Voices from Russia

Thursday, 18 December 2014

A Colloquy on Scripture and the Church

00 Orthodox Bible image

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Editor:

My interlocutor is in plain type; I’m in italics and indented.

BMD

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Most likely, you use the Authorised Version. You’ll both find these sites to be amazingly helpful resources!

http://www.kjvtoday.com/

http://www.thekingsbible.com/

I’m trying to publicise these sites as much as possible. I can’t see how they’d find a “place” on your blog but perhaps you could send them around to Orthodox folks you know?

Of course… I use the KJV/AV in all my scripture quotes, as it’s the closest equivalent in English terms to the Russian of the Synodal Edition. I could post something… as part of one of my periodic “chats with readers”… I’m due for one…

It amazes me how many Christians hate the AV. Why? It goes like this:

Reformer:

Oh! I never use the KJV! I prefer modern translations. After all, they all say the same thing. There’s no place where the modern translations contradict any Christian dogma! (BTW: not true)

Traditionalist:

Oh! OK! Since there’s “no contradiction”, we’ll keep using the KJV.

Reformer: 

NOOOOOOOOOOO!

Yup. These sites expose the failings of the modern translations and support the AV’s validity. Did you know that St Kyrillos Lukaris, Patriarch of Constantinople, sent manuscripts to the AV translators? It has Orthodox roots! Kyrillos was Patriarch of Alexandria then. Alexandria glorified him as a saint in 2009 or thereabouts.

It’s the same argument used by those who want to drop Staroslav. I’d say that there’s less confusion than the intellectuals think. Firstly, the babas are NOT confused. Secondly, Staroslav is closer to modern Slavic languages than Old English is… for instance, some egghead idiots want to get rid of “zhivot”… well, the Modern Russian word for animal is “zhivotne” (“living thing”), so, I’d submit that the “confusion” is merely in the eyes of academic charlatans with a “reforming” itch… like the late Aleksandr Dmitryevich Schmemann!

Remember the “Reform” of Church Slavonic that everyone touted? You mentioned this on your blog. In time, the MP decided it was a waste of time. Obviously, some prissy “theological” types stirred a tempest in a teapot. Then, the Church looked to where the rubber met the road and dumped the whole idea. I’m sure that they’re writing tear-soaked epistles to Syosset…

I mean it…it’s time for Russian Orthodox people here in the diaspora to start seriously talking unity… it’s the only way that we’ll keep the feral in check. I’ll be blunt… I think that there’d be a “Rump OCA” after such a union… but the healthy parts would “come home”. It’s TIME… it’s time to overlook minor disagreements… we NEED to be together… that’s the lesson of the Ukrainian Civil War… the Ukies have unity, ergo their voice is heard. We’re shunted to the side… it’s our own fault!

However, you’re aware that Great Russian chauvinism is the curse of our unity? They disdain Rusins, Byelorussians, and Russophile Ukrainians and THAT has been the cause of our disunity. Don’t EVEN get the NEPA sorts started on THAT topic. “We’re ‘HIGH Russians’ and you people are ‘LOW Russians’. You’ll do as WE say”. UGH. Can you fight THAT?

Veliki Rus is the core of Holy Rus, but it isn’t the only part… Great Russia is the largest partner at table, but not the only one. God willing, “High Russians” like me can help move things right…

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I’m surprised that some elements in the Church use Evangelical distortions of Scripture. Such groups are only barely Christian (if they’re such at all)… not all those who say, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven… their ahistoricity and lack of a coherent liturgy, for me, put them outside of Christendom altogether. They’re pseudo-Christian sectarians, with no real and substantial ties to historical Christianity at all. Look at the Mormons, Pentecostalists, and megachurchers… to say the least, if we apply the standard of “lex orandi, lex credendi”, it’s clear that Evangelicals aren’t Christian at all. They have a bowdlerised distortion of the Holy Scriptures, no worship, no reverence, and no iconography… they’re closer to Muslims than they are to Christians (yet, look at how they HATE Muslims… when they’re closer to them than they are to REAL Christians). On top of that, they proselytise with vigour amongst our faithful… sane people don’t put an adder to their breasts!

We ordained far too many converts without insisting that they have sufficient time amongst us and without insisting that they pursue a FULL Orthodox clerical formation (that DOES take YEARS). Look at poseurs such as Josiah Trenham, and you can get a feel for what I’m saying. It’s coming home to haunt us. I fear that we’ll have a schism… either, we must recapture Orthodoxy in its fullness, or we’ll degenerate into “Evangelicals with a liturgical itch” (Fathausen was a sterling exemplar of such, with his signature on the Extreme Rightwing and Anti-Church “Manhattan Declaration”).

