Questions and Answers from Recent Correspondence: April-May 2013

Q: What is the essential difference between the Western world and the Orthodox world

A: The Orthodox world chose to follow the Gospel. However, at the start of the second millennium the Western world finally chose to follow the pagan Roman Empire, from which it inherited its pride and aggressiveness. Thus, when the British set up their Empire, their symbol was Britannia – the Roman name for Britain. And the French and the Germans, let alone the Italians, also used the Roman Empire and its symbols and insignia as their models. Even today, the heir of Western Europe, the Far West, the USA, treats the world as its Roman Empire, sending out its legions to conquer it and exploit it.

Q: What does this mean for Western religion?

A: As for the religion of the West, it was long ago deformed by the filioque heresy, which expresses the concept that all the Spirit and authority of God lies with Western man. This is not Christianity, this is racist neo-paganism. As a result of this humanistic deformation of the filioque, the West has come to lack the sense of the sacred, of the presence of God in its midst. As a result of this, it has in turn come to lack the sense of the ascetic, the sense that we can raise ourselves up to God through inner cleansing, and therefore it also lacks the sense of compassionate love, the fruit of this ascetic struggle. And as a result, it makes continual war, having developed the most incredible and costly technology to destroy all humanity several times over and indeed our whole planet, thus achieving the ability to end the world.

Here is the difference with the Orthodox world. And there are few places in the Orthodox world where this sense of the sacred, the sense of the ascetic and the sense of compassionate love been better kept than among Russian Orthodox. This is exactly what the 20th century Russian Church Father, Metr Antony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev understood so well. Those Orthodox who have not been contaminated by the West still possess the sense of God and man, whereas the West made sinful man into a god; already by the Renaissance, man was declared to be a half-god. This is why today the strange idea of homosexual marriage was born in the West. This is a throwback to the religion of pagan Rome and Greece, where gods and goddesses cavorted with men and women alike.

Q: Western religion is divided into Catholic and Protestant branches. Is there any difference between them?

A: There is no essential difference between Catholic and Protestant; they simply represent different stages in the process of degeneration, in the process of the loss of the sense of the sacred, of the ascetic and of compassionate love. These three values were replaced by scholasticism (the cold, calculating reason replacing the warm heart), ritualism (the outward replacing the inward), and nationalism (hatred for others replacing love of the familiar). In Catholicism this loss of the sense of the sacred can be seen very clearly over the last fifty years. Today, in their services Catholic priests turn their back on God and face the people who sit down; they have mostly done away with the veneration of relics, with fasting and ascetic struggle. Aseticism has been replaced by its opposite – consumerism. And yet, remarkably, traces of the sense of the sacred and the sense of the ascetic and even of compassionate love, can be found in Islam, Hinduism and even Buddhism, which is not a religion, but a philosophy. In this respect, the contemporary Western world stands out as the one exception in the history of civilisation, which is a sure sign of its decadence and coming collapse.

Q: You said that Western religion is racist. In what way is this true?

A: Western religion at first concerned only the Western elite, only later in general Western man (not even Western woman). It certainly was not concerned with other races, whom it looked on as inferior. For example, many of the American humanists of the eighteenth century had slaves – just like the Roman humanists some 2,000 years before them. And the belief of the British Empire was: ‘God is an Englishman’. It is only in the last fifty years that Western humanism has decreed that women, Africans, Asians, the handicapped and now homosexuals, and people of all races, are also gods – only provided of course that they first adopt the deluded Western ideology.

Q: But there are plenty of Orthodox who can be as cruel and proud as such Western people and there are many Western people who are neither cruel nor proud. What do you say?

A: Oh, there are a great many nominal Orthodox, those who have been baptised in recent years, especially in the ex-Soviet Union, who have not yet been Churched. And there are plenty of lapsed Orthodox in Westernised countries like Greece and Cyprus and in Patriarchates like those of Constantinople and Antioch, who have been Westernised and lost their roots. For them all religions are the same; some of them are clergy! But I am not talking about those, but about real Orthodox. And as for Western people, thank God that by His grace there are many Western people who have not accepted this self-deifying Westernisation; they are the authentic West, the West that Satan tried to bury a thousand years ago, but which keeps coming back by the prayers of the Western saints who call out to the souls of those who have kept a little humility and modesty. I constantly meet such people. They give cause for optimism.

