Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

You Have the Right to Remain Silent…

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


One such fellow sent us a 7-page letter to the editor and demanded that we print it in full and embark upon a wide-ranging debate in the pages of our paper about why we were wrong. Needless to say, we didn’t do so. But, I have always wondered if there isn’t some tendency toward totalitarian thought among people like that. Probably, a nice guy otherwise, but, something about our resisting his “authority” rankled him.

Andrew Sabak

We have all met those who bloviate continually on “free speech”… how good it is… how much they are in favour of such… blah, blah, blah. There is one constant that I note in such sorts… you can say anything that you please… as long as it agrees with what they think is the truth. “You have a right to your opinion”… usually prefaces a rant demanding that one not only retract one’s statement, but, also remove it from public view and a demand to keep your mouth shut in future. A variation on this is, “I hate to criticise others, but…” This is nothing but weasel-words and mealy-mouthed hypocrisy. Such sorts do not “hate to criticise others”, but, since the therapeutese regnant amongst the overeducated states that “criticism” is a bad thing, they, of course, do not wish to do so… but, they MUST… because the object of their wrath is being so “nasty” to “nice” people.

One of my interlocutors recently started a post by saying, “I hate to criticise others”… I would say to that person, “Grow up! You wish to criticise me and you hate what I am saying against your idol. Be honest… be frank. Don’t be a phony and don’t be afraid of admitting unpleasant truths. You’ll feel better and be a better person to the others around you. In short, be less tight-arsed and overly-earnest… Disagree openly and without dissimulation… you will find that your opponents are often respectable folks (you might like them better than some of your allies… I have certainly found that true in life, dear) that will respect you for that. You’ll probably smile more and everyone will like you better”.

However, I think that Mr Sabak hits the nail precisely on the head with “I have always wondered if there isn’t some tendency toward totalitarian thought among people like that”. As for me, if you wish to disagree with me, well, I say that you should get to work and do your best! I don’t mind objective argument… note well that I do not bring up anything personal in my argumentation… anyone who replies in like kind is welcome. I would warn my readers that anyone who tries to destroy a thesis by ad hominem citations is beyond the pale and we must reject them out of hand as  uncivil and loutish people. Besides… ask yourself… why are they getting personal, especially when the original poster was not (note well that I do my best to protect the identities not only of my friends, but, of my foes also)?

Are there specific instances of “totalitarian thought among people like that?” Yes… I remember that after the death of Vladyki Cyprian in 1980, there was an incident at St Tikhon’s… a seminarian used “thee” to address God, and a modernist shoved him off the kliros… you see, the modernists insist that we use “you” instead of the more-traditional “thee”, and this seminarian’s action was just “infuriating”. No reason was given… those involved issued no apologies. This is how the Reonovationists imposed their liturgical innovations… in a nasty, cruel, and high-handed fashion. These are the people who the konvertsy praise and associate with… it makes me wonder how “traditional” they are… my Anglican friends assure me that many of those who convert to Orthodoxy are malcontents who tried their totalitarian shtick in their former confession, and failed. What’s that old saying…? Never buy a pig in a poke… It does seem to apply here.

Do be careful when listening to the totalitarians… they never tell the story in all of its fullness… then, they get upset if you add the missing detail… for instance, there was a fulsome (and disgusting) little blurb on oca.org pouring praise on Lyonyo Kishkovsky. You can see it at: http://www.oca.org/news/1974 (Here is a typical sentence from this tedious piece of fluff: He is especially recognised throughout the Orthodox world for his outstanding work in the field of inter-Church relations and ecumenical witness… doesn’t that make you wish to hurl?) It states that he has been rector of the OCA parish in Sea Cliff for 35 years… omitting the fact that there was a nasty court fight over the parish property and that most of the parishioners decamped for a new ROCOR parish founded after they lost their legal fight (Lyonyo was known for his personal nastiness in this case). It also omits to mention that Kishkovsky was head of the OCA DECR under Feodosy, Herman, and now JP… you see, JP claims that no major figure is left at Syosset from the former administration. THAT is a manifest lie and I shall say so openly. Totalitarian people not only lie by commission, they lie by omission as well… indeed, they may lie by omission more than they do by telling actual fibs. This is, perhaps, the most dangerous thing to watch for when you listen to totalitarians… do not attend to what they say openly as much as you should listen for what is left out.

