Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The New Aristocracy of the South: From Plantations to Monasteries, Part 3rd

In an Orthodox country, where Church life is the normal experience for most each day, the monastery is at the center of that life.  The life of the monks - their renunciation of the world, humility, love, and ceaseless prayer - is the pattern for the rest of the Christians in the country to follow.  People from every class of society, from peasants to soldiers to philosophers to kings, seek their counsel, blessing, and prayers, and many times end up becoming monks themselves.  And from the monasteries come the leaders of the Church - the bishops, and also deacons and priests. 

Of its place in a country’s life, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna wrote,

Monasticism is not something unto itself—a peculiar and exclusive institution.  In the true monastic every Christian sees what he can be.  He beholds a model to be emulated.  He embraces the higher faculties of the soul and beholds what it is that embodies all that to which Christians aspire.  As an old adage has it:  “Christ, the light of Angels; Angels, the light of monastics; monastics, the light of all men.”  Monasticism reaches up to Christ, derives from Christ, and brings the Christian Faithful into a direct encounter with the light that flows forth from Christ and His Angels.

Just as the body has need of various victuals and craves the things that sustain it, so the soul needs an image of purity.  It is this image which the monk and nun have always presented (‘Introduction’, in Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili, The Monastic Life, trans. Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna and Bishop Auxentios of Photiki, Etna, Cal.: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 2001, p. 16).

Now that Communism has fallen in Eastern Europe and Russia, monasticism is once again taking its place of central importance there.  In Russia, for ensample, there were about 1,025 monasteries in 1914 before the Soviet takeover, 18 in 1987, but 713 in 2006 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Russian_Orthodox_Church, accessed 21 Aug. 2016).

Like the Southern plantation, a monastery is a self-sufficient, hierarchical society, focused also on the production of two kinds of goods, one kind material and one kind non-material:  the material (like the plantation) being agricultural products and kindred handcrafts of various sorts and the non-material (unlike the plantation) being mainly an inner life of prayer.

At the head of the monastery is the abbot or abbess, and under his or her rule are the brothers and sisters, each of whom has his or her particular place in the order of the monastery’s life:  planter, harvester, cook, chanter, cell attendant, bee keeper, candle maker, and so on.

In its life of work and prayer, every monastery has to support itself financially. Contrary to what some may think, the diocese or central Church administration does not financially supports the monasteries. Each monastic establishment strives to have their financial support come from within its specific confines and through the labors of the monks/nuns. Yes, donations from individuals, parishes, and Church organiza­tions form a large portion of the necessary financial running of the mon­asteries, but the monastics still labor to maintain the physical structures and properties, as well as doing things that produce an income. Projects vary from one monastery to another, but often include painting icons, sewing vestments, running an Orthodox bookstore on the premises of the monastery, hosting retreats and visitors, and sometimes going out to speak at a conference or retreat, writing and publishing books, baking prosphora for parishes, etc. (‘What Role Does Monasticism Play in the Life of the Church?’, http://www.pravmir.com/what-role-does-monasticism-play-in-the-life-of-the-church/, accessed 18 Aug. 2016)

So far things look fairly alike between the plantation and the monastery, but in his focus on the inner life, the monk begins to part ways from the gentleman, who is more focused on outward action, be it running the plantation or service in the government or military (‘It was natural that a people whose talent lay almost wholly in the direction of statecraft should consider eminence in war and eloquence in council the marks of illustrious manhood.’ -- Richard Weaver, The Southern Tradition at Bay, p. 56).

In the tway-speech (dialogue) he has created between a modernish theologian (whose mindset is probably not far different from most Southerners, past or present, when it comes to monastic life) and a traditional Orthodox monk, Metropolitan Cyprian draws out this difference betwixt inward as over against outward virtue:

THEOLOGIAN:  But this I cannot understand—the young theologian interrupted.  If a monk cares only for himself and for his “little cell,” separated from the world, uncommunicative, how does he put into practice the love which is an essential trait of the Christian?  Is this not, therefore, just egotism?

