Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

29 December 2010. A Point to Ponder…


We’re not going to ponder a thought… look at the picture above. It’s a snap of Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel (1954- ) of Germany, taken when she was a young woman in the DDR, that is to say, communist East Germany. A few days ago, I posted a piece by Fr Vsevolod Chaplin on modesty. Whether one wants to agree with it or not, the communist governments of the Cold War period were hardly “permissive”. Indeed, the commies of today are far less accepting of perversity than most Western societies are. For me, this photo shows that Ms Merkel was formed in the socialist DDR, and US Republicans delude themselves if they think that she’s one of them. She was 35-years-old when the DDR fell, which meant that she was a fully-formed adult, not an impressionable child. The commies did much good… and we do violence to history to say otherwise. Whom would you want as your next-door neighbour? Would you want the Angela Merkel of the DDR years, or, would you prefer the greedy pill-popper Rush Limbaugh? I think that I’d choose the “commie zombies”… they’d be closer to God than a ravening and grasping Neoliberal. What about you?



A Photo Essay. THIS is Why Christians and Sectarians Have NOTHING in Common…

The Holy Fire in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Orthodox Easter…


Catholic pilgrim praying at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré QC Canada…


Orthodox Arabs light candles in Beit Jala in unoccupied Palestine…


Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Mexico…


Orthodox priest serving molieben at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Nikulov, Romania…


Australian Catholic pilgrims in Rome…


Orthodox Russian soldier at prayer before his God…


Roman Catholic girl at prayer before her God in a Polish parish in Boston MA USA…


Greek sailors sailors carry the Wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God of Tinos on the isle of Tinos in Greece…


Ravensburger Schutzmantelmadonna at the Rutenfest in Ravensburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany…


Russian pilgrims at the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem in unoccupied Palestine…


Soldiers of the Spanish Legion carrying a paso of Christ for Catholic Holy Week…


The Catholic and Orthodox faiths are much closer in their popular expressions than they are on the theological level. This is why all Orthodox Christians must show respect to their Roman Catholic neighbours. Reformation Protestants share many of these customs, too; so, they’re worthy of respect, as well. Sectarians are anti-Christian fanatics… we must give them no quarter. At most, if they leave us alone, we should do likewise… but we shouldn’t delude ourselves… they aren’t Christians at all.

We should oppose any and all attempts at a syncretistic union… we Orthodox should reject the Boy Blunder, New Skete, Vassa Larina, SVS, John Behr, and anyone else who advocates a false union with the RCs. I’ve no doubt that my RC friends know who are the guilty parties on their side of the aisle. It’s one thing to show true respect to your neighbour… it´s quite another to push for an ill-conceived and dodgy “union of all Christians”. Gates DO make for good neighbours… and gates can and should be open to all people of good will. I think that all mature people know what I’m talking about.

My greetings to my Catholic and Protestant friends during their Christmas season, which runs for them until 6 January, Epiphany/Three Kings. Then, our Christmas season (the Svyatki (Holy Days)) kicks in on 7 January and runs until 19 January… ain’t Christainity grand!

Raise a glass and cheer!



St Nick’s vs the PA: Church May Stall WTC Rebuild

Greek Orthodox priests at the WTC site in lower Manhattan


The ugly dispute between the Port Authority and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese over rebuilding St Nicholas Church, destroyed on 9/11, threatens to throw progress at the entire World Trade Center site into chaos… and the church has mainly itself to blame. The archdiocese insists on having a new church at 130 Liberty Street, where the old Deutsche Bank building is being demolished. The PA wants it at the original church site, 155 Cedar Street, 100 yards (92 metres) to the southwest. The church now plans a suit to force the PA to build at 130 Liberty and accuses the PA of “fraud” in breaking a “binding” agreement for the location. In fact, no signed agreement was ever reached… mainly because of the archdiocese’s ever-escalating demands.

However, a court ruling against the PA could force it to redesign an underground Vehicle Screening Center planned beneath 130 Liberty Street. That’s because the steel the PA ordered for the VSC can’t support the planned church above it… a structure three times larger than the original St Nick’s. To re-tool the VSC would push back by at least another year the already delayed openings of the first two office towers (now set for 2013) and possibly of the Memorial Museum (2011). Why? The VSC will be the security checkpoint for vehicles making deliveries to anywhere on the WTC site. Trucks… and possibly cars and buses… couldn’t enter without it. Moreover, the VSC will link to the site’s entire notoriously-interlocked infrastructure elements. Altering the current design of the steel “cage” would calamitously impact underground work now in progress by the PA and developer Larry Silverstein.

