Voices from Russia

Monday, 7 November 2011

7 November 2011. Gleanings From My Mailbag…


You don’t have to agree with someone to be friends…

As for what’s happening in Orthodoxy in America, the sad part is that the traditional “checks n’ balances” that one sees in the homeland don’t apply here. In Russia, if you don’t like a priest, or if he doesn’t like you, you go to another parish. Indeed, the average person in the average city attends three different parishes on a regular basis. Here… many clergy revel in the Church’s “hidden” status… they’re free of the usual scrutiny by press and state that the Church in the motherland undergoes. They take advantage of the fact that we’re so small that we’re under the radar of both the press and the state. If Velencia had tried to do what he did here in Russia or in Greece, his bishop would haul him in, as he’d be afraid of the press or of questions from state officials. Here… why they do as they please, including breaking the law. They terrorise the faithful into not reporting things to the authorities (do remember Eric Iliff).

The worst thing is that they’ve aired everything that they could find in my past (we’ve all got at least one or two “skeletons” in our closet), then, they made up a thing or two, thus, destroying my privacy. You can’t replace that. They did it as an object lesson to “encourage the others”. “If you don’t play our game, we’ll do this to you, too”. That’s not Christ-like in the least. It’s why people like Lebedeff who sign themselves “with love in Christ” disgust me so. Christ would chase ’em out with the cat o’ nine tails. I’ll carry on… for we’ll either disappear in these parts (God WILL prevail in general… but there’s no guarantee of this or that part surviving), or we’ll put things right. However, we’ll not put them right without a willingness to pay the cost. Shall we? That’s THE question…


Fr Vsevolod Chaplin (1968- ), the head of the MP Department of Church and Society confabbing with Gennady Zyuganov (1944- ), the First Secretary of the KPRF, planning common strategies and actions.


Remember who stood up for the Church in the Nasty ’90s! It sure wasn’t Potapov and the Vlasovtsy! The more that the REAL Church stands to the left… the more the konvertsy turn to the RIGHT. They’re not of us… they’re to the right of the FAR Right… and that does take some doing. Do you notice how they WON’T listen to His Holiness, and they refuse to acknowledge that people like Fr Vsevolod and Bishop Mark exist? I know… Fr Vsevolod is friends with THOSE REDS and Bishop Mark is in favour of PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD. Oh… the humanity! A showdown’s coming… and it WON’T be pretty. There’s going to be plenty of blood on the floor… but we have to do it… otherwise, Satan wins. Take heart…. Occupy Wall Street has captured the popular imagination more than the phoney Tea Party ever did. The oligarchs are scared, dear… what do they know that we don’t?


It’s all ending as Low Farce… they think that they’re Roland at the Pass, but they’re just Benny Hill on a bad day. Just when you thought that you’d seen it all…


In any case… the OCA’s sliding down the chute… they’re pressuring other Orthodox bloggers. Me… they know that they can’t get me, I’ve got competent legal aid, and they don’t want to mess with that. Most other people don’t have my grit, to speak frankly. You NEVER let them “speak privately”… you’re sunk. Keep it all public and “loud n’ proud”, and you’ll weather it. You’ve got to deal with braying jackasses airing all your old peccadilloes, but them’s the breaks. Be good… where’s the jug? We both need one… let me put a slug o’ something good in your tea…


No! (To Drink)

V Govorkov



You not only joined our faith, you joined our naroda. We Russians believe that if you spill one drop of your blood for Russia… that makes you Russian. We also believe that you can be one of us if you wish it, but you can’t learn it in a book, in a classroom, or in a lecture hall. You must bake kulich at Easter, munch on apples at Transfiguration (that’s why we call it “Apple Spas”, dear), and simply pray with us. You can’t apprehend “Russity”… “Russianness”… with your mind. You can only live our life and join yourself to our “tribe” (yes… that’s what it is). Orthodoxy only comes in “embodied” forms, and there’s no such thing as “American” Orthodoxy. Take my hand, dear… it’s not scary, but it WILL challenge you… as you’ve NEVER been challenged before.


I’m NOT an art expert… I’m an art lover who’s been around long enough to know a thing or two. Therefore, there are lacunae in my knowledge, quite a bit. That being said, my contention is that you can’t know a people until you know their “visual culture”. You must internalise Repin’s painting of Ivan Grozny holding his murdered son, Makovsky’s A Boyar Wedding Feast, Serov’s famous Impressionist portrait of St Nikolai Aleksandrovich… not to mention Toidze’s famous The Mother-Motherland Calls and NO! (To Drink).


The Mother-Motherland Calls!

Irakli Toidze



Look at our cartoons… look at what we do for our kids. That’ll teach you more than any dry dusty tome would! Listen to the Song of the Goldfish and see how the Mikhail Ivanych the Blacksmith Bear saves The Seven Little Goats. That’s more important than Canon This and Father That (anyone at your parish will tell you that, too… and so will your Batiushka, if he’s any good). Orthodoxy’s highly experiential… it’s why the “thinkers” get it all wrong. It’s why we drive the papists CRAZY… the Church IS the “Big Tent”, and there’s room for all sorts in it (even the SVS blowhards… although, I think that most goodhearted people don’t listen to them, so, don’t get too hot n’ bothered about ’em). The Church is like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz… “Some people go this way… some go that way…” We’re NOT lock-step conformists, despite what Reardon and Freeman say. Orthodoxy doesn’t so much give you answers as it gives you the right questions to find the right path that leads to the correct answers.

Beware of books and beware false jumped-up frauds pretending to be elders (none of the convert priests or monastics posing as elders are such, dear). Elders DON’T have “special knowledge” or talk using “Elder Speech”. “Why don’t you talk that one over with one of your friends… they’re closer to the situation than I am”… that’s how REAL elders write. No REAL elder writes book-length tomes… they’re too busy with their prayer, life, and obediences. Normally, it’s only a sentence or two… but that’s quite good enough (it’s not because they’re so “wise”… it’s because they’re bloody busy, and you’re not the most important thing in their life). In short, it’s not like the books at all. BEWARE ALL JUMPED-UP CONVERT CHARLATANS, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO CALL THEMSELVES “READER” AND “SUBDEACON”. DON’T argue with them… it’s a pointless waste of breath… avoid them, if you can; oppose them, if you must. Be good… you’re in my prayers and I’ll certainly light a candle for you the next time that I’m at liturgy.

“The good stuff is hidden in the cupboard… get it out… put away the rotgut… the phonies are gone, dear…”


 I’m only human, after all. What they do is meant to be painful… and it is. However, they’ve ripped away my privacy and my good name… and that can never be regained. That’s why they do it. ADS brought this cancer amongst us. Oddly enough, the Centre’s original plan was to simply go after the Metropolia’s property in court (as they did with St Nick’s in the ’60s)… but Nikodim found willing patsies in ADS and Meyendorff, so he used them. Vladyki Leonty was dead… Vladyki Irinei was under ADS’ thumb… so, Rotov “saw his opportunities and he took ’em”… a true son of George Washington Plunkitt. I’ll tell you what’s most maddening… many of those who attack me the most viciously in public say in private, “I really respect her…” Trust me, a little more “respect” like that, and I’ll be in the grave.


This time, it’s all me. It’s not that my correspondents didn’t say interesting things… I couldn’t present anything without offering clues to their identities… and I view privacy as the most precious thing that my correspondents possess. I’ve had mine taken away… I’ll fight anyone who tries to do that to anyone else…


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