Whither Ukraine? Part II

It should be clear by now that things in the Ukraine (note the definite article) are going to hell in a hand basket. There are more than a few reasons for this –both spiritual as well as secular.

Now, I realize that most Ukrainians who read this blog will take umbrage at the use of the phrase “the Ukraine” as opposed to simply “Ukraine”. The former denotes a region, a generalized topos so to speak, not a political entity. Kind of like saying “the Badlands” or “Dixie” or “the Balkans”. (Think if you will “the Pale of Settlement”.) It has a way of denoting something less than a civilization, certainly not a polity. I myself have been taken to task for using the definite article and once chastened, dropped it.

I can do so no longer. Ukraine, as a political entity, is not viable. Indeed, it’s not tenable presently. It is well on becoming once again nothing more than “the Borderlands”, the bloody confliction zone between Russia and the West.

Now please understand, I have a soft spot in my heart for secessionists as a generalized rule. I’d be happy to help California on its way to becoming Norte Baja and will do whatever I can to make it so. As such, I have no essential problem with the Ukraine becoming the Republic of Ukraine. I wouldn’t have problem that is other than the fact that it doesn’t seem likely. Therefore why should we waste time and treasure to make something impossible happen?

I can’t stress this enough: it’s not going to happen. And it’s not just because Putin won’t allow it. It’s much deeper than that. In fact it’s cultural and religious. You see, the Ukraine has been cursed by that strange chimera known as the Unia. That creature cobbled together by the Roman Church in order to confound the designs of Holy Orthodoxy.

(An aside if you will: it was because of Sophia (nee Zoe) Paleologina that Moscow became the Third Rome and the plans of the Papacy were disrupted. I’m convinced of this. More on that some other time.)

Not that Moscow (or the Phanar) don’t have a hand in this confusion. Of course they do. To make a long story short, the Ukraine has essentially five irreconcilable religious identities. Going from West to East they are: (1) Latin-rite Catholic, (2) Eastern-rite Catholic (i.e. Uniate), (3) Kievan patriarchate/UOC (i.e. schismatic Orthodox), (4) Byzantine Orthodox/UOC-EP (i.e. under Constantinople) and (5) Orthodox/UOC-MP (i.e. under the Moscow patriarchate). As I understand it, the largest and least pro-Kiev is the UOC-MP.

Now, I’m not going to tell you who is right and who is wrong. I’m sure there is more than enough blame to spread around. But that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? Whenever there is this much bad blood in a region, it’s not possible to cobble together a polity. Ain’t gonna happen. The toxic nature of the religious divide is simply unbridgeable.

For a glimpse into the intrinsic conflict, please take the time to read this article by Jelena Rakocevic. https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2018/02/02/unburied-baby-case-unqualified-ukrainian-prosecutors-protests-church/. It’s not a pretty picture; it’s an impossible situation.

Is there a peaceful outcome? As a disinterested third party, it seems to me that only a secession can mitigate any further bloodshed. That is for the eastern Ukraine to be reabsorbed into Russia and for the western-most parts of the Ukraine (centered around Lviv) to be taken back by Poland. I suppose a rump state with Kiev as its capital would be only fair but hardly viable. Of course some would say that at that point, what would be the purpose of an independent Ukraine? Why not just be reabsorbed into Holy Rus’?

These are fair questions and I only offer them in response to what I see happening on the ground there. Short of divine intervention, it’s impossible for me to envision a peaceful outcome. And make no mistake: the Russians under Putin are not the only aggressors in this matter. The EU/West has much blood on their hands as well.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. I would appreciate any contrary opinions from my Ukrainian readers. Or anybody else for that matter.

About GShep

Comments

  1. Tim R. Mortiss says

    Norman Davies wrote a really good 2-volume work on the history of Poland, titled “God’s Playground”. It was his first major publication; he’s written many historical books since.

    The book was translated into Polish and has become sort of the normative historical work there. Davies has gotten many awards and recognitions from the Poles.

    My purpose in saying this is not to call forth some diatribe either about Davies or Poland, which could be expected from at least somebody who follows Monomakhos (if experience is any teacher).