MONK:  Listen, my child.  The greatest joy and delight of God is to dwell in the pure hearts of those who love Him.  Since, therefore, the goal of the monastic, as with every Christian, is to be united to God by Grace, to be “divinized,” all of his fervor is directed toward cleansing his heart of the passions and making it a bright throne and chamber where the Holy Trinity might dwell.  For this reason, Saint Gregory Palamas says, “Indeed, only this is impossible to God, to enter into union with man before he has been cleansed.”  Consequently, it is not egotism for a monk to attempt in solitude to deliver himself from the dung of the passions.  For more moved is God when you overcome the passions, then when you return thousands of souls to goodness, as the Fathers say (Monastic Life, p. 22).

The monk says elsewhere,

MONK:  Listen, my child, the contemporary Christian in the world, entangled as he is in temporal concerns, has lost the essence of Christianity and, more specifically, of Orthodoxy—namely, mysticism, Divine love.  He believes that he has been appointed to the service of his neighbor and that, consequently, he does not have time for himself.  He thinks that giving of himself entirely to his neighbor is enough to show that he is not selfish or egotistical.  However, the truly unselfish man is one who subjects himself to hardship through the ways of asceticism set forth and left to us by the Holy Fathers, not those hardships which contemporary zealots for “social action” desire, i.e., trips to hospitals, social agencies, etc.  The truly unselfish man is likewise one who humbles himself, fleeing vainglory.  Internally, he is humbled through self-denial and self-reproach, the beginning or alpha of mystical spiritual work.  External humility lies in humble eyes cast downwards, in silence, in the avoidance of quarrels, in submission, in not contradicting one’s superiors, in the avoidance of provocation of others, in suffering insult, and in such things.  Since, then, the “active Christian” betrays these mystical works of humility, he believes that he is able to cure others and has forgotten the words, “Physician, heal thyself” and the admonition, “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.”  The unfortunate “active Christian” has not reflected well:  “How, indeed, will I give, when I do not have?”  How will an empty cistern water the gardens?  He has not reflected on what it is that a Christian should have and what he, himself, has.  He has forgotten the words of Saint Paul:  “Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,” which words were the moving force of his apostolic activity (pgs. 32-3).

 . . . The centrality of prayer, which I have spent so much time discussing, is not such that it compromises the importance of philanthropic works.  I simply want to assure you that the endeavor to cleanse the heart and its works by prayer, along with asceticism founded in humility, is greater.  Social action, properly speaking, should spring forth from a loving soul, not from some pietistic or sentimental love that is satisfied with external effusions and material gifts alone.  Good works lie in holiness that has been externalized, and they have a purely instructive character, benefiting and accruing principally to the doer and not to the receiver.  They are done, as it were, for the perfecting of the benevolent soul.  As we have said, good works must, of course, be undertaken by the layman, even before sanctification has been achieved, but without a lopsided emphasis on their significance (p. 45).

 . . . Monasticism constitutes the aristocracy of the Church, and just as aristocrats spend the time in the courts of the rulers and take part in the “Lucullan feasts” and delights, so also monks always reside in monasteries, which are the antechambers of the Heavenly Blessedness, and there they drink the nectar of Divine love.  Intoxicated by its sweetness, they cry out:  “We are wounded by love” (p. 39).

Metropolitan Cyprian, in these sayings of the monk, shows the South how she may overfare (transition) from the old nobility of the gentleman to the new nobility of the monk.  There would be some changes, but many familiar traits would remain.

He is still a heroic warrior, but he battles with the demons and his own fallen, disordered passions instead of men.

He is still one who has the power of ‘command’, but through the Grace of the God that overflows from a pure, meek, and loving heart instead of through force of arms or skill in rhetoric.

He still does good works for his neighbor, but they are mostly the hidden work of the heart, his unceasing prayer for all the world.

There is still a web of virtues growing out of his way of life, but it is based on lowliness rather than pride.

