When Pussies Riot: Serves ‘Em Right!

Ahem. Now that I have your attention. Let’s just get right to the point, shall we?

What offended me about the entire Pussy Riot fiasco is that precious few in the West came to the realization that these vacuous, untalented trollops profaned a sacred place. Or they just didn’t care. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, after, we’ve stopped believing in the sacred a long time ago. (And no, don’t tell me that we respect Islamic holy places, the only reason these odious women didn’t perform their stunt in a a mosque is that knew they’d get their heads chopped off in 2 seconds.)

Thought experiment: what would have happened had the Aryan Brotherhood invaded a Synagogue and started reading passages from Mein Kampff? Or the Knights of Columbus going into a Mosque and singing “Onward, Christian Soldiers!” (Terry Mattingly had the best line, “or Conservative Anglicans disrupting a Gaia Mass at St John the Divine”?)

Please read the following essay by Philip Jenkins. He hits the nail right on the head.

And no, I’m not going to apologize for using the word “pussy” in the title. That’s what they call themselves and that’s what endeared them the Western glitterati. So get over your shock and remove the scales from your eyes. What’s going on here is nothing less than the hatred of Christianity. Putin’s nothing but a bit player in this.

The Rise of the Militant Godless

Pussy Riot descrating Christ the Savior Cathedral (Click to enlarge)

– Source: Real Clear Religion | Philip Jenkins | HT: AOI Observer

It sounds like a scriptwriter’s dream.

Here we have Russia, a vastly powerful country with a floundering democracy, facing the imminent threat of tyranny. That danger is personified by Vladimir Putin, a former KGB man who looks like, well, a former KGB man, as imagined by John Le Carré. Standing in his way is a gallant resistance movement symbolized by an all-female rock band, a group of punky young performance artists called Pussy Riot.

After playing for democracy in a daring public venue, they face a show trial that could send them to prison for years. Around the world, politicians and celebrities speak out, supporters organize solidarity demonstrations. The film is a natural: can we get Aubrey Plaza as the band’s leader? Will Madonna do a cameo? This is too good to be true!

And indeed it is. Putin may be a thug, and Pussy Riot might be feminist warriors for human rights, but the particular act for which they faced trial is much more controversial than is commonly reported in the West.

A good case can be made that it was a grievous act of religious hate crime, of a kind that would be roundly condemned if it happened in a country that the West happened to like. (I’m also wondering why liberals are suddenly so fond of a band that claims inspiration from the “Oi!” music invented by Far-Right British skinheads).

Last March, three members of Pussy Riot staged an unauthorized “concert” in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Standing before the altar, they sang a pseudo-hymn to the Virgin, urging her to remove Putin, and condemning the Patriarch Kiril as his slavish disciple. They have now been convicted of what a judge termed “hooliganism driven by religious hatred.”

Few Western commentators have taken that religious element too seriously, but it is central to what Hollywood might term the back-story.

Look, above all, at the site of the demonstration. Historically, Christ the Savior was a central shrine both of the Orthodox faith and of Russian national pride, and for that reason, the Bolsheviks targeted it for destruction. In 1931, in a notorious act of cultural vandalism, the Soviet government dynamited the old building, leveling it to the ground, and replacing it with a public swimming pool. Not until 1990 did a new regime permit a rebuilding, funded largely by ordinary believers, and the vast new structure was consecrated in 2000. The cathedral is thus a primary memorial to the restoration of Russia’s Christianity after a savage persecution.

It’s difficult, perhaps, for Westerners to realize how bloodthirsty that government assault was. Russia in 1917 was overwhelmingly Orthodox, and in fact was undergoing a widespread religious revival. Rooting out that faith demanded forceful action by the new Bolshevik government, which had no scruples about imposing its will on the wishes of a vast majority. Government leaders like Alexandra Kollontai — the self-proclaimed Female Antichrist — illegally seized historic churches and monasteries, and used soldiers to suppress the resulting demonstration. Hundreds were killed in those actions alone.

Through the 1920s, the Bolsheviks systematically wiped out the church’s leaders. Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev perished in 1918, shot outside the historic Monastery of the Caves, while Bishop Hermogenes of Tobolsk was drowned in a Siberian river. Archbishop Andronicus of Perm was killed the following year, followed by most of his clergy. In 1920, Bishop Joachim of Nizhni Novgorod was crucified upside down from the iconostasis in his cathedral. In 1922, a firing squad executed the powerful Benjamin, Metropolitan of Petrograd/St. Petersburg. The repression was indiscriminate, paying no attention to the victims’ records as critics of Tsarist injustice and anti-Semitism.

Persecution claimed many lives at lower levels of the church, among ordinary monks and priests. We hear of clergy shot in their hundreds, buried alive, mutilated, or fed to wild animals. Local Red officials hunted down priests as enthusiastically as their aristocratic predecessors had pursued wolves and wild boar. The number of clergy killed for their faith ran at least into the tens of thousands, with perhaps millions more lay believers.

The regime also rooted up the churches and monasteries that were the heart of Russian culture and spiritual life. Officials wandered the country, vandalizing churches, desecrating saints’ shrines and seizing church goods, and murdering those who protested the acts. Militant atheist groups used sacred objects to stage anti-religious skits and processions. Between 1927 and 1940, active Orthodox churches all but vanished from the Russian Republic, as their numbers fell from 30,000 to just 500.

In the process of dechristianization, the crowning act came in 1931 with the obliteration of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. For the Bolsheviks, it was the ultimate proof of the Death of God.

But, of course, Resurrection did come, so that a new cathedral would stand to mark a new century. The long nightmare was over.

Yet Russia’s new religious freedom is a very tender shoot, and the prospect of future turmoil has to agonize those believers who recall bygone horrors. These fears are all the more pressing when modern-day activists seem to reproduce exactly the blasphemous deeds of the past, and even in the precise places. When modern-day Orthodox look at Pussy Riot, they see the ghosts of Alexandra Kollontai and her militiamen, or the old Soviet League of Militant Godless. Are they wrong to do so?

I just offer an analogy. Imagine a dissident group opposed to the current governments of Poland or Hungary. In order to grab media attention, they take over one of those countries’ recently restored synagogues, and frame their complaint in the form of a pseudo-Jewish prayer. Horrified, the authorities arrest them and threaten harsh criminal penalties. Not only would international media fully support the governments in those circumstances, but they would complain bitterly if police and courts showed any signs of leniency. However serious a group’s grievances, there is absolutely no justification for expressing them with such mind-boggling historical insensitivity, and in such a place. Anywhere but there!

So no, I won’t be giving to any Pussy Riot support groups.

Philip Jenkins is a Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University and a columnist for RealClearReligion. His latest book is

Philip Jenkins is a Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University and a columnist for RealClearReligion. His latest book is Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses.



  1. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    Two years is way too light a sentence.

    If the gals had pulled that little stunt here at All Saints, we would not have bothered the Chicago police with it.

    Some of the healthier brethren in the congregation would have “explained things” to the ladies.

    • George Michalopulos says


      • Ahem…Father Patrick, George, before you get carried away with macho revenge fantasies: ever read Lincoln’s speech to the Springfield Lyceum on mob rule? You should.
        Personally, I think a suitable punishment for PR’s hooliganism would have been a community order of two years of cleaning Moscow’s public toilets. Nothing martyric about that…at all. By giving them two years of imprisonment the Russian authorities have played right into the hand of these provocateurs and ensured further publicity for them, which is exactly what they crave.

    • Gailina Sheppard says

      And what the heck does that mean, Father? Would you “rough them a bit,” if given the opportunity? Is THAT what you’re saying?

      • George Michalopulos says

        I certainly would. Just as I would use force to remove an intruder from my house we should not shy away from removing miscreants from the house of the Lord. Our Lord Himself did no less.

        • Again George: Check Lincoln on mob rule. As a matter of fact, check the Bible: Christians uphold the rule of law by divine command, they don’t take it into their own hands, unless the proverbial armed burglar is breaking into their house and it’s a matter of life or death. Not quite the same situation as the PR girls in Christ the Saviour Cathedral, eh?
          Anyway, I’m sure God can defend Himself without our help.
          “They can clean latrines in jail.”
          But it’s not public, so there’s less shame and less punishment and less chance of learning a lesson from the experience. The thing with punks (ie punk rockers, not what Americans call “punks”) like PR is that they regard the masses as less enlightended than their superior selves (I believe one member of PR is a philosophy student, for eg) and are really motivated by that hatred. Jail will only feed their sense of superiority and continue to attract the sympathy of the non-comprehending West. The worst punishment for them would be one that actually requires them to serve the masses they despise.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Basil, the Lord created government to restrain evil. Even in paradise when there was no evil there was government. Adam was given dominion over Eve his wife and all creation. There’s government in heaven as well.

            The apparatus of the state is not intrinsically evil but inherently good. unfortunately because we are fallen, the state can never be completely good. That’s why a constitutional republic is ideal (all things being equal) because its powers are constrained.

            • I agree with you, George.
              I’m puzzled as to the point you are trying to make, though.
              It is not I who suggested that the likes of PR would best be countered by vigilantes in the congregation. I suggested calling the police, remember, i.e., the law enforcement agents of the God ordained government (that some priests here have a problem with that amazes me!). I’m arguing about the most fitting and wise punishment the state could impose in the circumstances, not questioning the right of the state to impose punishment at all. Let’s get that straight!

        • Gailina Sheppard says

          Seems rather “neanderthal” if you ask me and you, my friend, are not the Lord. He clearly said, “vengeance is Mine,” not vengeance is George’s. – The Church teaches us to respect our civil authorities and you would be breaking the law if you physically harmed anyone for offending your sensibilities. Calling the police would be the appropriate action.

      • Like you, Gail, I was quite shocked that a priest would openly muse upon such a response.
        Not only does our Lord forbid meeting evil with evil, but it would likely expose the parish to legal action, civil or criminal or both (rightly or wrongly, that’s the crazy world we live in). Call the police, that’s what they’re for. Then when they’re gone cleanse the temple by prayer.

        • Priest Justin Frederick says

          Why assume ‘roughing them up a bit” was what Fr. Patrick meant? Have we become so inept and emasculated that we cannot deal with a disruption without resorting to the police? How is firmly escorting out those disrupting the service and explaining to them why it is in their best interest not to repeat the episode a ‘meeting of evil with evil’? Seems to me initially the greater evil may be getting someone caught up in the meshes of the law. Sheesh! We are truly in a bad way if we are incapable of handling such simple matters without the police.

          • Gailina Sheppard says

            Uh, well, I didn’t. I asked for clarification. I rarely assume anything, Father. But YOU did, didn’t you? 😉

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          Does not bother me one bit to through people out of Church that would descecrate the Lord’s House. I am all about mercy, and I would not beat them up unless they swung at me. I can still defende myself. But I and others would definitely through them out if they did a Sex Act in Church, especailly by the Altar. What’s the alternative? To just let them finish and leave?

          These are our Churches that we hold holy to our Lord. Desecration cannot be allowed. So even though I am a pretty mellow person if I saw that happening in my local Church you better be sure I and many others would lay ahold of these people and throw them out forcefully. The Police can take them to jail after they are outside of the building and restrained.

          Remember Jesus threw out the money lenders for desecrating God’s Temple we can do the same without a lick of regret or guilt. Nowbody comes into God’s Holy Temple to desecrate it while the people of God are their to do something about it right there and then. I know of no Greek, Serb, Russian, Antiochian, etc., that would just sit there, let them finish and just call the Police. That’s just insane.


          • Peter A. Papoutsis says:
            August 22, 2012 at 12:11 pm

            Remember Jesus threw out the money lenders for desecrating God’s Temple

            He kind of roughed things up a little, too, didn’t He?

            • Not only did our Lord drive out those who were desecrating His Temple,
              He did so with a whip made by Himself and overturning the tables,
              without bothering to “call the Police,” and with great indignation and protest by those affected by and witnessing His actions.

              • Sure, just try that in similar cirumstances, PdnNJ, and see where it gets you.
                It is not the 1st C. AD, you are not Jesus and it is not your Temple.

                (Sheesh! What is it with Americans and their propensity to take the law into their own hands?
                Does this contempt for the law have its roots in the Revolutionary mindset? It’s certainly got nothing in common with Christianity).

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Basil, every now and then a little good ole American cussedness is called for.

                • Basil, are we called to be different Christians than those of the 1st C. AD?
                  What I wrote was in reply and support of what Peter A. Papoutsis wrote in his post of August 22, 2012 at 12:11 pm above. Perhaps you didn’t catch that.
                  (And your statement of ” you are not Jesus and it is not your Temple” seems rather inane.)

      • John in Tulsa says

        There is an old Greek saying about the Church, “My yaya (grandmother) may not understand the historical theology of the Church but she knows when to do her cross and she would tackle anyone who tries to enter the altar through the holy doors.”

        Protecting the Church from desecration is a duty of all Orthodox Christians. I would not only tackle them, I would make sure their ass hit the pavement with considerable force. It IS my duty to the Church.

      • Patrick Henry Reardon says

        Gailina inquires, “Would you ‘rough them a bit,’ if given the opportunity?”

        John 2:15

    • These people do not seem to understand. St. John Chrysostom once said to “sanctify your right hand” by slapping one who blasphemes across the face. Why would we not use whips of cords to drive these animals out of the House of God? Too many former hipsters in America equivocate all violence.

  2. phil r. upp says

    Apparently Jenkins doesn’t get it. These young women, these girls, these adolescents decided to take advantage of Russia’s New Freedom under Putin. As like teens in any Western country, they decided to protest against the KGB, ALL POWERFUL DICTATOR, Putin. After 85 years of trying to destroy the Church in Russia and killing millions of clerics and believers, now the pendulum has swung all the way right. The Church, especially Christ the Savior Cathedral, bombed, destroyed and raped by the Communist Russians and turned into a swimming pool, has now been rebuilt to exemplify the long, lost glory of Russian Orthodoxy. So, these kids, decide to poke Mother Russia in the eye and protest in Christ the Savior Cathedral against Putin and the established Church. Of course the new believers were incensed (ha). In the U.S., this would be a protest at the National Cathedral in Wash., D.C. (Episcopal) where people would cheer them on. Yet, in Moscow, the reaction was to kill the protesters. Punish those threatening the Church. Rid the country of the evil ones. Silly. So, they receive 2 years in prison. More stupidity. Nice way to handle adolescent protest showing to the world that Russia is still, indeed, backward, dictatorial and showing no mercy or leniency even to it’s own youth. A more likely sentence would be two years in cleaning churches while they mature and realize that it will take 85 more years before Russia may be ready for real freedom or the Russian Orthodox Church getting out of 1800.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Phil, that’s such an infantile view of things. Using your logic all those who protest Israel’s expansionist policies should immediately go into the nearest synagogue and pray the pre-Vatican II Good Prayers that called for the conversion of the Jews.

