Voices from Russia

Thursday, 18 December 2014

18 December 2014. Yesterday was the “Angel Day” for All the Barbaras Out There

00 St Barbara. Russian. 18th century.

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01k Angel Day

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Yesterday was the “angel day” (Name Day) for all the Barbaras in the world (I guess that includes me, too!). OOPS! I had a note to myself on my machine, but I had “writer’s block” big-time yesterday. I just couldn’t come up with anything. It happens sometimes… you just sit back, let it run its course, and things DO return to normal. I’ve gotten over it and I seem to be as full of P&V as always! It’s interesting… my angel day is 17 December and Nicky’s is 19 December (St Nicholas the Wonderworker of Myra)… there’s only two days difference. However, our birthdays are six months apart (mine is 8 April and Nicky’s is 16 October).

Raise a glass and cheer for all the Barbaras in the world. We emulate our heavenly exemplar, who’s the patron saint of miners and hard work… ponder that. Two years ago, I wrote:

St Barbara is venerated widely amongst our traditional parishes. Almost every old-school Russian Orthodox parish in America and Canada has an icon or stained glass window of her. That’s because she’s “the patroness of COAL MINERS and all who toil in the bowels of the Earth”. Many of our working-class forebears asked for, and received, her intercession and protection from harm. Have you noticed how, in certain quarters, she’s ignored and no longer honoured with liturgies on her day? Are some of us ashamed of the coal dust and sweat on their dede’s back? Are others so disdainful of the founders of our parishes that they deliberately turn a blind eye to Baba’s sacrifices? On top of that, do the half-converted Anglo new arrivals even consider these hard-scrabble “Polacks” and “Hunkies” worthy of respect (without the efforts of these solid working-class folk, there’d be no Church for these upper-middle “searchers” to come to)?

Three years ago, I wrote:

It’s why we have to continue the fight today. Our Orthodox forebears fought the good fight… it’s why our generation was blessed with prosperity. At present, the GOP and the teabaggers are trying to smash everything that our Orthodox grandparents won through a hard and arduous struggle. Don’t forget their legacy… it’s our past! Ask for St Barbara’s intercessions… she’ll point to our grandparents and say to us, “Do likewise”. That’s what we should do… it’s how we can honour not only their legacy, but Christ’s mandate to us to build a fair and just society. God wills it!

I haven’t changed my mind. Cheers to all of you!

Бог благословит!

BMD

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

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

10 December 2014. Western Media Pumps Up Inconsequential Event… AGAIN!

00 eye of sauron. moscow. 10.12.14

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Read this. SHUDDER! The Evil Eye is going up over Moscow! Firstly, there’s no news of this on patriarchia.ru… that means that there’s nothing official said on the official website. Watch all the usual cast of suspects (Whiteford, Dreher, Monomoron, et al) make the usual noises over nothing at all, over something that doesn’t even go bump in the night! Govorit Moskva is an oldies/talk station, and Archpriest V A Chaplin, the Chairman of the MP Synodal Department for the Coordination of Church and Society (OVTsO), is a known wit, raconteur, and punster, with an active sense of humour and puckish attitude. He also has a sarcastic and ironic side… which one has to take into account. Charlie LOVES a good joke on the pompous and self-important… this smells like one of his “goofs” on the gullible.

April’s Fool (in December)! Watch this grow and become a konvertsy urban legend…

BMD

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