Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Patriarch Kirill: If Love is There, Christ is There! If There’s No Love, There’s No Christ!

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There’s unity where there’s love; where there’s love, God is there. If someone comes up with an idea to say something about our doctrine that diverges from the tradition of the Holy Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils, then, thinking people should ask, “For what, in the name of what purpose, do they offer a particular innovation?” If from the mouth of a man we hear invective, sometimes, we even hear dirt that afflicts the Church and its ministers, if we hear fervent appeals to struggle, for separation, to save Orthodoxy even at the cost of one’s death, when we hear them exclaim and shout, “Orthodoxy or death”… you need to be wary of these preachers.

Never did the Lord say, “My teaching or death”. None of the Apostles said, “Orthodoxy or Death”. Because Orthodoxy is life eternal, it’s joy in the Holy Spirit, it’s the joy of life, but death is decay that came because of the Fall and the devil’s action. Now, we see, from time to time, false teachers who seduce people by calling to save Christianity, to save its purity, who repeat this dangerous, sinful, and self-contradictory slogan “Orthodoxy or death”. In the eyes of these people, you won’t find love; there burns a fire of demonic pride, a desire for power, which destroys the Church’s unity. Of course, they put on a good show, they hide behind pious visages, and they enjoy adulation from a certain set of people.

What we say against heresies, is true of any other division. Sometimes, in our parishes, there are divisions amongst the clergy and believers. Often, these divisions are associated with a struggle for superiority, for a certain power in the parish. We know how sometimes congregations divide, clustering around one or another priest. The veneration of a shepherd and adulation for him… so-called division in the name of love… is sinful, because there can’t be separation where love exists.

We must keep the unity of Universal Orthodoxy not only free from any heresies and schisms, we must keep the unity of our Local Church as our foremost care, as the suffering of the Martyrs of the Church gave us the gift of being one and indivisible. We must maintain the unity of our parishes and monasteries, bearing in mind that the most important criterion for evaluation of any Christian… from the Patriarch to the simplest believer… is love. If Love is there, Christ is there! If there’s no love, there’s no Christ!

Yes, may the Lord help all of us to keep the unity of our Church, to keep it as our foremost care, taking heed of chilling and dangerous examples from the past, but at the same time being inspired by the podvigs* of the Holy Fathers of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, who protected and maintained the unity of the Church of Christ, asserting that Church life is based only on the tangible Law of God… only the law of love saves.

  • Podvig: Should NEVER be “Englished”… one of the most powerful words in the Russian language. There are literally no English equivalents strong enough. Podvig has overtones of “epic”, “heroic”, “bravery”, “self-sacrifice”, “victory”, “effort”, and “triumph”. It’s best to leave it as is, and admit that English lacks the necessary material to give meaning to this word.

Sunday of Orthodoxy 2009

His Holiness Kirill Gundyaev

Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias

8 March 2009

Patriarchia.ru

MP official website

http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/print/577278.html

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Sunday, 22 May 2016

22 May 2016. Some Thoughts on REAL Christian Love

00 st luka love 230715

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There was a real colloquy on love on FB:

Love is “all the law and the prophets”. It’s also the cheapest and most misused word in any language. Too many Christians destroy other human beings from fear and malice, and claim that they do it “from love”. For rightwing fundamentalists, law negates love.

My contribution was:

Love took a body… so St Chrysostom taught us. I believe that. That’s why I believe in an inclusive Church. Yes… there’s room even for the loudmouth haters. God WILL sort them out in the end… that’s the meaning of the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.

