Tag Archives: Pastoral Tragedy

The Attempted Reign of the Crazy Converts


I first heard the term ‘crazy convert’ in the USA, specifically from California, in the 1970s. Apparently it was a disease there even then. In 2006 in San Francisco a priest explained to me that there is an American saying that: ‘When God made America, he tipped it up on the east coast, so all the oddballs would run down to California’. That is an American saying about a minority, but it certainly prepared me for what happened later.

We live in the age of reaction to all that is woke. As a result, we in the Orthodox Church are often mistakenly contacted by young men who are anti-woke. Not just anti-woke, but usually from a Protestant fundamentalist background, extremely conservative (sometimes Fascistic and in love with guns), anti-vaxxer, often racist and followers of some guru, often through podcasts, if they are not themselves gurus. Some of them suffer from what has become known as ‘the Jerusalem Syndrome’, the convert syndrome which leads them into phariseeism and judgementalism. Only sectarianism and schisms attract them and they demand to be rebaptised, sometimes more than once.

This small minority are usually ‘incels’. This new word ‘incel’ means an ‘involuntary celibate’. This is not true, since, as they are usually anti-woman, it is not involuntary at all. They are also often homophobic, though they themselves can be repressed homosexuals or even pedophiles, which is why they are so misogynistic. Such young men may also suffer from the beard syndrome. It is all very well to have a long beard, but if you are not under monastic obedience, you are not a monk. Married men do not have long beards, it displeases their wives, if it is a happy marriage. And married men who love their wives should please their wives, just as their wives who love their husbands should please them.

In other words, the above are not theological converts, like the apostles, but are psychological, and even pathological, converts, who suffer from the temper tantrums of spoilt brats, demanding absolute obedience and showing intolerance and the censorious and punitive spirit of the narrow neophyte. On top of this, they lack any emotional intelligence and basic knowledge, especially of theology and history, but also of different languages and cultures (though all must obey them in everything). They are young and inexperienced, refuse to listen to advice (as they are always right, why should they?) and demonstrate all the arrogance of infallible and narcissistic popes who give no pastoral care.

In love with their vain selves, they love money and their own appearance. These are the crazy converts and they are being put into positions of ‘authority’, as never before, even though they have no authority at all and only discredit themselves and their string-pullers. The results are desperately sad – for them. The rest of the Church, the 99.9% sails serenely on, leaving them behind on their self-made desert islands.

The Tragedy of the Russian Emigration: The Land of Lost Opportunity

Since the reunion or reconciliation of the Russian emigration and the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) in recent years, many voices, both in Russia and also abroad, have asked: ‘Why continue a separate existence? Since the fall of the USSR, the 100-year old Russian emigration has no more reason to exist separately, it is an anachronism, it should fully integrate the MP’. The answers given by Russian emigration bishops said: ‘But we are distinctive. They wear black vestments during Lent, we wear violet; they wear red vestments for Easter, we wear white; after our bishops wash their hands before the Great Entrance, they shake the drops of water onto the people, MP bishops do not’. Other self-justifying and equally minor ritual variations were also quoted, most of the emigration variations wrong anyway! Some readers may think we are inventing these absurd justifications for separation. We are not. We can quote times, places and names.

We always took another line. That the Russian emigration could and should continue its distinctive traditions. Not the ritual ones, but the real ones:

  1. Instead of behaving like pre-Revolutionary (carriages with black horses) Soviet (luxury black Chayka and Zil cars) and post-Soviet (black Mercedes or SUVs) bishops and living in palaces in the lap of luxury, all emigration bishops could have continued to live humbly and modestly like the émigré bishops who had dominated the Russian emigration until about the Year 2000 when they died out, their model being St John of Shanghai. Instead: Often a purely voluntary imitation of the worst Soviet-style examples.
  2. Instead of having churches like railway stations, people going in and out just to light candles, giving the impression that few are praying, the Russian emigration could have continued as it used until about 2000, with real parishes, parishes as communities, where people knew one another and helped one another. Instead: Generally, an imitation in order to take more money for effeminate luxury and gain more power and impunity.
  3. Instead of doing whatever the post-Soviet State told it to do, the Russian emigration could have continued with politically independent views on issues such as the martyred Tsar and those close to him, the two 1917 Revolutions, the New Martyrs, the Soviet Union and, more recently, the Ukraine. Instead: Generally, political dependence, sounding brass and lack of Love.
  4. Instead of pursuing a policy of Russian nationalism, the Russian emigration could have continued with its old internationalism and multilingualism, actively helping to create and contribute to new Local Churches in all the Diasporas where it used to operate and so opening new parishes, boldly defying the MP wherever there were issues of principle. Instead: Fear and trembling.

As self-governing, virtually autocephalous parts of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Russian emigration was in an excellent position to be independent. It could have used that independence fearlessly to co-operate with other Local Churches, not least in Northern America with the Russian-founded OCA, and to help set up new Local Churches elsewhere. They chose not to and rather to be frightened of Soviet-style reflexes, punitive effeminacy, and protocols of bureaucracy of the worst parts of the MP and indeed to imitate them! Nobody forced them to do this. One of the reasons for it was that so many people of faith left the Diaspora Church because they feared compromises of the faith. Sadly, they joined schismatic, old calendarist groups.

Their departure created an imbalance, giving an opportunity to careerists, in love with power, money and above all with themselves, to take over. Thus, they chose the suicidal path of being inward-looking, polemical, aggressive, bullying, moralistic, right-wing, sectarian and turning into isolated ghettos, with a love of power and money. Little wonder that most Russians refuse to attend their churches. The result is that the Russian emigration is imploding. New Local Churches will be formed largely without the Russian emigration. The train has left the station. You missed it.