No one should misunderstand, however:  There will always be a need in the South and in every country for a ‘gentleman class’, a Christian æþeldom (aristocracy) whose work is done primarily in the world.  The South, to her praise, has always cherished hierarchy, but by banishing monasticism in large part from her life, the right ordering of things has been disrupted; an essential channel within the Church that carries God’s Grace to the faithful has been blocked (but we do no wish to be too harsh about this, since the South, Old and New, has known little of the Orthodox Faith).  So the fulness of the Christian life is unknown in Dixie, and instead of the humble monk, imitating the Most Humble Christ, as her model, there is the proud gentleman, with his quick temper, sensitivity to insults, duels, and so on, whose lineage unfortunately is tied up with that of the high-minded, warsome French Normans.

But as we have noted, there is so much in common between plantation life and Orthodox monastic life that the journey back to the historic Christian norm of having monks as the ‘aristocracy’ of the land would probably not be as difficult in the South as in other predominantly evangelical Protestant countries.  Already the Southerner is inclined toward ‘idleness’ (Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, trans. and eds. Mansfield and Winthrop, Chicago, Ill.: U of Chicago Press, 2000, p. 360), which, echoing one of the Metropolitan’s statements above, with but a few changes can become the threshold of the inner life of prayer the monk and nun are called to cultivate. 

As the work of salvaging, guarding, and strengthening the good things of Southern culture goes on, encouraging monastic life must become an essential part.  It is a bulwark of the Truth, upbraiding - sometimes with words, sometimes merely by the life the monks and nuns live, and sometimes by their martyrdom - those who try to introduce innovations and errors of any kind, great or small, into the Christian life.  So we ask our Southern brothers and sisters to honor the monks and nuns as once they honored the gentlemen and ladies aforetime, and all the more so, as the excellence of the fruits of the formers’ labors is seen to rise above that of the latters’.

Since we have dealt somewhat abstractly with this subject, next time we will try to show through the lives of some monastics who have deeply impacted the West what this monastic life looks like when actually practiced in the world.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The New Aristocracy of the South: From Plantations to Monasteries, Part 2nd

In the Old South, the plantation was the institution of greatest importance.  The pattern of life there set the tone for the rest of Southern society.  Indeed, to become a gentleman-planter was the goal to which many in the South aspired (even among the clergy).

For instance, writing of antebellum Mississippi (which one may take as a microcosm of Southern life in general from this period), Charles Sydnor wrote (Slavery in Mississippi, Columbia, S. Car.: U of SC Press, 2013):

As a cotton plantation seems to have been the aim of most residents of the State, medicine and other professions were frequently stepping-stones to this end.  Ingraham observed that “medico-planters are now numerous, far out numbering the regular practitioners . . .” (p. 52)

And again,

A number of planters were retired clergymen; for some of these, as well as many physicians and lawyers, deserted their profession and became planters (p. 57).

So it is not surprising to see that plantation life was flourishing in the 19th hundredyear: 

According to the census of 1860 there were 3,552 plantations in Mississippi of thirty or more slaves . . . (p. 67). 

But what was this life that one found there?  It was a self-sufficient, hierarchical society, focused on the production of two kinds of goods, one kind material and one kind non-material:  the material being agricultural products and kindred handcrafts of various sorts and the non-material being an outward code of virtuous behavior.

Of the organization of plantation life, there is this witness in Prof Richard Weaver’s The Southern Tradition at Bay (eds. Bradford and Core, Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway, 1989, p. 35):

General John Mason, son of George Mason of Gunston Hall, has testified regarding that division of labor which made each plantation a relatively self-sufficient community:  “It was much the practice with gentlemen of slave and landed estates . . .  so to organize them as to have considerable resources within themselves; and to employ and pay but few tradesmen, and to buy little or none of the coarse stuffs used by them . . .  thus my father had among his slaves carpenters, coopers, sawyers, blacksmiths, tanners, curriers, shoemakers, spinners, weavers, and knitters, and even a distiller.”

