Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Accidental Blaze Damages St Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Woonsocket RI


When Tina Perkins answered the pounding on the rectory door, the pastor’s wife from St Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Church couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Flames had broken through the roof of the iconic granite church located at 74 Harris Avenue, just 20 yards or so from the side door of the rectory. She said, “The fire-fighters were banging on the door, telling us to get the kids out of the house. The back of the church was engulfed in flames. It got up into the roof and was coming through the rafters”. Fire-fighters were summoned to the blaze just after 04.30 EST Wednesday by a 911 call, which Perkins surmises must have been placed by a neighbour. She told us that the church has a fire alarm, but it’s not hard-wired to the Woonsocket Fire Department. She said, “We didn’t hear it”. As the faint glow of dawn broke, the flames had been extinguished and smoke could be seen wafting from two charred gashes in the slate roof of the 70-year-old church. No one was injured.

However, the damage was done, and Woonsocket Fire Captain Michael Morin, Assistant State Deputy Fire Marshal, said that it was extensive. He said the fire heavily damaged the rear interior of the church, a floor had given way, and fire-fighters were worried that the main crossbeam that supports the peaked roof of the structure had also been compromised. The finished basement, used for church functions, was also flooded. It took just a few hours for investigators to determine that the cause of the fire was accidental. The State Fire Marshal blamed the fire on leftover coal and ashes from an incense burner placed in a plastic bucket. The ashes had apparently been left in the church the previous evening, following a service in honour of church’s patron saint.

In an eerie coincidence, the fire happened on the very day the Ukrainian Orthodox church celebrates the Feast of St Michael… 21 November. as he stood in the morning chill outside the church, Fr Anthony Perkins, the pastor, said, “People are going to be heartbroken. They had a lot of love for this building, a lot of memories, a lot of history”. He also said that the sons and daughters of Ukrainian immigrants who arrived in Woonsocket just after the turn of the 20th century built the church in 1942. Today, the church has over 100 member families; it’s actually growing, drawing newcomers from outside the traditional ethnic base.

St Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Church is one of the most striking and majestic church edifices in the city. Its twin granite towers topped with golden onion domes typical of Eastern European religious design easily distinguish the landmark structure. Although the interior framework of the building is wood, and the rafters, as Tina Perkins put it, are “like kindling”, the exterior of the building is of sturdy granite block. The roof is black slate. Look closely and you’ll notice the slate shingles on one side of the roof aren’t the same size as those on the other. That’s because the church was built during a period of World War II materials shortages and construction crews… church members themselves… used whatever they could scrape together.

Fr Anthony vowed, “We’ll rebuild. It’s a very strong community”. Until then, he said that services would be relocated to the rectory building where he and his wife reside with their four children. He said that it has a hall inside that’s big enough to hold services. As Fr Anthony spoke to a reporter, the porch of the Victorian rectory had been temporarily converted into a repository for some of the church’s most symbolic assets… an ornate, hand-carved lectern bearing a portrait of St Michael, the metal baptismal font, a candle urn, an altar tabernacle, and many other items. Fr Anthony credited fire-fighters with saving the treasured artefacts, saying, “As soon as they could get into the church they started bringing stuff out that they knew was important to us. The fire was still burning and they were going into the building to bring things out”.

Fr Anthony said that he was grateful that no one was injured in the fire and that, despite the horrific damage to the structure, it’s salvageable, thanks to the efforts of fire-fighters. As crews were winding down operations, one fire-fighter spontaneously acknowledged the success of the operation, saying churches, by nature, are notoriously vulnerable once a fire gets started inside them. In their very design, churches are open, airy chasms where fires quickly spread. He said, “You know how many churches are saved in fires? Not many”.

21 November 2012

Russ Olivo

The (Woonsocket RI) Call


Editor’s Note:

Whatever you may think of Ukie nationalist nutters, these guys need an old-school po-nashemu hand. Send ‘em a fin or two, if you can. Here’s some contact info:




(401) 762 3939

Snail Mail:

St Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Church

74 Harris Ave

Woonsocket RI


Give ‘em a hand… that’s what baba and dede would’ve done… you should do it, too! Hey, they might even give ya some pierogies and pivo… ya never know. Remember, it’s a Christian’s duty to give what they can at times like this.




21 November 2012. Is Terrence Mattingly Stating an Orthodox Viewpoint? Or, Is It Just Heterodox Vapouring in Pseudo-Orthodox Vesture?


