Voices from Russia

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Putin… the New Orthodox Tsar… “He Who Restrains”

00 putin on athos 290516

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The Abbots of Mount Athos insisted that President V V ‪Putin stand where the Emperor of New Rome stood; they’re right. As a man, Putin is a truly devout ‪Orthodox believer; as a statesman, Vladimir Vladimirovich devotes himself to the security (not physical expansion) of his country. He’s the head of the most powerful Orthodox country. By this, they sent out a powerful message. The Athonite Fathers know what sort of man they look at… the Defender of ‪Holy ‎Orthodoxy.

29 May 2016

This is Christian Syria

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Editor:

By this, the Athonite Fathers aren’t only making a political statement… they’re making a theological one as well. Only the Christian Emperor can call an Ecumenical Council. No Patriarch can do so… no local synod can do so… no assemblage of bishops, clergy, or lay believers can do so. Only the Christian Emperor can do so according to our practise. Thorough this, I think that the Athonite Fathers commented upon the upcoming “Council”  in Crete (really, nothing but a talk-shop meeting) and about him who called it. If only the Christian Emperor can call a Council, and V V Putin is the current “emperor”, what does that say about the legitimacy of the upcoming meeting? After all, VVP didn’t call it and he’s the only person who can do so, according to our customary usage.

The Mountain speaks… shall we listen? Shall we attend to their advice and standpoint? I think that the MP and its allies shall… they have the Mountain on their side. What does that tell us about the EP and its machinations? Nothing good, I’d warrant…

BMD

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Friday, 3 April 2015

The Fall of Rome and All That

01 kathryn_archdiocese_of_brisbane in rome

Salus Populi Romani (Protectress of the Roman People)… this is what Professor Boin wants us to attend to… that’s there a spiritual aspect to things that interacts with all “practical” affairs…

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Editor:

Lots of good stuff here, I’d call it a “read n’ heed”, even though it has flaws due to its “West-o-centric” orientation. However, it’s not crank, and I read this twice. It’s a good read, with nary an idle word in it.

BMD

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Last November, Ted Cruz of Texas stood on the Senate floor and claimed that America, like ancient Rome, faced a moment of grave, existential danger. He’s not the only one telling scary stories about ghosts in togas. Over the past six months alone, media outlets (including this one) averaged about one gloom-and-doom essay a month, citing everything from America’s cultural relativism to the increasing use of drones in military conflict to the spread of gay marriage as proof that Rome’s history is repeating itself. As a historian of the Roman Empire, I’d like to suggest there’s really no need for alarm.

One of the most well-known moments in history, the “Fall of Rome” isn’t a historical event. It isn’t even a series of unfortunate mistakes. It’s more akin to a theological idea, and the time has come to stop screwing up the way we talk about it. Understanding the place of religion in history is an urgent one, too. In the wake of the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the rise of the so-called Islamic State, many commentators, even President Obama, began to wonder whether it was fair to call Islamic extremism “religious”. Everyone was and is eager to find ways to talk about a world faith without condemning it as inherently intolerant. Unfortunately, our track record in this area isn’t good.

Edward Gibbon was one of the first of the modern era to wrestle with this dilemma… he failed miserably at it. Gibbon, one of the brightest stars of the Enlightenment, a learned man whose name became synonymous with the disease he studied, “Decline and Fall”, was adamant that “the intolerant zeal of the Christians” led to the “fall of Rome”. Gibbon’s broad, anti-religion thesis was popular for the 18th century, when science and secularism were the hottest buzzwords. It also set off an explosion of interest in the late Roman Empire. By the 1980s, there were 210 explanations for what had caused Rome’s “fall”… from a lack of moral character to a pervasive “tiredness of life”. Archaeologists soon started to claim that they could see the “end of civilisation” in their pots and houses. Nevertheless, no one ever stopped to point out the flaw at the root of all these experiments.

Romans predicted the downfall of their own empire for decades, even centuries, before anything remotely “disastrous” ever happened to it. Blinded by an ideological contempt for people’s beliefs, intent on talking about religious identity in monolithic ways (“the Christians”), Gibbon overlooked some key data. In the late Republic, conspiring citizens put their trust in the gods that a military man would come to save them during a time of crisis. It never happened. The state rounded up and executed the group. Later, one of Jesus’ followers did something similar… summoning the spectre of Rome’s fall to rally his base. Christians were attending festivals, showing their neighbours they could be good citizens. To the writer of Revelation, their ability to do two things at once was an abomination. Christians were supposed to be fighting a spiritual war, he argued, not building bridges with people in town.

