A glimmer of hope?

I do my best to keep the hysteria at bay faced with the American election, the French equivalent next year and Brexit. Conspiracy theorists and fundamentalist Christians love to produce videos telling us that the end is nigh due to World War 3. Much as we brush off the rubbish, we are left with the feeling that there is no smoke without fire somewhere.

I find it hard to believe that history is at an end with a world order in place to vindicate the idea that might is right and the strongest have evolved into the Ubermensch of Nietzsche. Here is a Russian Orthodox point of view by an English priest of that Church – The End of the New World Order.

I do remember перестройка and гласность. I was at university at the time, thirty years old and ever looking for new hope in our world, not just for myself but also for future generations. It was the implosion of Soviet Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe. A friend came knocking on the door of my room shortly before Christmas 1989 and told me that the Berlin Wall was down. I thought it was a joke, since I had been brought up to believe that the Communist world was eternal and invincible. The Cold War was over.

It now seems to be our turn to hope for light and change from the sinister forces governing the west and causing so much mayhem in the Middle-East, forcing so many people to seek asylum in western Europe. Perhaps another Empire is set to topple. Something is about to change. We can only hope and pray it does before someone pushes the nuclear button!

If there is a war, it will not be a just war. Our own countries would be the war criminals and perpetrators of crimes against humanity, not Russia. I have my reserves about Putin but even more about those who are portraying him as some kind of “new Hitler”.

Will there be a great Monarch to save us all? I read many things about kings of France springing up out of nowhere. The narrative seems to be naive and inspired by fairy tales, but Jung might have seen an archetype in the collective consciousness. I know that Putin would like to bring back the Monarchy in Russia. Perhaps that land is blessed by God. We keep hoping and seeking, perhaps something that will never be of this world.

In history, there are peaceful and good periods, and times of war and tyranny. This has been the lot of humanity right back to the beginning. Whatever happens, we have to have hope…

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20 Responses to A glimmer of hope?

  1. I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling a little downbeat at the moment, Father. So am I, but you’ve cheered me up by introducing me to the wacky world of Fr Andrew, bless his cotton socks! He attributes the defeat of Napoleon to Russia’s Alexander I (so, nothing to do with Wellington and Blücher, then), after which the Tsar apparently didn’t die, as generally believed, but in a shock men-do-say storyline twist, “did liveth unto an great age as an ’ermit… as men do say”. (We of course have a similar legend, associated with King Harold Godwinsson). Fr Andrew looks for a triumphant return of the Romanovs (UK version: Arthur, Once and Future King). According to Fr Andrew, and I’m guessing this is a mainstream Orthodox belief, King Harold was the last Orthodox king of England, but I wonder why – given that the Great Schism was in 1054, when Edward was still Confessing? There’s obviously a good reason. Something to do with Stigand? Or is it just that the Normans were Roman and nasty?

    I long for the day we RC’s are properly reunited with the Orthodox – we can surely reach an accommodation on the filioque and papal primacy. How wonderful it would be to go on holiday to, say, Greece, and go to an Orthodox church as a totally legit option. Orthodoxy seems so organically of the people, somehow; they still make saints pretty much by popular acclamation, a process we have effectively re-adopted recently – and they have some great ones, including the pre-Schism Brits! My local Orthodox monastery is named for “Saint” Edward “the Martyr” (Edward of Corfe), whose career reminds me of a line from The Life of Brian: “He’s not the Messiah. He’s a very naughty boy!” Ethelred the Unready was considered a better option, you can do the math.

    • I am not feeling downbeat, but I keep an eye on the news, aware that what was reported a month ago in the alternative “conspiracy theory” media is now related in the mainstream press. The latest is the FBI reopening the file on Hillary Clinton. Ouch! So, it’s not me feeling down but keeping informed and making comparisons to try to understand current events better.

