More on the Russian Church and its Revitalization

One of the things that we here at Monomakhos have commented upon at length is the stunning revival of the Orthodox Church in Russia. To us, it is nothing short of a miracle. Of course, not all see it this way. Some of our erudite correspondents have taken us to task for supposedly engaging in Russophilia. Of course some of these people are ideologues so nothing could dissuade them from holding this observation.

One person persues this bait-and-swith by confusing the foreign policy of the Russian state with the activities of the Russian church, while another talks about the social pathologies that are wracking the Russian nation. Neither of which are due to the policies, ecclesiology, or theology of the Church. As such, such prejudicial thinking will make sure that anything of a positive nature will be studiously overlooked.

That’s most unfortunate. Mainly because it’s hard to have an honest dialogue with such people.

Regardless, we will continue to report honestly on news of interest to Orthodoxy. As this video suggests, the resurgence of the Russian Orthodox Church is not a chimera or wishful thinking on our part. There are really exciting things going on in Russia, and almost all of it is occurring under the auspices of the Church. Judge for yourself.

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  1. Jim of Olym says

    Beautiful video! Thank you George.

    Rdr. James

  2. Carl Kraeff says

    In line with your wish to report truthfully, I offer this Interfax article from

    “11 January 2012, 13:18

    Only 1% of Russia’s Orthodox believers active in parish life

    Moscow, January 11, Interfax – 15% of Russia’s Orthodox believers are involved in parish life, but only 1% actively, according to a poll recently conducted by the Sreda pollster and the Public Opinion Foundation.

    Women, residents of the Central Federal District and Moscow, office employees and respondents aged between 55 and 64 participate or want to participate in parish life more often than other groups, Sreda told Interfax-Religion on Wednesday.

    77% of those who identify themselves as Orthodox believers are not involved in community life and 28%, mostly residents of small towns with populations of 50,000 to 250,000, parents of two children and respondents who described themselves as happy, want to participate but cannot for various reasons.

    Respondents over 65 years of age, residents of large cities except Moscow, parents with one child and citizens with health problems said they do not want to participate in community life.

    The poll was conducted in 100 cities and villages in 44 regions and involved 1,500 respondents.

    Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said recently that the organization of appropriate and active community life ranks among the main tasks today.”

    BTW, I pray that the folks who visit the wonderful exhibits in the video will realize that their direct ancestors were responsible for killing thousands of Orthodox clergy, monks/nuns, and laity, and for desecrating numberless Churches. I hope that this realization will compel them to be circumcised in their heart and that they will add themselves to that tiny core of believers who participate in parish life.

    • Carl of infinite wisdom writes,

      BTW, I pray that the folks who visit the wonderful exhibits in the video will realize that their direct ancestors were responsible for killing thousands of Orthodox clergy, monks/nuns, and laity, and for desecrating numberless Churches. I hope that this realization will compel them to be circumcised in their heart and that they will add themselves to that tiny core of believers who participate in parish life.

      Gee, Carl, why do you think they were crying and crossing themselves during that part?

    • ProPravoslavie says

      How do you know that THEIR ancestors were responsible for those atrocities? It is equally possible that many of those visiting the exhibit had ancestors who were killed under Lenin or Stalin.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      so are we now to believe in collective guilt?

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Once again, let me repeat what a Russian has said: “How did it happen that the country known as ‘Holy Russia’, with such a long history of Orthodox Christianity, was in a very short period of time turned by the Bolsheviks into ‘the first atheist state in the world’? How was it possible that the very same people who were taught religion in secondary schools in the 1910s with their own hands destroyed churches and burned holy icons in the 1920s? What is the explanation of the fact that the Orthodox Church, which was so powerful in the Russian Empire, was almost reduced to zero by its former members?” My emphasis. See at

        This is if anything a declaration of collective guilt. As for responsibility of ancestors, if those who were weeping at the sight of burning icons were descendants of the victims of Godless Communism, they would have been a small minority in accordance with the conclusion of Metropolitan Hilarion and the tstimony of history. The butchers were decimated by the head butcher but they numbered in the thousands, while the true victims numbered in the millions and the victims’ descendants were a very small number, compared to the descendants of the non-victims.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          To follow up, I believe that the New Martyrs and their descendants (the 1% of the article) are the example that Russia must emulate if she is to be great spiritually or at all Here is what she must do and what she must not do:

          “At the present time our Church is struggling to find its new identity in post-Communist and post-atheist Russia. There are, it seems to me, two main dangers. The first is that of a return to the pre-revolutionary situation,when there was a State Church which became less and less the Church of the nation. If, at some stage in the development of society, such a role would be offered to the Church by the State, it would be a huge mistake to accept, it. In this case the Church will be again rejected by the majority of the nation, as it was rejected in 1917. The seventy years of Soviet persecution were an experience of fiery purgatory for the Russian Church, from which it should have come out entirely renewed. The most dangerous error would be not to learn from what happened and to return to the pre-revolutionary situation, as some members of the clergy wish to do nowadays.

          The second danger is that of militant Orthodoxy, which would be a post-atheist counterpart of militant atheism. I mean an Orthodoxy that fights against Jews, against masons, against democracy, against Western culture, against enlightenment. This type of Orthodoxy is being preached even by some key members of the hierarchy, and it has many supporters within the Church. This kind of Orthodoxy, especially if it gains the support of the State, may force Russian atheism to withdraw temporarily to the catacombs. But Russian atheism, will not be vanquished until the transfiguration of the soul and the need to live according to the Gospel have become the only message of the Russian Orthodox Church.” (My emphases)

          Metropolitan Hilarion at

        • Pravoslavnie says

          “was almost reduced to zero by its former members?”


          This statement you cited above is a gross oversimplification of historical events. I will grant you that the ROC indeed suffered through a purgatory for some 70 years which, tragic as it was, may have been necessary for its survival and eventual triumph. However, it is important to note that the persecution of Orthodoxy in Russia was accomplished by a group of militant atheists in a regime that seized power in a coup d’tat, and one that had minority support despite being called Bolsheviki. Despite this, the citiation is justified in warning of danger. The destruction and persecution of the church happened because of its close ties to the old regime, and the fact that it had let itself turn into a bureacracy as a state church, an agency of government. As the old regime ossified and collapsed in bloody revolution, it’s bureacracies and institutions collapsed thereby delegitimizing and taking down the church administration along with it.

          The bureacratic rot and theological stagnation that took root in the Russian church inspired a reform movement in the half century leading up to the revolution. Had the revolution never taken place, it might have been possible that the spiritual revival and theological awakening then gathering momentum in Russia may have provided a revolution of a different sort. Unfortunately historical events did not wait for this to happen. However the Russian church is now arguably in a much more powerful position than it was 100-years ago. Having emerged from its spritual cleansing by fire, and having been detached from the state as an institutionalized church, for the first time in its thousand year history the Russian church is free. It is free to preach the Holy Gospel without all the baggage that burdened it a century ago. So yes, there is danger in not learning lessons from history, but I believe that Kyrill is strong enough to keep the Russian church from running off the rails again.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            It is possible that Metropolitan Hilarion’s analysis may be too broad. But, the Metropolitan would certainly agree with your second paragraph and I certainly hope that you are right in your prognosis. Indeed, I strongly believe that the Russian Church has a real chance if she is honest about her past BTW, have you read the entire article, which is obsolutely fascinating?

            • ProPravoslavie says

              Part of being honest about the past includes acknowledging the devastation that befell Russia between 1914 and the 1930’s:

              1) Millions dead and maimed from the First World War, including the flower of the Russian army (3.3 million deaths!) It has been argued that one of the reasons the Czar fell in 1917 was because the military officers who would have fought the Revolution out of loyalty to the Romanovs were already dead.

              2) The Russian Civil War that cost millions more dead from combat, famine, illness, etc. The Whites were far from perfect and committed numerous atrocities as well and St. Tikhon was careful not to be identified with them, but it is also a fact that many fought and fell with the Whites out of a desire to defend the Orthodox faith from Red apostasy.

              3) The fleeing of Russia by some 1 million (and perhaps 2 million) emigres, who arguably included much of the “Churched” population of Russia, and certainly a good deal of its finest thinkers, theologians, prelates, etc.

              4) And after all that, year after year of Red Terror in the hands of Lenin and Stalin.

              5) The Renovationist schism on one hand, and the disputes between Metropolitan Sergius and the anti-Sergian clergy on the other hand, and the havoc these disputes wreaked on Church life

              No one denies that the Russian Church prior to the Revolution had very serious faults, and had already alienated much of the Russian population. However, if the pre-Revolutionary Russian Church were indeed as corrupt and as spiritually weak as its contemporary detractors want to make it out to be, then how can one explain the hundreds of thousands of Russian monastics, clergy and laymen who laid down their lives for the Orthodox faith?

              • Carl Kraeff says

                There is no doubt that the strength of the Russian Church is the example of the New Martyrs. History repeats itself in a way; in the early Church, the apostates also vastly outnumbered the ones who were martyred for their steadfastness. However, I do think that we must be on guard against the two wrong responses that Metropolitan Hilarion defined: The ROC must not go back to the 1917 situation and She must not adopt militant Orthodoxy.

                You know, the word that was used for the exhibition, Возрождение, means revival, rebirth, renaissance, resurgence. regeneration, renewal, renascence, reappearance and new birth, among other things. When the Patriarch is talking about Holy Rus, we do not know exactly which period he is harking back to. I must admit that I get uncomfortable with some of the ideas that emanate from highest Church levels. For example, just about a month ago, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the MP Department for Church and Society, delved boldly into politics. Fr Vsevolod thought that we should start a “serious national dialogue about the basic political and economic structure of the country, including the role and status of the Russian people”. On his part, he offered a number of specific measures for a radical change in the social and political situation in Russia…” Interfax-Religion,

                I understand that the temptation is great to be part and parcel of the state. I understand the urge to go back to the “good old days” that prevailed before the Revolution. I sympathize with the need to create infrastructure. I just wish that the ROC paid much more attention to its core mission: to convert Russia back to Orthodox Christianity–evangelize, catechize and make disciples. The ROC has to come to the point (very soon IMHO) where “the transfiguration of the soul and the need to live according to the Gospel have become the only message of the Russian Orthodox Church.” (Metropolitan Hilarion cited above).

                • ProPravoslavie says

                  It is hard to evangelize, catechize and make disciples when the State is hostile or uncomprehending towards the Church, especially if it happens to be the Russian State.

                  I don’t think Patriarch Kirill and Archpriest Vsevolod are interested in becoming “part and parcel” of the state. Their actions clearly show a desire to have a strong and independent Church. If they simply want to return to 1917 then Pat. Kirill should be offering to abdicate by now and asking Putin to appoint an Oberprokurator.

                  They certainly seem to want a partnership of equals with the State. This may look unpalatable to you Americans with your idea of separation of Church and State (and the strange and ahistorical idea that this separation must be imposed on all societies all over the world) but the fact is that some level of mutual partnership with the State has been the norm for Christian history and for religion in general. Many of Christianity’s greatest defeats and mistakes could be traced to its partnership with the State, but many of its greatest triumphs (including missionary triumphs) could also be traced to this partnership.

                  The ultimate question really here is: should the Church always be antagonistic towards the State in order to fulfil its duty? Is the State something unclean, to be held at arm’s length at all costs? Should the Moscow Patriarchate conform itself to American preconceptions and act the part of the perpetual enemy of the Russian State? That seems to be the line that you and many American Orthodox like to take.

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    First, there is nothing to hold back the ROC right now. I’m sorry that you got the impression that I was criticizing Her for the previous era. No, I was recommending that the ROC start to evangelize, catechize now, in the post-Soviet era. I notice that new and magnificent cathedrals are sprouting all over. I am not against cathedrals but when only 1% are active parishioners and attendance is not more than 4%, they seem to be unnecessary luxuries.

                    My answers to all of your questions are “no.” However, may I remind you that Metropolitan Hilarion himself has come out categorically against the ROC becoming once again the State Church? It seems to me that, at least in some circles in Russia, this is not a matter of Western conceit but a hard earned lesson of history.

                    It may be helpful for you to know that I am not a historian but a planner by nature and thus plan for failure (not to fail but to counter possible failures). Thus, I am looking at faults and weaknesses, before I consider strengths. In the case of Russia, it may be prudent to act as if church-state entanglements are a bad thing, while keeping in mind that the Church should feel free to advise the state on matters of non-partisan nature. OTH, the State should never presume to tell the Church what to believe. how to act and what to say.

                    • Fr Alexander says

                      “No, I was recommending that the ROC start to evangelize, catechize now, in the post-Soviet era.”

                      You should go to Russia and see for yourself the catechesis and evangelization programs which are being undertaken all over the country. It’s easy to quote some news article or something you saw on the internet and then draw whatever conclusions you want, but seeing it with your own eyes and hearing it with your ears is the only way you will ever understand the scale of the work the the Church is undertaking in Russia, especially in light of many of the social problems that they have to deal with.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Dear Father Alexander–You are right; I have not set foot in Russia and I plead guilty for not having “on the ground” experience. However, Russia/Soviet Union/Communism have been my life-long interest (in school and at work) and I learned about the corrosive effects of Communism from my relatives who suffered under that system in Bulgaria.

                      I do not doubt that reports of a revival are true and I am thankful that you have been able to “seeing it with your own eyes and hearing it with your ears.” What has been happening in Russia is truly wonderful. My purpose is not to denigrate it but to put the advances made so far into the proper context. IMHO, The Russian Church has climbed up the foothills and can either go forward to climb the mountain itself, to congratulate herself about progress made to date, or to slide back down to the valley of irrelevance of no more than 4% active worshipers. I do congratulate Her for the journey so far and pray that She keeps on going forward.

                      Some folks are happy to see top governmental officials attending Church. I hear the Russians have coined a term for them–“candle holders,” to indicate the shallowness of their belief. There are also self reports of folks desiring Baptism. not because they believe, but because it is the newest “in” thing to do. Even Patriarch Kyrill gave a speech that warned his clergy against actively pursuing a religious career. All of these anecdotes seem to hark back to the pre-1917 Church where the Church and the state were entangled–one of the reasons cited by Metropolitan Hilarion for the betrayal of the Lord by most of those who had been in the Body of Christ.

                      Yet, I keep reading about musings from the top echelons of the ROC about re-entangling the Church in the affairs of the state. The latest gem from Father Chaplin, the Head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations, was reported by RIA Novosti, Russian Press at a Glance, January 13, 2012: Item: “A senior Russian Orthodox Church figure, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, has called for the creation of “Christian or Orthodox parties or political factions” in Russia. (Kommersant, Moscow News)”.

                      It looks like two powerful subordinates of Patriarch Kyrill are going in two different directions. I rather like Metropolitan Hilarion’s conclusion, that I cited above, that it is absolutely critical for the ROC not to go back to the pre-1917 situation.

                    • Fr Alexander says

                      Dear Carl, I can understand that you may have an active interest, but if you have never been to Russia, then it’s not really possible to “put the advancements in the proper context”, and or even understand what is “the proper context”. With respect, how is it possible to espouse views or preferences on what “should” happen in Russia when one doesn’t understand the practical realities and potential of Russian society because one’s knowledge of it is based on third-hand accounts and an in-grained belief that all nations should adopt the American model of a secular “democratic” government.

                      You mention the phenomenon of some people in Russia desiring baptism because it’s the “in” thing and not because they believe. I am sure this has been the case since the end of the persecution of the Church by the Roman Empire and it’s hardly unique to Russia. It’s quite common among emigre families too. So I have some questions about this:

                      1) how is the priest to know whether someone presenting themselves or family for baptism are “for real” or “not”, particularly when he would have literally hundreds of people presenting themselves weekly?
                      2) from a spritual perspective, what is the worst-case scenario and the best-case scenario if such people are baptised versus if they are not?
                      3) given the fact that no one but God can read the hearts of men (particularly in terms of their future condition), do you think it is spiritually healthy to entertain speculations about the “shallowness of their belief” in relation to anyone but ourselves?

                      It seems to me that Fr Vsevolod Chaplin’s point of view makes sense. In Europe, for example, the Christian Democratic movement has been a major political force. What’s wrong with Russia having an Orthodox political bloc?

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Dear Father Alexander–Just to put my active interest into perspective, I did retire as an 8016. Now, to address first, second and third hand knowledge and experience. One must read primary sources, study the works of experts, apply logic, have some ability to go back from the general to the detail and back, relate and synthesize, have some ability to empathize, etc…, just the normal things that one does when one is serious about a subject. I am sure you see the parallel to many a profession, the chaplaincy being one of them.

                      Regarding your questions, I will respond somewhat by pointing out that the anecdotal data that I related were indicators that do not in themselves prove anything. However, just as Everett Dirksen said about money (a billion here, a billion there and pretty soon we are talking about real money), an indicator here, an indicator there, and pretty soon we are talking about something that may be really critical.

                      Finally, I have to answer your last question “….do you think it is spiritually healthy to entertain speculations about the “shallowness of their belief” in relation to anyone but ourselves?” On this blog and in real life, we do entertain speculations about a person’s faith, character, or piety: I am sure you have read plenty of testimonials for persons other than ourselves and pretty nasty comments directed at others. Indeed, you are addressing this question to me, rather than to the general audience, not as a request for information but a judgment, which is entirely fine with me, but it does point out an inconsistency in your logic. I suppose It escaped your notice that I did not coin the term “candle holder” for high governmental officials who are pretending to be believers. I thought I was doing them a favor by characterizing their belief as “shallow” rather than “fake.”

                    • Fr Alexander says

                      Dear Carl, “8016”? Sorry, I do not speak your specialised jargon – you will have to explain.

                      I know you didn’t coin the term “candle holder”, that doesn’t mean you weren’t selectively cherrypicking from specific sources that you have chosen to prefer over others possibly because you have formulated (wittingly or unwittingly) inaccurate ideas about religion in Russia. I also suggest (in all seriousness) that it would be good for you to see it for yourself before commenting further on the religious situation there simply because your reading of your “primary sources” might be better informed and more contextually accurate if you did.

                      Most importantly though -you didn’t respond to the question about why you intimated in an earlier post that it would be a bad idea for Russia to have a religious political party as suggested by Fr Vsevolod Chaplin when nearly every country in the free world has at least one. I’m also genuinely curious why you think this suggesting in any way conflicts with anything Met Hilarion Alfeyev has said?

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Dear Father Alexander–I had thought that you are a Colonel, USAF (Retired) rather than COL, USA (Retired) so that I gave you my Air Force Specialty Code instead of the Army one (8016=Intelligence Staff Officer, now changed to 14N4. Army equivalent is 35D). I just did not want to be subjected yet again to the trite “Is it not an oxymoron to say ‘military intelligence?’ ”

                      Regarding cherrypicking, yes of course I did so to make a point. Who does not, especially in blogs? And, of course you are right that it would be good for me (really all of us) to see the situation on the ground before we can comment with some authority. I had been assigned to Italy for three years and I cannot say that I am an expert on Italy; however, it is indeed better than talking about Italy from books, or from a short visit (which in mind mind can be worse). The reason why I am saying that a short visit as a tourist may be worse than book knowledge is that it may give one a false sense of superior knowledge.

                      In any case, we have had a number of folks writing on this subject and I know of only one who has actually visited Russia ( did not get the sense that this person lived there, but that he had visited as a tourist). That has not stopped folks from giving their opinions. However, it seems to me that only those folks who are critical of the Russian Orthodox Church are being held to the higher standard. So, I do agree with you if I were presenting myself as an expert on the subject, perhaps writing a definitive analysis for publication. I do not agree with you that I need to have the same qualifications and background to opine on Monomakhos. Besides, Russia, Communism and the Orthodox Church have not been of passing interest to me since I was 18.

                      Regarding the problem with religious parties in Russia “when nearly every country in the free world has at least one,” I do think that church-state entanglement per se is a bad thing, first because it violates the principle of separation of the Church from the state/world (Matthew 22:21 and John 15:19), and second because history has show us that such entanglements have been more harmful than good. Just because we forced into such entanglements does not mean that we should approve of them.

                      Regarding the contrast I drew between +Hilarion and Fr Chaplin, it is true that Fr Chaplin put in a caveat–that the Orthodox Church would not be formally involved. However, in accordance with Russian legal experts, “Political parties could not be formed on the basis of members’ professional, racial, ethnic or religious identity. This requirement applies to the party charter and all of its policy documents, not only to its name.”
                      Of course, Father Chaplin is notorious for meddling in the political policy arena. He famously (infamously?) told the nation how the state should handle various issues/problems. On December 5, 2011 he said: “Fr Vsevolod thought that we should start a “serious national dialogue about the basic political and economic structure of the country, including the role and status of the Russian people”. On his part, he offered a number of specific measures for a radical change in the social and political situation in Russia. In particular, he wrote, “If the government doesn’t want a slow degeneration, and if the people don’t want to pay for an occupying army and enrich foreign business, you need to move from ‘stability’ to the realm of conscience and freedom. Freedom… both political and moral”. Much of what’s happening in Russia, in his view, “is profoundly abnormal and isn’t responsive to the will of the people, it’s a legacy of the ‘90s of the last century, and we must decisively reject it”.

                      Fr Vsevolod also suggested approaches to solving such problems as corruption and illegal immigration. In his view, migrants must register at least once every three days at their legal place of work. He said, “Those who fail to do so should fall under the criminal law”. He went on to say that “high-profile investigations of government thievery” and corruption should lead to the dismissal of “all those in the chain of command, starting at the regional level”.

                      Fr Vsevolod paid particular attention to reforms in the army. In his opinion, “Soldiers in Russia shouldn’t be below ‘mere merchants’ (ниже торговцев) in social status. Every officer of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies should have a house, even in the Moscow region. However, we need to tie this housing with their posting or [as a reward for] a decent retirement. This is the best remedy against corruption. Let 2012 be a year of a resolute and moral Russia. Let us be a country with a strong sense of the meaning of life… both today and in the future”.”
                      I am sourcing it to that fervent lover of Fr Chaplin, he/she Drezlo, just to make sure I am not accused of using an opponent’s slant. See

                      I have warned against church-state entanglements and I have demonstrated that at least Fr Chaplin, Patriarch Kyrill’s right hand man in such matters, is in favor of the Church becoming not only “in” but “of” this world, all for the noble cause of making the Fatherland holy again. And, I will grant that, just as the Church (St Sergius of Radonezh) brought the Fatherland back from the Tatar yoke, the Russian Church could again be helpful in yet another renewal. However, the ROC can do so without church-state entanglements and should not become a state church as cautioned by Metropolitan Hilarion.

                      So, to answer objection that +Hilarion has not directly and explicitly opposed Father Chaplin’s proposal, I will say that you are correct. I still maintain that these two ROC luminaries represent two different minds/philosophies regarding the role of the Church in Russia.

                    • Fr Alexander says

                      Dear Carl, yes, I think you have me confused with someone else. I’ve never been in the USA military (or any military).

                      Thank you for stating your position re Fr Vsevolod. Again, I don’t think there is much that he says which is that controversial for a society where the government could be said to owe the Church a lot after all of the calamities it was subjected to by the communist government.

                      I don’t really think that Vladyka Hilarion and Fr Vsevolod are at odds in the great scheme of things, just focussed (by necessity) on different parts of the same problem.

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    P:roP: you hit upon something important. The eradication of the Patriarchate by Peter I and the subsequent subjugation of the ROC to the Russian Imperium was a disaster of the first order. /Another benchmark of the Enlightenment.

                    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

                      Mr. Kraeff, you have obviously confused me (I always sign my full name) with another protege of St. Alexander Nevsky.

                      I have no dog in this hunt.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      My apologies Father Alexander (Webster). Please accept my best wishes for a safe, healthy and blessed New Year.

                    • George, not following you here. Are you saying that Peter I’s eradication of the autocephalous Moscow Patriarchate (a ban that lasted in the Russian Empire for 197 years) was a result of the (presumably French) Enlightenment?

                      … Another benchmark of the Enlightenment

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      No Mike, not the French Enlightenment (which hadn’t happened yet) so please don’t create straw men out of pixie dust. It was because of the Western rationalist program though –specifically the Reformation–which created several national churches all as departments of state/ministries. The Dutch Reformed Church, the Anglican Church, the Lutheran Churches of the Scandinavian countries, etc. Don’t take my word for it, you can read it for yourself in Robert K Massie’s excellent book Peter the Great.

                      It’s a great book. Reader’s Digest version: when Peter was a young man, he made a world tour of the West. He very much liked the submissive churches of Holland and the West.

                    • I see. So why call it another benchmark of the Enlightenment, then, rather than the Reformation?

                      I admit I was confused by your chronology. I just assumed Peter I must have had a time machine, which would explain it. But a semi-nice save, anyway.

          • Pravoslavnie wrote: “The destruction and persecution of the church happened because of its close ties to the old regime, and the fact that it had let itself turn into a bureacracy as a state church, an agency of government. ”

            I do not think that such is true, and it is a significant mistake to make. The Communist theomachists by their own principles were enemies of God. Had the Church been entirely separate from the Tsarist regime, the Communists would have still attacked Christians. Totalitarians tolerate no competition for allegiance, and Marxists are materialist atheists who despise religion and all pre-revolutionary civilization (not to mention human nature). We may object to much concerning the subordinate position of the Church after Peter’s reforms, but those reforms did not lead to the Communists’ hatred of the Gospel. Marxism was not born in Russia but in the West; the political entanglements of the Russian Church did not form it.

            However, one may argue that a freer Russian Church would have better evangelized the nineteenth century population so that Russia would not have been such fertile soil for atheist, proletarian revolution. Yet, that is a spiritual argument, not a historical one. It is like saying that bad men would never do bad things if we truly manifested God’s radiance in the world. That’s a common Christian sentiment, but I’m skeptical. It seems like another example of Christian self flagellation by every John “chief of sinners” Doe. Can’t Christians ever admit that they are not the reason for all the world’s shortcomings? It’s perversely pretentious. Evil men inexplicably exist, and they will always mar the world until the end of time. We may be God’s invasion force, and the sorry state of the world is likely related to Christians’ failure to shine their light before men, but wickedness even entered Eden. Sometimes, evil happens regardless of what we do. Moreover, I find it offensive to blame the wickedness of the Bolsheviks and their heirs on lukewarm Vanya and superficial Mila.

            • Joseph, excellent analysis. Speaking as someone who has fallen into the delusion of self-flagellation, it does us good to remember that just because we are not personally holy doesn’t excuse evil in the world.

              As for the pernicious doctrine of Marxism, it would have never taken root in Russia were it not for the Great War and its disastrous prosecution by Czar Nicholas II. The economic imbalances that existed in czarist Russia were primarily concentrated in the urban centers where great disparities occurred and social unrest.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              Interesting analysis. Have you considered also the concept of the banality of evil espoused by Hannah Arendt in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil? Arendt’s thesis was that people who carry out unspeakable crimes, like Eichmann, may not be crazy fanatics at all, but rather ordinary individuals who simply accept the premises of their state and participate in any ongoing enterprise with the energy of good bureaucrats.

