Some Orthodox are, understandably, worried by next week’s meeting between the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Pope of Rome. However, perhaps they listen too much to the CIA-paid hacks of the Western media who are already presenting the meeting as a kind of Russian Orthodox prostration before the Pope of Rome, on the orders of President Putin who is, apparently, desperate for any kind of contact with the West! Having recalled that at the Victory Day parade in Moscow on the 9 May the Russian President stood side by side with the leaders of China, India and many other lands, representing virtually the whole Non-Western world, the vast majority of humanity, we shall laugh our fill at the Western media. It is the G7 Western world that is isolated, bunkered up in Hitler’s Villa outside Munich as in June 2015. The meeting at Havana Airport between the Russian Orthodox Patriarch and the Pope of Rome, between the past and the future, between Old Rome and the Third Rome, will be successful, but only if the Pope of Rome comes with repentance. Why?
First of all this is the first meeting in history between a Russian Orthodox Patriarch and a Pope of Rome (though not with a Pope of Alexandria). Ignorant Western media point to the fifteenth-century meeting between the then Pope of Rome and Metropolitan Isidore at the so-called ‘Council’ of Florence. However that Metropolitan was not a Patriarch, he was not Russian and, above all, he was not Orthodox. The truth is that this meeting could be a turning-point for discredited Catholicism. It now has a chance to repent before the Russian Orthodox Church for the crime of Uniatism. Just as the Polish Pope, himself a quarter Uniat by descent, did apologize for the Crusaders’ barbaric sacking of New Rome in 1204 (800 years late!), so now this Latin American Pope of Rome has the opportunity to ask forgiveness (420 years late) of the Russian Orthodox world. It knows that as long as there exists a single Uniat, it is stabbing the Church in the back. The Vatican now has to start behaving as though it were Christian.
The Russian Orthodox world has never been against a meeting with the Pope of Old Rome, but it has always had to be on our terms, not from a position of humiliation, but from a position of authority. It could never have happened with the aggressive Polish Pope; with the penitent Pope Benedict it could have happened, only he was removed for being too close to Orthodoxy; now with this Pope there has come a chance. Both leaders are making pastoral visits to Latin America and Catholicism is facing the ‘battle of the millennia’ and needs the Church. Catholicism, heir to 2,000 years of history, now has a vital choice to make, to choose between the first millennium, which was Orthodox, and the second millennium which was Catholic-Protestant. In this third millennium, either it will choose to protestantize itself completely, or else at least a small part of it can choose the path of repentance and return to the Orthodox Church, supporting the Russian Orthodox defence of the Christian Middle East or siding with the anti-Christian post-Protestant West.
A generation ago, until 1991, the Russian Orthodox Church was for the main part viciously hounded by politicians and mockingly despised by Non-Orthodox. We well remember the 70s and 80s when we were forced to live in an almost ghetto-like situation; we were indeed the last of the Mohicans. Whether inside or outside Russia, we lived in the catacombs. At that time there were only 40 bishops in Russia and 5,000 clergy; today there are 361 bishops and some 40,000 clergy. There is no reason to think that those figures will not double over the next generation. The miracle happened with us. Through the prayers of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Lands, at that time the atheist regime of the countries of the Soviet Union collapsed by self-chosen dissolution, but also the Western world chose to descend into the pit of hell by self-chosen dissolution. Exactly a generation after these events, in 2016 we are now entering a new age, the generation where we come out of the catacombs and the ghetto and move onto the world stage.
Some may find it difficult to adapt to this; others who were never comfortable in the ghetto find it easier. But the fact is that for the first time in history a Pope of Rome is meeting a Russian Orthodox Patriarch. The Church moves centre stage. It may be that the Russian Orthodox Church can save at least parts of Roman Catholicism from Protestantization. Certainly, with last week’s canonization of the ROCOR hierarch and wonderworker, St Seraphim of Sofia, who first exposed the heresy of Bulgakov and then the heresy of Ecumenism, there is no doubt that the Russian Church has moved far on from the provincial Orthodoxy of the fringes who are still stuck in old-fashioned modernism. The Russian Orthodox Church now takes the lead in the Orthodox world and has turned the leadership of Orthodoxy from a US-run masonic affair into the voice of the Church. Not only that, but it also reclaims the Ukraine from the Nazi Uniat junta in Kiev, which may have only a few months to live.