You have the right to remain silent… to pay for the expenses of your betters… and to bow your head before their education and wisdom. After all, they only have your best interests in mind. The Church will be in danger if we tell you the story full and unexpurgated. Trust us… for everything has changed.


img_0001Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Albany NY

Editor’s Postscript:

I would like to thank Andrew Sabak for giving me the inspiration for this post. It all flowed easily once he gave me the central thesis of the argument. This is one of the more pleasant aspects of this work. I get to become acquainted with some very dear folk who spur me on to things that I couldn’t have thought of on my own. Vielen Dank! Ochen spasibo!


Vox Pop

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

Public Speaking

I have no obligation to give my opponents a forum… if you wish to express yourself, start your own site… no one is stopping you… certainly, not me! I was looking for an appropriate image to portray my angry interlocutors… isn’t this so à propos?

As it stands, there are those who believe that I am under obligation to offer a forum to those who disagree with me. I do not. If you wish to state your point of view on this subject, I suggest that you do as I do… develop your contacts, read extensively in the Russian press, keep up an active correspondence, go to Church when you can, and write daily. Practise DOES make perfect. Then, you must persevere… I had a spot of illness that necessitated a hiatus… but, I am back… with a new emphasis in my work (there is also a pressing situation that calls us all to arms… this is one of those times where slackers need not apply). Hmm… I say that one of the reasons that these sorts do not start their own sites is that they do not wish to do the hard work necessary to keep them up and build up a readership. However… they have a good deal to say about those of us who are labouring in the cyber-vineyard.

Let’s reiterate the good advice that I was given recently:

  • If they attack you, do not respond.
  • If someone asks for personal information, do not give it.
  • Do not respond to idiocy on other websites.
  • If attacks continue, note who makes them and what group they belong to.

This is why I spam most combative comments. One commenter, however, needed a firm reproof… one that they took badly (and tried to “move the goalposts”, to boot). There is no custom or canon in the Church mandating weekly attendance at liturgy. There are all sorts of just and legitimate reasons for one’s absence from liturgy. In any case, being officious and prying Nosey Parkers isn’t good, we shouldn’t meddle in the private domestic affairs of our fellow Christians. That is found, all too often, in Proddie converts, who carry over into Orthodoxy bad habits from their old confessions (and, I must add, these habits are not the best Protestant practise… most Protestants ARE better than that). One is, “X and Y display lax behaviour… that shall lead to their damnation… however, my zealous behaviour shall save me”. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

We should ask ourselves, “What is to be done?” As for me, I am glad when I see someone who has not been in liturgy for some time. It’s great! It means that someone is coming to worship Almighty God. To hear these nappy-clad konvertsy bloviate, you’d think that wasn’t a good thing. I don’t keep a scorecard… God knows that Nicky and I miss often enough due to his work. Another related complaint of the chronically Proddie is, “Those ethnic Orthodox are always late”. Sometimes, people live far away… amongst other things. God made the liturgy for us… we were not made for the liturgy (sound familiar, konvertsy? It’s what our Lord meant, dears). What are you going to do… bar the doors after the beginning of liturgy? God save us from such nonsense! I come to the liturgy for one reason only… because Almighty God is there.

I do NOT go to hear chanting… I do NOT go because of some guru priest… I do NOT go to look down upon my fellow Christians… I do NOT go for instruction (don’t these children understand that a church is a place of prayer? It is NOT a lecture hall like a Proddie establishment). I go to church because God is there… full stop! There is NO other reason for going. What does it matter to you how many times or at what time I show up? THAT tells me that you are not attending to prayer and giving a proper attention and reverence to God… remember, one of Satan’s most basic tactics is to lead someone to services so that they feel self-righteous and condemn their fellow Christians! The prelest inherent in most konvertsy complaints is manifest and glaring… that they are spiritual neophytes of the rankest sort is obvious to all. No doubt, I shall be called “nasty”, “mean-spirited”, and “cruel” for speaking up so… go ahead, say it! I am NOT alone. As a priest-friend of mine wrote to me, “Sock it to them!” I shall, batiushka, I shall. I know that you must remain silent about these mewling adolescent vipers because of your office… I know my duty and I shall NOT shirk it.