As always, the choice is yours…

BMD

Monday, 15 December 2014

15 December 2014. A Point to Ponder

01 playing cards

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In bargaining, to say that a deal is off the table is actually part of the bargaining process.  For those already familiar with this point, please forgive that we must belabour this for a moment. This is true all over the world, but is a particularly known bargaining tactic in Eurasia and the Middle East.  It’s right to see that this tactic sees use in the Far West, even where the basis of the business culture tends to favour the proclivities and sensitivities of those in the Anglosphere.  Nevertheless, Slavs, Arabs, Turks, and Iranians do business differently.  Saying that a deal is off the table is neither rude, nor is it a deal breaker.  It’s also not limited to business, but also informs other spheres of life such as romance and friendships.  It’s an often-critical part of the deal-making process.  In a way that may seem counterintuitive to westerners, this actually builds trust.

Joaquín Flores

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Do you remember the scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the father angrily says “No” to the suitor of his daughter, but who ends by buying the couple a house before their wedding? That’s what Sr Flores is talking about! It’s one reason the konvertsy always garble what’s told them. The Church is Levantine in its very soul… even amongst non-Hellenic elements. It grew up in the Middle East, NOT in Western Europe, so, its way of doing business is very Near Eastern.

A “no” often means… “We’ll talk, but in a year or two… but not now”. This angers the zapadniki, as they think either that they’re getting an outright refusal or that the Church is stringing them along. Actually, the Church is wise. Oikonomia is a two-way street… not only does the Church extend its protection, but the recipient has to prove that they’re willing to stand by everything else that the Church holds and that they’re serious characters. One sign of seriousness is persistence even after an initial refusal. If the supplicant shows that they’re serious and that they’re not going to go away, then, the Church begins to talk in earnest. Why decide and risk the Church’s rep for some jabronie who’s going to leave anyway? The Church shouldn’t waste its cred in such a fashion… so, it usually doesn’t. Of course, there are those who attack every instance of oikonomia extended by the Church. That’s always been there… but if you look closely at most cases of oikonomia, you’d see that the recipient is following an implicit script (although unwritten, it’s traditional, and more binding than a legal contract).

Take Mark Stokoe, for instance. He’s the favourite punching bag of the konvertsy brats. Bishop Job Osacky extended his oikonomia… the toddlers haven’t stopping screaming for years. Yet, I’d notice that Mark doesn’t go against the Church publicly. Yes, I know that he’s an SVS fanatic, but the SVS bloc is still within the Church, whether you like it or not. In my Father’s House there are MANY mansions… remember WHO said that. As long as that’s so, as long as their notions remain uncondemned synodically, he isn’t a heretic or schismatic. As far as his homosexuality is concerned, the Church has a nuanced approach, and those who don’t like that can go off to a “purer” place, if they so desire. Mark’s an asshat… I’d agree with that, but he isn’t dishonest about his proclivities… that goes far in my book. He isn’t a Feodosy Lazor or Nikolai Soraich (Soraich’s close pal Brittain copped a plea to kiddie porn charges, if you recall).

That’s why I believe that I’ll ultimately get justice in the Church. It’s what it is, it’s what it’s been for two millennia, and it’s set in its ways. Once you realise that, everything else is a cakewalk. I’ve been a loyal parishioner of the same parish for ten years… are they perfect? Hey, the real Orthodox way is to flip that question over, “Am I perfect?” HELL NO!! I don’t preach at people, I don’t disturb what’s going on, and I’ve discovered that being on the “outs” isn’t the death sentence that some make it out to be. Often, it gives one a clearer view of the situation. The Church DOES move. Eppur si muove! It’s just not going to extend itself if you don’t extend yourself to meet it halfway. That takes time.

