Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

18 July 2018. Let’s End the Pietistic Claptrap About the Tsar’s Death

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One of the more scurrilous stories going about in recent days is that the killing of Tsar St Nikolai and his family was a “Jewish Ritual Murder”. I kid you not! Firstly, Ya M Yurovsky wasn’t a practising Jew. How could he carry out a “Jewish” act if he wasn’t part of the “Tribe”? Some sources detail that he dallied with Lutheran Christianity before becoming a Marxist. In short, those making such accusations know more about Judaism than Yurovsky probably did. He came from a non-religious Jewish family in Tomsk, in Siberia, far from the usual venues of Jewish community life. Today, this goofy submission mainly comes from one Tikhon Shevkunov, a Far Right cleric with political and oligarch connections. He embarrassed HH by bringing this fantasy up at a serious legal and historical forum at the Centre. HH didn’t take long to react. He “promoted” Shevkunov… he made him a metropolitan in charge of a minor metropolia that only covers Pskov Oblast. Pskov Oblast is a backwater that’s been in decline for many decades. HH had to determine the depth of Shevkunov’s real support amongst the siloviki*, and when he concluded that Shevkunov wasn’t as powerful as he seemed, he kicked Shevkunov out of the Centre. The Church rejects the “Jewish Ritual Murder” submission as anti-Semitic rubbish, unfit for Christian people. Yes… there are anti-Semites amongst us pushing this noisome theory… many in the ROCOR, of old White Guard families. A priest told me that this idiocy has become a “litmus test”, so many people who seemingly support it, don’t… they simply don’t want trouble with the elements who foster such nonsense.

  • silovik: “person of power”, an “operator” or “person of influence”… generally used of those in the political or military apparat

Secondly, V I Lenin and the VTsIK didn’t order the deaths of the imperial family and their retainers. According to the testimony of three telegraphists from the Yekaterinburg post office received later by Sokolov’s commission, Lenin in conversation with Berzin on direct wire ordered:

Take under your protection the whole royal family and don’t allow any kind of violence against them. If such occurs, you’ll forfeit your own life.

According to historian A G Latyshev, the telegraph communication between Lenin and Berzin is one of the proofs of Lenin’s desire to save the life of the Romanovs. Latyshev believes that Lenin, unwilling to spoil relations with German Kaiser Wilhelm, a close relative of the Romanovs, didn’t approve the shooting. If we proceed from the available documents, the fate of the royal family as a whole wasn’t discussed at any level in Moscow. The only discussions were on the fate of Nikolai, and most prefered to have a trial. According to a number of historians, there was a fundamental consensus that the former monarch was to receive a death sentence. According to investigator V N Solovyov, F I Goloshchekin, referring to the complexity of the military situation around  ​​Yekaterinburg and the possibility of the capture of the royal family by the Whites, proposed shooting Nikolai without a trial, but the VTsIK categorically denied this option. The Ural Soviet sent a telegram received in Moscow on 16 July at 21.22. G Z Ioffe suggested that the “justice” referred to in the telegram referred to the execution of Nikolai or even of the whole family. There’s no answer from the central leadership to this telegram in the archives. Indeed, Archpriest V A Chaplin, some years ago, confirmed that the VTsIK sent no telegram ordering the family’s death. A few hours before the shooting of the royal family, on 16 July, Lenin prepared a telegram as a reply to a Danish newspaper that asked him about the fate of Nikolai, which denied rumours of his death. At 16.00, the text went to the telegraph office, but the telegram wasn’t sent. According to Latyshev:

This means that Lenin didn’t even imagine the possibility of the execution of Nikolai (not to mention the whole family) the next night.

According to the RF Genprokuratura, the official decision to shoot Nikolai came on 16 July 1918 from the Presidium of the Ural Regional Soviet of Workers, Peasants, and Soldiers Deputies. No one preserved the original document of this decision. However, a week after the shooting, the Ural Soviet published the official text of the sentence:

Decree of the Presidium of the Ural Regional Council of Workers, Peasants and Red Army Deputies

In view of the fact that Czechoslovak gangs threatened the capital of the Red Urals, Yekaterinburg, in view of the fact that the crowned executioner might escape the people’s justice (a White Guard conspiracy was just discovered, aimed at kidnapping the entire Romanov family), the Presidium of the regional committee, in fulfillment of the will of the people, decided to shoot the former Tsar Nikolai Romanov, guilty before the people of countless bloody crimes. The decree of the Presidium of the Regional Soviet was carried out on the night of 16-17 July. The Romanov family was transferred from Yekaterinburg to another, more secure place.

