Voices from Russia

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…



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.



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



Sunday, 4 January 2015

Sputnik International Presents… Happy New Year 2015: Highlights from Around the World

00 new year 01. new york ny times square. 04.01.14

Revellers engulfed by confetti in Times Square just after midnight during New Year’s Eve festivities in New York (Borough of Manhattan. New York County) NY USA.


00 new year 02. new york ny times square. 04.01.14

Revellers play in spent confetti along a street after midnight in Times Square in New York.


00 new year 03. paris france. 04.01.14

People gather on the Champs Élysées in Paris (Département de Paris. Région Île-de-France) FRANCE before celebrating the New Year.


00 new year 04. paris france. 04.01.14

In wishing their relatives and friends a good year and good health, the French say, “Bonne année et bonne santé”.


00 new year 05. hong kong china. 04.01.14

An old-fashioned Chinese junk sails in Victoria Harbour before the New Year fireworks in Hong Kong PRC on 31 December 2014.


00 new year 06. Korea. 04.01.14

People gather to celebrate the New Year at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju (Gyeonggi Province), north of Seoul (Special City of Seoul) ROK.


00 new year 07. Korea. 04.01.14

On New Year’s Day in Korea, believers try to recall their past lives and go to temples to pray for happiness. They also light candles which symbolise enlightened souls.


00 new year 08. japan. 04.01.14

The Japanese pay special attention to New Year food traditions. They prepare dishes of seaweed, sweet potato, soybeans, and fish cakes. Another cherished custom is giving money to children in special envelopes, known as otoshidama.


00 new year 09. japan. 04.01.14

Men ride on a portable Shinto shrine (mikoshi) as local people carry it into the sea during a festival to wish for calm waters in the ocean and good fortune in the New Year in Oiso (Naka District. Kanagawa Prefecture. Greater Tokyo Area. Kantō Region) JAPAN, west of Tokyo proper.


00 new year 10. iceland. 04.01.14

Icelanders celebrate the holiday with their families and set off fireworks at midnight, ushering in the New Year. Musical shows, bonfires, and feasting are also very popular.


00 new year 11. st petersburg russia. 04.01.14

Skating rink on Palace Square, St Petersburg (Federal City of St Petersburg. Northwestern Federal District) RF.


00 new year 12. ded moroz russia. 04.01.14

The main character of Russian New Year is Ded Moroz (Grandpa Frost), a wizard who brings presents to children.


00 new year 13. copacabana beach rio de janeiro brazil. 04.01.14

Brazil celebrates New Year with parties and music festivals on the famous Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro State. Southeast Region); oceans of people dressed in flashy and colourful clothes flood city streets.


00 new year 14. brazil. 04.01.14

Brazilian fishermen try to entice the Mother of Waters by going out in their boats with gifts of rice, flowers and even jewellery… which they throw into the sea.


00 new year 15. rome italy. 04.01.14

Italians observe an interesting food custom on New Year. When midnight comes, they eat lentil stew, one spoonful for each stroke of the bell. They believe that brings good fortune.


00 new year 16. big ben london england uk. 04.01.14

Scarcely has New Year arrived, than the English rush to open their back doors to see the old year off. Next, they ask the first dark-haired man they encounter to come in through the front door. Guests should bring salt, coal, and bread, symbolising having enough food, money, and warmth for the next year.


New Year Celebrations have just taken place all over the globe, engulfing the seven billion people of our planet in a spirit of joy and pleasure, granting them hope for a better year ahead, and leaving behind bad memories and misfortune from the last one. Let’s cast a glance on New Year celebrations from the sun-kissed beaches of Brazil to the shining skies of Iceland. “May your days be as glittery as diamond, may your friends be as good as gold, may your heart stay as green as emerald, and may your soul remain as pure as pearl”. The French celebrate the New Year with a traditional feast that includes crepes, foie gras, and, of course, champagne. When the clock strikes midnight, the French exchange kisses. New Year is clearly the most adored festival of the Chinese calendar, with Hong Kong residents heading to temples to pray for good fortune, followed by pyrotechnic shows and mythological spectacles which light up the city. Koreans celebrate the New Year twice… on 1 January, like the rest of the world, and on the first day of the Korean lunar calendar. In both cases, it’s a major traditional family holiday when Koreans visit their parents and remember their ancestors. In Russia, New Year is the happiest and most cherished family holiday. Ice skating is one of the main activities during the winter holidays.