      • phil r. upp says


        No corollation. These are young kids protesting. You and Reardon probably voted for Nixon and approved the bashing of kids at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. You probably cheered the action at Kent State with “Four Dead in Ohio” (Crosby, Stills & Nash) The reality is that Russia is an ultra-right wing dictatorship and the Russian Orthodox Church is a political arm of this corruption.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Phil, you’re straining at gnats while swallowing camels. The kids who broke up the Dem convention in Chicago were protesting in an arena in which protest is countenanced –the secular, political sphere. What these odious slatterns did was profane God’s holy temple.

          Tell you what, since you believe that the right to protest is so sacrosanct, tell me where you go to Church, I’ll fly their Sunday, and disrupt the services protesting your bishop’s part in the recent travesty. After all, it’s my right, isn’t it?

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          Phil says, “You and Reardon probably voted for Nixon and approved the bashing of kids at the Democratic Convention in Chicago.”

          I wonder on what premise Phil concludes that I “probably” voted for Nixon.

          When Nixon ran for President the first time, I voted for Jack Kennedy. When Nixon ran the second time, I voted for Hubert Humphrey. When Nixon ran the third time, I voted for George McGovern.

          Democrat, Phil, I am a Democrat.

          And this coming election I will vote for Romney/Ryan.

          • phil r. upp says

            It’s clear then; as you’ve gotten older, you’ve become an old, crotchety Conservative.

            • phil r. upp, may I ask how old, or maybe, young, you are?
              You seem to me to be stuck in, or a child of, the Woodstock generation.
              (If me telling my age is a requisite for you to answer that,
              I will be 80 next month.)

            • Patrick Henry Reardon says

              you’ve become an old, crotchety Conservative.

              I believe mature and sagacious are the modifiers you’re looking for, Phil.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Fr. Patrick, given the men involved and the politics of the time, your Presidential choices are quite reasonable.

        • “kids”?!
          Phil, some of PR are approaching 30. The youngest, apparently, is 22. When my father was 22 he had already been working for seven years (no choice), married for two years and had been a father for one year. He was not a kid, but a man, and my mother, one year younger than him, was a woman. They were not “kids”. Neither, I submit, are the “girls” of PR. They are not adolescents but adults -and serial offenders – who knew exactly what they were doing and are old enough to be responsible for the consequences of their actions. Please, let’s stop with this extension of adolescence into the 30s – it does no favours to society nor those it panders to.

          • Amen, Basil. This is why the Islamic hordes will win, even if only through multiplication of their people. Our decadence has emboldened them. They see we have not only abandoned Christianity, but have even abandoned any real sense of gender roles or social responsibility. They know this has made us weak narcissists who no longer believe in personal sacrifice for this life or the next one.

            • Isaac Crabtree, you should apply for a job working at Marvel Comics.
              “Islamic hordes!” Aren’t you worried about the Yellow Hordes? What about the “Afro-American Hordes?” Of course, the ONLY reason we’re not hearing about “Yiddish Hordes’ is because Hitler attacked their hordishness. All these fertile and copulating masses are AFTER us and our MONEY and our Way of Life!!!! Besides, they really hardest on liberals, wherever the hordes find them. Even today, in Afghanistan and Iran, the “hordish” powers are most dedicated to crushing, exterminating, wiping out, and annihilating those awful Westernizing LIBERALS, who are a much more intimidating threat to Militant Islam than Christianity every was. Melkites and Copts and Armenians in the old days could be entrusted with running the financial side of Islamic societies in Egypt and the rest of the Ottoman Empire for centuries. But the LIBERALS!!!! They are the new and insidious threat. The Christians in islamic lands NEVER tried to control public morality. But the LIBERALS—–their main target is our Laws!!!!

              • George Michalopulos says

                My only reply to that would be that there was no reason for Christians to “push morality” on Muslim populations because the vast majority of people were implicitly moral anyway. I mean, the very idea that men who engage in homoerotic relations would demand “marriage equality” would have been preposterous to Animist, Buddhist, Confucian, Dravidian, Hindu, Muslim, etc.

                • I’m glad to see George agreeing with me that liberals are a greater threat to Islam than Christians are. That’s why Muslim fanatics are not bent on wiping out Christians or Christian civilization, but on wiping out liberals, as were Stalin Hitler, Mao-Tse-tung, Tojo, Mussolini, and others. Some of them, deluded of course, did not aim their commandeered airplanes at the National Cathedral, or St. Patrick’s in New York, but what THEY misunderstood to be the symbol not of Christianity but of American greed, the World Trade Center.

    • Just Guessing says

      These so-called “adolescent protesters” (one is in her 30s) also openly held an orgy in a museum (to protest Medvedev, as they put it, and one member of the pre-Pussy Riot band Voina, said, that she was over due with her pregnancy and wanted to stimulate birth), and to top that, went into a supermarket and stuffed chicken parts into their vaginas (to protest, well, your guess is as good as mine…).

      While you call Russia ‘backwards,’ what’s truly backwards is the myopia of the West which, having been lulled into a moral slumber, sees absolutely nothing wrong with what Pussy Riot did, and in fact, holds them up as paragons of “real freedom” (as you put it). Yes, we’ve exported Pussy Riot to Russia, and that’s exactly why the conservative forces in the Russian government, as well as the Russian Orthodox Church, are resisting.

      But give phil r up points for consistency.

      • Wrong women-do some fact checking. Oh, yeah, that doesn’t matter anymore as long as its effective.

    • This is from the official statement on the incident from the Russian Church, Phil, I suggest you pay close attention and take it to heart: “Blasphemy is a grave sin. An Orthodox Christian may neither participate in blasphemy, nor approve of it, nor support it directly or indirectly.” And that, sir, is exactly what you’re doing.

    • phil r. upp says:
      August 21, 2012 at 1:29 pm
      “Apparently ……………… of 1800”
      And I say:
      That all sounds like someone stuck in a late ’60s and early ’70s time warp.

    • Antonio Arganda says

      These women are in their twenties and one is over thirty. They are not adolescents!

  3. Was Pussy Riot invited or given permission to perform / protest inside the Cathedral by Moscow Patriarchate? Were they trespassing?

    They showed no respect at all and where very insensitive to the Holy Orthodox Church. GOD’s Church.

    I don’t care if they are performers who wanted to express there feelings and objections, but this is very distasteful and blasphemous.

    They should have been thrown out by the scruff of their necks and kick in the rump on the way out.

    Two years I feel is lenient, I would have given them also 2000 hours in community service and also 5yrs probation.

    As far as the West is concerned, Obama, Maddona, and other Western artist, 1st learn what the Holy Orthodox Church is and what are its Teachings. The Cathedral is a Holy Place it was desecrated by immature individuals and backed up by Western artist who know nothing about Holy Ground.

    My suggestion is to protest against these Western Artist who support this group. They have no business sticking their noses in where they don’t belong. If they want to learn about Orthodoxy seek a Orthodox Priest and go to Church.

    These Artists are feeble minded and ignorant to the whole situation. Let Maddona perform a belly dance inside a mosque to protest Islams treatment of women. I wonder how long will she last as a performer and how fast the US Government apologize for this type of action and prosecute her.

    Keep the protesting outside of a Religious site and stand on a corner and deliver your message.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Rick, obviously you didn’t get the memo. Stop being logical, OK? People with common decency have no room to dissent from modern piety. Don’t you get it? We are so much more advanced in the West today. Why, it is the very height of freedom for women like this to engage in orgies at museums and stuff chickens in their vaginas at the supermarket. It should be glaringly obvious.

      Get real, man, otherwise enlightened people like Phil R Upp and his ilk will throw you out of polite society.

      • Of course, I don’t understand it. At my age (65 +) what more is there to understand? Enlighten me! Garbage is Garbage, Trash is Trash, however, if I was not logical all, Pussy Riot may be a pot of gold.

        Western Society / Culture is the alchemy for pure thought and behavior. Release the Pussy Riot now and then apologize for the wrongness that was bestowed on them for their freedom of speech.

        Now is the time I need to seek a Mental Health Professional instead of my Priest. I’m so outdated that I need to be router-rooted from my anal retention. Can I have an Exlax or Senna?

        If I really wanted to say what I wanted to post will the moderator allow it? I’m sure I could come up with very colorful words that would describe how I feel about this. The words would not be of the Primary or Secondary colors.

        Yuk I don’t believe I wrote this crap.

        • Michael Bauman says

          (Sacarasm on) Obviously, Rick you are a disturbed person to hold on to such silly, archaic ideas as virtue, holiness, self-discipline, and simply public politeness. Besides, nothing really happened, its just a church after all. Churches are just buildings like any other building, nothing special. (sarcasm off).

          Let me remind folks that we celebrate the lives of numerous female saints and martyrs who were ‘adolesents’. What absolute (distrubed explative deleted) that such behavior is considered normal and exceptable part of a young life (and they are not that young). St. Athanasius wrote one of the greatest Christian treatises ever at around the age of 23.

          This was holy space invaded by the nilhistic spirit of the age (and guess who is in charge of that). The Russian Church and her people have acted with remarkable restraint. The Russian government followed its own laws. (sarcasm on) But of course we ‘enlightened’ and evolved westerners know better, we who kill our own babies with gleeful abandon, hold up fornication, adultery and homosexual sin as betern than holy matrimony, make public prayer and practically any other public demonstration of actual faith illegal and glorify greed. (sarcasm off).

          Let these young, really distrubed women have a time-out. They need it folks.

    • Nope. It’s got to be against Christians. It’s a war against traditional Christianity, and the “they” are fighting dirty and elusively, for now. The only Christian Gospel that “the world” will tolerate is a “social gospel.” In other words, Christians can only exist as a group that fights for other oppressed groups. Currently, the oppressed group is the homosexual populous. The point is that this is of course a false Gospel. While of course, we do sympathize and even strive to liberate the oppressed, all oppression being sinful, we do this out of a concrete understanding if who God is, and how God wants us to be.

      The Christianity that went before is coined as a violent, hateful religion that has no place in the coming “Utopia.” The world is clear about this, conform; recreate your Christianity or die. These are no longer merely ideas that the “kooks” project on an unnamed percent of the population. Rather, more and more individuals are becoming militant and subscribing to these sentiments. If one believes traditionally, one is branded a “fundamentalist,” a word becoming more and more akin to “nazi.” Buckle in folks!

  4. haralambos says

    Who are we to label Russia as backwards? Since when has the west become the Canon of morality?

  5. phil r. upp says

    My main point is that this is a total over-reaction to “adolescent protest.” Even if one is 30 years old, they can act like a 15 year old. In Russia, where freedom is a new concept, this over-reaction to issues is expected, but definitely over-reaction. It shows to the world that the Russian govt, the Russian church and the courts are still living in an ultra conservative frame as was found in Communism. And to think, there are Orthodox in this country who want to voluntarily put themselves under the thumb of the MP; ridiculous. It’s just as ridiculous as American Orthodox wanting to put themselves under any foreign hierarch. This is why the Episcopal Assembly must fail. Going under either the MP or EP is death.

    • George Michalopulos says

      BTW, I was 9 when Nixon was elected in 68. The first presidential ballot I cast was (to my everlasting regret) for the Shame of the South, Jimmy Carter, in 1980. Fortunately, my error was corrected by my countrymen. Still, having been marinated in the belly of the liberal beast in college (and disgusted with what I saw), I should have known better.

      Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

      • Michael Bauman says

        George, I can go you one better, I voted for McGovern & Carter. Ah, the stupidty of youth. Those of us who came of age in the 60’s have much of which to repent.

      • David Axelnerd says

        Not to mention your father (God bless him) was a union member. The ink on a union card is thicker than blood.

    • Haralambos says

      Phil, I may be crucifying myself on the forum but here it goes. These are solely my opinions (subjective) which may be right or wrong, either of which, I am ok with. I am also sharing some experiences (objective) as well. If we are to have a unified American Orthodox Church, maybe the proper course of action, as of now, would be to go back under the MP. I used to be in the OCA but now I attend a ROCOR parish. As I have seen, the OCA has had 3 Metropolitans in the past 10 years. In my personal experience, being in the ROCOR has not been an issue for me. I am ok with praying for Russia, her Patriarch, her bishops, etc. At the same time, we pray for the leaders of the US as well. Being under a foreign Patriarch is not necessarily death. Other countries have had an Orthodox Church for hundreds, if not, thousands of years. I trust my Patriarch has the best intentions for the salvation of our souls. At the same time, I acknowledge that it is seen that other foreign Patriarchs also want a piece of the American pie. In the west, we have a sense of arrogance, entitlement, and independence. My grandfather always told me, if you can’t do something right, don’t do it at all. I’m not saying we should strive for an OCA style church but maybe we should reconsider our options. I may be wrong, but I recall a story in Scripture of the Gentiles trying to tell the Jews how to run the show. Maybe I’m off-base, completely wrong, etc. Also, correct me if the Scripture analogy I have posted is incorrect. In my time in the OCA, I was blessed to have a wonderful spiritual father confessor, a devout church family, and constant support, all for which I shall ever be grateful. I left mainly because of the Calendar issue, but that is a different can of worms not needing to be discussed on this forum. In my current parish, I have found the same as my old parish, just a different Calendar. I was fortunate to have met Metropolitan Jonah twice and was blessed to have one-on-one time with him as well. While attending my undergrad, our OCF had become stagnant because of lack of organization, a priest with 5 kids (!), low/flaky attendance, and jurisdiction issues not allowing other priests to sub for said priest with 5 kids. His Beatitude gave me wholesome, sound advice on how to get things rejuvenated once more. While I was content in the OCA, besides the Calendar issue, I also began to see what was going on in the Hierarchy with the scandals and such. I hope this is not seen as placing a judgement on the OCA as I am the worst of sinners. I visited a women’s monastery, which shall be unnamed, and the Abbess told me that maybe being in the OCA was not in my best “spiritual interest” for lack of a better phrase. I prayed and fasted and I ultimately ended up in the ROCOR. Don’t take this as a rally cry to jump ship and go to ROCOR. I also desire an American Orthodox Church, just done correctly in due time. We live in a society where we crave instant gratification. We all crave an American Orthodox Church now, but ultimately, it’s all in God’s time. In the mean time, we can all work together to further the proclamation of the Gospel and fight militant secularism. Mr. Michalopulos, I apologize for turning this post into one about OCA Autocephality but it was in response to statements made by Phil R. Upp. Pray for me, a sinner.