At the head of this stable social order in which ‘everyone had his place’ and in which ‘even the humble could have the deep human satisfaction that comes of being cherished for what one is’ (p. 36) was the gentleman, who, together with his wife, the lady, embodied, for all the rest of Dixie to imitate, a set of virtues that were very much directed towards the world outside themselves.  Robert Calhoon wrote of the typical education of men and women in the South,

The education of women in this model, then, began with spiritual guidance and culminated in strategies for virtuous, pious behavior while the moral training of males started with direct observation of social reality and moved from that point toward a mature understanding of the functioning of the culture (Evangelicals and Conservatives in the Early South, 1740-1861, Columbia, S. Car.: U of SC Press, 1988, p. 149).

In the constellation of virtues that arose from this mindset, honor held a very high rank.

No problem so vexed southern evangelical clergy, therefore, as how to deal with pride in a proud culture.  One solution was to envelope it in a larger value system: the defense of honor.  Evangelicals believed that pride could be managed and even tamed through an appeal to honor—the human passion superceding sensual gratification and ego fulfillment.  . . .  Honor, as well as pride, meant respecting and responding to one’s most elevated feelings, fulfilling deeply felt obligations, and preserving the innocence of emotional bonds to superiors—especially to God (pgs. 144-5).

Such was Dixie’s life before the corruption that set in after the War (and which still remains very much a part of her, however much it has waned).  How it may be brought to a higher level of being through the leaven of the Orthodox Faith we hope to write of next.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The New Aristocracy of the South: From Plantations to Monasteries, Part 1st

Speaking about Orthodox culture in Greece, Fr Georgios Metallinos said,

We have a culture that creates saints, holy people. Our people's ideal is not to create wisemen. Nor was this the ideal of ancient Hellenic culture and civilization. Hellenic anthropocentric (human-centered) Humanism is transformed into Theanthropism (God-humanism) and its ideal is now the creation of Saints, Holy people who have reached the state of theosis (deification).

Source:  ‘Orthodox and European Culture’, http://www.romanity.org/mir/me04en.htm, accessed 12 Aug. 2016

If the South is to have a culture which has the creation of saints as its end (which is the only end worthy of the people of a country), then we must learn from those peoples who really have brought forth many holy men and women what is needed to bring about this state of theosis/deification/salvation (i.e., seeing the Glory of God).  One of these necessities is a strong monastic life in the land, for as St John of the Ladder says in The Ladder of Divine Ascent, ‘Christ, the light of the Angels; Angels, the light of monastics; the monastic way of life, the light of all men’ (quoted in Metropolitan Cyprian, The Monastic Life, 2nd ed., trans. Archbishop Chrysostomos and Bishop Auxentios, Etna, Cal.: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 2001, p. 18).  But before we detail why monasticism is more akin to Dixie’s traditional way of life than one might at first imagine, we must take a look at why it has faltered in Protestant lands in general.

The answer seems to lie in the Protestant doctrine of salvation.  Protestants say man has no part to play in salvation; it is a work of God alone.  Protestants thus are left with the idea of the instantaneous sainthood/perfection of believers when they become Christians.  Any thought of going off into the wilderness alone or to a monastery to strive for holiness, for an increase of the Grace of God in the heart, through various acts of self-denial are seen as unnecessary, if not heretical (being salvation by works, and not by ‘faith alone’). 

As an aside, this sort of mindset also explains why there are no saints (healers, prophets, spiritual mothers and fathers, etc.) in the Protestant churches; thinking they are already perfect, no one strives very hard for perfection, for union with the Holy Ghost.

Fr George Florovsky has a good summary just below of these things, and after that are a few quotes from the Head Reformer, Martin Luther himself, from an article by Fr George that flesh out the reasons why Protestants have swept away monasticism.  All of the quotes are from this page for those wishing to read further:

Fr George’s summary:

Without Luther there would not have been a Calvin, as Calvin himself acknowledges. Both share the doctrine of justification by faith "alone." Both share the doctrine of the sovereignty of God, as specifically defined by them — that God alone operates a system of salvation that is mono-energism, not synergism. Both firmly believe that man in himself has no value to God. Any value of man is "imputed" to man by God by a type of divine fiction whereby God looks at man through Jesus Christ and, instead of seeing the real human person, sees Jesus Christ, whom that man has acknowledged as his vehicle of salvation by faith, by believing in Christ. The "new understanding" of Luther, transmitted to Calvin and other Reformers, was one which in the deepest theological sense created a fiction of the entire redemptive process.

