Author Topic: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy  (Read 83372 times)

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Bev

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #120 on: January 24, 2007, 06:02:39 PM »
Excellent comments, Tsarfan (and everyone else for that matter) about the constitution.  I haven't lost faith in the constitution, in fact I'd go so far as to say it's about the only left that I do have faith in. (just kidding...sort of)

The problem in my opinion is the power of congress to pass resolutions that imbue any one person with the power to wage war as he sees fit.  You would have thought that after Johnson and Nixon (remember the characterization of his administration as the "imperial presidency) and the War Powers act was passed, it would have made an end to those resolutions that not only allowed congress to slough off their duties but prevented them from doing so in the future.  It is one thing to trust that any one person/president will exercise such power rationally and reasonably, but it is another thing altogether to depend upon it.  No matter how many conditions, or safeguards they think they've put in it, it is always superceded by the power given to the president to do as he deems necessary to protect the nation. 

What puzzles me about this inability of congress to learn from past mistakes is that they also seem not to understand their function in a democracy.  A resolution such as "The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution" or the resolution cited as the "Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq" is completely anathema to what we believe in as a nation - that power is invested in the people and power invested in one person always lead to catastrophe for the people.  The role of the congress is to expressly guard against such concentration of power in one person or in one branch of government.  (Isn't that a definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?)  The only way to stop these kinds of opportunistic and predatory wars is to pass meaningful legislation to stop congress from issuing "joint resolutions" that allow them to abdicate their responsibilities.  It may be necessary to amend the constitution to prohibit it. 

Elisabeth

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #121 on: January 25, 2007, 11:16:02 AM »
In fact, during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the Metropolitan Philip called upon the tsar to repent of his crimes: "If you are high in rank, then in body you are just like any other man, for though you may be honored with God's image, you are still God's 'subject.' He who truly can be called a ruler, rules himself; he is not controlled by passions but is victorious through love" (Metropolitan Philip, quoted in Benson Bobrick, Fearful Majesty: The Life and Reign of Ivan the Terrible, p. 226). Ivan responded to Philip's repeated criticisms of his conduct as tsar by ordering him to be put on trial, kidnapped, imprisoned, and finally, it seems, murdered by suffocation. And after Philip, not surprisingly, Russian prelates proved to be very unwilling indeed to undertake any sort of criticism of the reigning tsar, until not much more than a century later, Peter's reforms eviscerated the Russian Orthodox Church all together.  

This is a very cogent statement of the reason I think mystical ceremonies in which the Church imbued the Tsar with God's authority through the quasi-sacrament of coronation are just so much hocus-pocus.  The Orthodox Church, no matter what its origins, had long since become the major propaganda arm of the autocracy by the time of the Revolution.  One cannot be vested with authority by an institution that one controls.

As peasant jubilation or indifference at Nicholas' abdication showed, you can fool some of the peasants all of the time and all of the peasants some of the time.  But you can't fool all of the peasants all of the time . . . even when you're wearing Church raiment.

Well, Tsarfan, I think most of us are actually in agreement with you, as regarding all the "hocus-pocus." And plenty of Russian philosophers, writers, and even average lay people were also in agreement with you around the turn of the twentieth century, which is why the first decade of that century witnessed a huge grassroots movement to reform the Russian Orthodox Church and make it less subservient to the autocratic state. Needless to say, such a reform movement met with tremendous opposition from the autocrat and the government-appointed Synod, as one can well imagine. As far as I recall, none of the suggested reforms were ever in fact implemented. Yet Russian Orthodox theology as such nevertheless gained tremendously as a result of this reformation movement - indeed, ROC theology might even be said to have flowered within the Russian emigration after the October Revolution of 1917 - to the extent that while someone like Father Sergius Bulgakov was even brought up on heresy charges in 1935 by the Orthodox Eastern Church in exile (he was eventually totally exonerated), his teachings have in spite of this and many other worldly impediments nonetheless become standard teachings within the the contemporary Orthodox Eastern Church in exile and even, I suspect, in the current ROC of the Russian Federation itself. For that matter his theology of Sophia has, according to some learned religious scholars, had an impact even on the teachings of the Catholic Church, post Vatican II (which is quite an achievement, IMHO).

Elisabeth

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #122 on: January 25, 2007, 11:23:49 AM »
Excellent comments, Tsarfan (and everyone else for that matter) about the constitution.  I haven't lost faith in the constitution, in fact I'd go so far as to say it's about the only left that I do have faith in. (just kidding...sort of)

The problem in my opinion is the power of congress to pass resolutions that imbue any one person with the power to wage war as he sees fit.  You would have thought that after Johnson and Nixon (remember the characterization of his administration as the "imperial presidency) and the War Powers act was passed, it would have made an end to those resolutions that not only allowed congress to slough off their duties but prevented them from doing so in the future.  It is one thing to trust that any one person/president will exercise such power rationally and reasonably, but it is another thing altogether to depend upon it.  No matter how many conditions, or safeguards they think they've put in it, it is always superceded by the power given to the president to do as he deems necessary to protect the nation. 

What puzzles me about this inability of congress to learn from past mistakes is that they also seem not to understand their function in a democracy.  A resolution such as "The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution" or the resolution cited as the "Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq" is completely anathema to what we believe in as a nation - that power is invested in the people and power invested in one person always lead to catastrophe for the people.  The role of the congress is to expressly guard against such concentration of power in one person or in one branch of government.  (Isn't that a definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?)  The only way to stop these kinds of opportunistic and predatory wars is to pass meaningful legislation to stop congress from issuing "joint resolutions" that allow them to abdicate their responsibilities.  It may be necessary to amend the constitution to prohibit it. 

All I can say is, dream on, Bev and the rest of us. I totally agree with all your arguments but I honestly can't see the American congress ever accepting any responsibility whatsoever for starting wars that might very well end in defeat. There might have been some chance of this happening immediately after World War II - Congress might even have been proud of the opportunity to play such a major role in promoting American power against any future forces of darkness resembling the Nazis - but, on the other hand, any such development was probably nipped in the bud by the development of the Cold War with our former ally, the Soviet Union, and soon after, the Korean War and the war in Vietnam. And since Vietnam, arguably, the American congress has been absolutely unwilling to enact any legislation to curb the war powers of the President - precisely because one never knows the outcome of wars in advance, and the American congress always ascribes to the law of C.Y.A. I don't think I have to translate, do I? 

Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #123 on: January 25, 2007, 11:49:20 AM »
The current Pope is trying to initiate more contacts with the ROC, but there is stiff resistance from Moscow. The idea that the ROC's teachings flowered in exile is interesting --- freed from the control of the autocrat seem a logical contributing cause?

Was the Church compromised during the Soviet period? Has it recovered any of its imporance in the lives of average Russians, or are they more like the rest of Western Europe?

Simon
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #124 on: January 25, 2007, 11:57:52 AM »
Yet Russian Orthodox theology as such nevertheless gained tremendously as a result of this reformation movement - indeed, ROC theology might even be said to have flowered within the Russian emigration after the October Revolution of 1917.

All the more reason I find it sad and perplexing that the ROC is becoming identified with the movement to restore the monarchy. 

Elisabeth

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #125 on: January 25, 2007, 01:46:48 PM »
Yet Russian Orthodox theology as such nevertheless gained tremendously as a result of this reformation movement - indeed, ROC theology might even be said to have flowered within the Russian emigration after the October Revolution of 1917.

All the more reason I find it sad and perplexing that the ROC is becoming identified with the movement to restore the monarchy. 

