Voices from Russia

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Deacon Andrei Kuraev is Upset that Believers are Reading Pseudo-Spiritual Books


Deacon Andrei Kuraev (1963- ), professor at the MDA and popular preacher

Deacon Andrei Kuraev, a professor at the Moscow Theological Academy (MDA) expressed his misgivings over the fact that many Orthodox believers are interested in pseudo-spiritual literature. “Now, since we have such a glut of information, we can easily consult a book about the Holy Elders or any book by St John Chrysostom. Frequently, however, it turns out that many people choose to read those lives of saints that contain pseudo-prophecies about the end of the Light, instead of reading the writings of Chrysostom and the Bible”, Deacon Andrei stated at a press conference in Moscow for the release of the popular scientific book The Apocryphas (works not included in the biblical canon: Interfax) of Old Russia (Apokrify Drevnei Rusi). Medieval chronicles on the events of church history form the basis of the book.

Fr Andrei expanded on his thoughts in a discussion with our Interfax-Religion correspondent. “The apocryphas of Old Russia dealt with the most needful topics, speaking about the faith and biblical subjects. They are a fundamentally-different phenomenon from contemporary “apocryphas”, which relate the intimate life of Alla Pugachyova (a famous Russian singer: editor’s note) or they are about all sorts of pseudo-Orthodox elders and mystics. This is a sign of a terrible drop and degradation in our consciousness, for Christ is uninteresting, even to those who go to church”, he stated. In his view, in Old Russia, “there were only a few sources of information that went from the Church to the faithful and from one person to another. Therefore, any attempt at learning or thinking was important”. Deacon Andrei noted that the apocryphas of Old Russia “were often criticised in the Church, but, they were the evidence of a genuine spiritual search”.

Today, Deacon Andrei believes that “a conscious imitation of apocryphal thinking has now appeared, as is shown by the books Diagnostiki Karmy (The Diagnostics of Karma), Otkroveniya Angelov-Khranitelei (The Revelations of the Guardian Angels), and others like them. It is possible to find hundreds of books, whose covers are decorated with Orthodox symbols, but, their contents are far from actual Orthodox morals and dogma. Their authors are not the naïve creators of the old folklore, who were sincere in their spiritual quest and wrote honestly of them. Rather, they are those who have a mercenary intent, for, sadly, most genuine church writers find it difficult to state things in the language of common people”. He went on to say, “The clumsiness of our writers and pastors in expressing the teaching of the Church leaves people defenceless before the mercenary rapaciousness of these poseurs”.

19 November 2008



Editor’s Note:

This is why the present Russian situation is so relevant to us in Orthodoxy in America. There is a vile little bit of prelest quite common in Russia. It is called “Young Eldership”. That is, neophytes get their hands on the Fathers before they are ready for them (the worst example being neophytes expatiating on the Philokalia, a spiritual fraud of the first order), or, they get hold of frankly pseudo-spiritual writings. Since such people lack maturity and discernment, they can go down odd roads. In Russia, there are grounded clergy and laity to pull such sorts down to earth.

Unfortunately, in the US, since we are so few, there are fewer constraints on the neophytes. If you wish an object lesson, look at the Antiochians. When you reflect that Frederica Matthewes-Green, one of their main publicists, spoke in favour of Uniatism, one can see how shallow their formation in the faith is. All grounded Orthodox know that Uniatism is a fraud of the Church of Rome, established to seduce Orthodox Christians to papalism. Therefore, this person’s defence of such a questionable institution casts doubt as to her groundedness.

I believe that many of the Anglo-Saxon neophytes are quite sincere folk. Unfortunately, they are promoted far too quickly; one often sees these “shake n’ bakes” ordained soon after their reception. Then, they write tripe full of all sorts of patristic quotes proving nothing. They create works that are, in Deacon Andrei’s words, “It is possible to find hundreds of books, whose covers are decorated with Orthodox symbols, but, their contents are far from actual Orthodox morals and dogma”.

Well said, Deacon Andrei! Let those with ears, hear!



Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: