Voices from Russia

Thursday, 15 February 2018

15 February 2018. A Thought from Vladyki Lazar

“Everyone needs to carry their cross”… this reminds me of puffed-up clergy such as Trenham, Paffhausen, Damick, and Reardon… they turn more people away from Christ and His Church than they attract to it… those that they do attract are nutters we’re better off without.

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It isn’t that atheists in the West don’t believe in God; rather, many of them believe in Him, but hate Him. This is because they see the Western God as being “out to get them”. He’s preached as vain and vindictive, looking for an excuse to punish you, while claiming to love you.

Photios Kontoglou

Indeed, God is preached, not only in the West, but by some Orthodox clergy, as being the supreme child-abusing father who pretends to forgive, but actually punishes his own Son in the most hideous manner on behalf of mankind for his own satisfaction. However, punishment and forgiveness are mutually exclusive. You can have one or the other, but not both. Who actually would want to spend eternity in the house of an abusive father?

13 February 2018

Bishop Lazar Puhalo

Saturday, 10 February 2018

10 February 2018. Some Thoughts from Vladyki Lazar

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Frankly, I’m not so certain why the existence of evil should be an enigma. Evil is primarily “the absence of empathy”, which is why the two prime commands of Christ are to love God will all your being and to have empathy for your neighbour (which is the only way that you could love your neighbour as yourself). Loss of empathy is evident in the “Fall” story because it chronicles the birth of ego, egoism, and self-love. Those characteristics are at the very essence of Satan and the root of the demonic. Perhaps, this is why Romanides insisted that the way to defeat Satan was through growth in unselfish love.

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Please, please, people of faith, don’t assert what “Jesus would do” or what “Jesus wouldn’t do”. Nobody knows the answer to that, and it’s such a tired formula. Moreover, it really is important to remember that we follow the Christ, and it isn’t painful to refer to Him as Jesus Christ or Christ Jesus (I realise that’s primarily the Orthodox Christian practice, but I’d like to encourage our fellow Christians to practise it also). Salvation really does consists in the restoration of the human nature to unity with God in the person of Christ Jesus, who has saved us, not by being a human sacrifice to God, but by ransoming us from the power of death, thus redeeming us from the bondage to “him who held the power of death”. He’s the recapitulation (as Apostle Paul says) of the human nature. He accomplished this because He is the Christ, Who is fully God become also, at the same time, without dilution or admixture, fully wholly human… ending, in Himself, the alienation of the human nature from the Divine, and making our Theosis possible. Jesus is never “just Jesus”… He’s always and inseparably the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Remember… we follow Him… He doesn’t follow us.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Aleksei Ilyich on Idols… Orthodox Style

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Once I asked an audience of believers:

How does one pray to help someone struggling with drunkenness?

Everyone answered in unison:

Before the icon of the “Inexhaustible Chalice”.

I answered:

That’s right. Don’t even try to pray before the Vladimir, Iveron, or Kazan icons… it won’t help you.

Everyone was ashamed. This is what it can become. The Mother of God is no longer our hope; the icon becomes an idol for us. It’s so easy to reduce Orthodoxy to paganism. Read about the religions of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. There was a god in charge of each aspect of human life. People worshipped them; they sacrificed to them. They forgot the One God; they didn’t need Him. We can fall into this rut in the veneration of the saints. Already, unfortunately, many believers don’t seek God, but saints; they ask for help, not in healing from passions, not for salvation, but for signs and wonders. Moreover, this false faith is one of the main reasons for the infertility of our prayers and of our many services. Here you are right, with such a faith, the saints can indeed become a palisade behind which you can lose Christ.

Aleksei Ilyich Osipov

Honoured Professor of the Moscow Spiritual Academy  

Friday, 20 October 2017

20 October 2017. “We’re Christians! That’s What We Do (And Don’t Do)!”

St Nicholas Prevents the Falsely-Accused from Being Executed

Ilya Repin

1889

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You see all sorts of Anglo toddler konvertsy crawling all over cyberspace, telling all and sundry about how great Orthodox Christians they are and telling the world “what the Church teaches”. This is rubbish of the highest order.

For instance, Rod Dreher boasted in a public post (on a major secular website) that he “prayed the Jesus Prayer hundreds of times a day”. NO REAL CHRISTIAN DOES THAT. That’s spiritual boasting of the most shallow and juvenile sort. Any real Christian will tell you that prayer is very difficult… very difficult, indeed. Furthermore, one NEVER boasts in public about one’s prayer life. It’s just beyond the pale and no real Christian does such a revolting thing. Real Christians keep their prayer lives private, confidential before Almighty God.

We’re Christians… that’s what we do.

In another case, a group of loud konvertsy brats attacked Bp Benjamin Peterson in public for showing mercy on a transsexual person. Firstly, a bishop can extend pastoral oikonomia to anyone that he pleases. In fact, one of the bishop’s roles is to protect individuals from ignoramus lynch mobs. In this case, the Church has no set doctrine on the matter… yes, there are many loudmouth rightwingers saying otherwise, but the Church has issued no synodical and binding ukase in a recognised Local or Ecumenical Sobor. Bp Benjamin carried out his duty as a bishop to protect an innocent from the mob.

We’re Christians… that’s what we do.

A Far Right political activist, James Jatras, stated on the website Russian Faith that the West is promoting degeneracy and implied that Russia is promoting morality. One of the obligations of a Christian is to tell the truth. Is Mr Jatras telling the truth? The truth is far more nuanced than this Far Right windbag puts it. For instance, in Russia, a person can change the designation of gender on their internal passport if they present the proper medical documentation to the OVIR (the office responsible for vital statistics and civil registry). In fact, the Russian rules are almost identical to the rules in New York State (and many other states in the USA). Therefore, the USA and Russia follow similar policies.

In Russia, homosexuality is no longer criminal. As the leading journo D K Kiselyov stated:

Everybody knows where the gay clubs are and everybody knows who’s gay. It’s no secret.

That’s the same as it is in the USA. Both countries have similar laws on child protection and child abuse. Mr Jatras is a liar by omission. He creates a straw-man in order to push his Far Right scheme. Christians should tell the truth. Mr Jatras doesn’t. That’s evil. Christians shouldn’t be silent in the face of such chicanery.

We’re Christians… that’s what we do.

One could go on. However, it’s truly simple. Christians don’t gang on up on others. Christians don’t boast about their prayer life. Christians don’t tell blatant lies to push a political agenda. Christians DO focus on their own sinfulness and work to root it out. I don’t harass the bishops to “punish” those that I deem “immoral”. I have plenty of sin on my own plate. Reflect on the fact that those making public accusations and pestering the bishops have just as much sin on their plates. I call that corruption and pretence. However, pray for these people and for their conversion to the real Faith.

We’re Christians… that’s what we do.

BMD

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