Tag Archives: Apologetics

Q and A September 2019

The Orthodox Faith and Constantinople: The Fall from being the First among Equals to being the Last without Equals.

Q: What is the situation of the Rue Daru Archdiocese now at the end of this very important month for it?

A: As I understand it, after the meeting of its clergy in Paris on 28 September, some three-quarters of the parishes that had not already left (those in Scandinavia and the two in Italy) have remained faithful to Archbishop Jean. The exceptions appear to be only five communities in Continental Europe (mainly those under a troubled young priest in Belgium, the one in Germany and the modernist, anti-iconostasis group in Meudon near Paris). However, several tiny communities of Protestant-minded dissidents in England, who have existed as part of Rue Daru since 2006, when they were adopted into the Rue Daru set-up by the late Archbishop Gabriel, who did not understand the real problems. Among the Rue Daru Orthodox in Paris, these provincials are seen very much as trouble-makers.

Thus, it seems that the majority of Rue Daru have returned to the Russian Orthodox Church, scrambling up out of the ever-deeper ditch dug by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which is now negotiating with Uniats in Rome, between itself and the rest of the Orthodox Church. In other words, 99% of the Orthodox world stands shoulder to shoulder with the Russian Orthodox Church, while the tiny, US-run Constantinople, stoops in unsplendid isolation

Q: There are Orthodox who say that the dispute between Constantinople and the Russian Church about the Ukraine is simply a racial and political one, all about power, and we should not get involved. What would you answer them?

A: This is the self-justification of those who, precisely, do not want to get involved, that is, who are disincarnate Orthodox, who think of Orthodoxy as a mere idea. These are the fence-sitters and, as they say, fence-sitters are those who refuse to climb the fence. The fact is that 12 Local Churches, including the Alexandrian, the Jerusalem, the Cypriot and the Albanian (their episcopates are all basically ethnic Greeks), the Romanians, the Georgians, the Arabs, as well as Slavs, support the Russian Church, against 1 Local Church, the US-controlled Constantinople. This is not therefore a racial argument. Nor is it a political one, for the Cold War is long over (except in the minds of those who like wars to make money from arms sales and like hating others). In fact, this is a dogmatic argument. Either you are Orthodox (13 Local Churches) or not (1 Local Church). Either you have an Orthodox understanding of the Church (ecclesiology) (13 Local Churches), or a Non-Orthodox one (1 Local Church).

Q: Will the Patriarchate of Constantinople be punished for its schismatic actions in the Ukraine?

A: It has already punished itself, as it has cut itself off from the majority of the Church. It has gone from being the first among equals to the last without equals. We must never forget that God is not mocked, for He is an all-consuming fire. I fear for the terrible events that will now follow if there is no repentance on the part of those in the Phanar who have carried out these acts because of US bribery and political threats.

The Russian Orthodox Church

Q: Many traditional aspects of the Russian Orthodox Church remind me of the Church of England and the Catholic Church before the 1960s. Surely, the Russian Orthodox Church is just backward? Once it catches up with the West, exactly the same things will happen to it as here. I mean Slavonic will be replaced by modern Russian, guitar music will accompany the liturgy, there will be happy-clappy services with people sitting down (as in Greek churches already), women will not cover their heads, there will be no Eucharistic fasts or fasts in general and no confession before communion, there will be women priests and gay marriage. Don’t you think so?

A: The idea of ‘catching up with the West’ is very amusing! I think in reality that it is the West that has to catch up with Russia, as the West is still stuck in its so-called ‘post-Christian’ and modernist time-warp dating back to the now old-fashioned 1960s. You are forgetting that today’s post-modernist, post-post-Christian Russia has seen the future already and not only survived and rejected it, but overcome it. The West, on the other hand, has still got to go through open persecution. However, I fear that the Catholic-Protestant West (and modernist Orthodox on the fringes, like some in Constantinople and Greece) will not survive that persecution. In which case, only faithful Orthodoxy will survive.

Orthodox Teaching and Practice

Q: What is the sense of the sacred?

A: The sense of the sacred is normal for anyone who has some sort of spiritual life or sense, who senses the spiritual presence of the other world, just beyond the veil of this world. It is why in Church we have an iconostasis, why there is no instrumental music, why icons have a different perspective, why we stand and do not sit and why we use an older form of liturgical language. Everything in Church is different from this world, which has no sense of the sacred.

Q: Do Orthodox believe the dogma that Adam and Eve were real people, from whom we are all descended? Or are they symbolic myths?

A: Of course, we are descended from them. They are portrayed in the Icon of the Resurrection, being freed from hades. We also inherited ‘the sin of Adam’, ancestral sin, from them. Moreover, DNA is now confirming our descent from them. However, this is not a dogma. A dogma is the Holy Trinity or that Christ is true God and true man, that He has two natures in one Person. That Adam and Eve are our ancestors is a belief, not a dogma.

Q: Do Uniats have the same three-bar cross as the Russian Orthodox world?

A: Interestingly, not quite, for of course like everything Uniat, it is not quite the same, it is ‘off’, askew. Significantly, the lowest bar of the Uniat three-bar cross does not point to the right, to Dismas, the good thief who repented, but it is always horizontal. This signifies that the Uniats have not repented. This is clearly the case, since they are Uniat, i.e. in a state of non-repentance for their apostasy.

Q: Why is the old calendar so important?

A: First of all, it is not ‘the old calendar’, but the Church calendar, which all the Fathers, East and West, agreed to at the First Universal Council in 325, nearly 1700 years ago. It was accepted by all until the end of the 16th century, when for purely secular reasons a change was made by heterodox, who had long before already split away from the Church and introduced a heretical teaching on the Holy Trinity. Their calendar is called the (Roman) Catholic calendar.

First, the Bolsheviks under Lenin tried to impose this Catholic calendar, then in Finland the Lutheran Finnish State persecuted churches there under the homosexual Archbishop German Aav, in Greece there was and is St Catherine the New Martyr who was martyred resisting it, then there were the Fascists under Hitler in the Ukraine who also tried to impose it. We too shall resist to the end, remaining faithful to the Church. Are you faithful – or not?

Q: Have you ever served on the new calendar and would you ever do so?

A: I never have done and would certainly avoid doing so. However, I have served and would serve with clergy who are obliged to serve the fixed feasts on the new calendar out of obedience. As I said to one who used to be a member of ROCOR (why, I am not sure), I have never been, am not and never will be an old calendarist – which is quite a different thing from being on the old calendar. Interestingly, the priest I said this to, in despair that ROCOR would not support old calendarism, left ROCOR and joined a sect which in his heart he had always wanted to belong to.

Q: How do we answer feminists who say that God is as much a woman as a man and the term ‘God the Mother’ is quite acceptable?

A: First of all, they contradict the words of Christ, the Son of God (not the Daughter of God), Who always refers to God the Father, as recorded in the Gospels. So to refer to ‘God the Mother’ is anti-biblical, anti-apostolic, anti-patristic, anti-spiritual, anti-Church and by origin worldly or secular, contradicting 2,000 years of revelations of the Holy Spirit. I think it is interesting, that such extremists want God to be female. So why don’t they want the devil to be female too? After all, in the name of equality, it should be so!

