Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

BREAKING NEWS… OCA Representation Website Down… Both English and Russian Sides KAPUT

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

Don’t waste any time, attempt to log onto this site:


You’ll receive the message, “Services are suspended for this server”. As an added bonus, a correspondent sent me the following link:


Bear in mind as you read this that Mr Wood lacks the requisite academic training usual for clergy.

It’s not boring in Orthodoxy in the USA! What’s next?



US Supreme Court Allowed Sectarian Desecrators of Soldier’s Funeral to Escape Scot-Free… Where is their Good-Sense?

Filed under: church/state,politics,sects,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

THIS is how one honours the fallen…


Death is Not Final…


Here’s another good example…


I Had a Comrade…


Read this:


I agree with Mr Snyder, the bereaved father of Matthew Snyder:

My first thought was, eight justices don’t have the common sense God gave a goat. We found out today we can no longer bury our dead in this country with dignity.

Whether or not you agree with the wars started by the GOP warmongers in Afghanistan and Iraq, you owe respect to the dead and sympathy to their families. You must understand that those who lost their lives gave their all… whether you agree with the cause they fought for or not (and I don’t, by the way). That DEMANDS honour and reverence on the part on everyone in the vicinity when we lay a fallen soldier to rest.

Giving proper respect to the fallen…



Recently, I quoted Theodore Roosevelt… I think it good to repeat part of that quote in this context:

Men and women, don’t you think I have the ancestral right to claim a proud kinship with those who showed their devotion to duty as they saw their duty, whether they wore the grey, or whether they wore the blue? All Americans who are worthy of the name feel an equal pride in the valour of those who fought on one side or the other, provided only that each did with all his strength and soul and mind his duty as it was given to him to see his duty.


Eternal Memory… Вечная Память!


May God grant rest to the Fallen Warrior Matthew… in a place of freshness and verdure… where all sorrows and sighing have fled away. I extend my hand… I, too, know what suffering is… there’s nothing else one can say. As for Mr Phelps and his Sectarian crazies… they’re servants of Anti-Christ. No decent person would do such near an “ordinary” funeral… it’s worse when they do so at a fallen soldier’s rites. It’s so disgusting that I’m speechless… Mr Snyder… you don’t know how many people of all stripes agree with you.

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Albany NY

Things are Getting Curiouser and Curiouser… The Old Verities are GONE

It’s the beginning… the Twilight of the Gods…


There hasn’t been any fresh news on the OCA/ROCOR front today. Nevertheless, don’t let this quietude lull you. Now, the situation is changed… and it’s changed permanently. Let’s take a moment to look back at things, as we’re not lotus-eating “California Dreamers” such as Fathausen. The situation may be foggy and murky, but there are things that one can discern in the gloom. Compare the contemporary shape of things to the way that they were at the turn of the Millennium, at the beginning of 2001, some ten years ago. At that time, the OCA was still in the obvious good graces of the MP… I remember overhearing an OCA deacon boasting to an MP colleague at St Nick’s at 97th and Mad about how he had served here-and-there in Russia, and it was only a matter of time until ADS’ Renovationist fantasies would triumph in the Church in the Rodina. Then, the ROCOR was out of communion with the MP and OCA, indeed, the senile obscurantist Vitaly Ustinov still headed it. Don’t forget, he founded parishes inside Russia after the fall of the Sovs in ’91… his opposition to the MP was visceral and bitter. I’m not being out-of-line to remind you that Peter Lukianov, Seraphim Gan, Victor Potapov, and Alexander Lebedeff supported his policies vociferously and insistently. That does lead one to wonder… what is their true position? Was it the one that they held in 2001… on the other hand… is it their present position?

People rarely change so radically, save under two circumstances. The first is religious conversion… however, I don’t think that any of these worthies had a “Road to Damascus” experience. The second is more common; frankly, it’s much too common. That is, these First Family stalwarts changed their views, and changed them 180 degrees, due to expedience and the love of power. As we speak, there’s an attempt on the part of the OCA/ROCOR First Families, SVS, and the faction at HTS clustered about Andrei Psaryov, to stuff the past down the memory hole. Look at the nonsense that’s written in Stokoe’s comboxes by recent konvertsy! One can tell immediately that these children only know what they’ve been fed by their clerical gurus… all that they know is the present party line. In fact, most of them get upset if you point up that some of their idols once held views diametrically opposite to the ones that they hold today. The meeting between Fathausen and Hilarion last Sunday COULD portent a closer cooperation between the OCA and the ROCOR in preserving the status quo. This is certainly true as far as the First Families are concerned. If there were a unified Russian Orthodox body in the USA, there’d be a shakeup in the apparat. That would mean that the entrenched cliques of Burdikoff, Larin, Kishkovsky, Lebedeff, Fester, Perekrestov, Kondratick, Krassovksy, Stokoe, Lukianov, Gan, Behr, and Drobot could lose their influence (that’s not to mention the almost-legendary Lukianov clan). The increasing irrelevance and senescence of both the OCA and the ROCOR threaten the grip on power held by the Forty Families and their allies.