              The question then becomes, in the case of Russia, whether the lukewarm Vanyas and superficial Veras just went along with the evil Bolsheviks because they merely accepted the way things were? However,did they do so because they were not equipped to resist the murder of priests, burning of icons and desecration of churches or because that is how the majority of humans would act in similar circumstances? And, why were they not equipped to resist? Was it because their faith was shallow? You see these cascading questions are critically important today because if the faith was shallow, was it perhaps because the Church was shallow in general, a lukewarm church and a church not worth emulating?

              Before the usual folks start telling me that I am full of beans, let me hasten to say that I am hopeful for the ROC because (1) the Russian saints and especially the multitude of the New Martyrs are the examples that She has; (2) the reform movement led by Saint Tikhon was aborted in Russia but it was advanced by the Paris School and found a home in the Metropolia/OCA–something good will surely come out of the trials that the daughter Church has been going through (only if wee here and they in Russia learned from our mistakes and successes); and (3) there are many good folks in the ROC at all levels and they are waging a valiant struggle against the “Holy Rus,” state-church entanglement enthusiasts, and those who want to go back to the pre-1917 situation.

            • Pravoslavnie says

              JosephA — I don’t disagree with much of what you’ve written, but in order to put my prior commentary into perspective I think it is important to draw a distinction between the Church as the Body of Christ, and the church as an institution with all of the problems, evils, weaknesses, and temptations that inevitably follow when you put any group of people together. The former accounts for the fact that the Church survives today, while the latter suggests why the church as an institution was vulnerable and largely swept away by the new regime.

  3. Is there a parallel between what went on in Russia and what is going on in the USA as the Church is being attacked on all sides? Christianity is a thing to be gotten rid of. We shouldn’t be too smug.

  4. ProPravoslavie says

    “1%” may sound small, but 1% of the estimated 125 million Russian Orthodox believers in the Russian Federation is 1.25 million. That’s still big in terms of raw numbers. Percentages must always be put into context.

    How many parishes are there in Russia? The Russian Orthodox Church has about 30,000 parishes nowadays but only about half of that are in Russia itself, most of the rest being located in the former Soviet republics. It should not be forgotten that during the Soviet era the vast majority of open parishes were located in the Western fringe of what was the Soviet Union (which are now Western Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, the Baltic countries). In Russia itself there were almost none.

    So that would be 1.25 million active parishioners in about 15,000 parishes. Impressive.

    Remember, as well, that the Russian Church has had it tough since 1988 (the Millennium of the Baptism of Rus, when the persecution finally ended.):

    1) The resurgence of Ukrainian Greek Catholicism and Ukrainian autocephalist Orthodoxy, which took away a significant portion of the parishes that had been open during the Soviet era in Western Ukraine. I’m not necessarily justifying the position of the Moscow Patriarchate regarding these parishes. I’m simply pointing out the fact that this had a massive negative impact on the Russian Orthodox revival. Prior to 1988, the Eparchy of Lviv was by far the Russian Orthodox Church’s biggest diocese.

    A lot of Ukrainian Catholics like to boast that religious life in Western Ukraine is much better than elsewhere in the former Soviet lands. That is because Western Ukraine was the place where parish life under the omophor of Moscow was allowed to continue going on to some extent, permitting religious traditions and values to survive. In the rest of the Soviet Union the persecution was much darker and more relentless.

    2) The schism of Filaret Denisenko, which spread schism to the rest of Ukraine.

    3) The schism in Estonia, with the Estonian autonomists ending up being received into the Ecumenical Patriarchate resulting in the temporary interruption of communion between Moscow and the Phanar from 1996 to 1997. To this day the situation is still tense.

    4) The schism in Moldova as the Romanian Patriarchate set up its own Metropolitanate there.

    5) The internal schisms in Russia, as ROCOR set up its own jurisdiction inside Russia. This jurisdiction ended up spawning numerous internal schisms, such as ROAC and various other splinter versions of ROCOR. There was also the “Catacomb Orthodox” and “True Orthodox” movement that continue to attack the Moscow Patriarchate from all sides (especially through their media pals in ‘Portal-Credo.Ru”)

    6) The invasion of Russia by all sorts of sects and pseudo-religious movements. Russian Orthodoxy not only had to pick up the pieces after more than 70 years of persecution, it also had to fight off all sorts of Protestant and Oriental religious groups trying to take its flock away.

    7) Russia’s internal chaos during the Yeltsin years which severely affected the economic capacity of the Russian Church and its believers. The controversial trading in cigarettes and other stuff that the Moscow Patriarchate got itself into in the 1990’s should be seen in this context.

    8) On top of it all, the Russia media has not exactly been friendly to the Church, while Russian entertainment is anything but conducive to spiritual values.

    The Russian Church really has had space to breathe only beginning in the late 1990’s.

    There is also evidence that, contrary to the perception outside of Russia, and contrary to some media reports, the levels of Church attendance in Russia is actually rising up annually at least for Christmas: (in Russian)

    By the way, Francis Frost might be interested to learn that Constantinople is apparently trying to get involved in Abkhazia by meeting with the clergy of the ‘autocephalist” Abkhazians: (in Russian)

    • Pringlesnap says

      The population of the Russian Federation is just over 140 million and of those 70% are said to claim to be Orthodox Christians. That may well be an overestimate as 30% of the population is Muslim. A very recent report said that 30% of the officers in the armed forces were atheist. I suggest that perhaps 80 million are Orthodox Christians in the most nominal sense; it is impossible to say how many of them are actually baptised, which is the only possible way of actually belonging to the Church.

      Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokhalamsk may be unpopular for a whole variety of reasons, but his analysis of the figures is sober and realistic.

  5. I can only share personal experience rather than survey findings, but when my brother and I travelled around Russia a decade ago, we were amazed by the resurgence of Orthodoxy. However, we only visited Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Tver, Sergiev Posad, Kronstadt, and the suburbs around the capital cities. Carl’s study notes that parochial activity is higher in Moscow. The parishes were packed everywhere that we went — it might just be that there are still not enough parishes. Perhaps, Christianity is still only a shadow in vast expanses of Russia. The Moscow Patriarchate is on the job, however. The numbers in church building and seminary training are impressive. Met. Kirill just recently announced the construction of two hundred more parishes in Moscow’s suburbs. For what it is worth, Russia certainly did not seem to us like a society where only 1% of the population was deeply involved in the Church.

    Similarly, I did not notice the “empty church” crisis when I was a student in Paris. The Roman masses were always well attended. Secularist, anti-Christian laïcisme is evident in the culture, but I witnessed a very vibrant and strong Roman Catholic community. I suppose that the post-Christian areas have to be in the provinces to make the numbers make sense. Or, possibly, cities as big and as dense as Moscow and Paris have enough active Christians to pack their churches even though they remain minorities. I do not know how to explain it. Yet, living in Paris and spending a month in Moscow made it seem that Christians were well represented in both. Indeed, they seemed far more religious than Washington, DC.

  6. The Russian Orthodox Church has undergone a huge expansion since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

    We need to remember that from the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, worshiping in churches was denounced in Russia by its atheistic communist government. Many Russians — who were brave and spiritual enough to attend church services during that time period — were imprisoned or killed by the communist tyrants.

    Since 1991, Russia has been making up for those 74 years of “lost time” regarding the right to pray in churches. Russia has built a plethora of churches since 1991, and will continue to do so for at least another decade.

    Indeed, a “religious renaissance” is currently occurring in the Russian Orthodox Church, and it will most likely continue for many years in the future.

  7. This info may be somewhere in the comments. If so, I apologize.

    Who did this exhibit?

    How might one or more parts of it come to the USA?

    I am not asking this as a theoretical question.

  8. excellent issues altogether, you just won a logo new reader. What might you recommend in regards to your publish that you just made some days in the past? Any certain?

  9. A typo and an error to correct: the autocephalous Moscow Patriarchate was founded in 1589, of course; 1689 was a typo I just noticed. And Peter I (the ‘Great’) brought the centuries-long, insidious process of caesaropapist subjugation of the Church under the czar to a head by abolishing it completely in 1721, not 1725:

    “…The MP was founded in [1689] 1589, only to be completely abolished (!) by Peter I in [1725] 1721. From the reinstitution of this Patriarchate in 1917 until Saint Tikhon reposed in 1925 there lapsed a grand total of eight years or so.”

    You are all over the map Mike, and the only thing that holds this broad historical sweep together is a generalized disdain for all things Orthodox.

    I’ll deal with this lame slur and the other ones at length, later today or tomorrow. For now I’ll just admit that you can lie all you want about me — I don’t really matter anyway. But you’ll fail to hide the truth about the increasingly destructive consequences of caesaropapism in Orthodoxy. That fact is the thing that holds “this broad sweep” together, and you know it. Or else you should. En garde.