Of course, Rome’s empire never came to a fiery end in a war fought between “angels and demons”. Within two decades, the entire Mediterranean would be living through the greatest economic prosperity it’d ever know, and Christians raised their social profile everywhere. Crackpot Romans and zealous Christians weren’t the only ones obsessed with the end times, either. One Jewish writer in Egypt drew upon the same ideas to encourage his followers to take up arms against the state. He predicted Rome would finally suffer defeat for annihilating Jerusalem. His rebels foolishly fought the Roman army. They lost. Within two decades, Rome forced the Jewish community to live as exiles from their homeland.

Gibbon’s eagerness to see history through the “secular” lens of the Enlightenment blinded him to the most important “religious” story of the empire… it left us woefully unprepared to talk about the complexities of religious identity today. Anxious notions about the last days, notions of spiritual warfare, and a righteous belief that a divine hand endorses a specific law or policy were ideas in Rome that crossed the theological aisle. However, that doesn’t make them any less “religious”.

In Rome, these were the ways many people grappled with uncertain times… from the late Republic to 476 AD… when a Christian king replaced the Christian emperor of Rome. Traditionally, we associate that latter year with the “Fall of Rome”, but it’s time to drop the historical charade. Just because the government changed, it wasn’t the end of the world… despite the people who saw it that way. That’s why today’s ghost stories are ultimately so revealing. We keep pretending we’re doing Roman history when what we’re really masking is our own severe anxiety about the fast-changing changing world… using the same ideas that our ancestors did, two thousand years ago. It’s time we put these beliefs back into our history books instead of doing as Gibbon did… ignoring them or, worse, pretending they were never there. What people believe… and what people are taught to believe… can’t be left out of history.

29 March 2015

Douglas Boin

Assistant Professor of History at Saint Louis University (St Louis MO USA)

History News Network

http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/158768

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Hagia Sophia: A Wonder of the World is in Middle of Religious Controversy

00 Hagia Sophia Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom. 17.12.13

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Editor’s Note:

Yes, I know that Soros finances EurasiaNet, which means that it’s pro-corporatist and pro-Western. However, the lamestream media  (both “progressive” and “conservative”) isn’t covering this, and it’s of interest to Orthodox Christians. As you read it, do consider the source… and who pays for it.

BMD

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Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç’s call to turn Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia from a museum back into a mosque is stoking a dispute between Turkey’s Islamist-rooted government and Orthodox Christians in Turkey. Metropolitan Genadios Lymouris of Sasima, a senior official in the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople New Rome, one of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Churches, warned, “We do hope that the Turkish government will reconsider and have to think very seriously”.

For over 900 years, Hagia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom” in Greek), built in 537, was Christendom’s most important church, but when Constantinople (as Istanbul was then called) fell to the Ottomans in 1453, it became a mosque, and for nearly 500 years, it ranked among the Ottoman Empire’s grandest places of worship. In 1935, the founders of Turkey’s secular republic transformed Hagia Sophia into a museum. The iconic building continues to carry important political significance. İştar Gözaydin, a professor of law and politics at Doğuş University, an expert on the relationship between the state and religion, noted, “The Islamists always aspired for it to be a mosque”, whilst Turkish secularists want it to remain “a neutral place”, and Christians see it as a church,.

Until Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2003, the chances of Hagia Sophia reverting to a mosque were slim to none. However, with the country’s Islamic heritage now experiencing revival after decades of government-imposed secularism, the prospect isn’t entirely unlikely. On a 16 November trip to Hagia Sophia, Arınç, who oversees policy toward historical buildings that once belonged to religious minorities, declared to television reporters, “The days of a mosque being a museum are over”. With Turkey heading into an 18-month election-cycle in 2014, most believe that politics motivated Arınc’s statements. In campaign speeches for next March’s municipal elections, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan draws heavily on the country’s Ottoman past. He aims the message at both religious and nationalist voters, key AKP constituencies. The strategy could well prove a vote-winner. Recently, one teenager leaving Hagia Sophia said, “God willing, it’ll be a mosque. Fatih Sultan Mehmet wanted this. When he conquered Istanbul, the first thing he did was to convert it into a mosque. That’s why it should be a mosque again”.

Arınç has the reputation of a political maverick, a man prone to making incendiary statements that the government doesn’t always followed up. Nevertheless, the fact that Arınç has links to the mosque-makeover of two other church-museums also named Hagia Sophia (in İznik and Trabzon) means that even the mention of a similar fate for Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia sparked alarm among the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. Metropolitan Genadios, referring to Arınc’s comments, said, “We’re surprised, but not surprised, with this statement. I don’t want to believe our Turkish authorities said this in a concrete way or that they realised the consequences of this decision to open Hagia Sophia as a place of worship [for Muslims]. Hagia Sophia, for Christians and Orthodox… it represents, for us, a monument of Christianity”. The Orthodox Church has powerful international allies, and a visit to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Archontonis often features on the itineraries of visiting foreign leaders and ministers.