Ironically, even Western people who accept this Western mentality prove to us the truth of Orthodoxy. Take Darwin, for instance. What is he saying? He is saying that without God man is an animal. He is right. Fifty years after he died Hitler proved it. Take Freud, for instance. What is he saying? He is saying that without God, man is reduced to his base instincts. He is right. Fifty years after he died the Western world proved it. Take Dawkins, for instance. What is he saying? He is saying that without God, man faces despair. He is right. 2013 proves it.

The sense of the sacred, the sense of the ascetic and the sense of compassionate love are the essential features of Orthodox Christianity. These are the opposites of Darwin, who denied God’s presence in His Creation, of Freud, who denied the importance of ascetic struggle, and of Dawkins, who denies compassionate love, proclaiming only genetic self-interest – egoism. Dawkins is only a reflection of the pure selfishness of the age of consumerism.

Q: As you are pessimistic about the Western world in its present state, what role do you think that Orthodoxy can play there?

A: The only institution left in the Western world with a claim to spiritual authority is Roman Catholicism. However, its authority has been suicidally undermined by of some its own clergy, who have been established in compulsory celibacy despite common sense and the proclamations by a minority of Roman Catholic bishops and thinkers who still have some common sense. The problem here is one of pride. A change in course as regards compulsory priestly celibacy would be tantamount to Roman Catholicism admitting to what the Orthodox Church has known all along – that it has been wrong ever since its creation 1,000 years ago. There have been and there are places where Roman Catholicism resembles a pedophile club. In many places its credit is at the greatest low it has known for hundreds of years. Given its failure, the few left in the Western world with faith and spiritual memory, spiritual consciousness and a sense of responsibility have turned or will turn to the Orthodox Church.

Q: But in concrete terms, what does that mean for people who live in the Western world? The Orthodox Church is a communion of Local Churches; which one should they join?

A: Only seven of the fourteen universally recognised Local Churches exist in the Western world. These are: The Russian Church (the vast majority of whose representatives in the Western world belong to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia); the Patriarchate of Constantinople; the Patriarchate of Antioch; the Romanian Church; the Serbian Church; the Bulgarian Church; the Georgian Church. However, the choice is more limited than this because in reality only the first three accept Western people; the last four, apart from being very small in most places (there are local exceptions) are usually mononational. In other words, they are often inward-looking, turned towards serving only their own national groups, sometimes with openly nationalist agendas.

Q: So in order to enter the Orthodox Church, there is a choice of three Local Churches in general?

A: In general, yes. However, as I said, there are local exceptions. For instance, in Italy the largest Local Orthodox Church is the Romanian. In North America there is still what is in fact a Cold War fragment of the Russian Church, which is called the OCA (‘Orthodox Church in America’). Although not canonically recognised by all Orthodox, there are places, perhaps especially in Alaska and Canada, where it represents a spiritual presence. And even as regards the three Local Churches which provide a choice, they have parishes in some places, but not in others; some of those parishes, especially in the ageing Patriarchate of Constantinople, are just as mononational and inward-looking as those of the other four Local Churches, poaching the clergy and people of other Local Churches, especially of the Russian Church. This is political meddling – strongly and openly backed by Western countries, particularly today by the USA.

Therefore, in reality, most Western people simply join whichever Local Church is available locally, having no choice at all.

Q: Is this situation likely to improve?

A: If only I knew the answer to that question! Given that two of those three Local Churches, the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Antioch have, despite their noble history, to some extent become fringe Churches, small, impoverished, politically dependent, sometimes ready to twist the canons to survive, the obvious choice is the Russian Orthodox Church, which is 75% of the Orthodox Church in any case. However, in fairness, that does not always correspond to reality.

