Sobornost in the Fourth Century

Russian Cross SunsetThe Canons to Sylvester from the Council of Arles (A.D. 314)

It was excommunication all together for many in the fourth century who joined such things as secular government, acting, and other polarizations of Christian community and sanctification. Certainly, with the lack of Sobornost in our day, we should not even think to be this strict. But the equity of these laws must remain. In other words, should secular government, for instance, be high on the list of our occupational choices? How about acting? Things to ponder and pray about.

 

Incipit: Quid decreuerimus
Date: 314
Ancient Source: Select manuscripts from various collections of canon law, including the Corbie, Diessen, Koln, and Rheims collections, and others.
Modern edition used: C. Munier, Concilia Galliae a.314-a.506, (Turnhout: Brepols 1963), pp. 9-13

Note: In the manuscript tradition there is slight variation in the numbering of canons 9-17, as noted below.

The assembly of bishops who were gathered at the town of Arles, to our lord and most holy brother Sylvester:

That which we in common council have decreed, we hereby make known to your most esteemed person, so that also <all> the bishops might know what ought to be observed in the future.

1. In the first place, concerning the celebration of Easter Sunday: That it be observed by us on one day and at one time in all the earth, and that you should send out letters to all, as is the custom.

2. Concerning those who have been ordained ministers in certain places: They are to continue to serve in those same places.

3. Concerning those who lay down their weapons in peacetime,[1] be it resolved that they be excluded from fellowship.

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USA Shot Down Passenger Plane in 1998

The Shoot Down of Iran Air Flight 655

by SASAN FAYAZMANESH

 

In a daily press briefing on July 2, 2008, the following set of questions and answers took place between an unidentified reporter and Department of State Spokesman Sean McCormack [1]:

QUESTION: Tomorrow marks the 20 years since the U.S. Navy warship Vincennes gunned down the IR655 civilian airliner, killing all 300 people on board, 71 of whom were children. And while the United States Government settled the incident in the International Court of Justice in 1996 at $61.1 million in compensation to the families, they, till this day, refuse to apologize –

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Whose Side Is God on Now?

Fantastic article from American politician, Pat Buchanan! Recent liberals, worldwide, have criticized him for this article. He seems to understand that Orthodoxy retains the power of the Holy Spirit to “make disciples of all nations.” Orthodoxy is not a set of doctrines or spiritual ideas, it is much more than that! Orthodoxy is spiritual dominion. Orthodoxy is missional. She plants the Church and the Church grows into communities and even nations. That IS the history of Orthodoxy.

By Patrick Buchanan

In his Kremlin defense of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Vladimir Putin, even before he began listing the battles where Russian blood had been shed on Crimean soil, spoke of an older deeper bond.

Crimea, said Putin, “is the location of ancient Khersones, where Prince Vladimir was baptized. His spiritual feat of adopting Orthodoxy predetermined the overall basis of the culture, civilization and human values that unite the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.”

Russia is a Christian country, Putin was saying.

This speech recalls last December’s address where the former KGB chief spoke of Russia as standing against a decadent West:

“Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values. Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.”

Heard any Western leader, say, Barack Obama, talk like that lately?

Indicting the “Bolsheviks” who gave away Crimea to Ukraine, Putin declared, “May God judge them.”

What is going on here?

With Marxism-Leninism a dead faith, Putin is saying the new ideological struggle is between a debauched West led by the United States and a traditionalist world Russia would be proud to lead.

In the new war of beliefs, Putin is saying, it is Russia that is on God’s side. The West is Gomorrah.

Western leaders who compare Putin’s annexation of Crimea to Hitler’s Anschluss with Austria, who dismiss him as a “KGB thug,” who call him “the alleged thief, liar and murderer who rules Russia,” as the Wall Street Journal’s Holman Jenkins did, believe Putin’s claim to stand on higher moral ground is beyond blasphemous.

But Vladimir Putin knows exactly what he is doing, and his new claim has a venerable lineage. The ex-Communist Whittaker Chambers who exposed Alger Hiss as a Soviet spy, was, at the time of his death in 1964, writing a book on “The Third Rome.”

The first Rome was the Holy City and seat of Christianity that fell to Odoacer and his barbarians in 476 A.D. The second Rome was Constantinople, Byzantium, (today’s Istanbul), which fell to the Turks in 1453. The successor city to Byzantium, the Third Rome, the last Rome to the old believers, was — Moscow.

Putin is entering a claim that Moscow is the Godly City of today and command post of the counter-reformation against the new paganism.

Putin is plugging into some of the modern world’s most powerful currents.

Not only in his defiance of what much of the world sees as America’s arrogant drive for global hegemony. Not only in his tribal defense of lost Russians left behind when the USSR disintegrated.

He is also tapping into the worldwide revulsion of and resistance to the sewage of a hedonistic secular and social revolution coming out of the West.

In the culture war for the future of mankind, Putin is planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity. His recent speeches carry echoes of John Paul II whose Evangelium Vitae in 1995 excoriated the West for its embrace of a “culture of death.”

What did Pope John Paul mean by moral crimes?

The West’s capitulation to a sexual revolution of easy divorce, rampant promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality, feminism, abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, assisted suicide — the displacement of Christian values by Hollywood values.

Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum writes that she was stunned when in Tbilisi to hear a Georgian lawyer declare of the former pro-Western regime of Mikhail Saakashvili, “They were LGBT.”

“It was an eye-opening moment,” wrote Applebaum. Fear and loathing of the same-sex-marriage pandemic has gone global. In Paris, a million-man Moral Majority marched in angry protest.

Author Masha Gessen, who has written a book on Putin, says of his last two years, “Russia is remaking itself as the leader of the anti-Western world.”

But the war to be waged with the West is not with rockets. It is a cultural, social, moral war where Russia’s role, in Putin’s words, is to “prevent movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state.”

Would that be the “chaotic darkness” and “primitive state” of mankind, before the Light came into the world?

This writer was startled to read in the Jan-Feb. newsletter from the social conservative World Council of Families in Rockford, Ill., that, of the “ten best trends” in the world in 2013, number one was “Russia Emerges as Pro-Family Leader.”

In 2013, the Kremlin imposed a ban on homosexual propaganda, a ban on abortion advertising, a ban on abortions after 12 weeks and a ban on sacrilegious insults to religious believers.

“While the other super-powers march to a pagan world-view,” writes WCF’s Allan Carlson, “Russia is defending Judeo-Christian values. During the Soviet era, Western communists flocked to Moscow. This year, World Congress of Families VII will be held in Moscow, Sept. 10-12.”

Will Vladimir Putin give the keynote?

In the new ideological Cold War, whose side is God on now?

One Christian Community Helping Other Christian Communities

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk (Archive)MOSCOW, April 29 (RIA Novosti) – Russia remains the only consistent advocate of Christians in the Middle East, where “Christian communities are being exposed to genuine genocide,” Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk said in an interview with RIA Novosti Tuesday.

“Western countries, which were helping Christians in the region for centuries, have denied them support and almost officially recommended them to leave the region and move to other countries,” said Hilarion, who oversees the Russian Orthodox Church’s external relations.

“I was told this by, for example, Maronites [members of one of the Syriac Eastern Catholic Churches] who have been living in Syria and Lebanon for centuries. They were disappointed by France, which had been traditionally supporting them but is refusing to defend them now. Our country has remained the sole defender of the Christian presence in the region. Many Christians remaining in flashpoints are relying on [Russia],” he said.

Christians are currently facing unprecedented persecution in the Middle East, he stressed.

“Christian communities in some countries are being exposed to genuine genocide” because of the spread of terrorism and extremism on religious grounds, Metropolitan Hilarion said.

“[The Russian Orthodox Church] on a regular basis receives reports on the destruction and desecration of Christian churches, kidnapping of clerics, beheading of Christians, mass graves of killed Christians being found, exiles of Christian families from their homes …, shelling of Christian residential areas,” he said.

Extremists aim to completely expel Christians from their places of residence by means of terror or physical destruction, the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church said.

Developed countries have to use political instruments for resolve this crisis, Hilarion added.

Three years have passed since the European Parliament signed a resolution titled the “Situation of Christians in the Context of Freedom of Religion,” but a mechanism for monitoring compliance of freedom of conscience in the world was not created, the Hilarion said.

“International institutions do not react to violations of rights of the Syrian civil population, including Christians. I would even say that actions and statements of representatives of some Western powers rather contribute to further polarization of society,” Metropolitan Hilarion said.

He urged all political forces to “approach what is happening in Syria with responsibility” and base their actions on the interests of the Syrian people.

US Gathering Forces Against Russia

U.S. Navy frigate USS Taylor sets sail in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Black Sea in Istanbul April 22, 2014 (Reuters / Murad Sezer)Monumental news in the grand scheme of things. As Christians, we understand that modernism is embodied within a global sphere that will continue to gather communities within her “new world order.” NATO, the EU and all other global organizations that are connected with them, are a part of this modern movement. They are economic and spiritual pluralists who seek the utter destruction of traditional culture and thought in order to advance the cause of global secularization.

U.S. Navy frigate USS Taylor sets sail in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Black Sea in Istanbul April 22, 2014 (Reuters / Murad Sezer)

US frigate USS Taylor (FFG 50) has entered the Black Sea, according to the US Navy, as the Pentagon announces plans to dispatch some 600 troops to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia for military exercises.

The US claims the ship’s entry is “to promote peace and stability in the region.”

“The US Navy routinely operates ships in the Black Sea consistent with the Montreux Convention and International Law. Taylor’s mission is to reassure NATO allies of the US Navy’s commitment to strengthen and improve interoperability while working toward mutual goals in the region,” read a US Navy statement released on Tuesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has previously stated that the US has been violating the Montreux Convention which restricts the number of US vessels operating in the Black Sea and sets a time limit of 21 days for each one.

At the beginning of February, the USS Taylor was initially posted in the Black Sea. However, damages to the warship’s propeller assembly after running aground in the Black Sea caused a spike in tensions between the US and Russia after it caused the ship to exceed the time allotted to its stay by 11 days.

 

US soldiers of the Airborne Division (AFP Photo / Manjunath Kiran)US soldiers of the Airborne Division (AFP Photo / Manjunath Kiran)

 

US troops heading to Baltics

The 600 troops are to be sent to Poland and the Baltic states in the coming days in order to offer support to NATO allies which have expressed concern following Crimea’s accession to Russia, the Pentagon stated on Tuesday.

“I’m told they’re infantry level – infantry training exercises,” said Pentagon press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby in a press briefing given on Tuesday. However, he added that he couldn’t provide specifics.

Kirby pointed out that the bilateral exercises were a supplement to the standard military exercises which the countries undertake together and were because of current events in Ukraine.

“The United States takes seriously our obligations under Article 5 of the NATO alliance, even though these aren’t NATO exercises,” Kirby said. “It’s a very tangible representation of our commitment to our security obligations in Europe.”

Last Friday, Poland’s Defense Minister, Tomasz Siemoniak, said that this week Poland and the United States would be announcing the dispatch of ground forces to Poland take part in a two-week land-forces exercise. Some 150 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team based in Vicenza, Italy are to begin the exercises in Wednesday after which similar exercises will follow in the Baltics.

US troops will rotate in and out of all four countries. “We’re looking at trying to keep this rotational presence persistent throughout the rest of this year,” Kirby stated, adding that exercises could potentially expand into other countries.

The measures are being taken as part of a stepped-up effort announced last week by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in order to reassure NATO allied states.

Relations between Russia and the West became strained after an armed coup in February deposed President Viktor Yanukovich following months of protests. Moscow considers the events to have been orchestrated by the EU and the US and does not recognize the post-coup authorities as legitimate.

Trust Not In Princes

Orthodox Christianity teaches that the Gospel is community oriented – community led by the Church. When we grow in a culture, as we did in Russia, Greece, and many other eastern communities, we counseled and in many cases and times, led the governmental administration of the land. When the Church has the opportunity to do this (historically, this has been the case within Holy Monarchy) we take this opportunity as a God given task and calling. We even set the leaders aside, much like we do with the ordination of a priest.

When Orthodoxy DOES NOT have the opportunity to work with the government like she has within historical Orthodox countries, Orthodox Christians really have no theological support to be a “party person.” In other words, to consistently identify as a Republican or Democrat is simply not Orthodox, not in the patristic and historic sense.

