During the Second World War, when the former Russian Empire was being bled dry by the Nazis, a few so-called ‘Whites’ actually consciously and voluntarily sided with the Slavophobe racist Hitler. Those of the Whites who were truly White were a minority and were always loyal to Russia and her universal mission, but today we have triumphed, as the icons of the Royal Martyrs are venerated all over Russia, for the faithful everywhere were always truly White. Let us waste no more time on this question: All we Russian Orthodox are Christ’s.

Superstition

The Russian Orthodox Church is today the Church of 140 million converts. Most of our 164 million Orthodox, of all ages, have been baptized within the last 30 years. Many of these masses have often still to be Churched, that is, to be converted inside; they are ‘uncoverted converts’. Thus, some have brought into the Church with themselves certain worldly reflexes, external ritualism, even superstitious attitudes and sometimes a ‘magic’ attitude to Church life. There are some who, for example, will do their utmost to obtain holy water, but are still not married in Church. There are some women who will wear a very modest headscarf, and yet wear the shortest of miniskirts and think nothing of abortion. There are some who attend church, but do not understand the services and make no effort to do so. Sometimes, it is true, this is because the reading and singing are garbled or else done by ‘professionals’, whose Italianate opera repertoire gives no chance to the people to understand and sing.

There are some who appear to believe in the New Testament and yet continually speak of the anthropomorphic, Old Testament, Jewish god, Who continually punishes all and sundry, demanding ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’. There are some who seek miracles at shrines and know by heart the dubious prophecies of dubious ‘elders’, but refuse ever to take communion, the greatest miracle of all. There are some who make huge signs of the cross and boast of their fasting and yet reckon that they are not Pharisees. There are some who will not go to church unless a certain priest is present and yet they are supposed to believe in the efficacy of sacraments of all priests. (Sadly some priests fall victim to such personality cults and then introduce their own ‘special’ practices into the services). This reliance on ‘magic’, that is, the concept that we can receive something without making any effort, is ultimately a consumerist attitude towards the sacred. It must be said that although external rites may appeal to some women, they have little appeal to men. This must surely be in part why 80%-90% of those in church are women. This is spiritually unhealthy and abnormal. Where are the men?

Luxury

In certain capitals, nor least in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, some very rich people, oligarchs, have donated huge sums of money to certain churches. They generally stipulate – and so think that they can obtain power – that this money must be spent on a very baroque style of ornamentation. In a word, there is far too much gold, marble and precious stones in such churches. Why not use gold paint and coloured glass? What is wrong with that? Luxurious vestments and mitres, equally priests and monks driving luxurious, black 4 x 4s, like millionaires, do not impress me at all. Some may drive them out of obedience, but the poison of luxury and then greed for money can get into the soul all too easily.

Beauty, yes, but excess and luxury, no. I think real gold should be banned from church. Let it be sold and money be given to the poor, to orphanages and hospices, to help mothers to give birth to children who can then be adopted, rather than aborted. Perhaps the worse scandal is that 50 kilometres away from Moscow and Saint Petersburg (and in most other places away from the capitals), there are priests who are barely surviving, dependent on parishioners giving them vegetables and eggs so that they can eat and receiving clothes so that they and their families can dress. A Church for the rich and a Church for the poor? This cannot be right.

Lack of Missionary Work

Some among the Church authorities appear to place very little emphasis on missionary work, both internal and external. In a town of 30,000, there may be only one church, attended on average by 200. Why is nothing done to attract the other 28,800? Why is there so little pastoral activity? Surely in a town of 30,000, there should be 30 churches? Why this complacency? Why are these other churches not being built? Where are the youth clubs, the Sunday schools, the brotherhoods and sisterhoods, the temperance societies, the organized visiting of hospitals and clinics? Where is active Orthodox life? Sometimes it is admirable, but more often it is invisible.

The situation is even worse outside the Russian Lands. According to the greatest Russian thinkers and doers, from Patriarch Nikon to Patriarch Tikhon, from Dostoyevsky to Solzhenitsyn Russia has a universal mission and message. So where are the missionaries? One Russian priest visits Taiwan or the Philippines and baptizes a few hundred. Then they are abandoned. There is no continuing pastoral care for them. And why do 200 priests not visit Taiwan and the Philippines and build churches there? Although the Church Outside Russia, with the help of others, has translated all the service books into English (spoken by 1-1.5 billion people worldwide) and most of the service books have been translated into French and German, why are all the service books not translated into the most common languages: Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi-Urdu, Portuguese, Bengali, Punjabi, Javanese, Wu, Malay, Telugu, Vietnamese, Korean, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Turkish, Italian and Cantonese? These eighteen languages are spoken by half of the world’s population. Together with the first three languages, and with languages where translations have existed for a long time (Arabic, Slavonic, Japanese, Romanian etc), translations into these 25 languages would make Orthodox services comprehensible to over 6 billion people worldwide – over 80% of the world’s population. Is that not what we should be doing?