    No, it’s this: the book is really good, really detailed. It of necessity has a very great deal to say about Russia, “the Ukraine”, the religious issues, etc. I really liked it. But try as I might, re-read things as I might, I found it incomprehensible, or rather, so complicated that I could not come close to retaining much of it. For one instance, who or what is a Ukrainian? No simple answers there!

    I’m glad I’m an Englishman by “ethnicity”. Most things happened on a small island. I can get my mind around a lot of it…..”in spite of all temptations to belong to other nations, I remain an Englishman”!

    • George Michalopulos says

      I’m unfamiliar with Davies and his work. As long as it’s well-researched and unbiased, I can’t imagine me or anybody else on this blog having a problem with it.

      As I’ve said before, “ethnogenesis is a messy business”.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        Just a pure wisecrack, George. Once one treads into Eastern Europe, the long knives seem to come out!

        Thus Poland (which came amazingly close to being Protestant) becomes the hero of Roman Catholicism, and the bitter bane of Orthodoxy; etc. and etc.

  2. Johann Sebastian says

    There are those of us whose ancestors hailed from those parts around L’vov that you suggest be reabsorbed by Poland. Our people suffered bloody persecution under the Poles and Austro-Hungarians for our defense of Orthodoxy. For 400 years, we could either convert to the Latin Rite, practice crypto-Orthodoxy in the form of Uniatism, or become martyrs. Not all of us are so strong as to seek the mantle of martyrdom: lex orandi, lex credendi. The ones who converted to the Latin Rite were promoted to the highest ranks of Polish nobility. They got their reward.

    For us, we will accept nothing less than to be part of a united, Orthodox Rus that stretches from the Carpathians to Kazan.

    • George Michalopulos says

      JS, I meant no disrespect to the western-most Ukrainians. What you envision is what I would see as equitable as well.

      My question (and it’s an honest one) is what do the majority of the Orthodox Ukrainians –whether in the west or wherever==accept as equitable? I’d like to think that they share your view as well but I honestly don’t know.

      I really want to know.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      Canada has a lot of Ukrainians. Back in the early- or mid-1980s, in my early days of interest in Orthodoxy, I checked out Ukrainian churches during a trip to Vancouver, B.C.

      There were Orthodox and Uniate churches. I had the impression that folks made a free choice about which to attend.

      • Johann Sebastian says

        There is an opinion amongst many not-very-well-catechized Ruthenians that if it has a three-bar cross and an onion dome on top, it’s an Orthodox church.

        • George Michalopulos says

          JS, I’ve heard that. I hope to write something someday about the Unia as there are several thoughts effervescing in the mind about that phenomenon. And of course, I need as much input as possible.

  3. Jim Fenelatos says

    For a thousand years the Greeks have been punished for apostasy. They should grow up and go to regular Catholic church. Come to pope now, listen to Bart. Then Bart can be the eastern rite patriarch of Kiev and Thessalonia the Ukranians have long begged for, just as their is a patriarch of Venice

    • Michael Bauman says

      Jim, loud boisterous laugh that continues and continuous. Funniest thing I have ever read on this site.

  4. Obviously, I have to bite:

    In Russian, the language that practically all Ukrainians speak, though many in the West and Central regions also speak Ukrainian, one says that one is going “onto the Ukraine” or “down from the Ukraine”, at least that is the historical usage. Newspeak prevails in the Russian departments in American universities at present.

    The reason for this usage was/is, that “the Ukraine” really means “the Frontier”; i.e., the frontier with Poland. “U” = outer lying + “krai” = territory.

    And George is completely correct. The modern Ukraine is the product of Uniatism, heretical meddling. Russia was founded at Kiev and consciously embraced Greek Orthodox Christianity very early on.

    Traditionally, the title of the MP is “Патриарх Московский и всея Руси”; literally, “Patriarch of Moscow and of All Rus’ [or sometimes, “All the Russias”]. The three Russias being what is now the Russian Federation, the Ukraine or Little Russia and Belarus or White Russia (the region left relatively undisturbed by the Mongols).

    Thus, traditionally, you had “Great Russians”, “Little Russians” and “White Russians”. All imperialistic designations.

    The thing to keep in mind and the reason why the Ukraine will never be allowed to completely move into the Western orbit, is that Russia is a nuclear power, with a tactical nuclear capability (smaller nukes with lower yields that can be used in battle without unnecessary escalation). The Russians can pour whatever forces they deem necessary into Eastern Ukraine, deny direct involvement because the troops used are irregular volunteers, and cross back over the eastern border anytime that it is tactically necessary.