American political parties are not required to hold to Orthodox theological dogma. They are only required to hold to the historical documents of America, which are very Unitarian and Masonic in nature. Even praising the seemingly positive works of a party is dangerous because the outcome will not likely be honest, thus creating confusion in the culture as to what a true Christian ethic really is. The party may state that they will do this or that, and hold to a particular Christian ethic, but in the end, they are not required to hold to such dogma, and they often do not hold to them, even when they say they will.

As the Holy Fathers teach us, and we pray in our liturgy, we do not look for princes to save us and deliver us from our calamities. Granted, if God gives us a land to manage, we should manage it and involve the Church in managing it, just as Orthodox countries have always done. But when a land has clearly NOT been given to us and there is a very secular organization leading, who wants no part of Orthodoxy, should we really force ourselves on them or even pretend to be a part of their movement?

“We’re beginning to agree that Republicans and Democrats suck – they’ve built this machine to grind people into the ground,” he said.” I hate this stuff. I hate politics. I hate politicians, and I feel I’m wasting my life. Don’t we all know what’s happening? George W. Bush was taking us down a road, and Barack Obama is taking us down that same road. What difference does it make? I don’t want to waste my life anymore.”

The above is a recent statement from Glen Beck. Seems he finally is seeing over the horizon regarding America. Both parties do not share the interest of the Church, therefor they share the interest of self!

On Roman Catholicism and the Divine Liturgy

20-statya00101The hope of many Orthodox and Catholic Christians is that one day the two will unite, becoming one Church. Many Orthodox believe the papacy is one of the most serious issues, but the root of the problem is not the papacy itself, or the revolving doctrines of the papacy. Rather, the problem with modern Rome is that she is not patristic, in the post-Nicene sense. One of the many patristic truths the Latin churches have left is the truth of prayer, the truth of the Divine Liturgy.

The stability and mission of the Church is dependent on orthodox liturgy. Even Rome teaches this: Lex orandi, lex credendi (Latin loosely translated as “the law of praying [is] the law of believing”). The patristic model of prayer is the liturgy of the Church! The Church’s liturgy began with the liturgy of Saint James and grew into the liturgy of St. Chrysostom and St Basil. Roman Catholics will not dispute this. Yet, Roman Catholics practice a liturgy that is completely foreign to any patristic source. Their current liturgy is an adaptation to a late 20th century liturgy that was created out of a modern movement within the Roman Catholic Church.

The previous liturgy, before this modern movement of “Vatican II” was they call the “Latin Rite.” The Latin Rite is an adaptation of the Serum Rite, which was produced in England in the 15th century. The Sarum Rite has no link whatsoever to the Roman Empire that was reigned prior to the 15th century. There is no evidence whatsoever that there was a “Latin Rite” and that the Sarum Rite was NOT created out of thin air. Many attempt to call the Latin Rite, “The Liturgy of St Gregory,” but this is completely false. There is no evidence whatsoever that such a liturgy existed.

Unless the Western Catholics return to the Church’s liturgy, there really is no hope for them returning to truth. Their heterodox doctrine is a direct result of their heterodox liturgy! When they return to the Divine Liturgy, perhaps they will return to fasting and the rest of the ascetic life of the ancient way. Then, and only then, will they be enlightened enough to see the many errors that they have conjured up since departing from Orthodoxy.

 

 

Head of the House of Romanov Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna on Ukraine

1. Your Imperial Highness, how do you feel about Crimea becoming part of Russia? Has a historical injustice been rectified?

Over the course of many centuries, my ancestors united many disparate lands into a single Russian State. Crimea is rightfully considered one of the grand “pearls” that adorned our realm.

The Imperial House has always supported the processes of unity and centralization. But if I were simply to say that I was pleased about the return of Crimea to Russia, or that I think that this was the rectification of a historical injustice, then I would be giving a very incomplete and simplistic answer to your question.

I proceed from the firm belief that even with things the way they are today, with the demise of the territorial integrity of the former Russian Empire and USSR and the emergence of new sovereign states, there continues to exist a single spiritual and cultural civilization in this space, which unites these fraternal nations. There may be many states now, but there remains only one Fatherland, in the truest sense of the meaning of that word—one, because our fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers have together offered their blood and sweat for it.

And so we can hardly welcome without reservation every acquisition of a new slice of territory. It is necessary always to consider if this specific instance will not end up damaging our common civilization, will be nothing more than a time bomb that will someday explode, will only spawn new problems in the interrelations between nations.

Each such instance is entirely unique. And if circumstances in Ukraine and Crimea were different, I would think it necessary to act more cautiously. In my address to all my Ukrainian countrymen on February 21, I called upon them to avoid violence, to resist the temptation for revenge, and to do everything within their power to preserve the territorial integrity of Ukraine. As we know, the Crimea was incorporated into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954 by a totalitarian regime in a completely arbitrary way, without considering the opinion of the people of Crimea or even asking them what they wanted. But it would be just as wrong today to reincorporate Crimea into Russia in the same way. One unlawful act cannot be undone by another unlawful act or by violence. If there had not arisen a very real threat to the welfare of the people of Crimea, to the life and dignity of its citizens, then I would have held to the view that Ukraine should remain within its historic borders as they had been drawn up to the present.

Unfortunately, there was a revolution in Kiev, and the new leaders have taken a series of extremist and openly vengeful steps, which have led to a split among the Ukrainian people. Extreme nationalists who control the government in Kiev began by passing a number of discriminatory and demeaning measures with regard to the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine, meeting any dissent with brutal violence. There were overt threats against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. There were anti-Semitic speeches with an undisguised Nazi undertone. I consider all this a dreadful and criminal mistake that borders on lunacy.

In the current situation, the duty of the legally elected authorities in Crimea was to protect the population from all excesses—not only at present, but also in the future. I know almost all the leaders of Crimea. They are sensible, experienced, and steady statesmen. There is no hint of extremism in them. They did not make this decision on their own authority; they organized a referendum. We know now the results of that referendum. The results are not the result of some passing gush of emotion, but are based on the entire history of Crimea, on its traditions going back many centuries. The people of Crimea have expressed their will. In a democracy, in which the supreme power constitutionally belongs to the people, there is no higher power that exists than the voice of the people.

We can say with complete confidence that the unification of Crimea with Russia was not the result of some political machinations that were dreamt up in advance by someone or other, but the logical result of historical events in Ukraine.

If the number of supporters of the unification of Crimea with Russia were only slightly more than the number of those opposing it, then the results of the referendum could be treated with some circumspection, so that a decision as important as this would not be decided by a small fraction of the vote, but would rather show the need still to form a consensus on the question. But it is evident even with the naked eye that the Crimean referendum was conducted in an atmosphere of unity, jubilation, and honestly. The majority of the people of Crimea want to return their small Homeland to being a part of Russia. It is a fait accompli.

I share the enthusiasm of the peoples of Russia and Crimea over the unity that they have achieved. At the same time, I understand the frustration and disappointment of the people of Ukraine, and I am distressed for them. I can express my feelings best with the words of the Holy Apostle Paul: I “rejoice with others when they rejoice, and I weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).

2. In your estimation, where should the capital of Crimea be?

I had not heard that there was any discussion about this question. From the point of view of historical symbolism, the Crimea has many glorious cities, any one of which could make a good case to be the capital of Crimea. But to transfer the seat of government from one city to another is a costly affair. The Crimea has more important tasks ahead, which must be resolved immediately for the benefit of the people. So I would suppose that the capital would remain in Simferopol. But, in any case, this will be something that will be resolved by the legally elected authorities in accordance with the will of the Crimean people.

3. How do you assess the situation in Ukraine? What do you think will be the future relations between Russia and Ukraine?

The troubles that have gripped Ukraine have brought me and my son, Tsesarevich and Grand Duke George of Russia, tremendous emotional anguish. I have been to Kiev and Odessa; and not long ago George and I were in Crimea. Everywhere we saw how Ukrainians of different ethnic backgrounds, faiths, and political beliefs nonetheless lived together in peace. And this has all now completely changed! And at the moment Ukraine is, without exaggeration, being torn to pieces by revolution, with all the accompanying horrors that accompany it. I pray that all this does not develop into a full-scale fratricidal civil war.

Russia and Ukraine are fraternal countries, and it cannot be any other way. Ukraine is the cradle of the Russian state. No political forces can ever destroy the genetic, spiritual, and cultural kinship that binds together our peoples.

In any case, one cannot see the joining of Crimea to Russia as a “victory of Russia over Ukraine.” “Victory” over one’s own brothers and sisters always turns into defeat. I am certain that the crisis in relations between Russia and Ukraine will be resolved, that the spirit of confrontation will evaporate away, and that love and common sense will prevail.

4. How justified is the criticism of the West against Russia over the Crimean situation, and how justified are the sanctions? Will you be asking the royal houses of Europe to intervene to help alleviate the pressures being put on Russia?

Alas, we see unfairness and an outright double standard.

Naturally, every country defends its own interests and advances its own policies. It would be foolish to resent the fact that the USA or Russia’s other geopolitical rivals take no pleasure in Russia’s expansion and even try to hinder it.

But there are multiple examples of military intervention by the West in the internal affairs of sovereign states. The recognition of the independence of Kosovo and other similar precedents make the current position of Western governments very flimsy, and their argument utterly untenable. Even if we conceded to some degree to their logic, the question nonetheless arises: “Who are they to judge?”

Sanctions are also an unprecedented thing. Even during the “Cold War,” these kinds of sanctions were never imposed against the USSR or its leaders. And back then there really were many more occasions that might have elicited sanctions, with a totalitarian regime in power in our country that really did trample on freedom of conscience and thought and really did repress its people and had many times intervened militarily in the affairs of other countries.

One must bear in mind that sanctions are a two-edged sword. They harm the economy not only of Russia but also the economies of Europe. In the extremely complex circumstances of this global crisis, it makes no sense to play these political games.

Russia is a great country that can withstand the effects of any sanctions. To engage in threats and blackmail with Russia is counterproductive.

In the today’s political system, royal houses, even ones that reign, cannot, alas, exert any decisive influence on the policies of their countries. Therefore any appeals I might make to them about this matter would not be of any help. Of course, in communicating with my royal relatives, I will try to familiarize them with all the aspects of the problem and I will ask them to use all their influence to prevent any escalation of the conflict between Russia and Europe. Many of them were together with me and George in Crimea in September of last year, at the invitation of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, for the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the House of Romanoff. They met with the Speaker of the Supreme Council, Vladimir Konstantinov, and with other Crimean leaders, and they know firsthand about the life of the people of Crimea. But more than anything else, I am counting on the common sense of Western politicians and on the expression of public opinion among the peoples of Western countries. Everyone would suffer from the resumption of the “Cold War,” and, possibly, the losses and damages to Russia would be less than for others.

From http://www.interfax-russia.ru/default.asp

Here’s Your Sign

Completely Surreal Photos Of America’s Abandoned Malls

An inside look at nine abandoned malls. There is nothing creepier and more fascinating.posted on 

BuzzFeed Staff

Dead malls are popping up all over the states, particularly in the Midwest, where economic decline has sped up the “going out of business” process. This map, put together by a Dead Malls Enthusiasts Facebook group, shows that well.

As Americans are faced with multiple shopping options and more stores are leaving malls, it should be interesting to see if malls and mall culture will survive.

What you are about to see is what happens when malls are abandoned. It’s apocalyptic and really, really creepy.

[Read more...]

Liberalism’s New Bogeyman

Liberalism's New Bogeyman

Liberalism’s New Bogeyman

By Michael McGregor

With the world seeming to settle into a neo-Cold War paradigm, it’s becoming clearer that America’s policymakers are desperate to turn Russia back into the evil empire in the eyes of the general public. During the Soviet days, this was easy task to accomplish with ready made villains like Stalin in charge and the all too visible problems of a communist economy.

The Russian Federation is a little trickier, as it has no definitive ideology, is led by a guy even diehard Russophobes think is a badass, and has no gulag system to point to and ponder in terror.

Enter Western media hysteria circling around a certain Russian intellectual and the radical ideology he promotes – Alexandr Dugin. If there is a single individual that could be used to frighten the policymakers and intelligentsia of America into irrationally hating Russia, it’s not Putin — it’s Alexandr Dugin.

I wrote previously how National Review wailed about his presence within Russian intelligentsia and his apparent influence on current Russian foreign policy. Now the wails are shared by left wing publications who see Dugin as Putin’s “Neo-Fascist” ideologue who’s formulating the regime’s rejection of gay “rights” and aggressive foreign policy.