Conclusion

Others would no doubt add other considerations to the above list of four pastoral tasks. True, this is a subjective list, but its considerations would surely figure in any list of the greatest challenges in the ongoing restoration of Church life after the atheist holocaust of the tragic past century. There remains so much to do; we have only just begun.

On Contraception: A Pastor’s Viewpoint

The Orthodox Christian ideal as regards contraception is clear: We do not use contraception.

This ideal is opposed by liberals, modernists, who, like liberal Protestants and nowadays liberal Roman Catholics (who are virtually indistinguishable from liberal Protestants), appear to think that anything goes. The usual suspects on the fringes of the Orthodox Church include the Parisians and their allies, clerics like the heretic Fr Sergey Bulgakov, as well as Fr Alexander Schmemann and Fr John Meyendorff, and philosophers, also verging on heresy, like Evdokimov, Clement, Yannaras and Berdyayev, not to mention their allies in Constantinople and Finland. It is significant that their works are more often read by heterodox and unconverted converts than those inside the Church, who long ago entered the arena. The liberals’ temptation is that they attempt to dogmatize or absolutize ikonomia, pastoral dispensation. The path that they are on leads directly to sectarian liberalism outside the Church.

At the opposite extreme we have the literalists and idealists, almost always ill-integrated converts of conservative Protestant or conservative Evangelical background. They are horrified by any concept of pastoral dispensation and quote out of context the holy fathers and canons just as they used to quote chapter and verse from the Bible – threatening others with hell. Such individuals lack experience of real Orthodox parishes and real Orthodox life, preferring the convert hothouse to what they condescendingly call ‘ethnic parishes’. Their temptation is in fact the same as that of the liberals, that they attempt to dogmatize or absolutize, only in their case they dogmatize akrivia, the strict teaching, never allowing for pastoral dispensation, not understanding that the essential dogmas concern the Holy Trinity and the Person of Christ. The path that they are on leads directly to pharisaical old calendarism outside the Church.

Having considered the two extremes on the fringes of the Church and not of the Church, as they are founded on liberal Protestantism and conservative Protestantism, what then is the Tradition of the Church? It is that the Church has an ideal which we are to strive for, but that for the sake of the salvation of the flock pastors are allowed to make exceptions to specific individuals and in specific contexts, applying pastoral dispensation (ikonomia), wherever it is of spiritual benefit. We do not set the flock a cross that is too heavy and which will break their backs. Those who do so, imposing a spiritual level on those who are not ready for it, will empty the churches, creating pharisaical sects. We have over the last forty years seen too much hypocrisy and too many broken marriages caused by such unwise and ill-discerning converts who dogmatize the ideals of the Church and act without love to weaker brethren and sisters. There is a higher law than the law of the Pharisees; it is called the law of love. That is the law of the Church, of Truth and Mercy, for it alone leads to salvation.

Fake News

First, they called it ‘lies’, then under the Jesuits and later Dr Goebbels they called it ‘propaganda’. Then in the Soviet Union it became ‘disinformation’ and in the West ‘PR’, more recently ‘spin’ and now ‘fake news’. Such are the euphemisms for LIES.

The Western Establishment has excelled itself in this regard, renaming reality to suit itself. For example, Western experts long ago renamed the Age of the Saints ‘The Dark Ages’, labelled the Middle Ages ‘Gothic’, which they were not, repaganization they called ‘The Renaissance’, darkness they called ‘The Enlightenment’, brutal paganism they call ‘modern times’ and the abortion holocaust ‘women’s rights’.

The British Establishment, founded by French-speaking, but still barbarian, Vikings, has shown special skills in this field. Thus it calls native English people ‘Anglo-Saxons’, which they never called themselves, and decreed that they died out in 1066 under themselves, the ‘superior’ Normans, superior because they were more efficient at murder. Then it called a murderous civil war ‘The War of the Roses’, named the looting and wholesale destruction of monastic life and care for the poor under the odious tyrant and mass murderer Henry VIII, ‘The Reformation’, and glorified Cromwell, one of the most violent murderers in human history (1,000,000 dead?), with a statue outside the Establishment’s Parliament.

Later it called a Dutch invasion that cost hundreds of thousands of lives ‘The Glorious’ or ‘The Bloodless’, ‘Revolution’, named the unprovoked Anglo-French-Muslim invasion of Russia ‘The Crimean War’, the freedom of the fighters of India ‘The Indian Mutiny’, the massacre of Dutch farmers’ families in concentration camps ‘The Boer War’, barbaric Western European Wars ‘World Wars’, and, recently, the imperialist killings in Northern Ireland as ‘The Troubles’. More recently still, it calls the alien, US-installed, American-Georgian-Galician junta in Kiev ‘the Ukrainian government’ and Ukrainian freedom fighters ‘Russian-backed separatists’!