No one wants to deny St Nicholas’ parishioners a new place to worship, but it ought to have been at 155 Cedar Street. However, then-NYS Governor George Pataki instead foolishly persuaded the PA and the archdiocese to put it on Liberty Street, inside a new public park nearer to the WTC site. The new St Nicholas would also be bigger. The old tiny church served fewer than 100 families. Its proposed replacement embraced the gigantism Pataki endorsed for other WTC-area features unrelated to the task of replenishing 14 million square feet of office space… peripherals such as the new PATH terminal and the MTA’s Fulton Street Transit Center. In July 2008, the New York Times described the grandiose church planned at 130 Liberty St as a “domed marble complex” six times larger than the original. The PA was able to have it reduced from a proposed footprint of 6,800 square feet (630 square metres) to a “mere” 4,000 square feet (372 square metres), compared with the original building’s 1,200 square foot (112 square metres). The PA and the church would have traded rights to the sites. The two sides spent four years trying, but they failed to nail down terms of the land swap and how much money the PA would put into the church’s construction.

Architectural plan drawing of the new St Nicholas Greek Orthodox parish church on the WTC site… it sure doesn’t look overly large to me!


For all its infamously sluggish bureaucracy, the PA bent over backward to satisfy the archdiocese. So did J P Morgan Chase, which in 2007 wanted to build an office tower on Liberty Street. To accommodate the church, it devised a “beer-belly” tower, with trading floors cantilevered over the 130 Liberty site. The archdiocese didn’t complain about that plan, which was later dropped. Nevertheless, it did object to any future cantilever in March 2009, when it also upped the ante on other issues that the PA thought had been resolved. Among them, it wanted:

  • The church to stand 20 feet (6 metres) taller than the Memorial Museum Pavilion… a request the PA had previously rejected.
  • Unconditional, all-at-once, access to the 20 million USD (611 million Roubles 15.124 million Euros 12.9 million UK Pounds) the PA had pledged for construction, rather than on a staged basis subject to completing the land-swap and awarding of job contracts.
  • The right to review the VSC plans, and to have “approval” over any future changes to the facility… absurd, given that security is the responsibility of the PA and the NYPD.
  • Incredibly, rights to use the surrounding park for its own events, and a say in how the park might otherwise be used.

Now, the archdiocese claims it was merely asking to protect its interests. Given the PA’s prior record of delay, that sounds reasonable. However, sources not affiliated with the PA said that once the sides began trying to draw up an actual contract in 2008, the archdiocese was “incredibly aggressive” and repeatedly added new conditions. That left PA executive director Christopher Ward, who had to sort out loose ends left by his predecessors, in a pickle. By 2009, he had to order steel for the VSC to break the rebuilding paralysis, as well as to protect the PA from further liability for not finishing the infrastructure. (It’s had to pay Silverstein huge sums for missing deadlines.) However, no final agreement was in sight. Enough steel to support the church if a deal was ever struck would have cost the PA 20 million USD (611 million Roubles 15.124 million Euros 12.9 million UK Pounds) on top of the 20 million USD (611 million Roubles 15.124 million Euros 12.9 million UK Pounds) it had already committed… a risk it couldn’t afford. Therefore, Ward decided he had no choice but to get the ball rolling on the VSC immediately. Now, the church, having overplayed its hand, has flashed the lawsuit threat as its supposed trump card. It’s probably out of luck getting 130 Liberty Street back… but no court outcome is certain. For the sake of seeing a new World Trade Center, let’s pray that reason prevails.

27 December 2010

Steve Cuozzo

New York Post


Editor’s Note:

Where are all the loudmouthed “conservative” commentators now? Where are Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Pat Robertson, and Mitch McConnell? They’re nowhere in evidence! They’re NOT on our side, folks. I’ll bet you any amount that if St Nick’s were a Jewish synagogue or a Pentecostalist conventicle, we would’ve seen all of these rightwing paladins screaming away (trust me, if St Nick’s were Catholic, the PA wouldn’t have tried any shit in the first place… the PA would squat down and say, “How much and of what colour?”). However, St Nick’s is only an Orthodox parish church… and the pols know that we’re a tiny group with no clout, so, they think that they can stomp on us unmercifully with total impunity. The PA is concerned with the attitude of the site developer… but the GOA doesn’t have any money, so, its interests are tossed to the wolves.

There are fewer than one million Orthodox Christians in the USA out of a population of 310 million. This is all groups, taken together. Perhaps, another 200,000 belong to Oriental Orthodox bodies. We don’t make up even ONE PERCENT of the total US population… that’s why the PA is demonising us… and the PA may very well get away with it!

I am appalled that little of this tribulation over the rebuilding of one of our parish churches has reached the official websites (save for the GOA, of course). We refuse to make a common front in this… ergo, we may very well suffer a stinging defeat. Pan-Orthodox Unity is not going to be in our time (if ever), but we can stand together on issues of common interest, and this is one of the most important. If the PA succeeds in bullying the GOA, all other government agencies will get the idea that Orthodox are an “easy mark”… that we can be smacked about with without any consequence whatsoever.

Let’s stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the GOA… this has nothing to do with the EP’s phoney Episcopal Assemblies or any other lunacy found in any other archdiocese. We’ve got to protect our rights… otherwise, both the state and the loudmouth Sectarians will run roughshod over us.

Which side are you on? In addition, mark down who’s supporting us and who’s not… the Republican Party isn’t… why would you support them, then?