Q: Surely St Paul’s command that women should cover their heads in church (1 Cor 11) is just Jewish ritualism? Why should we observe it? Especially when Orthodox clergy have long hair!

A: Some things are Jewish (or rather Middle Eastern) hygiene ritualism, for example, circumcision or not eating pork, as it is observed by both Jews and their Muslim cousins. Other things are not and this is one of them – it is universal.

Thus, in English, we have the expression ‘to let your hair down’. This means to stop being sober and modest. In English history we can see how the Cavaliers, who were morally rather loose, especially in sexual matters,  had long hair, but the Puritans were ‘roundheads’, with short back and sides – still the British and US Army haircut even today. In the 1960s sexual ‘liberation’ was marked by young people growing their hair long, throwing off the old restraints of Protestant moralism. It is everywhere well-known that women can make themselves sexually attractive with long hair – you only have to look at any street and you will see three or four times as many women’s hairdressers as men’s barbers, and women spend far more on haircare than men. The Apostle’s instruction is simply about modesty and sobriety.

As regards long hair as worn by some Orthodox clergy (probably a minority), this started to come in very late, probably in about the 15th century, under the influence of ascetics and hermits, who did not trim their hair (head or facial), simply because they had no scissors. Thus, the Old Ritualists in Russia, who date from the 17th century, still never trim their beards, but always have very short hair. In the early centuries laymen and clergy always trimmed their hair (and monastics wore tonsures, like St Gregory Palamas), as the Apostle commands (1 Cor 11, 14). When clergy do have long hair (this is usually monastic clergy), then they tie it back neatly, still not ‘letting it down’. Anything else seems either vain or else effeminate.

 

Q and A June-July-August 2019

Theological Matters

Q; How can we know God? Surely those with education are at an advantage here?

A: We must distinguish between knowledge and understanding, which is real intelligence, the ability to make sense of things, not simply the remembrance of facts. Knowledge is open to all who have a good memory, as also are academic careers. However, having a good memory does not mean understanding. We do not understand with our brains, but with our hearts. And though not all have good memories, all have hearts. Unfortunately, most people do not use their hearts.

Sometimes hearts lie fallow like fields because their owners live only a physical life, using only, and often abusing, their bodies. Sometimes hearts are quite unused, lying like stony ground because of the overuse of the brain and priority given to knowledge, to mere facts. Sometimes hearts are so full of superficial and deluding emotions, at best ‘emotional intelligence’, that they have no depth – thus they are choked with weeds.

To cleanse our hearts, thus sowing faith and gaining humility, is to take the first step towards knowing God, that is, towards understanding, towards spiritual intelligence, what is called the ‘nous’ in Greek. Knowledge is an illusion; we must know how to interpret knowledge, factual information, before it can be of any use in the main task, which is spiritual advancement. Like the illiterate fishermen of Galilee, the martyrs did not have university degrees and we do not need them in order to become martyrs; in order to become a saint the first thing we need is humility, not education.

Q: Where does Orthodoxy stand in the Creationism/Evolution debate?

A: Creationism is basically Protestant in its rationalist word-for-word literalism, because it lacks any understanding of the beyond, of the sacramental and mystical reality of life, whereas Evolutionism is basically Roman Catholic, since it is an intellectual, not to say, Jesuitical, rationalization. In other words, both secular isms attempt rationalistically and humanistically to limit our understanding of the acts of God to the size of our tiny human reason.

The Orthodox understanding is the sacramental understanding of life, which understands the significance of outward details in their relation to the inward facts of God and salvation. Everything in visible Creation represents the heavenly. St Nicholas (Velimirovich) wrote of this especially clearly in his ‘Signs and Symbols’, as he was profoundly Apostolic and therefore Patristic in his thought. Orthodoxy is the way of the Holy Spirit, of grace, of the ascetic, of the Tradition. We should not make isms. Thus, God created all things, man lived and fell, and so man must repent. That is all we need to know. Everything else is just rationalistic speculation, intellectual games. Let the impenetrable mysteries of God the Creator, how and when He created, remain. We can never know these mysteries, we can only catch glimpses of what is beyond the veil. God is infinitely greater than man.

Q: Many non-believers say that God is a crutch, invented by and for weak-minded and weak-willed people to get them through life. What would you reply?

A: Although God made man in His own image, fallen man continually attempts to make God in his own image. Thus, God is a crutch only if you make Him into a crutch for yourself, which is what Voltaire (‘if God did not exist, man would have to invent Him’) and later the proto-Fascist and also madman Nietzsche proposed. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries especially, ideologues tried to use the idea of God to justify this ‘crutchism’, not to mention Fascism, Communism, racism, capitalism and consumerism (‘riches are God’s blessing to those who believe in Him’ – one of the recent American exports to China).

However, to make God in your own image is called idolatry, as it makes the Living God into a manmade idol. Idolatry is continually denounced in the Old Testament, to which most of the world now seems to have returned. Why? Because the world has largely abandoned the New Testament because of its laziness and deluded lack of faith, summed up in the words: ‘Christianity is too hard’. This has been the slogan of the West for a thousand years and has justified all of its falls from Orthodoxy. As Chesterton truly said of the West: ‘It is not that Christianity has failed, it is rather that Christianity has never been tried’.

Q: What is the difference between secular unity (of the US and EU type) and Church unity?

A: Secular unity is always of the ‘one size fits all’ sort, as practised by the pagan Roman, British, European and any other secular Empire, including the Papal and the Phanariot. Church unity is always unity in diversity. It does not impose one language or one approach, but says there are ‘many mansions in the Father’s Kingdom’.

Q: Why does Catholicism place such emphasis on suffering for redemption and what they call ‘atonement’ or ‘reparation’?

A: This is not only true of Catholicism, but also of Protestantism, which inherited it from Catholicism. It originates in the Catholic (Anselmian / late 11th century) cult and doctrine of the Redemption. This asserts that we were saved by Christ’s suffering on the Cross before the punishing feudal God the Father who demanded His Son’s death as a propitiatory sacrifice and demands human suffering. This is to confuse cause and effect.

For Orthodox we were saved by the Resurrection (the Crucifixion was of course the necessary path to the Resurrection). Christ freed the captives from hell through his Resurrection, which came about after His Crucifixion, when His soul went down to Hell and defeated the devil, who alone is the author of suffering. This is why heterodox celebrate Good Friday and not Easter Sunday. This is why piety among them is seen as suffering and even false suffering, pretending to suffer, seeking suffering, when in fact they make others, not least Orthodox, suffer.

Q: An American from St Vladimir’s has tried to persuade me that Judas repented, because that is what it says in the King James Gospel before it says that he ‘went and hanged himself’. How do I answer this?

A: St Vladimir’s has often been a hotbed of American Protestantism.