To be honest, I don't know if the Russian Orthodox Church of the Russian Federation is quite so au courant or comfortable with the latest trends in Orthodox theology abroad. I know from recent readings that some members are, but that doesn't necessarily mean the official leadership is. As Simon hinted at earlier, the Russian Orthodox Church within Russia itself was thoroughly compromised under the Soviets - as was no doubt inevitable, given the level of terror directed against it (tens of thousands of priests, nuns, and other clerics perished in the Gulag). My impression is that the ROC of the Russian Federation is living under the shadow of tradition and is still greatly subservient to the secular powers that be (all apologies to believers who might disagree with me on this point). On the other hand, the Orthodox Eastern Church, as it is now known for reasons of convenience, in exile after 1917 has rather flourished, at least in theological terms, despite some initial internal dissension (e.g., back in the 1930s Father Sergius Bulgakov was greatly in favor of an ecumenical relationship with other Christian religions, which did not sit well with some traditionalists; as previously mentioned, his Sophiology also provided a target for charges of heresy, although it has since become widely accepted and influential in modern Christian theology). If anyone is curious about current theological trends in the Orthodox Eastern Church, they should check out the website for St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary at http://www.svots.edu/. They have a scholarly journal which is completely devoted to such matters, St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly (if you can't access it through their website, it's available through various universities). Take my word for it, it's very interesting, even if like myself you are not terribly religious by nature.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2007, 01:49:30 PM by Elisabeth »

Offline RichC

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #126 on: January 25, 2007, 03:18:56 PM »
To be honest, I don't know if the Russian Orthodox Church of the Russian Federation is quite so au courant or comfortable with the latest trends in Orthodox theology abroad. I know from recent readings that some members are, but that doesn't necessarily mean the official leadership is. As Simon hinted at earlier, the Russian Orthodox Church within Russia itself was thoroughly compromised under the Soviets - as was no doubt inevitable, given the level of terror directed against it (tens of thousands of priests, nuns, and other clerics perished in the Gulag). My impression is that the ROC of the Russian Federation is living under the shadow of tradition and is still greatly subservient to the secular powers that be (all apologies to believers who might disagree with me on this point). On the other hand, the Orthodox Eastern Church, as it is now known for reasons of convenience, in exile after 1917 has rather flourished, at least in theological terms, despite some initial internal dissension (e.g., back in the 1930s Father Sergius Bulgakov was greatly in favor of an ecumenical relationship with other Christian religions, which did not sit well with some traditionalists; as previously mentioned, his Sophiology also provided a target for charges of heresy, although it has since become widely accepted and influential in modern Christian theology). If anyone is curious about current theological trends in the Orthodox Eastern Church, they should check out the website for St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary at http://www.svots.edu/. They have a scholarly journal which is completely devoted to such matters, St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly (if you can't access it through their website, it's available through various universities). Take my word for it, it's very interesting, even if like myself you are not terribly religious by nature.

I hope this isn't veering too far off topic but I just want to point out that the Orthodox church "abroad" existed and flourished even before the revolution.  Here's a section from the website of the Holy Ghost Russian Orthodox Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut:  (My great grandparents, who were from Slovakia (Austria-Hungary) were among the founders of this church; they appear to have been quite enamoured of the Imperial House)  I guess these people, even in Bridgeport, Connecticut, saw Nicholas as head of the church.

Parish Background

Many Slavonic immigrants came to the United States toward the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century seeking religious freedom, better economic conditions, and a better way of life. Many of these settled in Bridgeport, an industrial town.

Having no church of their own and not willing to become Uniates, a group met with Rev Alexis Toth, "Father of the Russian America" (canonized as St Alexis of Wilkes-Barre in 1994). They passed a resolution to leave Unia and return to the Orthodox faith.

During 1894, Bishop Nicholas of San Francisco, Bishop of the North American Archdiocese of the Orthodox Church in America, along with Fr Toth, twice met with the group of future parishioners to get acquainted. On September 25, 1894, Bishop Nicholas, in his Archpastoral letter, accepted the group into the Orthodox Church. The Church was organized October 30, 1894, and the building of Holy Ghost Church was completed and dedicated on Palm Sunday, April 26, 1895. Fr Toth dedicated the Church and celebrated the first Divine Liturgy.

In 1896, upon the advice of Bishop Nicholas, Mr. Makara went to Russia to solicit funds for the new church. He received an audience with Emperor Nicholas II and received from him a donation of six beautiful bells which were cast in honor of his coronation in 1896. Upon arrival in New York, the bells were held by customs for payment of import duty. A special bill introduced in the 55th session of the United States Congress, which was adopted and signed by President William McKinley, allowed the bells to enter the United States custom free.