      Whether that Orthodox priest is a crank or not, I can’t say because I don’t know him. He has sometimes written some very interesting things and seems to have an acute mind. If he has imagination, so much the better from a “Romantic” point of view! As you know, I am not Orthodox but a Continuing Anglican (or Anglican Catholic). It doesn’t do any of us harm to know Orthodoxy better and to empathise with Orthodox people in their own countries and diasporas. In many things (more than you would like to imagine), we are already united.

  2. Patrick Sheridan says:

    I too look (and pray) for the return of the Tsar. And Russia is indeed a land blessed by God. It is nothing short of miraculous that since the collapse of the Soviet Union twenty-five years ago, tens of thousands of churches have been built, with strong parishes. Hundreds of monasteries have been built, or rebuilt. Thousands of priests and monks have been ordained. Where the “established” religions of the West are in fast decline (and deservedly so), Orthodoxy is arising with great strength. We are indeed, as Fr Andrew says, at the brink of something decisive. I am going to be received into Orthodoxy soon. It will be just in time.

  3. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    For what it is worth, I enjoyed Peter Hitchins’s “The Cold War is Over” earlier this month at First Things, and then Edward Lucas’s reply, there, “The Realism We Need”, but have not yet read Peter Hitchins’s answer in The Mail (6 Oct.), “The Soviet Monster is Really Dead” (all online).

  4. Patrick Sheridan says:

    I sometimes wonder if “AnthonyMunday” is capable of anything but scorn and sarcasm.

  5. J.D. says:

    I for one find Father Andrew Phillips a bit too star crossed in his appraisal of Russia and his overly political reflections, but I think his magazine Orthodox England is a fine publication. Over the years I’ve read most of them and he really shows in great detail that something major did happen after the Norman Conquest that seemed to forever change the character of Christianity of the Isles.

    Mr. Sheridan is right, something major has happened in Russia since the collapse of the Wall and the end of Communism. What is happening in Russia appears to be a full scale return to the deep Orthodox roots of the Russian soul, roots that less than a hundred years of communism could never totally destroy.

    I’m a bit more skeptical of any new tsardom, King or political solution to the worlds ills best in Russia or otherwise. Although I’m in spirit Orthodox ( and God willing I’ll someday formally become Orthodox) I’m closer to the desert fathers of the Northern Thebaid and the Old Believers than anyone else. Like what happened in the 17th century in Russia the official church and the state can make huge mistakes when the Faith becomes too politicized. For that reason I can admire men like Putin and the rise of religious rhetoric within political circles in Russia with a bit of cynicism and skepticism. I pray he’s the real deal and will not be corrupted or that the Church will become corrupted, but history has shown time and again that it’s near to impossible to not distort and taint the Faith when worldly and political concerns are put on the same level as religious ones.

    At any rate Russia is exciting to watch, and my prayers are with them. I am half Russian by blood so I am a bit happy to see my ancestors rising again.

    I just cannot necessarily get excited about the idea of some Neo tsarist kingdom of Orthodoxy by force. If anything my reading of scripture confirms for me that Jesus was more than likely a pacifist anarchist whose kingdom was and is in no way, shape or form allied to ANY state, anywhere in the world. It is an otherworldly kingdom of peace at odds with the fallen realm we inhabit.

    Of course I could be wrong here on some of this but that’s what this forum is for, for discussion.


    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      Presumably St. Paul was a Roman (and not just a Greek-city) citizen, and the Senate and People of Rome got around to deposing Nero at last (I can’t remember the details of who were Roman citizens outside the City by what date, and do not pause to try to look it up), and I’ve read that that happened again more than once in the course of the ‘Byzantine’ Christian Roman Empire – I wonder if any of this perception became part of Muscovite ‘Third Rome’ thinking? It seems to have become an issue in the Latin west as Roman law was studied more and more – just how, and when, and where did the ‘populus’ figure in ‘res publica’? (I’m not sure about the long-time Republic of Venice, here, either.)