In principle, the Russian Church has kept the faith more integrally than the other two Local Churches, remaining faithful to Orthodox practices, such as only giving communion to Orthodox, using the Orthodox calendar throughout the year, celebrating the services in full, or standing in church. However, here too, there are considerable problems. The main problem is the 75 year gap in Russian Orthodox history after 1917, caused by the Western export of Marxism to Russia and the deliberate Western sabotage of the Orthodox system there. This caused chaos inside and outside the Russian Church, from which it is only gradually recovering. It faces huge demands and huge responsibilities.

Q: What are these demands and responsibilities?

A: Firstly, the Russian Orthodox Church has had to restore the Church life that was lost inside Russia both before and after 1917. This restoration began in the late 1980s, immediately after the saving canonisation of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church, but this restoration is still ongoing with continued extensive Church building and instruction.

Secondly, it has had to unify itself with the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). This took place in 2007, but the process is ongoing, with parishes in the Western world still to be prepared to be given over to ROCOR, the unprincipled errors of the Cold War being erased, as the Church inside Russia restores Orthodox practice and canonicity to its parishes outside Russia. Sometimes it has a heavy price to pay for its unprincipled ‘legacy’ of the past.

Thirdly, and this has hardly begun, it has to convert the Russian State back to Orthodoxy away from corruption, so that the Church can use the State’s strength internationally in order to unify the Orthodox world, restoring the practices that have been lost there since 1917, reversing the Americanisation of, for example, the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Here we can see the hopes and efforts of Russian Orthodoxy to deliver countries like the Ukraine, Georgia and Serbia from NATO aggression, to save Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania from the tyranny of the EU trap and narrow nationalism, and today to rescue Syria from Western-backed Islamism which has been tearing that country apart in atrocities, in the hope that a restored Syria, like other countries, can integrate the new Eurasian Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

Fourthly, and this has hardly begun, it has to restore the foreign policies of the Tsar’s Russia and send out missionaries to countries where it was active before 1917. In Asia, these include Thailand (100 years ago, Siam), India, for which Duleep Singh, the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, called on Russia to free from British imperialism, Hawaii, which invited Russia to become its protector, Alaska, which alas! Russia was forced into selling by the threat of Western Imperialism, China, Tibet and Korea. In the southern hemisphere, there is much to do in Africa and Latin America. And then there is the Western world itself, where Russia has begun building churches again, as before the Revolution, notably in Rome and Madrid, but tomorrow in Paris, Berlin and in hundreds of other cities and towns, oases in the spiritual desert that is contemporary Western Europe.

Q: Is this likely?

A; The first two processes have already begun, although more time is needed to complete them. As for the second two processes, they require political backing, finance, vision, an international consciousness, freedom, a sense of mission, above all, a sense of responsibility, of God’s destiny, and a sense of urgency. This is a high and noble calling.

Q: What do you think is necessary for the Russian Church in Western Europe now?

A: Apart from finance, we need suitable bishops of the younger generation, who have a natural command of Russian and of at least one Western language, and understand Western culture and Western people, so that they can unify. It is incredible that we have no such permanently present bishops in the British Isles and Ireland, in Benelux, in Scandinavia, in Italy and in Spain and Portugal.

Q: What needs to be avoided?

A: We need to avoid extremes. For example, there are those who are closed, whose only care is Russia and Russian, who have no time for Western people and mission to them, refusing to learn Western languages and understand local culture and history. They do not achieve anything; under them the Church stagnates. At the other extreme there are those who Westernise themselves and end up losing Orthodoxy through their idolisation of Western religion (Catholicism or Protestantism), even making ‘secret’ agreements or compromises with them. For example, the Patriarchate of Constantinople refuses to accept Catholics, because of its concordat with the Vatican, and refuses to accept Anglicans because of its ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with Canterbury; the Patriarchate of Antioch does the same in Italy; in England Metr Antony Bloom, strangely of the Russian Church inside Russia, an adviser to the Anglicans, refused to take a group of Anglicans, who were then forced to go out on a limb and join the Patriarchate of Antioch.

Sadly, in recent generations the Russian Church – and other Local Churches – in the Western world has been dominated by one extreme or the other.

A: But there have been exceptions, haven’t there?

Q: Yes, but St John of Shanghai far outshines any others.