    It goes without saying that the border of the Russian Federation is inviolable. Therefore, you have this mist or fog that can take and hold territory, melt if necessary and recede into impenetrable safety (secured by tactical nukes).

    There’s no way for the US or NATO to win against that. If there were, they would have done it by now. The US can offer lethal aid to the Kievan government. But if it is used, it will just give the RF license to use a heavier hand in arming its “little green men” and letting them wreak escalated havoc in the East and, who knows?, perhaps further into the Central Region of the country.

    The Russians have nothing to lose as long as Eastern Ukrainians are willing to fight for autonomy. It’s a perfect testing ground for weapons, tactics and strategy.

    Thus, it will remain a frozen conflict for the indefinite future.

    BTW, Viktor Yanukovich was a democratically elected leader. He was never legally impeached. The Ukrainian Rada could never muster the votes. Therefore, the government that now exists in the Ukraine is the product of a Western sponsored coup d’etat. A “popular uprising” funded by the American state department and executed by a neo-Nazi “tip of the spear” that actually did the dirty work of ousting the rightful government. Prior governments in Ukraine had gone back and forth, oscillating between pro-Russian and pro-Western. It’s a schizophrenic country; what can one say?

    https://www.globalresearch.ca/washington-was-behind-ukraine-coup-detat-in-response-to-russias-stance-on-syria-stratfor/5421026

    Most of it is common knowledge outside the echo chamber of the US progressive MSM. I could show you footage of Victoria Nuland bragging about how the State Department poured 5 billion dollars into precipitating the “Maidan Revolution”.

    PS: I assume that all of the above is why Russia felt so free as to meddle in the American election as if America were Latvia or Estonia. I don’t think that they tampered with any actual voting apparatuses, but they did execute a full court press of cyber tactics to destabilize the process and work against the Clinton campaign.

    That is to say, “You come sh*t in our front yard and you can expect us to reciprocate.”

    • George Michalopulos says

      Misha, as usual, your posts are always insightful (if sometimes controversial). However in this comment, I can find no quarrel with you as all. I think your geostrategic sense is right on the money.

      The only hope for the Russophobic elements of the EU/West Establishment is to up the game within the borders of Russia itself, fomenting some kind of internal revolution. The problem here is that it is the EU/West which is in greater danger of imploding. Brexit proceeds apace and though it’s been glacially slow, there are definite cracks on the horizon as far as the EU is concerned.

      Truth be told, I see these same fissures being ennervated here in the States. Trump’s election was a godsend (don’t get me wrong) but it’s going to play out one of two ways: (1) a restoration of a resurgent, prosperous and united America, or (2) internal conflict between different the different demographics and/or states. We’re talking either massive civil unrest and possibly extending up to outright military conflict.

      Putin is playing the long game. He’s willing to bide his time, get stronger and ride out the EU/West’s coming implosion.

      • George,

        I provide additional fodder for you when I can. You’re doing an excellent job, by the way.

        We are realists. You and I both know that all of these people are human and though some of them are holding the devil’s hand, none of them is anything less than flawed and at best are seeking God’s will “as if through a glass, darkly”. Those are the cards all of us have been dealt.

        What amazes me is that so many cannot see “the signs of the times”. Part of it, I think, is that there is considerable angst even among well meaning people regarding Russia because of their theology/ecclesiology. When it was the Soviet Union, Russia was often included as a probable piece in the last chess game on the side of the evil one. It still figures into that calculation the same way in many conservative Protestant circles. That is despite Russia’s current emerging identity as a resurrection of Christendom. It would cause them to challenge their own assumptions about Protestant ecclesiology if they were to try to account for Russia as a good actor in the final drama and I assume it is beyond many of them.

        However Franklin Graham, the son of the late Billy Graham, is one such evangelical leader who sees the value in partnership rather than conflict with Russia. I wrote an article on this and sent it off to a few outlets but it was never published, possibly too politically incorrect. I’m going to email you a copy, but I’m not asking for it to be published. It’s too long and assumes a different readership than Monomakhos. It just goes into background on this issue somewhat.