It is true that Judas did regret what he did (‘he repented himself’ in early 17th century English in Matt 27), but this is not repentance. We can imagine that almost all suicides regret what they have done in their lives (Hitler must have regretted many tactical mistakes, such as invading Russia, before he died), but regret is not at all the same as repentance. When people throw themselves under trains, and it often happens, they die full of regret. But there is no repentance. Otherwise they would not commit suicide so selfishly (and create inconvenience to the lives of tens of thousands and mental breakdown to train drivers) and would have made up for their feelings of regret, which wipe away the feeling of regret. Ask the Apostles Peter and Paul in prayer and they will tell you what repentance is.

Q: What is the difference between piety and pietism?

A: Piety is the natural effect on human behaviour after the human heart has been touched by the Holy Spirit. Pietism is a disease, an artificial affectation, the self-willed effects of an intellectual and pathological decision to pretend to be pious. It can easily be diagnosed because it is always coloured by priggish, self-righteous pride, aggressiveness and vanity, a lack of humility and love for one’s neighbour.

Q: What do you make of the Pope’s decision to change the wording of the Lord’s Prayer in Italian from ‘Lead us not into temptation’ to something like ‘Avoid putting us to the test’, because otherwise some might think that God tempts us?

A: There is nothing new in this change. The Anglicans did the same some fifty years ago and the change seems to be yet another example of the Protestantization of Catholicism. True, the rewording is something of an explanation of the original words. However, temptations inevitably happen to us in the fallen world (they happened to Christ, for example, in the wilderness) and they are very positive if they are resisted, as they build us up, making us stronger and mature. (There is no maturity without undergoing temptations). Even ignoring this, the ‘rewording does seem very strange: by what authority does the Pope ‘correct’ the Saviour’s wording? And why does he think that believers can be so infantile as to think that God deliberately leads us into sin? Is he the Pope of doubters and sceptics?

Q: What do you think of Vladimir Lossky’s ‘The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church’?

A: I think it is an excellent academic overview of the Church’s theology, written by an Orthodox if Paris-trained intellectual. My only regret is the title, which is clearly aimed at Non-Orthodox. First of all, ‘Eastern Orthodox’ means in reality only Orthodox who live in the Middle East – Russians, for example, never call themselves ‘Eastern Orthodox’. I am not Eastern Orthodox. And then, why ‘mystical’? All theology is mystical, i.e. meta-rational, above the reason. Otherwise it is not theology, merely philosophy. A better title would be: ‘An Academic View of Authentic Christian Theology’.

Q: How do you keep faith alive today in such conditions of cynicism, of what they call post-modernism?

A: Cynicism is by definition the lack of faith. Post-modernism is the lack of any ideals caused by the lack of faith. For us there is only one ideal – Christ (and therefore all those who tried to follow Christ in and through the Church, the saints and the righteous. This excludes a lot of the people who claim to be in the Church, especially those among the senior clergy, for as the proverb says, ‘A fish rots from the head’). St Seraphim of Sarov did not live in Saint Petersburg (true St Xenia did, but as a tramp or drop-out), Elder Nikolai Guryanov lived on an isolated island in a lake and his teachings are still mocked by know-it-all-and-understand-nothing ‘Orthodox’ intellectuals in Moscow today. There is no surprise here, for Christ Himself did not live in Jerusalem (where they killed Him), but in the ‘backward’ province of Galilee. Thus, my answer is simple: Have faith in Christ, and if you do not have that, seek faith in Christ – and you will find faith. Then you will have an ideal and the cynicism that sinful men create will not vanquish you.

Q: When the clergy wear red in honour of the feasts of the martyrs, there is often so much gold colour in the red that it is more gold than red. Why?

A: To represent the glory of the martyrs. Martyrdom is not a defeat for us, but a victory. Red leads to gold; the blood of martyrdom to heavenly crowns.

Russian History and the Russian Church

Q: Was it only the Bolsheviks who destroyed Imperial Russia? What part did other countries in the First World War play in its destruction?

A: The only Christian Empire, Imperial Russia, was primarily betrayed by the loss of faith and so apostasy of its own leaders of the left and the right. And this long before the Bolsheviks came to power. Indeed, it can be said that the Bolsheviks were only latecomers, the opportunist flotsam and jetsam of history, a band of ruthless terrorists and thieves, the lowest of the low. They were led for the most part by apostate Jews and many of their victims were pious Jews. The Bolsheviks did not lead or start the so-called ‘Russian Revolution’ in any way, they were just parasites on the back of history. They never admitted this, because lying was inherent to their nature, as Solzhenitsyn later pointed out in his ‘Do not live according to lies’.

All the forces that destroyed Imperial Russia can be seen in the murder of the healer and prophet Gregory Rasputin, who is venerated by some pious Orthodox, especially inside Russia, as the first martyr of the Revolution three months before the others. His depraved murderers were: the liberal Anglophile/Francophile and transvestite aristocrat Yusupov; the right-wing Germanophile politican and so-called ‘monarchist’ Purishkevich; and two British spies, one an Odessa Jew under the alias of Sidney (Solomon) Reilly.

In this we see all the enemies of Christianity; the liberal modernist ecumenistic pro-British and pro-French traitors (later of the Paris School, whose sorry liberal influence parts of the OCA is still trying to cleanse itself of; it even denounces normal, middle-of-the-road Orthodox as ‘conservative’!); equally treacherous, pro-German (and later pro-Nazi), nationalistic, moralistic and pharisaical narrow-minded right-wingers; the apostate West, of Britain, France and Germany (later of the USA); Zionism.

However, it is Russian people themselves, both the elite and all who passively followed them, who are primarily responsible. They did not have to listen to any of the siren voices coming from the West and the West cannot be blamed for any of the primary responsibility. Maturity is the taking on of responsibility for the consequences of one’s own sins, as the New Martyrs did. Immaturity is blaming others: typically, children do that all the time – adults should not.

Q: When will unity between the various groups in the Russian Church come in North America and Western Europe? And what about the calendar question? Surely ROCOR would never agree to take on parishes, like the OCA ones, which use the new calendar for the fixed feasts?

A: There are at present three groups in North America (ROCOR, OCA – which are probably about the same size, even if the OCA has hundreds of tiny groups – and some 40 MP parishes) and two groups in Western Europe (about 70 ROCOR parishes and 200 MP parishes). They are all basically parts of the Russian Church, even though the OCA has a piece of paper granting it ‘autocephaly’ – though everyone knows that that independence is more or less a myth.

Unity will come with time. Both ROCOR and the OCA (and to some extent the MP parishes) were at daggers drawn during the Cold War because of their inherent political secularism and lack of spirituality. The OCA suffered from extreme Paris liberalism and the disease of ‘autocephalism’, uncanonical actions and downright episcopal immorality, the persecution of married clergy (not unknown elsewhere), with the result that it is still controlled by prematurely-appointed protopresbyters (the norm is 55 years of priesthood), like a Presbyterian Protestant group.

