How will we Survive?
Ever wonder why Stalin killed so many Orthodox Christians (more than Hitler did, Jews, btw)? It remains a mystery to many of us, mainly because Hollywood is not owned by Christians, but also because, I think, his ideals were too close to those of the modern west, especially America.
We know enough about Stalin to know that he did not hate Orthodox Christians like Hitler hated the Jews. He did not come into office and order the many attacks against Orthodox because he was some sort of maniac God hater (although he certainly turned into one by these attacks). Stalin persecuted the Church because they fought him! The Church fought Stalin not just in teachings and conversations, but in military action. The Church community had become an empire and they believed it needed to be defended. This is just war by Orthodox standards, but it is also not just in the fact that Stalin and his western philosophies were ushered into Russia, along with all sorts of other modern philosophies (another article is begged here, I know).
Stalin wanted a more democratic nation where the Church had little to no influence on the state. He wanted to stop Orthodoxy from expressing itself as a community; as a nation! Stalin wanted a Constitutional Democracy, one that had similarities to the US.
This is what Stalin wanted from Holy Rus. He wanted an American style of religion, where there could be many religions competing with one another, but never interfere with the government’s new community. The Whites (Orthodox traditionalists) would not have it. Many of them fled, some hid into the catacombs, and some created military resistance.
Monastics and Laity need to Reunite
“Apostasy is permitted by God; do not be tempted to stop it with your feeble hand…”
- St. Ignatius Brianchaninov
What should have and should not have been done by the Russian Orthodox in that time is a very interesting subject to me, but a discussion for another time. What I want to emphasize right now is the fact that American Orthodox is conforming to Soviet Orthodoxy without even really knowing it. Orthodoxy has always created community, which is why governments hate us so much. Should we stop creating community in order to “keep the peace”? This is the temptation for the modern Orthodox in America, and in some ways, across the world: Create a Stalin based Orthodoxy, one that is no threat to the government, and does not challenge the gods of the empire.
This is not to say that we must begin creating communes or begin mobilizing armies, but what this does mean is that many more of us are going to need to become monastics, and these monastics are going to have to somehow help laity ALSO have ascetic community. This is how it has been for the vast majority of Orthodox history, yet for some reason there is now this enormous gap between the monastics and the laity, with community for the monks, but not for the laity, economic and social freedom for the monks, but not for the laity, etc. There is so much to say about how this sort of western notion of monastic life has crept into the Church, and the saints speak against this type of dichotomy, that there are two different paths, etc. There is only one way, and the fact that some chose to marry and have children does not mean they should opt out of Orthodox community and ascetic lifestyle.
Are Atheistic “Conservatives” Correct?
Popular Atheists like George Orwell and Ayn Rand express what many atheists express in regards to community and religion. They suggest that RELIGION is a tool of the government to control us. Sound familiar? Carl Marx, Dr Greg Graffin (popular pop star), and many others state this in their publications. Why? Well, because it is true…to a certain extent.
American religion is a tool of the devil, no doubt. American! Yes, because America does what Stalin wanted to do. America says THAT is your ceremony and THIS is your community. Government wants the community and to keep the Church in the margins. Folks, this is down right communistic.
It’s true! Communism has many forms. Ultimately what it is (in spiritual terms), is community without a religious rule. It is the very separation of Church and State. Now, true religion is BY NO MEANS just a combination of Church and State. In fact, the two simply cannot combined. They can create formal symphony (see double headed eagle) but they cannot combined. This is Roman Catholicism (pre-Vatican II).
American religion is a tool to control us. Yes! As the Athiest Dr Greg Graffin states, in his punk rock song about America, The Voice of God is Government, “Speak of truth with a mighty voice, but politics are your real choice. Hire men to change the law, protect and serve with one small flaw: The Voice of God is Government.”
The Governmental Shift for Orthodoxy
Many saints such as St John Chrysostom, St John of Kronstadt, and St John of Shanghi, describe the fall of the Orthodox monarchy as the releasing of Satan, the “restrainer” that St Paul the Apostle speaks of in II Thessalonians, that restrains evil from harming the Church and her communities. That restrainer has indeed been “taken out of the way” when the monarchy fell. Anti-Christ systems took their form, many brewing from the heretical countries in the west that never had a true monarch, but more of a pseudo monarch. Nonetheless, it’s all chaos now and everything is unfolding according to the prophesies.
What we must do now is live as we are supposed to live, not “putting our trust in princes” as St John Chrysostom quotes the Psalmist in our liturgy, because the culture and government are going to be offering it, and without the guidance of God. They are going to be attempting to be the very “voice of God”. With far more technological artillery than the public, governments across the world (partnered with companies of choice) will be able to wow us right to the slaughterhouses. Almost no one will be out of their reach, since they seem to be adopting and partnering with media networks and publishing companies at an alarming rate. It’s going to take a very ascetic and mindful approach to life just to keep ourselves out of harms way. May God grant us peace and security. May God grant us monastics!