Voices from Russia

Friday, 19 December 2014

19 December 2014. It’s St Nicholas Day… The First Day of the Holidays

00 st nicholas 01. 19.12.14

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00 st nicholas 03. 19.12.14

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00 st nicholas 02. 19.12.14

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Today is the beginning of the holiday season. The holidays run from St Nicholas Day until Epiphany on 19 January, via New Year on 1 January and Christmas on 7 January.  It’s my Nicky’s angel day…

BMD

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

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

Thursday, 11 December 2014

11 December 2014. Cabinet Reactions to Mollard’s Ad Limina… Sans Commentary

00 Tikhon Mollard and Ilarion Alfeyev. Moscow. 03.12.14

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I have it on very good authority that His Holiness the all-Russian patriarch laid down the Law on the OCA regarding Renovationism and lax morals (especially, the brewing homosexuality issue). His Beatitude agrees with HH… HH promised him every support. However, this means that they’re throwing down the gauntlet and it’s going to get ugly.

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I wonder why about this whole silly trip. Still can’t find anyone who has a clue. Was this a favour to Antioch so that their Patriarch wouldn’t have to receive Mollard in any official capacity?

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[Mollard] looks very angry… surely, the Patriarch isn’t on JP’s side! In other matters, just wait until the Arabs in the Antiochian Archdiocese start their backlash against the converts… Philip kept them in line with an iron fist…

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NO ONE KNOWS what went down in private. I’ll only say that I don’t know… but we’ll find out in due course, and it’ll be sooner, rather than later. Patience, kiddies… pass me the jug…

BMD

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