They’ve managed to find quotes of him praising fascism from the early 90s, bashing the liberal values that our intelligentsia holds so dear and stating positions are deemed “archaic” in the West of the 21st century. They’ve noticed his Eurasianist ideology is incredibly illiberal and promotes values and notions that liberalism will sweep away once the imminent “end of history” arrives.

Seeing an enemy with a coherent ideology and philosophy that they find repugnant – our more intellectually-inclined media outlets are now trying to make the connection between Dugin’s ideas and Putin’s actions.

Foreign Affairs published a piece that attempted that very same feat where they went so far as to call Dugin “Putin’s Brain.” In spite of placing the Russian president’s façade at the top, the only direct connection they could make between the philosopher and the leader is that Dugin has influenced Putin’s economic adviser Sergei Glazyev. No matter – they still go into detail about Dugin’s philosophy and why it should trouble their readers:

His ideas of conservative revolution are adapted from German interwar thinkers who promoted the destruction of the individualistic liberal order and the commercial culture of industrial and urban civilization in favor of a new order based on conservative values such as the submission of individual needs and desires to the needs of the many, a state-organized economy, and traditional values for society based on a quasi-religious view of the world.

Like the classical Eurasianists of the 1920s and 1930s, Dugin’s ideology is anti-Western, anti-liberal, totalitarian, ideocratic, and socially traditional. Its nationalism is not Slavic-oriented (although Russians have a special mission to unite and lead) but also applies to the other nations of Eurasia. And it labels rationalism as Western and thus promotes a mystical, spiritual, emotional, and messianic worldview.

This new attack on Dugin launched a flurry of coverage from other outlets – from The Daily Beast on the left and The Weekly Standard on the “right.” Not surprisingly, the Standard went the most extravagant in portraying Dugin as a neo-Nazi mystic hell bent on destroying freedom. All of the pieces on the author of The Fourth Political Theory were incredibly critical and designed to make the reader gain a negative impression of Russia and Dugin. I assume the US State Department should be proud of its efforts at journalism outreach.

If you want a good representation of the views of Dugin, don’t read this articles with an uncritical eye and instead, read his great post on Western hostility towards Russia that waspublished here at RadixJournal. You’ll see why he’s gone from an obscure figure in the West to a dreaded menace in our sphere following the escalation of tensions with his native land.

Disregarding the hyperbole and demonization of Dugin, the reason liberal internationalists want him in the same picture as Putin is to strengthen their desired mindset that Russia is the greatest threat against their ideology. He rebukes the mantra of human rights and promotes tradition and community over abstract notions of individuality that are revered by our leaders.

Just look at President Obama’s speech before the European Union in Brussels for an example of this devotion to universal human rights:

Do not think for a moment that your own freedom, your own prosperity, that your own moral imagination is bound by the limits of your community, your ethnicity or even your country. You’re bigger than that. You can help us to choose a better history. That’s what Europe tells us. That’s what the American experience is all about.

Eurasianism (and Identitarianism) rejects that statement. The thought that Putin might also reject it gives the transnational elite jitters that the “end of history” might not be preferable to every major power. Putin, who’s not a Eurasianist and is simply promoting the power and influence of the state he governs, is becoming more of a hostile actor to the West as Russia’s interests increasingly collide with those of the Davos set.

Foreign Affairs concluded with the primary worry that Dugin could become a major influence on the future leadership of his country and Eurasianism becoming the reigning ideology of Russia:

Dugin’s ideology has influenced a whole generation of conservative and radical activists and politicians, who, if given the chance, would fight to adapt its core principles as state policy. Considering the shabby state of Russian democracy, and the country’s continued move away from Western ideas and ideals, one might argue that the chances of seeing neo-Eurasianism conquer new ground are increasing. Although Dugin’s form of it is highly theoretical and deeply mystical, it is proving to be a strong contender for the role of Russia’s chief ideology.

We can only hope that becomes the case.

Comments on Dugin are welcome. But please, do not attempt to draw up a straw man argument against him as if America, or any other western country has produced a  leader that has made more sense than he has. Dugin is an Orthodox Christian (Old Rite) and seems to be applying an Orthodox worldview to his actions in Russia.  A national (community) leader of our day must face the likes of Islam and other historical cultures with wisdom, unlike most all western leaders have. Dugin knows that Orthodoxy is Russia’s backbone…her roots. He also knows that other countries will be best suited, in our modern times, if they embrace their historical foundations. Should we disagree with that? 

Russia will not import GMO products – PM Medvedev

RIA Novosti / Maksim BogodvidRIA Novosti / Maksim Bogodvid

Russia will not import GMO products, the country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, adding that the nation has enough space and resources to produce organic food.

Moscow has no reason to encourage the production of genetically modified products or import them into the country, Medvedev told a congress of deputies from rural settlements on Saturday.

“If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,” he said.

The prime minister said he ordered widespread monitoring of the agricultural sector. He added that despite rather strict restrictions, a certain amount of GMO products and seeds have made it to the Russian market.

 

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev speaks at a meeting of United Russia deputies from Russian rural villages in Volgograd on April 5, 2014. (RIA Novosti / Ekaterina Shtukina)Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev speaks at a meeting of United Russia deputies from Russian rural villages in Volgograd on April 5, 2014. (RIA Novosti / Ekaterina Shtukina)

 

Earlier, agriculture minister Nikolay Fyodorov also stated that Russia should remain free of genetically modified products.

At the end of February, the Russian parliament asked the government to impose a temporary ban on all genetically altered products in Russia.

The State Duma’s Agriculture Committee supported a ban on the registration and trade of genetically modified organisms. It was suggested that until specialists develop a working system of control over the effects of GMOs on humans and the natural environment, the government should impose a moratorium on the breeding and growth of genetically modified plants, animals, and microorganisms.

Earlier this month, MPs of the parliamentary majority United Russia party, together with the ‘For Sovereignty’ parliamentary group, suggested an amendment of the existing law On Safety and Quality of Alimentary Products, with a norm set for the maximum allowed content of transgenic and genetically modified components.

There is currently no limitation on the trade or production of GMO-containing food in Russia. However, when the percentage of GMO exceeds 0.9 percent, the producer must label such goods and warn consumers. Last autumn, the government passed a resolution allowing the listing of genetically modified plants in the Unified State Register. The resolution will come into force in July.

Your Ancestors Didn’t Sleep Like You

Your ancestors didn't sleep like you

Ok, maybe your grandparents probably slept like you. And your great, great-grandparents. But once you go back before the 1800s, sleep starts to look a lot different. Your ancestors slept in a way that modern sleepers would find bizarre – they slept twice. And so can you.

The History

The existence of our sleeping twice per night was first uncovered by Roger Ekirch, professor of History at Virginia Tech.

His research found that we didn’t always sleep in one eight hour chunk. We used to sleep in two shorter periods, over a longer range of night. This range was about 12 hours long, and began with a sleep of three to four hours, wakefulness of two to three hours, then sleep again until morning.

References are scattered throughout literature, court documents, personal papers, and the ephemera of the past. What is surprising is not that people slept in two sessions, but that the concept was so incredibly common. Two-piece sleeping was the standard, accepted way to sleep.

“It’s not just the number of references – it is the way they refer to it, as if it was common knowledge,” Ekirch says.

An English doctor wrote, for example, that the ideal time for study and contemplation was between “first sleep” and “second sleep.” Chaucer tells of a character in the Canterbury Tales that goes to bed following her “firste sleep.” And, explaining the reason why working class conceived more children, a doctor from the 1500s reported that they typically had sex after their first sleep.

Ekirch’s book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past is replete with such examples.

But just what did people do with these extra twilight hours? Pretty much what you might expect.

Most stayed in their beds and bedrooms, sometimes reading, and often they would use the time to pray. Religious manuals included special prayers to be said in the mid-sleep hours.

Others might smoke, talk with co-sleepers, or have sex. Some were more active and would leave to visit with neighbours.

As we know, this practice eventually died out. Ekirch attributes the change to the advent of street lighting and eventually electric indoor light, as well as the popularity of coffee houses. Author Craig Koslofsky offers a further theory in his book Evening’s Empire. With the rise of more street lighting, night stopped being the domain of criminals and sub-classes and became a time for work or socializing. Two sleeps were eventually considered a wasteful way to spend these hours.

No matter why the change happened, shortly after the turn of the 20th century the concept of two sleeps had vanished from common knowledge.

Until about 1990.

The Science

Two sleeps per night may have been the method of antiquity, but tendencies towards it still linger in modern man. There could be an innate biological preference for two sleeps, given the right circumstances.

In the early ‘90s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr of National Institutes of Mental Health conducted a study on photoperiodicity (exposure to light), and its effect on sleep patterns.

In his study, fifteen men spent four weeks with their daylight artificially restricted. Rather than staying up and active the usual sixteen hours per day, they would stay up only ten. The other fourteen hours they would be in a closed, dark room, where they would rest or sleep as much as possible. This mimics the days in mid-winter, with short daylight and long nights.

At first, the participants would sleep huge stretches of time, likely making up for sleep debt that’scommon among modern people. Once they had caught up on their sleep though, a strange thing started to happen.

They began to have two sleeps.

Over a twelve hour period, the participants would typically sleep for about four or five hours initially, then wake for several hours, then sleep again until morning. They slept not more than eight hours total.

The middle hours of the night, between two sleeps, was characterized by unusual calmness, likened to meditation. This was not the middle-of-the-night toss-and-turn that many of us experienced. The individuals did not stress about falling back asleep, but used the time to relax.

Russell Foster, professor of circadian neuroscience at Oxford, points out that even with standard sleep patterns, this night waking isn’t always cause for concern. “Many people wake up at night and panic,” he says. “I tell them that what they are experiencing is a throwback to the bi-modal sleep pattern.”

Outside of a scientific setting, this kind of sleep pattern is still attainable, but it does require changing our modern, electric lifestyle. Very cool person J. D. Moyer did just that. He and his family intentionally went an entire month with no electric light.

In the winter months, this meant a lot of darkness and a lot of sleep. Moyer writes “…I would go to bed really early, like 8:30, and then get up around 2:30am.  This was alarming at first, but then I remembered that this sleep pattern was quite common in pre-electric light days.  When this happened I would end up reading or writing by candlelight for an hour or two, then going back to bed.”

Moyer didn’t set out to reproduce our ancestors sleep pattern, it just happened as a byproduct of a lot of dark hours.

Should We Revive Two Sleeps?

Although history shows that two sleeping was common, and science indicates that it is (in some conditions) natural, there is no indication that it is better. Two sleeps may leave you feeling more rested, but this could simply be because you are intentionally giving yourself more time to rest, relax, and sleep. Giving the same respect to the single, eight-hour sleep should be just as effective.

Note too that two sleeping needs a lot of darkness – darkness that is only possible naturally during the winter months. The greater levels of daylight during summer and other seasons would make two sleeping difficult, or even impossible.

Perhaps two sleeping is merely a coping mechanism to get through the long, cold, boring nights of the winter. Today, we don’t need to cope. So long as we give our sleep the time and respect it needs, getting the “standard” eight hours of sleep should be fine.

But next time you wake up at 2 AM and can’t sleep, just remember your great, great, great, great, great grandfather. He did the same thing every night.

 From slumberwise.com

Update

Well this article proved exceedingly popular! Thank you to everyone who visited, or took the time to leave a comment. I would encourage new visitors to have a read through the comments below for some interesting ideas and perspectives. I learned two things in particular:

1. This is far more common that I thought. A lot of commenters either practice, or used to practice this kind of sleep.

2. Another possible reason for two sleeps is tending the fire during the night. Several clever readers noted that in order to keep a fire running through the night, we would need to get up and tend it.

Commenters also raised questions regarding non-European and non-Western cultures, which we’ll be digging into in future articles. For anyone who wants to learn more about this kind of sleep, I’ve linked below to two books referenced in the writing of this article, available on Amazon.

Byzantine Empire Awakens to a Frightening US President

Holy Russia

 As Obama pivots in the wind, a new moral leadership rises to defend the powerless

By Ralph H. Sidway

In perhaps the most significant reversal of political and global alignment since the overthrow of Christian Russia by the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, Barack Hussein Obama has transformed the United States of America from a Christian-centric, Western democratic republic, into an Islamist-enabling oligarchy drowning in Soviet-style scandals, casting a long, dark shadow across hundreds of millions of innocent victims the world over.