ROCOR suffered from what can be called in one nightmarish word ‘Grabbe’ (= narrow-minded phariseeism, inward persecution by the spiritually proud, loveless, racist, ritualist, exclusivist ghettoism and right-wing sectarianism of the ‘One True Church’ variety). However, now that the political extremists everywhere have either died, left, or else are at last starting to die out from old age, having inflicted intense suffering on others almost all their lives, there is hope for the future.

We have all suffered enough; when the last vestiges of these trends have gone, the Church will be free at last to move forward: I just hope we will not all be too old ourselves after over forty years, so far, of unnecessary delay and frustration.

For only when both groups have freed themselves from this extremist past can unity take place. There is already hope. Metr Jonah, once of the OCA, is now a retired Metropolitan in ROCOR, as is Bishop Nikolai (formerly of Alaska). And both current Metropolitans are well-disposed to one another. But both have to drag their groups behind them and in ROCOR we have certainly suffered from much extremist aggressiveness from the OCA in the past, but that was sometimes mutual. This process could take another generation and there must be progress on both sides. In Western Europe, hope for progress is also there, but ROCOR has suffered so much in the past from immorality or incompetence on the part of bishops of the MP. Trust has to be built. And that will take time.

The new calendar? A problem? How short are memories! Until 1991 ROCOR had several new calendar Romanian and Bulgarian parishes. There was no problem with that. If people are so weak that they need to have the fixed feasts on the new calendar, ROCOR can accept them by economy.

Q: Why does the Russian Church not hand back the Moldovan Orthodox Church back to Romania?

A: The simple answer to this is that only the Moldovan Orthodox themselves can decide which Patriarchate they want to be under; it is not for the Russian Church to do anything. You cannot ‘hand back’ what does not belong to you. The Moldovan Church is part of the Russian Church of its own freewill. The days of dictatorship in Eastern Europe are over, sadly the Romanian Church does not seem to realize this: if Moldovan Orthodox themselves, after nearly 200 years, with one short gap, within the Russian Church, wish to go under the jurisdiction of the Romanian Church (which, like Romania itself, did not even exist 200 years ago), they will do so.

What must be avoided is any kind of uncanonical, political and imperialist interference, including force and bribery, on Moldovan territory by the Romanian Church to make the Moldovan Orthodox change jurisdictions. This would be the same basic lack of canonicity and US-backed ecclesiastical imperialism as recently exercised by Constantinople in the Ukraine with such disastrous results, resulting in the Constantinople schism and its fall from grace. Moldovans have all told me that they don’t want to join the Romanian Church, as it is corrupted by simony. If the Romanian Church first sorts out its own house, perhaps the Moldovans would like to join it, providing they do not have to use the Roman Catholic calendar. That is up to them.

Q: Why does the Russian Church insist that bishops be monks? The Greek Church does not.

A: The answer is in the words of the ever-memorable Metr Antony (Khrapovitsky): ‘A scholarly monk who has been removed from his monastic setting and who is unable to form an attachment to another Church institution is liable to be tempted to love nothing but himself’. Of course, in the Russian Church too anyone can formally become a monk, without actually being so. So there is no guarantee that a Russian bishop is better than a Greek bishop because he is formally a monk. He can be exactly as narcissistic despite outward resemblances.

In fact, it is not the lack of nominal monasticism, but the lack of genuine monastic life among the Orthodox Christian episcopate, Greek or Russian, which is its bane. However, something similar can be said of those in the married state: he who is not obedient to marriage and does not love his spouse and children can also end up ‘liable to be tempted to love nothing but himself’. This is the danger of the refusal to marry or to become monastics, that is, the danger of celibacy without monasticism. Both the bachelor and the spinster, or for that matter, Roman Catholic priests, suffer terribly from the temptations of selfishness. All the best Roman Catholic priests I have met have been married with children (behind the backs of their bishops).

Q: Some people think that we will one day have a Tsar in Russia?

A: Of course, we will. That is exactly what we in England, and elsewhere, have been praying and working for over the last 100 years. He will not only be a Tsar in Russia, but a Tsar for all Orthodox everywhere. Our task now is to be like so many St John the Baptists, preparing the way, forerunning.

Western History

Q: When in history does the mentality ‘the West is better than the rest’ originate?

A: This mentality can first be found in the racist cruelty of the pagan Roman Empire, with its barbaric invasions, plundering and asset-stripping of other countries and endemic slavery. However, after the invasion of the West by the Germanic barbarians, the West was humbled and this proud and self-adoring mentality largely disappeared under the influence of the Christian enlightenment provided by humble Orthodox saints.

This situation lasted until the eleventh century – with the notable exception of Charlemagne’s massacre of the Saxons in the late eighth century, which happened precisely because he was trying to revive the pagan Roman Empire and so created what later came to be called Roman Catholicism. Thus, after the Year 1000, we can see this mentality very clearly in the Norman massacres in England after 1066 and in Jerusalem under the barbarian Crusaders in the late eleventh century, and again in the plundering of the Christian capital of New Rome in 1204 by other Roman Catholics. ‘Kill them all, God will recognize His own’, shouted the murderous Roman Catholic Dominicans in 13th century France – that too was the same mentality. All those who did not accept this mentality of the New West had to be terrorized and massacred into submission.

The Spanish and Portuguese Conquest of the Americas, annihilating the advanced civilizations there and so creating in their places the jungles of Guatemala and the Amazon, was the same. So were the massacres of Polish-led Uniatism in the 17th century. Other Western European countries simply followed this mentality in developing the slave trade and Empire-building, The war-crime massacres of the Carpatho-Russians by the Austro-Hungarians in the First World War and the German massacre of 30 million Slavs in their holocaust in the Second World War was only what the Spanish and the Portuguese, the British and the French, the Belgians, the Dutch and the Italians had already done to the Native Americans, Africans and Asians. And as for that notorious American general who some sixty years ago more or less said, ‘Bomb them back to the Stone Age’, he only repeated a tradition that was already 900 years old.

Q: What do the terms ‘Anglo-Saxon’ and ‘Byzantine’ mean?

A: Non-Christians and non-conscious (= Non-Orthodox) Christians use these terms to mean Orthodox English and Orthodox Roman. In the same way Non-Christians and non-conscious Christians call the late medieval revival of paganism ‘The Renaissance’ and also almost everywhere use the term ‘Christian’ to mean Non-Orthodox Christian, i. e. heretical. (For instance, they write: ‘Christians sacked Byzantium’, when what they mean is ‘barbaric anti-Christian heretics plundered the Christian Capital’). When secularist historians write of ‘Normans versus Saxons’, or ‘Franks versus Gallo-Romans’, they mean heretics versus English Christians or versus Western European Christians. Today, they say ‘modern versus traditional’ – it still means heretics versus Orthodox Christians.

Men and Women

Q: Why are there more women than men in churches?

A: Women are generally more sensitive and emotionally open than rationalizing men, who get blocked from faith by their brains, and so women access faith more easily, instinctively, by feeling and intuition. This is very positive. On top of this, every woman who has given birth has been through an experience that can only be likened to a near-death experience. Rare is the woman who does not admit the existence of God after giving birth. However, the downside of this is that women’s religious practice can be less sober and is more often coloured by sentimentalism and emotionalism, which in turn can lead to superstition, the disease of seeing ‘coincidences’ everywhere and misinterpreting them, fetishism or ‘lucky charmism’ and, in extreme cases, hysteria. Pathology always seeks to justify itself through religion.