    • George Michalopulos says

      So now you’re blaming the Church for the depredations of Peter the Great? Let’s go whole-hog and blame the Church for the “reforms” of Catherine the Great as well.

      • I blamed caesaropapism, George. The Eastern Church has always been sick with it.

        See if you can grasp this, I don’t think it’s that difficult: Caesaropapism is one thing (a disease). The Church is something else (the body). I’m blaming the disease, not the body. The disease is a disorder in the body. It requires treatment.

        Caesaropapism is the name for an historical tendency, a political process, that historians, theologians and ecclesiologists discern when observing the historical facts of the Orthodox Church’s journey in time — beginning with Constantine and, coursing along through the history of the Eastern Empire, the “Second Rome,” finally coming to a head in the Russian Empire, the so-called “Third Rome,” in Peter the Great. For two centuries thereafter until the Bolsheviks, what was left of the Orthodox Church in Russia had been swallowed whole by the State; she was controlled by and paid by the State. She served the State, the Russian Empire. Ultimately, the diarchy that had always existed, though imperfectly, in the Byzantine Empire disappeared completely in the Russian Empire. The czar was head both of the Church and the State. Constantine’s “truce” was broken. It took 1400 years for the betrayal to be consummated, in Eastern Christendom.

        Whose face is on the coin?

        Render therefore to Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.

        The Eastern Orthodox world developed historically in such a way that the visible, human Church located its center, its focal point, its unity, as the worshiping body of the oikumene, in the Emperor, first (Byzantium), and then in the czar (“Rome III”). In the West, until the Reformation, the Bishop of Rome was that point of unity for the visible Church.

        Caesaropapism is that relationship of Church and State in which the former is determined by the latter. There’s a pseudo-orthodoxy, and then there’s the real thing.

        Vladimir Soloviev put it like this:

        The fundamental truth and the special idea of Christianity is the perfect union of the divine and the human, fulfilled individually in Christ and fulfilling itself socially in Christian humanity, where the divine is represented by the Church … and the human by the State. This intimate connection of State and Church presupposes the latter’s primacy, because the divine is anterior and superior to the human. Heresy attacked precisely the perfect union of the divine and the human in Jesus Christ, in order to destroy at its base the organic link of Church and State and to attribute to the latter an absolute independence. Now one can see why the beliefs of New Rome — which in Christianity would preserve the absolutism of the pagan State — were so favorable to all the heresies which were but variations on a single theme that, namely, Jesus Christ was not the true Son of God, consubstantial {of one essence. Ed.} with the Father.

        …Instead of this synthetic and organic union of the divine and the human, [the Byzantines] proceeded to confuse the two elements, to divide them, and to let one absorb and suppress the other. At first they confused the divine and the human in the sacred majesty of the Emperor. As in the confused idea of the Arians, Christ as a hybrid being, more than man and less than God, so also caesaropapsim — this political Arianism — confused without uniting the temporal and the spiritual powers and made the autocrat more than a chief of State, without being able to make him the true head of the Church.

        Prince Toumanoff wrote (pp.225-226):

        We must stop now to examine two different conceptions of universality, Christian and pagan. The universality of the Catholic Church is objective; it is based on the command of our Lord to “teach all nations”; the whole world is for the Church, built upon the rock of Peter, one vast field of Christiaization. The universality of the Roman Empire, on the other hand, was subjective; the Empire was the world, the orbis terrarum; hence, one might speak of the Roman Empire as comprising the world, although the existence of Parthia, India, China was well known to all. The two ideas of universality, objective and subjective, may for one brief moment have coincided in the pax christiana. But already the transfer of the imperial residence to the shores of the Bosphorus symptomized the inevitable separation of the two conceptions. The Catholic Church, centered at Rome, kept the Christian idea; the Byzantine Caesarian ideology retained and represented only the pagan, subjective idea.

        Thus the Byzantine Empire was the οἰκουμένη, centered at Constantinople; therefore, the caesaropapistic imperial Church could not depend on an outsider. Hence, the insinuations, as early as the illegal canon twenty-eight of Chalcedon, that New Rome — because the capital of the Empire — should succeed to the universal, ecumenical headship of the Church; hence, too, the style of the ecumenical patriarch — presumably as patriarch of the Empire (οἰκουμένη) arrogated by the bishop of the imperial city.

        There had developed, as a consequence, a conflict between these ideas of universality. The objective, Catholic idea conceived of the Church as coextensive with the universe and therefore supranational. The subjective, Byzantine idea conceived of the οἰκουμένη as coextensive with the Empire and of a national church determinable by it. The conflict of these two conceptions was — and still remains — to a great extent the essence of the Schism.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          Mike–You are making a powerful argument, but I think it fails to look at root causes. At issue is the fact that church leaders in Constantinople and Rome were not able to resist secular power. In the East, with the Empire still strong, the Church eventually subjugated Herself to the Emperor (after all the Patriarch did not have those infamous divisions). In the West, with secular power crumbling or gone, the church leader assumed secular powers. East or West, they were given lemons and they made lemonade. Now, it is not up to us to fix the Roman Catholic Church, but we should look at the Orthodox Church both critically and charitably. In that spirit, I think we can say (indeed marvel) at the resiliency of the Orthodox Church; the Holy Spirit did not cause the aberrations but nonetheless protected and ultimately preserved the essentials. To give an example, the New Martyrs of Russia are at the same time the glory and the indictment of the Russian Church.

          • Carl, I hear you. You make a crucial point. To approach an adequate answer to it, first I’d like to offer this excerpt from a book by a very, very great Russian Orthodox thinker, Vladimir Soloviev, written just before the end of the 19th century, as food for thought. Almost unknown in the West, he was a close friend and confidant of Dostoevsky. Soloviev is thought by many to have inspired the beloved character Alyosha and, in part, Ivan, in “The Brothers Karazamov.”

            Soloviev is controversial, and his sophiology has been condemned by various Orthodox authorities. I don’t mean to endorse that aspect of his thought as such. But his powerful critique of positivism and his overriding concern to help make sobornost a reality in our world, in Christ, are as relevant as ever.

            I’m hoping this adds to the chiaroscuro already present on this list: a contrast of the sublime with the ridiculous. I’m gateful for your presence here, along with that of a few others — a couple of whom have just returned after a long absence.

            As long as the dark foundation of our nature, grim in its all-encompassing egoism, mad in its drive to make that egoism into reality, to devour everything and to define everything by itself, as long as that foundation is visible, as long as this truly original sin exists within us, we have no business here and there is no logical answer to our existence. Imagine a group of people who are all blind, deaf and slightly demented and suddenly someone in the crowd asks, “What are we to do?”… The only possible answer is “Look for a cure”. Until you are cured, there is nothing you can do. And since you don’t believe you are sick, there can be no cure.
            Vladimir Soloviev [not sure of the source]

            The Monarchies Foretold by Daniel. “Roma” and “Amor”

            The historic life of mankind began with the confusion of Babel (Gen. xi.); it will end in the perfect harmony of the New Jerusalem (Apoc. xxi.). Between these two extreme limits, described in the first and last books of Holy Scripture, takes place the evolution of universal history of which a symbolic
            representation is given us in the sacred book which may be regarded as transitional between the Old and New Testaments, the book of the prophet Daniel (Dan. ii. 31-36).

            Since mankind on Earth is not, and was never meant to be, a world of pure spirits, it needs for the expression and development of the unity of its inner life an external social organism which must become more centralized as it grows in extent and diversity. Just as the life of the individual human soul manifests itself by means of the organized human body, so the collective soul of regenerate humanity, the invisible Church, requires a visible social organism as the symbol and instrument of its unity. From this point of view, the history of mankind presents itself as the gradual formation of a universal social entity or of the one Catholic Church in the broadest sense of the term. This work is inevitably divided into two main parts: (1) the outward unification of the nations of history, or the formation of the universal body of mankind by the efforts, more or less unconscious, of earthly powers under the invisible and indirect action of Providence, and (2) the vivifying of this body by the mighty breath of the God-Man and its further development by the combined action of divine grace and more or less conscious human forces. In other words, we have here, on the one hand, the formation of natural universal monarchy and, on the other, the formation and development of spiritual monarchy or the Universal Church on the basis and in the framework of the corresponding natural organism. The first part of this great work constitutes the essence of ancient or pagan history; the second part mainly determines modern or Christian history. The connecting link is the history of the people of Israel who, under the active guidance of the living God, prepared the setting, both organic and national, for the
            appearance of the God-Man, Who is both the spiritual principle of unity for the universal body and the absolute Center of history.

            While the chosen nation was preparing the natural body of the individual God-Man, the Gentile nations were evolving the social body of the collective God-Man, the Universal Church. And since this task allotted to paganism was achieved by purely human efforts guided only indirectly and invisibly by divine Providence, it was bound to proceed by a series of attempts and experiments. Previous to any effective universal monarchy we see the rise of various national monarchies claiming universality but incapable of achieving it. After the Assyrio-Babylonian monarchy, the head of gold, denoting the purest and most concentrated despotism, comes the monarchy of the Medes and Persians represented by the breast and arms of silver which symbolize a less unmitigated, less concentrated, but on the other hand much more extensive despotism, embracing the whole scene of contemporary history from Greece on the one side to India on the other. Next comes the Macedonian monarchy of Alexander the Great, the brazen belly engulfing Hellas and the East. But despite the fruitfulness of Hellenism in the sphere of intellectual and aesthetic culture, it proved impotent in practical affairs and incapable of creating a political framework or a center of unity for the vast multitude of nations which it penetrated. In administration it took over without any essential alteration the absolutism of the national despots which it found in the East; and though it imposed the unity of its culture on the world which it conquered, it could not prevent that world from splitting into two great semi-Hellenized national States, the Helleno-Egyptian kingdom of the Ptolemies and the Helleno-Syrian kingdom of the Seleucids. These two kingdoms, at one moment engaged in bitter warfare, at another precariously allied by dynastic marriages, were well symbolized by the two feet of the colossus in which the iron of primitive
            despotism was mingled with the soft clay of a decadent culture.

            Thus the pagan world, divided between two rival powers, with Alexandria and Antioch as their two political and intellectual centers, could not provide an adequate historic basis for Christian unity. But there was a stone — Capitoli immobile saxum — a little Italian town, whose origin was hidden among mysterious legends and prophetic portents, and whose real name even was unknown. This stone hurled forth by the providence of the God of history smote the feet of clay of the Greco-barbarian world of the East, overthrew and crushed to powder the impotent colossus, and became a great mountain {This thought is one with which I might take issue, incidentally, as a sound interpretation of the prophet’s words.} The pagan world was given a real center of unity. A truly international and universal monarchy was established, embracing both East and West. Not only was it far more extensive than the greatest of the national monarchies, not only did it include far more
            heterogeneous national and cultural elements, but it was, above all, powerfully centralized, and it transformed these varied elements into a positive, active whole. Instead of a monstrous image made up of heterogeneous parts, mankind became an organized and homogeneous body, the Roman Empire, with an individual living center in Cæsar Augustus, the trustee and representative of the united will of mankind.

            {The section that follows is what I think may be most germane to your point, Carl}

            But who was this Cæsar and how had he come to represent the living center of humanity? On what was his power based? Long and painful experience had convinced the nations of East and West that continual strife and division were a curse and that some center of unity was essential to the peace of the world. This vague but very real desire for peace and unity threw the pagan world at the feet of an adventurer who succeeded in replacing beliefs and principles by the weapons of his legions and own personal courage. Thus the unity of the Empire was based solely on force and chance. Though the first of the Cæsars seemed to deserve his fortune by his personal genius, and the second justified his to a certain extent by his calculated piety and wise moderation, the third was a monster and was succeeded by idiots and madmen. The universal State which should have been the social incarnation of Reason itself took shape in an absolutely irrational phenomenon, the absurdity of which was only heightened by the blasphemy of the Emperor’s apotheosis.

            The Divine Word, individually united to human nature and desiring to unite socially with Himself the collective being of Man, could not take either the confusion of an anarchic mass of nations or the autocracy of a tyrant as the starting-point of this union. He could only unite human society with Himself by means of a power founded upon truth.

            In the social sphere we are not directly and primarily concerned with personal virtues and defects. We believe the imperial power of pagan Rome to have been evil and false, not merely because of the crimes and follies of a Tiberius or a Nero, but mainly because, whether represented by Caligula or Antonine, it was itself based on violence and crowned with falsehood. The actual Emperor, the momentary creature of the prætorians and the legionaries, owed his power only to crude, blind force; the ideal, deified Emperor was an impious fiction.

            Against the false man-god of political monarchy the true God-Man set up the spiritual power of ecclesiastical monarchy founded on Truth and Love. Universal monarchy and international unity were to remain; the center of unity was to keep its place. But the central power itself, its character, its origin and its authority — all this was to be renewed.

            The Romans themselves had a vague presentiment of this mysterious transformation. While the ordinary name of Rome was the Greek word for “Might,” and a poet of decadent Greece had hailed her new masters by that name: χαιρέ μοι, Ρώμα, θυγάτηρ Άρηος — yet the citizens of the Eternal City believed that they discovered the true meaning of her name by reading it backwards in Semitic fashion: AMOR; and the ancient legend revived by Virgil connected the Roman people and the dynasty of Cæsar in particular with the mother of Love and through her with the supreme God. But their Love was the servant of death and their supreme God was a parricide. The piety of the Romans, which is their chief
            claim to glory and the foundation of their greatness, was a true sentiment though rooted in a false principle, and it was just that change of principle that was necessary in order that the true Rome might be revealed based upon the true religion. The countless triads of parricidal gods must be replaced by the single divine Trinity, consubstantial and indivisible, and the universal society of mankind must be set up, not on the basis of an Empire of Might, but on that of a Church of Love.

            Was it a mere coincidence that, when Jesus Christ wished to announce the foundation of His true universal monarchy, not upon the servile submission of its subjects nor upon the autocracy of a human ruler, but upon the free surrender of men’s faith and love to God’s truth and grace, He chose for that pronouncement the moment of His arrival with His disciples at the outskirts of Cæsarea Philippi, the town which a slave of the Cæsars had dedicated to the genius of his master? Or again, was it a coincidence that Jesus chose the neighborhood of the Sea of Tiberias for the giving of the final sanction to that which He had founded, and that under the shadow of those monuments which spoke of the actual ruler of false Rome He consecrated the future ruler of true Rome in words which indicated both the mystical name of the Eternal City and the supreme principle of His new Kingdom:

            Simon Bar-Jona, lovest thou Me more than these? (John 21:15)?

            But why must true Love, which knows no envy and whose unity implies no exclusiveness, be centered in a single individual and assume for its operation in society the form of monarchy in preference to all others? Since here it is not a question of the omnipotence of God, which might impose truth and justice upon men from without, but rather of the Divine love in which man shares by a free act of adherence, the direct action of the Godhead must be reduced to a minimum. It cannot be entirely suppressed since all men are false and no human entity, either individual or collective, left to its own resources, can maintain itself in constant and progressive relationship to the Godhead. But the fruitful Love of God united to the Divine Wisdom quae in superfluis non abundat, in order to assist human weakness while at the same time allowing human forces full play, chooses the path along which the unifying and life-giving action of supernatural truth and grace on the mass of mankind will encounter the fewest natural obstacles and will find a social framework externally conformable and adapted to the manifestation of true unity; and the path which facilitates union between the Divine and the human in the social order by forming a central unifying organ within humanity itself is the path of monarchy. Otherwise the creation afresh each time of a spontaneous unity on the chaotic basis of independent opinions and conflicting wills would require each time a new, direct and manifestly miraculous intervention of the Godhead, an activity ex nihilo forced upon men and depriving them of their moral freedom. As the Divine Word did not appear upon Earth in His heavenly splendor, but in the
            lowliness of human nature, as today in order to give Himself to the faithful He assumes the lowly appearance of material “species,” so it was not His will to rule human society directly by His divine power, but rather to employ as the normal instrument of His social activity a form of unity already in existence among men, namely, universal monarchy.

            It was necessary, however, to regenerate, spiritualize and sanctify this social form by substituting the eternal principle of grace and truth for the mortal principle of violence and deception; to replace the head of an army, who in the spirit of falsehood declared himself to be a god, by the head of all the
            faithful who in the spirit of truth recognized and acknowledged in his Master the Son of the living God; to dethrone a raving despot who would fain have enslaved the human race and drained the blood of his victim, and to raise up in his stead the loving servant of a God Who shed His Blood for mankind.

            Within the borders of Cæsarea and on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus dethroned Cæsar — not the Cæsar of the tribute-money nor the Christian Cæsar of the future, but the deified Cæsar, the sole absolute and independent sovereign of the universe, the supreme center of unity for the human race. He dethroned him because He had created a new and better center of unity, a new and better
            sovereign power based upon faith and love, truth and grace. And while dethroning the false and impious absolutism of the pagan Cæsars, Jesus confirmed and made eternal the universal monarchy of Rome by giving it its true theocratic basis. It was in a certain sense nothing more than a change of dynasty; the dynasty of Julius Cæsar, supreme pontiff and god, gave place to the dynasty of Simon Peter, supreme pontiff and servant of the servants of God.

            • In the following chapter, Soloviev expounded a bit more on the ‘stone’ (“. . . This stone hurled forth by the providence of the God of history smote the feet of clay of the Greco-barbarian world of the East, overthrew and crushed to powder the impotent colossus, and became a great mountain.”)

              The “Son of Man” and the “Rock”

              The interpretation given in our last chapter helps to explain why the prophetic vision of the great pagan powers, which is as complete and exact as such a vision could be, makes no mention of the greatest power of all, the Roman Empire. It was because this Empire was not a part of the monstrous colossus doomed to destruction but was the abiding material framework and mold of the Kingdom of God. The great powers of the ancient world were merely passing figures upon the stage of history; Rome alone lives forever. The rock of the Capitol was hallowed by the stone of the Bible, and the Roman Empire was transformed into the great mountain which in the prophetic vision sprang from that stone. And what can that stone itself mean except the monarchical power of him who was called the Rock par excellence and on whom the Universal Church, the mountain of God, was founded?