      • Haralambos says

        “I’m not saying we should strive for an OCA style church but maybe we should reconsider our options.” The sentence should read ‘shouldn’t’. My error.

      • George Michalopulos says

        No reason to apologize Haralambos. For what it’s worth, and I’m an autocephalist, the idea that being a foreign patriarch necessarily leads to ecclesial colonialism and native abandonment is not always the case. Yes, the GOA, Serbs, Bulgarians, Albanians, etc. are colonial outposts and ethnic nostalgia clubs for the most part. But ROCOR (which is under Moscow) is a different kettle of fish. They actually minister to Spanish-speaking natives in Latin America and have a strong “Americanist” evangelical identity, generally speaking.

        Example? They recently established a Western Rite Vicariate in which the Latin Rite is celebrated (in English). In fact, their WRV is now larger than that of the Antiochians if memory serves me. This is a powerful testament to the evangelical imperative. It tells Catholics, Anglicans, and other Westerners that their ancient liturgy is just as valid as the Eastern Rite.

    • Just Guessing says

      I hope that everyone sees the consistency in phil’s logic.

      According to him, Pussy Riot is a victim of a dictatorial Russian government and a monarchical hierarchical Church in the Moscow Patriarchate. They do not value freedom, democracy, or openness like freedom loving Americans.

      America, paragon of freedom and openness is taking the ‘moral’ high ground in defending Western values of freedom to mock Orthodox believers actions such as prostrations and crossing themselves, hymns, and doctrines, freedom to have sex in public, freedom to shove chicken parts in the vaginas of women as a form of art and protest. This is the same freedom and transparency that now gives us the current OCA, free to have soft-doctrines of tolerance for active homosexuality and disrespect for orderly leadership.

      Here we have two examples: Russia and her church: Hierarchical, orderly, enormous, with deep piety, and strong foundations. Compare that to America and ‘her’ church, congregational, disorderly, chaotic, minuscule, rejecting traditional piety, on the precipice of death weakened by moral rot.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Pretty much sums it up, Just Guessing. BTW, for all you freedom-lovers out there, some of the OCA bishops have instituted gag orders on their priests, forbidding them from commenting on websites and even making them shut down their blogs.

        I used to think that with all the anti-tobacco hysteria gripping our nation that Hitler won the war. Now I’m thinking with all these gag orders and dissident-bishops being consigned to sanitaria that the Reds won the Cold War.

        Wake me up when the nightmare’s over.

        • fatherpep@gmail.com says

          OK-what do you means by “some of the OCA bishops” issuing gag orders to priest and making them take down their blogs. Who are these bishops and victim priests? Names please. Why does everything have to be made so nebulous?

      • phil r. upp says

        Just Guessing,

        The ROC is none of that except in your own perception (the grass is always greener). The fact is, and I suggest that you speak to clerics in the ROC for conformation, the ROC is extremely corrupt and has it’s own alcoholic priests, homo priests, re-married priests, etc. They are no paragon of holiness nor exemplify perfection. People like yourself look overseas and see an outward appearance of a peaceful, well-run ROC, but go inside. It’s filled with dung.

        • George Michalopulos says

          So where do you get your statistices that you site? How many of our American churches can boast of Godly men leading them? Jim Bakker? Jimmy Lee Swaggert? Richard Roberts? Bernard Law? Ted Haggard?

          Be huble.

    • With all due respect acting immature doesn’t actually lower your age. These are not mentally retarded women who didn’t know any better. They are just perverse and morally corrupt.

    • That leads me to believe that phil r upp is one of those self-professed clairvoyant prophets who can’t get anything right.

    • Priest Justin Frederick says

      The Slavs had the good sense when their land was in disorder to call in the Varangians, Rurik and his brothers, to rule them and restore order.

      How long after the Baptism of Rus was the new Russian Church under Greek supervision (988 to 1448–460 years)? How long was infant Orthodoxy in these United States under Russian supervision (1794 to 1917–123 years).

      Have we done well on our own? Can we resolve our problems on our own? Are we sufficiently mature? These are not rhetorical questions. The events of the past decade (and more?) see to that. If we answer these questions in the negative, perhaps we should ask for help. If we answer these questions in the negative, autocephaly may be akin to handing a teenaged boy a bottle of whiskey and the keys to the car…

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        Hi Father:

        I have a question: What is or shoudl be more important for us as American Orthodox Christians from a structural point of view? Should we want and strive for a Unified American Orthodox Church or an autocephalous Unified American Orthodox Church?

        Right now I see the Episcopal Assembly is attempting to just Unify the Orthodox Jurisidctions into one American Orthodox Church, but under the control of a Holy Synod beholden abroad either under Moscow or Constantinople or an amalgam of the two. I am not too clear on this last part. I would appriciate to read your thoughts on this given the current situation in the OCA and American Orthodoxy in general.

        Thank you for your time Father.


        • Priest Justin Frederick says

          Mr. Papoutsis, until a couple years ago I’d have said autocephaly without question. I think that remains our final destination, but are we ready for it now? I’m increasingly doubtful, given how the OCA has squandered, in my opinion, the gift given to it in 1970. If not now, then when? Three hundred more years? God knows. A unified American Orthodox Church is probably the realistic proximate goal which will lead to the final goal–eventually. If we are united, neither Moscow nor Constantinople will be able to control us forever; meanwhile, we may in humility need to recognize that we have yet something useful (and even essential) to learn under their tutelage, whatever the drawbacks of foreign influence may be. Theoretically, I’d prefer an autocephalous American Church; practically, I’m not sure we’re mature enough for it; logistically, to bring everyone together equitably, we probably need foreign help.

          • Lola J. Lee Beno says

            I think a re-do is needed. This time, with everybody moving together and then getting autocephaly when we’re ready.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Thank you Father. I also agree we need unity among all the Orthodox Jurisdiction with the eventual goal being autocephaly. I do firmly believe that when, not if, unity is achieved discipline will be restored. Once that is done I believe autocephaly will come soon thereafter. How soon? I do not know, but Unity, church discipline with the eventual goal of autocephaly for our American Orthodox Church seems now the courase we not only should take, but must take.


            • Michael Bauman says

              Of course one argument against unity is that the modern will invade and dominate over the traditional and then what do we do?

          • Harry Coin says

            The majority of those Orthodox in the USA came from places Orthodox for centuries, much unlike those places new to Christianity in history. While some are new, even some clergy are new, this is not as in the past when the faith first became known in a place. Very important not to overlook this when considering ‘maturity’.

            Also of importance is to be clear-headed about the circumstances and capacities of those overseas you would be expecting to make decisions here. Those in Turkey are presently in a situation of oppression and have proven a particular incapacity to missionize (statistically) anyone not of Greek DNA, for over a century now, clinging very very hard to ethnic dimensions. The number of folk over there you’d be burdening with decision making here wouldn’t fill one of the largest parishes.

            The group in Damascus is similarly situated with more than enough problems of their own to be getting along with than to be expected to make decisions leading to growth here. They are at present soon to be dominated by an Islamic governance that by all expectation will be less tolerant of Christianity than was the coalition group supporting the previous strong-man.

            As we’ve seen in Moscow, well being charitable about it, it’s all about Russia, which if one is in charge of a church in Russia makes some sense; but the kind of thinking that jails non-violent, non-vandalistic offenders for months on the basis of ‘offensive words not disrupting a gathering’ would cause a shrinking church here faster than lightening takes to be gone from view.

            Grouping bishops here who then cede their authority to overseas folk insitutionally makes for a Vaticanesque looking arrangement quite sharply at odds with the content of the faith and allows accurately the viewf ‘we’re all about the rules we like and the other precedents that make us truer to our history and so attract seekers — not so much’.

            A way forward that include creditable growth, a way forward that is in keeping with internal narratives each group prefers, suggests itself: The OCA should remain what it is: autocephalous local church in the USA, warts and all, struggling on with no more real problems than the others, except with problems more in the public view owing more to folk actually caring enough to pay attention and complain about it. When the other churches reach such maturity as they can muster through what process of overseas control that they too are ready to take their own decisions and become autocephalous then there can be a merger.

            So long as the others consent to have their big decisions made from afar they won’t grow. Insitutionalize that so all are seen to have their important decisions taken from afar and it will all shrink, and fast.

            One has to choose from among the alternatives one actually has.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Harry, I agree a LOT with what you right here. Except for the third paragraph. Please feel free to rummage through the internet (and my site especially) to see how the MosPat is working overtime in places far afield from Russia to bring the Gospel. We’re talking Indonesia, Pakistan, sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America. And not just the Russian Diaspora. I’ve mentioned several times now how the ROC has established an all-English Western-Rite Vicariate. This is huge Harry. Except for mention of Metropolitan Hilarion and Patriarch Kirill (and the English language), you’d think you were in a pre-Vatican II Mass. I know, I’ve been. This Vicariate is most definately NOT about Russia in any way, shape, manner or form.

              Yes, I know that there are MP and ROCOR parishes that are just as ethnic as any Alb/Bul/Grk/Serb/etc. but the ROC is deadly serious about evangelism. Unlike the ethnic patriarchates it’s not either/or for them but both/and. Huge difference.

              • Harry Coin says

                The healthy part of Christianity in Russia of over a century ago similarly was impressive among the Alaskan populations. You get these pockets of health, of energy, usually far from ‘the sacred center’.

                Highly motivated people leave the intensive environment and travel far to bring their faith and knowledge among those — whose practical relationship with the church ends with the inspirational ability of the person explaining it and being seen to live it.

                The topics of our discussion here have to do with later stages in development, where there is awareness of the civil authorities, the differences among them and how it is they are seen to manage the betterment of their people at home and charity (or war) abroad.

                Everyone reading websites like this never should lose sight that what people discuss is what it is they care about and what it is they are given to know. And we all so very much want it to work and have a good future leading to the elevation of the human spirit and human condition. So we in our hearts feel the pain and the embarrassment when we see these awful problems before our eyes– and we just have a need to think that ‘over there, there they’ve got it down better, there it is real, there’, let’s go give it over to them, we’re so ashamed. We become vulnerable to exploitation because if you look, you see there is no ‘greater good place there’ in reality, it’s more or less as good and bad ‘there’ as ‘here’, with differences in degree and dimension that net-out to big trouble in various flavors. The difference is you don’t know what’s what ‘there’ and you and I, well, everyone, projects their hopes onto ‘there’. Such is a great deal of the energy behind visiting monasteries, as if ‘there’ is a place where it’s generally really ‘the great good place’. Now we see, struggles happen ‘there’ as much as they do ‘here’.

                Make it work where you are, and don’t neglect smart folk who care who live nearby are much more likely to make better decisions than those ‘there’, who offer to manage here for you, of course allowing for funding needs, where loyalty reigns above conduct and merit.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Foreign help we don’t need. Help from wise Orthodox brothers and sisters, probably. To me there is a big difference.

      • Gailina Sheppard says

        Well, the “autocephalists” should wake up and smell the coffee, because I suspect the Assembly of Canocial Bishops has reached the same conclusion and you’re testing the waters. – But I don’t want to *assume* anything, so please tell me if this is NOT true.

    • I am going to write a longer response here. Most of my reply will mostly be my own thoughts regarding these events, with very little response to your actual post. That said, much of my personal response to you will occur in the first two paragraphs.

      You make a point about this being merely an “adolescent protest.” Adolescent is right. However, this is a much bigger issue that an oppressive institution overreacting to our poor innocent teenagers. This whole turn of events is iconic of what is happening in our world in general. The “Pussy Riot” crew, are icons of the overall “anti-traditional-Christian” agenda in the world today. Those young women put into outward action that which is the sentiment of many regarding traditional Christianity. What we are meeting with is the adolescent rebellion of a society who decided (especially in the 60’s) that we would strive for and live in an adolescent’s paradise. We want to be able to do whatever we want, whenever we want, and want everyone else to do it as well. (Of course, this must occur in the confines of the so-called “law.” Which is increasingly up for grabs.)

      Ancient traditional Christianity, in other words, the Orthodox Church, tells people “no.” No, you can’t have sex outside of marriage, with a female, or male. No, you can’t snuff out life, in any form. No, you can’t oppress your neighbor. No, you can’t change your sex via surgery, God knew what He was doing. No, you can’t be self-centered. No, we can not invent God, or try to figure him out without Him. No, we reject the idea that God is so vast that He doesn’t care what we believe about Him. No, God is not the great codependent in the sky. Yes, He is a very distinct God, actually a one in three, and three in one. You know… the Orthodox faith. The world just can not deal with being told “no.” We have a big problem and it is also an adolescent problem. We are told that we must be able discern for ourselves, what is good, and bad (evil), i.e. participate in the Fall. Even this type of thinking is rejected using any bad logical fallacy necessary, or in whatever way it can, and at all costs. Otherwise, people will be angry for being told what to do. They will shout abuse. They may make a scene and we will have to act the parent. Any sort of correction is becoming “abuse.” It is wrongly equated with oppression. Here we have one reason why the concept of traditional the “family unit,” with its fathers and mothers and children, is almost dead. Parents want to be “friends” to their kids, not oppressive “parents.” Whether we have to prove God doesn’t exist, or that we had it all wrong in the first place, or that Christianity is malleable to fit each unique generation, we can not have traditional Christianity, i.e. oppression. God forbid!