Sunday of the New Martyrs and Confessors
Last Friday evening The Eagles Death Metal band was playing in Paris. Just as they began playing ‘Kiss the devil’ with the opening words ‘I have met the devil and this is his song’, an atrocious massacre began.
As a result, the Schengen Agreement is de facto dead. As a result, much to the horror of the US government, Western European countries are now ready to repent and co-operate with Russia in destroying the US-founded IS in Syria. As a result the Western support for the anti-democratic rogue junta in Kiev has all but been forgotten. As a result anti-Muslim nationalist parties, like the National Front in France, have become even more popular.
As a result some at least in Western Europe are beginning to question if there is indeed only one choice, between the blasphemous Charlie Hebdo and fanatical and murderous Islamism, or as it was expressed over 20 years ago, between McWorld or Jihad (1).
In Eastern Europe, whether in Russia, Poland, Slovakia, Czechia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria or elsewhere, there has never really been any doubt to that question. For all these countries and their peoples knew from their history all about Islam and, ironically behind the screen of Communism, had also long protected their Christian tradition, sovereignty and identity from McWorld. Hence their attitude to the immigration invasion of recent months.
The only question is if in Western Europe there are those who are honest enough and rooted enough in their historical Christian tradition to do the same.
1. See the 1994 ‘The Healing of Civilizations: Orthodox Christianity, Western Capitalism and Islam’ in ‘Orthodox Christianity and the English Tradition’.
Every 500 years or so the Western world appears to go through a period of revolutionary transformation, sometimes positive, sometimes negative. Thus, with the birth of Christ, Western Europe faced a choice between the old and the cruel and the new and the compassionate; after 300 years and the sacrifices of countless martyrs and confessors, it finally chose the new, preferring to be with Christ. Then, approximately from the year 500 on, spiritual heroes began to spread the chosen path throughout Western Europe, west and north, to distant and cold Atlantic shores, and the sixth and seventh centuries are known to history as the Age of Saints. Succeeding centuries brought the peripheral lands of Western Europe to Orthodoxy, which by the year 1000 had spread into Scandinavia and even as far as the Isles of the North Atlantic.
However, after the first millennium, from around the year 1000, the power-grabbing elite of Western Europe fell to the temptation of pagan Rome under the guise of a compromised, feudalist form of Christianity, a novel and aggressive ideology that came to be called Roman Catholicism. Around 1500 this degenerated into a compromised, capitalist form of Christianity, which justified worldwide aggression and genocide. Today, at the year 2000, that elite is throwing off the last vestiges of Christianity and re-entering the demonized world of the pagan past, in which man has only an economic value. The demons are coming back from hell, which is spreading worldwide, at present to the Ukraine, part of the Russian world, which after many temptations is choosing to remain faithful to the original pre-Roman Catholic and pre-Protestant Christianity.
In the Ukraine the present Western puppet junta ironically makes much of ‘European values’ and ‘Western’ or ‘Euroatlantic’ Civilization, which it opposes to Russian Christian Civilization. Rightly so in fact, because such purely modern ‘European values’ are opposed to European history, which, like Russian history, has Christian roots. This propaganda term ‘European values’, in reality means the anti-values of the parasitical transnational financial elite, at present based in the USA, and its global geopolitical doctrine of domination and exploitation. This doctrine is utterly opposed to traditional European culture, which is being revived in today’s resurgent Christian Russia. This is why this Russia is so hated by that elite, for it stands in the way of the elite’s power-mongering search for global hegemony, denounces it and even seeks to reverse it.
