Voices from Russia

Saturday, 1 December 2012

1 December 2012. Read n’ Heed from Batiushka Andrew in England…

00 01.12.12 It's Up to Us..


Why do so many Anglicans who become Orthodox “make it up as they go along?”

Simply because they’re not anchored in the Tradition, they’ve never lived it, but only lived outside it. For them, Orthodoxy means to read a few books (probably, written by other converts like themselves), look at a few websites, learn a few techniques, and that’s it; they never understand that Orthodoxy’s a way of life and the values which come from that life. Their lack of spiritual preparation, along with their overnight receptions and ordinations, all cause so many scandals in the Church. I believe that the problem comes from certain bishops who ordain them without giving time and training. The worst thing is when these people think they know everything and refuse to learn from others. Tragically, after a few years, such movements die out like withered branches cut off from the tree of Orthodoxy. The only hope is that they live in places where Orthodox  Romanians, Greeks, and Russians et al can teach them and convert then to real (and not bookish) Orthodoxy.

Editor’s Note:

It’s time to embrace real deal Orthodoxy here in the diaspora. That means that all the “Russian Orthodox” in the diaspora have to come together as one… not spiritually… but in fact, in truth, institutionally. The Old ROCOR, MP Abroad, and the so-called OCA are rusting Cold War hulks… they’re positively dangerous now (I’d say that the so-called “Carpatho-Russians” and “Ukrainians” are part of us, as well, and need to be with us). We’re in a time of transition… the old has died, but the new hasn’t taken flesh yet. However, mark this… before we sing Christ is Risen, we sing Noble Joseph. Indeed, the singing of Noble Joseph MUST precede the singing of Christ is Risen. Today, we see the quiet of the “three days in the tomb”… but rumour has it that there’s a resurrection on offer…



Saturday, 15 September 2012

15 September 2012. Video. The Local Parish: It’s the Real Thing, Baby…




The parishes are where the rubber hits the road in diaspora Orthodoxy. The so-called “national churches” are piffles… farts in the wind, if you will. The parishes are where people encounter the Church, and, in Orthodox terms, that means that’s where they encounter Christ. The parishes survived the meltdown after the Russian Revolution, the parishes survived the Church War of 1965-2003… they’re going to survive the present imbroglio, too. I’ll tell you a little secret… to most of our parishioners, the “national church” has no reality… it’s just a bunch of layabout jabronies looking for a handout. It’s why things have gone on as long as they have… you see, the local parishes are healthy, and that’s all that matters for most believers.

Some of our parishes are marble wonders… others are converted from other uses (and it shows)… but they all have the same thing on offer… the REAL thing. If I have to tell you what that is, you don’t know Orthodoxy.

The parishes… that’s Orthodoxy for me…


Sunday, 12 August 2012

12 August 2012. How the REAL Church Goes About Its Business…


In October, there’s going to be a meeting of Russian Orthodox hierarchs whose sees are in the diaspora. It’s clearly the most important Church event in our parts since the OCAautocephaly“. For those who wish to know more, click here. Fr Andrew’s already written a good post, so, I’m just going to point the way to you.

Compare this to the increasing incoherency and deepening surrealism found in the OCA. It’s time to go home…


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

“It’s All Over!”


Positive mental attitude is a psychological term that describes a mental phenomenon in which the central idea is that one can increase achievement through optimistic thought processes. PMA implies that one has a vision of good-natured change in one’s mind; it employs a state of mind that continues to seek, find, and execute ways to win, or find a desirable outcome, regardless of the circumstances. It rejects negativity, defeatism, and hopelessness. Part of the process of achieving PMA employs motivating “self-talk” and deliberate goal-directed thinking.


Affirmations in New Age and New Thought terminology refers primarily to the practise of positive thinking… fostering “a positive mental attitude supported by affirmations will achieve success in anything”. More specifically, an affirmation is a carefully-formatted statement that should be repeated to one’s self and written down frequently. For an affirmation to be effective, it needs to be present-tense, positive, personal, and specific.


Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. The “ideas” or “cognitions” in question may include attitudes and beliefs, the awareness of one’s behaviour, and facts. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours, or by justifying or rationalising their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours.


The fact is that when the Church is persecuted, people can either support the persecuted or else support the persecutors. It is our Christian duty to forgive our persecutors, but, we cannot and, indeed, must not forget, so that this does not happen again.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips


JP and Co tell us continuously, “It’s all over! Everything has changed!” Of course, the Millennium is not upon us, the Second Coming has not occurred, the lion has not lain down with the lamb, and the Money Tree has not sprouted in the backyard. The very vehemence of this statement is a sign that the driving ideology behind JP is NOT Christian… it is emphatically an example of an “affirmation”, which is a form of “Positive Mental Attitude” (see the definitions above). Don’t confuse Positive Mental Attitude with the Positivism of Comte and Durkheim… they are NOT the same; the former is more a petit-bourgeois affectation (found especially in the affluent effluent in American suburbia), whilst the latter is a real intellectual thesis (although I, and others, would argue that it is deeply flawed).