Other outlets are ably covering the Obama administration’s numerous domestic scandals (Benghazi, IRS, NSA, etc.), but the unifying theme seems to be government control over every aspect of life, with rapid erosion of personal and religious liberty.

In the geo-political sphere, we can quickly survey what has been repeatedly documented here at this site concerning Obama’s determined support for the Muslim Brotherhood from the very beginning of his first term, through to the Administration’s blatant interference on behalf of the MBprior to the June 30 protests leading to Morsi’s ouster.

The Copts (joined by pro-secular forces) in Egypt have utterly rejected Obama and U.S. Ambassador Patterson due to their support for the Muslim Brotherhood, with an unprecedented grass roots movement now calling for the removal of Patterson.

Even more dramatically, in the July 26 demonstrations in support of the Egyptian Military, protesters called not only for the exit of Obama and the United States, but for a re-alignment with Russia.

July 26 Tahrir Square Protest Sign shows huge image of Putin with “Bye Bye America” caption.

“Obama Out — Putin In”and “Bye-Bye America”are the chants and placards this time around, as Obama’s foreign policy chickens come home to roost (as his firebrand pastor Jeremiah Wright might put it).

In spite of the waves of attacks and murders of Christians by Muslim Brotherhood thugs, since the June 30 demonstrations the Copts seem to hold cautious hope for a renewed secularist dynamic, as the Military holds firm, even as both sides in Egypt reject Obama and the U.S.

In Syria, the unique tapestry of Christian confessions have become completely exasperated by U.S. support of the jihadi rebels, a Syrian Christian delegation pleading in Congressional testimony, “Why is America at war with us?

In spite of their testimony, GOP senators led by John McCain (but vigorously opposed by Rand Paul) have cast their lot with Obama, thinking that supporting Islamic extremists serves the greater good.

Once again, Putin’s name — and his voice — rises above the mediocrity of amoral U.S. leadership. Referring to the viral video of a Syrian rebel leader cutting out and eating the heart of a slain enemy combatant, Putin slammed Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, for desiring to support terrorists, stating, “One should hardly back those who kill enemies and eat their organs.”

In the Syria debate, Putin has seized upon something Obama has either forgotten or simply isn’t wired to comprehend: the moral responsibility of the Great Powers to protect those least able to defend themselves. Pumping arms to the Syrian jihadis benefits no one, and only puts defenseless Christians in the crosshairs.

Yet as is clear, Obama has picked his horse in the Syria race. Thus, per his 2012 campaign slogan, Obama pushes “forward.” Forward, with what Raymond Ibrahim has identified as a “proxy war on Mideast Christians.”

Such is the geo-political and moral collapse of the United States. Once the “shining city on a hill,” Obama’s America has lost its luster, and has left a vacuum in international human rights leadership. A vacuum which seems about to be filled by a reinvigorated and suddenly immensely relevant Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill (AFP Photo / Aleksey Nikolsky)

In the midst of celebrations in Moscow commemorating the 1025th anniversary of Russia’s baptism into Orthodox Christianity, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the international community to resist repressions against Christians. With Patriarch Kyrill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, at his side, Putin deftly shifted the narrative away from the Syrian civil war itself, to the larger issue of the human cost of conflicts around the globe. Per a July 25 report in Russia Today:

The rights of religious minorities, including Christians, are being infringed all over the planet and humanity must take measures to stop such instances, Vladimir Putin said at the meeting with Orthodox Christian leaders in Moscow.

In many of the World’s regions, especially in the Middle East and in North Africa inter-confessional tensions are mounting and the rights of religious minorities are infringed, including Christians and Orthodox Christians,” the Russian President noted, adding that such conflicts could lead to the most serious consequences.

Putin called for immediate measures to prevent such situations.

He added that Russia has tremendous experience in reaching and maintaining inter-confessional peace and accord, and is ready to share it.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill said at the same meeting that the attempts to push Christians out of Syria would lead to a “civilization catastrophe”. The patriarch noted that Syria was the birthplace of Christianity and the fact that believers get killed and purged in the course of the military conflict was a tragedy for Orthodox Churches, international culture and for everyday people.

Putin was meeting the heads of the delegations from all 15 Orthodox Churches who arrived in Moscow to take part in the celebrations dedicated to the 1,025th anniversary of the “Baptism of Russia” – the official adoption of Christianity in Kievan Rus by Prince Vladimir in 988AD.

The 15 Orthodox Churches jointly unite over 225 million of believers.

This event, ignored by the U.S. media, seems to have been something of a launch platform for Russia’s new role in global Christian and human rights leadership.

Of special significance is the unique and robust dynamic between the Russian Republic and the Moscow Patriarchate. The Russian Orthodox Church has been experiencing an ongoing resurrection since the fall of communism in 1991, firming up her stance and her resources especially during the last several years to where she can functionally serve as leader of the world’s second largest Christian communion. One of the Russian Church’s leading clerics affirmed as much in a recent statement.

It is no secret in Russia that Putin and Medvedev and other leaders have embraced anew their Orthodox Christian roots, the result being a rare flourishing of “symphonia,” the harmonious cooperation of Church and State which was the elusive goal behind the thousand-year Byzantine Christian Empire.

Imperial Russia had long seen herself as inheritor of Byzantium’s crown, and protector of Orthodox Christians. It would seem that in Russia’s re-imagining of her role in the 21st century, she has expanded her mandate to include all indigenous Christians in the Middle East and throughout the world. At this point in time, she alone seems to possess the clarity of moral vision, the political and economic (and yes, military) strength, and the force of will, to assume the role of mediator, defender and protector of traditional Christians, especially those in the Islamic world.

The Pope of Rome has a voice, but no power. The United States under Barack Obama has a voice with power, but no moral clarity nor right to lead. This new Russia — Church and State in symphony — seems poised to step into the vacuum which Obama has created through his Islamocentric, anti-Christian, amoral foreign policy.

As Obama pivots in the wind, having squandered the last of the globe’s good will towards America, he finds himself — and the U.S. — on the wrong side of history, supporting oppressive forms of government both at home and abroad. In the most stunning reversal since the Bolshevik revolution, it is now Russia who has right on her side, and to whom the world’s persecuted Christians have already begun to look with hope.

Time will tell, but perhaps it is Russia which is now the shining city on the hill.

Ralph Sidway is an Orthodox Christian researcher and writer, and author of Facing Islam: What the Ancient Church has to say about the Religion of Muhammad.  He operates the Facing Islam blog.

Secular Universities Produce Secular Minds…and Culture

Many millennials are skipping church, marriage and political affiliations, study finds

BY JESSE J. HOLLAND, ASSOCIATED PRESS

126314316WASHINGTON — Young adults like to think of themselves as independent, but when it comes to politics, they’re more likely than not to lean to the left.

Half of American adults ages 18 to 33 are self-described political independents, according to a survey out Friday, but at the same time half of these so-called millennials are Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party, the highest share for any age group over the last decade.

In addition, young adults tend to be single and churchless — turning away from their predecessors’ proclivity for religion and marriage, according the Pew Research Center survey. Almost two-thirds don’t classify themselves as “a religious person.” And when it comes to tying the knot: Only about 1 in 4 millennials is married. Almost half of baby boomers were married at that age.

The new survey shows how the millennial adults are “forging a distinctive path into adulthood,” said Paul Taylor, Pew’s executive vice president and co-author of the report.

[Read more...]

Sharia Law In The West

Reuters / Luke MacGregorSharia principles are to become enshrined in the UK legal system for the first time, with The Law Society publishing guidelines for drawing up documents according to Islamic rules, which would exclude non-believers and encroach on women’s rights.

The new guidelines were produced by The Law Society earlier this month. Under the guidance, High Street solicitors will be able to write Islamic wills which will have the power to exclude non-believers completely and deny women an equal share of an inheritance.

“The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir of the same class. Non-Muslims may not inherit at all, and only Muslim marriages are recognized,” states the document.

Any children who have been born outside of marriage and even kids who have been adopted will also not be recognized as legitimate heirs.

It also advises lawyers to draft special exclusions from the Wills Act 1837, which would allow gifts or money to pass to the children of an heir who has died, as this practice isn’t recognized in Islamic law.

Sharia law only recognizes Muslim weddings, so anyone who was married in a Christian church or in a civil ceremony would also be excluded from succession.

At the moment, Sharia law is not formally included in the UK’s laws, though a network of unofficial Sharia courts has developed in Muslim communities to deal with issues within Muslim families.

A few are official tribunals which operate under the Arbitration Act, drafted in 1996 to help settle personal disputes within Britain’s diverse community. They mainly operate in commercial disputes, but can also deal with issues of domestic violence and other family disputes including battles over inheritance.

There is also a large network of more informal Sharia tribunals, also called “councils,” which are normally based around a mosque and deal with child custody issues and divorces in line with Islamic religious teaching. Their hearings are laid out like courts.

A study compiled four years ago by Civitas think-tank found more than 80 unofficial Sharia courts operating in the UK.

Nicholas Fluck, president of the Law Society, told The Sunday Telegraph that publishing the new guidance would promote “good practice” in applying Islamic principles in the British legal system.

“This is the first time such advice has been published and we hope it will assist solicitors with Sharia probate matters. There is a wide variety of spiritual, religious and cultural beliefs within our population, and the Law Society wants to support its members so they can help clients from all backgrounds,” he said.

However, Sadikur Rahman of the Lawyers Secular Society, said this new guidance legitimizes discrimination towards women and so-called “illegitimate children,” and is contrary to the Equality Act by which UK solicitors must abide.

“This raises serious questions about professional ethics and the role of The Law Society. The guidance seems not to recognize that there is a serious potential conflict between the Code of Conduct for solicitors and the guidance,” he said.

Baroness Cox, a cross-bench peer who leads a parliamentary campaign to protect women from religious discrimination, said she thought The Law Society’s publishing of the guidance was “deeply disturbing” and vowed to raise the issue with ministers.

“Everyone has freedom to make their own will and everyone has freedom to let those wills reflect their religious beliefs. But to have an organization such as The Law Society seeming to promote or encourage a policy which is inherently gender discriminatory in a way which will have very serious implications for women and possibly for children is a matter of deep concern,” she said.

The “Western Diet” (By Dr Mercola)

By Dr. Mercola

McDonald’s is the poster child for the modern Western diet and all the health problems that it engenders. As a general rule, “food” was designed to supply your body with all the nutrients it needs.

Processing destroys many of the nutrients and is the primary contribution to most of the chronic degenerative diseases many experience today. I would also argue that food processed to the point of not decomposing after more than a decade is not actually real food and shouldn’t be consumed…

Ironically, the fast food giant recently ended up with a PR nightmare after suggesting its own employees forgo fast food fare for healthier options like salad and water. As reported by Business Insider:1

“Several excerpts from the posts, which were created from a third-party vendor, warned against the negative effects of fast food, even going so far as labeling a cheeseburger and fries, core items on its menu, as an ‘unhealthy choice.’”

The site also warned employees that fast-food meals are “almost always high” in calories, fat, sugar, and salt—and rightfully so, I might add. Warning employees of the health hazards of the very food they produce and serve, however, does not make for good PR.

In response to the controversy, McDonald’s shut down the website in question, which was aimed at providing “work and life advice” to employees. According to a company spokesman,2 the information was “taken out of context,” thereby generating “unwarranted scrutiny and inappropriate commentary.” Employees will still be able to receive work and life advice over the phone.

[Read more...]

On Modernity, Russia, and the Olympics

 

This is a great article to read at Taki’s Magazine, but these two paragraphs of the article stand out as quite truthful! 

“Which brings me back to Russia. Why was the media so anxious to paint Russia as a brutal authoritarian state with a modern Stalin at its head?… Why: Because criticizing Muslims might get his head blown off—cut off, rather—and Nigerians are black, hence above criticism and boycotts. In Nigeria, corruption pervades life top to bottom and is getting worse, not better. Saudi Arabia, of course, enslaves foreign workers, stones adulterers, and sticks women indoors, but it’s Putin we go after week in and week out. In 1980 Uncle Sam boycotted the Moscow Olympics because the USSR had invaded Afghanistan. Twenty-two years later Uncle Sam copied the Russian bear, so go figure.