In the coming months and years, some observers believe the status of Hagia Sophia would become part of a wider controversy between Greece and Turkey over religious freedom. Increasingly, the Turkish government challenges Athens over what it sees as restrictions put on the religious practises of Greece’s tiny Turkish minority, believed to make up most of the country’s miniscule Muslim minority of roughly 100,000 people. Ankara retaliated by refusing to reopen Halki, a Greek Orthodox seminary near Istanbul, which many expected to reopen as part of a broad democratisation package announced in October. Greece, which sees Byzantium (sic) as part of its cultural heritage, declared last month that statements “about converting Byzantine (sic) Christian churches into mosques offend the religious feelings of millions of Christians”. Officials in Ankara scoff at such statements as hypocritical. Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Levent Gümrükçü said, “Athens is in no position to question us, considering Athens is the only capital in Europe that doesn’t have a mosque, even though there are many Muslims there”. Amidst diplomatic rancour and Turkey’s own charged political atmosphere, Hagia Sophia’s fate is far from clear. Metropolitan Genadios sighed, “We now live in unpredictable times”.

5 December 2013

Dorian Jones

EurasiaNet

http://www.eurasianet.org/node/67836

Friday, 27 November 2009

“Gad, Sir, We’re the REAL Romans… Byzantines? … GIVE ME A BREAK!”

A soldier of the Varangoi… the Varangian Guard of the medieval Roman Empire… made up of Norsemen, Russians, and Anglo-Saxons… they were the bravest of the brave… the fiercest fighters under the double-eagle standard of the Orthodox Roman Emperor (most of them perished gallantly in battle against the treacherous papist aggressors in 1204). May their memories be eternal!

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There are some oddball notions circulating out there, not only amongst konvertsy, but, in pseudo-intellectual circles, as well. Some of them actually believe in such fantastic and lunatic fancies as “the Eastern Church”, or, “Byzantine” this and “Byzantine” that. It’s utter insanity if the person indulging in such claims to be Orthodox (if such issues forth from a Uniate, they’re just spouting papist propaganda, so, one expects it).

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Here’s Fr Tikhon’s Byzantine Lesson with English-language dubbing… look at the right-hand side of the page for the other parts of this film… there are nine videos in this series. IF you have trouble accessing any of them, click here, and look for “How to DISTROY a state: The lessons from the fall of the Byzantine Empire“… there’s a list of eight vids to follow. The ninth vid is below.

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Conclusion of the Byzantine Lesson

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Firstly, where did this daft term “Byzantine” come from? It didn’t originate in New Rome, that’s for sure. Contemporary accounts all speak of “the Empire of the Romans” (Greek: Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων (Vasileia ton Rhomaion), Latin: Imperium Romanorum). This state is also called Rhomania (Ῥωμανία) or Rhomais (Ῥωμαΐς) in records dating from the time. Its people proudly called themselves the Rhomaioi… the Romans. The distortion “Byzantine” first appears in the 16th century in Germany (!), was picked up in France in the next century, but, it only picked up currency in the 19th century. Thus, it is NOT ancient or correct usage. I’ll state frankly and baldly what it is (and people shall call me hateful and nasty for doing so)… “Byzantine” is nothing but lying papist propaganda of the worst and most noisome sort, and we should stop its use IMMEDIATELY. One should note that contemporaneous Persian, Islamic, and Orthodox Slavic sources all use “Rome” and “Roman”, never the perverted usage “Byzantine”.

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Soldiers of the medieval Imperial Roman Army… an archer, a katafraktos (armoured cavalryman), and an infantryman.

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You see, if we speak the truth about Christian Rome, it destroys the entire papist edifice and the myths that sustain it. There was NO fall of Rome in 476 AD. The western provinces of the empire fell to barbarian invaders… that’s all that happened. The empire continued, for Emperor St Constantine the Great had moved the capital to Constantinopolis Nea RomanaOld Rome was a provincial backwater (albeit with snotty pretensions). New Rome was the centre of early medieval Europe, it was the most powerful and richest city of all Europe (which is why the papist Crusaders lusted to loot and rape her in her later years). New Rome was the shining beacon of Apostolic Orthodox Christianity; Old Rome after its final fall to northern barbarians in the 8th century was nothing but an illiterate bunch of unwashed Teutons in comparison to the educated and civilised Romans in the Empire. It is why such non-Christian and quasi-pagan notions as papal infallibility and papal monarchy (and the inevitable distortions of ancient Christian theology and practise that followed such in due course) took root there. Note well that the Patriarch of New Rome was never a secular ruler. The vasileos was still on his throne, and the clergy were kept in their proper place (this is one reason why Orthodox are much more relaxed with their clergy than are the Western heterodox… the clergy were always a subordinate social class (especially the married parochial clergy)).

