29. Orthodoxy and the post-1989 World
John Masefield, In the Mill
1989 will stand as one of the four great landmarks of 20th century history. The first was 1914, exactly three generations before, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire triggered off the First World War. In so doing it brought about its own downfall and that of several others, including the Russian. The second landmark was 1939, exactly two generations ago, when the Hitlerites launched a second blood-bath. The third landmark is 1964, one generation ago, when the Western and westernised world fell to a wave of unheard-of moral and spiritual decadence. This it did by abandoning the very foundations of Christianity which its religious institutions had inherited from the first millennium, and then guarded in one form or another for nigh on a second. The fourth landmark of 1989 is that when Communism was rejected by the peoples who had for so long borne its yoke, only to fall into the 'One-World' temptation.
Today we live with the consequences of all these historic dates. The last one has left behind it the remnants of Leninism, a whole series of countries reduced to the drunken stupor of spiritual and therefore moral, cultural, social, economic and ecological decadence. But it has also left a huge question-mark, hanging over the world like a sword of Damocles, - where will the Soviet Union and Russia go from here?
Some predict civil wars, similar to those in Africa and Asia following decolonization in the 1950s and 1960s and more recently. Others predict the Westernization of the East. Their be-all and end-all is the 'free market', the 'panacea' of consumer-good materialism, the spiritual suicide of economic materialism. Is it possible that these are the only two possible fruits of 75 years of demonic obscenity in Russia, that the greatest mass-genocide known to humanity, the Gulag, was simply so that more killing could occur, or so that Russian teenagers could eat 'Big Macs?' Have no truths been learnt? Is there no other way out of Russia's dead end?
In today's world there seem to be a number of blocs. The first is the Western one, that of North America, Western Europe and the Pacific Basin nations, symbolised by Japan. In spite of trade tensions and rivalries between them, they form one, complete, capitalist bloc. Commercial unions are being set up inside them. In Western Europe, this Union is sucking in Scandinavia, Austria, perhaps Poland, Hungary and the Czech part of Czechoslovakia. Oneworldism is strong here, as in the Pacific, with the Asian dragons and Japanese eyes set covetously on China, Siberia and the mineral wealth of Australia.
The second bloc is 'the South', the 'Third World'. This includes Africa, South America, India, China and the Arab countries. These countries rejected the colonial models and today are rejecting Marxism, with which they have played with catastrophic results. They are at a dead end. They can go neither left, nor right, the only way for them is up - unless, like Iran, they prefer to go down into Islamic fundamentalism.
There is also, however, a potential third bloc, a bloc which does not exist as yet, because it is still in a state of Apostasy. If it repents, it will be born. This bloc would consist of one sixth of the Earth's surface - all the Orthodox parts of the old Russian Empire. It would include the Russian Republic, the Orthodox Ukraine and Belorussia, much of Kazakhstan, Georgia, Moldavia, perhaps non-Orthodox Armenia. Other Orthodox nations could join it - Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro. This third bloc would be no other than an Orthodox Commonwealth of Sovereign States, a renewed Byzantine Empire. To it would be attached all Orthodox living all over the world, in parts of the other two blocs.
The first aim of such a bloc would be its own spiritual regeneration, which would lead to a more general rebirth in all domains. Thus the Greek-speaking Churches, especially, would be freed from petty nationalism through this restored Byzantine Empire. They would also be freed from the undermining influences of obscure forces to which their present episcopates have so much succumbed since the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917. As for the Slav and Romanian Churches, they too could be freed from State-appointed episcopates. Orthodox minorities could be protected in countries like the Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Croatia and wherever they come under persecution. Such a Commonwealth of Faith could aid Orthodox missions all over the world, in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas. The results of the existence of such a Commonwealth would be far-reaching indeed.
Its existence and strength would restrain the world from its headlong rush into catastrophe. It could lead to the regeneration of the spiritually and morally decaying Western world. This Commonwealth could become the breadbasket of the Third World. Its huge natural resources could stop starvation and let it know of Orthodoxy which so far has been little preached in areas which have undergone only forced conversion to deformations of Christianity.
Of course many will object that this is only a dream. And, humanly speaking, this objection is correct. Humanly speaking, Russia and the formerly Orthodox countries face either civil war or else the soulless vulgarity of the West, with its hard rock and Coca-Cola. But the restoration of an Orthodox Commonwealth of kingdoms is possible if, collectively, we refuse to exclude the divine, if we agree to co-operate with God. How is this possible?
Firstly, all Orthodox Christians everywhere must repent. It is useless to blame others for our own sinful choices. Orthodox must cleanse their souls from all manner of sin. This means the acceptance and active veneration of the saints, especially the New Martyrs and Confessors of all the Orthodox lands. Orthodox episcopates must be renewed; at present most of them are discredited through their unheard of Erastianism, their subservience to the enemies of the Church, with disastrous results. Only free Orthodox episcopates, genuine monastic bishops, can serve the Church.
The hopes that we have expressed here are not new. The great Russian theologian and pastor, Church Father of the twentieth century, Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev expressed them before the Russian Revolution. His hopes then were dashed by internal treachery, by the apostasy of Orthodox, by those who mocked the sombre prophecies of St John of Kronstadt who, like St John the Baptist of old, called to repentance. If this time we ignore calls to repentance, then our future will be apocalyptic.
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