The Presidium of the Regional Soviet of Workers, Peasants, and Red Army Deputies of the Urals

Genprokuratura investigator V N Solovyov, who conducted a criminal investigation into the death of the royal family, examined the memoirs of those personally involved in the shooting, as well as the testimony of other former Ipatiev House guards, concluding that their descriptions of the shooting didn’t contradict each other, differing only in small details. He didn’t find any documents that directly proved the involvement of Lenin and Sverdlov. However, if he thought that Lenin and Sverdlov accepted the shooting of the royal family, he said:

I believe, of course, they did. On 18 July 1918, having learned that the whole family had been shot, they officially accepted the execution, punishing none of the organisers and participants in the shooting.

Meanwhile, Latyshev noted that the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, under the chairmanship of Sverdlov, approved (recognised as correct) the decision of the Uralbolsovet about the execution of Nikolai II. However, the Sovnarkom, headed by Lenin, only “took note of it”.

Solovyov completely rejected the “Jewish Ritual Murder” thesis. He pointed up that most of the participants in the discussion of the shooting were Russians, only one Jew (Yurovsky) took part in the murder, and the rest were Russians and Latvians. The investigation also disproved the version advanced by M K Diterikh about “chopping off heads” for ritual purposes. According to the conclusion of forensic medical experts, the cervical vertebrae of all skeletons show no traces of post-mortem separation of the heads. In October 2011, Solovyov decided to end the investigation. The official conclusion indicated that the investigation didn’t find documentary evidence of the involvement of Lenin or anyone else from the top leadership of the Bolsheviks in the shooting of the royal family.

In short, the shooting was a panicked decision by the local authorities. The Whites were on the doorstep, so to speak, so they decided to put an end to the family, to avoid their liberation by the Whites. It wasn’t a “foreign killing” nor was it a “Jewish murder”… the facts simply don’t support such moonshine. Besides, many of those pushing such nonsense today are those who whitewash fascist collaborators such as Vlasov and Krasnov. You can see that their anti-Semitism, although not identical to that of the Nazis, was similar enough to it so that they were comfortable with collaboration with the German fascist persecutors of the Rodina. Does it surprise you that most of them went to work for the USA after the end of the VOV?

The Church considers the royal family “Passionbearers”, those who met their fate in a Christian fashion, NOT “martyrs”, as they didn’t die in defence of Christianity. As for me, I believe it a great historical tragedy, one that we besmirch by bringing in such nonsense as “Ritual Murder”. Let them rest in peace. The Romanov dynasty died with them… the actual chance of a “restoration” is next to nil. Let history and the Almighty see and judge.

BMD

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Saturday, 7 July 2018

Lady Godiva: A Righteous Englishwoman

Cloisters Cross (King of the Confessors), walrus ivory, carved by Master Hugo, mid-12th century

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According to a well-known tradition, Lady Godiva was a noblewoman who rode naked through the streets of Coventry, covering her modesty with her long hair. She did this to free the townspeople from the taxation that her husband imposed on them. Although postmodernists doubted this story, we see no reason to doubt the backbone of the tradition, which does date from at least the twelfth century. Of course, we should avoid modern misunderstandings… for example, Coventry was then a settlement of only a few hundred people and not a major city.

Godiva  (in Old English Godgifu) was a popular name, meaning “gift of God”. Lady Godiva was probably a widow when she married Leofric, Earl of Mercia. They had one known son, Aelfgar. Both were generous benefactors to monasteries. In 1043, Leofric founded and endowed a monastery in Coventry on the site of a convent destroyed by the Danes in 1016, Godiva being the moving force behind this act. In the 1050s, her name and her husband’s were on a grant of land to the monastery of St Mary in Worcester and on the endowment of the minster at Stow Mary in Lincolnshire.