In reality, ‘Euroatlantic’ values are leading to the death of Western Europe itself, its countries become mere colonies of Fourth Reich Berlin, itself a mere colony of the transnational elite. Europe’s once sovereign peoples are dying out through abortion, suicide and euthanasia, as patriotic minorities inside them are aware. A country, which like Serbia resists, is bombed into submission, its territory is polluted with uranium, divided, taken away and made into a NATO base for drug-runners. This is what is now being attempted in the Ukraine and what the global elite intends to do with Russia. But the mission of Russia is to be what restrains (2 Thess 2, 7). It is not to bring hell to the world, so ruthlessly exploited by the elite which is in love with Mammon, it is to bring to the world the light of Christ, the ideals of good and Divine and human justice.
The present war in the Ukraine is an anti-Ukrainian war because it is opposed to the spiritual rebirth of the Russian world and of the rest of faithful Orthodox Christendom. The war is being fought between Christianity and Mammon, whose high-priests want to destroy and divide reviving multinational Russia, reducing it to the Western colony it was under Communism after 1917 and under post-Communism after 1991. The Russian world counters this war with its sovereign independence, non-nationalist universal religion and popular culture. Russia resists the myth of ‘European values’ because it has already suffered under those ‘values’, having knowledge of them from the Revolution of 1917, which Europe so enthusiastically imposed on Russia through the treacherous fifth column of Westernized Russian aristocrats.
For every anti-Christian revolution in Russia has been directed by the elite (boyars/ aristocrats/oligarchs, call them what you will) against the three founding values of Orthodox Christian society: Sovereignty (Independence), the Orthodox Christian Faith (Divine and Human Justice) and the People (Unity). Today the Russian world faces a choice, to become a vassal of the global West (as the Western-installed Fascist elite in Kiev is trying to do with the Ukraine) and so disappear as a Civilization, or else to return to the fullness of Christian values in Russian Orthodoxy. These include the re-establishment of the multinational Christian State with its ideals of social justice, uniting and overcoming artificial divisions of left and right. These values are opposed by three anti-values, so well described by the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II as ‘treason, cowardice and deceit’.
If the indebted Western world wishes to repent for its thousand-year apostasy from Christianity, for its millennial anti-values of ‘treason, cowardice and deceit’, and stop following the transnational oligarchs, all it has to do, as some have already done, is to accept the integral Orthodox Christian Faith. If, instead, it continues to chase out Christian values with its totalitarian liberalism, dependency on a caliphate of Muslim immigrants and debt-enslavement to the oligarchs, it will fall further into bestial, moral decomposition, the zombification of bread and circuses and so spiritual and physical death. In its death agony the elite is sowing division around the world, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and the Ukraine. But despite everything, victory is still possible. Our task is to lead the faithful remnants of the West to reviving Russia and salvation.
If the ‘Church of England’ is, as we Orthodox believe, merely a group of sectarian Protestant congregations, then the decision to introduce female ‘bishops’ is long overdue. The only reason for its delay can be misogyny. After all, the first female ‘bishops’ in the Anglican Communion were introduced over a decade ago and the first female pastor seventy years ago. As for the head of the ‘Church of England’, she is a woman and all the ‘bishops’ of the ‘Church of England’ are nominated by the Prime Minister who may be a woman and may be an atheist. If the average ‘Church of England’ vicar is really just a social worker, then it is purely sexist to forbid the heads of social work departments to be female.
On the other hand, if the ‘Church of England’ were part of the Orthodox Church, that is, of the Body of Christ, then its female clergy would be heretical. For the Bible makes it clear that Christ, Who overturned every human institution, chose only men as his apostles, making it clear that the difference between men and women is not due to any human institution, but is Divinely ordained and relates back to the Creation as described in the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis. However, since the ‘Church of England’ is not part of the Body of Christ, but merely a nationally manipulated Reformation sect, which by definition has swum with the secularist tide ever since it was founded by the serial adulterer, murderer and bandit, Henry VIII, then all is well.
