Voices from Russia

Friday, 11 June 2010

Who’s That Knocking at My Door?

The Tower of Babel

Fr Vladislav Provotorov


Do note the date that this work was painted… two years BEOFRE the fall of the USSR! Only those who have a Corporatist Anglocentric bias think that the changes started in ’91… a good allegory for the Renovationist cabal, isn’t it?


It is better to be a dog in a peaceful time than to be a man in chaos…

Ancient Chinese Proverb


Lies, damnable lies, and statistics.

Benjamin Disraeli


A racket is best described, I believe, as something that isn’t what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it’s about. It’s conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the masses.

Major General Smedley Butler (1881-1940), USMC


Editor’s Foreword:

This is a bit longer than usual. In addition, because of the nature of internet posting, one sounds “angrier” than one actually is. I certainly don’t hate Owen (or “John” or Gavriil”)… I do believe that the lot of them need to be taken by the ear to the woodshed for “three of the best” and they should stop posting as they don’t have anything of value to say. I provide a service by reading the Russian press and posting clean English versions so that those of you who lack facility in Russian can be informed too. These fellows don’t… their original work is zilch. So, I do NOT hate them… but I do find them dreary, incompetent, and lacking in knowledge. They should cease all posting until they gain more experience in life and in the faith. That’s NOT hatred… that’s good sense.



Lately, one of the “usernames” out there wrote me an “open letter”. Such things are juvenile as all get-out, they are nothing but pretentious preening and posturing, and I, like all grounded mature adults, pay them no mind, nor do I read them. I wondered if anyone knew who this pest was, so I put out a shout. Here’s some interesting stuff from my mailbag:

“The Ochlophobist” (“one afraid of a crowd”, which that one is not!) is an OCA layman (perhaps, in Herbel’s parish… I’ve run into him before, too) named Owen something. He’s a Paffhausen worshipper, or at least was, which is why I can’t stand to read him. He’s whatever you’d call an internet equivalent of a pretentious gasbag, he apes thoughtfulness, and he’s worthless as all get out. Insufferable. Of course, the konvertsy adore him. He’d love to have your audience numbers.

You’ve reminded me of that pseudo-version of Orthodoxy that’s so Anglican. They think that Orthodoxy is purely mystical, so they don’t bother with rules and dogma; they put the precision of public pious motions ahead of the life of prayer and asceticism. With them, it’s always the Sunday of the Pharisee, not the Publican. They call the Bible all allegory, and use only those elements of Tradition that suit their purposes. It’s cotton candy Orthodoxy. It plays very well to a certain crowd.


So, “Ochlophobist”, your name is Owen! Glad to meet you, Owen! My name is Barbara-Marie Drezhlo in English, and Varvara Stanislovna Drezhlo in Russian. Yep… that’s what’s on my driving licence, it’s what’s on my pay cheque, and it’s how I sign my posts! Owen… can you tell the world why do you refuse to sign your posts with your real and legal name? For that matter, I’d ask that of anyone who hides behind a “username”… especially “Gavriil” and “John”… you KNOW who you are. A lawyer acquaintance tells me that many of those who sign themselves with such pseudonyms do so in order to post calumny or invade other people’s privacy (which is against the law, I would remind “Gavriil”, it’s not just immoral) with impunity. As I sign my real name… this puts a brake on my posting falsehood.

One of my internet friends asked me to speak out on this… it appears that cowardly pigs utilising “usernames” posted private information on their life in an attempt to destroy them. THAT is unconscionable. Of course, then, there’s Ray Velencia, and everyone knows how he posted confidential information on the private life of Kristi Koumentakos. Don’t forget how everyone on the so-called Metropolitan Council all kept quiet about this… not a single one spoke out publicly (not a one broke ranks… just as they all approved the payout to Bobby K by their silence… including Stokoe). This is NOT calumny. There was a payout on this (and I signed no secrecy agreement)… how much was it, JP? Did you pay the bill from insurance or did you fork it up from OCA funds? A nice use of the “widow’s mite”, isn’t it, Fr Alexander? I wonder what Fr Alexander thinks of the payout to Bobby? On the other hand, Fr Alexander, do separate rules apply when a priest takes money from the Church?