You may have the exclusive “church” of the haters… with its rules, rules, rules… with its long faces and its long list of those excluded for not being “pure” enough or not simply not there as often as the Savanarolas dictate. I prefer the Church that Our Lord Christ founded… the BIG tent… with room for everybody, INCLUDING the haters. Remember what the Parable of the Wheat and Tares means… if you try to “purify” the Church, all that you’d do is to kill it. Do reflect on that the next time that you hear a young immature priest or recent convert ramble on about this-or-that fault or this-or-that sinner…

The Lord Christ forgives… the phonies don’t… bear that in mind…

BMD

Sunday, 1 May 2016

1 May 2016. The Greatest Thing… LOVE

00 Polar Bear cub. Moscow Zoopark. 010516

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Now, here’s the most appropriate thing that I can think of posting on Holy Easter… For God so loved the world

BMD

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

President Barack Obama Doesn’t Speak for God: A Lesson on Good and Evil for Western Civil-Military Leaders

00 Muslim Woman Praying. Mufti Alban Krganov. Russian Muslim. 09.12

THIS is what Russian Muslims believe… it’s why they’re part of Holy Rus (but “Evangelicals” aren’t)…      

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Who in the world is Barack Obama to claim that “No God” would allow the Islamic State to exist and slaughter what it considers non-believers? His statement follows the same line of transgression committed by Bill Clinton and George W Bush in their baleful appeals to God and Christ, even as they approved and presided over operations leading to torture, rape, murder and the wounding of large swaths of humanity. This sinful vanity… the claim to know God’s Will, is precisely the sin that the Islamic State’s Caliph, the House of Saud, the Vatican, the Church of England, and all stripes of religious sects worshiping Prophets/Gods from Yahweh to Zoroaster make each and every day in the name of “good”. Let’s turn to the author of Life and FateV S Grossman, for a lesson on good and evil as the civil-military leaders of the 21st Century Western world appeal to their Gods to sanction suffering, censure, torture, murder, and the creation of gulags large and small.

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V S Grossman:

Few people ever attempt to define “good”. What is “good?” “Good” for whom? Is there a common good… the same for all people, all tribes, and all conditions of life? Or, is my good your evil? Is what’s good for my people evil for your people? Is good eternal and constant? Or, is yesterday’s good today’s vice, yesterday’s evil today’s good? When the Last Judgement approaches, not only philosophers and preachers, but everyone on earth… literate and illiterate… will ponder the nature of good and evil. Have people advanced over the millennia in their concept of good? Is this concept something that is common to all people… both Greeks and Jews… as the Apostle supposed? To all classes, nations, and States? Even to all animals, trees, and mosses… as Buddha and his disciples claimed? The same Buddha denied life to clothe it in goodness and love.

The Christian view, five centuries after Buddhism, restricted the living world to which the concept of good is applicable. Not to every living thing… only to human beings. The good of the first Christians, which embraced all mankind, in turn, gave way to a purely Christian good; the good of the Muslims was now distinct. Centuries passed and the good of Christianity split up into the distinct goods of Catholicism, Protestantism, and Orthodoxy. The good of Orthodoxy gave birth to the distinct goods of the old and new beliefs. At the same time, there was the good of the poor and the good of the rich. Besides that, the goods of the whites, the blacks, and the yellow races… more and more goods came into being, corresponding to each sect, race, and class. They excluded everyone outside a particular magic circle. People began to realise how much blood they’d spilt in the name of a petty doubtful good, in the name of the struggle of this petty good against what it believed to be evil. Sometimes, the very concept of good became a scourge, a greater evil than evil itself. Good of this kind is a mere husk from which the sacred kernel has been lost. Who can reclaim the lost kernel?

However, what is good? People used to say that it’s a thought and a related action, which lead to the greater strength or triumph of humanity… or of a family, nation, State, class, or faith. People struggling for their particular good always attempt to dress it up as a universal good. They say, “My good coincides with the universal good; my good is essential not only to me but to everyone; in achieving my good, I serve the universal good”. Therefore, the good of a sect, class, nation, or State assumes a specious universality to justify its struggle against an apparent evil. Even Herod didn’t shed blood in the name of evil; he shed blood in the name of his particular good. A new force came into the world, a force that threatened to destroy him and his family, to destroy his friends and his favourites, his kingdom and his armies. However, evil hadn’t been born; it was Christianity. Mankind had never heard such words before… “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. … But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you… Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets”.

