I am sometimes asked why the Church has not so far proved very attractive to native Western Europeans. Yes, it is true that since the 1960s in particular, small numbers of native Western Europeans have joined the Orthodox Church. However, the total number throughout Western Europe amounts to only a few thousand, certainly no more than 10,000. And of those many swiftly lapsed and quite a few others could not in the end accept authentic Orthodox Christianity and devised instead a sort of adapted Uniatism (in Catholic-culture countries) and Protestantism with icons (in Protestant-culture countries). With their Roman Catholic and Protestant cultural background, such unintegrated newcomers inevitably formed their own inward-looking groups, separated from the Orthodox mainstream.
The answer to the question why the Church has not proved attractive is precisely because so many native Western Europeans have generally been unable to free themselves from the cultural conditioning and ethnocentric prejudices of their Non-Orthodox background. It is interesting to see that some Americans at least have relatively fewer problems in this domain; they are sometimes more flexible and less attached to a Non-Orthodox cultural identity. Nevertheless, this difficulty in accepting pure Christianity comes about because the greatest failing of Western culture is to think itself superior to all else; how, in these circumstances, can people of Western cultural background acquire the humility to admit that their culture is mistaken and that it must be purified by repentance?
Thus, I have seen case after case over the last forty years or so of Western academics in particular, suffering from towering pride in their own culture, who refuse to accept a ‘foreign culture’, which they despise as in some way ‘oriental’. They prefer to stay in their semi-Christian, semi-pagan world of pale-faced ‘Jesuses’. But Christ was an oriental, He was not a European. The tragedy of such a West is that through its ethnic pride and institutional racism it puts itself above God and His Church, above the Truth. Such is the situation of Old Europe. But Old Europe is dying or is even already dead. Only a few old people go to church, the young have abandoned it; Catholicism, discredited by papist persecutions and now pedophilia, has had its thousand-year day, and Protestantism, discredited by past intolerance and narrow Puritanism, has had its five-hundred-year day. The world has moved on. A New Europe emerged long ago, within a generation of its Second World War.
This New Europe is by and large a continent of faithlessness to Christ. Yes, it still has its museums and medieval buildings, but this is not for living, this is for tourists. The New Europe has been shaped and is still being shaped by two forces, two sets of belief. The first force is the mass Secularism of the USA, the Coca Cola culture which began appearing in Europe as soon as its first bout of suicide, the First World War, had taken place, for instance in 1920s jazz; there followed a second wave during the Second World War with chewing gum and the rest; a third wave of ‘pop’ and jeans came in the 1960s; a fourth wave of ‘globalism’ (= Americanization) has come since 1989; and in the last few years a fifth wave of the chaos of mass immigration has appeared in Western Europe and is now submerging several countries and their traditional identities.
Modern culture is the soulless culture of concrete, glass and plastic. Its hideous and inhuman post-War architecture is all about this, as is its music, art, furniture, its whole culture. I can recall sitting in a café in Cambridge with an ‘antediluvian’ White Russian émigré in 1975. In the middle of the conversation, he suddenly said: ‘This place is not evil, it is just spiritually empty’. His definition was precise. However, as we said at that time, nature abhors a vacuum; wherever there is no prayer, spiritual emptiness is formed and that is always filled by the demons. And that is exactly what has happened over the last forty years. At first they began abolishing marriage and legalizing pornography. Very quickly they invented a huge and very profitable abortion industry, legalizing child murder, and after that there appeared perversions and pedophilia. And now the countries that resist these sinister and evil trends, mainly in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia, are being forced, like the Ukraine, through economic sanctions (warfare) to accept them.
However, there is a second force that is at work in shaping the New Europe. This is Islamism. Greedy local industrialists began inviting masses of poor Muslims to settle in Europe in the 1950s. Their cheap, hard-working labour could be exploited to make vast profits. However, what was once a stream of Turks in Germany, Algerians in France, Pakistanis in Britain and Moroccans in Belgium has become a flood. Through mass immigration the one per cent Muslim minority has become five per cent, ten per cent, twenty per cent and in some European cities fifty per cent and more, forming there a townscape of minarets and also of terrorism. There is no greater example of this dual invasion than the recent atrocity at the airport in Brussels: a concrete, glass and plastic monstrosity, indistinguishable from any other modern airport, was ripped apart by Islamist suicide bombers. New Europe.
The problem is of course not in the relatively innocent ‘cultural Islam’ of elderly Muslims, but in the form of militant Islam, Islamism, which is practised today by a good many of the young, exasperated by the recent Western aggressions and war crimes in the Muslim world. Rather like Judaism and all too often like medieval Catholicism and post-medieval Protestantism, Islam never knew that God is Love and that it is our task to love our enemies and forgive. It is a militant and aggressive religion, especially in its fundamentalist Sunni Islamist form, as spread and financed by the great ally of the West, Wahhabite Saudi Arabia. Western Europe is thus sandwiched between aggressive US Secularism, as anti-Christian as you can get, and Islamism, with its fundamentalist god of hatred and revenge, sandwiched between MacWorld and Jihad.
Only by referring back to its native roots, its soul, can the New Europe find its way between these two extremes and so survive. However, as Old Europe is dying and dead, where can it retrieve its roots? The answer is in the Church, in the uncompromised ascetic, canonical and liturgical Tradition of Orthodox Christianity, that which patterned the distant past of Western Europe and today can be expressed in Orthodoxy in the native languages of Western Europe. Like the distant past of the first millennium, the future also is Orthodox. True, some may say that Orthodoxy has not worked so far, only a few thousand native Europeans have approached the Church. However, most of those Europeans, though by no means all, came from the Old Europe and brought baggage with them, making them unable to convert in full and even leading many to lapse. Today we are dealing nearly wholly with people from the New Europe.
The New Europeans are blank sheets. You do not need to spend time explaining to them the sometimes subtle differences between the Church and heterodoxy. They have no idea what heterodoxy is. All is much easier and, as far as I can tell, though the New Europeans are fewer, they are more serious. Devoid of cultural baggage, that is, devoid of pride and prejudice, they adapt much more quickly to the Church and Her Orthodox Christian Faith than the Old Europeans ever did. True, some predict that the time will come when direct persecution will start in Western Europe and we will not, for reasons of ‘health and safety’ (= hatred of the Church) be allowed to baptize (unlike Jews and Muslims, who will still be allowed to circumcise – that presents no problem, it seems). Well, then we shall charter ships and go to Russia and to freedom and baptize persecuted Europeans there.
Some may think that we are talking about a distant future. Sadly, I think not. The present extraordinary acceleration towards Antichrist suggests that we may well see such a situation even in our lifetimes. We only have to think of the social and moral transformations that have happened in Western Europe in the last twenty-five years, let alone the last fifty. Even older films of our ancestors make them look as though they came from another planet. They would probably not even recognize present-day society as their own. What will the future bring? We cannot be certain. Of course, mass repentance, however unlikely, is still possible. We do not despair, but live in hope, for miracles do happen. Old Europe has gone, but the New Europe can still choose, between MacWorld, Jihad and the Church of God.