Remember the old Greek father… NO! That “no” turned into a loving embrace… when you realise that, you understand WHY the Church has been around for two millennia… ponder that, it’s meaty…

BMD

The entire piece containing the quote is here, it’s on the South Stream, and on why Russia is rerouting it through Turkey

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Malankara Patriarch Calls Upon Government to Ensure Religious Freedom

00 Malankara Baselius Mar Thomas Paulose. 13.12.14

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Catholicos Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose Paul, head of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, underscored the need for the authorities to take steps to ensure constitutionally given religious freedoms to uphold communal amity and secularism in India. On Friday, he talked to the media here to announce the valedictory of the 50th anniversary observance of the death of his predecessor Catholicos Baselios Gheevarghese Kallaserri, the pontiff said that while incidents of forced reconversion attempts and burning of churches reported from north India upset him, he viewed them as isolated incidents. The Catholicos, who had courted controversy by praising then-Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his administrative acumen during the run-up to the last general elections, said that he still stood by his earlier stance on Mr Modi.

He said that the important thing was for the government to put things in order and rein in the extreme fringes who engaged in such activities. He thought that unless those in power take steps to ensure the confidence of all sections of society, they wouldn’t be able to put the developmental agenda into practise. Reacting to a question, the Catholicos said that corruption pervaded society and the political leadership had to take corrective measures, noting, “People are losing faith in their leaders and the nation witnesses a major crisis on account of the leadership vacuüm, not only in politics, but in all sections of society”.

He observed that there was a dire fall in adherence to values and that unbridled consumerism had led to a scramble to make money at any cost. He believed that the political leadership wasn’t insulated from this trend, so they had to address the issue and take steps to regain the confidence of the people. Referring to the schism in the Church, the Catholicos said that he hadn’t received any information from the Patriarch of Antioch (Mar Ignatius Afram al-Tani Karim) regarding any peace moves. Reacting to a question, he said that the Orthodox Church thought that the government was moving back from its avowed policy on the liquor issue.

13 December 2014

The Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/ensure-religious-freedom-catholicos/article6688817.ece?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

Editor:

The Oriental and Eastern Orthodox form one sociological family. No, we’re not in communion, but we’re related, and far closer than we are with the papists. Russian Orthodox have always been friendly with Oriental Orthodox… much closer than the Greeks are. We wish them well… so should you…

BMD

Friday, 12 December 2014

Landmark Catholic Report Admits Celibacy Could Cause Child Abuse

01 child abuse

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A group of Australian archbishops admitted that obligatory celibacy could’ve contributed to child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, becoming the first-ever Catholic institution to acknowledge the potential link publicly. What used to be mostly voiced by the critics of the church has now been, albeit cautiously, formulated by its leaders. The report, released on Friday by the Truth, Justice, and Healing Council, which includes the Archbishops of Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra, and Adelaide, conceded, “Obligatory celibacy may also have contributed to abuse in some circumstances”. The council based its conclusion on two years of research. It held eight hearings, heard testimony from 50 witnesses, and examined 160,000 church documents. According to The Australian, the council’s chief executive, Francis Sullivan, said, “We’ve got to ask the question about whether celibacy was an added and an unbearable strain for some. It doesn’t mean that celibacy needs to be eradicated… let’s not turn the church on its head… but we’re saying you can’t have an honest and open discussion about the future without having an honest and open discussion about celibacy. We’re placing celibacy on the table”. The report says “psychosexual training” for priests could be enough to prevent child abuse in church.

The Australian study is in sharp contrast to American research in 2011, which found no connection between celibacy and child abuse. That report, commissioned by the American Catholic church and carried out by the New-York based John Jay College of Criminal Justice, stated, “The rise in abuse cases was influenced by social factors in society generally”. Critics then questioned if a study commissioned by the church and based on data provided by the church could actually be trusted. The Australian branch is being overwhelmingly self-critical in its report, which focused on what clerics did wrong to let abuse happen. Sullivan said it was important that the church “had the guts” to acknowledge it abused its power, including in dealing with sex scandals. The Australian report said, “Church leaders, over many decades, seemed to turn a blind eye, either instinctively or deliberately, to the abuse happening within their diocese or religious order, protecting the institution, rather than caring for the child”. Victims of child sexual abuse are sceptical that the report can actually change the church’s attitude to the issue, citing previous difficulties in trying to attain justice. Nicky Davis from the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests told ABC*, “The redress in a lot of cases was absolutely disgraceful and very very devious, and done in such a way to exploit the vulnerability and the damage that survivors had already suffered”.

* Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Ex-Holy See ambassador faces first Vatican child sex abuse trial

UN committee on torture slams Vatican over child sex abuse

2% of Catholic priests are paedophiles: Pope

12 December 2014

RT

http://rt.com/news/213755-catholic-celibacy-child-abuse/?utm_source=browser&utm_medium=aplication_chrome&utm_campaign=chrome

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