What did this doctrine of peace and love bring to humanity? Byzantine iconoclasticism; the tortures of the Inquisition; the struggles against heresy in France, Italy, Flanders, and Germany; the conflict between Protestantism and Catholicism; the intrigues of the monastic orders; the conflict between Nikon and Avvakum; the crushing yoke that lay for centuries over science and freedom; the Christians who wiped out the heathen population of Tasmania; the scoundrels who burnt whole Negro villages in Africa. This doctrine caused more suffering than all the crimes of the people who did evil for its own sake…

In great hearts, the cruelty of life gives birth to good; they then seek to carry this good back into life, hoping to make life itself accord with their inner image of good. However, life never changes to accord with an image of good; instead, the image of good sinks into the mire of life… losing its universality, splitting into fragments, and ephemeral needs exploit it. People are wrong to see life as a struggle between good and evil. Those who most wish for the good of humanity are unable to diminish evil by one jot. Great ideas are necessary to dig new channels, to remove stones, to bring down cliffs, and to fell forests; dreams of universal good are necessary for great waters to flow in harmony… yes, if the sea could think, then, every storm would make its waters dream of happiness. Each wave breaking against the cliff would believe it was dying for the good of the sea; it’d never occur to it that, like thousands of waves before and after, it was only brought into being by the wind. Many books have been written about the nature of good and evil and the struggle between them… there is a deep and undeniable sadness in all this… whenever we see the dawn of an eternal good that will never be overcome by evil… an evil that is itself eternal but will never succeed in overcoming good… whenever we see this dawn, the blood of old people and children is always shed. Not only mankind, but even God himself is powerless to lessen this evil. “In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not”. What does a woman who has lost her children care about a philosopher’s definitions of good and evil? However, what if life itself is evil?

I’ve seen the unshakable strength of the idea of social good that was born in my country. I saw this struggle during the period of general collectivisation and again in 1937. I saw people annihilated in the name of an idea of good as fine and humane as the ideal of Christianity. I saw whole villages dying of hunger; I saw peasant children dying in the snows of Siberia; I saw trains bound for Siberia with hundreds and thousands of men and women from Moscow, Leningrad, and every city in Russia… men and women labelled as enemies of a great and bright idea of social good. This idea was something fine and noble… yet, it killed some without mercy, crippled the lives of others, and separated wives from husbands and children from fathers. Now, the horror of German Fascism has arisen. The air is full of the groans and cries of the condemned. The sky turned black; the smoke of the gas ovens extinguished the sun. Even these crimes, crimes never seen before in the Universe… even by Man on Earth… have been committed in the name of good. Once, when I lived in the Northern forests, I thought that one could find good neither in man, nor in the predatory world of animals and insects, but in the silent kingdom of the trees. Far from it! I saw the forest’s slow movement, the treacherous way it battled against grass and bushes for each inch of soil… first, billions of seeds fly through the air and begin to sprout, destroying the grass and bushes. Then, millions of victorious shoots wage war against one another. Only the survivors enter into an alliance of equals to form the seamless canopy of the young deciduous forest. Beneath this canopy, the spruces and beeches freeze to death in the twilight of penal servitude.

