Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

1 January 2014. Some Thoughts from Solzhenitsyn, and How They Apply to Us as Russian Orthodox Christians in the American Diaspora

00 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. 26.10.13

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  • One should never direct people towards happiness, because happiness is an idol of the marketplace. One should direct them towards mutual affection. A beast gnawing at its prey can be happy, too, but only human beings can feel affection for each other, and this is the highest achievement they can aspire to.

This is a comment on the “pursuit of happiness”, wot? Was the USA crank from the start because of an ill notion at its base? Perspirin’ minds wanna know. It does offer commentary on the konvertsy who worship the American Way, NOT the Lord Christ.

  • If only there were evil people insidiously committing evil deeds and that the only thing necessary was to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. However, the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. Who’s willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

Recently, Alex Riggle posted snarky comments on his blog about “Old Calendarists”. I found them juvenile, not to the point, polemical, and not germane. If unity is what we need (and we do need it), then, it makes sense that we’re going to be in communion and in community with folks whose concepts may differ radically from ours on this-or-that point (I’m not talking about heterodoxy or heresy; I speak of general agreement, but with difference on some detail). ‘Tis true that most Orthodox Christians throughout the world use the traditional calendar… but it flies in the face of everything that Our Lord Christ taught to make it into an idol. Be kind to those Orthodox who follow the Catholic calendar… they didn’t initiate it, and you don’t know what their real views are (after all, if one is in a Catholic calendar diocese, one has to “toe the line”… and some OCA types are (sadly) rather feral on this detail). “Who’s willing to destroy a piece of his own heart”… ‘nuff said.

  • You can only hide violence with lies, and you can only sustain lies with violence. Inevitably, anyone who proclaims violence as their method must take falsehood as their principle.

“We admit no wrongdoing”… that’s a lie. Unfortunately, the First Families in both the OCA and the ROCOR keep up their grip on power by striking out at all those who dare to question the “party line” (question doctrine… that’s OK… question SVS or Jordanville… anathema!) or at those who discomfit this-or-that First Family member. If we wish to rebuild confidence, we have to, as “Church”, admit, “We lied… we did wrong… we used lawyers to hide our wrongdoing… we hurt many innocent people”. It’s not airy-fairy nor is it undoable; after all, didn’t the late great Joe Adamov of VOR do precisely that on-air? “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”… we’ve got a whole lot of repentin’ to do for departing from that, don’t we?

  • We’ve turned the primeval refusal to accept compromise into a theoretical principle; we consider it as a virtue, as orthodoxy. It demands millions of sacrifices in ceaseless civil wars, it drums into our souls that there’s no such thing as eternal universal concepts of goodness and justice, that everything’s fluctuating and inconstant. Therefore, the dictum arises… always do what’s most profitable for your faction. 

UNITY is our crying need. Ergo, if one wishes Unity, then, one has to accept that people may be in general agreement, have a general consensus on “the one thing needful”, but lack unanimity on some relatively-unimportant point. In 2007, the reconciliation agreement made provision for Valery Lukianov… unity between the MP and the ROCOR was so important that they made allowances for his notions. Unity between the OCA, ROCOR, and the MP is so important that we shouldn’t let a difference on calendar usage impede it. People better-versed than I am told me, “This isn’t the most important point… unity is”. In any case, you can’t change people’s hearts… God does that, and only if we show unfeigned Christian love and charity to our interlocutors, not wrong-headed polemics in the way of smarmy Evangelical Nosey Parkers.

Thank you to Alex Riggle for bringing these thoughts to mind via his blog post. God willing, his words were the result of passing pique (it happens to all of us, especially me)… all too often, we post things in haste (and everything posted online has a half-life longer than that of U-238, doesn’t it?). DO pass the jug, Alex… it’s a crank world out there, ain’t it?

BMD

 

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