Another thing the West cannot abide with is Russia’s turn toward Christianity since the collapse of Godless communism. Our elite view this as a backward step, Christianity being their favorite whipping boy nowadays. The big corporations, of course, are anti-Russian and anti-Putin because they’re refused total access to the land’s mineral wealth and natural resources. Russia is not Guatemala and does not sell her lands to Western investors. The big crooks, as in oligarchs, are already settled in the West, Britain, France, and Israel. They stole everything they could, bought football teams, laundered their moolah, and are now our problem, not Russia’s. We bow and scrape to these barbarians the way we bow and scrape in front of the Saudis and Qataris, camel drivers who should never be allowed on European soil because of their human-rights violations back home against minorities, women, gays, and foreign workers. Yet it’s Putin who wears the black hat.”

Read the entire article at: http://takimag.com/article/the_curse_of_modern_man_taki/print#ixzz2tzr34Gcl

Can We Believe The Bible Without The Bishopric?

CanonHere is a link that helps us understand the fact that the bishopric is the arbitrator of truth and that the Bible, our primary repository of truth, belongs only to the Church that is under this bishopric.

From the link above we can see that there are dozens of early writings that are not in the Bible. In the first few hundred years of the New Testament Church the authority of revelation was verbally transpired by the bishops, to the priests and then to the rest of the Church. In the fourth century the bishops decided which books out of these many would be “canonized.” This Canon of early letters began to be called the Bible.

The Bible is not something that was handed over from the apostles to the people at large! The Bible is a fourth century selection of early Christian writings. When we say that we believe in the Bible, we are saying that we believe in the selection that was accomplished by the bishopric of that time. This means that we believe in the authority of the Church at that time. We believe in the Canon of the Church!

The Bible is a result of Church Council. If you do not believe in the authority of the ancient Church then you cannot believe that the Bible is the actual rule of faith. The authority of the Church is its bishopric, which no modern Christian has a part of. The ancient fathers made it very clear that if one is not under the authority of the Bishop then one is not a part of the Church. Granted, the many modern churches of today that do not have apostolic succession may glean from the Bible and even the Holy Spirit, but one day, hopefully prior to death, they will have to reconcile.

The Bible is what the Church calls, “the Canon.” When someone quotes the Bible they are quoting the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church has what is called “apostolic succession.” This means that the ordination of the ministers is in succession with the Apostles, early Fathers and the councils that they met in to form the Canon (Bible). So to refer to the authority of “the Bible” is to refer to this apostolic Church, the Church that read hundreds of legitimate books within the market of Christianity (like we do today) at the time the Canon was formed (4th century); many that would be absolutely unidentifiable as “inspired” to be a part of the Canon (even though they were) to the average or even scholarly Christian.

An example question that might help us grasp this concept of canonical vs non-canonical is, why can’t I quote a passage from Enoch, for instance, which is quoted in the canonical book of Jude, and is extremely well written with very exciting and thorough theological points, but I can quote Revelation, which is rather confusing and never quoted in the rest of the Bible? The answer is this:

Because the Church deems one over the other as canonical, solely based on their apostolic succession! Christ gave His authority to the Church and this is the way His Spirit works. When we quote the Bible we are quoting the Church, because it is the Church and her bishops that determined what is quotable as Scripture and what is not.

The next question is, how could a person that is not received by a bishop with apostolic succession and who does not believe that God has given these bishops authority over us even believe in the Bible and quote it as if they do believe in it? These people cannot believe in the Bible. It is an impossiblity!

The Modern Christian that does not believe in the authority of the bishopric can only quote a text that is sacred by receiving an epiphany from the Lord, such as Moses and the burning bush or even a prophetic revelation, which that person would then need to be tested as a prophet.

Modern Christian, who is your prophet? Who told you that each of the books in the Bible is “inspired? In order to receive a truly prophetic notion from the Holy Spirit (even if one were a prophet) would be to examine every one of the early documents written in the early church and say “yay or nay.” Aside from the presupposition that the Bishopric already chose the inspired documents, how would this person tell which was which?

Would there be an audible voice? Some sort of apparition? Is it even possible for modern man to discern this selection without the Church? The answer is NO? Without a prophetic voice no deciphering can be made.

The logos (revelation) was given to the Church and not to the printing press. The authority of the logos was given to the Church as an oral tradition. The Church has decided that there are many portions of this tradition that deserve special attention in what we call the Canon. The Church still gives revelation but not as to contradict the Canon. This does not mean that the Church cannot grow and must, for instance, continue to worship in homes like “the Bible says.” The Canon is not a set of rules, it is a revelation that is to be taught and evangelized. The Church will continue to do this like it has from the beginning. And anyone that takes possession of the Bible without the Church is in danger of worshiping the Bible itself.

The Three Bar Cross

Russian Cross SunsetDating back to the first millennium, the “Three Bar Cross” has served the Orthodox Church across the entire world.

The top bar of the cross represents the mockery Christ received as He was taunted as “King of the Jews.”  An Eastern Orthodox Christian Prayer for Friday explains the meaning of the footstool of the cross being slanted toward heaven and the repented thief on His right.

In the midst, between two thieves, was Your Cross found as the balance-beam of righteousness;

For while one was led down to hell by the burden of his blaspheming,

The other was lightened of his sins unto the knowledge of things divine.

O Christ God glory to You

Beware of Liberalism!

Russian Icon of St Michael Toppling the Pillars of Liberalism

Liberalism, a worldview/philosophy that ultimately dates back to the western schism of the Church (where men turned from the canons to relativism), has gained an incredible amount of momentum within the American culture, infiltrating most every historical Protestant denomination, tearing them to shreds. The English Enlightenment and French Revolution catapulted Liberalism within the Protestant groups, cultivating many European communities to turn a blind eye to the coming beast of communism. Russia, as a “neighboring” country, was also infected, resulting in a Marxist revolution, destroying many parishes for many decades during a communist control.

Here are nine points of how ‘American Liberalism’ could begin its excavation in to today’s Orthodoxy. Let us “gird up our loins,” as St Paul says, and stand firm for the Gospel, lest we slowly slip in to the same error as those before us.

1. Liberalism refuses to be specific about the Law of Christ and pointing out what sin looks like, ethically. When it does admit to ethical breach in the Law of Christ, it tends to gravitate toward the hyper Pauline/Protestant view of “we are all sinners” and so sin is sin and therefore no reason to quibble over details. To these liberals, homosexuality, for instance, is no different than a person who struggles with lying. But the Saints, as well as those within the Church clearly mark more grievous sins than others. Some sins, such as homosexuality, have been named by the Church as so sinful, that they have been deemed a crime, and punishable within the civil sphere.

This is how sin corrupts: The more grievous the sin, the more it infects the covenant community, as well as even the civil community at large. Failure to identify sin as such, results in pure nominalism, where doctrine and overall communication of ‘God-Like-Things’ is pushed aside for social endeavors and gossip.

2. Liberalism skirts repentance with psychology and sociology. The Liberal looks into his or her past in order to “find the pain” and locate the true reason for their sin. Rather than taking responsibility for their passions and sins; that they have acquired them through slothfulness and pride, they blame them on society and people within their personal sphere of society. Liberals are always “healing” from these ‘wounds,’ as they call them.

The Church does indeed teach that we are healing, but not from society, rather, from our own sinfulness. Dealing with pain is also important, but using it as a crutch is quite dangerous.

Liberalism has been working like this for decades in the west, thwarting the penal system, lessening sentences and crimes for criminals, and inviting us to tolerate the most heinous sins within our communities.

3. Liberalism looks to secular society for help. Liberals will have no problem donating funds to secular organizations to do what the Church used to do within society. They typically believe that as long as the philanthropic job gets done, then the call of Christ is fulfilled. But Christ says to actually create relationships with the poor, oppressed, and all others who are downcast. He says that we should invite them to our banquets, and love them like brothers and sisters. It’s not about getting the job done, it is about building the kingdom through the Church, one person at a time…making disciples. This is a relational concept, not a business concept.

Liberalism so firmly believes in ‘getting the philanthropic job done’ that they will vote for some of the most unchristian leaders come political election time. The state is taking over the Church’s ministries in so many ways, within America. This reminds me of when the Bolsheviks took control of Russia. One of the first things they did was dismiss the Church from social ministry so that they could take over as an administration, thus becoming “the good guy.”

4. Liberalism also looks to “professionals” such as secular psychiatrists and psychologists to help them with their ministry. Since they cannot call sin, sin, and draw the Christian to repentance, they give up on them and refer them to these so-called professionals. If the psychologist does not work, then perhaps the psychiatrist will!  The reality of the truth is that anyone even trained in gospel ministry on a surface level will be able to help those in need. The gospel message in its entirety, surrounded by the sacraments of the Church, as well as her ascetic requirements (fasting, traditional prayer, etc), a person can be healed from any psychological issue.

5. Liberalism fails to embrace the ascetic and monastic foundation of the gospel. To Liberalism, the ascetic life is a requirement for the monastics but remains more of an option for the rest of the Church. The fathers clearly teach otherwise, that even the more simple ascetic callings such as fasting and giving to the poor, is a vital part of the faith, and cannot be marginalized. The anti-ascetic theory of Jovinian (5th century) was condemned by various fathers, and was condemned in a synod of Rome and the synod of Milan.

One of the many problems with not embracing the ascetic call of the gospel is that the materialistic worldview of the west quickly begins to consume the faithful. We who live in non-Orthodox countries need to be especially aware of this, since materialism and hedonism thrive so well within these secular cultures.

The way of Christ is self-denial and self-mortification, “turning the other cheek,” and turning away from worldly desires as much as able, in order to gain Christ. It is downright impossible to be enlightened in Christ while paying homage to any hedonistic culture. One cannot love both “God and mammon” as Christ explains.

The modern argument against the traditional ascetic life for all is that those who embrace it will become puffed up from it and believe it to be an end rather than a means. But this is because they are not taught that the ascetic call is a means of grace. One must be taught that fasting, for instance, enables us to experience God on a mature level, and if one does not fast to the best of their abilities, they cannot expect their spiritual life to be very healthy. The same goes for all other ascetic qualities that we are taught by Christ and his Church. Christ is not calling all of us to “go and sell everything” to follow him, but he is calling us to “go and sell everything” as each one sees fit. The problem is that Liberalism’s influence has squashed this very worldview in the name of evangelism (drawing in and keeping many people in the pews).

6. Liberalism is anti-family! It is not always intentionally anti-family, but its feministic philosophy muddles the roles of man and woman, which causes much pain within marriage. St Paul calls women to be homemakers and men to be providers of the home. He goes as far as stating that a man that does not provide is “worse than the unbeliever.” He calls the wife to submit to her husband and the man to love his wife regardless of how weak she is.

Liberalism typically sidestep the gender topic all together. The subject is very important to healthy family life. When a woman takes on the role of a man, she belittles the man, and he becomes insecure, which can result in many conflicts. As the saying goes, when a man has a good woman behind him, he can accomplish anything.  Just the opposite is true when a woman is at her husband’s heels; attempting to gain the authority in the home because she feels he is not performing to her standards (feminism empowers her not to be content with her husband’s authority).

7. Liberalism is planted in false piety and false humility. Their modern worldview (as seen above) is attributed to this false piety. The liberal just cannot seem to understand what it means to work out ones salvation through the ascetic life; the life of sacrifice and toil. The liberal finds ways of making themselves feel holy through a modern pandering of acceptance. To love, according to the liberal, is to not be exclusive of other faiths, other forms of ethics, etc. Certainly, God does use jack asses at times to speak to us, as we can see in the Bible. But He does not say to sanction jack asses to speak to us. When he uses such a means, this is a sign that we have not been listening to the avenues that he has originally given us through the Saints.

8. Liberalism refuses to truly acknowledge the return of Christ, The Blessed Hope, as St Paul calls it. It is the other side of the coin to the extreme Evangelical newspaper theology, which overemphasizes current events to prove Christ’s imminent return. Rather, these liberals defame the Second Advent that the apostles and Christ emphasis in the Holy Scripture. You will rarely, if ever, hear a liberal speak publicly about the Second Advent in a positive manner. Rather, if it is mentioned, it is how those kooky Protestants are so off with the subject. These are usually American converts, who haven’t a clue that in Greece and Russia, talk of the second coming is extremely popular. Recently (2013), a number of bishops warned the Christians of Greece NOT to partake of Greece’s new financial system that requires a mark to be adopted, so as not to fall in to what St John states in his writings of ‘the mark.’ Also, Patriarch Kirill, recently stated that the fast growing adoption of gay marriage within many countries, is a sign of the apocalypse. Liberals typically will not endorse these types of statements, or they downplay them as something that should not be a concern.

9. Liberalism within the Church will never cease to accuse those who seek obedience, as “Protestant” or “western” minded. Protestantism as well as Catholicism is indeed smothered with legalism, but to over-correct with antinomianism (anti-law) is just plain ridiculous. And to accuse those who do seek obedience as western, Protestant, or schismatic, is an extreme form of self-deception and arrogance. This antinomianism is a reflection of the first point of this article, which shows how liberals refuse to be consistent regarding sin and the law of Christ.

O Lord God, and eternal King, send O Lord, Your Archangel Michael to help Your servant and deliver me from all my enemies, visible and invisible.

 

What Does It Look Like For You?

Orthodox CrossTake a close look at the definition below, found in the latest Webster’s Dictionary. One cannot help but notice how modernized the definition is, offering the traditional definition (Number 1) and the modern (Number 2).

com·mu·ni·ty  kəˈmyo͞onitē/

noun

1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.

“Rhode Island’s Japanese community”

2.a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”The sense of community that organized religion can provide”

Here is the 1828 Webster Dictionary definition:

COMMUNITY, n.

1. Properly, common possession or enjoyment; as a community of goods.It is a confirmation of the original community of all things.

2. A society of people, having common rights and privileges, or common interests, civil, political or ecclesiastical; or living under the same laws and regulations. This word may signify a commonwealth or state, a body politic, or a particular society or order of men within a state, as a community of monks; and it is often used for the public or people in general, without very definite limits.

There seems to be some confusion amongst us, today! We have gone from understanding community in a very real way to understanding it in a very artificial way, as Christians. We have somehow been divided by someone or something and we have actually been accepting it, especially in the West (with America as the heartbeat of this acceptance).

  1. Is community a real concept, where people actually organize their lives together, forming villages and even entire nations? Or is community something that only involves our senses, as the modern definition above suggests it can be?
  2. Can community be either one of the two definitions? If so, how do we reconcile almost two thousand years of the traditional definition?
  3. Why are western – especially American – Christians not willing to embrace the traditional definition?

There are many things that the early, Pre-Nicene- Church retained as she grew from the persecuted Church to the Imperial Church. She retained the personhood of Christ and all of the doctrines that were attached to that, she retained the way we worship and pray, but she also retained something that is extremely important in the Christian faith: Community!

When Christ commanded us to love our neighbor, to feed the poor, to not chase after wealth, and to turn the other cheek, he was not teaching us these things for the sake of an intellectualized dogma-message, rather these things were meant for us to use for community.

In Acts, Chapter Two, we see how this fleshed out, where the entire Church sold all they had to “have all things in common.” There are some modern day scholars and teachers that claim this was for the sake of persecution, and certainly this is true…The Church had to take extreme measure to stand against the pagans of that time. But what happens when we are not being persecuted like that of the first three centuries? Are we to abandon community simply because there is no one being slaughtered in our immediate area, or was Christian community meant to have a much deeper meaning behind it? If we look to Christ and what he commanded from us, we can indeed see that community is far more than about escaping persecution, or somehow saving our flesh.

In our modern day of the more masonic community, where the community revolves not around the Church and the faith, but around institutions that have replaced the ministries of the Church and faith, we may think that community consists of simple connections whenever we have the ability to make them. This can certainly be considered as a valid form of community, but only in a persecuted environment. In other words, if we are persecuted by the state or some other entity, then, yes, we can only meet together when we can meet together.

Are we being persecuted in the West? This is the question. If we are not, then why in the world do we not have what we had before, which is an entire Christian empire? The reason seems elementary: and that is, we are indeed persecuted, because we know that if we tried to build any sort of Christian community in the USA, we would be smashed by local and federal governments with laws that are designed to stop this sort of economical and spiritual growth. We simply cannot get away with it…unless we were united in the faith, which of course, we are not. Diversity in the west is honored!

The Ultimate Deception

The ultimate deception of our age is that we have become numb to what the Christian life is all about, and that is, to be the salt of the earth. When Christ commands us to be the salt and light of the earth, he does not ask us to build a network of ceremony buildings (churches), he commands us to build community. This is why the Church became an empire, and continued to grow across the earth as an empire for many centuries. We are called to evangelize people into a community, a real community, and not a mere ceremony, not “a feeling of fellowship with others” as the modern definition states. Indeed, it all starts as a ceremony, but it cannot and must not stop at the ceremony. Saint James says that an unstable man is one that looks in the mirror, and then forgets what he looks like when he walks away. We cannot and must not become reflective in ceremony and then forget how it actually manifests in our lives.

One will say that the Gospel manifests in our lives through “love” and “caring,” etc. Yes, but what does this actually look like? How does it pan out into creation itself?

No Christian will deny that our worship is to manifest in good works, but many, I think, will deny that these good works manifest in to martyrdom! Imagine if the early Christians were not willing to be martyred. Imagine if they simply submitted to the Roman government and only became a ceremonial community. Imaging if they did not insist that the community at large be infiltrated by Christ. This is what they did; they refused to allow the government to place Christ as just one of the many pagan gods. They refused to give allegiance to the state, rather than the community of Christ. They could have escaped much persecution if they just bowed to the pagan czar, and then walked out of the court believing that bow was only ‘outward’ and that the real work was to evangelize a ceremonial community alone!

When we read the stories of the early martyrs we see how men and women stood for the very advancement of real and living community, a community that was interdependent on one another, who where dedicated to Christ’s will on earth as it is in heaven.

So, what do we do? I really do not know! I’m serious, I do not know. We cannot all move to Greece or Russia to help them revive. We cannot revolt and convert America through the current evangelistic strategy we currently have. We really cannot even take a stand for “the east.’” In other words, we cannot say “I stand for Russian, etc.”  The reason is that Russia may or may not make it back to being the empire of Christ. Prophesy says they will for a short time, but where does that leave us Western people, if it is only temporal, just before Christ’s return?

Does it leave us to just throw in the towel and enjoy what we believe to be from God….Walmart, Costco, Hollywood, etc? I don’t think so. I think it might mean speaking out as a fool for Christ! It might mean speaking, and speaking, and speaking, until our tongues are cut out like that of St Maximus…Well maybe not, but perhaps it means becoming very ascetic, praying in silence, forsaking worldliness for the return of the King. Or maybe it means making serious and positive changes in your life, regarding your family and church. Whatever it may be that you pursue, it is likely going to revolve around something that the current secular culture does not approve of. The road is narrow, and there are few who find it, Christ says!

What does this road look like for you?

America…From an American Perspective

America…From an American Perspective

It is harder than most people in the world think, to be an American…a cradle American, one that has lived within the culture for most of their life. We are thought to be very satisfied people with much freedom and luxury, a people to be envied. It is quite possible to live in luxury in the USA, and it is also possible to feel like you are free. But what is required of us to live and feel like this?

If one buys in to the following, they can be American, and carry no burden:

  1. That America is founded on Christianity (or some sort of refined ethic of Christianity).
  2. That the so-called “founding fathers” were related to this “Christian country founding” and that they somehow created a more perfect England.
  3. That American slavery was something that we have repented of and that it never gave birth to more slavery.
  4. That America WAS a great country and NOW just needs to return to these supposed great roots.
  5. That America is accepting (or can be by its very construct) of other cultures and faiths as long as they do not force their culture or beliefs on others.
  6. That America has a “free enterprise” which enables us to ethically practice most any vocation we want and grow this vocation as large as we want (into a company, etc).
  7. That Americans can achieve the highest possible form of spirituality, within their given faith, and still remain loyal to American culture and thought.
  8. That America can somehow construct a country that pleases a variety of faiths without having to be centered on any one particular faith.
  9. That we have earned what we have…to the point of being justified in raising arms (weaponry) when these elements are being threatened to be taken away.
  10. That all of the above is some sort of “conspiracy” and that American eighth grade history and overall education is adequate for us all.

One day, when I am old and secluded, I hope to be able to appease the mass American culture by selling them on the ten points listed above, offering a volume or two of proofs, published by a large corporation. But even then, many will refuse to believe! But perhaps by then, the old veterans (God bless their hearts) and retired businessman of America will no longer be here to lobby their thoughts into the media, public education, and religious institutions.

So for this article, I am attempting to persuade with conversational thought…that is, with a more palatable knowledge that is ‘transferable.’ I believe this is an important way to communicate to Americans due to two things:

  1. Most Americans do not like to read, and when they do (or want to collect information, in general), it is through short articles, movies, or books that only make it to corporate publishers (books that sell to the masses).
  2. Oral, more conversational, knowledge has practically ceased to exist in America. In other words, our culture has excommunicated tradition, completely, to the point of only trusting scholarly works…A travesty, since, in America, scholarly works have been capitalized on by non-scholarly institutions and corporations (all others are deemed as questionable organizations)…also a travesty because scholarly conversation belongs in the pubs and the parks, the dinner table and the porch.

 

Possible Part Two, Coming Soon  

Prophecies About Russia

Prophecies About Russia

1. Anonymous Greek Prophecies found in St. Sabbas Monastery (8th or 9th century):The last days have not yet arrived, and it is completely wrong to consider that we are on the threshold of the coming of the antichrist, because one last flourishing of Orthodoxy is still to come, this time in the whole world, headed by Russia. This will take place after a terrible war in which either one half or two thirds of humanity will perish, and which will be stopped by a voice from heaven.

“And the Gospel will be preached throughout the world”.

1) For until that time there will have been preached, not the Gospel of Christ, but the Gospel distorted by heretics.
2) There will be a period of universal prosperity – but not for long.
3) In Russia during this period there will an Orthodox tsar, whom the Lord will reveal to the Russian people.
And after this the world will again be corrupted and will no longer be capable of correction. Then the Lord will allow the enthronement of the Antichrist.1]

2. Another Anonymous Prophecy from St. Sabbas’ Monastery (8th or 9th century):

“At various times this great people [the Russians] will fall into sin and for this will be chastised through considerable trials. In about a thousand years [i.e. in the 1900s] this people, chosen by God, will falter in its Faith and its standing for the Truth of Christ. It will become proud of its earthly might and glory, will cease to seek the Kingdom and will want paradise not in Heaven but on this sinful earth.

“However not all this people will tread this broad and pernicious path, though a substantial majority will, especially its governing class. On account of this great fall, a terrible fiery trial will be sent from on high to this people which will despise the ways of God. Rivers of blood shall flow across their land, brother shall slay brother, more than once famine shall visit the land and gather its dread harvest, nearly all the churches and other holy places shall be destroyed or suffer sacrilege, many shall perish.

“A part of this people, rejecting iniquity and untruth, will pass over the borders of their homeland and will be dispersed like unto the people of the Jews all over the world. Nevertheless the Lord will not show His wrath on them to the uttermost. The blood of thousands of martyrs will cry to the heavens for mercy. A spirit of sobriety will grow among this chosen people and they will return to God. At last this period of cleansing trial, appointed by the Righteous Judge, will come to an end, and once more Holy Orthodoxy will shine forth and those northern lands will be resplendent with the brightness of a faith reborn.

“This wonderful light of Christ will shine forth from there and enlighten all the peoples of the earth. This will be helped by that part of the people providentially sent ahead into the diaspora, who will create centres of Orthodoxy – churches of God all over the world. Christianity will then be revealed in all its heavenly beauty and fullness. Most of the peoples of the world will become Christian. And for a time a period of peace, prosperity and Christian living will come to the whole world…

“And then? Then, when the fullness of time has come, a great decline in faith will begin and everything foretold in the Holy Scriptures will occur. Antichrist will appear and the world will end.”[2]

[Read more...]

On Death To The World!

Climbing out of the Confusion

As time goes by throughout the Church age, more and more layers of half-truths and lies rise up to completely burry and surround us. We are left with bits and pieces of the Gospel, whereas to become a completely different Gospel than what was given to us by Christ. Oversimplifications have been innovated to save us from all the confusion, but those too become ghetto gospels, gospels that break off of THE Gospel and huddle in to camps of complete disarray.

In various sectarian Bible groups there is, for instance, a belief, that to be financial wealthy is a sign of godliness.  Other Bible groups speak of gaining “assurance” that Christ paid a debt to God for our sins, and that acknowledging this supposed act is, in itself, godliness. Others state that we must have a relationship with Christ and witness much providence in our lives, and this is godliness. Some Bible groups state that we must live a highly moral life “in Christ,” which is supposed to mean morals that are “Spirit led.”

There is no doubt that Christ and the fathers taught much about wealth and poverty, attitude and providence, as well as morals. But under what umbrella was this all taught? Through what lens must we see the Gospel message and what it entails, what it is all about?

