Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

“Paris vaut bien une messe… Paris IS Worth a Mass!”

We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power isn’t a means; it’s an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

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If all records told the same tale… then, the lie passed into history and became truth.

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Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present, controls the past.

1984

George Orwell

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The memory hole is a metaphor for the alteration or outright disappearance of inconvenient or embarrassing documents, photographs, transcripts, or other records, such as from a website or other archive, particularly as part of an attempt to give the impression that something never happened.

“Memory Hole”

Wikipedia

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A mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.

Groupthink

Wikipedia

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Two of the most distressing features found in many in American Orthodoxy are its “groupthink” and the “memory hole”. Before we tackle these problems, serious as they are, we have to discuss WHY Orthodox in America can be so “free and easy” with the facts and why the greater society tolerates such lies and obfuscations. Let’s tackle the later proposition first, as it’s easier. The greater society tolerates the lies of the “Orthodox Establishment” because we’re too small a group in American society to matter much at all. Professor Krindatch’s estimates (which are the only thing close to an accurate account of our numbers) make it clear that all “Eastern” Orthodox bodies taken en bloc (that is, those bodies recognised as legitimate by one or another of the 14 Autocephalous Local Churches, excluding “Oriental Orthodox” who are close, but not in communion with us, such as the Copts and Armenians) number only about a million identifiable and countable adherents (that is, all groups added together, not merely one of the lot) in a US population of 309 million. That is, Orthodox Christians make up approximately 0.3 percent of the US populace, a laughably small share. Let’s put it another way… 99.7 percent of the US population is non-Orthodox. In comparison, RCs are 23.9 percent, Radical Proddies (so-called “Evangelicals”) are 26.3 percent, Jews are 1.7 percent, and Muslims are 0.6 percent, whilst those who list themselves as “atheist/agnostic/no religion” are 16.1 percent. I’ll be brutal… if we disappeared from the USA entirely and completely, it would cause hardly a ripple in the country. That’s why “Official Orthodoxy” gets away with a great deal of what it commits… there’s no Orthodoxos Typos or KP looking over their shoulder to inform an interested public audience. In American society, we’re nothing but a minor sect, and we must adjust to that fact, for it isn’t going to change (despite the bleating of ignorant konvertsy who sign themselves as “Reader”). I submit that the Establishment not only accepts this situation; it positively revels in it… for it means that they are immune to oversight from the government or the press.

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As for being “free and easy” with the facts, I submit that there’s been no history per se written about any of the American archdioceses. There’s been nothing but hagiography and polemic. Indeed, one of the main arguments buttressing my claim is the nasty little website that calls itself Orthodox History. A certain Oliver Herbel spits out the current SVS party line, “There never was a united Orthodox Church in North America”. Of course, there were parishes that refused to accept the authority of the legitimate hierarchy planted here by the Most Holy Governing Synod of Russia (the precursor of the present-day MP). If one follows Orthodox ecclesiology, which states that such are rebels and schismatics, their rebellion didn’t impair Church Unity, for all such are outside of the Church ipso facto. The only way to come to the SVS/OCA stipulation regurgitated by Mr Herbel is to accept a Proddie ecclesiology accepting the “invisible church”. Let’s not be coy… in order to accept the overarching proposition that SVS offers via Mr Herbel, one has to reject Orthodox ecclesiology. Of course, it’s no stretch for Mr Herbel… his formation was Lutheran, not Orthodox, and his easy repetition of the SVS postulates shows that he never converted, save in the most formal sense of the word.

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If one lies about one’s origins, and if who controls the past, controls the future... that puts this effort of SVS into perspective. They’re minimising the role of the MP in the propagation of Orthodoxy on this continent. For instance, they never tell of the role played by the financial support given by Tsar St Nikolai to establish the material foundation of the Church here. Talk to the “old-timers”… they’ll tell you the truth! I remember talking to folks (now passed on, sadly) who remembered church life at the turn of the century… the story that they told and the story passed by SVS are so utterly different that one wonders where SVS is getting its information. Nevertheless, SVS isn’t acting illogically… the’re attempting to formulate an intellectual basis for an “independent” OCA. Many konvertsy spout off about “going it alone” and about “not submitting to foreign despots”. As lunatic as these statements are, we must take them seriously, in the sense that they DO mean what they say. These people do NOT view unity with the other Local Churches as a given paradigm, rather, they stamp their feet, hold their breath, and demand, “Complete autocephaly for all Orthodox in America now, or we’ll go off without you”. If this isn’t the Proddie mentality writ large, then, I’ve never seen it (and I have).

