Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

“A Priest Forever, After the Order of Melchisadek…”

Filed under: Christian,Orthodox life,religious,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

A Deacon (Andrei Ryabushkin, 1888)

One of our priests sent me a comment recently. I would like to share it with you. I am not putting it in the “comments” section to preserve his anonymity, for the nastiness and incivility of the Syosset/SVS/AOCANA Mafia is well-known.

As for the cancer that infects the OCA, we all know too well that it goes back 30 years to when the SVS elite micro-managed the election of Metropolitan Theodosius, which was supposed to propel us forward, and for a time it did. But, the SVS-St Sergius elite were going to transform Orthodoxy by forcing the hand of God. We can all see how well the tenure of Metropolitan Theodosius has tarnished the OCA and has contributed to its demise. RSK is not the only devil here, but, that’s the only thing that OCAnews dwells on. There are so many more that played a part in this pyramid scheme. It has finally come crashing down to earth.

Schmemann and his clan hated monasticism and they loathed St Tikhon’s because it was the only thing blocking their total transformation and creation of an American Orthodox Church.

The Scarsdale-Paris conglomeration was an ill-fated disease forced on the rest of the Church. The OCA, the GOA, and the Antiochian Archdiocese are all stricken with the same neo-Gnostic fatal illness. Is it any wonder why God has worked a miracle by bringing the ROCOR and MP together? The world and World Orthodoxy have need of this for the sake of renewal and the salvation of Orthodoxy. Look at the evil machinations of the EP. Bartholomew has already bowed down before the Pope, and the hierarchy in the USA just flock to the Pope’s invitation, on Palm Sunday no less. It’s just a matter of time before Bart and his princes are awarded red cardinal hats. God help us. Is it still a mystery why things have recently happened as they are?

The OCA should try to save face and just admit failure. The experiment is over. The explosion has occurred, the pieces are charred, black, and smell of death. But, alas, pride and prelest are still beating in the heart of the OCA. God alone knows what will happen in the future, but I pray it happens soon before the faithful loose hope and fall away.

There one has it. Beware the purveyors of “happy talk” and be suspicious of all who speak of “moving on”, “mediation”, and other such psychobabble rot. Our clergy do not speak because they rightly fear that they would be punished. Reflect on the fact that our priests see who is rewarded in the present state of the OCA. They are not stupid men; they see that only the sycophants, true-believers, and apparatchiki benefit from the current régime, whereas anyone who speaks out is attacked, and, what is worse, one’s family and friends are savaged as well. I weep for them, for their position is almost untenable.

I would say to His Holiness Patriarch Aleksei, “Intervene, sir, and abrogate the Tomos immediately. The faithful are suffering and Christ’s priests are oppressed by theomachistic elements who garb themselves in the holy robes of the clergy. Act quickly, sir”.

Yes, act quickly, Your Holiness. May God go with the courageous priest who wrote the above comments. Bog blagoslovit.

Vara Drezhlo

Tuesday 27 May 2008


27 May 2008. A Thought from Fr Vsevolod…

Fr Vsevolod Chaplin (1968- ), zamglavy of the MP DECR

Does sin change? Has it become transmuted in our contemporary world? The reasons for sin remain the same as they were many thousands of years ago. These are pride, lust, perversity, greed, hatred, and selfishness. However, the main cause is a lack of connection with God and the refusal of his Paradise. Of course, the outer circumstances of life change, and supposedly new sins are truly old in their essence. Earlier, the worshippers of the passions were fascinated with bones and maps, whereas today they are wedded to virtual reality. In ancient times, those who haughtily attempted “to enlarge the scope of human nature” turned to witchcraft and the black arts. Today, they abuse science with their experimentation upon genes and organs.