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A contemporary re-enactor in the garb of a medieval Roman katafraktos (armoured cavalryman) of the Imperial Army.

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If the above shall have me hated and vilified in certain quarters, what I’m about to say is even more provocative. I say such because it’s true… and one must speak the truth in love… come what may.

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Anyone who uses the terms “Byzantine Christian”, “Byzantine Church”, or “Byzantine” anything spits on Christ and His Church (for the Church is the Body of Christ… an attack on the Church is an attack on Our Lord Christ Himself. QED). It’s quite that simple. There’s Orthodoxy and there’s heterodoxy. It matters nothing if some of the heterodox ape our practises and rituals. Uniates are nothing but papists. They bow before their Vicarius Christi (Substitute for Christ) and believe in his infallibility and his immediate and absolute monarchy over his confession. THAT’S what they wish us to emulate. Please, God, spare me from such sacrilegious blasphemy and profanity. People such as Robert Taft are not Orthodox Christians and we should NOT treat them as such (the fact that they have an academic “reputation” matters not at all in this regard… Orthodox fooled and misled by such are sad cases). What would St Hilarion Troitsky the New Martyr have said of such? For that matter, what would Metropolitan Vladimir Sabodan of Kiev say of such (don’t forget how the Uniates attack him and attack the Church in the Ukraine today… pray for him!)? I care nothing for windfests such as Balamand… it wasn’t a binding council of the Church and it hasn’t been accepted by many legitimate Orthodox authorities.

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Contemporary re-enactors portraying the Varangoi. Note well that they carry Christian icons, as did all units of the army of the Christian Roman Emperor.

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There’s no supporting evidence for the term “Byzantine”… NONE. Let me repeat that, so that it sinks in, even for the slow learners. There’s absolutely no evidence whatsoever in contemporaneous documentation for the usage of the term “Byzantine” to refer to the Empire of the Romans, or to the Rhomaioi, or to the Imperial army or civil service, or to any aspect of the Church of New Rome. It’s a noxious papist neologism… if the papists wish to use it, so be it. We can’t control what others do and say… we’re not PC hooligans. However, if we’re Orthodox Christians, we should stand for what’s true and right. The usage of “Byzantine” isn’t true and right, therefore, we should abandon it directly. I don’t care about the opinion of those who are influenced by papists such as Taft… we really should put such people to the test… what do you want? Do you stand for Christ, or, do you stand for the pope? If it’s the latter, do become a Uniate… that’s honest, at least. It has nothing to do with being “fearful of outsiders”… those who came up with that one should truly go back to kindergarten. Let’s ask simple and straightforward questions! Mr Taft… do you accept the Pope of Rome as the head of the church? If so, go with God… I shan’t argue with you… it’s pointless to argue with such sorts. As for the Orthodox who associate with such sorts for the sake of worldly academic “recognition”… shame on you! Their arguments are flimsy in the extreme and one should kick the arguments aside (not the people… the arguments) without any compunction or mercy. Intellectuals love windy talk… there are times when the only response is to give such talk the tip of one’s boot. “Fearful of the outside world”… what have we come to? I’ll check into Bedlam with Mr Scrooge!

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The flag of the Empire of the Romans… Byzantine Empire? Don’t be blasphemous!

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What’ll we do with those who refuse to abandon the use of such terms? Firstly, determine the depth of your interlocutor’s knowledge. Most people who use such aren’t educated or educated in some other field than history… we can either ignore or tolerate them. As for certain loud intellectuals (I’m thinking in particular of Vassa Larina and Andrei Psaryov), I’d say that it’s proper to counter and check them at every opportunity… they know better… they truly do. Orthodoxy is what it is. Heterodoxy is what it is. You can’t make a false union by writing of a fictive and notional “Byzantine Church” or “Byzantine Christians”. Where are St Mark of Ephesus and Professor Aleksandros Kalomiros when we need them? All Orthodox Christians have the binding OBLIGATION to counter the papal supremacist claims wherever they pop up, no matter who spouts them, in whatever form. We also have the DUTY to debunk the Western myth of “The Fall of Rome“… that’s only a apologia for papal claims and innovations. Let’s not be coy. We’re the proud heirs of Christian Rome… of the Christian Empire… of the Apostolic Christian Faith… of the unbroken line of Confessors from St Photios the Great to St Maksym Sandovich to Blessed Gavriil Kostelnik to Fr Mikhail Shuvar. Rome did NOT fall… it not only lived on in New Rome… it lives on still… embodied both in our hearts and in Christian Moscow, the Third Rome.

Christian Rome… yes, indeed! Gad, sir, we’re the REAL Romans. “Byzantine?” … GIVE ME A BREAK!

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Friday 27 November 2009

Albany NY

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