Just now we have the lies of NATO, a paranoid organization which spread paranoia to justify itself and its hundreds of billions of dollars of spending, which should have died when the Soviet Union died. Although it claims to be about the North Atlantic, it has just lost a war in aid of its puppet junta in the foothills of the Himalayas, costing 450 British lives and wasting the British taxpayer £35 billion. Having failed to make Sweden join NATO by inventing fake news that a Russian submarine was patrolling the harbour of its capital, it is now trying to get Western governments to stump up huge sums of cash so that it can threaten Russia with invasion from Eastern Europe.

First they called it ‘lies’, then under the Jesuits and later Dr Goebbels they called it ‘propaganda’. Then in the Soviet Union it became ‘disinformation’ and in the West ‘PR’, more recently ‘spin’ and now ‘fake news’. Such are the euphemisms for LIES.

Against Mammon

The ideology which the Western world is so proud of and ants to impose by force on the rest of the world calls itself ‘Capitalism’. In other words, however much it may be disguised by humanitarian concerns trying to justify its ruthless exploitation of the rest of the world, this ideology is the Gospel-forbidden worship of money, of capital, of Mammon, Mammonism. For we are expressly taught by the Son of God that we cannot worship God and Mammon. Some here are deaf and blind.

Essentially, this Western ideology began in the eleventh century as a power grab, asserting that since Christ was absent, he had therefore been replaced by a ‘Vicar’, from whom, moreover, proceeded the Holy Spirit! Very conveniently, the ‘Vicars of Christ’ just so happened to be the successors of the pagan emperor of Rome, ‘pontifex maximus’, and they were also close relatives of the emperors of what was basically Germany, where lived the most powerful and richest race in Western Europe. However, any power grab must be financed. The popes of the late eleventh century developed such finance, as Charlemagne, the first German Emperor of the ‘First Reich’, had tried but failed to do before them. The popes were therefore the first to develop banking to finance their international power grab.

For example, the Papal shock-troops, the Normans, financed their 1066 invasion of England through Jewish usurers in Rouen. And other Papal shock-troops, the Templars, had large land-holdings across Europe starting from about 1100 on, so giving rise to the beginning of Europe-wide banking. In the twelfth century, the general need to transfer large sums of money to finance the Crusades stimulated the further development of banking in Western Europe. Increasingly, Roman Catholicism became not so much an organization to shepherd the flock as an organization to fleece it. Thus, anyone who refused to pay tithes to the Pope could be excommunicated and, as with the case of the Cathars, was also exterminated by crusades.

The Papacy itself was the object of finance by corrupt Italian families. Merchants in Florence, Genoa and Venice in particular set about using their financial power to grab political power. Thus, the greedy Venetians lay behind the Fourth ‘Crusade’ (= the fourth act of organized banditry and mass killing), which resulted in the looting of the Christian Capital in New Rome, in 1204. Indulgences, beginning in about 1170, were also essentially a financial rip-off. In their ‘Renaissance’ art, families like the Medici in Florence would even paint themselves as apostles. This mentality continued to be shared by the Roman Catholic Columbus, who was financed by the greedy to go and steal gold from the New World, where he hoped to find ‘the gold one’, El Dorado.

A few years after him, in strict continuity, the Protestants were no different. Thus, the evil murderer and privatizer, Henry VIII, switched religions so that he could grab monastic money and lands for himself and his cronies. This continued, as Cromwell, the massacrer of hundreds of thousands, financed his murders through Dutch Jews, rather as the atheist Napoleon financed his two million murders through the Rothschilds. The whole British Protestant colonial project was about ruthless exploitation, disguised as a benign and pseudo-religious plan to bring ‘civilization to unenlightened savages’. Thus, in India, members of the ‘Honourable’ East India Company painted themselves literally as Christ’s apostles. As the Indian Gandhi later answered, when asked by British journalists what he thought of Western Civilization, ‘It is a very good idea’.

Or as a South African Protestant has said: ‘They brought us the Bible, but when we turned round we found that in return they had stolen our land’. We might add, ‘and gold and diamonds too’. The same obsession continued in the post-Roman Catholic, post-Protestant, atheist twentieth century, when Wall Street financed the mainly Jewish Bolsheviks, hoping to plunder the riches of the former Russian Empire. Seeing the refusal of Stalin, who had massacred the Jewish Bolsheviks, to co-operate, Wall Street then, ironically, financed the Anti-Jewish Hitler, whom they hoped would in his turn allow them to plunder the riches of the former Russian Empire. How can you be so wrong twice?

Of course, Orthodox should be careful. If the Western world for a millennium has fallen to Mammon, conveniently disguised as God, the same temptation could befall us. There is too much gold in some of our Orthodox churches, not to mention precious stones, silver and marble. Beauty in worship is important, as it inspires prayer, which is why we give our best to God, but let us use gold paint and coloured glass. The real thing can be sold and given to the poor. We reject God and Mammon, which odious combination has been the downfall of Christianity in the Western world. Rather we face the choice of God or Mammon and we know what we choose.