The nature of sin is changed by new and powerful means for its propaganda. At one time, people concealed their sin, but, today, it is paraded for show and calls for the masses to take part in it. The very concept of sin has begun to irritate some “leaders of public opinion”. They declare it an outdated legacy of the gloomy Middle Ages and claim that it should not be spoken of in normal polite society. If you dare to speak of sin openly, you shall be silenced in the schools, in most of the media, and in public debate. What was considered, until very recently, sin, is now considered a way of self-realisation of personality. Not without reason did Catholic Bishop Gian-Franco Girotti, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary (the papal board that has responsibility for questions of repentance) once say, “The sins of our time have social resonance… the reason for that is the overwhelming phenomenon of globalisation. Now, it is important, as it never was before, for us to focus our attention on our sins, because their consequences are more significant and more destructive than they were earlier”.

It is difficult not to agree with this. When sin comes in “robes of light”, and declares itself the standard, people lose their immunity to it. Only over the course of time, all too often when it is too late, people begin to understand the truth. Sin always leads to misfortune and destruction. It does not matter if it is an “old sin” or a “new sin”, or shameful and wild indulgence, or something “fashionable and trendy”. Only those with inner understanding of their own fate, who do not surrender to the television, shall escape.


I have frequent arguments with Catholic theologians on natural moral law. Scholastic theology describes it as an indelible deposit of standards placed into the soul of man by God. For me, it is quite obvious that moral feeling and conscience are present in all of us, even the most inveterate sinner. People do understand how sin enters our lives; it enters through a confusion of the moral sense. However, can we call this sense a law? Is it a self-evident deposit of universal moral rules that subsist without exhortation, without education, or without social conditioning of an individual by society?

It is well-known that many ancient societies considered the murder of parents, promiscuous and degenerate sex, suicide, and cannibalism “normal”. Only Christianity taught against these things and, indeed, brought them to an end. Let us look at the contemporary “civilised” world. Conjugal infidelity and homosexuality are declared quite “normal”, which opens the road to euthanasia, paedophilia, and insatiable greed. Many are convinced that things that were once considered sin are now commonplace. So, where does one find the evidence of a firm law here?

The Apostle Paul speaks of this “law” in clearer terms than does scholastic theology. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another (Romans 2:14-15). Thus, the discussion deals with “the law” and the “work of the law”, the conscience, and the inner conflict of the person struck by sin. After all, it is about the fact that the people who had not heard of Christ had “the work of the law written in their hearts”. However, if one studies the entire oeuvre of the Apostle, this “law” alone is not sufficient for salvation or for achieving the moral ideal.

In our world, where sin rules and the tenets of the Sermon on the Mount are rejected, where God and Paradise are despised, the natural morality spoken of by the Evangelists undergoes erosion because the supports for it are removed. Yes, some moral feeling remains. Yes, the voice of conscience cannot be completely muffled. However, to place one’s reliance on the stability of the natural moral law, and to assume that it is sufficient for our life in “secular” society, is naïve, at the least.


At the beginnings of the 90s, Western Christians brought much humanitarian assistance to Russia. This was a great help to our parishes, monasteries, and dioceses at a time when many were teetering on the verge of starvation. However, was all of this aid sincere? Were those who said, “they are buying souls with soup”, correct? I am confident that millions of simple people in the West rendered aid with a pure heart, requiring nothing in return. We should remember the efforts of the students who helped us to restore our ravaged churches, the parishioners who collected items to be sent to Russia as aid, and the church activists who came to help strangers in a distant land in a time of need, and left when it was over.

However, of course, there were those who came here with completely different motives. There were “missionaries” who required people to sign a paper joining them to the Protestant church when they received a meagre handout of canned goods. Sometimes, they transported young people free of charge to Europe or America, but, once there, without an adequate explanation, they tried to force them to take Catholic communion or participate in an “Evangelical circle” at a Pentecostal prayer-meeting.

The leaders of some of these “charity missions” would ask the recipients to pray with them. When Orthodox believers said that they could not do so, the “philanthropists” were offended and they refused to render any further aid. By the way, I believe there was no specific fraudulent intent here. These people did not know that we believe that not all of those who confess the Name of Christ can hold joint prayer together. We found out who our friends were. Some were our brothers and sisters in Christ, who understood the situation when we explained to them in a charitable manner why we do not pray with heterodox Christians. Others turned up their noses and refused to speak to us.


The Russian law “About the freedom of conscience and religious conscience” clearly states: “The designation of a religious organisation must contain information about its religion. Religious organisations are under the obligation to indicate its complete designation when engaged in any activity”. Unfortunately, no penalty for the transgressing of this statute is provided. As a result, there are those who use “confessional anonymity”. That is, missionaries do not say what church or sect they represent. Often, they assert that they preach a “general non-confessional Christianity”. Some even try to mimic Orthodoxy.

I once received an invitation to be part of a course on the study of the bible in the cinema. On the cover of the enclosed leaflet were an inscription in Old Slavonic type saying “Zaoksk Spiritual Seminary” and a photo of a professor with long hair and a beard. That the course was run by the Seventh Day Adventists, which I could deduce from the return address, was probably only realised by me. Moreover, I know that the Adventist seminary is in Zaoksk in the Tula oblast. The “Transarctic Christian Mission of Mercy” operates in the northern town of Revda. Its leaders give the impression that their social work concerning recovering druggies and dipsomaniacs is not connected with religious work. Yet, they simultaneously declare that their method involves labour and prayer. Naturally, the prayer is of the Pentecostal sort. If this is not deceit, what is it?

Vladimir Semenko wrote some insightful words on this very topic. “All conversations about the fact that some assert that ‘evangelism’ must be totally isolated from a specific confessional or socio-cultural tradition, since they believe that that the imposture protects Christ, explains why some use deceitful methods… To separate the Faith and the Gospel entirely from the cultural tradition of a given people means simply that one connects it with another tradition! For there shall be tradition used, and if it shall not be Orthodox, then, it shall, by necessity, be Protestant (for example)”. We should speak clearly and unambiguously concerning this. We should not be troubled in conscience about reporting their violations of the secular law, to say nothing of their disdain for the standards of Christian ethics.


The religious illiteracy that existed after the Soviet years was monstrous. A monk told me that, at the beginning of the 90s, a tour group visited a recently-reopened monastery. A properly-dressed lady looked piously at the icons and said to her companion, “For my grandmother, Nicholas the Merciful was god. My mum chose the icon of Kazan. As for me, I have selected the icon of Smolensk to be my god”. During the same period, I personally heard the following interpretation of a Baroque sculpture of the Archangel Mikhail dressed in a revealing tunic from a museum guide. “This sculpture is of a saint. God’s apostle, naked”.

The “educational level” of even church people was not high in those days. The monk I mentioned in my first example met on pilgrimage a venerable rural sexton and his wife. She said, “In Kiev, they were, the Mother Abbess took them there! There was the Cross and the relics laid out for us to venerate: the relics of St John the Theologian, St Barnabas the Martyr, and even of the Saviour Himself!” The monk asked her, “Mother, don’t you know about the resurrection?” She replied, “Ha! I tell you it was the Saviour Himself!” It’s great that such “revelations” are almost never heard anymore nowadays!

22 May 2008

Fr Vsevolod Chaplin

Zamglavy (Deputy Head) of the MP Department of External Church Relations

Pravoslavnaya Moskva (Orthodox Moscow)



Trying On Russian Ballet Pointe Shoes

Filed under: ballet,economy,performing arts,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

In the world’s 80 biggest cities, including Athens, Melbourne, Paris, Prague, Seoul, Sofia and Tokyo, a unique Russian product is on sale, ballet pointe, or toe, shoes. The prestigious journal French Dance said that the only drawback of these Russian ballet shoes is that a ballerina cannot do without them if she tries them on but once. True, Svetlana Zakharova and Diana Vishneva, prima ballerinas of Moscow and St Petersburg, use only these pointe shoes. According to French Dance, at present, the dancewear from the Grishko Company in Russia is amongst the world’s best.

