Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The Birth of Russian Orthodox Protestantism

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

Russia: Sheep Without a Shepherd (Maria Vishnyak, 1984)

Editor’s Foreword:

I wanted to find some material on so-called “Liberal Orthodox” groups in Russia, this piece was the only short one I could find (I only have a limited amount of time to devote to translation, dear ones). There are minor problems with it (it’s pro-Proddie in tone), and it’s a bit dated (it’s four years old)… but it gives English-speakers valuable information that we Russian-speakers have had for years. The last paragraph is pure GIGO… but the rest is usable. That’s why I believe it was written by a Proddie.

Sadly enough, “Metropolitan” Stefan Linitsky (1934- ) is a very talented painter. I may post a few of his paintings on my art site… in religion, he’s a heretic, no doubt on that score… as a painter, he had real skill. SAD.



In 2003, a fundamentally new current arose in so-called “alternative” Russian Orthodoxy, the Renovationist Orthodox Archdiocese of Kiev, Moscow, and all the Russias (POAKM) (Православная Обновленческая Архиепископия Киевская, Московская, и всея Руси). Strictly speaking, the POAKM is an outgrowth of the so-called “Revivalism” (Возрождение) movement in Orthodoxy, being led by “Metropolitan” Stefan Linitsky of Tver and Dmitrovsk, “Protopresbyter” Gleb Yakunin, “Archbishop” Kiriak Timirtsidi of Pyatigorsk and the Caucasus, “Archbishop” Sergei Sarkisov, and “Bishop” Vitaly Kuzhevatov.

The emergence of the POAKM owes much to its founder, Sergei Zhuravlyov, who was a professional artist from an atheistic family. In 1988, it is believed, he studied via correspondence courses from the MDS. In 1991-96, he served in parishes in the dioceses of Ryazan and Bryansk. Many things in Russian Orthodox church life bothered him, such as its authoritarian order, compulsory obedience (обрядоверие), monastic life, the cult of saints, etc. In the mid-90s, he met with fellow priests Gleb Yakunin, Stefan Linitsky, and Kiriak Timirtsidi. Under their influence, he broke with the Orthodox Church and became a priest of the “Revivalist” (Возрождение) Church in Bryansk. Zhuravlyov related that not only local Orthodox activists threatened and attacked him; the authorities in Bryansk pressured him as well. Then, in 1998, he went to the Ukraine.

It was only after this move to the Ukraine that Zhuravlyov definitively formed his views, which led to the founding of a new “church”. During this time in the Ukraine, Zhuravlyov was “ordained” a “bishop” by Stefan Linitsky and Kiriak Timirtsidi, and by 2002, he managed to organise several parishes. These parishes were the basis of the Orthodox Reformed Church (PRTs) (Православной реформаторской церкви). By 2005, there were already more than 20 communities in several cities in the Ukraine. As Zhuravlyov was a believer in the principles of democracy, he participated in the demonstrations at the Maidan in Kiev {pro-Yushchenko riots that formed part of the so-called “Orange Revolution”: editor} and he taught that the Orange Revolution was a gift from God Himself to the Ukrainian people. At the same time, he believed that, in the near future, a Russian analogue to the Orange Revolution was impossible, as he thought that Russia was a much less civilised country, cruel, immoral, and irresponsible. If there were an attempt in Russia today for democratisation, it would only lead to bloodshed and anarchy. The principles of justice and mercy would only be able to gain a foothold there after years of evangelical preaching, he believed.