      The more one wants to maintain the ancient paradigm, the more that one is either uneducated or hateful, the more flack they get, the more we want to disassociate from them. Thus, because the MP and EP are iconic of the ancient Christian paradigm, we must have nothing to do with them, they are the tyrannical, backward parents. We can argue it till were blue in the face, but it boils down to them being the big bad “parents” that will tell us what to do, and may even do it strictly. We can make every excuse to continue in our sick dysfunctional state, but we will use every other means for coping as long as it is not the traditional Christian response.

      As we know the world has wanted to simplify Jesus into merely a good man with a good moral code. Christ can not really be God if we are to do whatever we want. There can’t be an absolute truth if people are to act, think, or be whatever they desire. What the world insists upon is a “anti-christianity,” something “instead” of the ancient One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Christianity. It insists that the only room for Christianity lies in Christ’s role as the Saviour of the oppressed, but that is just about all. If we are not relieving the oppressed we are the oppressors. Thus, we are more and more being called to reject anything that may have to do with Christ’s divinity or larger purposes, including proclaiming His Father, together with Himself and the Holy Spirit. This, of course, “only leads to war, violence, and death.” Give me a break! It is precisely because Christianity took off in the east and the west, that we haven’t decimated ourselves thus far. Imagine where we would be if Christ had not become incarnate, and if even a small percentage of humanity weren’t in the process of theosis? Lord have mercy!

      My point is that the Pussy Riot events are iconic of a much larger process occurring in the world today, particularly in the USA. Call me a conspiracy theorist, which I am not. I know that by even reflecting like this I will be categorized and black listed. There is increasingly, less and less room for this sort of thinking (or living). It makes the Lord’s words sting…”Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Lk 18:8, and “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” 24:24.

      I quote the above not out of Apocalyptic fanatsy or to get pleasure in contemplating the end times. Actually, it can get, and will get so much worse, and thankfully that’s more time for repentance. But rather to get to the point that we have to decide what we really believe, and really think through and live out our faith as we have received it from our forebears. If we have contradictory beliefs when if comes to our Orthodoxy and our day to day living, we must reflect, pray, repent, and really discern what we believe, and act accordingly. If we really believe that traditional Christianity is wrong then count traditional Christianity as the goats, and get in line with the sheep, and vice versa. Let us not act like adolescents wanting our own way, and rejecting our parents. The way we react to world events; the way we act in the face of “religious hate,” are a matter of salvation. May we be granted discernment in these trying times.

      • Gailina Sheppard says

        Until you are the target of a “tyrannical, backward parent,” you have no idea how much you have to fear.

        • I have been and so am speaking from experience. Just because we may have had tyrannical backward parents doesn’t necessarily mean that any authority figures are just like our tyrannical parents. Also, just because tyrannical parents say “no” doesn’t make what they are saying “no” to to be automatically wrong. If we truly don’t want what our “tyranical parents” offer, we need to descide to either stay and trust, or leave and do what we are going to. But we better make damned sure, because if we’re wrong, the consequences will be eternal. We don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water, and so must call our parents to repentance if abusive, but have the discernment to know what is true tyranny and what is our own projection and teenaged rebellion. Very tricky.

          • I wasn’t talking about my parents, Lordsave. – Some “parents” never let go and that is especially true of Antioch and Russia. If we allow them to take control, they will never give it back.

    • Will Harrington says

      two years compared to death sentences or terms in Gulags that were likely death sentences for far less (if anything) under the soviets. Your view is nowhere near reality to compare this sentence to what happened under the Soviet Union. Sorry, your credibility is shot now, in what I find a most offensive manner. Was the sentence to harsh? Maybe. The Russian Orthodox Church thought so and asked for clemency. But there a corrupt arm of the Tyranical Russian dictatorship so that must have been for show, right? And Pussy Riot will now be fed starvation rations and worked to death in a Siberian gulag. Your the one who made the comparison. Me, I bet in two years or less thoy will be out, playing bad music and performing more blasphemous and offensive acts because their music isn’t good enough to carry them.

    • Antonio Arganda says

      And I suppose that the Church “over-reacted” to Aleksandra Kollentai’s “performance art” which involved dragging members of the clergy into the streets and shooting them when it declared them neomartyrs?

  6. Ive been doing research concerning this situation and have found that these girls have been involved with various other criminal activities to include having sex in public in full view of customers at stores. The issue with the Church is just something the western media has latched onto and trying to spin it to make this groups activities seem less than what it is and to make Christians out to be hateful vindictive people on par with Joe Bidens comment that Republicans want blacks to be in chains again.

    The fact of the matter is that what this group has been doing is criminal and indecent.

    • Lil Ole Housewife says

      Dear All,

      What the group P…Riot did is online on a video. They did not desecrate a church, and were unsuccessful in stopping the service they interrupted by their mocking behavior. Some of the laity told them shame shame and they were escorted out gently.

      At the risk of dirtying the newsgroup, I am posting a URL to the video of the performance for which these mothers were given 2 years in prison:


      The singing is to the obichno Greek chant melody for Bogoroditsa Devo, but the words were changed. A rather bad translation of the ditty is available when you click on the show more part of the video above.

      Another video showcases their removal, gently, from the cathedral:


      P.R.’s street theater is staged and press is prearranged for every one of their performances, I personally was kind of sad to see how few people were in the cathedral that day.

      Haven’t these arrested adolescents in another country been given enough press? Why aren’t we discussing our own arrested adolescents?

    • Gailina Sheppard says

      Well, be sure to provide the links. I’m not saying I don’t believe you, but I’d like to see some evidence that what you’re saying is true.

      • Just Guessing says

        Here’s the RT story which has video evidence of at least one of the band members having sex at a museum. There’s also footage of the incident where one of them put a chicken in their vagina.


        Go read their interviews online, you’ll get a very clear understanding of their motives and actions.

        And (to LOH) please, let’s stop calling them adolescents. The three jailed women are 22, 24, and 30. The police are now searching for two other band members.

        • Lil Ole Housewife says

          Dear Just Guessing,

          THe terminology I used is “arrested adolescent”, i.e. adolescents whose chronological time for being an adolescent has passed. Only a few of these arrested adolescents got arrested later, by the way, in case you were confused by my adjectives.

          I am not going to go watch videos like you describe and posted. I try to be careful about what images have residence in my brain. I’ve only had cable TV for two years, raised my children without TV and am thinking of getting rid of TV again.

          • Just Guessing says

            Too bad about your mixed terminology in a situation where someone was actually arrested, and someone else called them adolescents. In any event, if you’re in the OCA, feel free to use the official OCA terminology for these women: “vulnerable adults.”

        • Gailina Sheppard says

          I was hoping for links with commentators who have some credibility, not links of people doing disgusting things, so like the Lil Ole Housewife, I’ll pass as well. – Since you’ve since the clip, does it show their faces? If not, how do you know it is them? – Don’t get me wrong. I think what these girls did was offensive, but I find A LOT of things offensive these days. Seems to me they’re getting EXACTLY what they wanted; i.e. world wide attention. I don’t think it’s smart to reward poor behavior. It may encourage others to do the same thing. – Anybody remember the hoop la in 1999 when the Brooklyn Museum of Art came under fire for exhibiting a Chris Ofili painting of the Mother of God that featured sexually explicit cutouts covered with elephant dung or “Piss Christ,” a controversial photograph by U.S. artist Andres Serrano showing a small plastic crucifix supporting the body of Jesus Christ submerged in a glass of the artist’s urine? Others have pushed the boundaries of good taste (gosh, that’s putting it mildly), but few have elicited world-wide attention.

          • Just Guessing says

            I gave you the links, there are others. The raw footage (no pun intended) of their sex stunt in the museum is out there too with a simple internet search. But I’m not going to do your homework for you.

            Pussy Riot is only the tip of the political iceberg in Russia, along with Voina, Femen, etc… You seek to diminish what they’ve done without even trying to understand everything they’ve done, everything they stand for, and what they hope to achieve. Sure, if you judge them based on “one little incident at Christ the Savior Cathedral,” then yes, they might appear benign, even persecuted. The fact is, they have an agenda, and the members have long histories of perverted stunts of every sort to achieve their political agenda.

            • Gailina Sheppard says

              I don’t seek to “diminish what they have done.” I just don’t want to promote it, which is exactly what we’re doing by talking about it! – If understanding “what they’ve done” means looking up smut on the Internet, I’ll pass.

  7. A minor correction to the article. The name of Putin was not a part of what they “sang” in the cathedral. Most likely, they did not have time to get to that part of the performance. The video distributed on the Internet had a studio-recorded soundtrack superimposed on the visual part. Thus, the action in the church was just blasphemy; the political component was added later.

    • Lil Ole Housewife says

      Yes, Putin’s name is invoked. Just listen, don’t watch


      • Like I said, the soundtrack was studio-recorded. This was brought to light during the court proceedings.

        • Just Guessing says

          The raw footage of their recording has them singing this same song. The dubbing of the studio recorded version was only for the published video. But the raw footage has them singing the same song also. And really, it’s kind of a silly point, to say that “well, they didn’t have time to get to that.” The whole stunt was to sing their song, “Holy Sh*t,” from the ambo of Christ the Savior Cathedral, using the melodies of church hymns, while mocking actions of believers making prostrations and the sign of the cross. Kind of a no-brainer.

  8. When an ungodly priest or bishop celebrates the divine liturgy, what are the consequences? From God’s point of view. I mean, Here is a person that should know better.

  9. I think a very small minority of Americans agree because so few understand the concept of sacred space or, for that matter, sanctity at all. If that’s the case, saying “serves them right” is not very helpful. After reading things like this…

    …I have been trying to think through how to make the cogent and thoughtful counter argument…

    1. Russia had a law on the books against “hooliganism” which has a maximum sentence of 7 years in prison. The “protesters” should have known that going into it.

    2. We have similar laws against things like vandalism or violence. Violators of the law, if found guilty, are subject to a penalty, and the judge has some discretion as to the magnitude of the sentence.

    3. The magnitude sentence might be harsher if the violation if it involved some kind of particular impropriety, involving children for instance. Most would agree that judges should have that kind of discretion.

    4. Well, violation of sacred space is a huge impropriety in the eastern churches (most eastern religions for that matter) and especially in Russia where in living memory of many of its citizens the government was destroying the churches.. People bled for them, were imprisoned for them and died for them.

    5. So the fact that the girls got 3 out of 7 years reflects how, if not the Russians, at least that judge, feels that sacred places should be treated. From the history I’ve read, I think the vast majority of human beings that have lived on this planet would be on the side of the judge. The fact that many today are not may be the opposite of progress.

    … and probably doesn’t need to be said but…

    6. Oh by the way, this has little to nothing to do with free speech and it’s a little silly for us to be criticizing Russia on the topic of civil liberties when last year our “liberal” democrat president assassinated 3 american citizens, signed the NDAA which allows our government to detain american citizens indefinitely, made it illegal to protest anywhere the secret service may be present, kept the Patriot Act going and continues to support legislation to censor the internet (SOPA, CISPA)… maybe we need to focus on getting our own house in order.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Mike R., thanks for pointing all this out. Especially point #6. BTW, we Americans are te LAST people to be lecturing others on free speech. We gave up free speech decades ago. Lawrence Summers anyone? John Derbyshire? Naomi Shaeffer Riley? Sam Francis?

  10. phil r. upp says
  11. Here’s an interesting view of Pussy Riot:


  12. cynthia curran says

    Carter not me voted for Ford and too young for either Nixon or McGovern but I supported Nixon. Well at least Nixon did get Alger Hiss in trouble. i guess i’m a fascists for liking Nixon as a kid.. In 1980 voted for Libertarian Ed Clark and in 2008 so mad at both George W Bush and John McCain on illegal immigration voted for Bob Barr instead. The more I thought of the Pussy Riot I eventually thought that they deserved some punishment since they did trespassed in a church. They are also being supported by George Soros.. Well, Putin probably isn’t our friend but in this case the girls did some insulting of the orthodox faith and trespassed.

  13. cynthia curran says

    Radio Derb, I listened to him thought he is usually funny.

  14. cynthia curran says

    Well, they were not kids in Chicago they were adults and were more violent they today’s occupy movement. Some of the Chicago protesters belong to the weather underground. The police might have use too much force but the rioters at the Chicago convention threw rocks, bottles and even had weapons

  15. A good summary of who these people are, what they did, and what they stand for can be found here: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/western-media-concealing-facts-about-female-rock-bands-desecration-of-russi/

    A statement by the Russian Church, in Russian, but which your browser can probably translate, is here: http://www.pravmir.ru/zayavlenie-vysshego-cerkovnogo-soveta-russkoj-pravoslavnoj-cerkvi-v-svyazi-s-sudebnym-prigovorom-po-delu-lic-oskvernivshix-svyashhennoe-prostranstvo-xrama-xrista-spasitelya/

    I agree heartily with those who believe that the punishment was really rather lenient, given the diabolical sacrilege these people (who are neither “adolescents” nor “teens”) purposely undertook. Russia has shown us what a society that respects religion as relation to the sacred, and not just as a consumer preference, actually looks like. I would expect similar sanctions against someone desecrating or defiling a synagogue or mosque. It is interesting how many of the liberals who are shocked, just shocked, at the penalty are at the same time curiously supportive of “hate speech” and “hate crime” penalties, seeing “hate” crimes not as the expression of opinion, but as performatives—as actions meant to demean and degrade and defile. Why are acts of blasphemy any different? It seems to me they are worse, unless one truly believes that sacred space is, in fact, empty space.

  16. Fr. Philip says

    Concerning the supposed “immaturity” of these women, every criminal is acting out his/her own immaturity, specifically, “I want what I want; I want it now; and I don’t care who else gets hurt in the process.” Are we then to stop punishing muderers, bank robbers, rapists, embezzlers, etc.? We expect adults to be have as adults, not pre-schoolers; and for our own protection as a society we have a right to demand that adults behave as responsible adults.

    Concerning the venue for this “protest,” would anyone in the West have been nearly as sympathetic if it had taken place in a synagogue or mosque? Or would there be immediate charges of “hate crime,” or anti-semitism, or anti-Muslim prejudice? What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

    As for the sentence, I think one of my woman parishioners was correct: instead of jail, they should’ve been order to spend 2 years in a woman’s monastery. Some of those Russian abbesses…..