  5. George, PLEASE post something on the ‘Orthodox’ School of Theology in Toronto. This cesspool needs to be brought to the attention of our bishops.

    They posted Dr. David Ford’s response to ‘Conjugal Love’ with a TRIGGER WARNING:
    https://orthodoxyindialogue.com/2018/02/23/an-open-letter-on-same-sex-love-by-david-ford/

    and then posted a response to Dr. Ford by a known homosexual and apostate, whose name is known around these parts:
    https://orthodoxyindialogue.com/2018/02/28/a-preliminary-response-to-dr-fords-open-letter-on-homosexuality-by-gregory-tucker/

    I urge readers of Monomakhos to encourage hierarchs and clergy to speak against this organisation.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Saunca, what you preach is “toxic maternalism”. Homosexuals have always existed within the Church. What you are asking is for the Church, for society, for civilization itself to reconfigure itself in order to accommodate sexual fetishes. That is insane on its own merits. “Tolerance”, “inclusiveness”, etc. are merely way-stations on the road from one orthodoxy (Christendom) to another (Islam). I don’t mean to be snarky but I can assure you that under Sharia law, homosexuals, lesbians, transsexuals and other totems of the modern Left will not be so “tolerated”.

      Likewise your use of the term “fundamentalist” as an epithet. Like so many other “scare words”, its sole purpose is to shut down debate. It’s neither fair nor meet to criticize those who wish to seek prayerful sanctuary in a “rigorous” church where they can try to work out their salvation as best they can.

      • M. Stankovich says

        Mr. Michaopulos,

        First, let me say that for six years, I have attempted, as best I can, to educate and make distinctions in psychiatric terminology; more so when the content & meaning impact the interpretation of the issue at hand. Another way of saying this is, “words have power.” As best I can recall, I have on several occasions carefully and specifically explained for you and Fr. Hans the difference between a sexual fetish and a sexual disorder, expressly because – as you demonstrate in your excoriative foolishness above – fetish. more often than not, is used to convey a pejorative. Disorder, on the other hand, speaks to any condition – physical or psychiatric – that impairs an individual’s ability to function normally. In this framework, I note that homosexuality has never been considered a “fetish” pursuant to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association (versions 1-5), or the International Classification of Diseases (ICD, now on version 10) of the World Health Organization. And please read this again: NEVER been considered a “fetish.” As to the matter of disorder, homosexuality was removed from the DSM and ICD in the mid-1970’s. There is the “conspiracy” theory that Gay, Inc. pressured the APA to remove it, blah, blah, blah, believe as you wish, but the fact is that the vast majority of homosexuals simply do not meet the basic criterion of “impaired in functioning.” Personally, I laughed out loud at the hypocrisy of your scolding the use of the term “fundamentalist,” when in a single paragraph you antagonize with the pejorative “sexual fetish,” and point to the dire “consequence” of homosexuality pursuant to Sharia law. It was, however, a “fundamentalist” nice touch.

        If I understand Saunca correctly, she is most certainly not calling for societal nor church “accommodation” or “reconfigurement” for homosexuals. Rather the call is for compassion; outreach of the hand of our Lord and Savior, the Physician and Healer, who says, “Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28); and an understanding the we – all of us without distinction – are called to same narrow path of purity, self-control & single-mindedness (σωφροσύνη/Целомудрие), and obedience. Instead, what they find are the “totems” of prejudice, hatred, and intolerance. I sometimes think to myself, “If I were gay, why in heaven’s name would I come to the Orthodox Church, knowing what I know? Salvation? Right. Apparently, I am not entitled to to seek prayerful sanctuary in a “rigorous” church where I can try to work out my salvation as best I can. I am not “tolerated”” And for this, the rest of us will answer.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Michael S, it is a tough mix isn’t it? How does one apply the ascetic rigor necessary for someone to deal appropriately with one’s sins in a compassionate manner? Especially when the broader culture condemns even the hint of approaching such things as sin at all.

          Thus in all areas of sexuality and marriage, we tend to take the avenue of false dichotomy. Either accommodation or resistance. Both are wrong.

          Homosexuals may not meet the criteria for “impaired functioning” within the criteria of psychology but most sin does not seem to keep us from functioning well or at least appearing too.