If any members of the Church of England did not know this and still believe in the absurd ‘branch theory’, they will have to carry out a revolution in their lives and civilizational values, if. that is, they wish to live honest lives consistent with the Christianity of the Church. Very nearly forty years ago I can remember the late Fr Sophrony (Sakharov), who was never allowed to receive any member of the Church of England into his Greek Orthodox church, saying to one former Anglican who was complaining that she suffered in the Orthodox Church: ‘The Church hurts’. For some reason quite beyond me, she was upset by this fact. Of course, the Church hurts. The Church means being crucified. However, it also means being raised from the dead.
The Lord will have mercy on Holy Rus because it has suffered the dread and terrible period before Antichrist. A great host of martyrs and confessors shone forth, starting with senior clergy and laity, the Metropolitan and the Tsar, the priest and the monk, the child and the breastfed babe, ending with ordinary laypeople. They all beseech the Lord God, the King of Hosts, the King of Kings, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, glorified in the Most Holy Trinity. We must know quite clearly that Russia is the lot of the Queen of Heaven and She takes care of her and intercedes for her especially…Together with the Mother of God the whole host of Russian saints asks for Russia to be spared…
St Laurence of Chernigov (+ 1950)
To some the above question may seem absurd. What can a tiny, émigré-founded part of the Russian Church (ROCOR – 500 parishes), their descendant and missions, scattered across the whole face of the world, give the huge Church inside Russia, with its tens of thousands of churches, hundreds of monasteries and dozens of seminaries? It sounds as if the little brother, so imperfect and with all his faults, is trying to patronise the big brother because he is blind to his own faults. This is not the case; we are well aware of our weaknesses, but perhaps ‘our strength is made perfect in weakness.’
In reality, the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) does have something to say, though perhaps only one thing, but a vital thing. Simply because we were never Sovietised, whereas, through no fault of its own, the people of the martyric Church inside Russia were Sovietised, we have one word to say to. It is: ‘Community’. It is most ironic, for this is the very thing promised, but not delivered, by ‘Communism’. Commun-ism failed to build a Commun-ity because it tried to do it without Christ. Starting from the bottom and working upwards through five levels, of Community we can say:
1. The Family as Community
Under Soviet atheism, Christian marriage came to an end and was replaced at first with ‘free love’, then with relationships of convenience, a method, for example, of obtaining a permit to work in Moscow or some other city. Divorce and multiple divorce became ‘normal’ and, with it, multiple abortion and the horrifying abuse of women and children and the irresponsibilisation of men as fathers. Virtually all sense of the family as the community of the small church came to an end. As a result, the demographic situation throughout all the Slav parts of the former Soviet Union is catastrophic.
2. The Parish as Community.
Today, parish life as community life, as we understand it in ROCOR, hardly exists in the post-Soviet Church inside Russia. Parishes there are largely composed of people who do not know one another, of passers-by, of those who drop in. The repression of the Church in the Soviet period more or less destroyed normal parish life. The reflex of the former Soviet citizen is to erect high barriers around his property. He sees others as potential enemies. Mistrust of others has largely replaced community life. This is not the case in ROCOR parish life, where we try to build scattered individuals into communities.
3. The Diocese as Community
In our small ROCOR all who wish to can know our bishops, write to them and speak to them. Bishops have small if scattered dioceses. The bureaucratisation of bishops did not occur in ROCOR; they are not State functionaries; neither are they wealthy. On the contrary. In the Church inside Russia, even with a relatively small number of churches and today with 300 bishops, bishops do not know their parishes. If a bishop is to visit each parish once a year, surely there should be no more than 50 parishes in his diocese? Perhaps at least another 300 bishops are required inside Russia.
4. The Church as Community
In the Soviet period, not to mention the period before it which prepared it, the Church inside Russia came to be seen as an Institution, a Department of State, as ‘the Moscow Patriarchate’. Religion stopped being seen as Faith, and instead as a purely outward rite. Let us be clear. In 2007 the Church Outside Russia did not enter into canonical communion with ‘the Moscow Patriarchate’. The Community of ROCOR entered into communion with the Community of our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Church inside Russia. The Church is the Community of believers, living and departed.