Q: Should women stay at home and look after their children?

A: Please do not generalize! Every woman is different and free to choose what is right for her. Just like every man.

Q: What is the ideal age gap between a husband and wife?

A: I don’t think there is any such thing. True, very, very often in couples the husband is slightly older than his wife, but there are no rules here, as human psychology and experience are so varied. There are always the rare exceptions, even of very happy marriages where the age gap is 20 years and more, either cases where the husband wants to be mothered, which the wife in question is happy to do, or cases where the wife wants to be ‘daughtered’, which the husband in question is happy to do.

Q: What did you think of the recent Women’s Football World Cup?

A: As I have little interest in sport, I was only dimly aware of it until the last matches. However, I thought it was very typical that the four semi-finalist teams turned out to be from the four ex-Protestant countries, Great Britain, the USA, Sweden and the Netherlands. Clearly, this phenomenon of women playing traditionally male sports is not about equality before the law (of which everyone is naturally in favour). It is about women renouncing being women and everything that is distinctive about women: womanhood, femininity, motherliness, about becoming like men, and at that, often becoming like the worst and most vulgar of men.

Has no-one thought that women players can fall over and hurt their breasts or childbearing organs and become infertile? Men should be protecting them from this. This so-called ‘equality’ of the sexes which is preached and propagandized by the post-Protestant world is just more cultural imperialism. The post-Protestant world even when it was still Protestant already had no veneration for the Mother of God, but tended rather to despise her blasphemously. And so it goes on. The phenomenon of women playing man-invented sports is not about equality. It is about the reduction of women to the level of men, about homogeneity and sameness, about the levelling down of womankind to mere economic units, according to which reproductivity is a hindrance.

Personal

Q: How do you become a priest? And how did you become a priest personally?

A: You do not become a priest first, you become an active layman first, taking part in parish life, working in the parish, praying,  gong to confession, taking communion, lighting the lamps, singing, reading, cleaning, helping, learning the services, reading, asking questions, helping in the altar if invited to. Priesthood is the end point, not the start. After a few years you may then end up as a reader. From there on you pray for God to continue to guide you.

As for me personally, it was a miracle. In my day if you mentioned such a thing as becoming a priest, you got humiliated, bullied, mocked and threatened. And of course there was no internet in those days, so no factual information, just negativity, prejudices and discouragement. I was recently astonished to see a brochure from Jordanville actually encouraging young men to become clergy! Just the opposite of a few decades ago. Young people have it so easy nowadays. In my day, there were two huge impediments to being ordained, one was being young, the other was being educated. So much talent was wasted – little wonder the Church is still desperately short of clergy. I would not want to be a bishop at the Last Judgement.

In my day, most jurisdictions would only ordain you if you belonged to the right ethnicity (or else if you agreed to be morally or financially corrupted by the bishop in question, for example by agreeing to become a freemason). (I remember how in order to become a deacon, I waited for ten years and had to be able to read the Six Psalms fluently in Slavonic, better than Russians could; you were always a third-class citizen; one rule for Russians, another for Non-Russians). One jurisdiction only ordained upper-middle class men – and your social class was decisive for them, so coming from my background I was out. Another jurisdiction, which appeared a couple of decades later, only ordained ex-Anglican vicars. One person there told me that you could only become a priest in that jurisdiction if you first became Anglican and got ordained as a vicar.

Frankly, I don’t know how I became a priest, except that it was a miracle worked through the prayers of St John of Shanghai and through the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, his spiritual son. I certainly received only hindrances and everything that has happened has taken place despite everyone, except Archbishop Antony.

Q: If you had your time again, what mistakes would you have avoided?

A: The question is of course impossible because if I had not made and then learned from my mistakes, I would not know what I know now!

However, I can clearly say that, given the absence of the Russian Orthodox Tradition, as I had already experienced it in Russia, in the Sourozh Diocese of the then enslaved Moscow Patriarchate in England, I would have gone straight to the University of London in 1974 and to the ROCOR Cathedral. On graduation, I would have gone straight to Jordanville.

However, I would always have belonged, as now, to the St John of Shanghai wing of ROCOR and not to the highly conservative, political, secular, old calendarist wing. It was that wing that more and more dominated ROCOR for forty painful years between the 1960s and 2007, when it was finally defeated, though sorry and painful vestiges still survive. The battle against this wing lasted for over four decades and took a great deal of our energy. It was the representatives of that wing who put St John on trial in San Francisco in 1964 and in so doing they put all of us on trial for decades to come. Personally, I was only found innocent and exonerated in December 2016, when the persecution stopped.

St John was the last bishop consecrated by Metr Antony (Khrapovitsky), who said of him, ‘If I do not consecrate him, no-one will’. In turn, St John was the spiritual father of the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, who was converted to monastic life by Metr Antony and by his understanding of the Redemption, as he told me in Paris in 1987. In turn, when I was ordained by Archbishop Antony, I think the last priest he ordained, he said, ‘If I do not ordain you, no-one will’.

This is where I will always belong, to the old traditions of the Western European Diocese of St John and his spiritual son Archbishop Antony, and not to some false and invented set of myths, invented by latecomers to the Church. Archbishop Antony, born in Kiev and living in Western Europe, would today be in the Exarchate, as he was a forerunner, pioneer and prophet of it.

 

 

 

Why We Are Russian Orthodox Christians Although We Are Not Russian

Why Christian?

Humanity has always needed to worship something greater than itself – be it the sun, the moon, rivers, emperors, kings, heroes, ‘celebrities’ or film ‘stars’. Of all the founders of faiths, Christ alone was God and man and so defeated death. All the other founders of faiths, the pagan gods of India and Egypt, the Buddha, of Greece and Rome, of Africa and Scandinavia, and Mohammed, are dead – they were simply sinful men: Christ alone is living because He alone is beyond sin. Despite the spiritual realizations and abstract moral truths which can be found beneath the layers of spiritual impurity in other faiths, the fact that Christ is alive makes Christianity unique. If you believe in the unique and Absolute Resurrection of Christ through His victory over death, then all other faiths fade into relativity and even irrelevance. They are unable to deliver us from practical enslavement to the devil, seen in death and our captivity in hell.

Why Orthodox?

To anyone with any historical sense, it is clear that Christianity must go back to the time of Christ, 2,000 years ago. Thus, all the myriad Protestant sects pale into insignificance because they were all founded less than 500 years ago, sometimes much less, by one particular provincial culture. And indeed, as they put that local culture above the Gospel of Christ, we can see that they are aggressive manmade religions of great spiritual impurity, deformed by a fantastic greed for money, pharisaical moralism and censorious sectarianism. They persecuted Orthodox Christians, each other and arrogantly destroyed the cultures of native peoples all over the world through their ruthless exploitation and asset-stripping of natural resources. These Protestant sects were and are the foundation of modern capitalism which is polluting and destroying the whole planet and leading directly to its end, which it has now made inevitable.