However, despite the admiration of his Ukrainian flock, Zhuravlyov pined for his Motherland. He returned to Russia in 2003, settled in Tula, and founded congregations all over Russia. By the end of 2006, there were functioning communities in Moscow, Udmurtia, and in Yaroslavl, Sverdlovsk, and Chelyabinsk Oblasts. Russian parishes of the PRTs in the RF were called the POAKM, but it is the same body, only in the RF, it is called the POAKM, and in the Ukraine, PRTs. They operate an “Internet Seminary” (интернет-семинария) centre in Tula and they publish the periodical Обновленец (The Renovationist). In formal terms, the POAKM is an offshoot of the liberal church movement known as “Revivalism”. Zhuravlyov considered it a direct successor of the Renovationist movement of the 1920s and 30s. The POAKM canonised (in POAKM, the saints are pious people from whom we must take example, but the faithful are not allowed to ask for their intercessions) Aleksandr Vvedensky, Antonin Granovsky and other Renovationist figures, including Aleksandr Men. Their worship services primarily use the translation of the liturgy into Modern Russian by Granovsky. However, these ideological links with Renovationism and “Revivalism” may be misleading as to its nature. From Renovationism, POAKM adopted its rejection of the monastic life, and picked up its advocacy of a married episcopate. Zhuravlyov himself is married, with six children. He rejects both Orthodox asceticism and its cult of saints. He is a supporter of the full democratisation of church life, such as the election of bishops and priests and the strengthening of the role of the laity. He said, “Even a Protestant pastor is often a little pope over his community, overwhelming the spiritual freedom of his parishioners”. Zhuravlyov recognises the principle of female ordination to the priesthood in church life. In the Ukraine, there are already female priests; also, there are several Russian female students enrolled in their “seminary”, and they will soon lead congregations.

All of these features of the POAKM fit it into a very liberal niche within the “Orthodox” family, but there are doctrinal peculiarities of the POAKM that do not fit the usual definition of “liberal”. The ideology created by Zhuravlyov has many purely Protestant features such as salvation is possible in any Christian denomination {the branch theory, in other words: editor}, the [Calvinist] doctrine of predestination to salvation, the “second birth” and universal priesthood [of believers], a preference for adult baptism, and the recognition of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including glossolalia. Members of the POAKM recognise the special role of the Jewish people; in some places, they have given assistance to synagogues and helped Jews to move to Israel; they do no missionary work amongst Jews, “only amongst atheists”.

If ideology of the POAKM looks liberal in comparison with traditional Orthodox teachings, then, by comparison with Protestantism, it looks quite conservative. Its church life focuses on Bible studies; the authority of the Scriptures is paramount. POAKM teaches a strict traditional Christian morality, it condemns homosexuality, abortion, sex outside marriage, etc. It’s no wonder that conservative Protestant churches (in Russia and the Ukraine, and in the USA and Germany) saw the Zhuravlyovites as an ally. Protestants are often invited to speak in POAKM churches and seminaries and publish articles in its journals. Most POAKM/ PRTs communities gather on the premises of Protestant churches, who are pleased to provide an opportunity for such people.

When Zhuravlyov told me about his church, I finally asked him, “Why do you call yourself ‘Orthodox’, why don’t you just say that you’re Protestant?” Eagerly, Zhuravlyov started to state to me the superiority of the Orthodox tradition over Protestantism. “Orthodoxy values the liturgy, cultural tradition, and the theological deposit, but in its church life, it neglects the ideology of ‘correct conciliarity’ (соборноправности)”. Zhuravlev was highly appreciative of the legacy left by the Renovationists at the beginning of the 20th century; he considered it an incomparable achievement in Orthodoxy. For him, Renovationism is the true form of Orthodoxy, to which he is faithful. In addition to group around Linitsky, Timirtsidi, and Yakunin, he also runs a so-called Mother of God Centre (Богородичному центру), where he plans to establish contacts and cooperate [with others].

The emergence of the POAKM is a natural phenomenon. No wonder communities of the POAKM grow like mushrooms after rain. This is occurring at a time when the “Revivalism” movement has petered out and has virtually no growth. Evangelical Protestant ideology, since the late 80’s, has successfully won the hearts of many people in Russia. The number of practising Protestants is growing faster than any other religion or Christian denomination. Of course, POAKM is a Protestant Evangelical group in essence, but it is faithful to the Russian spiritual and cultural tradition, drawing its inspiration from the faith of their ancestors.

November 2006

Русский архипелаг (Russian Archipelago)


Editor’s Afterword:

This piece tells you the direction that the AOCANA is travelling after its reception of the EOC vagantes, and it indicates where the HOOMies wish to take the OCA. Do not forget that ADS was a passionate defender of Vvedensky and passed on his passion for Renovationism to his students. I recommend that all of you read Fr Michael Pomozansky… and, then, read ADS. Don’t forget… SVS signed an accord with Nashotah House, an institution that prepares women for ordination. John Behr let Rowan Williams write a foreword in SVS’ Popular Patristics series. JP signed the so-called Manhattan Declaration. In short, ADS’ pupils are boiling the frog by degrees.