From its theological presuppositions ascetical and monastic forms of spirituality simply had to be rejected. They did not fit into their understanding of an authentic synergistic process of redemption, a process that is New Testamental, a process upheld by the Church from the beginning.

Luther Quote No. 1

He writes further: “But this most excellent righteousness, of faith I mean (which God through Christ, without works, imputes to us)... consists not in our works, but is clean contrary: that is to say, a mere passive righteousness. For in this we work nothing, we render nothing unto God, but only we receive and suffer another to work in us, that is to say, God. Therefore it seems good to me to call this righteousness of faith or Christian righteousness, passive righteousness... For there is no comfort of conscience so firm and so sure, as this passive righteousness is... Why, do we then nothing? Do we work nothing for the obtaining of this righteousness? I answer: Nothing at all. For the nature of this righteousness is to do nothing, to hear nothing, to know nothing whatsoever of the law or of works.”

Luther Quote No. 2

Luther immediately immersed himself in the study of Scripture specifically to study the question of whether a monk or nun could break a vow and marry. His response came with the publication of his On Monastic Vows. His conclusion was that there was no Scriptural support for a monastic vow. The very notion created a distinction among Christians, a distinction which Luther considered to be thoroughly opposed to Scripture. There were no “higher orders” of Christians in the Scripture. The vow was therefore invalid. Luther commented that he now understood why God had allowed him to become a monk — so that he could testify against monasticism from his very own experience. The monasteries in Wittenberg now began to empty.

Luther Quote No. 3

But now in the light of the Gospel we plainly see who they are whom Christ and his Apostles call saints: not they which live a single life, or [straitly observe days, meats, apparel, and such other things], or in outward appearance do other great and monstrous works (as we read of many in the Lives of the Fathers); but they which being called by the sound of the Gospel and baptized, do believe that they be sanctified and cleansed by the death and blood of Christ... Whoever then believes in Christ, whether they be men or women, bond or free, are all saints: not by their own works, but by the works of God, which they receive by faith... To conclude, they are saints through a passive, not an active holiness.”

If, however, putting the Protestant view aside and remembering the Orthodox view (the view of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church), that salvation is an ongoing act of co-operation (‘synergy’) between God and man, the view of monasticism changes.  It becomes an arena wherein man acquires Grace upon Grace through purifying his heart by prayer and other ascetic labors done out of love for God.  It again becomes the ideal of the Christian life - renunciation of the world for the sake of union with God - lived in all its fulness (St Matt. 19:21) and takes its proper place once more in the hierarchy of the Christian life:

‘Christ, the light of the Angels; Angels, the light of monastics; the monastic way of life, the light of all men.’

With God’s help, we will go on from here to say something about the Souð and monasticism soon.

Friday, August 12, 2016

‘An American Election Allegory’

The fourth year is come round again,
The demigods' scroll is unfurled,
Those set apart called forth from camps.
Each says the sacred chants of old,
Walks the land in circles of initiation,
And with each power-imbued syllable of dissimulation,
Seeks of the knife-wielding priests conciliation.
But one must be chosen, man-will be made manifest.
A-quiver with anticipation,
The priests approach the men before them.
Each his solemn choice he shows
With a single stab of his jagged blade,
And his next duty is like unto it:
Plunging the self-same dagger into priest-flesh,
As much as he can round him reach.
There!  The ritual is done!
Once again the land is blessed!
Within the holy square, the chosen man’s slaughtered corpse
Is placed upon a stately throne,
And the priests make merry in the freshly flowing gore.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

They Lied about Milosevic, Too

The Western, corporate-owned, CIA-directed news media, that is.  But NATO got another base in eastern Europe (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_Bondsteel) to keep the vodka-bleeding, freedom-hating, bat-clawed Russians and their black-winged, darkness-loving, wolf-fanged gangster-leader Vladimir Putin from over-running the pure and virtuous West to rape and pillage at will (or whatever the latest caricature and/or lurid invasion scenario of Russia is these days in the Western press), so let your conscience be at ease.