  6. William Tighe says:

    The date 1054 is much overrated in its importance. “The Great Schism was” – NOT – “in 1054;” that was simply a significant date in the ongoing estrangement of the Christian East and the Christian West; and even there it is important primarily as regards Rome and Constantinople, not, e.g., as regards the three other Eastern patriarchates, or the “Byzantine East” generally.

    I have no time to write in any detail at the moment, but I will say that the technical date at which Rome and C’ple ceased to be in formal communion with each other was 1009 (although by the 1090s, at the time of the First Crusade, the reason for it had been forgotten in C’ple, and remains a matter of speculation to this day; and it is not clear whether Rome took any notice of it at that time, or later; there was, however, a failed attempt in 1028 to reconcile the conflicting jurisdictional claims of two sees*). It was not until the 1180s/1200s that the other Eastern patriarchates came to regard themselves as no longer in communion with Rome (in the mid-1050s the Patriarch of Antioch criticized both Rome and C’ple for their recent quarrel, and insisted that he was, and would remain, in communion with them both), and that was due in large part to conflicts between Latin bishops and “Greek” bishops in the crusader states. From my own, perhaps eccentric, perspective I regard 1484 (the date when the four Eastern patriarchates formally repudiated the Council of Florence and the union achieved at it – although in Russia it was repudiated in 1442) as the best symbolic date for regarding “the Schism” as an established fact.

    *(What happened in 1028 was a proposal from C’ple that Rome would regard C’ple as having within the Empire the full plenary authority which Rome claimed universally, at times at least, for itself, and which the proposal would have seemingly conceded to Rome outside the bounds of the Empire. Rome seemed to be inclined to accept the proposal, but the leaders of the “Cluniac Reform,” then spreading throughout the Latin West, attacked the proposal as a betrayal of Rome’s “Petrinity,” and in the face of this opposition Rome backed down and refused to endorse it.)

    • James Morgan says:

      Dr. Tighe, what happened in 1009 to cause a rupture? Either I never knew of it or I’ve forgotten! Please help!
      Rdr. James Morgan
      Olympia WA USA

      • William Tighe says:

        Short answer: nobody really knows; in 1096 when the Emperor Alexios Komnenos inquired of the C’ple patriarch why the Bishop of Rome was not commemorated in the diptychs of C’ple (which was the outward token of ecclesiastical communion) the response was that it was “due to negligence on both sides” (with no further explanation). The last Pope commemorated in the diptychs at C’ple was John XVIII (d. 1009). John’s successor was Sergius IV (1009-1012) and the C’ple patriarch at the time was Sergius I (1001-1019), and a couple of contemporary chroniclers make mention, vague and unexplained, of “the schism of the two Sergii.”

        One may speculate that as part of the “profession of faith” which each newly-selected patriarch was expected to send the other four since the middle of the Seventh Century (and which, if accepted by the recipient patriarchs, meant that the sending patriarch’s name would be added to the diptychs [except at Rome, where there were no Eastern-style liturgical dyptichs]) Pope Sergius may have included a Creed with the filioque, which would have ensured its rejection at C’ple; or else, given the disorderly state of the times and of Italy, he may not have sent a profession of faith to C’ple (or else, if he did, it may not have arrived; there are a handful of 10th-Century Popes of Rome whose names do not appear on the C’politan diptychs, and in all of these cases they may have sent a “defective” Creed, or not sent anything at all, or sent a profession of faith which never made it to C’ple); at any rate, his name did not appear on the dyptichs at C’ple, nor the names of any of his successors. The Creed did not become a part of the Mass at Rome until the coronation of the (Western) Emperor Henry II there in 1014, and then in its German recension, with the filioque; before that date the Creed at Rome was used at Baptisms and reconciliations of schismatics and heretics, with or without the filioque (by the year 1000) there is no evidence to say.

        For sources, I’d recommend *The Eastern Schism* by Steven Runciman (Oxford, 1954) – Runciman came of a high-church Scots Presbyterian family, and was strongly Orthodoxophile – and Aidan Nichols’ *Rome and the Eastern Churches* (Ignatius Press, 2010 – second edition), the contrasting sympathies of which make them complementary on the subject, and worth reading together.

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Very interesting – thanks!

  7. Mr Tighe, thank you for your most erudite intervention. So the bottom line is that 1054 wasn’t any kind of fault-line; the Schism was a bit more nuanced than that. You, personally, think that the Schism was only etched in stone during the reign of our King Richard III. That’s pretty cool, man.
    So, what happened in 1009, sir?

    • William Tighe says:

      See above. 1484 does seem to me to be the most reasonable “symbolic date;” however, in the Aegean and the Levant regions instances of quasi-communion and, rarely, of “eucharistic hospitality” continued for much longer, i.e., Kallistos Ware documented decades ago how on Venetian-ruled Aegean islands Orthodox bishops would sometimes send members of their flock to Dominicans or Jesuits to make their confessions, and how Orthodox bishops and priests would turn out in public liturgically vested on Corpus Christi Day to offer incense and perform an act of proskynesis to the Blessed Sacrament as the procession passed by.

      The split of the Patriarchate of Antioch in the 1720s into a patriarchate in communion with Rome (the origin of the Melklite Catholic Church) and another not in communion with Rome embittered relations considerably. At some point in the first half of the 1750s Constantinople laid down a new requirement that all “Latins” becoming Orthodox were to be received by Baptism (previously only chrismation was required) because they were “outside the Church” (ironically, this came at the same time as the Russian Church, which had required the rebaptism of Latins since the 15th Century, switched over to requiring chrismation only), while Rome issued a degree banning all communio in sacris with “the Eastern schismatics.”

  8. Thank you, Dr Tighe; my query re AD1009 was submitted before your further clarification appeared.

    I’m interested in reading an historical overview of Orthodoxy, its various branches, reforms and schisms, for example the seventeenth-century controversies in Russia over liturgical changes and the “Westernisation” of ikon-painting that led to the split of the Old Believers. Can you recommend a book on the subject – preferably one of less than six hundred pages, that I can get from Amazon and that I can read over Christmas to help with digesting the turkey and Christmas pud? Regards to you, sir.

    • Dale says:

      Hello Anthony,

      I do know that you asked Dr Tighe, but one could place to start, in regards to the Old Believers, is with an annotated life of the Archpriest Avvakum who was burnt by the official new rite Russian Orthodox.

  9. Thanks for the pointer, Dale. I’m definitely going to put something “Orthodox” on my Christmas list, might be something on the theology of ikons, which has always interested me!

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      Archpriest Avvakum is one of the vast number of people I know as a famous name, and next to nothing more – but his English Wikipedia article links externally to a scholar who has some papers online, also on icons, who might be interesting to try and a source of further pointers:


    • James Morgan says:

      To anthony and David:
      One good source on iconography in the Russian Church is ‘The Meaning of Icons’ by Lossky and Uspensky, published by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press in New York. It is an invaluable introduction to the subject..

      • James, I had that book years ago but it got lost in a house-move somewhere along the line. A very impressive coffee-table book! – huge, and beautifully illustrated. However, I think I found Lossky’s text a little too impenetrable for a dunce like myself!

      • Dale says:

        Thank you for mentioning this James. Uspensky’s book on ikons is simply awesome. I knew him many years ago, and he was the consummate gentleman, both humble and knowledgeable; his wife was just as wonderful by the way. My Candidatus dissertation adviser was Vladimir Lossky’s son, Arch-priest Nicolas. The Russian Orthodox milieu of that generation in Paris was one of well-educated and liberal individuals of the highest quality (I am using liberal in its more traditional meaning). They were never nasty, sneering or mean; their Orthodoxy was open and very loving.

        It is also worth mentioning that both were very open to the west, the Losskys openly supported the early western rite movement and Uspensky painted ikons of western, French saints in western vestment (unlike as an example, so-called ikons of St David of Wales dressed up like a Russian Metropolitan of 16th century Moscow!).

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