Similarly, Roman Catholicism is not the original Christianity because it was founded less than 1,000 years ago by one particular provincial culture situated at the Western tip of Eurasia. It put its cultural blend of pagan Roman imperialism and crude Germanic barbarianism, above Orthodox Christianity, which it rejected and attacked, pretending to be older than it. Having transformed itself many times, from the very outset it intolerantly and aggressively persecuted and murdered those who disagreed with it in organized violence. It has used worldly politics – armies, crusades, inquisitions, invasions, imperialist colonialism, wars and unprincipled behaviour – in order to attract greater numbers and so gain power. Clearly faith here has been reduced to a mere manmade and centralized religion and has little to do with Christ. Not Christians, but Catholics, slaughtered Orthodox Christians.

History confirms that only the Orthodox Church is the Christ-founded Church, as only She goes back to the first millennium, keeping the fullness of Christianity despite the attempts of States, emperors and politicians to meddle in Her affairs and misuse Her for their own evil ends. With Her near 2,000 years of history, the Church has confessed the Faith without alteration since the start. Geography also confirms that the first Christians were Orthodox. Thus, the words of Christ Who lived in and around Jerusalem were written down in Greek and Greek Christians and all those who have lived for generations in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Asia have always all been Orthodox. For Christ was in his human nature Asian, not European. It is therefore clear that if we want to be with the Church that Christ founded, then we must be Orthodox Christians, the only true Christians, for all others are not complete Christians.

Why Russian Orthodox Christian?

The family of 14 Local Orthodox Churches together form the Orthodox Church because they all confess the identical Orthodox Christian Faith. Without the Lord’s Orthodox Faith we cannot be in the Church, the Body of Christ. The Church is made up of 13 small mononational Local Churches (far fewer than 13 even two centuries ago) and one very large international, not mononational, Church. This is the Russian Orthodox Church which for centuries has led and protected all the others at the cost of great self-sacrifice. Present on every continent, with over 70 nationalities, both inside and outside Russia, it accounts for 164 million Orthodox Christians (75% of the total). It alone is inherently multinational and tries to avoid the pitfalls of nationalism, which is only worldliness under a different name. It not only accepts and welcomes Non-Russians but has always led the field in missionary work worldwide.

Moreover, the Russian Orthodox Church has remained faithful in every detail to the Orthodox Faith, despite vicious persecution and martyrdom by Western ideologies and atheism, of both the Communist and the Capitalist varieties. On the other hand, over the last hundred years some of the 13 very small and so weaker Local Churches have been forced by geopolitical pressures into some lax compromises, for example, abandoning the Orthodox Christian calendar for that of the State, altering the services, abandoning confession and fasting, failing to respect local people and their languages, imposing nationalism. It follows from all the above that if we are conscious Christians, then we should participate in the Russian Orthodox Church, defending Her from the treason, cowardice and deceit of both internal and external enemies, supporting, confessing, living and spreading her Faith, which is the Faith of Christ.

On War and Military Saints

At first sight it may seem strange that there are military saints, soldiers who became holy martyrs. But we can think of many examples from many countries: St Sabbas the Commander (+ 272), St George (+ 303), St Dimitry (+ 304), St Alban (+ 305), St Theodore the Recruit (+ 306), St Theodore the Commander (+ 319), St Alfred the Great (+ 899), St Alexander Nevsky (+ 1263) and more recently the admiral, St Thedore (Ushakov) (+ 1817).

True, in paradise there will be no armies, because there will be no war, just as in paradise there will be no police and no prisons because there will be no crime. But we live in the real world as it is and anyone from any background can become a saint. Indeed, in the Gospels, there is no condemnation of the soldiers who appear there and, one of them, the centurion, is praised and another, Longinus, who stood at the foot of the cross and confessed that Christ is indeed the Son of God, became a saint.

And yet in the Book of Exodus the sixth commandment states: ‘Thou shalt not kill’. However, from the same chapter and the following chapters, it is clear that this means that we must not murder out of hatred or for some other evil reason, for instance, because we want to get someone else’s money or property, or out of love of glory. But does this mean that we could kill someone for another reason? For example, if we saw someone in the street trying to kill someone to get their money, does this mean that we should defend that person?

Suppose we were an armed policeman and we saw a terrorist with a gun or bomb and he was threatening to kill lots of people, elderly people, women and children among them, and he could not see us and we had the chance to stop him and that resulted in killing him, would that be forbidden? Of course not, it would be irresponsible of us not to act in defence of others. In such situations where we are able to defend others, not to defend would simply be cowardice on our part.

The fact is that in this world we are often faced by choices and the choice we have to make is what we call ‘the lesser evil’. However, we must be very careful here: such a choice applies only in the case of defending others. So in every country armed forces are controlled by something called ‘The Ministry of Defence’. But do the armed forces really defend? Sadly, they often seem to do the opposite and attack, to offend.

It is the same with us. If we are aggressive and attack others, even killing them, that is wrong. Indeed, priests and monks are forbidden from taking up weapons to defend themselves. But if we are defending those who are weaker than ourselves, that can be justified. Here there is no hatred for an individual, just the responsible desire to protect others. Here there is no selfishness, we are not defending ourselves or our property or money or showing off our strength, we are protecting others, perhaps people we do not even know.

Yes, as Christians we are called on to love our enemies, but that means not to feel no personal hatred for them. Why? Because they are victims of their bad passions, the victims of evil. So to love our enemies does not mean that we should not defend others. War in defence of the weak is a lesser evil than declining war and surrendering to the power of barbaric terrorists. A soldier for us is not some self-satisfied murderer, but a noble hero who sacrifices himself by defending the weak.

 

(First Published in the Youth Magazine of the Colchester Orthodox Parish, Searchlight, Issue 5, June 2018)

Questions and Answers: Early June 2018

Q: How can you speak of a ROCOR Diocese in this country? It is so small it does not exist. So what can it contribute?

A: You would have been quite right at any time between the mid-eighties and until recently. I remember coming here on loan from Paris in 1994 because the London convent did not have a priest or any services, such was the catastrophic situation! However, before that period you are quite wrong and you are wrong again today, ever since the start of the restoration of our Diocese under Metr Hilarion and Bishop Irenei. It is now bigger than it was in the fifties and sixties and may grow a great deal more yet, as we are freed to expand, using all our energy and enterprise that had been bottled up for so many decades. The Patriarchal Diocese here, laboured with a ‘foreign’ name with a compromising history, called a ‘potemkin diocese’ by one its own priests, also has its difficulties.

Therefore, it is clear that ROCOR, with about 600 parishes outside the Russian Lands and the Patriarchate, with about 300 parishes outside the Russian Lands, mainly in Western Europe, need one another. They are like two pieces of a puzzle, each with its limitations, each with its strengths. For example, ROCOR has little money and few bishops, the Patriarchate has money, political help from embassies and an almost limitless supply of potential bishops (2,000 at the last count). However, generally ROCOR has local knowledge, not just languages, but knowledge of local mentalities and culture and pastoral ability. The average ROCOR priest in Europe speaks three or four languages: the average Patriarchate priest just one.