              The image of this mysterious stone in the book of Daniel is usually applied to Jesus Christ Himself. It is noteworthy, however, that though Jesus made considerable use of the prophet Daniel in His preaching, yet in speaking of His own person He did not borrow from the prophet the symbol of the stone, but another title which He used almost as His own name: the Son of Man. It is this very name which He employs in the crucial passage of St. Matthew:

              Quem dicunt homines esse Filium Hominis? (Who do men say that the Son of Man is?)

              Jesus is the Son of Man seen by the prophet Daniel (Dan. vii. 13) whereas the stone (Dan. ii. 34, 35, 45) does not directly denote Jesus, but rather the fundamental authority of the Church, to the first representative of which this symbol was applied by the Son of Man Himself:

              Et ego dico tibi quia tu es Petrus. (And I tell you, you are Peter.)

              The context of the prophecy of Daniel directly confirms our view, for it speaks of a Kingdom coming from God, but nevertheless visible and earthly, destined to conquer, destroy and replace the great pagan Empires. The appearance and triumph of this fifth Kingdom, which in a parallel passage is called “the people of the saints of the Most High” (Dan. vii. 18, 27) and which is obviously the Universal Church, are symbolically represented by this stone which, after breaking the feet of the colossus, becomes a great mountain and fills the whole earth. If, then, the stone mentioned by Daniel directly denoted Christ, it would follow that it was Christ.

              Another very great Russian thinker, Nicholas Berdaeyev, wrote:

              “Strictly speaking, it is not possible to speak about the re-unification of the two human worlds, the world of the Eastern-Christian and the world of the Western-Catholic. The Church — is one, and is the fullness thereof. The divisions and the non-fullness are but of people, only human history. And the division separating Orthodox and Catholic mankind is a human sin, a limitedness that is human. But the redeeming of the human sin and the overcoming of human limitedness is not to be gained by formal unias, by negotiations and agreements, by mutual concessions or reciprocal pretensions, but only by a transformation of the mutual attitudes of the two Christian worlds within the very deeps of the religious experience.”

              It’s worth noting, finally, that Soloviev reportedly received Holy Unction from a Russian Orthodox priest on his death bed.

              • “Berdyaev has been categorized as a Christian existentialist and a mystical philosopher.
                He never avoided the label of ‘mystic’ since he felt it was the mystics of the world who came closest to understanding the role of spirit.
                Many of the philosophers he quoted were mystics — Meister Eckhart, Angelus Silesius and especially Jacob Boehme.”

                I wonder if he ever read or was influnced by the great “mystic” Saints of the Orthodox Church such Anthony the Great, Isaac the Syrian, Symeon the New Theologian, ET. al.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              The problem revolved around what to do with power. On the one hand, the Church, having been made part of the state, subordinated Herself to the state. On the other hand, the Church, having been forced to oversee civic functions and guard civilization, conflated Herself with the State. Both were wrong. Rome and Constantinople also made the situation worse by elevating the heads of their respective churches to the status of super-bishops. This is the temptation for Moscow at the present. Needless to say, both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches are not what they should be. Nonetheless, through the grace of God, I can say with confidence that (a) the Eastern Orthodox Church is the ark of salvation and (b) the Lord is looking after heterodox churches as affirmed by Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow of blessed memory. We must be on guard against any attempt to return to the past in a blind fashion; concentrate on worshiping the Lord; and guard against the inevitable attempts to subvert Apostolic order. On that last point, I see with regret folks who should know better who advocate that the Metropolitan of the OCA act contrary to the Holy Canons and the OCA Statutes.

              • Yes, who has the “power,” and just what ought to be done with it (and why), are key questions. But once again, though, I was hoping that the excerpts I posted from works written by great scholars and religious thinkers would catalyze a discussion about power itself: distinct types of power, and the differences in their natures. Their natures differ because each has a distinct Οὐσία: they have different essences, one is Divine, one is created (and fallen, because exercised by us — and through us, fallen spirits).

                It might be a discussion analogous and related to that dispute between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church with respect to Uncreated Grace and natural, created grace. In the case in question, of power rather than grace. The Divine Energeia vis-à-vis the human, secular power exercised by secular governments and courts, and backed by the sword. The real, eternal Power is grounded in God, in Love, in the Divine Logos. The other, transitory power has its roots in fear, in violence and lies (lies that in their “higher” form are expressed in myths, “holy lies,” ideology and propaganda, etc.), and are determined by the short-sighted, pseudo-rationality of the Herclitean logos, which Prof. Rene Girard explicated so dazzlingly in “Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World.” Are you familiar with this book?

                This leads to a further distinction, touched on by Prince Toumanoff, between the concepts of the world as the οἰκουμένη and the more objectively universal conception, as comprising “all nations.” I think these are important considerations to get clear on before genuinely undeluded thinking on these important issues is possible. Or at least as undeluded as we fallen sinners can hope to be. Let’s pray that during the great fast God will grant us His Grace and illuminate our noetic understanding on these matters, if that is His will.

                • Carl Kraeff says

                  Because of my background, I am more grounded in management, history, government, international relations and economics. Thus, I would like to address your question regarding power in non-theological terms, if I may. Power is the ability of one person to control the behavior of another and there are two ways of doing so. First, we all know of coercion since we grew up with it in our families, schools and often in the work environment. The other kind of power is the ability of one person to persuade another to behave or think in a certain manner, due to the power of argumentation, personal charisma 9authority) or both. Authority can also stem from one’s position, or the respect that people have for a person regardless of position.

                  In today’s Western world, we have to realize that our situation is very much like the first three centuries: while we generally do not have state enmity, we do not have the sort of Church-state entanglement that started after the Edict of Milan. One thing that is quite interesting in America, for example, is the ability of people to move from one jurisdiction to another–something that our ancestors did not have in the past. Therefore, our folks can vote with their feet and valet. It would be best if our leaders (Bishops, Priests, Deacons, and Parish/Diocesan/Metropolitan Council lay members alike) that servant-leadership of the Lord and of His apostles must be the model for effective leadership. I am talking about personal authority that is married to formal authority. Formal authority by itself will not work in the short run without the exercise of coercion and will make the situation worse in the long run.

                  • Carl Kraeff says:
                    March 1, 2012 at 4:44 pm
                    “Because of my background, I am more grounded in management, history, government, international relations and economics.”
                    Oh, so that’s your hang up!

                  • Mike Myers says

                    Yes, I was unclear again. Many types of human power, of course, and those you’ve addressed in sociological and interpersonal terms would certainly be relevant — if at a later stage of my end of the discussion, as I envisaged the argument I intended. But I first I want to be sure I’ve succeeded in making myself clearer and then see if you have any major objections or disagreements, so that our dialogue might be built up from mutually more or less agreed-upon elements, as much as possible. If that makes sense.

                    What I meant was to highlight a particularly stark contrast, that between God’s Divine power to create, preserve and renew, and the dark side of a secular power that can be abused malevolently — especially when it’s highly developed, as in modern civilization — by sinful humans to obstruct and impede, for a time, God’s Power (whether we conceive that as operating via His Divine Energies or in some other mode), thereby corrupting and destroying, contrary to His good will. He permits this, out of respect for our freedom, His gift. But hypocrisy, injustice, violence and corruption “heap up wrath.” When no repentance transpires, His judgment follows. History demonstrates this vividly.

                    Is this contrast clearer? I didn’t mean to suggest, of course, that all human power is rooted in fear or that lies and violence are always its tools.

                    I hope you aren’t too impatient or bored with the abstract and perhaps theoretical nature of what I’m saying so far. I do mean to get real and concrete, honest.

                    • Monk James says

                      Power is usually taken by those who would rule over us. This tends to end badly, but not always.

                      Authority is usually conceded by us to those we want to rule over us. This tends to end well, but not always.

                      Still, I’d rather vote for authority than be co-opted by power.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Yes, I am in agreement with you. May be we were sort of circling each other here: similar ideas that did not quite jell. Personal authority, for example,is destroyed by the exercise of capricious, arbitrary power, especially for its own sake. Now, to marry my idea of personal authority to your distinctions, it seems to me that our bishops and priests are indeed given a Divine gift so that they can use the power given to them in a Godly fashion, resulting in the acquisition of personal authority. They may squander that gift and end up with formal authority or what I think Monk James is labeling power.

                • Mike Myers says

                  I was too glib here and there above. I want to qualify and clarify a central issue, even at the grave risk of being pompous and turgid and displeasing to the good Protodeacon.

                  I wrote:
                  “…catalyze a discussion about power itself: distinct types of power, and the differences in their natures. Their natures differ because each has a distinct Οὐσία: they have different essences, one is Divine, one is created (and fallen, because exercised by us — and through us, fallen spirits).”

                  I didn’t mean to hypostasize power, as such, at least not human power. I meant to draw a distinction between the Trinitarian God and us created persons, between His Divine, Uncreated Essence and His eternal power, and the created, human essence and the types of power we wield as fallen, sinful creatures. Not with the intention of then making an analogy between them, however. On the contrary.