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00 THIS is Russia. 21.03.14

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In time, the deciduous trees become decrepit; then the heavyweight spruces burst through to the light beneath their canopy, executing the alders and the beeches. This is the life of the forest… a constant struggle of everything against everything. Only the blind conceive of the kingdom of trees and grass as the world of good… is it that life itself is evil? Good isn’t in the sermons of religious teachers and prophets, nor in the teachings of sociologists and popular leaders, nor in the ethical systems of philosophers… yet, ordinary people bear love in their hearts, are naturally full of love and pity for any living thing. At the end of the day’s work, they prefer the warmth of the hearth to a bonfire in the public square. Yes, as well as this terrible Good with a capital “G”, there is everyday human kindness. The kindness of an old woman carrying a piece of bread to a prisoner, the kindness of a soldier allowing a wounded enemy to drink from his water-flask, the kindness of youth towards age, the kindness of a peasant hiding an old Jew in his loft. The kindness of a prison guard who risks his own liberty to pass on letters written by a prisoner, not to his ideological comrades, but to his wife and mother. This is the private kindness of one individual towards another; a petty, thoughtless kindness; an unwitnessed kindness. We could call this senseless kindness, a kindness outside any system of social or religious good. However, if we think about it, we realise that this private, senseless, incidental kindness is in fact eternal. We extend it to everything living, even to a mouse, even to a bent branch that a man straightens as he walks by. Even at the most terrible times, through all the mad acts carried out in the name of Universal Good and the glory of States, times when people were tossed about like branches in the wind, filling ditches and gullies like stones in an avalanche… even then, this senseless pathetic kindness remained scattered throughout life like atoms of radium.

Some Germans arrived in a village to exact vengeance for the murder of two soldiers. They ordered the women out of their huts in the evening to dig a pit on the edge of the forest. There was one middle-aged woman who had several soldiers quartered in her hut. They had taken her husband to the police station together with twenty other peasants. She didn’t get to sleep until morning… the Germans found a basket of onions and a jar of honey in the cellar; they lit the stove, made themselves omelettes, and drank vodka. Then, the eldest played the harmonica while the rest of them sang and beat time with their feet. They didn’t even look at their landlady… she might just as well have been a cat. When it grew light, they began checking their guns; the eldest of them jerked the trigger by mistake and shot himself in the stomach. Everyone began shouting and running about. Somehow, the Germans managed to bandage the wounded man and lay him down on a bed. Then, they called them outside. They signed to the woman to look after the wounded man. The woman thought to herself how simple it would be to strangle him. There he was, muttering away, his eyes closed, weeping, sucking his lips… suddenly he opened his eyes and said in very clear Russian, “Water, Mother”. She replied, “Damn you. What I should do is strangle you”. However, instead she gave him some water. He grabbed her by the hand and signed to her to help him sit up… he couldn’t breathe because of the bleeding. She pulled him up and he clasped his arms round her neck. Suddenly, there was a volley of shots outside and the woman began to tremble. Afterwards, she told people what she had done. No one could understand; nor could she explain it herself. The fable about the pilgrim who warmed a snake in his bosom condemns this senseless kindness. Such “kindness” has mercy on a tarantula that bit a child. It’s a mad blind kindness. People enjoy looking in stories and fables for examples of the danger of this senseless kindness. However, one shouldn’t be afraid of it. One might just as well be afraid of a freshwater fish carried out by chance into the salty ocean. The harm from time to time occasioned a society, class, race, or State by this senseless kindness fades away in the light that emanates from those endowed with it.

This kindness, this stupid kindness, is what’s most truly human in a human being. It’s what sets man apart, the highest achievement of his soul. No, it says, life isn’t evil! This kindness is both senseless and wordless. It’s instinctive, blind. When Christianity clothed it in the teachings of the Church Fathers, it began to fade; its kernel became a husk. It remains potent only when it’s dumb and senseless, hidden in the living darkness of the human heart… before it becomes a tool or commodity in the hands of preachers, before they forge its crude ore into the gilt coins of holiness. It’s as simple as life itself. Even the teachings of Jesus deprived it of its strength. However, as I lost faith in good, I began to lose faith even in kindness. It seemed as beautiful and powerless as dew. What use was it if it wasn’t contagious? How can one make a power of it without losing it, without turning it into a husk as the Church did? Kindness is powerful only while it is powerless. If Man tries to give it power, it dims, fades away, loses itself, vanishes. Today, I can see the true power of evil. The heavens are empty. Man is alone on Earth. How can we put out the flame of evil? Can we do so with small drops of living dew, with human kindness? No, not even the waters of all the clouds and seas can extinguish that flame… let alone a handful of dew gathered drop by drop from the time of the Gospels to the iron present… yes, after despairing of finding good either in God or in Nature, I began to despair even of kindness. However, the more I saw of the darkness of Fascism, the more clearly I realised that human qualities persist even on the edge of the grave, even at the door of the gas chamber.