    Fr. Philip

  17. Ivan Vasiliev says

    BM Drezhlo (not a person who I would ordinarily point to on this site as a good reference) has a beautiful letter from a Russian priest to Paul McCartney stating why the Pussy Riot “action” was so deeply offensive to believers. This priest is not for harsh punishment (the Russian Orthodox leadership has already stated that it would prefer the offenders didn’t serve a long jail term) but does draw attention to the fact that the women had already taken their “protests” to the streets in Red Square and at the Moscow Zoo (where they protested by doing a public sex act in front of children). That wasn’t enough to get them the attention they craved. And why would it? Those behaviors would be considered relatively trivial–even comic–in the west. So, they literally took it to Church where they could truly, deeply, offend believers and the whole nation by reminding them of the monstrous behaviors of the old godless regime.

    It wasn’t a political protest; it was a hate crime under the pretext of political protest. Professor Jenkins is right–if the same kind of act was committed in a synagogue or mosque the world would be appalled. Well, maybe not a synagogue since antisemitism is once again acceptable in the west, but certainly if it were done in a mosque it would have been considered outrageous. And George is right, the women would have had more to worry about than a couple of years in jail.

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      Totally 100% agree.

    • Harry Coin says

      On this topic of ‘what would the reaction have been had it happened in a Mosque?’ You know, we’ve seen some awful things done with religious approval on a daily basis by those who go to at least a certain sort of Mosque.

      That the women would have been treated harshly had they protested at a Mosque would be lamented and expected.

      But the expectations for Christian conduct, and indeed also Jewish conduct is higher. Because of that higher expected standard (even by those who never fail to criticize it or who don’t like it) the higher wave of disappointment at the hyperbolic ‘nail’em to the wall’ severity the church asked for when it counted, and sort of ‘took you long enough and are you serious really’ thinking surrounding the faint ‘well can you ease up a bit’ church leadership talk now that they are sentenced.

  18. phil r. upp says

    Bottom line, the sentence is draconian. 2 years cleaning churches and probation seems more in line.

  19. phil r. upp says

    By Andrew Osborn, Moscow

    An undercover investigation on Russian TV into Archpriest Mikhail Grigoriev of Kazan has raised wider questions about the propriety of the country’s clerics and their relationship with wealthy donors who contribute to restoration work.
    In the case of Father Grigoriev, he was shown to own a BMW jeep, a Mercedes jeep, and a Mercedes saloon as well as three flats and a country house. To add insult to injury, a secret camera filmed the priest bragging about his £60,000 Swiss watch, his £12,000 phone, while talking about his love of Italian designer clothes and fine dining. In an indication of how much wealth the priest had amassed, he complained of recently being robbed of the equivalent of £300,000 from his safe.
    The undercover investigation into Father Grigoriev has prompted church elders to banish him to a small rural church in the same region as punishment. Yet it seems church elders are concerned by his attitude rather than how he came into such wealth.
    “The problem is not wealth,” Archpriest Alexander Pavlov, a senior cleric in the area, was quoted as saying. “The problem is the priest’s attitude to it. Now we have given him a chance to toil not for his own enrichment but for the church’s benefit.”
    It is not the first time Russian priests have been accused of graft. Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Orthodox Church, has been photographed wearing a Swiss watch worth £30,000. Clerics batted away that criticism, saying the watch was a gift from a wealthy parishioner.

    • Ordo Antiquus says

      “Yet it seems church elders are concerned by his attitude rather than how he came into such wealth.
      “The problem is not wealth,” Archpriest Alexander Pavlov, a senior cleric in the area, was quoted as saying. “The problem is the priest’s attitude to it.”

      The Archpriest’s concern with “the priest’s attitude” towards wealth would certainly include “how he came into such wealth”. This is clearly borne out by the second half of the quote: “Now we have given him a chance to toil not for his own enrichment but for the church’s benefit.”

      As for “the problem is not wealth” — Americans, of all people, should have no problem with this statement! I take it that the Archpriest is clearly declaring that there is nothing wrong with hard-earned and correctly-earned wealth. The problem is not with his words, but with how this piece of Western MSN reporting subtly twisted his words to make a false dichotomy.

      What outrages me the most is the willingness of American liberals to condemn and judge an entire Church of 30,000+ clerics, nearly 300 bishops, and millions of believers on the basis of a few — a very few — bad examples. The fact is that if even a tenth of the priests in the Russian Orthodox Church were this corrupt, the awesome level of reconstruction that has happened in the former Soviet Union would not even be!

      • George Michalopulos says

        Exactly, the litany of corrupt American churchmen is longer. Even in the Orthodox jurisdictions, simony is discreetly practiced.

    • Ivan Vasilieiv says

      What’s the point? I mean, in relationship to the topic? A greedy priest. OK, but how does it relate to acts of vandalism and anti-religious hatred?

  20. phil r. upp says
  21. Eric Affsprung says

    Why not forgive them?

    • I thought of that, too. Is naivete and stupidity a criminal offense now? Some strongly symbolic punishment and real forgiveness from the church. No jail time.

      • Ordo Antiquus says

        You miss the point, folks. It’s not the Russian Church that tried and sentenced them, but the Russian State. Even if the Western media were correct in portraying the level of “union” between Church and State in Russia (and no, they aren’t) that still wouldn’t mean that the prisoners will be freed on Patriarch Kirill’s orders. This is now a matter of the Russian judicial system.

        Besides, the Church HAS already forgiven them, but correctly chose to do so after the verdict. Had the Church told the court to just let them be in the course of the trial, THAT would have been a real and unmistakable act of Church interference in State affairs, and would have opened a pandora’s box — imagine every Russian liberal or oligarch on trial using the precedent to appeal to Patriarch Kirill for mercy!

        • George Michalopulos says

          good point. When Sirhan Sirhan murdered Bobby Kennedy, the Kennedy family forgave him. That was within their rights and spoke highly of them as Christians. However all felonies and misdemeanors are crimes against the state and it is the state which metes out justice. John Paul II likewise forgave his assassin, but like Sirhan he’s still in prison and will be so for life.

        • Is that not permitting the state to pursue policy under cover of the church? I thoght silence was believed to be a sin of omission. They did this in a church; it’s for the church to be offended, not the state. The state [Putin] is prosecuting because the girls were criticizing Putin, who is a tyrant.

          • Ordo Antiquus says

            “They did this in a church; it’s for the church to be offended, not the state.”

            Crime does not cease to be a crime simply because it is committed inside a church. The state has every right to punish a crime, including those that happen inside a church. What you are really saying is that the state should do nothing to protect religious bodies from persecution or sacrilege.

            You can’t accuse the ROC of silence here because the ROC has already appealed for leniency for this group of punks. And you can’t say that they were prosecuted for criticizing Putin; they’ve done that before and they got very little punishment.

            • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

              If they were criticizing Stalin during any time of his reign,they would have gotten more than 2 or 3 years.Solzhenitsyn got 8 years because he criticized Stalin’s handling of the war to a fellow officer in a letter.This blog has got me reading
              the “Gulag Archipelago” yet again.
              Leaving Stalin and Solzhenitsyn aside,when is it proper to disrupt ANYBODYS religious service to prove a point?I get to foaming at the mouth when I pass by one of the several Romanian Pentecostal churches here in Michigan,but I WOULDN’T dream of going into one of them and trying to talk the people into returning to Orthodoxy.(The son of a local OCA Romanian priest told me that there is some sort of network among these sectarians that provides jobs for Romanian newcomers.When these Romanians ask about an Orthodox Church,they are often threatened with losing their jobs).

  22. Yes, Yes, by all means get the government involved in the church’s business. Have Putin call an ecumenical council. Why stop there have Omama call one too. Let the government decide like in the good old days

    • Ordo Antiquus says

      Partnering with the government doesn’t mean letting the government decide everything. Just because that is what many Americans equate with the partnership or cooperation of Church and State doesn’t mean that it is what actually happens when Church and State cooperate. The world is larger and more complicated than you Americans think it is.

  23. Righteous Riot says

    While I obviously disagree with their choice of venue, I completely agree with much of P-Riot’s cause. Putin’s use of the Orthodox church as a political prop does far more damage to the faith then a gaggle of immature fools on an altar…This man was KGB. He made his bones persecuting Orthodox Christians. And before you tell me he’s seen the light, I’d ask, where was his pivot point? Did I miss his mea culpa? …Did you happen to catch that footage of him a couple weeks back when the monk kissed his hand? If looks could kill! The left have learned well from the mistakes of the Russian revolution. Rather than razing the churches to the ground (both literally and figuratively) today they infiltrate and “partner” with them. (Adding a whiff of righteousness to their power is simply a bonus)…Watching “P-Riot” desecrate such a beautiful cathedral made me nauseous, but turning a blind eye to the governments infiltration of (and partnership with) the church(es) as a method by which to control the populace (using what they view as the “opiate of the masses” to serve their own nefarious ends) is the true sacrilege. Lord Have Mercy.

    • George Michalopulos says

      RR, before you pontificate about Putin, Russia, and the ROC, I must ask: have you been to Russia lately? Last year, a Russian sociologist wrote a book about how the US was going to break up into six regions. His understanding of our demography was naive at best. What’s the point? I laughed. He wasn’t an American, had never been here to my knowledge, etc. Those of us who get our news from MSNBCABCBS/New Republic/National Review, should be very cautious about what is put out about Russia. Things are very complicated there, just like here.

      • Ivan Vasilieiv says

        Thank you, George. When I see coverage of Russia in the press and on TV (both Left and Right) I feel that I’m looking at a make believe country. Our media (and too many of our Foreign Service people) just don’t have any idea of the history and culture of that nation. Our press blew very hard about demonstrations by 50,000 people in Moscow protesting Putin (often these events were more like carnivals than political protests) but completely missed the fact that hundreds of thousands stood in the rain and cold to get a glimpse of the Iveron belt of the Theotokos. Our media intelligentsia (left and right) simply could not process something like that.

        The Russians, for their part, can be just as silly when they look at us. In 2008 I watched Russian news coverage of the Republican convention (in English) and was spooked to hear reporters with American accents describing the police state tactics being used to crush protests.

        We see and hear what we want to see and hear. And too often we miss the obvious. Most Russians (even non believers) were offended and shocked by the Pussy Riot “action” because it was, by their standards, indecent on many different levels. The offenders will not likely be seen as political heroines struggling for what is right in the face of evil. Quite the opposite. The reaction in the west supporting the women who committed the offense evokes the same kind of revulsion that many in the west feel when they hear of stonings and mutilations in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.

      • Righteous Riot says

        “Shut up, he explained…”
        George, let me preface this by saying that I’m not some bomb thrower. I became a fan of this blog (and you in particular) as a result of your staunch support for +Jonah, and your boldness in condemning those behind his forced retirement.
        You are correct, I have not been to Russia in the last year (nor am I an expert on the regions most recent history) but common sense has no borders. My grandfather, a Russian Orthodox priest, was himself persecuted and nearly killed by the likes of Mr. Putin. Perhaps this fact colors my opinion, but I see nothing at all to convince me that this is a changed man.
        One of the principle tenets of our faith is humility. Does this man strike you as humble? To my eye, he’s an egotistical and anti-american kleptocrat using my beloved Church as cover for his unquenchable thirst for power.
        As Ordo rightly points out, there has been an amazing revival of Orthodoxy in Russia. It’s truly an inspiration to witness (I only wish my deduska lived to see it!) and it is not my intent to cast aspersions on the ROC as a whole. Clearly, there is an abundance of deeply spiritual work going on there…But to turn a blind eye to the political hidden hand is, I believe, at best naive and at worst dangerous.
        Now, admittedly, as an American, I’m culturally uneasy with any partnership between church and state. (And I would feel this way whether it was partnership with a liberal or conservative administration) But as an Orthodox Christian, I’m even more reticent to accept partnering with a government so seemingly comfortable with the brutality practiced by their 20th century comrades.
        Whether it’s war in the middle east or the coming economic/societal collapse, rough seas are surely ahead…My concern is that by becoming too closely associated with worldly power brokers who gain, by dividing us, the Orthodox Church risks becoming part of the storm, rather than the shelter from it.

        • George Michalopulos says

          RR, first of all thank you for your kind words of support. I feel that we agree on the big issues. Let me gently point out where we may differ, and please, know that I mean no offense.

          First of all, I honor your grandfather’s witness. However you said that “thugs like Putin” made his life miserable. I’m sure you’re 100% correct. Was it Putin himself however? And even if it was, is it not possible that he could have had a change in heart? Let us not forget that thugs like Prince Vladimir of Kiev, and Emperor Constantine the Great, the Khan Boris of Bulgaria…were all pagans at one time.

          For the sake of argument, let us assume that Putin’s Christianity is nothing but a pose. What of it? Winston Churchill famously said “in the matter of the fire and the fire brigade,” I am not neutral.” What he meant is that we may not like the governor, but if he is all that stands between anarchy and order, we must choose order. In the matter of Pussy Riot or Putin, I choose Putin. Whether I do so reluctantly or with enthusiasm is of no consequence. Because even if I choose him tepidly, I still choose him. Otherwise I would have to be on the side of Pussy Riot and the anarchic forces that wish to destroy Christianity and Russian sovereignty.

          This I cannot do. Again, I meant no offense.

        • Ordo Antiquus says

          “My grandfather, a Russian Orthodox priest, was himself persecuted and nearly killed by the likes of Mr. Putin. Perhaps this fact colors my opinion, but I see nothing at all to convince me that this is a changed man.
          One of the principle tenets of our faith is humility. Does this man strike you as humble? ”

          Is it humble to judge someone you obviously don’t know?

          Is it humble — is it rational — to judge someone mainly on the basis of Western media reports?

          Is it humble to judge someone on the basis of the fact that he belonged to the same institution to which scoundrels also belonged? In that case we should be leery of all who are in the US armed forces, because there have been US military men who have raped, tortured, and killed innocents. Obviously to do so would be wrong.

          There isn’t even any evidence that Putin ever personally took part in killing Orthodox priests! And if he did, we can be sure that his confessor, Archimandrite Tikhon, would not have let him go easily over that one.

          Putin was recently in Valaam. The media all focused on his offended reaction to a priest kissing his hand (the priest, was said to have been not Russian but from the Balkans). No mention of Putin’s attendance in the services and his partaking of the mystery of repentance, as reported by Bishop Pankraty in his latest interview with Patriarchia.Ru.

          Speaking of persecutors, Archpriest Andrew Phillips has spoken in his website (Orthodox England) about hearing the confessions of former persecutors of the Church in Russia. He doesn’t name anyone and doesn’t give details of what they did, but he testified to the sincerity of their repentance, the real sorrow they showed for what they did. Repentance is possible. Even for former Soviets.

          “Now, admittedly, as an American, I’m culturally uneasy with any partnership between church and state. (And I would feel this way whether it was partnership with a liberal or conservative administration)”

          That alone should make you more careful in judging other cultures that do have a culture and history of partnership between Church and State.

          “But as an Orthodox Christian, I’m even more reticent to accept partnering with a government so seemingly comfortable with the brutality practiced by their 20th century comrades ”

          How so? A government that has allowed the Czar and his family to be rehabilitated, that has reconciled with many White groups, that has abandoned Communist symbols and revived Imperial and Christian ones, that treats the former Imperial family with honor, that allows the open commemoration of the martyrs of Soviet persecution and condemnation of those who made them suffer, that does nothing while the Patriarch of Moscow honors the Russian and Polish victims at Katyn, that has denounced the treason of the Bolsheviks, that — it is strongly rumored — did what it could to ensure that Alexander Nevsky, not Stalin, was voted Greatest Russian of all time? That is definitely not a government that is “comfortable” with the crimes of the Soviet past.

          Open your eyes and stop living in the 1980’s.

          • Righteous Riot says

            First of all, I don’t presume to know Mr. Putin’s heart. That is between him and God.

            Taking that as rote, do I then forfeit my right to express a dissenting opinion on this thread without being personally attacked by you or “Just Guessing”? You seem viciously judgmental for someone who’s assailed me for being the same.

            Despite your condescending comment, I’m not stuck in the 80s. I base my opinion of Mr. Putin, not exclusively from his years in the KGB, but the methods by which he governs today (and in the recent past) The suppression of dissent, the beating of protesters, the disappearance or murder of his administration’s critics. The man who supported the erection of a Stalin statue in Moscow in 2005, or the restoration of the monument to the butcher, Felix Dzerzhinksy, back in 2002.

            That isn’t to say that Putin’s embrace of Orthodoxy hasn’t been a boon to the Church. (and to him as well!) It clearly has. I’m just of the opinion that any partnership between church and state is dangerous.

            The world is a turbulent place. Governments rise and fall. Political pendulums swing left and right. Many of the same people who were attending Orthodox Churches in Russia in 1915, were assisting in razing them to the ground a few years later.

            Because of this, it is my fervent hope that the church remain a refuge from this fallen world, rather then allowing itself to be too closely associated with it’s chaos.

            The Church DOES have a political roll to play however, and that is in shaping the morals of a virtuous and God fearing electorate.

            On a different subject…George, I appreciated your Churchill quote very much. He’s a personal hero of mine. I’ll close with another:
            “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

    • Ordo Antiquus says

      “The left have learned well from the mistakes of the Russian revolution. Rather than razing the churches to the ground (both literally and figuratively) today they infiltrate and “partner” with them…”

      While thousands of churches are rebuilt, the last Czar and his family are glorified, and Communist leaders are routinely and increasingly condemned by Russian Orthodox clerics in the harshest terms. Didn’t Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin recently call for Lenin’s works to be banned as hate literature? Even Putin has condemned the Bolsheviks as traitors.

    • Priest Justin Frederick says

      I hope the sight only made you nauseated rather than rendering you nauseous.

    • Just Guessing says

      And “Righteous Riot” has self-proclaimed that any alliance between church and state is inherently wrong because…?

      So you support Pussy Riot’s cause. Do you know their causes? Do you know what they stand for? I’ll make a bet you don’t even have a clue. (You’re only interested in the anti-Putin part of it.) Becuase if you did, any self-respecting, God-fearing Orthodox Christian would never say such a thing. If you knew what causes they supported, you’d need to take a long, hot shower.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Righteous Riot says: “The left have learned well from the mistakes of the Russian revolution. Rather than razing the churches to the ground (both literally and figuratively) today they infiltrate and “partner” with them.”

      And what has Obama and the Democrats done here with the black churches? And the Protestant Right too with many Evangelical churches?

      Face it, there is no such thing as sparation of Church and State. Never has been, never will be. It is a secular political fantasy to, mostly, cover their tracks as they oppress the Church, the churches and all things religious.

      There is a hugh difference between not having an established church and ‘separation’.

      The U.S. Constitution’s prohibition against establishment also contains an equally strongly worded prohibition against governement interference in the practice of religion. It was designed to protect the religious against the power of the state–not the other way ’round. That protection was provided because George Mason and others who propgated and supported the Bill of Rights saw the wisdom of having vital, active communities of faith influencing the culture; the politics and policies of the state and the people who governed.

      The modern idea of separation is not only a secular fantasy, but a total reversal of what the authors of the Bill of Rights and Thomas Jefferson meant.

      The state, in fact, requires the cooperation and blessing of the Church to function properly.

      You don’t like Russian laws? Move to Russia and work to change them.

      I’m with George M all the way on this one!

  24. Too bad, “time travel” has not yet been invented, then those “ladies” could be sent back to 16th century Russia
    to stand trial and receive the befitting punishment! “nuff said, LOL”

  25. cynthia curran says

    Well, Russian TV had MR Webb who is ahead of the Communist USA Party as a guest on their show and were talking about the occupy movement and of course MR Webb is supported. of OCCUPY. OCCUPY on their website are planning to have people dress as female sex organs in their protest at the Republican convention while this isn’t as bad as a church setting think that’s in bad taste too.

  26. M. Stankovich says

    I do not know how many recall that on December 12, 1989, Larry Kramer led the group AIDS Actitivists to Unleash Power (ACT UP) into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC to disrupt the mass being served by Cardinal John O’Connor; carrying protest signs reading “Stop the Church,” and “Curb Your Dogma,” some openly descrated the eucharist throughout the cathedral before the police arrived. While to this day, the claim “we helped ACT UP storm St. Patrick’s Cathedral years ago because the Church was standing in the way of young people getting the life-saving information they deserve” is dubious at best, there certainly were few, if any, “mainstream” sympathizers of the tactic, despite the vehemence of the insistence that “lives we at stake.” And most importantly, while it is “sanctified in legend,” such an action never happened again. My thought is that the RC Diocese of NY chose to keep a low profile, allowing the despicable nature of the atrocity to speak for itself: while it occurred in a church, it was a matter of law. That, I believe, is a parallel to Pussy Riot.

    I am confused as to the argument here. Should the press and the civil courts represent our “moral outrage” or the rule of law? Having worked for many years in the American corrections system, there is not a chance on this earth that if this same incident had occurred in the US, these women would serve a day of incarceration beyond time already served. Is this a “moral indictment” of our fair land? Hardly. This offense occurred in a church – a most-sacred temple of the Orthodox faith – but it is not a moral matter, it is a matter of law. This, then, begs the question of our intention: is our correctional goal to punish them according to our moral outrage, or according to the rule of law? If it is moral outrage, sentence them to community service in the convents, ministering to the widows and orphans, alongside the monastic women; to learn something about the integrity, esteem, and high calling of women in the Church, before the eyes of God. No, you cannot force someone to repent, but you can force them to look at the path. And if it is purely consequence under the rule of law, there is no justification under civilized law for such a sentence as they were given. The press did nothing more than exploit the vague, foolish boundaries of the government and the ROC, and who can blame them.

    You put women this age in with “career” criminals and they will have the “punk” slapped off their faces, only to be schooled in the ways of social defiance, distrust, manipulation, disrespect, and degradation. The will be forced into gangs to protect themselves – you cannot just go into prison and “mind your own business” – and “owe” on the outside when they are released. And I have read that several are single mothers, meaning the consequence is generational. I cringe to think of the daily reality.

    Will we later feel “justified” that there ignorant act of sacrilege has been “paid for,” regardless of the “full price?” I somehow cannot imagine that God needs to be “satisfied” with this “offering” to settle accounts. Judges, like Solomon, should be known throughout the land for their wisdom, not the blindness of their emotion.

    • Blah, blah, blah… let the punishment fit the crime. They knew what they were doing, let them now eat their dessert. I am sick and tired of people defending adult criminals like they where just numbskull teenagers. These women are adults, treat them as such. Full force of the law. Anyone who can stuff chicken parts into her vagina can surly handle what is coming to them in prison…

      But then again the correctional industry needs to bloviate, on and on and on… it has to do with job security…

      • M. Stankovich says

        Joseph I.

        I appreciate your support of my comment, indeed, full force of the law & let the punishment fit the crime: the penalty for trespassing & disorderly conduct ought to do it, with some very strict community service. “Hooliganism” is an old Soviet catch-all for anything that displeased those in power, and how ironic that what was a primary charge to persecute the Church, it is now being employed on behalf of the Church.

        I am presuming that you have never served time in prison, and thanks to God. Why do I conclude this? Your assessment of behaviour outside of incarceration as predictive of preparedness for incarceration is as dumb as it is inaccurate – and your attitude suggests a presentation of the research would be pointless. For what it’s worth, my suggestion is that the “product” – the end result – of a 22 year old placed for two years among “professional” criminals is unlikely to be positive. Highly unlikely.

        Finally, perhaps you are unaware that California, for example, is under a federal mandate to get rid of as many non-violent felons in custody as quickly as possible – most adult facilities are operating at double capacity plus. Likewise, the ratio of correctional custody officers to inmates is approximately 50 to 1 in most facilities. My thought is that you include a short “bloviation” in your morning prayers for these courageous men and women that, first, they make it home safely, and second, for our sakes, their jobs are secure.

    • Mr. Stankovich,

      Thankyou. I enjoyed reading your reflection. It is causing me to examine some of my own pre-conceived notions, which is good. What you wrote certainly deserves serious contemplation.

    • Just Guessing says

      The flaw in the argument here is comparing the US to Russia. In the US, of course, very little, if anything, would have happened to these ladies. But is that supposed to be a credit to the US system? In the US, you can go to jail for any number of ridiculous ‘crimes’ that other countries and cultures would roll their eyes at (in 2010 the EPA doled out a total of 72 years of total incarcertaion for breaking EPA laws like dumping waste and asbestos removal). The fact is, we don’t know the Russian system of jurisprudence, we don’t know the applicable laws, and under their system, this was likely a fair sentence, since they were eligible for seven years of incarceration.

      We can’t and shouldn’t judge this issue according to US standards.

      • The ”democracy” (i.e., “US standards”) that the atheistic, liberal, secular west is trying to export and infiltrate into Russia is not the Democracy believed, written, and established by the Founding Fathers of this country.
        And their primary motivation is nothing less than gaining control of Russian owned vast natural resources.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Right on both points, PdnNJ.

          For what it’s worth, one of the best men I ever knew (who has since gone to glory) was a veteran of Omaha Beach, which had casualty rates exceeding 90%. I dare say that he and his comrades didn’t storm the beaches of Normandy so that the definition of democracy could be stretched to include untalented “artistes” sticking chickens up their vaginas.

        • I don’t think the U.S.A. is as bad as “PdnNJ” believes it is. I think she’s got it all wrong.

          • Your Grace, are you advocating female Protodeacons?

            • No. I thought PdnNJ was just a pen name. I assumed after learning that, going by style and content, that you are a woman, using my sexist radar on your posts here. What, then, do the letters “PdnNJ” mean? I’ll spot you my five thumbs-downs for this note.

              • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says:
                August 27, 2012 at 6:24 pm

                using my sexist radar on your posts here.

                All I will say to that is that from my experience as an anti-aircraft radar operator in the US Army for the two years ’53-’54 (before women were allowed in combat units) your sexist radar is in dire need of overhaul, replacement, or total scraping before you use it again.
                Makes me wonder: If what you surmise from my posts is that far off, how accurate are the other comments you write here?
                PS. If your moniker of “BT” was/is not a pen name, what was/is it?

      • M. Stankovich says

        Just Guessing,

        This is the second time I have read such a statement today. The Russians are members of the International Court of Justice in the Haig; they even have a sitting judge, Leonid Skotnikov, a noteworthy legal scholar and author who studied at Harvard University. What do imagine the Russian system of jurisprudence might be? Monkey justice, perhaps? When you are a member country of the international system of justice, it does not strike me as “flawed” in the least to have reasonable expectations of an international rule of law. Personally, I have not read much by way of international support for the sentence given these women as commensurate with the crime. Likewise, I have read a number of “calls” from the ROC for “mercy” & “clemency,” but apparently to no avail; the Patriarch was “out of town” for the verdict. Now juxtapose this with Pope John Paul II who actually went to the cell of the man who shot him, and later advocated his eventual release. Can we and should we judge accord to this standard?

        The “flaw” here is that the ROC had no business in the process of the rule of law. The Russians have a more than adequate legal system, but allowed themselves to be compromised. They appear intimidated and incompetent, and the ROC appears oppressive.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Dr Stankovich, it is the state which prosecuted these no-talent trollops. The church forgave them.

        • Ordo Antiquus says

          “Now juxtapose this with Pope John Paul II who actually went to the cell of the man who shot him, and later advocated his eventual release.”

          Wrong. Pope John Paul II went to the cell of the Mehmet Ali Agca, TWO YEARS after the assassination attempt, and the Vatican always made it clear that it deferred to Italian Justice regarding the punishment of Ali Agca, who was released from Italian prison after only more than 24 years.