The Image of Prayer

Oleg Korolyov


Even though I focus on the earthly (and earthy!) manifestations of Church life… I’m well aware there’s a noetic aspect to it all. I fear that those who focus on the “spiritual” fail to see the material part of it all.


This speaks volumes about us… none of it good. Whatever the genesis of it all, we’re dealing with an institutional culture that rewards lying, personal destruction, character assassination, backstabbing, legal legerdemain, and hypocrisy. Of course, this structure is on the way out… and everyone knows it… especially, those who have abused the “system” know it. The Kishkovskys know it… the Larins know it… the Burdikoffs know it… the Krassovskys know it… the Karlguts know it… the Lebedeffs know it… they ALL know it. It scares them mightily… that’s why they’re whistling past the graveyard now. Note well that I used an equal number of names from the OCA and from the ROCOR. The rot is equally settled in both bodies… this is not “OCA bashing”. This set does NOT want a unified Russian Orthodox Church in the Americas… such unity would mean that there would be a shake-up of the siloviki… some, if not most, of them would find themselves “out of a job”. It doesn’t matter to them that the MP/US, OCA, and ROCOR make up a seamless sociological whole… it runs counter to their interests. You see, if there was  a new body, people with no vested interest in preserving the “secrets” of the past could come to the fore… and some of the present chinovniki might find themselves facing the consequences of their actions.

The remedy that the nomenklatura uses to silence critics is character assassination. This happens on two levels. One is local… they use parish gossips to attack a person’s reputation. Most people don’t have a high level of toleration for this… the usual result is that people leave a parish, if not the Church entirely. Fr Alexander Lebedeff reported that few of those who had gone through his parish’s Sunday School were still in the Church. He didn’t carry things through to their logical conclusion. He didn’t say, “They left because we priests gave them poor example during the years of the Church War. They left because we used gossip and innuendo as a weapon. I’m sorry that I did this… and I ask your pardon”. He didn’t say this because these methods are still in use. Archbishop Job Osacky testified to that… it’s why he suffered vilification. Vladyki Job went to an early grave through the strain of it all. If I could identify anyone as a Confessor of our time, as someone who spoke the truth and suffered consequently… it’d be Job Osacky. Many called him “the last decent bishop in the OCA”. I agree with this assessment… none of the current lot are fit to be his bootblack or his even his tiffin-wallah.

A second, more modern, method used to silence opposition is the use of the internet as a weapon. “You’ll keep silent about what we do… or we’ll expose everything in your past that we can dig up”. Of course, it’s fiendishly effective. I’ll be blunt… Ray Velencia was as dumb as dirt. No doubt, he was given advice on how to smear Kristi and her family, but he “knew better”. He leaked private matters himself… which is why a settlement occurred. The OCA can’t deny this… the Koumentakos case was settled by a confidential settlement (“We admit no guilt”). I’ll simply say that no verdict was passed as a result, but that does not exonerate the OCA or Velencia in the “court of public opinion”. Usually, weasels with “usernames” do such dirty work. In fact, I’d warn all concerned not to trust anyone on the web who won’t sign their real/legal name to their posts. That means that you can’t trust “John”, “Gavriil”, or “the Ochlophobist”. Perhaps, Owen shall sign his name now… or, maybe he won’t!

The Kiss of Judas

Fr Vladislav Provotorov


This is what those who post on the personal lives of others are like… they are Judases… with no thought for anyone other than themselves.