The ICTY’s exoneration of the late Slobodan Milosevic, the former President of Yugoslavia, for war crimes committed in the Bosnia war, proves again we should take NATO claims regarding its ’official enemies’ not with a pinch of salt, but a huge lorry load.

For the past twenty odd years, neocon commentators and 'liberal interventionist' pundits have been telling us at every possible opportunity, that Milosevic (a democratically elected leader in a country where over 20 political parties freely operated)  was an evil genocidal dictator who was to blame for ALL the deaths in the Balkans in the 1990s. Repeat after me in a robotic voice (while making robotic arm movements): 'Milosevic's genocidal aggression' 'Milosevic's genocidal aggression'.

But the official narrative, just like the one that told us that in 2003, Iraq had WMDs which could be launched within 45 minutes, was a deceitful one, designed to justify a regime change-op which the Western elites had long desired.

 . . .

When Milosevic died [in prison--W.G.], his accusers claimed he had “cheated justice”. But in fact, as the ICTY has now confirmed, the injustice was done to Milosevic.

While he had to defend himself against politically-motivated charges at The Hague, the US and its allies launched their brutal, illegal assault on Iraq, a war which has led to the death of up to one million people. Last year a report from Body Count revealed that at least 1.3 million people had lost their lives as a result of the US-led ‘war on terror’ in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

 . . .

Those sorts of figures help us get Kosovo into some kind of perspective. Even if we do hold Milosevic and the Yugoslav government responsible for some of the deaths there in 1999, (in a war which the West had clearly desired and provoked) far, far, greater death and destruction has been caused by the countries who were the keenest to see the President of Yugoslavia in the dock. As John Pilger noted in 2008, the bombing of Yugoslavia was the “perfect precursor to the bloodbaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Since then we’ve also had the NATO destruction of Libya, the country which had the highest living standards in the whole of Africa and the backing of violent 'rebels' to try and achieve ‘regime change’ in Syria.

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to see a pattern here.

Before a US-led war or ‘humanitarian intervention’ against a targeted state, a number of lurid claims are made about the country‘s leader and its government. These claims receive maximum media coverage and are repeated ad nauseam on the basis that people will bound to think they’re true.

Later it transpires that the claims were either entirely false (like the Iraq WMD ones), unproven, or greatly exaggerated. But the news cycle has moved on focusing not on the exposure of the fraudulent claims made earlier but on the next aggressive/genocidal ‘New Hitler’ who needs to be dealt with.  In 1999 it was Milosevic; now it’s Assad and Putin.

And guess what, dear reader? It’s the same people who defend the Iraq war and other blood-stained Western military interventions based on lies, unproven claims or great exaggerations, who are the ones doing the accusing.

As that very wise old saying goes: When you point one finger, there are three fingers pointing back to you.

Source:  Neil Clark, https://www.rt.com/op-edge/354362-slobodan-milosevic-exonerated-us-nato/, accessed 7 Aug. 2016 (many thanks to Dr Johnson for covering this at his web site: http://www.rusjournal.org/; see the 26 July 2016 podcast)

The South should be especially upset at revelations like these, since we ourselves were the targets of this kind of smear propaganda from New England’s secular Puritan moral crusaders before the War (Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the like) intended to dehumanize us and stir up fervor all across the North for a holy war against Dixie.  But now many Southern men and women are sick with this same secular Puritan self-righteousness and can’t wait to glorify God and justify their ‘American exceptionalism’ by dropping a few thousand bombs on an obscure country they know nothing about.

We must repent.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Scary Russians

Russia fear-mongering is very fashionable in some circles today.  For ensample:

 . . . While Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in many ways feel like Denmark or the Netherlands, they can never forget that just across their borders lies the Russia of Vladimir Putin. This is not the Stalinist state of cursed memory but nor is it the more liberal regime of Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s. Putin is an increasingly repressive dictator who, unlike his Communist predecessors, is not restrained by the need for unity in the Politburo. He runs Russia as his personal fiefdom, and it is a fiefdom that has been expanding under his rule. Putin has invaded Chechnya, Georgia, and Ukraine. He has illegally annexed Crimea—a forcible change of borders unknown in Europe since 1945—and he has sent his troops to prop up the murderous Assad regime in Syria.

Ever since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2014, the fear has been that the Baltics could be next. Given Putin's proclivity for posturing as a defender of supposedly oppressed ethnic Russians, Latvia and Estonia especially have reason to be nervous. They both have large Russian-speaking minorities—numbering more than 550,000 people in Latvia (28 percent of the population) and more than 320,000 in Estonia (25 percent). By contrast Lithuania has only 175,000 Russians—6 percent of the population. The good news is that most of these Russian-speakers know they are better off where they are than under Putin's kleptocracy. The bad news is that local sentiments may not matter if Putin decides, as he did in eastern Ukraine, to manufacture an insurgency out of whole cloth.

Putin is making his intentions clear on a regular basis. His Russian-language TV channels broadcast a steady diet of propaganda into the Baltics, playing up Russian grievances and accusing the democratically elected leaders of those states of being fascists and Nazis—the same nonsense that was used to justify Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russia is also rumored to be providing funding to Russian political parties in Estonia and Latvia, and mysterious calls are circulating online to recognize "people's republics" among the Russian minorities. NATO generals believe that we are already seeing "Phase One" of a Russian "hybrid war" against the Baltics, playing out primarily in the realm of information warfare and cyberwar for the time being.

If an actual shooting war breaks out, Putin will be ready. He has been expanding and enhancing his forces in the Western Military District of Russia. This area now has an estimated 65,000 Russian troops, 850 artillery pieces, 750 tanks, and 320 combat aircraft, all located just a few miles from the Baltic borders. The Balts have gotten used to no-notice "snap" exercises that involve tens of thousands of Russian troops maneuvering nearby—exercises that could easily be employed in the future as a pretext for an actual invasion.

When reading such propaganda intended to stoke a new Cold War (or perhaps even a hot war) with Russia, we would do well to keep in mind what the Southern poet Wendell Berry wrote in one of his poems, ‘To a Siberian Woodsman’:

 . . .

Who has invented our enmity? Who has prescribed us
hatred of each other? Who has armed us against each other
with the death of the world? Who has appointed me such anger
that I should desire the burning of your house or the
destruction of your children?
Who has appointed such anger to you? Who has set loose the thought
that we should oppose each other with the ruin of forests and
rivers, and the silence of the birds?
Who has said to us that the voices of my land shall be strange
to you, and the voices of your land strange to me?

Who has imagined that I would destroy myself in order to destroy you,
or that I could improve myself by destroying you? Who has imagined
that your death could be negligible to me now that I have seen
these pictures of your face?
Who has imagined that I would not speak familiarly with you,
or laugh with you, or visit in your house and go to work with
you in the forest?
And now one of the ideas of my place will be that you would
gladly talk and visit and work with me.

 . . .

There is no government so worthy as your son who fishes with
you in silence besides the forest pool.
There is no national glory so comely as your daughter whose
hands have learned a music and go their own way on the keys.
There is no national glory so comely as my daughter who
dances and sings and is the brightness of my house.
There is no government so worthy as my son who laughs, as he
comes up the path from the river in the evening, for joy.

It is also worth remembering that the Russian Orthodox Church has been working within the [u]nited States and all of North America for more than 200 years to spread the Orthodox Faith.  For those frightened by the corporate media’s accounts depicting Russians as subhuman, be not afraid.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Questioning the Official 9/11 Narrative

The driving force behind so much of Washington City’s policies at home and abroad is to be found in the refrain we have heard since 11 Sept. 2001:  that radicalized Islamic terrorists attacked America (and want to destroy it), and so it must act to protect itself and its interests.  But is that true?  This documentary by Sofia Smallstorm, 9/11 Mysteries: Demolitions, casts great doubt upon it:

So what is going on?  Seemingly, a grand project that has different goals on different levels, among them: 

Remaking New York City’s skyline to profit some well-connected folks;

The rise of a total police/surveillance state within the American Empire to better control its people (which also includes a profit motive for the corporations providing the now-essential security gear, like airport body scanners);

Redrawing the political map of the Middle East through direct wars or proxy wars for the benefit of transnational banks and corporations;

And the clashing and mixing of religions/civilizations to help usher in the Man of Peace who will heal all the world’s ills, the False Christ, the Antichrist.

One of the main tools used to keep this massive social engineering event ongoing has been the image of the elusive bad guy mastermind(s) who is continually plotting harm for America and the whole the liberal, democratic West.  Perhaps we should say ‘conjured image’, following the blueprint drawn up for today’s dystopian world by George Orwell in his novel 1984.  In that novel one finds the character of Emmanuel Goldstein, who bears quite a resemblance to Osama bin Laden and the various characters who have taken his place in the reports generated for public consumption by the government and media (thanks to Jay Dyer for pointing this out here, https://jaysanalysis.com/2016/07/22/munich-terror-immanuel-goldstein-strikes-again/):

Emmanuel Goldstein is a character in George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. He is the principal enemy of the state according to the Party, depicted as the head of a mysterious (and possibly fictitious) organization called "The Brotherhood" and as having written the book The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism. He is only seen and heard on telescreen, and may be a fabrication of the Ministry of Truth.

 . . .

In the novel, Goldstein is a fictional character rumoured to be a former top member of the Party and an early associate of its leader, "Big Brother", but having broken away early in the movement and started "The Brotherhood". Ostensibly "The Brotherhood" is organized into cells, with each member required to read The Book, supposedly written by Goldstein, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism. Goldstein is always the subject of the "Two Minutes Hate", a daily program beginning at 11:00 a.m. at which an image of Goldstein is shown on the telescreen and subjected to extreme contempt.

The novel raises but leaves unanswered the questions of whether Goldstein or "The Brotherhood" really exist. When asked by protagonist Winston, Inner Party member O'Brien replies as follows:

Winston: Does the Brotherhood exist?

O'Brien: That, Winston, you will never know. If we choose to set you free when we have finished with you, and if you live to be ninety years old, still you will never learn whether the answer to that question is Yes or No. As long as you live it will be an unsolved riddle in your mind.

O'Brien claims that Goldstein's book was written by the Party leadership, including himself, but this statement leaves the questions of Goldstein and the Brotherhood's existence unanswered, and may be an untruth by O'Brien to deceive Winston.

The reader may surmise that a political opposition to Big Brother — namely, Goldstein — was psychologically necessary in order to distract, unite and focus the anger of the people of Oceania. Ostensibly, Goldstein serves as a convenient scapegoat for the totalitarian regime in Nineteen Eighty-Four, and justifies its surveillance and elimination of civil liberties.

 . . .

Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmanuel_Goldstein, accessed 2 Aug. 2016

In viewing the two minute Hate Ritual performed by the masses toward Goldstein in the film version of 1984, one may see just how close to programmed barbarism many in the [u]nited States have sunk when thinking of their reaction to al Qaeda, Islamic State, Saddam Hussein, Bashar Assad, Vladimir Putin, etc. (that means many Southerners, too, sad to say).

The constructed reality fashioned by the nexus of Hollywood, think tanks, the military, and others is clearly turning Americans into something less than human, and more like the demons.  But there is hope; there are still those, from St Anthony the Great of Egypt to St Silouan of Mt Athos, who can help them see the world as it is, and help them live life as it was meant to be lived.  It is never too late to make a good beginning, as the Fathers tell us.

The Life and Teachings of St Anthony, by St Athanasius the Great:

The Life and Teachings of St Silouan: