Voices from Russia

Friday, 30 May 2008

Singing the Lord’s Song in a New Land: The Faces of Holy Russia in America. The third panel of the triptych “The Faces of Holiness”

Editor’s Foreword:

Part Three of The Faces of Holiness covers the Orthodoxy brought to America by the Russian immigrants. In many ways, most of us have preserved the traditions and practises of Holy Russia in America. The numbers of those who wish to move us in a Protestant direction are small, thank God, and they are not representative. Most of us wish to be reunited with the Church in the homeland, for Russia is a bastion of Christianity (some believe it to the last such remaining), whereas America is the foremost stronghold of atheist Positivism, an exact flip-flop from twenty years ago. If you look at these photos, presented without commentary, you shall see that we are definitely “Russian Orthodox”, no matter what some arrogant pseudo-intellectuals and deluded converts think. The call of the blood is strong… the call of the New Martyrs and the call of our departed ancestors. Moscow is calling… we should listen.

BMD

*****

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

You can see my Nicky behind the fellow in the blue shirt on the left (the middle-aged fellow with the glasses)…

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

There’s no place like home… shouldn’t we start back today?

Vara Drezhlo

Friday 30 May 2008

Aurora Borealis: The Shining Faces of St Herman’s Children. The second panel of the triptych “The Faces of Holiness”

The Faces of Holy Russia gave me an idea. It is going to form part of triptych, The Faces of Holiness. This second panel of the ensemble focuses on the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska and its predominately native faithful.

Russian missionaries brought Orthodoxy to Alaska when it was known as Russian America, in the 19th century. Some practises of the Alaska Church are unique, but, that is not uncommon in the Orthodox oikumene. They are organic growths of the Faith that matured over the two centuries that Orthodoxy has lived in the Alaskan soil. Unlike some other “growths”, which are the mere notions of intellectuals, the customs found in Alaska are the result of the Faith lived by good and simple people with pure hearts.

You see, they live in a seemingly-harsh environment that they love (for it is THE LAND). They belong there (for they are THE PEOPLE). They have a rootedness lacking in American suburbanites (for where they live is THE PLACE). The lack of modern “amenities” does not bother most (for that is the way of it in THE LIFE). Most of all, they have a clear belief in God and His bounties (for such is THE FAITH).

No, we are not speaking of a pastoral idyll. The native people have their problems and sins to grapple with, as all of us do. They are neither “saintly savages” nor “drunken injuns”. Rather, they are ordinary folks who live a distinct and special life amongst the rays of the Northern Lights. This is my tribute to them and their Faith. They have wandered the least from ordinary Orthodoxy (if they have wandered at all) of anyone in the OCA. They deserve to lead the Church back home… they have earned it.

BMD

*****

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

******

*****

These are people whom God has tested…. they have proved their mettle. May God preserve these lovely folks.

Bog blagoslovit.

Vara Drezhlo

Friday 30 May 2008

“May I have a word with you?”

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

There has been some interesting, albeit uninformed and inaccurate, posting on OCAnews.org in the comments section. I believe that it is time to set the record straight. I have removed the names of the commenters (if given), for these people are private individuals and deserve to have their anonymity protected. In addition, by doing so, I avoid making personal comments. This means that any disagreement expressed is against an idea (ad rem), not against a person (ad hominem). I would advise Mr Stokoe to remove names from the comments on his site, for the nastiness of the Syosset/SVS mafia is legendary. It is the best thing he could do for his audience (besides being common courtesy).

These comments are indicative of the notions and fairy-tales circulating amongst OCA “true-believers” at present. One should note that the readership of this site is unrepresentative of the whole, being biased towards clergy, Anglo-Saxon converts, and an older crowd that came of age in the “silly ‘60s”. Caveat auditor.

*****

Post 1:

At the 2004 Evangelization Conference, Father Jonathan Ivanoff (OCA, Department of Evangelization) briefed that “The OCA in the continental US has been declining between 6 and 9% for nearly 20 years. The OCA’s Census population in 1994 was 29,775; in 2004 it stood at 27,169. And this is just in the continental U.S., not including Alaska, Canada or the ethnic dioceses.”

