Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

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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