1 January 2015

Sputnik International


Friday, 2 January 2015

RT Presents… Firework Extravaganza Ignites 2015 New Year Celebrations

00 fireworks new year 01. berlin germany. 02.01.15                                                          

Fireworks explode behind the quadriga of Berlin’s landmark Brandenburg Gate to usher in the New Year on 1 January 2015.


00 fireworks new year 02. rio de janeiro brazil. 02.01.15

People watch fireworks exploding over Copacabana Beach during New Year celebrations at the Pavao Pavaozinho favela in Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro State. Southeast Region) BRAZIL on 1 January 2015.


00 fireworks new year 03. Seoul South Korea. 02.01.15

Buddhist believers watch as fireworks go off during a ceremony to celebrate the New Year at Bongeun Buddhist temple in Seoul (Special City of Seoul) ROK on 1 January 2015.


00 fireworks new year 04. Singapore. 02.01.15

Fireworks burst over Marina Bay to mark the New Year’s celebration in Singapore on 1 January 2015.


00 fireworks new year 05. Hong Kong China. 02.01.15

Fireworks explode near the observation wheel during a pyrotechnic show to celebrate the New Year in Hong Kong PRC on 1 January 2015.


00 fireworks new year 06. Pyongyang North Korea. 02.01.15

Fireworks explode in the sky over Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang DPRK.


00 new year 15. rome italy. 04.01.14

People cheer in front of Rome’s ancient Colosseum as fireworks explode to celebrate the New Year on 1 January 2015.


00 fireworks new year 08. London england UK. 02.01.15

Fireworks explode behind the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben on the River Thames during New Year celebrations in London ENGLAND UK on 1 January 2015.


00 fireworks new year 09. Sydney Australia. 02.01.15

New Year’s fireworks erupt over the iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House in Sydney NSW AUSTRALIA during traditional fireworks at midnight on 1 January 2015.


00 new year moscow 2015. 01.01.15

Fireworks light the sky over St Basil Cathedral during New Year celebrations in Red Square in Moscow (Federal City of Moscow. Central Federal District) RF on 1 January 2015.


00 fireworks new year 11. moscow russia. 02.01.15

Holiday fireworks over Red Square in Moscow on 1 January 1, 2015.


00 fireworks new year 12. sydney australia. 02.01.15

Fireworks over the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge during New Year celebrations in Sydney on 1 January 2015.


1 January 2015



Monday, 23 June 2014

23 June 2014. DO Read This Propaganda Bullshit from AsiaNews… It Shows You the Contempt that some in the Curia Have for the Orthodox Church.

Uniate SS 1943

Uniate priests blessing the SS… now, that’s “the truth”…


I want you to read a horrible piece from AsiaNews… you have to know what some papists think of us. One of the major supporters of the Fascist junta in the Ukraine is the Roman Curia. It doesn’t mean that the RCs down the street agree or even know of this, but you must be aware that some in Rome hold us in utter contempt as we don’t kiss the Pope of Rome’s ass like their Uniate running dogs do. Yes, let’s look at the truth… in 1596, some Orthodox hierarchs in Little Russia sold out the Church, kissed the Pope’s ass, and became Uniates. In truth, that means that the Unia is an apostate organisation. All of the apostates died out, but the organisation remains apostate… it was Orthodox, but it renounced the truth to follow the Pope of Rome and his fripperies. That means that Shevchuk is a conscious apostate, as he KNOWS that the Unia came about as a turning away from the Church of Christ. Most rank n’ file Uniates only know what their clergy tell them… many of them truly believe the rotten mantra, “Orthodox in union with Rome”. Of course, that isn’t so… for instance, Rome still forbids Uniates from ordaining married men in North America, and Uniates crawl on their bellies and kiss the Pope’s big toe in an attempt to win his favour in this. If they were truly independent churches, they wouldn’t have to do that.

However, this is what Rome believes… as a Greek acquaintance said to me many moons ago… “The Franks talk out of both sides of their mouths”. That hasn’t changed…


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