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ROCOR is no less guilty in this respect. One of the greatest deceptions practised concerns the person of Metropolitan Vitaly Ustinov (1910-2006). Not many recall it, but at the death of Metropolitan Philaret Voznesensky in 1985, there were only two viable candidates for the white hat. Yes, one was Vitaly Ustinov. The other (and far better man and churchman) was Archbishop Antony Bartoshevich of Geneva (1910-93). Interestingly, both were born in the same year, 1910, and both came from military families. You couldn’t imagine two more disparate personalities. We know what Vitaly did… his insane founding of parishes INSIDE Russia was one of the most ludicrous decisions that any hierarch anywhere has ever approved. Not so many people today are aware of Vladyki Antony and his courageous stand for the Orthodoxy of the Ages. As Elder Paisios Eznepedis from the Mountain put it, “Your Antony’s a hero! He’s not with them (the ecumenists), and he’s not with the others (the excessive zealots) either!” You see, no one wishes to say anything “bad” about Vitaly… so lies are told about him. No one wishes to speak openly of the fact that his removal in 2001 was a coup of the Holy Synod led by Archbishop Laurus Škurla. I add that I think that this coup was necessary, and that Vladyki Laurus did the right thing in removing Vitaly. What’s important in this discussion is that lies are being told… I’m not differentiating “white lies” from diabolic falsehood. To be blunt, such a “pious fable” would be impossible in Russia. No… Russians aren’t “better” than Americans… trust me; Russians know how to be “Slim Shadies” (look at “Dmitri Banditsky”)… perhaps, they aren’t only just as good, they could give the Iggster and Bobby K a lesson or two! It’s simple, truly… in Russia, the press would’ve latched onto this, as they latched on to the situation surrounding Diomid Dzyuban. The Archpastoral Council had to act, for there was just too much uproar. Here… we’re a tiny sect “under the radar” of secular journalists… therefore, “inconvenient” facts are swept under the rug, and all those who speak openly of them are attacked.

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I shall be blunt… if Vladyki Antony had been elected Metropolitan in January 1986, our Church history would’ve been far different. Personalities DO matter. In fact, Vladyki Antony was far more popular than Vitaly was, and his opinions more nearly mirrored those held by the majority of the faithful than did Vtaly’s more extremist ideas did. This isn’t the place to go into the whys and wherefores of the person of Gregory/George Grabbe. The results indicate that he spoke for Vitaly, not Antony. I don’t wish to go into that here; I’m merely looking for a convenient segue into the concept of the “memory hole”. You see, I remember back in ’91, that’s nearly twenty years ago, being told by people in a parish that has close ties with the rigorist faction at Jordanville, “The communists are still in charge”. Today, the self-same people claim that they were “always” for unity, but that “they had to hide their opinions”. That’s utter bunkum and bullshit. There’s no other term for it. Yes… the “memory hole” lives… would you agree with me that it’s an attempt to give the impression that something never happened? Indeed, would you call it an illustration of a set that is deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action?

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The Worship of Mammon

Evelyn de Morgan

1909

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I went into detail on this incident so that one can see that groupthink and the memory hole aren’t merely problems of the OCA autocephalist set. It’s a systemic problem throughout the entire Russian Orthodox diaspora in North America. All those who “dissent” from the “given narrative” aren’t only given short shrift, they’re vilified and attacked (the internet gives the nasty-minded much opportunity for such mischief, does it not?). Today, a set within both the OCA and the ROCOR is dead set against a united Russian Orthodox Church in the USA, in Canada, and in Alaska. In the OCA, it’s the autocephalist fanatics. In the ROCOR, those who wish the present stasis to continue join hands with them. They’re both united, despite their seeming differences… both wish the present situation to continue, and both wish to keep their grip on power in the Church. That’s what’s it’s come down to in the end. They’d rather have disunity than unity… so long as they can continue to hold their Ruritanian offices and run their Grand Fenwickian fiefs. There’s no money involved… we don’t have it. Then, what’s the deal?

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POWER.

POWER over other’s lives… POWER to make others cringe in front of them… POWER to rake off this or that bribe… if POWER corrupts… if Lord Acton was right (and I believe that he was)… then, POWER can make diametrical opposites join hands in order to preserve that POWER.

Remember Lydia Plas…

Remember Eric Iliff…

Remember Kristi Koumentakos…

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Reflect well on the fact that Mark Stokoe’s joined the siloviki publicly. He no longer posts on any real news… all that he does is offer commentary on the bootless “Episcopal Assembly”… a gasathon that stated nothing and achieved even less. He ignored the Bobby K payout… he ignored the Koumentakos settlement (he should’ve pressed JP to reveal whether the payout came from insurance or OCA funds)… he ignored the Frankie and Joey Show… all of which he would’ve condemned loudly if Herman Swaiko were still metropolitan. Read the following excerpt from Orwell’s 1984. It’s an apt description of the weltanshauung of Mr Stokoe, of John Behr, of JP et al, of the rigorist faction at Jordanville, and of the ROCOR archpriests “who aren’t nuts, they’re too good at looking after Number One to be nuts”:

There’ll be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But, always… don’t forget this, Winston… always, there’ll be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing, and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there’ll be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face… forever.

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It’s not pretty… it’s not “nice”… it’s not Christian in the least, is it? Let me leave you with this mental picture… imagine a boot stamping on a human face… imagine Mark Stokoe stamping on the face of Lydia Plas… imagine JP stamping on the face of Eric Iliff… imagine the whole lot of them stamping on the face of Christ. It’s like the Tokugawa shoguns demanding that everyone trample on the fumi-e. Here’s the ultimate wickedness of it all. Not only do they trample on Christ, they expect us to do likewise, or suffer the consequences. I believe that this period shall not be long or permanent… however, it’ll be painful and nasty.

Shall we stand for the truth, or, shall we say, “Paris vaut bien une messe… Paris IS Worth a Mass!”

It’s up to you.

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Albany NY

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