Hell strengthened my faith. My faith emerged from the flames of the crematoria, from the concrete of the gas chamber. I saw that it isn’t man who’s impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. You can never conquer it. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious teachers, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb blind love is man’s meaning. Human history isn’t the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. No, a great evil fights a battle; it struggles to crush this small kernel of human kindness. Nevertheless, if it hasn’t yet destroyed what is human in mankind even now, then, evil will never conquer.

29 September 2014

John Stanton

Pravda.ru

http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/29-09-2014/128628-president_barack_obama-0/

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00 Isaak Levitan. Eternal Peace. 1894

Eternal Peace

Isaak Levitan

1894

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Editor:

Vasili Semyonovich is a good argument against the “exclusive” definition of “Russian” found in some émigré circles (and amongst some Far Right nationalists in the Rodina). To them, “Russians” are only those who speak Russian natively, who are born of two purely-Russian parents, who profess the Orthodox faith (and none other), and who’re zealous in excluding all who don’t fit the preceding categories. That is, it’s racism of the most odious sort, a Great Russian analogue of demonic “Ukrainian Nationalism”. Vasili Semyonovich is Russian, profoundly so… as was Isaak Levitan (as one can see from his paintings).

I have no apologies for my stance. “Russian” embraces all those who embrace Holy Rus… even those who aren’t Orthodox! Interestingly enough, it excludes the zapadniki (for they kiss the ass of the West and deny their Russian heritage) and the Evangelical converts (for they deny real faith for a false 19th century simulacrum, a counterfeit fraudulent pseudo-Christianity with no ties to the Ancient Church… they, too, kiss the ass of the West, more profoundly than the zapadniki do). However, it INCLUDES Jews, Muslims, Lutherans (the REAL Evangelicals), native Russian Protestants, seculars… indeed, all those who love the Motherland and what it stands for.

Have a distrust of all those who peddle “exclusive” ideologies… it’s why I hate the ideologies behind “Ukrainian nationalism”, “Russian nationalism”, “Konvertsy Orthodoxy”, and “American Conservatism”… all are founded on rancorous and corrosive hate. They all would die without hate of the “other”. I say, “Holy Rus embraces everyone who loves Her with all their heart, with all their mind, with all their soul… that is, with all their being”. The Mother-Motherland has many children… She loves them all, and they all love Her. Holy Rus not only embraces the Rodina, it embraces all those abroad who’re part of Spiritual Rus, who follow the particular brand of Orthodoxy nurtured in Holy Russia. You can be American and be part of Holy Rus… this would only strengthen your love of both America and Holy Rus… you’d enrich America with the maturity and wisdom of Rus… you’d enrich Rus with the energy and optimism of America (for America has all the attributes of an immature society… some of them are good, whether you wish to believe that or not).

A word to Orthodox people… be wary of those who sold out to the West, such as Victor Potapov, John Jillions, Vassa Larina, and Lyonyo Kishkovsky… they’ve traded their souls for filthy lucre. They’re worse than semi-converted poseurs like Dreher, Paffhausen, Hatfield, Mattingly, Reardon, and Freddie M-G are… yes, they refused to get rid of their religious and intellectual baggage, but they didn’t have the inheritance in the first place, so, they took an all-too-American “cafeteria” approach to it, without realising that if you cut off part of a living organism, it bleeds to death. They’re not as bad as those who had the whole banana and who sold out.

In short, don’t attend to Anglo American moralising… they’re arrogant toddlers with WMDs… now, that’s a scary thought.

BMD

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