In any case, the konvertsy are not long for the Church. The reasons are interesting, but, they are, truly, a matter for another post… I shall not distort the topic by truncating it. There ARE enough good words to say on that, alone. They are not of us… they never were, for many never converted in their heart-of-hearts… they remained insolent and steadfast Proddies in their innermost being. Are most converts like that? It’s hard to say due to a lack of solid evidence (although the anecdotal evidence is damning), but, I do know of many who are not so… people like Pat Reardon and John Whiteford should know that I am not speaking of them. It shall be a repeat of the Brookline, Basil Osborne, and Agafangel Pashkovsky schisms… they shall go off and form their “pure” church… and squabble and split and split yet again. Sad… isn’t it? But… you can’t talk to such sorts… they prefer to worship a “god” of their own creation and not the Creator of all Heaven and Earth. I say let them go… I fear that they shall have no “peace” or find no “answers”.

As for me… “Give me that old-time religion… it was good enough for the Butovo Martyrs… it’s good enough for me”.

img_0001Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Albany NY

Editor’s Postscript:

Many sincere and unfeigned thanks to my opponents… your words got my brain in gear… and transmuted your ignorance and bile into pure gold. My friends inspire me, but, my enemies do so to a greater degree! Reflect on THAT…

Oh… I’m STILL smilin’… your words had NO effect save to stimulate my thought… I have a THICK skin… you tend to develop that in the Church…

Hier Stehe Ich… Ich Kann Nicht Anders… Gott Helfe Mir!

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

hand writing on a pad

There’s a division in my “mail”… it’s rather even, in fact. Half you of you believe that I belong in a home for the feeble-minded, and the only reason that I’m not there now is negligence on the part of my doctor. The other half believe that I’m not afraid to post on touchy issues, being willing to face whatever comes my way in consequence. Well… I’m neither a demon nor an angel… I’m a rather ordinary human-being… with one striking characteristic. I’ve never been to abide pure and unadulterated bullshit. There’s no other way of describing it, I’m afraid. If the guilty party is a clergyman, clerical status doesn’t exempt him from the results flowing from his action.

To kick this off properly, let me tell you what this website is and what it isn’t. It IS a secular blog maintained by an Orthodox laywoman that often discusses religious themes. It’s NOT a church site (it’s certainly not an official church site, nor do I imply such) nor is it a “religious” site. The emphasis is journalistic, not hagiographic. DON’T lecture me on how to address this or that clergyman… I follow academic and journalistic norms… not those found in certain Church circles (to write the name of a bishop in all caps with a cross in front is a pretentious affectation, not simple respect)… clerics get the respect that they earn (those who have done so… receive it in full… those who haven’t… don’t get any… it’s quite that simple)!

Normally, I shy away from theology or the canons… I’m not trained in such. My academic training was in history, and my interest in the Church is in its life and history as an institution and its interaction with the secular world in the past and in the present. Just as Christ has two natures, one divine and one human, mystically united (don’t ask me for the details… I’m no theologian… go to the guys at the MDA for that one), the Church has two natures as well (it IS the Body of Christ, after all). I focus on the human side of the Church… you may dislike that. Fine! Read someone else who’s closer to your taste.

In Russia and Greece (and the other Orthodox countries, as well), there’s great interest on the part of secular journalists in the Church. Some are believers (as I am), some aren’t. Human nature being what it is (and if you wish to see classical illustrations of what sinful-ginful humanity is capable of, I’d tell you to watch the Church… we have our fair share of skullduggery and high-jinks!), there’s always something INTERESTING going on in some corner. Let’s see… Archbishop Nikon Mironov in Yekaterinburg had his hand in the till and the MP Holy Synod gave him the boot… Bishop Diomid Dzyuban of Anadyr rebelled against the Archpastoral Council of the MP and got the chop… The ROCOR Holy Synod caught Gleb Podmoshensky in naughty doings and deposed him (JP’s connection with GP was after the latter’s deposition)… Philaret Denisenko was laundering C-notes and he got the heave-ho (he then founded the “Kiev Patriarchate“, an uncanonical and false organisation)… Bobby K was kiting plastic up the yin-yang… Feodosy Lazor had sticky fingers (in more ways than one, I am afraid)… Eric Tosi claimed that four years’ worth of financial records “simply don’t exist”… and that’s just us Russkies (and this list is neither exhaustive nor complete)! My Greek friends tell me that it’s just as colourful a scene amongst them.