Terrence Mattingly got up on his soapbox and admiringly quoted a Far Right papist source, to wit:

One thing the Democrats really stand for, however, is abortion… abortion on demand, abortion without restraint, abortion paid for by all of us, abortion for the poor of the earth. I am not a one-issue voter, but they have become a one-issue party. … If traditional Democrats who are disillusioned with the selling out of the working poor and the unborn simply became registered Independent voters, would not more attention be paid?

This is utter rubbish from stem to stern. The single-issue party isn’t the Democrats… it’s the Republicans. They signed on to all of the sectarian “Moral Majority” twaddle, including approving bans on abortion that even the Church balks at. Oh, I’m sorry, the Grand Olde Perverts are a Threefold Truth Party:

  • The state must use its coercive power to smash down all those who aren’t “conventional” and “respectable”… the state must smash all the opponents to the oligarch backers of the GOP, with violence and force, if necessary
  • The state shall place no restraints upon the Oligarch Crapitalists and their Affluent Effluent cronies… investment to be taxed at far lower rates than earned income… wages to be kept at the lowest-possible rates
  • The state shall engage in permanent warfare in foreign parts to enrich the Military-Industrial ComplexHalliburton is more important than the people next door… healthcare and education don’t count as much as bombs and drones do

In short, Mattingly’s contention is crank, crackbrained, and completely out of line. However, such prelest-ridden bloviation is common amongst the konvertsy. Does it surprise you to find out that Mattingly is a close partner in crime to Freddie M-G and Rod Dreher? They support such godless imposters as Darrell Issa and Allen West (thank God, West went down to deserved defeat). In fact, what’s happening now is that the major Grand Olde Phony candidates for 2016 are lining up and shouting how they’re all in favour of so-called “Creationism” (click here)… that means that the GOP’s slipping further into irrelevance and toadying to knuckle-dragging “Evangelical” yahoos. One of the best things that came out of the OCA Holy Synod shitcanning Paffhausen was that it ended his effort to ally us with “Christian Atheists”… as a Russian bishop called “Evangelical” phonies.

This means that Mattingly lines up with such amoral troglodytes as Todd Akin and Franklin Graham. Click here for a story on a sad case in Ireland. I asked three Orthodox MDs about such cases… there was a consensus… “If there’s a miscarriage, the pregnancy is over; our only responsibility is to safeguard the woman’s health”. That seemed straightforward enough to me. Yet, what about the moral dimension of this dilemma? I asked a priest in Russia about this… it took several days for his response to reach me (he was thinking it over… that’s the sign of a trusty source). He wrote:

There are hard moral cases… the Church NEVER blesses abortion, but there are cases in a fallen world where the only choices are bad ones. In that case, you choose the “least bad” option… but the Church doesn’t bless it… it accepts the reality. However, this was a case where the pregnancy was over. In that case, the Church advises its children to heed the Apostle and follow their doctor’s advice. Nevertheless, pastoral oikonomia in particular cases never sets aside the general rule. Never forget, there are sins greater than abortion.

Terrence Mattingly’s hardline stance isn’t worthy of a decent human being, let alone that of an Orthodox Christian believer. His rightwing fanaticism is clear… this is what the konvertsy are, kids… they want to put this madness in as the driving ideology of Christ’s Church. God do spare us…

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Albany NY

21 November 2012. A Point to Ponder… American Slavonia… It Ain’t Dead Yet


The tagline is from an old Walt Solek song (he was a Polack polka musician from Meriden CT… great guy and good musician). There’s such a thing as “American Slavonia”… we eat “pierogies” and “galoomkies” and “keelbasies“… hey, I know that’s not what it is in the original, but I’m talking about what American Polacks, Russkies, Hunkies (they’re honorary members of Slavonia in the USA), Ukies, Czechs, Slovaks, and Karpatsky po-nashemu folk really do and say. There’s a gemisch out there… polka music, beer, pierogies, Jimmy Sturr, Who Stole the Keeshka?, and unassuming good cheer. Religiously, we can be Catholics, Orthodox, or Lutheran, but the general social grouping holds.

Despite what some konvertsy believe, the ethnics are still the majority amongst Russian Orthodox here. No… there’s no such thing as “American Orthodoxy”… but there IS Russian Orthodoxy, and you don’t have to be “Russian” to be “Russian Orthodox”. To say, “Russian Orthodoxy” is to acknowledge that our religious roots aren’t in America… that our religion’s ways are rooted in a non-Western civilisational bloc. You don’t have to like pierogies and pivo… but it won’t hurt you if you do. Pass the jug and smile… now, that’s the American Slavonian way!