To keep it focused, the students of ADS, the former EOCers, and the HOOMie cultists want to take over the Church in the name of “democracy”. If that were to occur, the box would be open and Real Orthodoxy would disown them. Look at Again and Road to Emmaus… if that’s what you want… Protestantism with a slight “Orthodox” veneer, do nothing. If you want Real Deal Orthodoxy… that Ol’ Time Religion that was good enough for baba and dede (and for iaia and papou, too!)… jump out of the pot!

Shall the frogs leap out of the pot in time? Only time will tell us. This frog has already jumped out… I may still attend an OCA parish, but I’ve rejected the SVS madness… if they go over the line and Moscow deep-sixes ‘em, I won’t cry. Shall you join me? REE-DEEP! (THIS frog ain’t boiled! It’s nice and cool out here!)

You can stand with the true-blue Martyrs of the Butovo Poligon or you can stand with the overeducated BSers of Nashotah House and SVS… I know where I stand… what about YOU?



Meet the Artist: Fr Vladislav Provotorov

Fr Vladislav Provotorov (1947- )

Editor’s Foreword:

I used to place such items on my other site. However, it has evolved into an image gallery… a change that I am loath to tinker with, as my readership seems to want it that way. Ergo, if I find an artist worth commenting upon, it shall go up on this site. In any case, in another view of it, you can also accuse me of shamelessly promoting Art and Faith… so be it! There’s a link on the blogroll, I’m going to be posting some more art by Provotorov there later, and all the art posted on this site will be there as well, posted in proper chronological order.



Resurrection (Fr Vladislav Provotorov, 1981)

“I have always stayed out of politics, but, of course, the time in which I lived affected my art. Of course, I could not foresee Chernobyl, the earthquake in Armenia, or the explosions of ethnic hatred in Sumgait and Fergana, but, for some reason, when people look at my artwork, they think they it’s about them…”

Fr Vladislav Provotorov

On 26 June 1947, Vladislav Provotorov was born in Potsdam (Germany) in a military family. In 1972, he graduated from the S G Stroganov Moscow Higher Industrial Art School. From 1975, he worked at the Arts Fund of the RSFSR. He was baptised when he was 26. For a long time, he was both a parishioner and clergyman at the parish of St Nicholas in Kuznetsk. Metropolitan Yuvenaly Poyarkov of Krutitsy and Kolomna ordained him to the priesthood on 25 December 1994. He is the rector of Annunciation of the Holy Godbearer parish in the village of Pavlovskaya Sloboda in Istra Raion of Moscow Oblast. In 2004, he was elevated to the rank of archpriest. In 2004, he graduated from the Kolomna Theological Seminary. Today, he is the Secretary of the Diocesan Department for the Fine Arts. Fr Vladislav is married, with two children. He was also amongst the founders of the Charitable Foundation Русское Православие (Russian Orthodoxy).

Christ (Fr Vladislav Provotorov, 1988)

Provotorov is representative of the generation that began its creative journey during the so-called “stagnation period” in the 70s. Although he suffered no repressions whatsoever, the oppressive atmosphere caused by the collapse of the economy, culture, and morality was certainly reflected in his paintings, sometimes, even in defiance of his creative will. In 1976, when he painted a self-portrait in the form of a deformed mask, he could not clearly explain what made him choose this “repulsive style”. Provotorov’s paintings often look bleak and hideous. However, should art only caress the eyes and cuddle its audience? Often, Fr Vladislav is accused of various sins such as cruelty, sadism, and pathology, even perverse sexuality. Such accusations are very far from reality. His paintings are the cry of a preacher bewailing a world mired in sin; they are depictions of hellish visions and dreams that can help us win the way back to the path of virtue. It’s quite another question whether he succeeded or not, but the fact of using art as an instrument of morality in our century is very significant.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Fr Vladislav Provotorov, 1985)

