Tuesday, March 6, 2018

What Will Become of the Orthodox in the [u]nited States?

One wonders what lies in store for the Orthodox Church in the States, for she is opposed to what all the major power groups hold dear:

The ‘Right’

These are the true believers in ‘Christian America’, the ideological children of the Puritans who believe America is a ‘chosen nation’, the ‘New Israel’, the ‘shining city on a hill’, and therefore must be the leader of the world or else all will fall into chaos.  The autonomous individual is paramount for them; hierarchy is deplorable; and they tend to worship paper documents called the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. 

The Orthodox present quite a threat to this version of the ‘American experiment’.  Moscow for them is the Third Rome, the true center of Christianity in the world.  They long for the return of the Christian emperor, the Russian Tsar, and for the peace and order he will help establish in the world (and the evangelism that goes along with those two).  They understand that hierarchy is natural and to be desired.  They worship the Holy Trinity and honor the Mother of God, the saints, the angels, the holy icons and relics, and the Holy Scriptures, not a man-made philosophy about rights.  The one-sidedness of individualism is rejected for a balance between the one and the many:  Each man and woman has a personal existence, but they are ontologically united to all others, share a common life with them, and by no means can be considered in isolation from them (that is nominalism, as Fr Matthew Raphael Johnson would be quick to point out).

The ‘Middle’:

This is the great bulk of the people living in the States.  They are interested only in what Rev Francis Schaeffer called ‘personal peace and affluence’.  They live to make money and spend it on tasty food, various consumer goods, sports and other entertainment, etc.  Religion for them is basically another consumer good, something that they do if it fits their taste.  They will vote for politicians who will maintain the worldly status quo.

The Orthodox ethos of asceticism and poverty, of self-denial and humility, is an affront to this way of life.

The ‘Left’

These have taken the individualism, hierarchy hatred, and materialism of America to their logical conclusions.  One’s identity can transition from one gender, race, etc. to another based on the feelings one has from moment to moment.  One can even merge with a machine and become post-human or trans-human.  Communism is another mantra of theirs: everyone should enjoy material comfort, and no one should have anymore than anyone else because all are equal.  All truth is relative to them (except, ironically, the pre-suppositions they believe in as articles of faith).

They will loath the Orthodox because of the stress they place on the distinctions of man and woman, of ethnicity, and so on, and on hierarchy.  The Orthodox rejection of material pleasure as the ultimate end of life is also bewildering to the Left, as is the Orthodox defense of Absolute Truth embodied in the enfleshed Lord Jesus Christ.

With polarization continuing to rise in the States betwixt these groups, and especially in light of all the vile lies being told to demonize Russia, the Orthodox will likely be caught up in the melee at some point, however much they try to stay out of it.  So it seems right for all Orthodox to be prepared for persecution and possibly martyrdom, as they will be seen as untrustworthy by all segments of modern American society.

A look back at Western European history since her break from the Orthodox Church is a continual line of unnecessary bloodshed:  the Norman Invasion, the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch trials, the wars between Roman Catholics and Protestants, violence against and exploitation of the native populations of the Americas, Africa, and Asia, the ‘war on terror’, etc.  This violent impulse has in no way been healed here in the States, though it has been soothed and subdued for the moment by economic prosperity and various other distractions (sports, TV, and the like).  It could break out again at any moment.

There is a group of martyrs that the Orthodox in the States should keep well in mind.  It shows what the tolerant, humanistic faith of the West is capable of:

Thirty-four Holy Martyrs of the Monastery of Valaam (1578)
These thirty-four venerable fathers of the Monastery of the Transfiguration at Valaam on Lake Ladoga were massacred by a party of converts to Lutheranism who besieged the monastery and attempted to make the brethren renounce the Orthodox Faith.

Source:  John Brady, http://www.abbamoses.com/months/february.html, entry for 20 Feb., opened 1 Feb. 2016

Likewise with St Peter the Aleut:

Saint Peter was a young Aleut convert to the Orthodox faith. In 1812 the Russian- American Company set up a post in California, where Russians and Aleuts farmed and traded to supply the needs of the Alaskans; Peter was one of these. The Spanish, who at the time ruled California, suspected the Russians of territorial ambitions, and in 1815 captured about twenty Orthodox Aleuts and took them to San Francisco. Fourteen of these were put to torture in an effort to convert them to the Roman Catholic faith. All refused to compromise their faith, and Peter and a companion were singled out for especially vicious treatment: Peter's fingers, then hands and feet, were severed, and he died from loss of blood, still firm in his confession. The Latins were preparing the same fate for the others when word came that they were to be transferred; eventually they returned to Alaska. When he heard a first-hand account of Peter's martyrdom, Saint Herman crossed himself and said "Holy New Martyr Peter, pray to God for us!" Saint Peter the Aleut is the first recognized Saint of American birth.

Source:  John Brady, http://www.abbamoses.com/months/december.html, entry for 13 Dec.

Maybe it will go better for the Orthodox in the South, where high-church liturgy and a less partisan stance on denominationalism have always been fairly strong, along with some cultural likenesses to Orthodoxy like hierarchy, but there are no guarantees there either, for the cancer of ‘Americanism’ has metastasized from New England into much of Dixie.

We pray for God’s help and protection, for the peaceful conversion of all the different nations that make up the [u]nited States:  New England, Midwest, Dixie, West Coast, Alaska, etc.  However, no one should rule out the possibility of persecution and martyrdom, and live accordingly.


Another view:

Dr Steve Turley sees hopeful signs in a fledgling alliance of Evangelicals in the States, led by folks like Rev Franklin Graham, with the Orthodox Church in Russia:

That is a step in the right direction, but will such a development be able to overcome all the vitriol directed against Russia by lots of other Evangelicals and so-called conservatives, from Tony Perkins, National Review, Joel Rosenberg (whose new book is part of the renewed attack on Russia: https://www.tyndale.com/p/the-kremlin-conspiracy/9781496406170), Rush Limbaugh, etc.?


Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!

Anathema to the Union!

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