Category : Russia

(PRC FactTank) Split between Ukrainian, Russian churches shows political importance of Orthodox Christianity

The recent decision by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to split from its Russian counterpart after more than 300 years of being linked reflects not only the continuing military conflict between the two countries in recent years, but also the important political role Orthodox Christianity plays in the region.

Ukraine is an overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian nation, with nearly eight-in-ten adults (78%) identifying as Orthodox (compared with 71% in Russia), according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey of much of the country (some contested areas in eastern Ukraine were not surveyed). This is up from 39% who said they were Orthodox Christian in 1991 – the year the officially atheist Soviet Union collapsed and Ukraine gained its independence. With roughly 35 million Orthodox Christians, Ukraine now has the third-largest Orthodox population in the world, after Russia and Ethiopia.

In addition, Orthodox Christianity is closely tied to Ukraine’s national and political life. Roughly half of all Ukrainians (51%) say it is at least somewhat important for someone to be Orthodox to be truly Ukrainian. The same is true for Russia, where 57% say being Orthodox is important to being truly Russian. In both countries, about half (48% in each) say religious leaders have at least some influence in political matters, although most Ukrainians (61%) and roughly half of Russians (52%) would prefer if this were not the case.

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Posted in Orthodox Church, Russia, Ukraine

(NYT) As Ukraine and Russia Battle Over Orthodoxy, Schism Looms

Ukraine is on the verge of opening the biggest schism in Christianity in centuries, as it breaks from the authority of a Moscow-based patriarch and this week expects to formally gain recognition for its own church, taking tens of millions of followers.

Intensifying a millennium-old religious struggle freighted with 21st-century geopolitical baggage, Ukraine’s security services have in recent weeks interrogated priests loyal to Moscow, searched church properties and enraged their Russian rivals.

“They just want to frighten us,” said the Rev. Vasily Nachev, one of more than a dozen priests loyal to the Moscow patriarch who were called in for questioning.

The new Ukrainian church is expected to be granted legitimacy on Jan. 6, the eve of the Orthodox Christmas, when its newly elected head, Metropolitan Epiphanius, travels to Istanbul to receive an official charter from the Constantinople patriarchate, a longtime rival power center to Moscow.

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Posted in Church History, History, Orthodox Church, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(CJ) Daniel Mahoney–Solzhenitsyn: A Centennial Tribute

Solzhenitsyn, denounced by some as a supporter of messianic nationalism (something he always repudiated, even when it manifested itself in a great writer like Dostoevsky), also provided an enduring model of constructive patriotism. He loved Russia profoundly but refused to identify his wounded nation with a Soviet despotism that stood for religious repression, collective farm slavery, and the elimination of political liberty and a tradition of literary reflection that spoke to the health of Russia and the permanent needs of the soul. He wanted Russia to abandon destructive dreams of empire and turn inward, but without forgetting the sorry fate of the 25 million Russians left in the “near abroad” after the break-up of the Soviet Union. In 1998’s Russia in Collapse, he forcefully attacked “radical nationalism…the elevation of one’s nationality above our higher spiritual plank, above our humble stance before heaven.” And he never ceased castigating so-called Russian nationalists, who preferred “a small-minded alliance with [Russia’s] destroyers” (the Communists or Bolsheviks). He loved his country but loved truth and justice more. But as Solzhenitsyn stated with great eloquence in the Nobel Lecture, “nations are the wealth of mankind, its generalized personalities.” He did not support the leveling of nations in the name of cosmopolitanism or of a pagan nationalism that forgot that all nations remain under the judgment of God and the moral law. In this regard, Solzhenitsyn combines patriotism with moderation or self-limitation. One does not learn from Solzhenitsyn to hate other peoples, or to deny each nation’s right to its special path, one that respects common morality and elementary human decency.

How one evaluates Solzhenitsyn tells us much about how one ultimately understands human liberty: Is it rooted in the gift of free will bestowed by a just, loving, and Providential God? Or is it rooted in an irreligious humanism, which all too often leads to human self-enslavement, as we saw with the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century? Solzhenitsyn’s reasonable choice for “Liberty under God” has nothing to do with mysticism, authoritarianism, or some illiberal theocratic impulse. Those who attribute these positions to Solzhenitsyn cannot provide a single sentence to support such misrepresentations.

Solzhenitsyn spoke in the name of an older Western and Christian civilization, still connected to the “deep reserves of mercy and sacrifice” at the heart of ordered liberty. It is a mark of the erosion of that rich tradition that its voice is so hard to hear in our late modern world, more—and more single-mindedly—devoted to what Solzhenitsyn called “anthropocentricity,” an incoherent and self-destructive atheistic humanism. Solzhenitsyn asks no special privileges for biblical religion (and classical philosophy), just a place at the table and a serious consideration within our souls.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, History, Politics in General, Russia, Theology

(BBC) Orthodox Church split: Five reasons why it matters

There are fears that, with a full-blown dispute between Church authorities, congregations could be shut out of certain churches.

President Poroshenko accuses the Kremlin of trying to foment a religious war, and he has warned that Russian agents could try to seize church property.

The Moscow Patriarchate says its worshippers should no longer attend any services conducted by clergy loyal to Constantinople. From now on it will also boycott joint Orthodox Church ceremonies.

Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin would defend “the interests of Russians and Russian speakers and the interests of the Orthodox”, but only by using “political and diplomatic measures”.

Russia also said it had to protect ethnic Russians ahead of its military intervention in Ukraine in 2014.

So there is potential for serious conflict, not least because Ukraine’s Orthodox believers are divided among three Churches: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), the Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate and the small Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC).

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Posted in Orthodox Church, Russia, Theology, Turkey, Ukraine

(Guardian) Russian Orthodox Church cuts ties with Constantinople

The Russian Orthodox Church has announced it will break off relations with the Patriarchate of Constantinople in a religious schism driven by political friction between Russia and Ukraine.

The Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church elected on Monday to cut ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, which is viewed as the leading authority for the world’s 300 million Orthodox worshippers.

The split is a show of force by Russia after a Ukrainian church was granted independence.

Last week Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the “first among equals” of eastern Orthodox clerics, granted autocephaly (independence) to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which previously answered to Moscow.

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Posted in Orthodox Church, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine

A poem written by Archpriest Grigory Petrov (Gregory Petrov) shortly before his death in a Siberian prison camp

From there:

What is my praise before Thee?

I have not heard the cherubim singing,
that is the lot of souls sublime,
but I know how nature praises thee.

In winter I have thought about the whole earth praying quietly to Thee in the
silence of the moon,
wrapped around in a mantle of white,
sparkling with diamonds of snow.

I have seen how the rising sun rejoiced in Thee,
and choirs of birds sang forth glory.

I have heard how secretly the forest noises Thee abroad,
how the winds sing,
the waters gurgle,
how the choirs of stars preach of Thee
in serried motion through unending space.

Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship, Poetry & Literature, Prison/Prison Ministry, Russia

Revisiting Alexander Solzjenitsyn’s 1978 Address ‘A World Split Apart’

‘A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course, there are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life.

Political and intellectual bureaucrats show depression, passivity, and perplexity in their actions and in their statements, and even more so in theoretical reflections to explain how realistic, reasonable, as well as intellectually and even morally worn it is to base state policies on weakness and cowardice. And decline in courage is ironically emphasized by occasional explosions of anger and inflexibility on the part of the same bureaucrats when dealing with weak governments and with countries not supported by anyone, or with currents which cannot offer any resistance….

Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, such as motion pictures full of pornography, crime, and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counterbalanced by the young people’s right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.

And what shall we say criminality as such? Legal frames, especially in the United States, are broad enough to encourage not only individual freedom but also certain individual crimes. The culprit can go unpunished or obtain undeserved leniency with the support of thousands of public defenders. When a government starts an earnest fight against terrorism, public opinion immediately accuses it of violating the terrorist’s civil rights. There are many such cases.

Such a tilt of freedom in the direction of evil has come about gradually, but it was evidently born primarily out of a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which there is no evil inherent to human nature….’