21 November 2012. ‘Nuff Said… Good Stuff… Read n’ Heed. Christmas Belongs To All of Us, Not Just the Self-Appointed Enforcers of Orthodoxy


Thanksgiving is just a few days away, which means the Christmas season will soon be in full flower. Christmas season is my favourite time of the year… always has been, and probably always will be. No, I’m no longer the devout religionist I was when I was a Catholic altar boy. Far from it. However, I retain an almost child-like love of the yuletide season. I like Christmas music and Christmas movies and Christmas spirit and all the other cultural trappings of the occasion. I’ll be damned if I’m going to let the folks at Fox News, or any of the other Christmas Nazis, tell me how I should observe this special season. If I choose to say “Happy Holidays” to my friends and acquaintances, I don’t care if it somehow offends the sensibilities of the insufferably sanctimonious people who are forever harping about the imaginary War on Christmas.

Where do these people get off with their pretensions of ownership of Christmas? Their endless whining about how the rest of us observe the holiday is just part and parcel of the culture of victimisation they’re forever peddling among their fellow right-wing loonies. Oh sure, they can find isolated examples of public schools that carry secularism too far with a ban on religious Christmas carols or some such silly censorship. Nevertheless, to pretend that these incidents are commonplace or represent some galloping godlessness in our society is to ignore the fact that our culture will become awash in the next few weeks with more Christmas symbolism than at any time in the past.

When I was a kid, the Christmas season didn’t start until December, and its last vestiges disappeared shortly after New Year’s Day. Thanksgiving leftovers were long gone before Christmas trees or other decorations went up. Yet, these days, the Christmas season starts soon after Halloween and lasts for two months. Some people even leave their Christmas trees up until the Super Bowl. To those people who complain that Christmas is insufficiently religious anymore, my response is simple and fair-minded… I’m not going to tell you how you should formulate your sense of spiritualism, and I’ll thank you not to tell me how I should formulate mine. Incidentally, the image at the top of this post is a screen-shot from Fox News Channel. Notice the absence of any mention of Christmas or any hint of religion. I trust that they’ve summarily sacked the godless functionary responsible for such a sacrilege.


In a vein similar to mine, pundit David Sirota had this to say last year:

One of the defining qualities of late December is the predictable and ritualised nature of America’s holiday season. Other than discovering what’s inside the wrapped gift boxes, there’s no mystery or suspense to it anymore. The Christmas music starts right before Thanksgiving. Then, come the flickering lights, the red-and-green decor, Hollywood’s vacation movie blitz, and finally, with media charlatans turning the key, the fake outrage machine rumbles back to life. Like a narcissist’s souped-up 4-by-4, this turbocharged colossus of self-righteous indignation makes a lot of noise and leaves a mess in its wake… but ultimately says a lot more about its drivers’ pitiable insecurities than anything else…

In a majority-Christian nation whose politics and culture are steeped in Christianity, these zealots are interested in pretending their fellow Christians are somehow oppressed, contradictory facts be damned. In propagating such an illusion, they’re not earnestly embodying their religion’s missionary spirit. Instead, they’re manufacturing victimhood, all to gin up sympathy and create a rationale to continue ramrodding their theology down everyone else’s throats.

That some feel this need to push their faith with such craven tactics speaks volumes about the nature of spiritual self-doubt today. Sure, our tumultuous world of bombast and chaos leads us to assume that the loudest are the most devout. However, in practice, those who are truly comfortable in their faith are often the most humble about their orthodoxies because they have nothing to prove. By contrast, those who are the most insecure in their beliefs can sometimes be the most in-your-face about their dogma.

19 November 2012

Pat Cunningham

Rockford (IL) Register Star


Editor’s Note:

Here is the best description of the konvertsy mindset that I’ve ever heard:

Those who are the most insecure in their beliefs can sometimes be the most in-your-face about their dogma.

Hear, hear! Real Orthodox priests bury the dead regardless of their creed (although the full rite is only for Orthodox people), baptise kids without giving the parents the Third Degree, and exercise pastoral oikonomia. Phony konvertsy priests refuse to bury people… refuse to baptise kids unless you jump through hoops to satisfy them… and they kick out everybody who doesn’t meet their personal idiosyncratic notions (they also get peeved if you don’t “tithe”… a completely unchristian and sectarian conceit, by the way).

I seem to see a difference. If I had to choose between spending time with Pat Cunningham or Rod Dreher, there’s no competition at all. I prefer the company of decent sceptics to that of “religious” phonies… and that’s that. ‘Nuff said…


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