Exactly 114 years ago today, on 5 December 1902, The San Francisco Call reported the tragedy concerning Michael Bellavin, the 29-year old brother of the only Orthodox Bishop in North America, the 37-year old Bishop Tikhon, the future Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church and Saint.
In 1902 the young man had heard the new Italian prima donna, Jolanda Villafiorita, singing in the local theatre ‘Tivoli’. Michael began attending every opera at which she sang, buying her flowers and sending her letters of adoration written in Italian. At one performance where Jolanda (better known by her stage name Tina de Spada) was not singing but listening from her box, Michael went up to her and told her that he loved her. However in October 1902 the news came that Jolanda’s father had died in Italy and the singer decided to return to her mother in Milan. Michael was literally heartbroken by the forthcoming separation and died. The story was reported by the local press, including in The Call, The Examiner and l’Italia, with headlines like: ‘Love inflicts a fatal wound. Russian dies because he is flouted by Tiny de Spada. Her departure so affects him that heart stops beating’.
Bishop Tikhon asked all to pray for the repose of his brother’s soul. Perhaps we should do the same.
The Church unites East and West, looking both ways like the double-headed eagle. Therefore the Church finds itself in the middle, that is, on the Cross between the two thieves. The Church hangs between Eastern terrorism, with its crucifixions and beheadings of Christians in the Sudan, Libya and Syria which cause mass emigration, and Western terrorism, with its enslavement to usury (cloaked by the word ‘debt’) and the Western-sponsored destruction of stable governments, such as those in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yugoslavia. Which of the two thieves, who both railed against Christ at the beginning will repent? (Matt 27, 44, Mark 15, 32 and then Luke 23, 42-43). We do not know, but for the repentance of the Western thief, we can say this much:
Debt is usury and usury is enslavement, and enslavement is always a source of evil. Therefore, debt is always to be avoided as far as possible; at best it can only be a temporary necessary evil. Usury was and is forbidden by the Church. Catholicism, which for many centuries kept much of the heritage of the Church from the first millennium, forbade usury until the late 18th century. Thus, in France, usury in its modern, capitalistic form, was introduced with the atheists of the French Revolution. In Protestant England modern usury had was introduced in the seventeenth century under Cromwell, who was financed by Dutch Jews. In both cases, usury was connected with mass murder, with millions of dead.
Although usury has always existed and always been condemned, modern, approved usury, part of the system, is the product of Protestantism, especially of Calvinism. This is why Protestant countries are famous (or notorious) for their banking systems and their peoples are famous (or notorious) for being careful or ‘economical’ with money and savings, even encouraging small children to save in ‘money-boxes’. For example, we only have to think of Switzerland (Calvin’s homeland), the Netherlands, Scotland (homeland of John Knox, a disciple of Calvin), England, Scandinavia and colonies in North America and South Africa. England is, in the words of Adam Smith, ‘a nation of shopkeepers’ (like Mrs Thatcher), obsessed by consumerist shopping, and run by accountants. It is always very strange how on the news in England, you hear about bank rates, interest rates, exchange rates and stock exchange rates as if they were important. They are not news.
Modern Capitalism is Mammonism. The Son of God tells us that you cannot worship God and Mammon. For a long time, people in Protestant countries hypocritically said in self-delusion, ‘But we do not worship Mammon, only God’, relieving their guilty consciences by setting up charities and trusts. Now post-Protestantism, what is called ‘Consumerism’, is at least honest and not hypocritical. It says: ‘But we do not worship God, we only worship Mammon’. Thus, at least the pretences have stopped. And so we can clearly see that modern Capitalism is simply not Non-Christian, but anti-Christian. Christ or Antichrist? We had better decide whose side we are on.
As for once Orthodox countries, they have copied the Mammonism of the West. For the first time, this year, 2015, people in Russia have at last talked about Orthodox banking. But it may be too late. Too late, it would seem, for Greece. The Greek fault, and it is the fault of all Orthodox, was and is to accept usury-based Western banking and so debt. The Greek elite accepted loans from greedy Western bankers, so then they could buy greedy Western consumer goods. Now the Greek elite which took the money is in hiding together with the bankers who gave them the money. As for the Greek people, they are like children who were told that they had been given free toys. Only the toys turned out to be time-bombs which are now exploding.
Worse still, having committed apostasy by joining the EU, Greece is now having to face a tidal wave of immigration from countries which have been destroyed or destabilized by Western meddling, caused by that delusion of pride that the West has something to teach the rest of the world, that it ‘knows better’. Most of these immigrants are Muslims whose countries are in the grip of terrorists whose violence has been unleashed by money from Western allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Thus, Greece is caught between the terrorism of Western usury and the terrorism of Eastern chaos. However, this is not the Greek tragedy – this is only the consequences of the Greek tragedy. The Greek tragedy, like the Russian tragedy in and after 1917, is the abandonment of Orthodoxy. The price for that is now being paid.
Although we totally disagree with Bishop Artemije’s schism in Serbia, we believe that his following letter is of great interest, since it shows just to what extent American meddling in Local Orthodox Churches in the ‘soft underbelly’ of the Orthodox world is provoking trouble. We have in mind not only Serbia and Joe Biden’s notorious ‘visits’ to Constantinople, but the notorious US ambassadorial activities in Georgia and those of Ambassador Herbst in Kiev. As regards Bishop Artemije, it is our belief that he should have faced charges about embezzlement and then retired to a monastery like the true confessor St Justin (Popovich)