I’ve never posted on the personal life of a private individual. That’s against all journalistic ethics. Indeed, you cannot post gossipy items just because they smear your opponent. Some juicy nuggets on a prominent priest’s life came my way… I was told, bluntly, “It doesn’t concern his public life or his role as an officer of the Church… sit on it”. I did so. At another time, several sources gave me information that seemed to indicate that a certain well-known individual was a homosexual. The advice I received was, “The person involved doesn’t write on homosexuality or say that it’s acceptable behaviour… sit on it”. I did so. To cite another instance, I received information from multiple parties on a sexual scandal in a prominent monastery in the early ‘80s. I was told, “It was resolved… the guilty party was removed… sit on it”. I’ve never posted on the private lives of Owen, “John”, “Gavriil”, “Josephus Flavius”, Orr, Honeycutt, or anyone else. That’s beyond the pale and reprehensible. It’s argumentum ad hominem, which is an obscene tactic only used by the nasty and indecent. If you make a statement about the Church, church history, church administration, or church politics, it’s fair game, and may the devil take the hindmost. However, your private life is sacrosanct… and I refuse to violate it. This tells you volumes about “Gavriil”, does it not? There’s no need for me to belabour the point. Anyone who recklessly posts the personal details of a private individual’s life is an arrogant and worthless punk and we must treat them accordingly.

I’m aghast that I even have to write about this topic, for it shows how low we have fallen. Jonas Paffhausen is part of the problem. He retains people such as Tate, Karlgut, Burdikoff, Kishkovsky, and Garvey in his inner circle, and he refuses to discipline Bobby K, Ray Velencia, or the Iggster (wow… he gets on both lists). ROCOR has a somewhat different problem… there, the old structure that was in place when the body was “independent” is still in place, even though it’s now a dependent body of the MP. For instance, Vassa Larina gets away with her intellectual dalliance with the Jesuit Taft because her father (George Larin) is a big sweat in the Diocese of Eastern America… that’s no different from some of the stuff going on in the OCA. In both cases, the formal structure no longer mirrors reality. In fact, I’d argue that they never did… all three Russian Orthodox bodies had a shared life that continued despite all the warfare on the higher levels. Despite the Cleveland Sobor… despite Schmemann’s Renovationism… despite Grabbe’s nasty little alliance with GOCs… despite Vitaly Ustinov’s uncanonical founding of ROCOR parishes in the RF… it still lived! People married one another, families remained on good terms, and priests cooperated despite calls for warfare from fanatics… it still lived, for it was real! Eppur si muove! It’s why an OCA priest and a ROCOR priest in Washington DC are brothers-in-law, a fact known by all grounded people.

If we share a common life… why are we disunited? Yes… there are OCA “convert” parishes that aren’t part of the “Russian Orthodox gestalt”… they’ve never been part of us… they’ve never identified with us… it’s time to realise that and give them a stark choice. “Be one of us or leave…” In particular, all former members of the HOOMie cult must be defrocked immediately. They’ve never rolled up “Christ the Saviour Brotherhood”… they’ve remained a Trojan Horse in our midst. All former HOOMie establishments must be abolished immediately… any former HOOMie who wishes to remain in the Church must join a real parish and understand that they can never be ordained due to their past. That’s what’s needful. It’s harsh… but it’s necessary. It’s equivalent to the Church outlawing Avvakum and Vvedensky. Then, we’d have our unity back… you see, the konvertsy would see their error and repent, or, they’d go off into schism and heresy. If the latter occurs, it wouldn’t impair the unity of the Church, it merely signifies that a group that was never one with us in the first place had fallen away.

I believe that the hardest part of the road lies ahead. Therefore, all immature posters should cease… you can’t help matters. You don’t have the experience or discernment to “read the trail”. I know that this isn’t to your liking… but I have an obligation to speak the truth in love. You must cease your uninformed posting on the canons, “you don’t know an ecclesiastical court from a tennis court” (thank you, Fr Alexander!). You must cease your untutored and unguided posting on the Fathers… it’s obvious that you don’t understand them. All of you show signs of not having any contact with grounded sources in the Orthodox countries. Anyone who puts a “cross” in front of a bishop’s name, or writes it in “all caps”, or worse, both of these solecisms, is a boob who has never read anything written in the Greek, Russian, or Serb press. This is NEVER done. One wonders who started this fanciful idiocy. It was never seen prior to the 2000s… indeed, one didn’t see it much before 2002… could it be a cultish HOOMie affectation? Nevertheless… none of the official MP sources that I use utilise this crankish and crackbrained usage.