          • M. Stankovich says

            Hmm. Wrong, you say. The Pope did visit Agca in his prison cell, apparently on this we agree. Unless I am terribly forgetful, I don’t recall specifying a parameter of time, but feeling docile as a kitten today, I’ll accept your statement. So I suppose it’s come down to whether his majesty actually “advocated” Agca’s release. Your source does not actually clarify the Pope’s involvement (it simply says “deferred”), but the UK’s Guardian actually says “pardoned at the Pope’s behest.” I like the word “behest,” as it is affirmative, declarative, and downright injunctive. And why shouldn’t it have been? He was the Pope, for heaven’s sake. On the other hand, it is only men of greater moral authority (e.g. Reagan and the two Bush presidents) who refused to halt the execution of the mentally retarded, even at the Pope’s behest

            OK, let’s play Loony Tunes & you’re the Coyote. I’ve just released a giant safe. Look up! BAM!
            Hmm. Right!

        • While I believe that the Riot should be punished to the fullest extent of Russian law for trespassing, your own answer to your seemingly rhetroical question, “What do [sic] imagine the Russian system of jurisprudence might be? Monkey justice,” is closer to the truth than not. The vast Russian judicial system has hardly liberated itself from habits instilled during 70 years of USSR political officers/hacks dictating judical results.

          The screed that is, and emanates from, the International Court of Justice in the Hague is proof of “monkey justice” rather than proof of jurisprudential excellence or superior evolution. To this extent, the US’ participation in the ICJ demonstrates the extent to which the American left has succeeded in its goal to institutionalize an unelected judiciary as a mechanism to effectuate “progressive” political and social change.

  27. Lil Ole Housewife says

    Could someone update on Metropolitan Jonah and how we can support him?

    Is anyone mustering support for him through our priests and laity? Are there any lawyers in the OCA who may wish to support him in suggesting to the Synod of bishops which of their actions to date are actionable, even if he wishes not to sue them?

    • Folks,

      Please do yourselves a big favor and forget any idea that suing the Synod in connection with Metropolitan Jonah’s resignation/retirement/removal/whatever is a reasonable path or anything remotely resembling a good idea. Its not even a useful lever.

      First, the Canons prohibit taking ecclesial disputes to the civil courts — despite any number of clerics who’ve stooped to do so in the past.

      Second, US civil courts will not adjudicate an issue such as this. Heeps of US Supreme Court cases — some of which unfortunately involve one ill-informed and ill-advised Orthodox jurisdiction or another — preclude the civil courts from acting in internal church matters.

      Third, there’s not enough money that could be collected to underwrite such a folly and even less in the OCA’s current coffers to defend it.

      Fourth, its hard to sue someone without a client.

      Prayers, absolutely. Private contributions to Jonah, wonderful. “PR” pressure against Syosset, you bet. Blasting away on Monomakhos at the exposed Lavender Mafia, Stokovites, Kishkovites, and others of compromised backgrounds and dubious repute, cathartic. Withholding money from that Mafia, a great idea.

      Suing, not so much.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Alexander, the canons prohibit many things not just lawsuits. Among them:

        1. bishops conspiring in secret against another bishop,
        2. laymen conspiring with priests against a bishop,
        3. writing up an ex post facto document to justify the removal of a bishop, and
        4. using falsehoods in the same document to justify their actions.

        That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

        However, everything else you said is 100% correct.

        As for myself, I would not recommend a lawsuit against Syosset unless there was proven criminal activity taking place and the removal of Jonah was a way to cover it up. That’s a big “if” though.

        Having said that, the drying up of funds to Syosset is probably the only thing that’s going to work and that’s been happening for awhile now anyway. I could be wrong, but I don’t see any reversal in the death-spiral.

      • Alexander, you’re right in principle, we may not be the right people to file a lawsuit, and this may not be the right time anyway. However, I wouldn’t exclude the possibility entirely out of hand.

        For one thing, the Scriptural prohibition against taking things to secular courts is based on an assumption, the assumption that there is a capability within the church to handle the case. Yet here we have an entire Synod apparently complicit in a conspiracy against their Primate. There is literally nobody left in the OCA with the authority to judge this.

        For another thing, while courts are reluctant to get involved in internal church matters, that doesn’t mean they won’t get involved if the law has been violated. The Tabor case does not give religious institutions carte blanche to slander their employees or abuse the faithful.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Helga, you are completely riht. The Biblical injunctions against lawsuits presuppose canonical courts which could mete out punishment and/or rewards (depending on the case). Let’s not forget that Paul was subjected to exile for three years in the Judean desert because of his previous involvement as a persecutor of the Church. And that Peter by his word struck down Ananias and Sapphira because they reneged on their donation.

        • In a criminal proceeding, the state is the plaintiff and acting on behalf of putatively aggrieved party — itself. Thus far, I’m not sure there’s been anything suggesting criminal behaviour vis a vis Metropolitan Jonah. And even if there was, it would be up to the local prosecutor(s) to file and pursue charges. That, frankly, appears highly unlikely, even if one were to assume that the most wild of accusations against the Synod are true.

          Libel and slander are torts. Civil law — the common law or statutory enactments of common law — provides causes of action and outline remedies for the tort victim against the tortfeasor. Metropolitan Jonah may very well have a cause of action for libel and slander. But two things immediately come to mind.

          First, there’s the other applicable law of “turning the other cheek.”

          Second, though I am woefully ignorant of the OCA’s “penal code” or other applicable OCA internal rules, I assume that there is in internal process available to an OCA bishop to seek remedies for grievences against other bishops. And if he is initially (and likely) unsuccessful, some form of an “appellate” process exists, perhaps reaching as far as the Ecumenical Throne. (On the exact mechanical or procedural details here, I am equally ignorant.) But it would be poetic, ironic, or even downright hilarious, if the Bishop of Istanbul had occassion to act and comment on the OCA Synod’s words and deeds vis a vis Jonah.

          In the end, however, I remain convinced that resorting to the civil courts to address this sad state of affairs is not a good idea and not the proper thing to do.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Alexander, as I understand it, the concern of those who are looking at legal remedies is not because of anything His Beatitude did but those of his antagonists.

  28. Just FYI for those who may be interested and have not seen it before
    (Brought to my attention by a Hieromonk friend):

    “The 140-page “Survey of Religious Hostility in America,” prepared by the Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council, highlighted more than 600 examples illustrating what it characterized as religious animosity shown by judges, government bureaucrats, schools and secular groups.

    Reported on Foxnews.com at:
    For those who refuse to visit Foxnews.com, the link given to a pdf of the full report is:
    You, of course, like myself, are free to pass your own judgement on it.

    • Monk James says

      I can only wonder about these people who’d have freedom FROM religion rather than freedom OF religion.

      Maybe they haven’t thought about how state-directed freedon FROM religion worked out in the Soviet Union and communist China?

      More people were injured and killed by those godless regimes than suffered in (at least theoretically) religious cultures forever.

      Atheistic people now living in putatively ‘religious’ cultures don’t know how well off they are.

      • I’ve been reading “Ages of the Spiritual Life” (Paul Evdokimov, SVSP, ISBN: 0-88141-175-2). He addresses this phenomenon you bring up Monk James. This same phenomenon which George Michalopulos and others have rightly classified as “antheism.”

        It’s worth a read. In a society which is being over whelmed with increasing cynism, anger and anxiety those individuals who are truly simple and full of joy and rely on God for everything are considered abnormal and are the objects of scorn.

        • George P. says:
          August 27, 2012 at 5:44 am

          “Ages of the Spiritual Life” (Paul Evdokimov, SVSP, ISBN: 0-88141-175-2).

          Originally published in 1966 by Paulist Press with the title “The Struggle With God,” (translated from the French by Sister Gertrude, S.P.), one of the greatest books on Orthodox spirituality addressed to “modern man” that I have ever read. I purchased it sometime in the ’70s and it has remained near me, heavily underlined and highlighted, ever since. His concept (proposal?) of “interiorized monasticism” as the spirituality for Orthodox laity has been and remains the great influence on my personal “philosophy of life.” I have not read SVSPs edition of it so I don’t know if there are any significant differences between the two translations. Anyway, in my personal opinion (for whatever it may be worth), very highly recommended study.

      • Fr Hans Jacobse says

        Monk James, not just “theoretically” but in actuality. Even nominal Christianity has cultural utility. The purpose of the preaching of course is not cultural utility but the salvation of souls (even though we pray for “peaceful times” in every liturgy). Nonetheless, order in the larger culture carries real value and if that order is based even generally on Christian notions of justice then the larger culture is better off than employing atheist or Islamic ideals.

        The atheist does not understand this because his atheism imposes necessary blinders to the religious foundations of culture. Christians who are “progressive” take on these blinders as well but only because they have no courage. They can’t stomach the disapproval that embracing the Gospel sometimes imposes and some end up being apologists for atheistic tyranny (the NCC as the amen corner for Castro for example). Having no courage, they quietly seek the approval of those who secretly hold them in disdain and want them gone. “Useful idiots” is what Lenin called them.

        Some will argue that this analysis has no relevance for the Orthodox. But then why are Orthodox are members of the NCC? Or why have homosexual activists emerged that want to see moral sanctioning for homosexual behavior? These developments mirror the internal dynamics of mainstream Protestantism before its collapse and to think the Orthodox churches are not affected by these secularizing trends is naive.

        This analysis holds true only as long as the culture still has a memory of its Christian past. As that memory grows dim however, then nominalism loses its cultural power. That’s where we are today I think. That’s why you have such a division of the wheat from the chaff in so many Christian communions. I’d argue that even the fight in the OCA generally follows these contours.

  29. Why are the comments posted here by “liberals,” political and otherwise, so arrogant, condescending, verbose, and tedious to read through, and an attempt to beat the rest of us over our heads with their supposed encyclopedic knowledge and pathetic intellectualized humor?
    Of course, a few “conservatives” might be accused of some of the same things.
    But the “liberals” appear to rejoice in all of it!
    (I personally won’t give any of them the “last word” on any subject.)

    • Fr Hans Jacobse says

      Conservatives think progressives are wrong, progressives think conservatives are evil. That’s why you see so much moralizing on the progressive side.

    • M. Stankovich says

      Anywhere else, it would seem perfectly appropriate to inquire as to what you mean by “liberals,” and what, exactly, they appear to be “rejoicing in.” But your comment is smarm, plain and simple, intended not to provoke discussion, but to insult and, apparently, take the “haughty” down a notch or two.

      Somehow I’m thinking that the motivation for “liberals” posting “pathetic intellectualized humor” can’t be that far removed from the urge to post a catalog from the charlatans of Liberty University & the Family Research Council, can it?

      Did you say, nom de plume? Oh, I thought you said, “Has the cat got your tongue?” As Richard Brautigan said in In Watermelon Sugar, “We laughed. It was a good one.”

  30. This recent letter from a young Orthodox Christian inside Russia seems pertinent also to the discussion. I have no idea what to think of this letter, but if true, I believe it obviously needs to be factored into the mix here. Of course, I’m deeply repulsed by the activities of this band. But, I’m not prepared to say that they have nothing legitimately to protest, because I simply don’t know:


    • Righteous Riot says

      Thank-you for posting this link, Karen…I especially loved this part:

      “The sin of someone who blasphemes, yet does not belong to the Church, is grave, there can be no doubt. But if we, as Christians, by our actions cause the rise of blasphemy against the Church, is not our sin far greater? ”

      What say you, Putin-istas? Is this letter another one of those “unsubstantiated western news reports,” we’re supposed to ignore, or is it simply the cunning handiwork of a demonic undercover anti-religionist?

      • George Michalopulos says

        Very good point, RR. What sin however did Putin commit that caused such a scandal?

        • George, If I am understanding this letter correctly, the implication is that Putin continues to enforce policies and manipulate things (including his own election) in such a way as to limit true political freedom for the Russian people, and that the current Patriarch of Moscow supports him in this. Therefore, both men are implicated in this matter of sin against the people they are supposed to serve. According to the young writer, this is what spurred the protest. He or she also suggests that far from responding with mercy, the Church responded with severity and that this has not been properly represented in the Western media on which Kh. Frederica, among others, was apparently relying.

          I am reminded of the statistic I looked up recently and reported on this blog that Russia and the Eastern block countries have the highest suicide rates of anywhere in the world. How have political oppression and lack of opportunity and real freedom contributed to such hopelessness? If there is obvious religious hypocrisy in high places within the Church there, that certainly cannot help matters either.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Karen, two points:

            1. As to Putin’s shenanigans, that’s politics pure and simple.

            2. As to Kirill’s supposed blessing of same, that’s been disproven time and again. The ROC has done a skillful job of finding a third way between obeisance to government and opposition to it.

            • If that’s just politics as usual, there’s nothing “pure” nor “simple” about it, is there, George?

              As to whether Met. Kirill has blessed this, I have no idea, but what you claim is not this young Muscovite’s perception. He’s there living under it. We’re not. Perhaps the perception is wrong, but what is creating that impression?

              • George Michalopulos says

                Karen, partially this perception is being driven by the Neocons and Neoliberals who are agitating for war with Russia. I guess they miss the old Soviet Union and need a bogeyman to scare up money from little old grannies who remember stories about the Cossacks in the Pale of Settlement.

                • Righteous Riot says

                  George, I love you, but do you have any idea how crazy that sounds? I’m neither a neo-con nor a neo-liberal, (or a granny!) and as I’ve stated repeatedly in this thread, I, (like PR) have serious misgivings about Mr. Putin’s autocratic rule, as well as this bizarre, though not historically unprecedented, union of church and state. To suggest those who share my opinion either want war with Russia, or are dupes of those who do, is beneath you. Russia is the country of my kin. My blood. In fact, I love it’s people so much, I think they deserve better than having to live in fear of being scooped up in the dark of night, brutalized, imprisoned or killed, by virtue of them being opposed to the actions of their government…One headed by a president who holds questionable (to be kind) elections, squashes any attempt to investigate their dubious integrity, and then uses my beloved Church as an invisibility cloak, worthy of Harry Potter.

                  In response to one of my earlier posts, you said, “In the matter of Pussy Riot or Putin, I choose Putin. “…Does it not give you a moments pause to share your foxhole with such a man, George?

                  I ask of you, my friend…Who, in the grand scheme of things, poses the greater threat to the integrity of the Orthodox Church; a gaggle of professional provocateurs, acting out on the altar of a (state owned) cathedral, or an alliance between the ROC and a man with the blood stained resume of Mr. Putin and his cronies?

                  State sponsored Orthodoxy seems a wonderful blessing when the monasteries and cathedrals are being built or restored. Not so much when a vast swath of the populace begins associating the Church with the state sponsored boot on their neck.