One reason why people are rejecting this statement of JP is that the facts on the ground contradict his words, causing an acute case of cognitive dissonance (see definition above). For instance, immediately after his election, and directly after he declared the ancien régime dead and buried, everyone saw the news of the Sidebottom settlement on oca.org. THAT set off alarm bells in many minds, mine included. It was the same old lawyerly evasion that the old gang used… set in the same prissy and evasive prose… “We have done no wrong”. Then, why was there a “confidential settlement?” Everyone was waiting for an apology from JP to Mr Sidebottom… it didn’t occur. Doubt entered the door… it wasn’t cognitive dissonance yet… but, it put many of us on the alert.

Then, the Koumentakos case lingered in the courts, and the OCA backed Raymond Velencia to the hilt. JP went to Venice FL to pay his respects to Bobby K (who kept his sinecure as “Parish Outreach Coordinator”… an office lacking in most parishes due to lack of funds)… Igor Burdikoff stayed on as Dean of Upstate NY (after “losing” four years’ worth of diocesan financial records)… Lyonyo Kishkovsky retained the same office that he occupied since the days of Feodosy Lazor… and expenses not delineated in the published budget surfaced (LK going to Kazakhstan, JP and Co going to Moscow, and the legal expenses for the Koumentakos case, for instance). As “Moses” put it so well, “Well, the new boss looks just like the old boss”.

If there has been substantive change… where is it? There is one change… and it was not for the better. Matushka Nina Stroyen pointed up to me, “Herman was a megalomaniac, but, he was Orthodox to the bone”. That is true… Herman Swaiko was a bastard, to be sure… but, he WAS “one of us”. I could NEVER imagine Herman allowing SVS to sign a pact with a TEC seminary. Herman would not have done so… he would have sent a drooling “absent-minded professor” academic priest to that spurious Anglican conference, and that would be that. Certainly, he would sign no “covenant” with the TEC, thank you very much. JP and Hatfield did so. This was a MAJOR break with the past. It was also a MAJOR break with the policy of the MP as regards the TEC (Moscow has broken off “dialogue”)… but, that’s another story, isn’t it? (I think that it’s unwise in the extreme for JP to disregard Moscow in this… after all, they are his only “canonical lifeline”. He doesn’t seem to care… interesting, nicht wahr?)

What is interesting for us in this present case is that JP and Co are not “defending” their actions (at least, not in accessible public venues)… it is as if they believe that if they ignore it long enough, it shall “go away”. That brings us back to “affirmations” and “Positive Mental Attitude”. These are major portions of what I call “Godless Suburban Positive Therapeutese”. Its high priests are “therapists”, “facilitators”, and “counsellors”, that is, the “shrinkie-dinkie” has taken the place of the clergyman. Indeed, in the OCA (and, I believe, the AOCANA) no man can enter seminary unless a shrink vets him (shades of Timothy Blumentritt, eh?). True, they are just aping what they see in the heterodox confessions… God forbid that we should follow our own path… they may not invite us to their parties!

Note well that oca.org acts as though everything is “normal”, everything is “fine”, and the situation is “stable”. I have seen this on a smaller scale in my parish. During the years of crisis under Herman, one heard not a peep about it (I am NOT lying… no one said a word). One only saw that this one or that one “disappeared”. No one said anything… and if one asked about it, one received either evasions or a smile from the Iggster (he has the broadest insincere “sincere smile” that I have ever seen… I have seen the face of evil… it is not “ugly”, it is bland and smiling). Everything was “normal” and “fine”, and everything was “stable”. Note well that Iggy is one of those around JP and Co (they don’t mind that he “lost” church records… they do keep him in office, after all!)… he is also deeply up to his neck with the New Skete crowd (do recall JP’s fulsome praise of that lot). Therefore, I have had direct observation of one of the most notorious and hated modernists in the Church… I can see how JP and Co are going to act… they are going to act with the same smiling evasive blandness that Iggy employs. If it is evil in the case of Igor Burdikoff, it is evil in the case of JP. There is no way around it.

We’ve been “had”, people. We all believed in a will o’ the wisp because our hatred of the actions of Herman Swaiko blinded us as to the true nature of JP. Now, there is an unholy trinity of former Episkies (JP, BP, and Hatfield) running the OCA. They intend to take the OCA into an Anglican direction, as  the Nashotah House pact indicates. All that shall linger, I fear, is an Orthodox shell, a mere “Eastern” liturgical veneer over a noxious mixture of Anglican comprehensiveness and convert hubris. We did want Herman out “at all costs”, didn’t we? Well… I’ll admit freely that my dislike of Herman’s overbearing highhandedness blinded me… I think that I am NOT alone. “At all costs”… the bill is now due for payment, and we don’t like it. However, there is a fly in the ointment, folks. The Lord gave us EXACTLY what we asked for.

“It’s all over!” Yes, it is… but, not in the sense that JP means. Furthermore, we must, first, REMEMBER. As Fr Andrew points up, “We cannot and, indeed, must not forget, so that this does not happen again”. Think on that when someone like JP or BP tells you to “move on”… ask yourself, “WHY?” Otherwise, we shall chain ourselves to a carousel of folly. Our fate shall be self-inflicted and fatal… our children shall show more sense than we have… they shall pick up and leave (as too many have done over the past 40 years due to mischief by clerics and the gossips they allow free rein).

I believe that there is still time to turn back to sanity… shall you join me?

img_0001Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Albany NY

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