Orthodox Christians have traditionally incorporated ‘pilgrimages’ into their lives. They take journeys to historically holy places such as Israel, or Mt Athos in Greece, to experience the Orthodox faith in a very real and personal way. A popular place for Orthodox to pilgrimage to is a monastery!  There are a number of reasons for this, but considering the topic at hand, the Gospel message  according to Orthodoxy, it seems pertain to speak of what every monastery advocates: the ascetic calling of the Gospel.

Asceticism is the very act (or acts) of dying to the world for the sake of Christ. There are many ascetic avenues of Orthodoxy, which are, of course, rooted in the words and actions of Christ…avenues such as fasting, prayer, meditation, poverty, etc. But there is something that all of these things rest on…something that Christ and the Apostles speaks of very adamantly within the Holy Scriptures. Martyrdom! We become martyrs as we follow the Gospel, dying to the world and its “worldliness.”

The Beatitudes as the Gospel Message

One of the many beautiful aspects of the Slavic tradition is that every Divine Liturgy, the Church prays the Beatitudes. In the Beatitudes, Christ explains that to be blessed is to be:

  • Poor
  • Hungry
  • Tearful
  • Hated and Excluded

 

Directly following the Beatitudes, the Gospel records Christ stating that we should:

 

  • Bless our enemies
  • Do good to our enemies
  • Pray for our enemies
  • Turn our cheek and give whatever is asked
  • Be merciful toward others

 

To be a Christian is to be a martyr! A martyr is not just one that is physically killed, but one who is also killed spiritually. Our ill-gotten spiritual state dies as we give ourselves to others, as we give up what we could have, for the sake of Christ and His eternal kingdom. As St Paul the Apostle says, we are to die to self and we are to deny the lust of the flesh. He also says that Baptism is symbolic of this death of self.

When St Paul says to us that when he is “weak” he is actually spiritually strong, he is proclaiming the ascetic way. When Christ says “take up your cross,” he is telling us to carry and accept what gives us pain in our lives. In order to embrace these things, we must be humble, which St Peter the Apostle says actually gives us grace. St James the brother of Christ says to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

All throughout the Gospel message and through the writings of the Apostles and the fathers, we are commanded to die to the world! This does not mean die to creation, rather, it means to die to the worldliness of what is contrary to the ascetic nature of the Gospel.

Modernity Vs Asceticism

As the Church age has progressed through time, we have begun to see a pattern of culture take shape above and beyond the ascetic calling of the Gospel. We call this pattern by the name of ‘modernity.’  Modernity is the progressive nature of Satan within the eschaton. As St John says, Satan knows his time is short, and so he must layer as many complex and confusing cultures, beliefs, etc, into the world as possible, until one day, he has the vast majority of people under his control, believing that life is about feeling good and acquiring things to make us feel good. Life itself becomes reduced to what our senses demand. The ancients called this by the name of ‘Hedonism.’ They were much bolder about embracing sinful patterns, then. Now, hedonism is not a bold endeavor, rather it is something that is embraced by the means of self-righteousness (I earned this or that, etc).

The movie, Matrix, seems to display this message with clarity: The entire world is bound to their senses, everyone enjoying many things in life, unaware that their adversary has taken a hold of their very chemistry to program the people to only react positively to pleasure and the pursuit of pleasure. Interestingly enough, to break out and leave this life of  being controlled by the enemy, means living a very sacrificial life apart from much luxury, so as to become a part of redeeming all of creation to the final battle against this enemy. Sound familiar? Sounds like the Gospel, and how we are to turn from Satan’s domain and join the fight against him and his demons.

The Power to Fight

Orthodoxy, unlike western Christianity, does not teach that God killed Christ because man owed God a payment of some sort. Orthodoxy teaches that Christ’s death was a ransom, rather than a payment to God. It was a ransom from the devil, who had a hold of God’s people. Christ set us free from that bondage of sin and the devil, and, as St John the Apostle states, Christ was manifested in order to “destroy the works of the devil.”

When St Paul says “O Death, Where is your sting,” and “O Hades, where is your victory,” He is stating that there is a new way to travel in this life, and that is through the power of “the cross.” The weight and force of sin no longer has power over us, IF (and when) we chose to follow the Gospel. St Paul says that we “bear the image of the man of dust [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly man [Christ]. This means that we will be able to become as God was incarnate, we will be able to live as he lived, not perfectly, of course, but through his same Spirit, through his same motive and even, action.

Christ gave the pre-Nicene Church the power to be killed, daily, and that power was manifested into an entire empire, known as the Byzantine Empire. To understand historical victory we must understand that these victories are from the ascetic call of the Gospel, and not strategic placement of clergy, parishes, or political figures. The victory of Christendom is through the praxis of the Church, including the Holy Mysteries, which are also ascetic calls: The Eucharist and the very preparation for receiving it; Marriage, and the very servanthood that comes with it, as well as the other mysteries where we turn from what the world says we need to what Christ and His Church says we need. Do you need healing? Go to the Church to be prayed over! Yes, see a doctor, but also see a priest so that the doctor does not lead you astray, and perhaps, through the grace of God, you will not even need to see the doctor.

St Paul the Apostle says that “For He made Him who knew no sin to BE sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God IN Him.” This means that Christ took on the very negative effects of sin so as to enable us to be able to deal with them.” When we actually embrace the pains that God gives us, including those painful ascetic callings of the Church Calendar, such as fasting, we are able to obtain his power and conquer the devil. This is the Gospel message…That we turn from the hedonistic and self-centered calling of Satan to the rather painful, yet joyous, calling of Christ!

Examples

It is no coincidence that Christ spoke of money as a primary topic within the Gospel accounts. The love of money, says St Paul, is the root of many evils. Financial gain is a fine test for a Christian’s soul. When we gain, financially speaking, do we attempt to live a more luxurious life, with more hobbies, more meaningless vacations, and perhaps even more debt? We could go on with examples of hedonism, but the truth of what Christ teaches is that we cannot “serve two master,” we cannot serve both “God and mammon,” as he puts it. An even more radical statement is the one where He says that it is near impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. This is so clearly a call to a very ascetic gospel, a gospel that is simply not taught by very many in our consumer driven age.

The Church of Acts is our primary example of the ascetic call. In Act, Chapter Two, we see how the Christians gave everything they had to the Church so that the entire Church would have “all things in common.”. This eventually evolved into an entire empire, where the Gospel was promoted in such a way so as to pave the way for all mankind of our modern age to be able to receive this same power. It is a sort of paradox: The Church gave away their lives, only to find them more abundantly!

To follow Christ is to follow His teachings, and His teachings are clear: The Gospel is about giving up the way of “modernity” (the self-seeking way) for the way of the cross. Through this we find joy, through, what many in the world consider, rather depressing things. But we are actually to find joy through these ‘ascetic’ ways, through these pains, oddities, sacrifices, and even tribulation. We are here, on this earth, to be refined for a greater place, a place that our Father has been preparing for us.

On Orthodox Monarchy

Very soon after Russia accepted the seed of the Gospel (in the year 988) her soil was sanctified by the blood of martyrs. The pure young sons of Grand Duke Vladimir, Boris and Gleb, accepted death at the hands of a political assassin in order to save their people from civil war and terrible upheaval. They became sufferers for righteousness (I Peter 3:14); being conformed to the innocent suffering of Christ, they became true “Passion-Bearers.

As in the beginning of Holy Russia, so at the end: it pleased God to reveal Himself to the Russian people through the innocent suffering of Saints Boris and Gleb; now, in these latter times, He has again unveiled Himself through the purifying suffering of a Tsar, the Anointed of God and supreme Protector of Christ’s Church in Russia, Nicholas II.

Western writers do not understand Orthodox monarchy. And because America rebelled against the King of England; Americans in particular have no sympathy for the idea of Monarchy. Indeed, it is almost a sacred tradition to applaud any nation that “comes to its senses” and overthrows its king! The Tsars of Russia are viewed in this same man- centered rather than God-centered light.

But; in Orthodox Russia there once existed a society composed not of “church and state” (such as existed in medieval Europe) but of “government and priesthood”-a holy commonwealth. The Tsar was never placed outside the Church or “above the law,” but always within the Church and subject to the law of Christ. He was very much the “servant of the Gospel”: he was required to live by it and rule by it in order to be worthy of the blessings of God upon himself, his family, and his nation. Such a righteous Father to his people was the last Tsar, Nicholas II. And now, in this year of grace, 1981, in spite of more than 60 years of Marxist deception, it pleases God to reveal Nicholas and those that suffered with him, to the Church and to the whole world (if only the world will hear it!).

Blessed Archbishop John Maximovitch has written: “Why was Tsar Nicholas II persecuted, slandered and killed? Because he was Tsar, Tsar by the Grace of God. He was the bearer and incarnation of the Orthodox world view that the Tsar is the servant of God, the Anointed of God, and that to Him he must give an account for the people entrusted to him by destiny…”

In Orthodox teaching, Tsar Nicholas was the last representative of lawful Christian authority in the world, the last one to restrain the mystery of iniquity (2 Thess. 2:27). (And, indeed, from the time of his martyrdom can be dated the unprecedented lawlessness, godlessness, and apostasy of this final age: the complete unleashing of the forces of darkness, which now threaten to complete ly engulf the world as a preparation for the reign of Antichrist.)

An Orthodox monarch receives his authority from God, but by what means and in what manner does it come to him? Authority to govern in the Name of God and perform the highest earthly ministry descends upon a Tsar in the Sacrament of Anointing, at the time of his coronation. After the crowning he is told that “this visible and material adornment of thy head is to thee a manifest sign that the King of Glory, Christ, invisibly crowneth thee.” The Anointing takes place after the reading of the Gospel in Divine Liturgy. The chief hierarch anoints the Tsar with Holy Chrism on the brow, eyes, nostrils, lips, ears, breast, and hands, saying each time: “The Seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Thus, Nicholas II received his authority through a Sacrament. The Holy Spirit was upon him! “By rejecting the Tsar, the people blasphemed the Sacrament and trampled upon the grace of God” {Illustratted History of the Russian Peop1e).

In 1917 Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow saw in a vision the Saviour speaking to Tsar Nicholas: “You see,” said the Lord, “two cups in my hands: one is bitter for your people, and the other is sweet for you.” In the vision the Tsar begged for the bitter cup. The Saviour then took a large glowing coal from the cup and put it in the Tsar’s hands. The Tsar’s whole body then began to grow light, until he was shining like a radiant spirit. Then the vision changed to a field of flowers, in the middle of which Nicholas was distributing manna to a multitude of people. A voice spoke: “The Tsar has taken the guilt of the Russian people upon himself and the Russian people is forgiven.” Nicholas him self once said: “Perhaps an expiatory sacrifice is needed for Russia’s salvation. I will be that sacrifice. May God’s will be done!

He had a very strong sense of his destiny as an Orthodox ruler. Although he had an opportunity to flee the country with his family and seek refuge outside Russia, he and his Empress deliberately chose to stay and accept whatever awaited them. He had been born on the feast of the Prophet Job and because of this he often remarked to his advisors: “I have a secret conviction that I am destined for a terrible trial, that I shall not receive my reward on this earth.” No wonder that our Russian Bishops Abroad wrote (in 1968): “Job the Much-Suffering, on the day of whose commemoration the Tsar was born, said in his grievous suffering, concerning the day of his conception: ‘As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year” (Job 3:6).Terrible was the night of the murder of the Tsar”!

On that unspeakable night, “the prisoners were all in a deep sleep when they were awakened and ordered to dress in order to leave the city…. The Imperial Family descended to the basement where the Sovereign sat down, with his ill son, on a chair in the middle of the room. The Duchesses, the doctor, and three dedicated servants were seated around him. Every one was waiting for the signal to depart. At the executioner’s announcement (which stunned all the prisoners) of the impending execution, the Empress succeeded in crossing herself. She was killed instantly, together with the Sovereign. God spared them from hearing the groans of the Tsarevitch and the cries of the wounded Grand Duchess Anastasia. The first bullets did not bring death to the youngest ones and they were savagely killed with blows of bayonets and gun-butts and with shots at point-blank range. The imost innocent and ho1y had suffered the greatest torture”? (Illustrated Russian History).

In the words of Fr. Dimitry.Dudko, one of the first of that wave of modern confessors to speak out against the betrayal of the Church in Russia: “The Tsar is a saint and, moreover, one of the greatest saints. O great saint of Russia, Great-Martyr Nicholas, pray to God for us!”