About the Bells
The largest weighs 4,000 pounds and contains in raised relief the image of Emperor Nicholas and Empress Alexandra, with Icons of our Savior on opposite sides. Two smaller bells contain the Icons of St Alexandra and St Nicholas (the patron saints of Nicholas II and Alexandra). All were cast by the master metallurgist, B M Orlov, in St Petersburg, Russia. Tonacity is produced by an alloy of bronze, copper, brass, silver, and other minerals, the formula for which was a closely guarded secret of Imperial Russia and lost with the Empire. The bells were rung by hand until they were electrified.



Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #127 on: January 27, 2007, 08:26:16 PM »
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In addition, the emperors and empresses became less and less paternal and Russia less and less a family. Power was not so much spiritual as it was legal. If administrators were not Frenchmen or Germans, they were Russians who had lost their faith. The autocracy of love and faith became the autocracy of force and cunning. The Freemasons, Bible Societies and theosophists invaded holy Russia. Her seminaries and academies spewed Western rationalism and skepticism. The people were confused and discontented." (SACRED MONARCHY AND THE MODERN SECULAR STATE)

I'm curious as to the source. Surely this is a polemic, as opposed to a work of scholarship --- for one thing, the Russian peasants weren't having all that much fun under the autocracy of "love and faith" that preceded Peter I, and which presumably reached a climax of joy under Ivan the Terrible.

Quote
"Some 75 years ago the greatest twentieth-century hierarch of the Russian Church, Metropolitan Antony of Kiev, wrote that the roots of the fall of Russia, which he had foretold on several occasions before 1917, went back to 1666. It was then that the holy Russian Patriarch Nikon had been deposed and had already foretold the collapse of Russia as an Orthodox land. After this, there had inevitably followed the complete abolition of the Russian Patriarchate by Peter I in 1721, and in 1797 the proclamation of the Emperor as the head of the Russian Church under Paul I. The Church had become a mere department of State, as in the Protestant model - as indeed in the Soviet model. Quoting Genesis 6,3, which foretold the Flood, "And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years," Metropolitan Antony wrote of how 1917 was exactly 120 years after 1797. Thus, 120 years after 1797, there began the all-destructive Flood of 1917. (See the Biography of Metropolitan Antony, Vol III, pp 6-9, Bishop Nikon (Rklitsky), New York 1957).

This is strangely reminiscent of the numerology nonsense that was being unleashed on the French royal threads a few months ago. Belief in this kind of thing (1917 is 120 years after 1797, and this is important because of  . . . Genesis? Hello?) is of great comfort, but no use whatsoever in an historical discussion. I know, I'm going to burn, but allow me to point out as a fellow Catholic, Amour des Bourbons (catchy revamp, btw) that this is exactly the kind of superstitious hogwash that is routinely discarded by the Vatican, and which in Orthodoxy leads to things like magic combs.

Quote
The tragedy of the Russian Royal Family was that they were to die, not for their own human sins, but for the sins of their dynasty and all Russia. They were in fact prisoners of a system, a system into which they were born, a system whereby the whole of the Russian Empire was governed not by Church and State, but by the State and a decapitated Church. With the spiritual principle of the Church subverted, the Russian State was unbalanced and, sooner or later, the Revolution had to happen. The State needed the Church, just as the Church needed the State." (RUSSIAN DESTINIES)

The Russian Imperial Family did not die for their sins, still less for the sins of their dynasty and all Russia. They died because they were prisoners of a Bolshevik government that made the decision to execute them rather than let them fall into the hands of the White Army that was approaching Yekaterinburg.

Furthermore, the argument advanced by this passage from Russian Destinies apparently takes the position that there was such a thing as a 'principle of the Church' that was commonly understood. If in fact subversion of this principle was a guarantee of Revolution, then how did (1) the English Royal Family avoid being stood up in a cellar in, say, Leeds, in 1918 and (2) what on earth did poor Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette ever do to the spiritual edifice of France?

Simon
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Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #128 on: January 27, 2007, 08:41:09 PM »
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The democrats have prepared yet another provocation for Russia.  The burial of the "remains" of the Royal Family on February 25th.  What remains might those be?  Those which were destroyed by the maniacal jew-bolshevik fanatics in the forests of Ekaterinburg?

In a mad rush, the democrats carried out an "expert investigation" in connection with some skeletons -- found who knows where and belonging to who knows whom.  And it is precisely the remains of these poor unfortunates that they now are putting forth as Royal remains.  Why are the democrats in such dire need of this spectacle? why this hasty demand for such a shameless shuffling and juggling of facts, for this peculiar imposture of the dead?  There are, I think, two fundamental reasons:

1) The Tsar’ and His Family were ritually-slaughtered by the jew-bolsheviks.  In accordance with the intent of the executioners and their patrons, all of Orthodox Russia was being symbolically destroyed along with the Tsar’.  Not for naught did a kabbalistic inscription get left on the wall of the Ipatiev House where this evil act was carried out, stating:

"Here, at the command of occult powers, God’s Anointed was put to death."

I followed the links offered, and found a site which is littered with things like the above --- and that was discovered after the most cursory of inspections. The boldface is mine, by the way.

As an intellectual contribution, the site is idiotic. Sorry, Amour des Borbons, but it is one step away from Protocols of the Elders of Zion. "Ritually slaughtered", my sweet Aunt Fanny's butt.

Simon
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #129 on: January 28, 2007, 04:42:09 AM »
Well, at least Amour des Bourbons didn't cite that neo-Nazi racist "think tank" down in Alabama this time.

I find it interesting that any time the topic of Russian Orthodoxy is under discussion, sooner or later some "world Zionist conspiracy" nonsense surfaces from someone professing great erudition on the theology of Holy Mother Russia.  It would give one the impression -- false, I'm sure -- that the ROC is a nest of such "scholars".


Amour_des_Bourbons

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #130 on: January 28, 2007, 06:15:07 AM »
Well, at least Amour des Bourbons didn't cite that neo-Nazi racist "think tank" down in Alabama this time.

I find it interesting that any time the topic of Russian Orthodoxy is under discussion, sooner or later some "world Zionist conspiracy" nonsense surfaces from someone professing great erudition on the theology of Holy Mother Russia.  It would give one the impression -- false, I'm sure -- that the ROC is a nest of such "scholars".



I don't know about the Zionist stuff, it wasn't part of the two articles I quoted. I'm interested, though, in what you have to say about them.

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #131 on: January 28, 2007, 06:54:45 AM »
Nice try, BorbonFan.

I didn't start this thread for it to be hijacked by a racist, anti-semitic, homophobic (in case anyone forgot why you were suspended earlier) hack.

I request the moderator to lock this thread before it becomes yet another podium on this Forum for your hate-filled "Christian" agenda.

Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #132 on: January 28, 2007, 09:56:37 AM »
And just as Jews are not demons, neither are they saints. It is completely, utterly irrelevant that the site has one or two Jews in its ancestry.

I have enjoyed this thread a great deal, and would hate to see it closed down, although I suppose that the participants can always continue the discussion in PMs. Might I make another suggestion? Could the Borbon famille take a hike? It must be blindingly clear by now that this kind of nonsense is not going to be tolerated at the adult table, kids.  And could the FA then delete their posts?

You two embarass Christianity in general and Orthodoxy in particular.

Simon
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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #133 on: January 28, 2007, 10:07:46 AM »
It appears that the posts in question have already been deleted, but not by me. Borbon et Amour have both been banned. I had gotten an email of "contrition" from BorbonFan, asking to be re-instated. As an act of grace, I felt he be allowed one chance. Clearly, he can not "play well" or abide by our rules. They are both banned permanently now (actually, the IP addresses were identitcal, I rather believe they were one in the same, both from the University of Michigan....)

Carry on.

FA

Elisabeth

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #134 on: January 28, 2007, 11:14:33 AM »
Sadly, all this makes me wonder if the Russian Orthodox Church has not been irrevocably tainted and compromised, not only by Bolshevism, that is, by Lenin and his heirs, but also by the anti-Semitism so popular amongst the Whites during the Civil War. Understand, I am not speculating about the Orthodox Eastern Church as a whole (which is made up of many other parts and countries aside from modern Russia!) but only about the native Russian branch that functioned throughout Soviet rule and continues to function today.