          Nevertheless real pain and suffering are always there. That pain and struggle will always bring us down if unaddressed.

          Speaking for myself, as I have accepted the grace of God by continually offering up a besetting sin of mine to Him, my functioning has improved dramatically. I cannot believe it would be otherwise for other people. It was a struggle that went on for 65 years without much seeming change and I will always have to deal with it. I left great damage in my wake and acknowledging that is part of my healing–it seems to heal the damage as well to some degree. My sin is not same sex attraction or homosexual activity but it is not without its sexual elements nonetheless. It was an effort to bring those elements in particular to confession the first time (and multiple times since). What happened when I did was not what I expected.

          Sin, all sin, is a spiritual disorder and each sin, even the little ones, decrease our functioning in life and estrange us from God. That is the point is it not?

          ….and George were you not a bit over the top perhaps?

          • M. Stankovich says

            I am certainly aware that the “inability to function” is measured within a specific context (one applies for disability, SSI, and so on pursuant to classification of “impaired ability to function”), and I believe that the limited context in which the APA made their decision is fairly obvious.

            For a number of years now, Michael Bauman, I believe I have proposed a “mission” regarding those who are the most abhorrent, rejected, and despicable among us – in other words, those who provoke in us a seemingly “natural” response to avoid, to cross the street, to avert our eyes from. Ironically enough, these are the same among whom the Lord was found when His Disciples were frantic to find Him, and quite obviously of whom He speaks in Matthew 25. What could be easier to offer to the lost, the hopeless, the despairing, the defiant, those that lash out against us for our hypocrisy and refusal to help, or simply those that hate us than the three words spoken by Philip to his skeptical brother Nathanael, “Come and see.” (Jn. 1:46) And then, I suppose, we must fall to our knees and beg our God that, should they come, they will be met with mercy and compassion. And honestly, a strong part of me says, “Brother, let me buy you a meal and a pair of shoes – or, tell me your story, your pain & your struggle – because I’m not confident of what will happen to you there, among God’s chosen…”

        • Yes, compassion is quite important for those struggling with homosexual/SSA urges. There must be some degree of understanding of what many men with SSA are going through as well. There is no conclusive evidence that confirms the “born that way” theory, despite its widespread cultural acceptance (it’s been accepted into widespread cultural belief mostly because of our willingness/desire to believe it and because it fits the narrative that popular culture wants us to believe).

          But folks struggling with SSA don’t suddenly wake up one day and decide to have SSA, like they decide to choose strawberry ice cream over vanilla (sorry for the ice cream imagery during Lent…).

          Behind much (or most) male homosexuality is a healthy drive to gain authentic attachment. Much research (that most people have never heard of, as media outlets won’t report it) suggests that it homosexuality a shame-based symptom that has developed into repetition-compulsion behavior. Yes, there are of course no double-blinded randomized studies with respect to this topic, but all approaches initially begin as theories which were clinically applied long before they were subjected to controlled clinical studies.

          Many men struggling with SSA have come to know for a fact that their own, personal SSA struggles originate in unmet emotional and identification needs with the same sex. Next time you are around a bunch of homosexual men, ask them how many of them have close relationships with their fathers or fondly remember their fathers as good, strong, loving dads (answer: nearly none). This is not simple coincidence. Men struggling with SSA almost uniformly have problems with internalized shame, childhood trauma, and the search for identity. It has been said that the man who struggles with SSA is in reality searching for himself (and for who Christ designed him to be).

          With the ongoing fatherhood crisis in our culture, expect male homosexuality to increase exponentially. As a man summed it up well once, “To my father I was a nothing… to my mother I was a conditional something.” Folks who grow up with salient (strong, benevolent) dads often have a lot of trouble understanding the trauma that parents can inflict on their children (emotional, physical, sexual, spiritual). A huge percentage of men struggling with SSA suffered sexual abuse themselves as children. As a psychiatrist who has researched male homosexuality in-depth once said, “If a dad traumatizes his son enough and in the right ways, he will create a homosexual.”

          Repetitive homosexual acting out is, however, an ill-fated attempt to gain male connectedness in a self-defeating way, but it is a way that numbs their deep internalized pain and prevents them from feeling the grief they need to feel. It gives them the temporary sexual high (very similar to the high that people use drugs to feel…. to numb and forget about deep pains that are often too painful to feel).