                  I’ll get to my point tomorrow or so.

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Mike, I must say I appreciate your distinctions. I also applaud Monk James’ as well.
                    Both authority (good) and power (not so good) will be part of the fabric of creation because of the Fall. We can’t escape it. We can however hope to invest more time and energy politically in authority. Our Founding Fathers did so with the Constitution and the seperation of powers.

                    Ultimately of course we should look to our true homeland (the Kingdom of God) rather than spend all our time looking here and hoping to make it better. Where we can make it better, we should (again the American Republic) but we should never delude ourselves into thinking that our own experiment in dividing power can go on forever.

                    It is not the Anticrhrist I fear but our faith in him. It is our misplaced faith in him, coupled with our fallenness that will raise him up.

              • Mike Myers says

                Nonetheless, through the grace of God, I can say with confidence that (a) the Eastern Orthodox Church is the ark of salvation and (b) the Lord is looking after heterodox churches as affirmed by Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow of blessed memory.

                I like to think of the Holy Orthodox Church as the nave of the Great Catholicon of the Mystical Body of Christ, and the Roman Catholic Church as her narthex. Another image I like is of the Holy Orthodox Church as the Garden the Lord God planted in the east of Eden. The See of Peter is Rome’s oversight of Eden as a whole. Outside is the Wild Kingdom of created nature, “evolving” but not yet being actively transfigured by the power of the Holy Spirit, in Christ. (Which is partly our fault, because we, most of us, collectively, are not living up to the potential of our transfiguration as we ought to do or cooperating adequately with the will of God and with His desire to purify us, illuminate our noetic minds, and deify us, more and more. Consequently, the Wild Kingdom of creatures on Earth is perishing, and that is partly, at least, because of us.)

                • Carl Kraeff says

                  I prefer to steer clear of such comparisons because the See of Rome is guilty of a grievous error, the mutation of the Bishop of Rome into a super-bishop. In contrast, the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Moscow have one foot in the Papist way and another in the EO way.

                  • Great philosophizing, Mike and Carl!
                    present participle of phi·los·o·phize (Verb)
                    Speculate or theorize about fundamental or serious issues, esp. in a tedious or pompous way.
                    Explain or argue (a point or idea) in terms of one’s philosophical theories.

                  • Mike Myers says

                    I meant the metaphors as somewhat loose comparisons, forgive me. Mostly, I wanted to make clear that we agree the Holy Orthodox Church is where the Divine Energies are most active (at least today), and where salvation in its fullest and richest sense is better understood and taught. Among her other superiorities. I was looking back to the time of the undivided Church, and also speaking somewhat idealistically, in the Western fashion, looking ahead hopefully to what may be restored one day.

                    And we agree that Rome must turn back, if this is possible, from her anti-conciliar and supremacist way. But I think some Orthodox might appreciate more fully than they seem to do the key role Rome played in the Church between the fourth and ninth centuries. But that’s old news to you, I realize.

                    • Mike Myers says

                      I’ve quoted some scholars and mystical philosophers of religion sympathetic to Rome who happened to be Russian Orthodox believers (one of whom did ultimately convert to the RCC, as noted) not polemically or with the intention of suggesting I think “Rome is right” (I think the Orthodox are “right” about far more, and on many levels, than are the Roman Catholics — certainly these days), but because they were great and relatively open-minded thinkers with some grasp of the big picture. Just to make clear where I’m coming from. If anyone cares.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Well, I do care and certainly appreciate this exchange, to include all those great thinkers that you cited. I am always open to new knowledge; so, please keep it coming. Just ignore the peanut gallery of the Superdox! 🙂

        • George Michalopulos says

          Then blame Socialism for influencing the Church as well. And ecumenism. And celebrophilia. Blame the Church for making Her accommodation with the world. That’s valid. I’ll let you write about that all you want. I’ll even provide you with material. I for one was incensed when the black churches did not rise up as a man and hound Cassius Clay, Jr for putting off Christ and peddling the false political theology of the Nation of Islam back in 1966, thus creating a false historical narrative that has done immeasurable harm to black people in America. (Naming your sons “Jamal” or “Rashid” has done a lot of good to all the black guys on death row, hasn’t it?)

          And not just in the East, but Protestant Churches as well. But that’s not what you’re concerned with, is it Mike?

          Ultimately, your beef is not with “Caesaro-papism,” socialism, or Keynesianism, but with the Church. It’s the Church you don’t like and Her moral teachings which you despise. Anything you can do to blacken Her because of missteps made by others along the way makes it easier for you to deny the Gospel. It’s an old trick, I used to do it myself when I was looking for ways to leave the Church. That’s one of the blessings of fatherhood, you know all the tricks of the trade because you yourself tried them out on your parents.

    • Father, after spending way too much time trying to cope with and respond to your captious rhetoric and its tiresome non-specificity and distortions, I grew bored and apathetic. So you get the last word. I was talking to Carl and would prefer to continue that discussion unmolested, if that’s OK.

      I just noticed that once again a post I didn’t intend to send and had given up on got sent accidentally. It’s irritating to no longer be able to delete such things.

  10. You borrow old arguments and ideas mostly from Roman polemicists, but you don’t offer a constructive thesis of your own.

    I do have a constructive thesis, actually. It’s just that I see no point in putting the cart before the horse.

    Even more pointless to put the cart before a lame horse. First order of business is probably to fix the horse. Then, we might focus on the cargo in the cart.

    I see very clearly why the horse is lame, how it got that way. Less clear on how to fix it, though. We’ll see what I, what we, can do.

  11. Aaaaah, I see. MM is announcing to take up the burden of AN’s Sisyphean labours… starting by fixing a horse. Let me know when to start holding my breath?

    • Joseph, I think the problem in these stables is mostly that that particular part of the horse works just fine. Appetite’s good, too. The legs are quite definitely lame, and it’s on its back. But something else … works all too well.

      If you need to be told when to start holding your breath in here, I’m afraid that means your nose isn’t working. Or else maybe you’re just so used to it in general that you don’t even sense it anymore. (I think that’s known as olfactory fatigue. It might explain a great deal about the prevailing climate of discourse in North America.)

      (Mine’s more one of those constructive Herculean labors, see — not that pointless “Sisyphean” exercise. I could go on with this particular metaphor, but it wouldn’t be too irenic).

      • Thanks for your reply MM. In case I was not clear enough let me repeat, I am not interested neither in your or AN’s Sisyphean labours nor in your promised Herculean prowess of cleaning stables… I was just hoping you and AN would quietly go away…

        • George Michalopulos says

          I for one, don’t want them to ever go away. MM provide valuable insights into the radical homosexual anthropology being peddled by Leonova’s coven Even though the forces of Traditionalism have beaten them back thoroughly, they’re never going to completely go away. Instead they’ll go underground, surface every now and then, get beaten back, surface, etc. It’s like the game whack-a-mole.

          As for Ashley, I feel he’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown and needs our prayers.

          • ?

            “radical homosexual anthropology” “Leonova’s coven” “beaten back”

            “Words fail me.” As I said, the problem in these stables is mostly that that particular part of the horse works just fine.

            Although you’d never know it in this joint, I believe “the forces of Traditionalism” still give at least lip service to this moral teaching:

            Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

    • Sounds to me like they are one and the same person.

  12. Just FYI, new on AFR:
    The Climacus Conference 2012
    From February 24th through the 25th, St. Michael Orthodox Church in Louisville, Kentucky, hosted the 2012 Climacus Conference of Thoughtful Ascent. This year’s gathering was titled “Byzantium: You Are Not Forgotten” and featured lectures on Byzantine history, culture, theology, and iconography. Listen here to the opening lecture by William Weber.

  13. cynthia curraWen says

    Well, George I’m familar with state churches in western Europe. Maybe, I’m wrong here but I thought they developed to prevent ongoing war over which church should gominate a region. Unlike the US which has Protestants, and Roman Catholics and Orthodox and Mormons and JW’s and Christian Science, early modern western Europe could not handle the deversity without strife.

  14. cynthia curraWen says

    Well, its true that Marxism was born in the west but the east like Russia and China and North Korea adoptive it. The exceptions in the west are Cuba and some Latin American countries. A pattern here usually a poor country with the exception of Cuba which was wealthier than your average Latin American country in the late 1950’s. Castro won because of the anti-Bastia feelings in Cuba.

  15. cynthia curraWen says

    I agree with George on WWI. That was bad for Russia and I believe that the Germans helped shipped back Lenin,maybe I’m wrong on this.

  16. cynthia curraWen says

    I think the protestant groups were less than 2 percent in Russia. Actually, Catholic groups were higher. Islam is a large group in Russia because that is the ancestral religion of certain ethnic groups in Russia. I remember reading about the Molokins, a protestant pacifists group that left Russia for the US and was apart of the penecostial revivial in La. Russians had few conversations to Protestantism even today. The interesting part of history I learn was the difference between the Russia Orthodox Church and the older believers considering the sign of the cross. I’m not certain if they are that many old believers left.

    • Today many Old Believers are in Canada’s Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.