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, History, Religion & Culture, Russia

Congratulations to France, Winners of the World Cup 2018

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Posted in France, Men, Russia, Sports

England’s Magical Run in the 2018 World Cup Finally Comes to an End

They tell you it’s about who wants it more. It’s not. You don’t get to a World Cup semifinal — via a combined three penalty shootouts — if you don’t want it desperately, as much as the air you breathe and the affection you crave. Nobody could look the players from England or Croatia in the eye and judge who was hungrier, not after seeing them battle for 120 minutes Wednesday night at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Rather, it’s about lies and deception. The lies you tell your body in an attempt to deceive it into thinking your hit points aren’t down to zero. And the lies you tell yourself when you convince yourself that, yes, you can reach that stray ball and, no, you won’t let that opponent pass. Most of all, it’s about believing that you can keep going through heavy legs, searing pain and shortness of breath.

And do it all with clarity of mind. That last bit is crucial and, perhaps, the reason Croatia will be back here on Sunday to take on France in the World Cup final. England’s collective mind got fuzzier as the game went on. Croatia’s, somehow, seemed to grow clearer, scything through the pain, fatigue and inevitable errors.

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Posted in England / UK, Men, Russia, Sports

A NY Times Article on the Surprising England Team that has made the World Cup Semi-Finals

The spiritual figurehead of the team in many ways has been Southgate, a former England player whose self-effacing enthusiasm has become central to the group’s appeal. With a subtle knack for storytelling, he has done as much as any columnist to build a narrative about his players as lovable underdogs.

About their ambition to reach the final, rather than to play a third-place match after losing in the semifinals, Southgate said: “We spoke to the players today that none of us fancied going home. We’ve got to be here for another week, so it’s up to us the games we play in.”

And asked about uniting their country during a period of political division, he said: “All these players come from different parts of the country, and there will be youngsters watching at home from the areas that they come from who they’ll be inspiring at this moment, and that is of course even more powerful than what we’re doing with our results.”

The road to the final has looked surprisingly open for England for a while now, thanks at first to an easy group stage and now because of a series of fortuitous results in other games. England, with a different series of outcomes, could have faced Brazil or Germany in the quarterfinals and Spain in the next round.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Men, Russia, Sports

The Wonderful World Cup Heads to the Round of 16 Clashes

Posted in Globalization, Men, Russia, Sports

(BBC) Service held to ‘cleanse’ Salisbury after nerve agent attack

A special service has been held in Salisbury to “symbolically reclaim the city for the common good” following the nerve agent attack on 4 March.

The Bishop of Salisbury hosted the service of “cleansing and celebration” at St Thomas’ Church, near where Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found.

The service, which was open to all faiths and none, involved prayers to cleanse the site and the city.

It was followed by a procession to the bench where the Skripals were found.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Russia, Terrorism

(Church Times) Church in Salisbury to host ‘service of cleansing’ after the poisoning of the Skripals

A church in Salisbury will host a “service of cleansing and celebration” after the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the city last month.

St Thomas’s, in the centre of Salisbury, will hold the service at 3 p.m. on Sunday, metres away from the site of the bench where the Skripals were found outside the Maltings shopping centre. The Rector of St Thomas’s, the Revd Kelvin Inglis, said that the service would end with a procession to the spot where the pair were found.

The Skripals are believed to have been poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok, and the fallout from the attack on them has resulted in the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the UK and its allies, since the Government concluded that it was “highly likely” that the blame lay with Moscow (News, 16 March23 March). More than 20 countries around the world expelled Russian diplomats: the UK required 23 to leave; and the United States, 60.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Ms Skripal had been discharged from hospital, and that Mr Skripal was also making good progress and would leave “in due course”.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Russia

(Sunday [London] Times) interviews director Andrey Zvyagintsev–‘Russia is going through a period of profound religious crisis’

Was he aware of the risks he was taking? Putin is not big on criticism. “Yes, of course, we were fully aware of what we were doing. We did touch on extremely sensitive issues for Russian people: the authorities and the Orthodox church. We were making serious problems for ourselves, but we knew what we were doing, both me and my producer.”

The Orthodox church, which, disgracefully, has become yet another Putinised institution, is a particularly sensitive target. Zvyagintsev showed the script of the final scene of Leviathan, in which ecclesiastical cruelty and complacency are exposed, only to the actors involved; he didn’t want the others implicated. What on earth has happened to Russian religion?

“Russia is going through a period of profound religious crisis. Religion has become more a kind of ritualism than a profound Christianity. This is really disturbing.

“There’s a line between Christianity and paganism. In Christianity, the line between good and evil is within ourselves. In paganism, the division is between myself and the rest of the world. What I see happening in Russia now is the extremely regressive rise of that antagonistic feeling towards the other, who is deemed evil by those who claim to be good.”

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in Movies & Television, Orthodox Church, Paganism, Religion & Culture, Russia

Time Magaine–9 questions for Masha Gessen: the truth about Russia

After the U.S. elections, Putin has often been depicted in the West as some all-power figure. Do you think the West overestimates him?

It depends. I think his power in influencing the U.S. elections is overestimated, because there is an overwhelming desire to lay blame for Trump somewhere outside the United States. But otherwise I don’t think it’s overestimated. … He does wield unilateral power in his country. Is there a system of checks and balances that would limit his power? There isn’t.

But does he have the kind of absolute control usually associated with totalitarian regimes?

Do people in Russia today live as people in the Soviet Union lived under Stalin? Of course not. But does [Putin] have the same political staying power as Stalin did? Does he have the near guarantee of maintaining power and being able to do whatever he wants for the rest of his life? Yes.

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Posted in Books, History, Politics in General, Russia

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Sergius

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that inspired by the devotion of thy servant Sergius of Moscow, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Russia, Spirituality/Prayer

(NPR) Stanislav Petrov, ‘The Man Who Saved The World,’ Dies At 77

Stanislav Petrov was a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Union’s Air Defense Forces, and his job was to monitor his country’s satellite system, which was looking for any possible nuclear weapons launches by the United States.

He was on the overnight shift in the early morning hours of Sept. 26, 1983, when the computers sounded an alarm, indicating that the U.S. had launched five nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“The siren howled, but I just sat there for a few seconds, staring at the big, back-lit, red screen with the word ‘launch’ on it,” Petrov told the BBC in 2013.

It was already a moment of extreme tension in the Cold War. On Sept. 1 of that year, the Soviet Union shot down a Korean Air Lines plane that had drifted into Soviet airspace, killing all 269 people on board, including a U.S. congressman. The episode led the U.S. and the Soviets to exchange warnings and threats.

Petrov had to act quickly. U.S. missiles could reach the Soviet Union in just over 20 minutes….

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, History, Russia

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Isabel Hapgood

Loving God, we offer thanks for the work and witness of Isabel Florence Hapgood, who introduced the Divine Liturgy of the Russian Orthodox Church to English-speaking Christians, and encouraged dialogue between Anglicans and Orthodox. Guide us as we build on the foundation that she gave us, that all may be one in Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, unto ages of ages. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Russia, Spirituality/Prayer

A Truly Terrifying Piece from the [London] Times about Putin Critic Bill Browder-The West can’t imagine how evil they are in the Kremlin regime

The extraordinary story of Mr Browder’s transformation from hard-nosed capitalist to human rights campaigner, based on his 2015 book Red Notice: How I Became Putin’s Number 1 Enemy is being turned into a film. “There are a couple of things that are so crazy in the story that the Hollywood screenwriter says, ‘No one will believe it. They will just think it’s not true’,” he says. Yet the plot is still unfolding. “The book doesn’t scratch the surface — it finishes in 2012 and crazy stuff has happened since then: assassinations and cover-ups and western enablers.”

The grandson of Earl Browder, the former leader of the American Communist Party, he became a capitalist as an “act of rebellion” and spent more than a decade living as a businessman in Moscow, running Russia’s most successful investment fund. He was deported in 2006 after he started to expose corruption, and was blacklisted by the Russian government as a “threat to national security”. Since then he has been convicted in absentia on what he calls trumped-up charges and sentenced to nine years in jail.

The death in 2009 of his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who had uncovered details of a $230 million tax fraud, made him only more determined to get to the truth. “They arrested him, tortured him viciously for 358 days and they killed him at the age of 37,” he says. “To this day it’s a burden I carry on my shoulders that a young man died in my service to protect me. It’s my duty to get justice for him and make sure that the people who killed him don’t get away with it.”

Others who have worked with Mr Browder to expose the links between the Russian mafia and the Kremlin have also mysteriously died or been injured. Only last week Nikolai Gorokhov, a Russian lawyer who is representing the Magnitsky family, fell from the fourth floor of an apartment building near Moscow in suspicious circumstances. “He had come across dramatic and important evidence of collusion and corruption and cover up of the murder by the Russian law enforcement authorities,” Mr Browder says. “He was going to go to court the day after he plunged four storeys. I believe that he was pushed off the balcony.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia

Bridget Kendall Ramsey Murray Lecture 2015

Selwyn College Cambridge presents the annual Ramsay Murray Lecture on the subject of modern day Russia [including relations with Ukraine and Europe] under the Presidency of Vladimir Putin and given by the BBC’s Diplomatic Correspondent, Bridget Kendall.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Russia, Theology

(Economist Erasmus Blog) A new Orthodox church next to the Eiffel Tower boosts Russian soft power

The skyline of Paris has just acquired yet another arresting feature. Only a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower, a spanking new Russian Orthodox cathedral, complete with five onion domes and a cultural centre, was inaugurated on December 4th by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, amid sonorous rhetoric about the long and chequered history of the Russian diaspora in France.

To secular observers, this was the latest success for Russian soft power, showing that even in times when intergovernmental relations are frosty, ecclesiastical relations can still forge ahead. In October, Patriarch Kirill reconsecrated the Russian cathedral in London and had a brief meeting with the supreme governor of the Church of England, Queen Elizabeth; this was a more cordial chat than any conversation the political leaders of Britain and Russia have had recently.

The new temple in Paris was, in a sense, both a product and a hostage of secular politics. Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s then-president, agreed to its construction, with Russian funds, back in 2007 as a good-will gesture to Russia. Plans to turn the cathedral’s opening into a moment of diplomatic togetherness, attended by the French and Russian presidents, foundered after the countries’ row over Syria sharpened. But nothing prevented Patriarch Kirill from inaugurating the new house of prayer, with French cultural figures like the singer Mireille Matthieu in attendance.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Architecture, Europe, France, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Russia, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CC) Amy Frykholm–What we can learn from Orthodox nun Maria Skobtsova

In the midst of Nazi-occupied Paris, an independent-minded Russian Orthodox nun lamented that Christians were not equipped to meet the challenges of the moment. “I look everywhere and nowhere do I find anything that would point to the possibility of a breakthrough from material life to eternity,” wrote Maria Skobtsova in an essay titled “Insight in Wartime.” She did not see around her any forms of Christian life that had the “right voice, the right pathos, the kind of wings” to stand against the terrors of the era.

Skobtsova herself was perhaps the exception. Born in 1891 under the czar, she had by the 1940s been a Bolshevik, a poet, and a refugee. She was almost killed by both White and Red armies during the Russian Revolution of 1917. She fled Russia after briefly serving as the deputy mayor of Anapa, a city near the Black Sea. In exile she returned to the Orthodox faith, and in 1932 she became a nun.

She refused, however, to take up residence in a convent or traditional religious community. Issuing a thoroughgoing critique of monasticism, she insisted that she would seek instead “to share the life of paupers and tramps.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, France, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Russia, Theology, Women

(Sunday Telegraph) Russia and the West have 'entered a new Cold War'

Russia and the West have entered a new Cold War that could lead to growing confrontations across the globe, as Vladimir Putin challenges American international hegemony.

That is the consensus among military and foreign policy experts in Moscow, who have warned that Russia and the West are headed for a standoff as dangerous as the Cuban missile crisis.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Russia

Archbishop Welby welcomes Patriarch Kirill to Lambeth Palace

The visit represents the first time that Archbishop Justin and Patriarch Kirill have met, but it is the second time a Patriarch of Moscow and an Archbishop of Canterbury have met at Lambeth Palace in recent times. The first meeting was that of Archbishop Michael Ramsey with His Holiness Alexey I in 1964.

The relationship between the two churches has endured for more than three centuries, through some very difficult times as well periods when the two countries have stood side by side. This relationship has been cemented through many personal contacts and through the spiritual and cultural interchange which has enriched both churches.

After welcoming Patriarch Kirill and his delegation to Lambeth Palace, Archbishop Justin had a personal conversation with Patriarch Kirill. Uppermost in the conversation was their shared compassion for Christian, and other, minorities in many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, where they have been systematically targeted and persecuted and their communities decimated.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Europe, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Russia

(AFP) Gorbachev warns of 'dangerous point' as US-Russia ties sour

Relations between Moscow and Washington — already at their lowest since the Cold War over the Ukraine conflict — have soured further in recent days as the United States pulled the plug on Syria talks and accused Russia of hacking attacks.

The Kremlin has suspended a series of nuclear pacts, including a symbolic cooperation deal to cut stocks of weapons-grade plutonium.

“I think the world has reached a dangerous point,” Gorbachev, 85, told state news agency RIA Novosti.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Russia

England show signs of promise, then squander a 1-0 lead at the end to get a tie w Russia in Euro2016

England were unrecognisable from the side knocked out of the 2014 World Cup after just five days and yet a similar story unfolded in Marseille. Roy Hodgson, at 68, holds the most coffee-stained birth certificate of any manager in France this summer and yet he has thrown together the youngest squad.

Tarred with a not entirely unjustified reputation for preferring a conservative, risk-management brand of football, Hodgson’s top-heavy troupe carry a vibrancy about them seldom witnessed in the past decade. Russia, however, were low hanging fruit and yet they still managed to penetrate a leaky back-four. For all of Hodgson’s intrepid intentions, it’s the same old story.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Europe, France, Men, Russia, Sports

Niall Ferguson–A message from Dostoevsky to the 21st century: Worry About Big Data

In “Notes from Underground,’’ Dostoevsky fired a broadside against all the Victorian do-gooders who dreamt of a perfectly rational society. “You seem certain that man himself will give up erring of his own free will,” he fulminated. He foresaw a ghastly future in which “all human acts will be listed in something like logarithm tables . . . and transferred to a timetable . . . [that] will carry detailed calculations and exact forecasts of everything to come.” In such a world, his utilitarian contemporaries believed, there would be no wrongdoing. It would have been planned, legislated, and regulated out of existence.

We are nearly there. Or so it seems….

I am deeply suspicious of the concerted effort to address all these problems in ways that markedly increase the power of states ”” and not just any states, but specifically the world’s big states ”” at the expense of both small states and the individual. What makes me especially wary is that today, unlike in Dostoevsky’s time, the technology exists to give those big states, along with a few private companies, just the kind of control he dreaded.

Consider some recent encroachments on liberty.

Read it all from the Boston Globe.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Globalization, History, Poetry & Literature, Politics in General, Russia, State Government, The U.S. Government, Theology

Heartwarming–WWII Refugee Paying it Forward With Care Packages to Syrian Refugee

When Helga Kissel was 16, she fled Berlin as Soviets marched in. She met a U.S. soldier in Bavaria, who sent her care packages, and now, she does the same for a 16-year old Syrian girl.

Watch it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, History, Marriage & Family, Middle East, Parish Ministry, Russia, Stewardship, Syria, Theology

11 Sobering Quotes from Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn

Great food for thought–read and ponder them all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, History, Pastoral Theology, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Russia, Theology

(FT) Dmitry Medvedev warns of new cold war

The world has entered a “new cold war,” Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Saturday, as he held out an olive branch to western powers, urging conciliation.

“Sometimes I think, are we in 2016 or 1962?” Mr Medvedev asked, in a speech that reeled off the long list of familiar Russian grievances ”” from Nato expansion to western regime change projects ”” but also included some of the firmest calls for rapprochement with Europe and the US since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea two years ago.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology