Tag Archives: russian orthodox church

The Wannabe Inquisitors: Christian Trolls

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World

Just a short post today, I have spent most of the day over at the Naval Medical Center, getting my initial evaluation for Traumatic Brain Injury and Concussive Syndrome and new hearing aids to help with Tinnitus and speech processing disorder.

But, another day, another religious troll. This one not the typical Evangelical, or even more traditionalist Roman or conservative Catholic type. This one claimed to be Eastern Orthodox and had to bluntly confront me on my heresy. Of course that had to do with women clergy and homosexuals, which seem to be for many of these guys, and for that matter all of my trolls have been guys, the big issue is that they always focus on these things when calling me a heretic. They never call me a heretic for the things that the Church Fathers all condemned as heretical, like my very orthodox doctrine of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Nor can they say that any of my beliefs conflict with the Creeds or Councils, or are not enunciated by at least some of the Church Fathers. Instead they jump on women in ministry and gays.

My personal feeling is that thought they cloak their reasons in their theology is the fact that they cannot handle women in any kind of authority position and that, and the issue of homosexuality makes them question their own manhood, or possibly lack thereof. I love what Barbara Tuchman wrote about male theologians. “Theology being the work of males, original sin was traced to the female.” That really is why male dominated, and often mysoginistic religions reject women as priests, bishops, ministers, Imams, or Rabbis.

After a couple of exchanges this gentleman referred to the statement that the “Orthodox Church IS the Church, is true and correct in EVERYTHING it teaches….” (His emphasis)

Such appeals to absolute truth being contained in any one religion or denomination neither impress or frighten me. I went through that stage of faith, and frankly it’s a free country. I know lots of other people  that would disagree with the man, including the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church which still holds its 1054 excommunication of the Orthodox as binding, despite the good intentions of Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis. But if such certitude comforts this man, good on him.

What I don’t understand though is how this man and others like him have a compulsive need to troll the internet, find someone that they find lacking, call them a heretic and get upset when the person that they assaulted takes umbrage. I don’t get that. I have no need to go to anyone’s site just to tell them how wrong I think that are. But then maybe such people do this because they lack the official backing of the government to enforce their religious beliefs on others.

I have a live and let live attitude. I don’t think that anyone or any church, denomination, sect or religion has a monopoly on truth. I quite agree with the late Father Henri Nouwen who said:

“Theological formation is the gradual and often painful discovery of God’s incomprehensibility. You can be competent in many things, but you cannot be competent in God.”

I no longer make absolute truth claims. I believe, but I doubt and question, some days more the latter than the former. So when people like this come at me I try not to waste much time on them, though I did defend myself. This man proved again Eric Hoffer’s magnificent thoughts:

“A doctrine insulates the devout not only against the realities around them but also against their own selves. The fanatical believer is not conscious of his envy, malice, pettiness and dishonesty. There is a wall of words between his consciousness and his real self.”

The good thing is that in this country, men like this are unable to enforce their doctrine on other citizens through the police power of the government. Such as the case in Russia where Vladimir Putin’s crusades against women, the LGBT community as well as other smaller Christian denominations and Jews are rooted in the state religion of Russian Orthodoxy. This is a fact and it is a reminder that such people and such systems do exist, and if they ever, in whatever form gained control of the government in this country they would do the same. We see this at the state level where a number of states are attempting to establish Christianity as the State religion, or at the minimum give Christianity precedence over any other religion.

These Wannabe American inquisitors love Putin, and many actually go to Russia to cheer on his actions.

Hopefully things never come to that here. But you never know. As Captain Jean Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) said in the Star Trek the Next Generation episode The Drumhead:

“We think we’ve come so far. Torture of heretics, burning of witches it’s all ancient history. Then – before you can blink an eye – suddenly it threatens to start all over again.”

Have a great night,

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Policies Contrary to Their Own Interests: Putin’s New Cold War

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“A phenomenon noticeable throughout history regardless of place or period is the pursuit by government of policies contrary to their own interests.” Barbara Tuchman

Today Russian forces continued their occupation of Crimea in spite of international outrage. Not only did they continue to build up their forces in Ukraine to the point that they operationally control the peninsula, they upped the ante demanding that Ukrainian army and navy units to surrender by Wednesday or face a “military storm.”

praguePrague 1968

It is something that Europe has not seen since the Cold War when the Soviet Union used military force and violence to put down revolts in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

Polen, Parade vor Adolf HitlerCzechoslovakia 1939

However, I think in political terms it is much closer to Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939 after Britain France and Italy stripped that country of its power by forcing the Czechs to surrender the Sudetenland to Hitler in October of 1938. Up to that moment the European powers bet on the appeasement of the Hitler regime. In a sense over the past decade the West has given Putin free reign to exercise his power over former territories, coercing them and occasionally using economic and even military power to bring them into line.

But now it is Ukraine. a complex region where Asiatic Russia meets Europe. The Ukraine is not Georgia or Chechnya. It is a region that has been a battlefield between Russia, the indigenous peoples as well as Germany, Poland, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Turkey. It is the dividing line between western Catholicism and Russian Orthodoxy. In the 1850s even England and France found themselves intervening in the Crimea.

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I believe that Putin under the flimsiest of pretensions has elected to use military force to attempt to coerce the Ukraine back under the thumb of a Russian Hegemon and to frighten the West into not intervening. It is a mistake. Just as in 1938 when Hitler believed that he could continue to steamroll the through Europe without war. In betting on the weakness of the West, Putin is playing the same game. Contrary to the speculation that Putin is doing this as a show of strength it is actually a display of Putin’s domestic insecurity.

Russia is not nearly as economically or militarily strong as Putin acts. There are serious ethnic and social divisions in the country and despite its assertions the Russian economy is much more dependent on the good graces of other nations as it is not. Already following Putin’s move into the Crimea the Russian currency and stock markets are tanking. I suspect that the West will soon impose sanctions that hit Russian economic and banking oligarchs where it hurts which will undercut support for Putin where he needs it most. Likewise I expect that Russia will be expelled from the G-8 and possibly cut off from other international banking and economic organizations.Likewise both the U.S. and the United Kingdom are bound by treaty to protect the territorial integrity of the Ukraine.

140302073009-03-ukraine-0203-horizontal-galleryPutin has had a run of success until now. However his crackdown against dissidents, campaigns against homosexuals and the state supported Russian Orthodox Church assault against other Christian denominations have already undermined his credibility as a world leader.

The invasion of the Ukraine will solidify opposition to Russia abroad, and increase anti-Putin sentiment in Russia. Should the Russian military attempt to invade other parts of Ukraine as they are threatening, Putin will find that he has bit off more than he can chew. His forces are certainly more than a match for the Ukrainian military, but he will not be able to hold or occupy the vast areas of the Ukraine in the face of opposition that will rapidly move toward a protracted insurgency. This insurgency will be supported by nations such as Chechnya which will take the war to the heart of Russia. It will turn out worse for Russia than the invasion of Afghanistan for the Soviet Union.

A new Cold War has already begun, Putin has made sure of that. The world that existed just three weeks ago when athletes from around the world gathered in Sochi for the Winter Olympics no longer exists. The only thing that we can hope is that the new Cold War does not become a hot war.

I am reminded of Barbara Tuchman’s words in The Guns of August: “The muffled tongue of Big Ben tolled nine by the clock as the cortege left the palace, but on history’s clock it was sunset, and the sun of the old world was setting in a dying blaze of splendor never to be seen again.” 

The world that we knew is now changed.

Let us pray for peace.

Padre Steve+

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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