5. Rus as Community
Today the East Slav peoples, the Multinational Community of Faith known as ‘Rus’, are illegitimately divided into three States: the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Belarus. To them can be added a fourth and Non-Slav country – Moldova. Moreover, many, many other countries also have many believers in the jurisdiction of the Church of ‘All Rus’. In these post-Soviet times, Rus has not been restored; we have only covered 5% of the path before us. We are not satisfied with this post-Soviet state of affairs: we look for better times, we look to the future, when Rus will exist not only spiritually as now, but politically also.
Today the world is being squeezed between a bankrupt but technologically dominant Western world, a decadent Roman Empire, whose secularist ideology appears to be motivated by the promotion of homosexuality, and the Islamic world. That Islamic world has been divided in terrible wars in one country after another throughout the Middle East, so that it can be ruled and exploited. Orthodox should be aware, for they too are divided and ruled, as happened long ago in the enslaved Patriarchate of Constantinople, as happened with new calendarisation and now EU-isation, and is now happening in Serbia and the Ukraine.
The Soviet Union has long gone, leaving ruins behind it. The Russian Federation, Ukraine and Belarus are all passing States, with no long-term future. The choice is not between Soviet and Russian. The choice is between the descent into a second-rate colony of vulgar Western consumerism and the restoration of Holy Rus. Holy Rus, ruled by a Tsar, is the spiritual tool for the salvation of its own peoples and other peoples. Holy Rus spread across the northern half of the Eurasian continent. In the past it stemmed the wild East and the wild West, Islam and the spiritually damaged Catholic/Protestant West; this is its task again today.
Since the Russian Revolution the Patriarchate of Constantinople has taken into its jurisdiction a variety of Russophobic dissidents. Their schisms have come about because the dissidents have been too spiritually weak to remain faithful to the Russian Tradition and so have been dragged down into party politics or personality cults. Thus, they have either been virulent nationalists or else anti-Tradition liberals and freemasons, cultivating political and theological schisms caused by that Revolution. Having lost sight of the big picture of Orthodox civilisational values, the Orthodox world-view, they have been brought down into petty, provincial concerns.
Some of the dissidents have been Slavs – Russians, Ukrainians or ex-Catholic Carpatho-Russians – others have been Western converts – Finnish, American, French, Estonian or ex-Anglican. Here we look at the dissidents, originally Russophobic, pro-Kerensky aristocrats from Saint Petersburg, who, leaving Russia, then the Church outside Russia and then the Church inside Russia for Constantinople, over 80 years ago formed the Rue Daru jurisdiction in Paris. After nearly a year without a leader, they are now hoping to elect a new archbishop in November 2013.
Although issued from the Russian Tradition and even claiming to belong to it, since they left the Mother-Church these dissidents have gradually become more and more Westernised and absorbed into the US and Turkish-controlled Greek Patriarchate in Istanbul. This can clearly be seen in their forsaking of the Orthodox liturgical calendar and Orthodox liturgical, dogmatic and pastoral practices for modernist, Western, secular practices. This simultaneous Westernisation and Hellenisation is inevitable and can only be avoided by their leaving schism and taking the path back to the Mother-Church.
If, after the election of a new archbishop, they cannot return to the Mother-Church, they will consign themselves to remaining a small archdiocese of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, perhaps 5,000 in number in all, most of their parishes set up in temporary or rented premises and less than 25 strong. Their ethos will continue to be intellectual, not spiritual, philosophical, not theological, disincarnate, not incarnate, with mainly untrained clergy, without a living Tradition and without a Mother-Church, yet dependent on the Russian Church for vestments, literature, musical culture and people to fill its small parishes. Clearly, eventually, they will disappear, absorbed into Greek Church structures and practices.
However, if, after the election of a new archbishop, they can return to the Mother-Church, they will be able to rejoin the multinational and multilingual free Russian Orthodox Church, fifty times bigger than the tiny and captive Patriarchate of Constantinople. They will be able to take part in the construction of the Metropolia of Western Europe, with its hundreds and hundreds of real parishes and historic churches all over Western Europe, the stepping-stone to a future new Local Church and yet at the same time authentically faithful to the Russian Orthodox Tradition and Church in all ways. Local and Faithful, or Westernised and Hellenised: this is the choice that they face.
The election yesterday of a new Pope of Rome has called forth various reactions, those of the cynical and those of the optimists. What are those reactions?
Cynics say that the whole event is a PR stunt. The embattled cardinals have chosen a weak front man, who has taken the sentimental name of Francis as Pope. The image he will project is of a humble and poor monk. In reality, so they say, this represents no change; whatever his real personality, the same people will run the show from behind the scenes.
They point to the fact that, at the age of 76, Francis I appears to be another stop-gap Pope. Although not officially Italian, he was born of Italian parents in Argentina, the most Italian part of South America, where even the Spanish is Italian. They see in him just another Italian or, at least, semi-Italian, bureaucrat.
Finally, the cynics see in this Jesuit (a word that is a synonym for scheming and cunning, one for whom ‘the ends justifies the means’) a man who compromised himself with the tyrannical Argentinian junta of some 35 years ago. Orthodox will note that Francis I was in charge of ‘Eastern Catholics’ in Argentina and recall the cruelty of the Jesuits who operated Uniatism in Eastern Europe.
Optimists will be appalled at such cynicism. Giving him the benefit of any doubt there may be, they see in the new Pope a sincere, pious, humble man of orthodox faith, who knows how to communicate with simple people. For them, he is a pastor who shares and understands the life of the people, like the average Orthodox priest, traditional in teaching but liberal in social matters and justice.
They see in him not a theoretical academic, but a realist. His age, they might say, proves it. Here is a man of experience, the very experience that is necessary to reform and cleanse the Vatican from its infernal, self-justifying and corrupt bureaucracy. Surely he is intelligent and practical enough to know how to delegate and manage people.
In the new Pope they see the opportunity for Roman Catholicism to return to the essentials. Perhaps he will turn the Vatican, with its indecent frescoes, into a giant Renaissance museum. Tourists could be charged to enter and the money collected given to the Catholic poor of the Third World. Meanwhile, the Church could transfer its centre to one of the early churches of the Rome of the first millennium.
With time we will see who is right, the pessimists or the optimists. For our part, we are reminded of the words of the first English Orthodox priest of the last century, Fr Nicholas Gibbes, who in 1934 described embracing Orthodoxy as ‘like getting home after a long journey’. The Roman Catholic world has been on a very, very, very long journey. It is our hope, however small, that the new Pope might understand this.
And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees.
Lk 3, 9
Election results in Italy have brought political instability and ungovernability. So read the headlines. Of course, some would say that political instability has been the order of the day in Italy since the fall of the Western fragment of the Roman Empire in the year 476. Yet Italy is still there.
More seriously, however, the current political stalemate in Italy has in part been caused by the appearance of a new populist protest party, the ‘Five-Star Movement’, which is fed up at the corruption of the whole political elite, the euro it imposed and the austerity policies of an unelected, German-style, technocrat Prime Minister, imposed by Brussels and the US. No-one should be surprised. The same thing has already happened in many European countries, where many others are also fed up with the democratic deficit of EU-imposed policies, not to mention mass immigration and yet at the same time mass unemployment.
‘A plague on both your houses’ comes from Italy, but it is universal. In France there is the Front National, which under its present leader is breaking the mould of the old identical left-right technocrats, who all come from the same elitist schools. In Greece a rather extreme political protest party called Syriza has moved out of the old and corrupt two-party system of left and right. In Great Britain the Independence Party (UKIP) is upsetting the old two/three party system and its public school boys. The old political mafia of Western Europe, shown to be incompetent by the financial crisis which it directly created but refuses to take responsibility for, is falling.
In Italy, the situation was made all the more complex – and corrupt – by the situation whereby for some fifty years after 1945 the right was kept in power, government after government, by corruption and US dollars, in order to prevent Italy falling to Communism. The corruption was guaranteed by a self-perpetuating elite, kept in power by mythical democracy. The democracy was mythical because the electorates were only ever given a choice between two self-interested and almost identical individuals, who between periodical elections did whatever they wanted, regardless of what the electorates may have wanted.
However, it is unlikely that anti-elite populist protest parties will actually bring a solution, at least not in the long-term. The underlying problem of Western Europe is debt and bankruptcy. For a generation and more, government after government in country after country has avoided the essential issue of debt. All political parties, including the new anti-elite populist parties, are quite unwilling to make the drastic cuts to budgets that all Western European countries have to make if they are to stave off ever closer bankruptcy in their ever closer union.
One of the essential weaknesses of Western so-called ‘democracies’, run by accountants, is short-termism. No political party actually thinks of national well-being, only of its own well-being – and survival through the next elections – so each party simply makes promises that it can never keep. As they say, ‘if it is too good to be true, it is’. No political party wants to do something openly and immediately unpopular – such as cutting State spending and employment by the huge amounts necessary if Western Europe (+ the USA + Japan) is to avoid a bankrupt future. So instead there is slow but inevitable decline.
Does this mean that austerity, in a far harsher form than even at present, is necessary? Does this mean that we approve of Thatcherite economics, that is, of economic egoism which panders to the basest and greediest instincts of humanity, to the idolatry of Mammon? Does this mean that we approve of an ideology which denies that society exists and has turned tens of millions into economic refugees, creating mass emigration and mass immigration, uprooting communities and destroying family life across Europe, East especially, but also West?
No. In reality, there are huge amounts of money in the world; it is just that so much of it is in the hands of very few. If austerity is shared by all, then that austerity can be bearable. What is unbearable is when the poorer half of society has to bear everything. Some kind of austerity is inevitable, but that does not mean, as in Spain and Greece and Italy, as in Latvia and Estonia and Hungary, that people literally have to starve and the young have to emigrate to Canada and Australia, if they can. Austerity has to be, but it also has to be fair.
Forty years ago, amidst the consumerist frenzies of 1970s materialism, the Russian writer Solzhenitsyn pleaded with the selfish Western world for ‘self-limitation’. What he meant by this was the necessity for it to distinguish between selfish wants and actual needs. Most Western ‘wants’, artificially created by manipulative advertising and publicity, are not what we need. Most of Western Europe, merely copying its US idol before it, has been living in a fantasy world of debt for over forty years. With the ‘revelation’ (at least, to some) that banks had been lending money which they did not have for much of that time, reality is now dawning. And that reality is past selfishness, because it never thought of how children and grandchildren would cope with the accumulated debt.
However, this ‘Third Way’ of self-limitation is not a political problem; it is a spiritual problem. And here is the rub. Self-limitation means repentance for greed and selfishness, acceptance of needs and rejection of wants. And that means a shift in values and a shift in ideology and a shift in the whole pseudo-democratic Capitalist Western system, a fools’ paradise. And this is not going to happen because the Western world agrees to it. But it is going to happen – because the Western world is rapidly coming to the point when it will have no say in the matter. A bankrupt has to live within his means, whether he wants to or not.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
(Matt 5, 8)
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.
(I Cor I, 23)
The culture of Western Europe began as Orthodox Christian. The history of the first millennium AD confirms this bold but factual statement. Thus, the Apostles Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome, an event followed by the martyrdom of thousands of others in Rome and all over Western Europe, veneration of whom is fundamental to the Orthodox Church. Thus, there are great Orthodox Church Fathers in the West, such as St Irinaeus of Lyons, St Cyprian of Carthage, St Hilary of Poitiers, St Ambrose of Milan, St Vincent of Lerins, St Leo of Rome and St Gregory the Dialogist. Thus, Orthodox monasticism from Egypt and Palestine entered into European life through those like St Martin of Tours, St John Cassian, St Benedict of Nursia and St Columba of Iona. Thus, the whole territory of Western Europe, Portugal and Spain, Italy and France, Switzerland and Austria, Germany and the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, Britain and Ireland, Denmark and Sweden, Norway and Iceland, became patterned by monasteries and churches and their Orthodox Christian life and the place names they left behind them.