          If we can help men feel the grief from their profound male attachment loss (which is often suffered as early as an infant… hence the “I’ve been this way all my life” truism) and if we begin to heal this pain, then men begin to understand their SSA urges and can move past them.

          But yes, all of the above is why we must have compassion — because we must understand that beneath these men’s SSA urges is a very healthy drive to gain authentic male attachment that must be uncovered, addressed, and healed.

          Sadly, however, it’s been my experience that most “Christian” Americans (including most Orthodox Christians) are not emotionally healthy enough to be able to have this degree of compassion for men struggling with SSA, which feeds the stereotype of the “hateful Christian” with respect to SSA. Many men with SSA are Christians themselves who deeply want to be the men whom God designed them to be, to understand the roots of their SSA, and to find therapists who don’t buy into the “born that way” theory and who are willing to help them.

          • Yep,
            Well spoken, especially your last paragraph, most of us(Orthodox Christians) are not prepared emotionally towards our gay brothers and sisters,(especially men) but also not deserving of the “hateful Christian” label. Putting aside the stereotypes, sexual visuals, and gay lobby/agenda is the hurdle we must overcome, and seek the individual, one on one with compassion.

            I don’t imagine myself hateful towards homosexuals, but at some point the conversation will become uncomfortable, if and when we get to the point of God’s plan/wishes for us. That’s when the so called hateful part comes into play with homosexuals.

            I for one have mercy for my gay brothers and sisters, mostly for selfish reasons. You see in my youth I was very sinful in every way,but especially sexually with many women, yes I repented later in life, and I am told by The Church I am forgiven, but I am also on my second Orthodox marriage, many Orthodox Christians believe second Orthodox marriages are sinful states to be in. The Greek Orthodox Church allows three. So, who knows where I’m heading in the next life. I must have forgiveness, mercy and compassion, to all, but especially my gay brothers and sisters,in my case,if I am to be forgiven of my sins.

            Saying all this, we must still be honest with homosexuals, as we are all icons of Christ, and must strive for perfection, thru freewill, prayerful reflection, and moral lifestyles, we will find our true identity. I say all this knowing full well I am a much worse sinner than most homosexuals.

            As Saint Paul spoke,”Or do you not know that your body the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own. For you were bought at a price;therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”(1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

            Or perhaps more timely in our Lenten journey.

            Those who wish to learn the will of the Lord must first mortify their own will. Then having prayed to God with faith and guileless simplicity, and having asked the fathers or even the brothers with humility of heart and no thought of doubt, they should accept their advice as from the mouth of God, even if their advice be contrary to there own view, and even if those consulted are not very spiritual. For God is not unjust, and will not lead astray souls who with faith and innocence humbly submit to the advice and judgment of their neighbor. Even if those who were asked were brute beasts, yet He who speaks is the Immaterial and Invisible One. Those who allow themselves to guided by this rule without having any doubts are filled with great humility.

            Saint John Climacus, from his timeless, spiritual entreaty, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 26, Section 111

      • Actually feel your frustration George, with this never ending topic. Why, how, and what, ask and pray to God. What more can be said? Homosexual sex is a sin. There will never be any such thing as homosexual marriage in The True Orthodox Christian Church. All our gay brothers and sisters can do is not have sex, if they want to remain in communion with Orthodoxy. But, the doors will never be shut on them. We can honestly love them and support their celibacy, but anything else is a lie and sin. Hospitals do not lie to their patients, you are diagnosed, and given beneficial medicine and treatment, some live some die. The Church hospital can be no different , regardless if only God will decide who is granted eternal life with Him, or not with Him. No clergy member in his right mind should give communion to any one, for any grave sin if they admit to clergy they are gravely sinning everyday, and not want to repent. We are all born with a cross to carry,in our long and short lives, some crosses are heavier than others. Only God knows why. Pray for strength.

    • Constaninos says

      Saunca,
      Apparently, you didn’t read my post to Mr. Stankovich. I have a very close relative who is homosexual.If you read my post, you would know I suggested the Orthodox Church needs to rethink its position on homosexuality. The Orthodox Church does not treat lesbian and gay people with the love and compassion they deserve. If we don’t know what causes same sex attraction, we can’t condemn it. Also, gay marriage is the law of the land, and, unlike abortion, that will never change. Abortion will go the way of the dinosaur, but gay marriage is here to stay; the Orthodox Church will have to deal with it in a more Christlike,compassionate way. Many good people’s lives are being destroyed by self righteous pharisees. Does the gay community need special laws to protect them? Of course! That’s a fact and that’s a wrap.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Constaninos, do you really think that homosexual sin is different in some way than other deep seated besetting sins?

        I do not follow the logic of your statement that “If we don’t know what causes same sex attraction, we can’t condemn it?” I do not at all understand how you can make such a statement. Do we know why someone kills someone else? Do we know the why of any sin?

        It is the modernists approach to everything: “The human mind must comprehend and understand or it does not exist.” and “Nothing can be condemned”

    • Michael Bauman says

      Saunca, certainly I am not making light of the struggle with same sex attraction. It is a profoundly difficult struggle that seems ontological in quality. You are correct that one cannot “pray away” such temptations.

      Sexual longings of any kind are especially difficult and often dark and fraught with guilt and self-condemnation and confusion because of the ontological dimension. Such temptations have to be met with asceticism (which includes prayer) but that asceticism is often life long and never easy.

      While it is unlikely that we will ever know the “why” of such struggles either in general or for the specific people we love or for ourselves; we can rely on God’s mercy and justice knowing that neither of those is like ours.

      The lack of or inability to experience conjugal unity and sexual expression in accord with one’s desires in this world is difficult and lonely, particularly in our age in which the willful conjugal experience has been elevated to an artificially high level. (As Malcolm Muggeridge noted decades ago). Certainly we need to be aware of the depth of that struggle and be compassionate for those in pain and those who give into temptation.

      It is not compassionate, however, to suggest that one can have his cake and eat it too, i.e. , to encourage and support a person in sin while telling them it is OK. That is entirely different than having compassion on some one who is struggling and perhaps failing. It is even more a problem to suggest that the Church change her teachings on the nature of sin and repentance to accommodate current societal norms which are profoundly un-Godly so people who are struggling won’t have to worry. The consequences for sin are real whether we think we are sinning or not.

      Your particular situation is heart breaking and I have no idea what I would do in a similar circumstance. Before I was Christian let alone Orthodox 40 years ago I did watch impotently as two friends of mine struggled in the calm before the AIDS epidemic. They lost to same sex attraction and are now dead. I had no tools to address their confusion, anger and pain at all, let alone my own. I do pray for their souls now. Glenn Reed and Ted Calvert.

      You are right, the theory comes easily. Nevertheless we must not loose sight of the principals of Orthodox spiritual life and the normative path to salvation. It is not easy, but the way of the Cross is the way of salvation. That means denying oneself. It also means continuing to get up when one falls down and it often means relying on the faith of others when we are paralyzed. Shunning people in such a state is an even more grievous sin in my opinion than those who are shunned commit as that too denies them opportunity for salvation.

      Also, having struggled with suicidal ideation myself prior to becoming Orthodox, I must say that despite appearances to the contrary, it is not really grounded in perceived difficulties. It is always and profoundly a suggestion of the evil one and he is quite good at imitating one’s own internal voice and making false promises of surcease of sorrow and pain. There is this infernal concentration on one’s self, how unimportant you are and the diminution of others — a systematic attack on the love that binds us to others and helps give us life and hope.

  6. George, insightful piece. No one will bring peace to THE Ukraine until they recognize that it is an artificial creation with two sides that have and want little or nothing to do with each other. It is and always will be a permanently failed state. And as a perpetual irritant/threat to Russia, it will generate perpetual conflict, as intended by the neocons since the fall of the USSR. A simmering pot is the next best thing to a Cold War for the neocons.
    Just look at the activities of Obama’s Asst. Secretary of State for Europe (Vicky Nuland) in The Ukraine. She did 1,000 times worse that the Mickey Mouse games the Russians are accused of playing in our 2016 election. Her neocon husband Robert Kagan’s hands are just as deep in blood.
    Kiev Rus is the heart of Russian culture and religion and Putin and the Russian people will not let it go. Until the west understands that, we are in for a long road on this issue, for which not a drop of US blood should be spilled or a penny of US treasure spent.