“Some more statistics: In the past ten years, 177 parishes have declined in membership or have had flat (i.e., no) growth. Of this number, 148 parishes declined in double digits. Collectively, this represents a loss of 6,129 people, while those churches that are gaining in membership showed an increase of 2,960 people (note: remember, these figures represent adults only).”

“We are not reaching America! While the overall American population has increased by 11% from 1990 to 2000, the OCA’s reported membership declined by 13%.”

According to the 2006 edition of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, the OCA has 1,064,000 members, an increase of 6.4 percent from 2005. This figure places the OCA as the 24th largest Christian denomination in the United States, and second to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. It should be noted that these figures were self-reported. However, a study by Alexei D. Krindatch of the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute, performed in 2000, presented a substantially lower figure—115,100 adherents (baptized Orthodox who attend services on at least an occasional basis and their children) and 39,400 full members (persons older than 18, paying annual Church membership fees). If you take out the Albanian, Bulgarian and Romanian numbers, the figures are very much in line with Father Ivanoff’s: 29,600 full members (and 76,000 adherents).

Incidentally, the Krindatch study showed 41,840 full members and 83,700 adherents in the Antiochian Archdiocese, the fastest growing Orthodox body in America. This makes the Antiochians the second largest Orthodox body behind the Greek Archdiocese.

Reply:

Firstly, Professor Krindatch is not an employee of the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute. He is a Moscow-based member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, working at the Institute of Geography, Centre for Geopolitical Studies. The inaccurate attribution comes from a poorly-researched and badly-written article in Wikipedia on the OCA. It looks like the EP is up to its usual tricks in taking credit for things that they did not initiate or finance. I repeat, this EP centre did not commission the study; it merely placed it up on its website, something entirely different.

Also, note that Mr Ivanoff supposedly issued his figures in 2004. Why was he silent when the OCA issued false figures in 2006? He is no hero, he is complicit in the Syosset cover-up, and he is silent when it is convenient for him. I would say that 27,169 is not 1,064,000! In other words, Mr Ivanoff is an opportunistic apparatchik looking to preserve his pay packet. When one looks at his photo on the OCA website, one sees a very non-Orthodox figure that looks like an Anglican. That is not unimportant.

You see, Mr Ivanoff did not release his figures to the public in 2004. If he knew the truth, he had an obligation to speak. He did not, for that would have put his situation in jeopardy, and “it doesn’t matter how many Orthodox there are” (a statement I heard Peter Gillquist make once). In any case, Mr Ivanoff’s figures do not add up, they are valueless as a result.

For example, he said that that there was a gross loss of 6,129 and a gross gain of 2,960, resulting in a net loss of 3,169. 3,169 subtracted from 29,775 is 26,606 not 27,169. A 13 percent loss from 29,775 results in 25,904, not 27,169. In short, these figures are something “the blacksmith’s apprentice ran up whilst the smith was out”. GIGO.

If the OCA has declining some 6 to 9 percent (per annum?) for the last 20 years, why has this not been addressed at the OCA sobors? I would say that such a haemorrhage deserved discussion, and Mr Ivanoff had the obligation to bring it up. He remained silent, so, by silence, he was complicit in the cover-up. He proved himself unworthy of any position of trust by this. Was he afraid of Leonid Kishkovsky and the SVS mafia?

This comment shows the shallowness of most OCA true-believers. They are hoping that if they rearrange the deckchairs often enough, the Titanic shall stop sinking. If the Titanic sinks (which it shall do, for the breach is fatal), they shall jump to the AOCANA, which shall only accelerate that body’s departure from normal and ordinary Orthodox standards and traditions (any group that has a layman as its Chancellor is only Orthodox in name, unfortunately).

