Voices from Russia

Saturday, 8 September 2012

8 September 2012. Heaven Is NOT For the Terminally-Pious…

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What a difference between father and son! Billy Graham has won friends all over Christendom for his sincerity and authentic belief. Franklin Graham… the less said, the better. The father refused to involve himself in politics… the son immerses himself in them. Reverend Billy and HH agree… men of God should stay out of the political fray… that should tell you something. If a “clergyman” spends too much time on politics, they’re probably not spending enough time on God… it IS logical…

BMD

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Romney is Another Obama… The Only Difference is that He’s a Mormon

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Former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts formally accepted the Republican presidential nomination. His final speech on the last day at the Republican National Convention in Tampa FL met with a storm of applause. As one watched the convention, it was easy to get the impression that Romney was already president. The question of whether America is ready to elect its first Mormon president is still open. It happens in politics, just like in business, that a product becomes more popular due to the scale of its advertisement. However, the advertisement doesn’t change the product’s quality. This is Romney’s main problem. Even Romney’s rather unusual “confessional orientation” doesn’t matter as much. Why not elect a president from the ranks of the LDS movement? After all, four years ago, America elected its first Afro-American President, Barack Obama.

Sergei Mikheyev, the director general of the Centre for Political Status, said, “The fact that Romney’s a Mormon will play a certain role in the election, but this role won’t be decisive. The religious views of the voters themselves are likely to have an influence on their choice. Let’s be frank, the Mormons’ reputation is a bit tatty, but at the same time, there are many undisclosed Mormons amongst famous and influential people in the USA. In any case, America is a country of sects, although they wear many different visages. That’s why America, where everything intermingles, turning into an undreamt of mélange, may elect a Mormon as president”.

Romney’s main problem is that he’s a “hard sell” to most Americans. He can be inconsistent, and very few people are able to discern where one Romney, the moderate centrist, ends, and the next one, the radical rightwinger, begins. Hardly anyone notices a fascinating fact. Just before the last day of the RNC in Tampa, the American press published an opinion poll of likely Republican voters, which revealed an interesting fact… Romney’s one of the most unpopular GOP candidates in the past 30 years! Even George W Bush was better “liked”. Bush, by the way, didn’t receive an invitation to the RNC in Tampa; he had to be satisfied with an “appearance” via a video link. It was too problematical for them to claim the legacy of the last Republican President. The Democrats, by the way, at their convention, will give much attention to Bill Clinton.

Compared to Paul Ryan, the favourite of the Radical Rightwing Tea Party and “conservatives”, Mitt appeared quite “moderate” at the convention. On the one hand, Ryan’s candidacy will attract Teabaggers, but on the other hand, it greatly disappoints moderates and “independents”, who may stay home on Election Day. Romney needs all the help that he can get in this election campaign, but his ratings numbers are abysmal. His “approval” numbers run from 15 percent all the way up to 40 percent. It’s been a struggle for him to get even that. In the end, if we average out the polls, they show that Obama beats Romney by anywhere from 1 to 8 percent. If we factor in that the contenders for the White House in the last four elections were separated by a difference of 1 to 6 percent (Obama’s margin in 2008), then, it appears that Romney may have a slight chance to win 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

However, looking at the Republican Romney-Ryan ticket, the “friends of Barack” should be satisfied… the facts are such that the chances of Obama’s re-election aren’t decreasing, but increasing. Unless the economy collapses, which is unlikely, it looks like he’ll be lucky again. It’ll be a replay of 2008, where he had the luck of being matched with John McCain, an unelectable old codger. This time, it’ll be a somewhat different kind of luck. Lucky for them, the Republican economic programme is so confused that it resembles a mushy concoction, a problematical mixture of unrelated ideas and programmes. On the one hand, they promise to cut taxes, reduce government, and boost spending on defence, on the other, they promise no cuts in Social Security and Medicare. How they could reconcile this on the basis of the current tax base, it’s difficult to understand. Nevertheless, the current election is all about the economy, jobs, and money in your wallet.

