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A European Orthodox Intranet?

On principle I do not take part in any forum or chat-room. There is a tendency for them to be composed of very small groups of rather argumentative and self-obsessed people, engaged in infighting and nit-picking. And on principle I have not joined the 10% of the world population registered on Facebook. I value my private life.

However, I have for a decade been in electronic contact with a network of Russian Orthodox priests in various European cities, some of them graduates of the Moscow Theological Academy, and who serve in at least two languages. But this is an informal network of friends who have a great deal in common. We adhere to the Russian Orthodox Tradition, but we are also open to missionary work.

Those who are only traditional and confuse it with a nationalistic identity, and are not open, run the risk of falling into traditionalism and from there into the trap of old calendarism. That is very different from following the old calendar. However, those who are only open and do not care for the Orthodox Tradition, run the risk of isolating themselves in an alienating, Westernised pseudo-Orthodoxy, a Diet Orthodoxy, calvinised, rationalised, modernised, sanitised, degutted, a eunuch Orthodoxy, differing in hardly anything from Uniatism with its neat, clean-shaven clergy in their Roman collars and spotless suits.

Looking thorough my address book, I also note several Orthodox contacts in Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Italy, France, Ireland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland, in addition, that is, to many others in these islands, in many other countries in Eastern Europe and Russia and on other Continents. We too have a great deal in common. For there are now millions of Russian Orthodox, mainly immigrants, new and old, but also native Europeans, in (Western) Europe.

Despite our personal weaknesses, we are building blocks in any future Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe, a European Orthodox Church. Is it not time that we and thousands of others in Europe joined together in some form of multilingual internet site, perhaps intranet site (without being ghettoish and sectarian), in a slightly more formal and above all much wider network, a (Yes, I checked and this address is still available). Below are some examples of how a noticeboard for contacts might work, though here it is all translated into English. Although it is fictional, I know people who are like these and I pray for them before every Liturgy:

My name is Natasha, I am 34 and I live in Lisbon. I am married to a Portuguese man and we have two children. We are all Orthodox. I speak Russian and Portuguese. I would like to contact other Russian Orthodox women who are concerned about bringing up our children in Orthodoxy in Western countries.

My name is Peter, I am 52 and live in Glasgow. I am Scottish, married with three adult children, but my wife and children are not Russian Orthodox. I speak English and some French. I would like to contact men in similar situations.

My name is Mikhail, I am 28 and live in Frankfurt. I am single. I speak Russian, Romanian (I am from Moldova) and German. I like going to church and go on different pilgrimages every year. I am also very interested in classical guitar.

My name is Anya, I am 22, come from Lithuania, and I am a student and live in Hilversum in the Netherlands. I speak Russian and English. I am very interested in monastic life. I would like to meet other young Orthodox women of my age who have the same interest.

My name is Juan, I come from Madrid and I am 27. I speak Spanish and French. I work for a bank. I am interested in the New Martyrs and would like to correspond with others about them.

My name is Tamara and I am 55. I come from Stavropol. I live in England with my daughter and English son-in-law and my two grandchildren. I only speak Russian and find English very difficult. I would like to talk to other Russian grandmothers like me.

My name is Tatiana, I am from Minsk and I am 19. I live in Brussels where I work as a chambermaid in a hotel. I speak Russian and French. I would like to contact others of my age. I like music of all sorts and enjoy singing in the Church choir. I love to read about elders like Fr Nikolai Gurianov, who had a great influence on my mother.

My name is Adrian and I live in Lausanne in Switzerland. I am 33 and married to a Russian and joined the Russian Orthodox Church five years ago. I speak French, German, English and Italian. I am very interested in Orthodoxy, but find many things difficult. I would like to speak to other men who have a similar experience.

My name is Ludmila, I am from Kazakhstan and am 48. I live in a tiny village in the east of France. My husband is Catholic, but never goes to his church, and we have one daughter. I only get to church with her four times a year in Paris. I speak Russian to my daughter, but she answers me in French. I feel isolated, please can you contact me?

My name is Alexander and I live in Vienna. I am 23. I speak fluent Russian and German. My father is Austrian and my mother is from Volgograd. I want to contact others who are bicultural and bilingual and also learn more about our Faith. I work in a restaurant here and love cooking.

My name is Antony and I am Russian from Estonia. I now live in Sweden and work for an engineering company. I am 29 and I speak Russian, Swedish and English. I travel a lot for my job. I would like to found a family. I go to church at least twice a week and am very interested in history.

My name is Svetlana. I am from Lvov in the Ukraine and I am 31. I now live in Dublin. I speak Ukrainian and Russian. I am married to an Irishman, who is very nice but does not understand that I am very isolated because my Ukrainian friends are all Uniats and only I am Orthodox. I would like to speak to others in the same situation.

We repeat: All the above are fictional.

Of course, the creation of such a site requires technical expertise (I have none) and also there are issues of privacy.

I have thrown a stone into a pond. Stones sink. But they also make a splash and ripples. I hope that some have heard the splash and can see the ripples.

10 June 2011

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