*****

Post 2:

Professor Meyendorff submitted some time ago that at the AAC in November, all of the current hierarchs submit their resignations. Then, each diocese on the floor, either re-vote their hierarch in or out. If out, then new candidates be submitted for a vote at the AAC or after. Same for the Metropolitan. Well, how about this same action be a MANDATORY act every 4 years at every AAC? Then, like a bad President, he’s only in for 4 years. Those released can either serve a parish, go to a monastery or retire (with limited benefits).

Reply:

This is monstrous. It is an advocacy of pure Protestantism. The bishops do not serve at the whim of the mob. This is a clear illustration of how deeply many are infected with American Protestantism and Positivism. No matter if one likes it or not, Orthodoxy is diametrically opposed to American “democratic” whims and notions. A “new world” needs to be born in the heart of a convert in order for them to truly enter into the Church’s mindset. This takes about ten years, per the statement of a wise Dutch nun, herself a convert. Many are ordained before this “seasoning” is complete, and even more are unwise enough to read theology whilst they are still neophytes. Is there any wonder that prelest walks proudly amongst us?

*****

Post 3:

To make matters worse, it is not just the OCA that is in crisis, but most of the Orthodox world as well. After some 1,700 years of woefully accepting Satan’s offer, which our Lord rejected in the desert, the alliance of Church and State is back in vogue in Russia and elsewhere. As much as I admire Mark Harrison, I reject his notion that Russia, or the Old World, have much to offer as an example to North America at this time and at this place in history. At least we practice what should be the cardinal Christian virtues of religious freedom and respect for its corollary–Free Will. And however imperfectly, we place a high value on Truth and ascertaining the truth above all else. Sadly, the Church frequently hasn’t, albeit in the name of some greater good (how pathetic).

Reply:

This is a statement that the small band of OCA stalwarts are the last “true Orthodox” left in the world. All others are compromised by their “collaboration” with the “world”. Note well that no examples are given. “And however imperfectly, we place a high value on Truth and ascertaining the truth above all else”. What bilious rot. This person is placing themselves up as a judge of all other Orthodox. I would say rather that people such as Patriarch Aleksei Rediger, Archbishop Vikenty of Yekaterinburg, Fr Vsevolod Chaplin, and Deacon Andrei Kuraev work with the authorities so that the Word of Christ can shine forth. What is wrong in that? This is a person who believes in Positivism and “democracy”, not Orthodoxy. Russia has much to offer to America. In particular, it offers a time-tested and venerable tradition of lived Orthodoxy lacking in most American converts. I would ask, “Where is the American Butovo Field?” There is none. Americans have not shed their blood for Christ, Russians have. That DOES end the discussion.

By the way, do NOT bring up St Peter the Aleut the New Martyr. He was murdered by the Franciscans before either Alaska or California were part of the USA. In this particular sense, in this discussion, he belongs ONLY to the native people of Alaska, so, Syosset cannot trot him out as an example of “American” martyrdom. He is the pre-eminent saint of the ALASKAN Church, which has always had a distinct identity from the “lower 48” OCA. To use him in such a way is blasphemy.

*****

Post 4:

You are so right about the Orthodox Church in Russia. I have a Serbian friend/doctor who has spoken of how often the Patriarch meets w/Putin. I also like to read some of the Russian Orthodox web sites and they are always having articles/pictures of the Patriarch with Putin – and a lot of times hosted at the Patriarch’s residence. I’m sure the Patriarch is walking a fine line trying to restore Orthodoxy to its former glory in Russia but I just hope he isn’t sacrificing integrity w/Putin.

Reply:

Why shouldn’t the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia have a close relationship with the secular ruler of Russia? After all, Vladimir Vladimirovich is a sincere Orthodox Christian, as is his wife Ludmilla. This person is attacking an Orthodox archpastor for cooperating with an Orthodox statesman, one who is considered in most of the world both a better leader and better human being than the amoral monster George W Bush. In any case, as Orthodox, we believe that there is a symphonia between the Church and the state. They work together closely and in concord, each in its own sphere. We are not papists who arrogantly assert that the Church is “above” the state.