It’s time for us old hands to come forward. You young ‘uns simply don’t know what you’re doing… your posts illustrate that abundantly (especially ones such as, this is as close as i get to patriotism…). I’ll tell you what to do. Cease posting. Cease your unguided reading of the canons and Fathers. Live the life of the Church… pray… do good deeds. Love your families… accumulate experience in life… listen to music… read good books… watch good movies… look at good art… do all the wonderful things that our Lord placed here for us to do. Love the earthly and transient as much as you love the heavenly and eternal. Enjoy a good meal… hold your cat in your lap… look at your sleeping child. Love “what is” for what it is. That’s what’s needful… leave the heavy lifting to those of us who have been in the fray and who have the scars to prove it… go home… pray… and keep your silence. You may have something worthwhile to say ten or twenty years down the road. But, for now… it’s not your place or calling. It’s what the Lord expects of you.

Shall they listen or shall they stop up their ears? I don’t know, but I’m not going to bet on the former… I’d like to believe that they would… but I’ve been hurt once too many times. It’ll come out well if we act well… God can’t act if we don’t let him. Reflect on that. Cheers, all.

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Friday 11 June 2010

Albany NY


Finnish Catholics Regret the Election of a Woman as a Bishop in the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK)

Rev Irja Askola (1952- ), Bishopess-elect of Helsinki of the SELK

The Catholic Church of Finland expressed regret that the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK) elected a woman as a bishop. On Friday, Catholic Bishop Teemu Sippo said that the election of a female bishop further alienated Finnish church communities from each other, as reported by Komsomolskaya Pravda. For Finland, this is a new thing… it was the first time in history that a female bishop was elected by the SELK, however, Bishop Sippo objected that the installation of a female in the SELK hierarchy is a break with church traditions. A week ago, the SELK elected 58-year-old Irja Askola, the Secretary of the Diocese of Espoo, who assisted the bishop in theological matters, as Bishop of Helsinki. She shall be ordained in September. Bishopess (Епископесса) Irja will lead the second-largest of the nine dioceses of the SELK. The diocese includes 40 parishes and 534,000 parishioners.

11 June 2010



Editor’s Note:

The Boy Wonder has had another Evangelical hot potato land in his lap. Frau Käßman may be gone, but now he has to deal with this new bishopess in Finland. A further wrinkle complicates matters. Of the 60,000 Orthodox in Finland, 2,000 are under the MP, whilst 58,000 are in one of the most modernist autonomous Churches around, under the EP (this group was one of the few outside N America that gave unqualified support to the OCA cabal). What if the EP Finns hobnob with the bishopess, but the MP does not? YOUCH! I’ll betcha that SVS will just beam if the EP Finns do so. Yustinian will come and give JP his marching orders… that’ll put the Surfer Dude in a pickle. Moscow shall demand that he walk the line… as the OCA is a canonical dependency of the MP in all but name, JP will have a dilemma. Shall he support the extreme Renovationist faction at SVS, and risk termination by the Centre, or, shall he follow orders, and slit the throats of his erstwhile supporters? KMG is feeling his oats… he made Bart eat Crow Supreme a la Royale in public and smile. Do you think that a pipsqueak provincial peasant like JP the Surfer Dude is going to give him pause? I wouldn’t oppose His Nibs if I were you, Paffhausen… he ripped Bart a new one, in full view of the unwashed, no less. He won’t hesitate to deep-six you…

FYI, there are seven RC parishes in Finland (two in Helsinki, and one each in Turku, Jyväskylä, Tampere, Kouvola, and Oulu), with 9,000 communicants (majority foreigners, mostly Poles), with three convents (two Bridgettine and one Carmelite).

By the way, I use “Evangelical” in its proper European sense… that is, “Lutheran”. The American dialectical usage of “Evangelical” to denote Radical Proddies is patently false, and we should not use it. If they do, so be it… we’re not PC hooligans. However, let’s keep our own writing on the straight and narrow… to use the term “Evangelical” for the spiritual descendants of John of Leyden and the extreme Anabaptists is an abuse of language!


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