In short, the human side of the Church isn’t perfect… it never was… it never shall be. Oh, yes… EVERYBODY talks about it… so, don’t try to shut me up… I’m not hostile to the Church… I’m only hostile to phonies and bullshitters. Dishonest clerics do NOT negate the holiness of the Church… but, they DO make us all look like liars and cheats… that’s why we must expose them and chase them out! Conversely, the heroes deserve praise and exaltation! There ARE two sides to the coin.

Basically, there’s a set of people who get upset if someone doesn’t take every official Church statement as Gospel truth… in reply, I have a name for you… Vitaly Ustinov. In his earlier days, he was a vigorous and able bishop… unfortunately, he became First Hierarch of the ROCOR in 1986 when he was 75-years-old, obviously, many viewed him as a place-holder… God laughed! He served until his “resignation” in 2001 at the age of 91, and, then, led a schismatic body until his death at the age of 96 in 2006. I refer specifically to the most egregious thing done in any of the “Russian” churches… the ROCOR established parishes and dioceses on the canonical territory of the MP after the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991… they did this on the direct orders of Vitaly Ustinov (and many loudly supported it, including a faction at Jordanville, I’m afraid).

True, there were courageous clerics such as Archbishop Antony Bartoshevich of Geneva and Western Europe that openly and boldly condemned this vile and despicable action at the time (they were loudly condemned by the Vitalyist faction). They deserve glory and honour to their memories. There are fewer greater blots upon the history of our Church… it’s sad to relate, but, the ROCOR plunged a knife directly into the backs of our Russian confrères in the Faith just when they needed our aid and succour… just when they needed our aid and comfort in fighting against Papist and Protestant proselytism. The fanatics chased people out of the Church for opposing this, including clergy. The party-liners all shouted in unison, “The communists are still in power” (just like a Stalinist Party Congress, and that from so-called and self-proclaimed “anti-communists”… I see no difference between the two sorts… what do you think?)… I’d say that those who said that then are those who condemn those who question problematic official statements.

Interesting, no? Indeed, some of those who persecuted those who advocated reconciliation in the early ’90s later flip-flopped… I’d say that not all of these “conversions” were sincere, some of them did so to keep personal prerogatives and positions only, and that Vladyki Hilarion should keep his eyes and ears open in consequence. Not everyone is your friend, Vladyki… in your place, very few tell you the truth… you have my sympathy and support.

In short, if you wish to read cheer-leading… don’t stop here! If you wish me not to transgress the PC code of American suburbia and, above all, be “nice”… don’t say that I didn’t warn ya! This site deals with the real doings of the human side of the Church… if JP claimed that he had gotten rid of the lot of the higher-ups at Syosset… and Lyonyo Kishkovsky was at his side, still the head of the OCA DECR (as he’d been under Feodosy and Herman)… I’ll notice it! I’ll call it what it is… a bald-faced lie… and follow the trail to see if it leads somewhere (in this case, sadly, it did… to GP in Platina CA and RSK in Venice FL).

Yes, the title came from Martin Luther… yet, it is a good “mission-statement” for this site:

With God’s Help, I’ll take my stand… I can’t do otherwise (and stay honest to myself and my Lord).

To my friends:

Thank you for standing with me and by me. You make me realise that I’m not alone. I appreciate THAT.

To my enemies:

Reflect on this… you more often inspire me than anything else. Thank you (I mean that without sarcasm or irony… you don’t know how much you unintentionally shine a spotlight on certain things!). You’ve forgotten the Law of Unintended Consequence. CHECKMATE.

Remember… the Lord loves a HAPPY warrior… are you such? Or, are you unsmiling, overly-earnest, tight-arsed, anal-retentive, passive/aggressive, and/or self-righteous? Reflect on that…

img_0001Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Albany NY

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