The figurative system of in Provotorov’s creativity is based largely on Christian cosmology. Christianity shapes his understanding of good and evil, Christ and Antichrist, Life and Death, and Chaos and Harmony. In his work, Fr Vladislav drew on to the traditions of Western painting, which he knows and loves, above all, the artists of Northern Europe who related the motif of the Apocalypse… Dürer, Bosch, and Bruegel. In his technique, Provotorov is a disciple of the Italian Renaissance masters, whose art he carefully and lovingly studied for many years. On the other hand, his work is suffused with Russian culture; many strong threads bind him with fantasies of Gogol, the “abyss” of Dostoevsky, and the apocalyptic visions of Blok, Bely, and Leonid Andreyev. He calls himself a realist, but a special kind, a “fantasist”.

26 September 2009

Портал «Родон» (Portal “Rodon”)


Mark Stokoe Calling: JP’s Herr Doktor Göbbels … Broadcasting to You Live from the SVS/Syosset Führerbunker!

Fallen Angel

Fr Vladislav Provotorov


Fr Vladislav was part of an Exhibition of Christian Artists at the hall of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in 1998… this man is no “unknown”… meaty stuff, no?


The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race, or his holy cause.

People haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause, but also by nursing a fanatical grievance.

To most of us, nothing is as invisible as an unpleasant truth. Though it is held before our eyes, pushed under our noses, rammed down our throats… we know it not.

A preoccupation with the future not only prevents us from seeing the present as it is, but often prompts us to rearrange the past.

A ruling intelligentsia, whether in Europe, Asia, or Africa, treats the masses as raw material to be experimented on, processed, and wasted at will.

Eric Hoffer


It’s interesting what has happened over at ocanews.org. As all of us know, Mark was incommunicado from 29 May to 13 June. NOT A WORD on the Frankie and Joey Show. NOT A WORD on the Bobby K payout. NOT A WORD on the Koumentakos payout’s provenance.

However, now, one sees plenty of wind on the so-called Episcopal Assembly; indeed, virtually all his posting since his return has been on that dead-end topic. It must have gotten great coverage in the REAL Orthodox press in the Orthodox countries, huh? I can report to you that it passed unnoticed in all major Russian media outlets, especially those that make a practise of commenting on Church news. Friends report to me that it passed unnoticed in major Greek, Romanian, and Serb media outlets as well. There’s a reason for this… the EP dreamed up this conference to  bolster its claim to have jurisdiction over the entire Orthodox diaspora (defined as the area outside of the traditional territories of the 14 legitimate and recognised Local Orthodox Churches). Why does Stokoe keep beating this particular “dead horse?”

Firstly, in his contempt for you, he refuses to post on any current OCA corruption. Some told me, “He’s taken an oath of secrecy as a member of the Metropolitan Council”. Let’s leave to the side the obvious comment that such an oath runs counter to both “transparency” and to what the Church actually teaches. If Mark Stokoe wishes to abide by the Masonic secrecy of the so-called MC, he should abandon his website, or, lacking that, he should make an open and honest public statement declaring that its new purpose is to defend JP and autocephalism at all costs. Don’t hold your breath waiting for him to do either… it’s unhealthy, it’s undignified, and it’s funny as all hell to all about you. He wishes, freely and without coercion, to abide by the secrecy rule of the MC Treehouse. Therefore, he isn’t a journalist, he’ll keep things secret if it favours his fellow travellers and confrères, and he’ll stamp on the face of anyone who threatens the autocephalist project. In short, Mark Stokoe is a true believer, as Eric Hoffer defined it. Look at the quotes from Hoffer cited above… when one applies them unflinchingly, not only to others, but also to oneself, it’s chilling… and Mr Hoffer meant it that way!

The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race, or his holy cause.

People haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause, but also by nursing a fanatical grievance.

This is a damning indictment of Stokoe… look at his fanaticism on autocephalism and Schmemann’s notions. That means that Stokoe’s willingness to abandon the pursuit of truth and honesty in favour of “a mess of pottage” was no fluke… it illustrated his basic and true self. It’s why he’s willing to stamp on anyone opposing his dream without mercy.

As for me… I’m only an ordinary sort, prone to all the faults of l’Condition Humaine. Is the MP the all-Good Ahura Mazda opposed to Stokoe’s all-Evil Ahriman OCA? Of course, not… the MP is a human institution, full of its own faults and shortcomings. Nevertheless, it has one thing going for it… it isn’t run by a bunch of pseudo-intellectuals hag-ridden by the notions of a long-dead guru. Say what you will, I’d rather have a creaky and wheezy machine run by an ordinary hutsky-klutsky lot over a notional Potemkin Village run by the keen, earnest, and zealous. Those running the former would leave one alone… the latter would pursue you and plague you with scorpions “for your own good”. No choice, eh?

To most of us, nothing is as invisible as an unpleasant truth. Though it is held before our eyes, pushed under our noses, rammed down our throats… we know it not.

No comment necessary, is there? I’d say that I had 250,000 reasons to apply this one to Stokoe…

A preoccupation with the future not only prevents us from seeing the present as it is, but often prompts us to rearrange the past.

Again, only a simple comment. If you wish the truth of this, you need only look at the website Orthodox History, and Stokoe’s defence of such. What does this tell about Oliver Herbel? I would argue that it tells us a great deal… NONE of it good.

A ruling intelligentsia, whether in Europe, Asia, or Africa, treats the masses as raw material to be experimented on, processed, and wasted at will.

This is self-explanatory… look at the bootless talk of “reform” on Stokoe’s website. Note well that they do not tell you the results of Schmemann’s reforms… the OCA of today is anywhere from 40 to 60 percent its size in 1965 (arguably the date when ADS and the SVS swine seized control of the Meropolia/OCA). I submit that ADS’s inane policies led directly to most, if not all, of this loss. Do attend to the fact that most of his worshippers are recent converts, with heterodox formations and no “institutional memory”. None of the SVS/Syosset/HOOMie/JP True Believers is fazed over the fact that NO solid figures for Metropolia/OCA membership exist. NONE. IF they allowed facts to intrude, it might impinge upon their cultic imaginings. It might even point up the failure of the Renovationist Experiment run by Paris and SVS. Therefore, in their eyes, it’s discounted… “We’re the ‘Illuminati’, bringing light to the benighted masses”.

This sounds too harsh to so many of you… well, whether you like it or whether you don’t, Mark Stokoe has shown his true colours. HE USED YOU. He used you to get a seat on the MC. THAT is one of the nastiest and most reprehensible forms of abuse. What angers me most is how he used the nasty situation of the legal case surrounding Krisiti Koumentakos to advance his agenda. He used the pain of the Koumentakos and Patico families to advance his cause… then, when Stokoe gained his “political” plum, he turned around and supported Bobby K. When Stokoe refused to hinder (or even publicise) the payoff to Bobby, he stamped his boot with full force on the faces of everyone in the Koumentakos and Patico families. “So sorry… it’s just business… it ain’t personal”.

EVIL… that’s what I call that. EVIL. Anyone who defends Mark Stokoe participates in his evil. At the least, we now know what the autocephalists are capable of… it isn’t the MP that wishes to rehabilitate Bobby… it’s the OCA apparat! Note well that a certain set in the ROCOR supports this. Go back and reread a sentence that I used above… “We’re the ‘Illuminati’, bringing light to the benighted masses”… they see themselves as “Lightbearers”… do look up the Latin for “Lightbearer”. Now, THAT’S a meaty reflection… look it up, think on it, and apply it to my sentence… it shall tell you what to do.

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Albany NY

Editor’s Postscript:

A friend sent me the following. It needs no commentary from me… you don’t mess with what works, no? Here it is:

Like you, it disturbs me that Mark Stokoe hasn’t said a peep about Kondratick, Koumentakos, two former metropolitans appearing at STS, etc. I’d think that he could have at least posted news articles about the events, so that the matters could be commented on by readers. I also agree that the secrecy associated with the OCA Metropolitan Council is a disturbing counterpoint to the idea that the OCA’s problems are all in the past. So much for transparency….

Enhanced by Zemanta

Blog at WordPress.com.