Almost 20 years ago, when private business in Russia was just emerging, Nikolai Grishko, an economist by education, got a piece of advice from his wife, a dancer, to start a company producing ballet pointe shoes. The would-be businessman took a serious approach to the matter. He studied the structure and composition of ballet shoes used by stars of the past. By the way, he came to the conclusion that those shoes were very problematic. He compared them with sharp-nosed birds, adding that a woman cannot stand on her toes having such pointe shoes on. He consulted scientists of six research institutes, including an acoustics institute and a laboratory of starch products. As a result, a new model of pointe shoes was designed.

Nikolai Grishko gave us his viewpoint. “Our pointe shoes are durable. The secret lies in the glue used in making the toe box, the most solid part of pointe shoes. Seven layers of different fabrics are fastened together with special glue that we invented and make ourselves. Other characteristics of the model are flexibility, elasticity, and stability. We can put those pointe shoes on a table and they will stand balancing. No other model of ballet shoes produced in the world possess this characteristic. In addition, our craftsmen perform the most complicated operations manually”.

With pleasure, Nikolai Grishko remembered that during a foreign tour of the Moscow ballet, the Queen of Spain was asked what the toe boxes of ballet shoes are made of, what allows a ballet dancer to stand on her toes. The queen came up with numerous ideas, but, failed to guess that it is only fabric and glue. Here is another question. What do you think, how many pairs of shoes a ballerina needs for one performance? The answer is impressive… five pairs! This is because a ballerina covers up to 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) during one performance. So, pointe shoes should be hard-wearing and very comfortable. This is the aim of the Grishko Company.

Nikolai Grishko said that the work to perfect pointe shoes continues. At present, four leading theatres of Russia are testing the latest model of pointe shoes, the tests are expected to end in September. The new model will be 30 percent lighter than the previous ones. It will be even more elegant and durable. In addition, the shoes will be practically noiseless. That is, they have incorporated all best characteristics of different models of pointe shoes. No one managed to do such a thing before.

27 May 2008

Tatiana Kaperkina

Voice of Russia World Service


Russian Musicians at the Prague Spring International Festival

Filed under: art music,music,performing arts,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

Maestro Yuri Temirkanov (1938- ), Russian conductor

The Czech capital plays host to the Prague Spring international music festival, which will last until 4 June. At this traditional forum of classical music, Russia is represented by renowned conductor Yuri Temirkanov and the Symphony Orchestra of the St Petersburg Philharmonic Society, which he directs.

Part One, Ma Vlast, conducted by Rafael Kubelik

The Prague Spring festival has been held since 1946. It opens traditionally on 12 May. On this day, musicians from various countries, and this year they came from 25 countries, honour the memory of a founder of Czech classic music—composer, conductor and pianist Bedřich Smetána (1824-84). At the opening concert, his symphonic poem Ma Vlast (My Homeland) is always played. This is followed this year by over 60 concerts of outstanding soloists and orchestras, including the BBC Radio Symphony Orchestra, Prague Symphony Orchestra, the Festival Orchestra of Budapest, and many others. Audiences are most eager to listen to the performance of British “star” violinist Nigel Kennedy, who pays his first visit to Prague and Czech virtuoso pianist Ivan Moravec, who is expected to play Chopin during his solo concert.

Ivan Moravec plays Chopin

Over a month ago, all tickets were sold-out for a concert in Prague of the legendary St Petersburg Philharmonic Society; this is the name in Western Europe for the Orchestra of the St Petersburg Philharmonic Society. Conductor Yuri Temirkanov shall perform in Prague a programme of Russian classical music, a suite from Tchaikovsky’s ballet Lebedinoye Ozero (Swan Lake) (arguably, the best-known and most-loved ballet in the repertoire: editor’s note) and Symphonic Dances by Rachmaninov.

27 May 2008

Tatiana Zavyalova


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