Kenai Church Work Hits Unexpected Obstacles

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

Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Church is in the full throes of reconstruction. The city of Kenai’s darling, and the only federally-designated National Historic Landmark on the Kenai Peninsula, is undergoing renovations to fix its crumbling foundation and caving walls. “It’s a mess”, said Fr Thomas Andrew while standing inside the chapel last week amid the work in progress. Apart from repairing the mounting structural deterioration of the 115-year-old church, the parish plans to add a ramp for disability access, as well as a fire and theft alarm system to protect the religious artefacts. Blazy Construction of Soldotna has done the work on the church, having just completed replacing the rotting timbers in the church’s log frame. “If you look at how many logs had to be replaced, it’s a wonder it stood for so long without crumbling over”, Fr Thomas said. “When they were pounding on the inside, you could see pieces of log coming off”.

The project hasn’t been without a few delays. “It was supposed to start in May or June, but it started in September”, he said. “We waited for five-and-a-half months until they finally started working on it”. Once Blazy Construction began working, the company discovered there was asbestos over the altar and main body of the church. “We didn’t really expect that”, Fr Thomas said. The church didn’t expect the cost of that either. “It’s a setback, but if people continue to donate, this would help pay for that”, he said. With a nearly 35,000 USD (1.069 million Roubles 26,503 Euros 22,586 UK Pounds) price tag for the asbestos abatement, the parish looked to other funding sources to be able to continue the much-needed and long-awaited renovation.

Dorothy Gray, a parishioner and the secretary of the church council of the Russian Orthodox parish, petitioned the city of Kenai for more funds. The city applied for a grant of 20,000 USD (611,000 Roubles 15,145 Euros 12,907 UK Pounds) from the Alaska Association of Historical Preservation on the church’s behalf this fall, and it recently learned that funding would come through for the abatement. That, along with a 1,000 USD (30,517 Roubles 757 Euros 645 UK Pounds) mini-grant from the Kenai Historical Society, is helping to make up the unexpected expense, she said. “We’re a lot closer than we were a few weeks ago”, Gray said. If the parish isn’t able to come up with the remaining money, it might have to postpone or eliminate some of its plans, Gray said, like a new porch and a ramp for disabled access. However, church officials seem to be taking it all in stride. “You can’t foresee all the unseen problems that might exist”, Gray said. “Despite the delay, things fell into place on this project so nicely”. For Fr Thomas, the church’s renovation, with all of its unexpected roadblocks, is a gigantic metaphor. “Life is like that especially”, he said.

Life does go on. Gray said Blazy Construction would be pouring a gypsum concrete floor next week, complete with a heated flooring system. “It’s going to be a nice addition to the church”, she said. “It’ll help preserve the logs, and our church was actually pretty cold, so, now, it’ll be more uniformly heated”. Once that’s completed, construction will continue on the inside of the building, replacing windows, walls, and wiring. Fr Thomas said he expects that the construction would be complete in February. For the time being, until renovations are complete this winter, the church is holding services on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings across the street at Fort Kenay, but the parishioners don’t seem to mind. “We know that the church is actually comprised of the people who worship there; it’s not the building itself”, Gray said. An altar is temporarily set up inside Fort Kenay for a makeshift worship space so the parish can still meet the needs of its people, especially for the upcoming Orthodox Christmas celebrations. “It’s being worked on. That’s the good part”, Fr Thomas said.

18 December 2010

Brielle Schaeffer

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner


Editor’s Note:

This parish only needs 14,000 USD (427,233 Roubles 10,601 Euros 9,035 UK Pounds)… a very small sum by institutional standards. The OCA doesn’t have it because all of its money is eaten up by SVS, the Syosset compound (and JP’s little nest in DC), and its interminable lawyer’s fees and settlement costs. Sad, ain’t it? There’s money for lawyers… there’s money for a bunch of preening and posturing professors in Yonkers… there’s money for JP to live in one of the most expensive MSAs in the country… there’s money for the Koumentakos settlement and the Bobby K payoff… and there’s money for drones like Garvey, Burdikoff, Garklavs, Tosi, and Karlgut… yes, siree; plenty of cash for that!

When one of the oldest parishes in Alaska needed a hand… no go! We don’t have the money! Go fish for it! Tells ya something about SVS, JP, and the OCA apparatchiki and their priorities, doesn’t it? Reflect well on this… there are ROCOR sorts who support the OCA loonies. It tells you plenty about Alexander Lebedeff, Andrei Psaryov, Vassa Larina, and Roman Krassovsky. Interesting, ain’t it… in the end, there’s no difference between the OCA apparatchiki and the ROCOR apparatchiki. As a priest-friend of mine remarked, “They’re not nuts… they’re too good at looking after Number One to be nuts”.

Is there anyone out there who can help these good people? Syosset won’t… or, is it, “Syosset CAN’T help them; they’re out of liquid assets”. Do mark it down that neither oca.org or that loudmouth Stokoe had anything easily-accessible on their sites appealing for funds for this worthy cause… yet they circle the wagons around known thieves, reputed child abusers, and ecclesial dirty-tricksters. It truly makes one want to hurl at the depravity of it all. God DO help us. We’re gonna need it.


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