Let me reiterate, there’s no huge amount of money to be had in the Church… no one is in this for the sake of filthy lucre alone (they’re not against it… there’s just not much to be stolen in the first place). All of the families (and their allies) mentioned remain in the clerical state because of the power that it gives them over individuals. Unlike the situation in the Orthodox homelands, where parishes tend to be large (a parish with 300 parishioners is considered “tiny”, the average parish is some 2,000-3,000) and the priests busy all week with pastoral duties; here, parishes are tiny (many have a weekly attendance of less than 50), and many churches are locked up during the week (in Russia, churches are open all the time, and you can order a service such as a Pannikhida or Molieben whenever you wish). In the diaspora, a parish of 200 to 300 is considered “large”; in fact, most parishes don’t have enough believers to support a priest. This leads to a vicious circle… the best men don’t want to become priests because it’s impossible to make a living at it; therefore, the priesthood has (all too often) fallen into the hands of mediocrities; this, in turn, discourages good men from applying, ad infinitum. What’s more, as the parishes are miniscule, and the parochial responsibilities minimal, it means that priests engage in petty intrigue, gossip, and innuendo much more than they do so in the home countries. If you’re busy with weddings, funerals, baptisms, and pastoral cares all week, not counting the weekend liturgical celebrations, you simply don’t have the time to torment parishioners and engage in ecclesial politicking.

This had led to a steady haemorrhaging amongst the Church membership. The First Families maintained (and maintain) their grip by expelling all those whom they deem offensive. Usually, they do this by making the situation so nasty for the person concerned that they simply leave in disgust. Then, with a pious look fixed on their faces, a Piggy Iggy Burdikoff or a Seraphim Gan would say that they were so sorry that so-and-so left… they just weren’t patient enough! The Koumentakos case was an exception, as Ray Velencia openly attacked Kristi Koumentakos… that’s NOT the usual MO. This has affected both the OCA and the ROCOR… but, in the case of the ROCOR, the influx of New Russians in the ‘90s hid the losses. Let’s not be coy, the reason that the First Families rebelled against Ustinov in 2001 was that the major parishes of the ROCOR had made up their losses by recruiting New Russians, who comprised 80 percent of many of the parishes in larger urban areas by that time. These people demanded reconciliation with the MP or else… the First Family apparatchiki resolved it by a coup de main against Vitaly (the current lie floated is that he “resigned”).

As the actual situation in the diaspora hasn’t objectively changed since the Reconciliation of ’07, one has to assume that the dynamics working on Church membership levels still apply. There are NO official membership figures released by the OCA or the ROCOR, nor have they EVER done so. Let me repeat that. The OCA and ROCOR have NEVER issued factual, verifiable, and periodical statements of their membership levels. Mind you, such “census figures” aren’t gospel… but they’re the best that we have, and most religious bodies do make an effort to issue figures that are real (take the TEC, which honestly reports losses in membership). The best that I can come up with, after discussion with people who were adults at the time, is that the Metropolia may have had 200,000 adherents in 1965 in 400 parishes and the ROCOR never topped 25,000 adherents. Today, the OCA may have 115,000 members in some 600 parishes (per the earlier Krindatch figures), a decrease in both absolute membership and average parish size. There are no reliable figures available for the ROCOR. You’d have a better chance of breaking into FSB Headquarters than you would in finding out how many people the ROCOR actually has.

I believe that there’s going to be a new effort by the OCA and ROCOR apparats to alter the past, stifle opponents, and perpetuate the present arrangement of power. Yes, I know that it’s doomed to failure… but that won’t stop them from trying. They literally believe that their families/clans/cliques, along with their allies and hangers-on, are indispensable for the future of the Church. One thing that you should look for is that formerly-traditionalist voices in the ROCOR will begin to praise ADS… what a visionary he was… what a good guy he was… yadda, yadda, yadda. Don’t jump to hasty conclusions! If the writer is a priest, he was probably “leaned on” by a hierarch or powerful First Family apparatchik. This “pinch of incense on the altar” may be necessary for their continuing service as priests. As a priest once said to me, “As a lay woman, you can speak out openly. As a priest, I must follow what my bishop tells me. I must be a diplomat (sigh)”.

You’ll see much in the coming weeks that may seem out of character for this or that figure… DO NOT JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS. Many (especially priests) will have to do what appears to be outwardly goofy things and make oddball statements in order to survive in the coming crisis (I mean crisis in the medical sense, as well as the political sense). Sunday’s confab was NOT “das Ende”. It was, I believe, the opening curtain on the Last Act… that is, there may be a series of Scenes yet to come before the curtain falls as the Rhine Maidens come to reclaim the ring, the Gibichung Hall collapses, the Rainbow Bridge breaks, and Ragnarok comes to its fiery consummation (one can almost hear the finale to die Götterdämmerung as the Hall of the Gods goes up in flames, can’t you?). Never forget this… in the original Norse Edda, there’s a new rebirth after the Twilight of the Gods.

Here’s the Finale to die Götterdämmerung… appropriate music for such a fin du siècle moment, no?

That’s good news for us.

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Albany NY

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