“St. Seraphim prophesied in clear words about the tragic fate foreordained by God for the Tsar who would be present at the Sarov solemnity of faith, when there would be Pascha in the midst of summer (the glorification of St. Seraphim in 1903). According to his prophecy, if there would be repentance in the Russian people, God would yet have mercy on her, but first He would allow for a time the triumph of lawless men: the Tsar would be overthrown and killed, so that the people might know in experience what life was like under the Tsar anointed by God, and under the rule of men who have trampled underfoot the law of God. St Seraphim, by revelation from God, wrote in his own hand a letter to the Tsar who would come to Sarov and Diveyevo, entrusting it to his friend Motovilov, who gave it to Abbess Maria, who in turn handed it personally to Emperor Nicholas II in Diveyevo on July 20, 1903. What was written in the letter remains a secret, but one can suppose that the holy elder saw all that was to happen and warned against the frightful events to come…

(Abbot Seraphim, Peking, 1920, in Orthodox Russia, 1981, No.1)

Orthodox Roots in Russia Continue to Sprout – Proposal for National Orthodox Identity

Priests during the religious procession in honor of the Appearance of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, in St. Petersburg. (RIA Novosti/Alexei Danichev)

Priests during the religious procession in honor of the Appearance of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, in St. Petersburg. (RIA Novosti/Alexei Danichev)

Center left MP Yelena Mizulina, known for her pro-life stance and conflicts with leaders of the LGBT community, has suggested amending the constitution emphasizing the exclusive role of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Mizulina said at the Friday session of the parliamentary group for the protection of Christian values, that the Russian constitution should include a preamble saying that “Orthodox Christianity is the basis of national and cultural originality of Russia”.

The move gained support from other participants in the session who represented the majority caucus of United Russia and the Communist Party caucus.

Currently the Constitution describes Russia as a secular state and protects freedom of conscience. Four religions – Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism are sometimes called ‘traditional’ in the mass media and politicians’ statements, but there is no legal basis for that.

In 2012 nationalist lawmaker Sergey Baburin also suggested mentioning Christianity in Russia’s constitution. Baburin said the country could follow Georgia’s example and underline the Church’s role in the nation’s history while still protecting the equality and freedom of all beliefs. Back then, the move failed to gain sufficient support.

According to a poll conducted by the Levada research center in late October this year, over 70 percent of Russian Federation citizens consider themselves Orthodox Christians. 44 percent of respondents hold the Russian Orthodox faith as the official religion of the country. 56 percent agreed that the Russian Orthodox Church played a major role in Russian history.

Yelena Mizulina represents the moderate leftist party Fair Russia and chairs the Lower House’s Committee for Family Women and Children. Earlier this year the committee developed a concept of the national family policy that stressed the role of a traditional ‘nuclear family’ and suggested strengthening it by supporting traditional religions.

The concept caused heated discussions and some celebrities and gay rights activists started posting obscenities about Mizulina on their social network pages and various blogs. In July this year Russia’s Investigative Committee – a federal agency for investigating high-profile crimes – reported that they started a criminal inquiry “into insulting a representative of a state authority” but did not mention the names of any suspects.

In November speech, Mizulina lashed out at surrogacy saying that the practice, along with abortion, would eventually lead to humanity’s extinction. Earlier this year she also suggested making ‘morning after’ pills a prescription drug.

 

From rt.com

Orthodoxy Flourishing in Georgia

Rick Steves, a popular European travel guide, had a guest speaker write this about Georgia.

Georgia is a Christian outpost in a largely Islamic part of the world. Despite living farther east than Syria, Egypt, and parts of Iraq, Georgians have a strong Christian tradition. It was the third state to convert to the religion (after Armenia and Constantine’s Rome) in the third century A.D., and since then, has resisted many attempts at forced conversion by invaders.

The most recent threat to Georgia’s religious traditions came during the decades living under Soviet Union’s state-enforced atheism. However, since Georgia’s independence in 1992, Orthodox Christianity is experiencing a flourishing revival…one that I couldn’t help but get swept up in.

2011-12-09-AbusyGeorgiancathedral.jpgDutifully following my guidebook’s walking tour, I slipped into a small cathedral famed to be the oldest in Tbilisi. Now, I enjoy a good European cathedral as much as the next traveler. But after many years of travel, church fatigue has set in. Another church is worth a peek, but not much more. Plus, I find myself feeling sorry for the few worshippers: Would you want to be photographed by hordes of tourists while conversing with your Lord and Savior? So my intention was to step inside, poke around, read about its history, and continue on my walking tour. But instead I ended up staying for hours.
What first struck me was how busy the church was. Despite it being a Wednesday afternoon, it was packed. Mothers chased unruly toddlers. Husbands wandered arm-in-arm with their wives. Neighbors waved at each other from across the nave. Believers of all ages meandered from icon to icon — pausing to delicately touch the glass, whisper a prayer, light a candle, kiss the corner of the frame, and rest their foreheads lovingly where they had kissed…all with the tenderness they would show a beloved grandmother.

A half-dozen priests busily performed ceremonies for small clusters of followers. On the right — a baptism for three babies — Priests-in-practice shuttled in holy water with large, green-plastic buckets. In the center, a casual wedding — wearing street clothes, a young couple took their vows. During our trip, we even saw an open-casket funeral — dead body and all.

2011-12-09-Acasualandopentothepublicwedding.jpg

Nothing was private. Nothing closed to the public. It was community in its truest form.

The pure, sweet love these believers had for their God was palpable. As I watched quietly from the corner, I was moved to tears by their tender devotion and strong faith.

In every single church we visited, we found a similar scene. If you ever found Georgia’s streets empty, you could safely assume everyone was at church. In fact, there’s such a demand for church space that in 2005, Tbilisi opened one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in Christendom. It’s grand and beautiful, but its interior walls are still bare. They’ve started a collection to pay for a brand-new set of frescoes.

2011-12-09-Newcathedralwaitingforitsfrescos.jpg

Many people try to explain away this spiritual revival: Pent-up religious fervor being released after years of Soviet rule. A show of Christian religious strength in an Islamic world. An exhibition of national pride. They may be right. But above all else, what I saw was a deep and real love of God.

Romanians March to Revive Monarchy!

More than 1,000 people took to the streets of Bucharest on Sunday (November 10), asking for the reinstatement of the monarchy in Romania.

People chanted asking for King Michael I of Romania to take his seat at the Cotroceni Palace – which is now the presidency headquarters. The groups also chanted slogans such as ‘Monarchy saves Romania’.

The organizers of the march, the National Alliance for Reinstating Monarchy, gathered young and old people from Bucharest as well as from Alba Iulia, Cluj, Constanta, Galati and Ploiesti, who all met in the Charles de Gaulle plaza in the Romanian capital.

 

The march continued on Kiselef boulevard to Victoriei Square, then to the King’s Square, where protesters brought flowers to the King Michael’s statue. They then continued on Calea Victoriei to the revolutiei Square, and stopped at the equestrian statue of King Carol I.

Romania is currently a parliamentary republic, with a two-Chamber Parliament. The president is elected by the people, who also vote on the members of the Parliament. The Prime Minister is then named by the President, and the PM chooses the Government ministers.

Romania was a monarchy until 1947, when king Michael I was forced to abdicate. From 1866 to 1947, Romania had had four foreign kings, Carol I, Ferdinand, Carol II and Michael I. A foreign king was brought in 1866 at the initiative of Romanian politicians, after Romanian Alexandru Ioan Cuza was forced to abdicate. Carol of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was the politicians’ second choice, but he accepted, starting the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen dynasty in Romania.

King Michael I of Romania, currently 92, chose to break the bond with the House of Hohenzollern and give up on the title Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, which gives the Royal House of Romania a national and independent status.

This decision was made taking into account Kind Ferdinand I’s decision in 1921. King Ferdinand I was King Michael’s grandfather. Based on Ferdinand’s decision, all members of the Romanian royal family have the surname “Of Romania”.

Following the recent decision, the Royal House will no longer be called The House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, but the Royal House of Romania. The members of the Royal Family will also give up all their titles given by the heads of the Hohenzollern royal family.

The House of Hohenzollern is one of the most important dynasties in Europe. The Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen is a wing of the Hohenzollern dynasty. Kings Carol I (1881-1914), Ferdinand I of Romania (1912-1921), Mihai I (Michael) of Romania (1927-1930 and 1940-1947) and Carol II of Romania (1930-1940) are part of this dynasty.

 

source: romania-insider.com

Georgia Considers Returning to Monarchy

St. David IV the King of Georgia (Feast Day - January 26)

From RT News

The Georgian Parliament is to discuss the possibility of restoring the monarchy in the country. The idea was floated by the Head of the Georgian Orthodox Church and has been warmly greeted by opposition parties.

With no end in sight to Georgia’s political turmoil, the country’s top religious religious leader has proposed a radical solution – bringing back the country’s royal family.

Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Ilia II, says putting the Bagrationi family back on the throne could end the nation’s political woes.

“This is not a matter to be decided by others. It is we who should decide this. The Georgian people and the people living in Georgia have to decide this. You know that the rule of the Bagrationi Dynasty was terminated in 1801, and since then Georgian people have nurtured a dream to restore the ancient, divinely blessed dynasty,” he said.

The Bagrationi Dynasty is the longest serving royal house in Europe. They ruled Georgia in one form or another for over a thousand years, until Georgia was absorbed into the Russian Empire and the monarchy was abolished.

Today, the main branches of the family live in Spain and Italy, but they remain popular in Georgia. And after the Patriarch’s statement, they could be coming home at last.

The idea has been greeted with jubiliation by the Georgian opposition – newly united following the arrest last month of former Defence Minister Irakli Okruashvili on corruption charges.

That was just two days after making a series of scandalous allegations against President Mikhail Saakashvili.

Earlier this week, the former minister was released on $US 6 million bail after repudiating his allegations against the President.

The opposition say they will nonetheless continue their protests against the Government, and one of their main demands is a reduction in the powers of the President. For the opposition, the Patriarch’s statement seems like a blessing.

“I’m for a parliamentary republic. I’m also for the possibility of restoring the constitutional monarchy here. A constitutional monarchy is also a kind of a parliamentary republic and this was the principle idea of our Patriarch,” says Freedom Party leader Koka Gamsakhurdia.

The Patriarch’s is thinking long-term. His idea is to groom someone from the Bagrationi clan from childhood.

This means the opposition are unlikely to get their king or queen any time soon. For its part, the Government isn’t ruling out the idea for the future.

Mikhail Machavariani Deputy Speaker of the Georgian parliament thinks, “At this stage it is not possible for Georgia to become a constitutional monarchy”.  “If we, Georgians, make this decision, a monarch must be raised from childhood,” he added.

Ordinary Georgians also seem prepared to at least consider restoring the monarchy after more than 200 years.

“The idea of having a constitutional monarchy is of course lovely, but I’m afraid it’s absolutely unrealistic,”one of the citizens says.

Another local believes, “The restoration of the monarchy will happen in the future, it will be the best path to follow for the next generation.”

The Patriarch’s idea is an appeal to Georgians’ sense of history and unity at a time when the county is gripped by a political crisis.

And because Georgians respect the Patriarch, the idea is likely to be taken seriously.

The idea of bringing back Georgia’s royal family will get its first test in parliament shortly, when MPs discuss the proposal.

A Truly Orthodox Perspective of Marriage

Kim and IHaving been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.

Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. :) I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each of us have moments in our lives when it feels like time slows down or the air becomes still and everything around us seems to draw in, marking that moment as one we will never forget.

My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raisethem? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”

It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.

My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.

No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?”

Some time ago, my wife showed me what it means to love selflessly. For many months, my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous. I was selfish.

But instead of matching my selfishness, Kim did something beyond wonderful—she showed an outpouring of love. Laying aside all of the pain and aguish I had caused her, she lovingly took me in her arms and soothed my soul.

SKwedding394Marriage is about family.

I realized that I had forgotten my dad’s advice. While Kim’s side of the marriage had been to love me, my side of the marriage had become all about me. This awful realization brought me to tears, and I promised my wife that I would try to be better.

To all who are reading this article—married, almost married, single, or even the sworn bachelor or bachelorette—I want you to know that marriage isn’t for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love.

And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered.

Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others.

This post originally appeared on ForwardWalking.com, a website dedicated to helping people move forward in life.