Of course, there was another element in Western culture – the paganism of the pagan Rome Empire and of the pagan Celtic, Latin and Germanic peoples. This element always existed in the first millennium, alongside the Orthodox Christian one. However, this does not explain the reasons why the descendants of the once Christianised peoples of Western Europe are so little drawn to the Orthodox Church of today.
For this we can identify three reasons. The first is that many Western people may not live anywhere near an Orthodox church. Until very recently, there were very few Orthodox churches in Western Europe outside the capitals and major cities. The second reason is that even when such churches do exist, they may cater only for foreign-language immigrant communities, who consider that their task is precisely to conserve their foreign language and customs, which are not to be watered down with a local language. It must be said, however, that, whatever the excuses of the past, both these factors are much less relevant today than twenty-five or fifty or seventy-five years ago. Indeed, it is now obvious that there is a third reason – ultimately a factor which is far more important than the first two, because it is a spiritual reason. What is this?
This is that any who have been subject to Western culture, by birth or by assimilation, must first divest themselves of anything in that culture which cannot be baptised into the Church of God. This means ten layers of anti-Christian cultural prejudice, ten centuries of a false messiah, which have, like a parasite inside the body, become attached to the original Western Christian culture. What are they?
1. 11th century: This is the fundamental layer, which asserts that Western man can replace the Holy Spirit, that fallen and mortal man, whose immortal destiny by throwing off the Fall is heaven, is already a god on earth.
2. 12th century: This is the layer of the arrogant mind, the layer of the proud and aggressive and unrepentant individual human reason, which asserts that it knows all mysteries, that it knows better than the Church.
3. 13th century: This is the layer of false spiritualism, of the emotional pietism of the soul, of the self-exalted psyche, which imagines in its illusion that it sees God, when in reality it sees only its own fallen reflection.
4. 14th century: This is the layer of violence, of war and plague, which brings the spirit of morbidity into the Western soul, which fears death because it does not know of the Resurrection and even denies it.
5. 15th century: This is the layer of clerical corruption, which brings hatred and mistrust, the misperception that a mere human institution is the Body of Christ and that therefore it cannot exist anywhere else on earth.
6. 16th century: This is the layer of protest and revolt of the individual, the individualism which is in fact the egoism that lies at the root of the self-loving bubble of consumerism, which it claims as its ‘human right’.
7. 17th century: This is the layer of the puritanical witch-hunt, of the rejection of superstition, but which also rejects all that is beyond the narrow and limited understanding of the fallen mind as politically incorrect.
8. 18th century: This is the layer of irrational reason which claims enlightenment, but which in its darkness justifies its arrogant and imperialist desire to enslave others in its all-conquering quest for power, land and gold.
9. 19th century: This is the layer of delusional triumphalism, which asserts that the idolatrous Western domination of the whole world, through arms and industry and science, is messianic and will bring paradise on earth.
10. 20th century: This is the layer of the abandonment of God and His replacement by technology, which asserts the primitive superstition that, despite now recognised weaknesses, human knowledge is all-saving.
Thus, the first five centuries of the second millennium saw Orthodoxy as a stumbling block in the process of reducing the Faith to a mere human institution. That is why it sent out its troops to destroy the Church, which remained as a living reproach to the imperialist Western substitute for it. The second five centuries of the second millennium saw Orthodoxy as foolishness before the so-called triumph of the individual human mind divorced from God. That is why it despised as superstition and idolatry the Church, which remained as a living reproach to the rationalist Western substitute for it.
What then can we say of the 21st century?
We consider that it is too early to speak of this unfinished layer. However, we predict that in this century so-called human freedom will be proved to be enslavement. Therefore, this is the century when millennial Western cultural prejudice will evaporate, as it is seen that in truth the only real stumbling block has been the reduction of the Church of God to a human institution and that the only real foolishness has been that of the individual human mind divorced from God. This is the century when the spiritually sensitive in search of spiritual purity will find the Church, but the spiritually insensitive in search of spiritual impurity will find Hell.