Unlike ROCOR, the Patriarchate is politically well-connected; however, ROCOR is free, as we saw in the recent Skripal case, and unburdened by the bureaucracy and centralization in the Patriarchate. It was from such formalist pre-Revolutionary bureaucracy that ROCOR has had such difficulty escaping right up until the present day and which, sadly, is reviving in Russia. Bureaucracy is not part of Church Tradition, but is alien to the Holy Spirit, being of the things of men. It belongs to religion, not to faith, to institutions, not to God.

Our Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland can be a useful, perhaps even an essential, part of the future Local Metropolia and then Local Church.

Q: How can we define our Orthodox identity as compared to Non-Orthodox?

A: I expect there are a thousand good ways of expressing answers to this question, but I think I can give you an example of an answer.

Recently, I was in conversation with a fairly senior Anglican priest and I asked him what he thought was the priority to save the Church of England, given that the Archbishop of Canterbury said in 2014 that it could virtually die out by 2050.

He answered that there are currently two trends inside his Church, one was to ‘make disciples’ and the other was ‘to create the kingdom of God’. In his view the first is wrong and the second is right. I (politely) asked him to translate this (for me incomprehensible jargon) into English and he explained that ‘making disciples’ means what we would call ‘proselytism’ or ‘making converts’ (which is alien to the Church), and that ‘creating the kingdom of God’ means trying to act socially or even politically, setting up clubs and groups, taking part in social life, standing for election, appearing in the media, lobbying politicians, holding concerts inside church-buildings etc. (This too is alien to the Church).

I thought that both these options are purely humanistic, turned towards people, not towards God. Our God is Holy and our aim is holiness, ‘acquiring the Holy Spirit’. In his two options there was nothing about holiness. Holiness attracts people long-term because our God works miracles. Everything that he mentioned is purely secondary to us, we transform individuals and society around us through repentance that brings personal holiness; everything else takes second place. We seek the kingdom of God first, then ‘thousands around us will be saved’. And that is the difference between us and Non-Orthodox.

Q: Was Fr George Gapon who led the demonstration against the Tsar in 1905 really Orthodox?

A: He was ordained canonically, but he was very much an extreme left-winger. He belonged to the Social Revolutionary Party and lived with a woman, which was allowed by the Protestant-minded Metr Antony (Vadkovsky) of Saint Petersburg, who was and is very controversial. (Some have suspected that Metr Antony was a freemason, like Protopresbyter George Shavelsky). Fr George Gapon finished very badly, being hanged in 1906 by the violent revolutionary Ruthenberg who had led the 1905 demonstration and terrorist attack on the forces of law and order. I think we can say that Gapon was not only uncanonical but not Orthodox at all. In this he is like Ilya Fundaminsky, who came from one of the richest Jewish families in Russia, became a terrorist, emigrated to France, where he was baptised under Rue Daru, and a few years ago was canonized by the Patriarchate of Constantinople for having been murdered by the Nazis in Auschwitz.

Q: What do you think of the decision by a British school that boys must not wear shorts, but skirts, because shorts are gender-specific?

A: Here is the result of what became common here over 50 years ago (in the USA long before) and is now nearly universal – the wearing of trousers by females. The mixing of the sexes causes spiritual confusion. Here is the result. The word ‘sex’ means ‘cut’, in other words men are men and women are women. But we are now in the era of transgenderism and so spiritual catastrophe.

Q: How do we answer critics who say that the Orthodox Church is so old-fashioned that it is antediluvian? I mean we have no women-priests and will never have any, we do not have same-sex marriages, we do not even have pews or organs, which the Non-Orthodox started having already 200-400 years ago. To them we are primitive.

A: What a curious, but also very eloquent viewpoint – antediluvian! I think that people who say such things are themselves ‘diluvian’, that is to say, they have been submerged beneath the Flood of secularism. In that sense we are ‘anti-diluvian’, but not antediluvian! I would answer them that and say that we, on the contrary, are ‘post-diluvian’, that is to say, we are looking forward to what is coming after the present Flood of secularism, to the Kingdom of God, which is coming, one way or the other, and quite soon. They are spiritually primitive – we are not.

Q: Is perfectionism a virtue or a vice?

A: A vice, even, indeed, a spiritual curse. There is an old story of a monk who was a brilliant icon-painter who was praised for his painting. From that moment on he began putting a small mistake into everything he did. Perfectionism is pride, we even say ‘take pride in what you do’. Yes, of course, bodging, Coggeshall jobs and second-rate work is bad, to be avoided, but we should do things as well as we can, but we should know that perfection is beyond us human-beings.

Q: What do you think of the decision by two-thirds of Irish people to legalize child-murder?

A: Once Ireland had agreed to enter the secularist EU, this was inevitable. The same will happen in Poland in a few years time. If you sell your soul to the devil for an EU mess of pottage, here are the consequences.

Q: What do you think are the weaknesses of the European peoples?

A: Any such generalization is bound to have a thousand exceptions and can only be vague. And it would be more pleasant to talk about strengths than weaknesses. But if you insist: Today (I am not talking about Western culture 1,000 years ago or even 500 years ago, which was different) I think all the Western peoples suffer from an almost uncontrollable desire to tell the rest of the world how to live and to meddle in their civilizations. (Why else does the LGBT flag fly over the British Embassy in Minsk?).

More specifically, I think with the Protestant British (and to a large extent the Protestant Dutch and the Swiss Germans), it is a slavish love of money, a real obsession (why else do British media obsessively report Stock Exchange rates and currency values and encourage people to save as soon as they are born?). This enslavement was taken by the British to North America, hence their enslavement to the dollar. With the Germans it is the need to give orders and create order, as we see from their history. With the French it is hedonism, the obsession with the aesthetic, with ‘look’ and ‘image’. With the Italians it is their obsession with all forms of art, as everywhere, for example, in Venice and Florence and as in opera. With the Spanish it is an obsession with blood and cruelty, as we see in the Inquisition, in Goya and in bullfighting. With the Portuguese it is their melancholy regret for what they have lost, as in the fado With the Scandinavians it is obsession with impossible thisworldly justice, which comes from their narrow and worldly Lutheran culture. With the Russians it is the obsessive need to be accepted (which comes from the national inferiority complex, which began with their apostasy from Orthodoxy in the late 17th century and their superficial adoption of Western values). With the Jews it is (not money – which is a nasty anti-Jewish myth), but the obsession with acquiring power, which goes back to the loss of the Temple in Jerusalem after the glory days under David and Solomon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastoral Questions

 

Q: How can you belong to ROCOR, a Church that in the 1990s uncanonically opened parishes inside Russia and entered into communion with schismatic Greek Old Calendarists?

A: I could not and did not. I am afraid you have your facts wrong. Two (but possibly more) ROCOR bishops did what you describe. And in the Western European Diocese of ROCOR, to which I then belonged, we categorically refused to engage in either of the above because both these actions were and are uncanonical.