Many see Romney as a moderate conservative. When one takes into account that the American South is an especially-rabid hotbed of the Radical Right, as shown by its support for the so-called Tea Party movement, and that it’s the Baptist Bible Belt” of America, where Mormons are thought of as worse than heretics or schismatics, it’s not so simple for him. If you averaged all the polls amongst American Christian believers {that is Radical American Sectarians, in real terms: editor}, it turns out that a quarter to a third of them aren’t ready to accept a Mormon in the White House. Whilst Mormons claim to be Christians, outside of their sect, members of the LDS movement still face a prejudiced and/or suspicious attitude. Mitt Romney isn’t just a simple rank-and-file Mormon… he’s former “clergy” of the LDS movement, the head of a ward (parish). I must say that Mormon “clergy” are more like businessmen than real clergy. Later, he became a bishop, the head of a stake (this includes several dozen wards).

Mitt shows signs of flexibility and political consideration. However, his Democratic rivals and opponents believe that he’s notorious for waffling, concealment, distortion, and God knows what else. For example, David Axelrod, who was the chief architect of Barack Obama’s victory in 2008, who’s now one of the leading lights in his current election campaign, called Mitt a “charlatan”, saying, “He takes two positions on every issue, one more moderate, and the other on the Far Right, but that doesn’t make you a centrist. It makes you a charlatan”. Amazingly, even fellow Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry claimed (prior to Romney winning the GOP nomination), “[Mitt’s] a buzzard, a Fibber, and differs very little from Obama in his gutter ideology”. Indeed, everywhere, Mitt seems to say exactly what he thinks people want to hear. He’s a furious Tory in one state, a moderate in another, and politically malleable in a third. However, any road, he’s still a Mormon.

The only trouble is that he doesn’t present any real alternative to the Obama’s economic course. This delights Obama’s camp, for it makes it easier for Obama to compete against Romney. As Professor Viktor Kremenyuk, deputy director of the Institute of the USA and Canada, said, “Romney doesn’t have much chance of winning. It isn’t because he’s a bad candidate, but because it’s difficult to defeat a sitting president, who has powerful administrative resources at his disposal. To do this, he should be someone outstanding, but Romney isn’t that. I think the strategy of the Republicans is only to give a formal opposition in this election; they’re focusing on seriously preparing for the next election, when Obama’s second term expires”.

Romney’s a graduate of Harvard Business School; he’s a lawyer, businessman, and politician, a very wealthy man, the head of Bain Capital, a major investment firm. In 2002, he was head of the Winter Olympics Organising Committee in Salt Lake City UT. He managed to eliminate waste in collected funds, and instead of a projected shortfall of 375 million USD (12.1 billion Roubles. 300 million Euros. 235 million UK Pounds), the Games gained a profit of almost the same amount. Mitt and his wife invested in about a million dollars of their own funds in the Games. When Romney was the governor of Massachusetts in 2003-07, he conducted an economic policy that was similar to Obama’s current economic policy. When he took office, the state treasury had a shortfall of 600 million USD (19.4 billion Roubles. 477 Euros. 378 million UK Pounds) to meet current outlays, and there was an estimated deficit of 3 billion USD (97 billion Roubles. 2.4 billion Euros. 1.9 billion  UK Pounds) for the following year. Yet, he raised taxation over expenditures by almost 700 million USD (22.7 billion Roubles. 556 million  Euros. 440 million UK Pounds). He solved his budget problems by closing tax loopholes for corporations, increased excise duties on petrol, and introduced higher fees for driving licences, gun licences, and marriage licences, and so on. By the way, his state was the first one to introduce a mandate that all citizens obtain health insurance. Obama was only able to do something similar on the national level after three years. In general, everything or most of the things that Romney did in Massachusetts, the Obama administration is doing now. Does America really need a second Obama, with the only difference is that he’s a Mormon?

31 August 2012

Andrei Fedyashin

Voice of Russia World Service

http://rus.ruvr.ru/2012_08_31/Romni-vtoroj-Obama-tolko-mormon/

Friday, 22 July 2011

22 July 2011. “Tithing”… It’s NOT Gonna Happen Any Time Soon… or, Any Time Later, For that Matter…

Some of the konvertsy are gaga over tithing… perhaps, because their former confession/sect preached it. I said, “Preached it”, because even those who “preach” the tithe don’t receive it, unless they back it with draconian penalties (as the Mormons and Baptists do). Look at the following, I saw it on the ‘net:

The entire OCA should be on a tithing system. Individuals should tithe to the parish, the parishes to their Diocese, and the Dioceses to the CCA. Any other system is problematic from all points of view, the most important being doing it in accordance with the most basic source that we have… the Holy Scriptures. It also makes great financial sense if you think about it… the tithing approach functions as a self-regulator. If the revenues are increasing, you can spend more on the needful things, and if they’re declining, you can tighten the belt in accordance with spending priorities. This haggling over a dollar or 50 cents per head is a shot in the dark from a financial planning perspective, based on zero-sum thinking, and thus is unworthy of a church body.