*****

There one has it. Amazing, ain’t it? Instead of making a text reply, I would like you to look at the following photo-essay, The Faces of Holy Russia. If you do not wish to be part of the healthy Church of Russia, I suggest strongly that you go to the loopy Angliochians. There, you can experiment to your heart’s content, and indulge in your desire to be an American Protestant in all but name. THAT is the choice laid before us.

You may stand with Russia, or you may stand for Protestantism, Positivism, “Democracy”, and Uniatism. It is that simple.

God save us all.

Vara Drezhlo

Friday 30 May 2008

The Faces of Holy Russia. The first panel of the triptych “The Faces of Holiness”

I believe that the following photos need no commentary. Don’t you want to be united with such great Orthodox Christians in the same house? I do! What about you?

Each photo is credited with the name of the photographer. What follows is from the homepage of this website.

BMD

*****

Orthodoxy Foto is a project with the vocation to unite photographers in the task of testifying to the Truth and Beauty of Orthodoxy to the world by the means of Photo Art. Undoubtedly, in our opinion, photography, as an integral part of modern art, must serve that great purpose that any true art aspires to, basing itself on high Christian values.

“Christianity has formed a truly great culture of humanity that aims at unification with God, but, one that does not disrespectfully neglect Him and His Holy Will. It invariably affirms that works of art are alive only when they help a person find unity with God, though a constant cutting off of all pernicious passions from one’s soul and body, the main of which are arrogance, love of power, and the call of lustful flesh”. (Priest Mikhail Khodakov. Whether we return to God? Moscow, 1998).

This thought of Fr Mikhail Khodakov gives us a true criterion to define such an endeavour as Orthodox Photo. In our opinion, Orthodox Photography is an art that makes us think over Eternity and Death. Hence, it makes us think over the sense of Life, arousing sympathy and aversion towards injustice, giving us peace of mind, silence, and bright joy through the contemplation of the Beauty and Harmony of God’s creation…

It’s clear that the subject-matter of the photographs posted on the site can’t be limited to any formal boundaries, as God can’t be limited to any boundaries in His manifestation to the world…

“There is no God for those people who are looking for Him corporeally, because He is invisible, but, for those who think spiritually, He is everywhere, because He is over all. He is everywhere and nowhere at the same time, that is why He is close to those who fear Him, but, sinners are far from His salvation”. (St Simeon the New Theologian. Theological, Speculative, and Practical Chapters. Moscow, 1998).

Orthodoxy Foto

Aleksandr Shurlakov

http://photo.orthodoxy.ru/gallery/shurlakov/english/indexauto.htm

*****

Aleksandr Ainetdinov. Two Generations

******

Aleksandr Krasotkin. Baptism

******

Aleksandr Krasotkin. First Communion

******

Aleksandr Osokin. Unto Such as These Belong the Kingdom of Heaven

******

Alla Dobrsotskikh. Grandma’s Prayer

******

Deacon Dmitri Voznesensky. Perhaps, That’s the Way to be…

******

Fr Aleksandr Ivlev. Nursing Sister

******

Fr Nikolai Katalnikov. Spiritual Affinity

******

Irina Sharova. Needlework

******

Ivan Vasiliev. Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, Belaya Tserkov

******

Ivan Vasiliev. Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, Belaya Tserkov

******

Ivan Vasiliev. Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, Belaya Tserkov

******

Kaliningrad Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Blessing

******

Konstantin Khodakovsky. There’s a Bird!

******

Pavel Bezrukov. You Must Be As a Child

******

Vitaly Tsypnyatov. Before the Mystery

******

Vitaly Tsypnyatov. Faith

******

Yelena Povyshova. Spas-na-Krovi, Yekaterinburg (the Church of Christ the Saviour on the Spilled Blood), a memorial to the tsar and his martyred family. Tsar-Martyr St Nikolai was the generous benefactor of the American Church; we owe him a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid in full.

*****

Didn’t that just move you to tears? If not, you have a heart of stone.

It is time to come home.

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Friday 30 May 2008

Albany NY

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.