 She and her husband are also commemorated as benefactors of other monasteries in Leominster, Chester, Much Wenlock and Evesham. Lady Godiva also gave Coventry a number of works in precious metal by the famous goldsmith Mannig and bequeathed a necklace valued at 100 Marks of silver. Another necklace went to Evesham for the figure of the Virgin accompanying the life-size gold and silver rood she and her husband gave, and St Paul’s Cathedral received a gold-fringed chasuble. She and her husband were among the most generous Old English donors in the last decades before the Norman Conquest.

Wulviva and Godiva (usually held to be Godiva and her sister) gave the manor of Woolhope in Herefordshire, along with four others, to the Cathedral in Hereford before the Norman Conquest. Her signature appears on a charter purportedly given by Thorold of Bucknall to the monastery of Spalding. It is possible that this Thorold, the Sheriff of Lincolnshire, was her brother. Leofric died in 1057, but Lady Godiva lived on, dying sometime between 1066 and 1086. The Domesday survey mentions her as the only Englishwoman to remain a major landholder shortly after the Norman Occupation. There seems little reason to doubt that her grave is with her husband’s in Coventry.

3 July 2018

Archpriest Fr Andrew Phillips

Orthodox England

http://www.events.orthodoxengland.org.uk/lady-godiva-a-righteous-englishwoman/

Friday, 1 June 2018

On Injustices in Church Life

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The Church, the Incarnate Body of Christ, has always been the central battlefield between God and the world, whose prince is Satan. For this reason, the world constantly tries to destroy and corrupt the Church, infiltrating it with those who foolishly and blindly do Satan’s will. History is full of notorious examples of internal enemies and traitors in Church life. Indeed, this was the foundation of monastic life in the fourth century. All this is because the presence of Christ is abhorrent to Satan, who wants the world for himself, as we see in the temptations of Christ, related in the Gospel of Matthew 4. Satan has always tried to make the Church into the world, to make Faith into a mere State or institutional “religion”. He makes bishops and priests into anti-pastors, into scribes (vain and pompous intellectuals like Arius and so many pompous academics who, puffed up with futile knowledge as the Apostle Paul describes (2 Timothy 3.4), think that they know everything) and Pharisees (ritualists), not to mention persecutors and bureaucrats. Thus, in Church history, every heresy and every schism was an attempt, usually unconscious because of the spiritual delusion of those who led heresy and schism, to compromise the Church with the world.

Thus, in the seventh century in these Isles, organised but cold Roman religion bewildered disorganised but holy Irish monks; during the later first millennium, iconoclast emperors and empresses with their pro-Islamic political projects cruelly persecuted zealous monks of New Rome (Constantinople); in the eleventh century, Old Rome fell into the temptation of making its bishop into a universal emperor who commanded armies and torturers, replaced God and from whom, they said, proceeded the Holy Spirit and so all truth and authority; a few centuries ago in Russia, a great debate arose between non-possessing hermits and those who ran monasteries as economic units with farmlands and peasants; a little over a century ago, the Russian Church, though with great institutions, was compromised as part of State machinery and the people flocked not to wealthy bishop-bureaucrats, city career priests, and professional Italianate opera choirs in stone city churches, but to poor spirit-bearing elders in wooden chapels in provincial monasteries; and in our own times the greatest saint of the Diaspora, St John of Shanghai, was put on trial by bishops who backed secular-minded people who had money and power, and not the faithful and the true.

What are we to do in the face of injustices in Church life?

Firstly, we may be wrong… we can only know that we are right if we face persecution. Christ tells us so (Luke 21 and John 16). So, let us accept persecution if it doesn’t force us into breaking the commandments. If it does mean compromising the commandments, we must leave for another canonical, and not uncanonical, diocese. Persecution is no self-justifying excuse for falling away into schism. The Church is everywhere littered with little groups, or rather sects of extremists, for instance of New Calendarists and Old Calendarists, who were often initially victims of episcopal injustices, but who now have no canonical status and so discredited themselves. Conversely, the Church calendar is also everywhere littered with those who bore injustices, only recently St Nektarios of Aegina and St John of Shanghai, and so became saints. They didn’t take off their crowns.

Secondly, while you stay in the Church with those who cause injustice, don’t participate in that injustice, side with the victims of the injustice. They’re anti-pastors, but you must remain pastors, your conscience clean. The bullies, narcissists, and manipulators of the naive, with their “gaslighting” lies, hypocrisy, and attempts to discredit, won’t win. They don’t think of the Last Judgement and tremble at it, but you do think of it and tremble at it.

Thirdly, we must know that, as they say, what goes round comes round. Our persecutors should tremble… in any case, they soon will be. I’ve seen so many who have persecuted Church people, terrible things happened to them all sooner or later, without exception. Over the last forty years and more, I’ve seen them, bishops and priests dying suddenly after acting outrageously. They thought they could get away with it…they couldn’t. Be patient… the Truth will out. God is always on the side of the good and the faithful. Be patient, justice is always done, for man proposes, but God disposes. Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap (Galatians 6.7).

28 May 2018

Fr Andrew Phillips

Orthodox England

http://www.events.orthodoxengland.org.uk/on-injustices-in-church-life/

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

22 May 2018. A Good Word on “Converts”

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I recently visited a “convert church”’ which had a notice by the entrance with the words: “Warning: This Church May Contain Nuts”.

We’re talking now about a small minority, an eccentric fringe, so we shouldn’t get things out of proportion. I think that those who consider that they’re “converts” aren’t Orthodox; those for whom Orthodoxy is a way of life, who’ve forgotten a time when they weren’t in the Church, are simply Orthodox. Orthodoxy is second nature to us. However, “converts” (that is, a minority of converts) seem to cultivate exotic eccentricity, especially strange dress and hairstyles. Yet, the Mother of God was a “convert”, as were all the apostles. Nevertheless, they never spoke of themselves as “converts” and we never think of them as “converts”. Of course not… because they were converted… i.e. finished products.

Here we come to the essence of the matter… there are “converts” and there are the converted. The difference is that “converts” are people who want to remain in a stew for beginners, forever and ever, and there are people who’ve been converted and are trying to improve themselves. In other words, quite simply, there are neophytes and there are Christians.

Those who are neophytes want to remain at the Church doors, forever ranting against their former beliefs (there is nothing so anti-Anglican as an ex-Anglican) and there are those who have entered the Church and really can’t be bothered by what goes on at the Church doors. Those who remain at the doors forever read books for converts (Bloom, Ware, Schmemann, The Way of a Pilgrim, Kalomiros, etc) and cultivate eccentricity and exoticism in dress, hairstyle, or speech, sometimes for some pathological reason (to look different from others); they are “converts”. It’s time for them to move on and become normal Christians, which is what the word Orthodox actually means.

The word “eccentric” is another word for vanity, the desire to be different, to be attention-seeking. Such “converts” need to move on from the first course to the main course with its meat, which has the promise of the sweet dessert to come. Those who remain converts need to be converted. However, they must first want to be converted and not remain “converts”.

Personally, I’m against religion, that is, the artificial invention by States of religious establishments to repress people. However, I’m for faith, that is, for spiritual experience, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which is the foundation of the Orthodox Church.

17 May 2018

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

Editor:

I’ve seen that many converts, especially, convert clergy, adopt a “hyperdox” attitude. That’s something that I’ve noticed in a young convert priest. Everything has to be “correct”, to hell with what the parish customs are… can you believe, he’s even invented “traditions!” Before communion, at every liturgy, he makes a bombastic announcement that communion is only for Orthodox Christians who’ve prepared themselves, but then communes all and sundry! I’ve never seen the like… never. I’ve been at liturgies served by famous hierarchs, esteemed elders, and seasoned archpriests… none of them ever made such an announcement, ever. God willing, he’ll grow out of such fanciful juvenile notions and come to realise that the Church’s tradition is best… we don’t make such announcements, for we assume that Christian people know that… that one doesn’t come forward unless one has prepared (it doesn’t mean that one must attend the evening service beforehand, that’s a monastic practice, best kept in the monastic milieu, where it belongs, and where it’s salutary).

Such immaturity is irritating, but it isn’t a deal-breaker. It simply means that someone got ordained before they were truly ready for ordination. You pray for them and hope that they’ll grow up… God willing, they will.

BMD

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