Q: Why do Catholics make the sign of the cross backwards?

A: Christ sits on the right hand of the Father. The Tradition has always been to start with the right – right foot first. Thus, just like Orthodox, even Catholics make the sign of the cross with the right hand and not the left. Priests turn to their right to say to the people ‘Peace be unto all’, we cross our hands left over right before communion, priests (as did laity once) receive communion with their right hand cupped in the left, which is how laypeople cup their hands to take a priest’s blessing.

The fact is that in the West people used to make the sign of the cross as Orthodox still do, from right to left. Thus, in the 1713 French ‘Simple, Literal and Historical Explanations of the Ceremonies of the Church’ by Dom Claude de Vert, Page 6, Rubric 1, we read: ‘The priest makes the sign of the cross with his five fingers (and not with the first three only according to the old practice – as some bishops, the Chartreuses and the Jacobins still do, being careful to extend only the thumb and the next two fingers, as in times past).

And if the priest touches the left shoulder before the right, it is not a matter of indifference, as we can see from a letter of Pope Leo IV (790-855) that formerly the right shoulder was indeed touched before the left’.

The question as to why Catholics changed from the Orthodox practice (after all, they keep Orthodox practices in many other domains) is unanswerable. However, the most likely suggestion is that Catholic laity wanted to do what they saw the Catholic priests doing when they face the people and bless them, that is, when they cross the people from left to right (which appears to laity as right to left, as they face the clergy). In other words, the change was caused by clericalism, by wanting to imitate the clergy.

Q: Why in the British Isles do you say ‘He is risen indeed’ in answer to ‘Christ is risen’? Elsewhere the response is ‘Truly He is risen’, which, after all, is the literal translation.

A: This relates to the King James translation of the words of Luke and Cleopas to the other disciples in Luke 24, 34, after they had come back from Emmaus and talked to Christ: ‘Saying, the Lord is risen indeed’. (In the Greek, ‘ondos’ – really, in the Russian ‘istinno’ – truly). This translation simply relates to the emphatic British English usage of the word ‘indeed’ (for example, the phrase, ‘Did he indeed?’), whereas other English-speaking peoples would use ‘truly’ or ‘really’. The merit of the translation ‘indeed’ is that it implies ‘in action’, not just ‘in theory’.

Q: Why are some converts eccentric?

A: I recently visited a ‘convert church’ which had a notice by the entrance with the words: ‘Warning: This Church May Contain Nuts’.

We are talking now about a small minority, an eccentric fringe, so we should not get things out of proportion. I think that those who consider that they are ‘converts’ are not Orthodox; those for whom Orthodoxy is a way of life and have forgotten a time when they were not in the Church are simply Orthodox. Orthodoxy is second nature to us. But ‘converts’ (that is, a minority of converts) seem to cultivate exotic eccentricity, especially strange dress and hairstyles. And yet the Mother of God was a ‘convert’, as were all the apostles. But they never spoke of themselves as ‘converts’ and we never think of them as ‘converts’. Of course not – because they were converted – i.e. finished products.

Here we come to the essence of the matter: there are ‘converts’ and there are the converted. The difference is that ‘converts’ are people who want to remain in a stew for beginners, for ever and ever, and there are people who have been converted and are trying to improve themselves. In other words, quite simply, there are neophytes and there are Christians.

Those who are neophytes want to remain at the Church doors, for ever ranting against their former beliefs (there is nothing so anti-Anglican as an ex-Anglican) and there are those who have entered the Church and really cannot be bothered by what goes on at the Church doors. Those who remain at the doors for ever read books for converts (Bloom, Ware, Schmemann, The Way of a Pilgrim, Kalomiros etc) and cultivate eccentricity and exoticism in dress, hairstyle or speech, sometimes for some pathological reason (to look different from others); they are ‘converts’. It is time for them to move on and become normal Christians, which is what the word Orthodox actually means.

The word ‘eccentric’ is another word for vanity, the desire to be different, to be attention-seeking. Such ‘converts’ need to move on from the first course to the main course, with its meat, which has the promise of the sweet dessert to come. Those who remain converts need to be converted. But they must first want to be converted and not remain ‘converts’.

Q: What do you think of the opinion ‘Religion is the opium of the people’?

A: Personally, I am against religion, that is, the artificial invention by States of religious establishments in order to repress people. However, I am for faith, that is, for spiritual experience, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which is the foundation of the Orthodox Church. To Marx, whose birth was 200 years ago and who wrote this opinion 175 years ago, I would say: ‘And atheism is the opium of the intellectuals’.

Q: Are some people chosen by God to carry out some special task, to fulfil some special destiny in this world? Are you such a person?

A: All of us without exception have been chosen by God for some special task, it is just that only some are aware of it. As for myself, I have been aware for over four decades that I have to preach Orthodoxy in Western Europe. This is in order to gather the lost sheep together, that is, to reintegrate at least a small number of Western Europeans and our saints back into the Church. This is to make ready for the restoration of the Christian Empire in Russia to resist Antichrist, whose coming the globalists are preparing.

 

 

Why Does the Bible Not Mention Dinosaurs?

(A question from Vyacheslav, aged 10).

First of all, dinosaurs were only discovered 200 years ago, long after the Bible was written down. On the other hand, since the Bible, right at the beginning, very, very briefly mentions the period when there were dinosaurs, you may ask why it does not mention them. That is simply because when dinosaurs existed, people had not yet been created, so there was no-one to see dinosaurs and describe them.

However, there is a much more important reason why the Bible does not mention dinosaurs. You see, the Bible does not mention giraffe, zebra or kangaroos and lots of other things. But they all existed at the time when the stories in the Bible were written down. This is because the Bible is not interested in them. The Bible is not a handbook on fossils, animals, insects, astronomy, engineering, geography, medicine, laws, business, history, French, maths and all sorts of other things. For example, if I want to know about dinosaur fossils, I will read a book on dinosaur fossils, but I will not expect that book to tell me about God, or what I can do to become a better person and save myself from bad things (salvation), like the Bible.

So, if I want to know how to fix my car, I get a handbook on my car. But if I want to know how I can fix my life, then I read the Bible.

In fact, we can say that there are two types of book. The first type will tell me about all sorts of things that we might see in the world today or might have seen in the world in the past or even what we might see in the future. These books are called fiction and non-fiction. They can be compared to a microscope, which is used for looking in detail at people and the world around us.

Then there are ‘The Books’, what we call in English the Bible, which means precisely ‘The Books’. Now the Bible only mentions people and the world around us in passing. This is because it is not a microscope, but a telescope. And it is a telescope which we use to see beyond the universe, beyond creation, to God. In this way we can understand how our whole life changes because God is here and so we can make sense of our past, present and future and how we can save ourselves from bad and become better.

So, the Bible is a book that is very different from all other books: it is not a microscope to look at life around us, at Creation, but a telescope to look at the source of life, the Creator, so then we can make sense of our life.