                  Then again, we’ve seen this movie before. One need only exchange the name Putin for Romanov.

                  It didn’t end well.

                  • Thank you, RR. I have to give more weight to the opinions of those actually living under this authority (and those who know them personally), than George’s here.

                    • Lil Ole Housewife says
                    • Ordo Antiquus says

                      Correction, Karen. The opinion of just ONE MAN, very young too (26), who doesn’t have the courage to even have a pseudonym, whose letters as published on Rod Dreher’s column and on ‘Salt of the Earth” contains evidence that its author belongs to the tiny but noisy renovationist wing in the Moscow Patriarchate. It is the opinion of ONE MAN that should be seen against the backdrop of the outrage of far more Russians at what P**** Riot did, and against the defense of the Patriarchate to which many other Russians have rallied. The only reason that you and a few others want to see this set of letters as the best interpretation of what happened in Russia is because you and a few others choose to do so!

                      I’ll come up with a more complete criticism of the letters in the next 24 hours. It so happens that I have too many things to do right now.

                    • Ordo Antiquus, the context of my comment was one man, i.e., George, vs. one man, the young Russian letter writer, and in that context I was preferring the Russian opinion. That does not mean that other Russian opinions would not also be important. I was just introducing the perspective because I came across it–not because I prefer that interpretation per se. I personally don’t have enough information to draw any conclusions one way or another. My point was just that I would want to listen to those actually living in Russia over U.S. observers. I’ll be interested in your analysis–especially if you can refer us to Russian sources. How free would you say the Russian press is these days?

        • Righteous Riot says

          With respect, George. I’d say this qualifies

          According to one Putin’s former aides, Andrei Illarionov:

          “Brutal tactics by the police force and storm-trooper organizations
          have been used to suppress dissent and political opposition. Millions of
          copies of literature from opposition parties have been confiscated and
          destroyed. There was a massive campaign to harass, beat, and terrorize
          members of the political opposition. As a result, hundreds of opposition
          activists have been detained, dozens have been arrested, including former
          world chess champion Garry Kasparov. After President Putin’s public calls
          against ‘enemies,’ there have appeared many signs of preparations to
          repress political opposition, including a campaign of ‘purges’ ”

          I hate that PR staged their protest in the manner they did, but THIS is what their stupid stunt was about.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Like I said, the guy’s no saint. But also like I said, neither was Lincoln.

            • Righteous Riot says

              Lincoln? …Really?

              So if I’m understanding you correctly…because no politician is a saint, (they’re all the same!) we ought not bother ourselves with the messy details of their rule.

              In sum, morality is irrelevant.

              I never took you for a nihilist, George.

            • While it’s highly unlikely I would ever be accused of being remotely chauvinistic, I do consider myself a patriotic American, even though my country has many faults. But George, to equate Lincoln to Putin–that’s offensive, even to me.

              • Logan, I believe it was Will Durant who said “great men are rarely good men.” I think that Lincoln was a great man. He was also sanguinary. Had he lived, I believe he would have been more merciful to the South. Still, the atrocities, the suspension of civil liberties, the closing of over 1,000 newspapers, the arbitrary arrests of Copperheads, the devastation wrought by Sherman in his March to the Sea, all this is not lost on those who look at history dispassionately.

  31. Definitely add “overbearing” to my post on August 25, 2012 @ 8:30 pm

  32. There’s a great deal of interesting commentary here, covering a wide variety of subject matter. For those who are interested in a legal examination of the facts of the Pussy Riot case, I strongly recommend this link by lawyer and Russia “watcher” Alexander Mercouris (regardless of ones opinion concerning the verdict and sentence); http://mercouris.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/pussy-riot-2/.

    It should also be noted (again and again) that the debate inside of Russia was not whether these young women should be punished (93% of Russians supported punishment in this case), but rather concerned with how severe the punishment should be; http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2012/07/31/what-do-russians-think-about-pussy-riot-the-answer-might-surprise-you/.

  33. Concerning President Vladimir Putin I think it’s critically important to understand where Russia was when he was first elected in 2000. At that point in history Russia was facing four critical challenges. First, an economic depression even worse than the one that afflicted the US in the 1930’s. Second, a collapsing demographic profile (with both falling life expectancy and birthrates). Third, an Islamic insurgency spilling out of Chechnya and fourth, regional separatist movements growing in strength and threatening to tear the Russian State into pieces. After eight years of Putin’s leadership Russia’s middle class had grown from 8 million to more than 55 million. Her economy today is one of the best performing in all of Europe and unemployment stands at roughly 5%. The Islamic insurgency has been largely crushed (today it is mostly a police matter), regional separatist movements humbled, and Russia’s population is experiencing natural growth for the first time in decades. None of this means that Putin is a saint (he is emphatically not), but it’s critical to understand when one observes his popularity in Russia (roughly 65% according to the latest numbers from the anti-Putin Levada Polling and Research Firm- better than the numbers for any other major leader on Earth and these are historically low for Putin).

  34. As for the Russian Orthodox Church and Her support of President Putin (which is overblown, but real), that flows from two streams. First, under President Putin Russia has enacted restrictions on abortion and alcohol, restored the lands and art stolen by the Communists, re-introduced religious education into the nations schools, and defended the traditional Christian understanding of the family. While any or all of these initiatives could be expected to outrage a liberal, the fact that they are viewed with delight by the Danilov (among many others) should surprise no one. Second, Western liberals account for less than 5% of Russia’s population (according to polling) and Putin’s real opposition comes from Russian ultra-Nationalists (read: Fascists- the real “blood and soil” variety) and Communists. The ROC fears both (for different reasons) and is determined to prevent either from obtaining real power.

    In point of fact, the recent elections in Russia (which Putin won- even his critics admit he garnered more than 50% of the vote) then PM Putin approached the ROC seeking their support. He reminded them of the initiatives I mentioned and promised a flood of State money for the building of Orthodox churches, monasteries, schools etc. The ROC scorned the money publicly, noting that they had no need of it. Instead Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev extracted a public promise from PM Putin that if elected he would work to defend Orthodox Christian minorities threatened by Islamic extremism. This extraordinary event was even noted by the New York Times; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/world/europe/russian-church-opposes-syrian-intervention.html?pagewanted=all. In reality, the Russian Church is more independent of the State (and more willing to challenge it) than it has been since before Peter the so-called “great”.

  35. Finally, i want to note that I think George’s comparison to Lincoln is very appropriate. President Putin is NOT a dictator. In fact, his control over the various factions (known as “clans”) within the Kremlin itself is tenuous at best and relies entirely upon the perception among all involved (from Medvedev’s St. Petersburg faction to Sechin’s “Siloviki” faction to a vast array of others) that Putin is a friend of all and an honest broker among them. He IS a “weak authoritarian”, much like Lincoln. Faced with regional separatism and an Islamic insurgency he did eliminate elections for regional governors, instituted a brutal occupation of Chechnya (which while superior to what it replaced is not a long term solution in any reasonable estimation), etc.

    However, please note that tens of thousands of people demonstrated against Putin recently with little to no police interference (certainly less than many OWS or Tea party groups here in the States faced) and media in Russia constantly attacks (and I mean daily) the person and policies of the Russian President. Furthermore, Russia recently passed legislation restoring regional votes for governors and laws making it easier for new political parties to register. Russia has serious issues, but they are actually rarely mentioned in Western media sources (being far less “sexy” than accusations of dictatorship, etc.).

    • Peter T says:
      Finally, i want to note that I think George’s comparison to Lincoln is very appropriate.

      If you read George enough, you would know he’s no fan of Lincoln, but rather thinks him to have been a warmongering, bloodthirsty tyrant. 🙂

      • George Michalopulos says

        Lincoln did what he he felt he had to do. History has judged him positively. My feeling is that the South should have been allowed to secede, just like the Thirteen Colonies did from Great Britain.

    • Peter T., thanks for adding context to this discussion.

  36. I nearly forgot. In regards to the anonymous letter writer featured on Rod’s blog, I think we should take note of the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church is one of the most trusted institutions in modern Russia; http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=9459.

  37. cynthia curran says

    Well, George you can also say the same thing about Emperor Justinian besides Lincoln.. I think the codification of the Roman Law was a great thing and the Hagia Sophia and some of the other buildings. But even if Procopius exaggerates and some of the things in Secret History are not true, there other things that are in the Secret History that are true.. A lot of forts and some churches mention in the Buildings an official work by Procopius about Justinian’s great buildings deeds have been found to be true in archaeology. So, some things must also be true in the Secret History. Well there is a line by George Elliot that Great Men belong in Plutarch but Plutarch wrote up to only the 2nd century. that involved men in his lives, the last life I think was the Roman Emperor Otho.

  38. cynthia curran says

    George removed my comment.

  39. phil r. upp says

    Russian Orthodox deacon: Pussy Riot verdict proves Church/Kremlin link
    Norman Hermant reported this story on Monday, September 3, 2012 08:24:00

    TIM PALMER: In Russia the role of the Orthodox Church is under renewed scrutiny following the trial that divided the country and ended with the jailing of members of the punk band Pussy Riot.

    Since three members of the band were sentenced to prison for a performance at an Orthodox cathedral, the debate over the Church’s political ties to the Kremlin and numerous other scandals has spilled into the open.

    One ordained deacon has taken the rare step of asking to be defrocked because of the Church’s actions.

    He’s spoken with the ABC’s Moscow correspondent Norman Hermant.

    (Sound of Sergey Baranov speaking)

    NORMAN HERMANT: In a bare study in an apartment in the city of Tambov about six hours drive from Moscow, Sergey Baranov talks about the fallout from the stand he took over the Pussy Riot verdict.

    For more than 15 years he was deacon in the Russian Orthodox Church, ordained to help lead services and assist congregations.

    But after the two-year sentences handed down to the women of Pussy Riot the 37 year old very publicly left the Church, asking to be defrocked in an open letter on his Facebook page.

    Since then he’s been subject to a smear campaign and harassment.

    He says the Pussy Riot sentence left him no choice.

    (Sound of Sergey Baranov speaking)

    “It was the very last straw when I realised that concepts such as mercy and forgiveness had been shredded to pieces,” he says.

    There’s long been debate about the deepening ties between the Church and Vladimir Putin. After Pussy Riot, says blogger and journalist Anton Nosik, criticism of the Church has burst into the open.

    ANTON NOSIK: The discussion of the virtues and the sins of the Church has for once become very relevant and very hot. This is something new and this has much to do with the Pussy Riot sentence.

    NORMAN HERMANT: Sergey Baranov pulls no punches. The Church, he says, is filled with hypocrites and liars and the Pussy Riot verdict proves the Church leadership and the Kremlin are now one and the same.

    (Sound of Sergey Baranov speaking)

    “Now,” he says, “the Church-state merger is such that it causes not only mistrust amongst the people but the people think very negatively about that.”

    He’s bracing for more consequences from his decision. The Church has threatened a clerical trial. Regional officials have warned him to be quiet. A rumour was spread online that he doesn’t exist.

    He says he’s still a Christian but he can no longer serve a Church that he says supports punishing political expression with prison.

    This is Norman Hermant in Tambov, Russia, reporting for AM.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Phil, I’m gratified that this panty-waist, spineless deacon has asked to be defrocked. We need no such ordinands in our Church. I imagine that if hooligans burst into his home and started mocking his parents he’d just sit there and take it.

      • phil r. upp says

        Oleg Smirnov

        > Russian Orthodox deacon: Pussy Riot verdict proves
        > Church/Kremlin link
        > Norman Hermant reported this story on Monday, September
        > 3, 2012 08:24:00
        > TIM PALMER: In Russia the role of the Orthodox Church is
        > under renewed scrutiny following the trial that divided
        > the country and ended with the jailing of members of the
        > punk band Pussy Riot.

        The trial did not ‘divide the country’.

        Despite persistent mantra about division is repeating.

        > Since three members of the band were sentenced to prison
        > for a performance at an Orthodox cathedral, the debate
        > over the Church’s political ties to the Kremlin and
        > numerous other scandals has spilled into the open.
        > One ordained deacon has taken the rare step of asking to
        > be defrocked because of the Church’s actions.

        As local church bosses said, the deacon was defrocked
        in 1999 for his dissolute behavior and drunkennessin.
        In 2003 he was restored in clergy as a ‘supernumerary’
        cleric. In 2005 the issue of his ‘riotous manners’ was
        raised again, and then he lived in a ‘recluse’ manner
        together with his mother, until now.

        The deacon’s ‘asking to be defrocked’ was published as
        a message in his Facebook page. It does not contain any
        original individual words but is a copy-paste compilation
        of exact phrases gleaned as-is from several publicist
        articles of pussies’ supporters in media. After his
        ‘asking’ many Russian journalists were interviewing him,
        and his speech doesn’t give impression of harmony of
        thoughts, he rather looks like a man of unstable temper
        who has become a victim of media hysteria.

        > There’s long been debate about the deepening ties between
        > the Church and Vladimir Putin. After Pussy Riot, says
        > blogger and journalist Anton Nosik, criticism of the
        > Church has burst into the open.
        > ANTON NOSIK: The discussion of the virtues and the sins
        > of the Church has for once become very relevant and very
        > hot. This is something new and this has much to do with
        > the Pussy Riot sentence.

        Nossik was known in Russian blogospace for his straight
        claim that Judaism in the only true religion but all the
        rest is nonsense and superstition (his position seemingly
        differs from Russia’s religious Jewish community whose
        representative publicly condemned pussies’ action).

  40. The following link gives the most thorough “rest of the story” I have seen on this: http://mercouris.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/pussy-riot-2/

    The fact is that if these young women had behaved in the U.S. as they have behaved in Russia, they’d have been in prison long ago. Far from being allowed to go home to their children, as registered sex offenders, they wouldn’t be allowed to be alone with those children. Two years may seem stiff for this one event, but it is perfectly in accord with Russian law written long before the event (see above article for the details of this as well as much more). Neither the Church authorities nor Putin pushed for a long sentence. However, without some serious punishment, this would have soon happened again and they might have brought dead chickens the next time as toys in a public orgy (again, see the above article, but you probably don’t want to watch the video links).