(Name withheld to spare the author shame for writing such dreck)

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This is unhinged and divorced from reality. NO Orthodox Local Church has EVER “preached” tithing… it’s not part of the Church’s Deposit of Tradition. Holy Scripture is NOT “the most basic source that we have”… that’s Sectarian thinking at its most nasty and insidious. The CHURCH is the bedrock of Truth. The Church defines and interprets Scripture; Scripture does NOT define and interpret the Church. The Church preceded Scripture; ergo, the Church trumps Scripture, every time. Usually, though, the Church does NOT go “against” Scripture, but there are times when it extends its pastoral oikonomia over this-or-that individual (as in the case of Mark Stokoe)… when it does so, it doesn’t negate Scripture; it makes a salutary exception for the salvation of a given person, that’s all.

In any case, how would we “enforce” tithing? Would we verify what everyone donated, and, then, post the figures publicly? That was done in some old-time Metropolia parishes (thank God, it’s mostly dead, now). Would we bar non-tithers from communion? Would we prohibit non-tithers from attending family marriages, as the Mormons do? Would we have two “levels” of “membership”… one for tithers, and another, lower one, for those who didn’t tithe? As you see, it opens up far more problems than it “solves”. There’s another thing that’s worrisome in the above quotation… it assumes that all parishioners have an equal level of commitment and that all parishioners have an equal ability to give at a stated level of giving. That’s foolish. Some people only show up for the main holidays… hell, some come only on Easter, let’s keep it simple. Others are regular in attendance, but not every week (that’d be Nicky and me)… it’s best not to conjecture as to why a given person isn’t at services, that’s an open invitation for Ol’ Scratch to come in and set up shop. Then, there are the “church hobbyists”… they’re different from the “faithful attendees” (you know ‘em… they’re always there, but they don’t make a fuss over it). The “hobbyists” know better… their influence increases if there’s a “hobbyist priest” (a badly-formed convert with a 40-hour-a-week job who moonlights as a priest on the weekends) in the parish. Becoming a “hobbyist” is a danger to all of us… hell, I even had such a period, but I grew out of it… reality has its ways of asserting itself, kids.

Nevertheless, what’s happened is that we’ve ordained far too many converts, especially in the OCA and in the AOCANA. No organisation can have over a certain level of newbies in its leadership ranks… and it becomes positively dangerous if they were “clergy” in their previous confession/sect, which means that we have too many clergy lacking a basic Orthodox formation, who, in it’s place, have a heterodox formation instead. Thus, the “hobbyists”, far from being restrained, become “empowered”… look at Chad Hatfield, and you’ll know what I mean. He’s brought in his Anglican formation with him, and he’s refused to jettison his baggage (one can see that he believes wholeheartedly in the Branch Theory after the Nashotah House débâcle), to the point where he accepted an “honorary degree” from his Anglican alma mater. I’ve never heard of the like in my life. That’s why konvertsy fools are jawing about “tithing”. What I dread is that a group’s going to split off from us, call itself “Orthodox”, and muddy our reputation in the larger society (yes… any grounded person can see that happening). It may even call itself the “Orthodox Church in America”… it’ll have clergy exclusively recruited from the ranks of rebellious Anglicans and disgrunt Sectarians… it’ll teach all kinds of oddball stuff… including “tithing”. As for the Church… it’s NEVER taught tithing… it does NOT do so now… and it NEVER shall. I know, this’ll disappoint the “hobbyists”… but that’s the way it is. Ergo, they’re going to leave us. Don’t EVER argue with them… they’re impervious. If they won’t listen to Christ and His Church, they’re not going to listen to sinners like you or me.

We live in “interesting” times… may we acquit ourselves well…

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Friday 22 July 2011

Albany NY

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