In Defense of Mother Russia

I haven’t heard much about the ongoing dispute between the Russian government and the Western media over the fate of the faux “punk rock band” ***** Riot in the American Catholic media. But this is a dispute in which I believe we ought to take sides as Catholics.

[No, I will not give the vulgar hate group the sociopathic pleasure of having yet another Christian publication use their name]

Three members of the vulgar hate group were arrested following their desecration of Moscow’s largest Orthodox cathedral. They have now been sentenced to two-year prison terms, with the six months spent at trial counting as time served.

My position on this incident is pretty clear. I stand 110% with the Russian government, the Orthodox Church, and the tens of millions of Russian Orthodox who have condemned the vulgar hate group – and I believe all Catholics in all countries ought to do likewise.

Not simply because this appears to me to be a deliberate ploy encouraged and promoted by anti-Russian elements in Europe and the United States; not simply because in all of the Western countries hypocritically condemning Russia these same actions could be and likely would be regarded as hate crimes according to their own established laws; not simply because the right to free speech does not, never has, and God willing, never will mean the right to invade any space one chooses and defecate on the floor; not simply because I respect the religious sensibilities of the Russian people; not even because I am fairly certain that being on the opposite side of whatever cause the degenerate celebritariat is championing is almost always the best and wisest choice – ???. Not just for those reasons.

It is because I am sick to death of the hypocrisy displayed by the Western media when it comes to religion and free speech. As some rather seasoned purveyors of vulgar filth put it themselves: while certain religions, beliefs, and prophets are strictly off-limits, it’s open season on Jesus. There is no act too vile, disgusting, offensive or low that can be perpetrated against Christ or Christian organizations to not be praised as “artistic expression” that ought to be protected by law. There is no rebuke, however mild, that a Christian can deliver to such miscreants that will not be labeled as evidence of intolerance, bigotry, philistinism, cultural backwardness or something similar, even if it is reluctantly acknowledged by some secularists that such things are not in good taste.

And to suggest that such offenders ought to be punished by law? Well, clearly suggesting that a group of wretched defilers be sent to jail for a year-and-a-half is “reminiscent of show trials of dissidents in the Soviet era“, in which tens of thousands of people were executed by Stalin’s regime.

Unlike radical Muslims, the vast majority of Christians do not respond with violence or threats of violence when Our Lord is mocked and publicly defiled. Those few that do have not really taken the time to know Him, who was mocked and spit upon by Roman soldiers and still called for their forgiveness. Our enemies know this, and they wish to take advantage of it. One of the criminals, after her sentence was handed down, said:

“It was not in vain that when Christ was among the prostitutes, he said that those who falter should be helped, I do not see this in our trial.”

Consider it well, Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox all. They will violate you, knowing full well that you are expected to turn the other cheek. That is the kind of sadistic perversion we are dealing with here. Fortunately, the admonition to do so is a precept of individual conduct. The business of the state is to preserve social order, and there is nothing vengeful about the court’s sentence. People who hate Christianity (and Vladimir Putin in this case) are not the only people with rights protected by the laws of civilized countries.

My only concern is that it is, as always, a lose-lose situation. If the vulgar hate group wasn’t convicted, then it would embolden all of the other vulgar hate groups to do as they please, when they please, where they please. Now that the vulgar hate group has been convicted, they will be seen as righteous martyrs for a righteous cause, the permanent revolution against Christian civilization.

The sad thing is that I believe that much of this anti-Christian hatred – and I am now speaking generally and globally – is motivated merely by the fact that vulgar, hateful people cannot tolerate the existence of other people who, even though they are as oppressed by sin as everyone else, aspire to be something more than mindless animals who do nothing but hump one another and follow the latest idiotic trends. Sloshing about in a sewer filled with their own spiritual feces, they must pull everyone else down into it, and erase any suggestion that it might be possible to escape. That is the only way it can be enjoyed.

But we will not be pulled down quietly. In the meantime, here’s hoping that there’s plenty of veal in the prison borscht.

????? ??????!

Post-Script: if you want to hear a real female Russian musician perform, go here.

59 Responses to In Defense of Mother Russia

  • Here in Scotland, it is the offence of Profanity to disturb worship. The essence of the offence is the disturbance and annoyance of the minister and congregation, and the interruption of their devotions.

    A building enjoys no special protection and it is not an aggravation of a breach of the peace or of mobbing and rioting that it is committed in a place used for worship.

    This seems to me a proper distinction.

    Of course, any wilful damage to the fabric or plenishments of the building is the crime of malicious mischief.

  • You summed it up well, Bonchamps: “The sad thing is that I believe that much of this anti-Christian hatred – and I am now speaking generally and globally – is motivated merely by the fact that vulgar, hateful people cannot tolerate the existence of other people who, even though they are as oppressed by sin as everyone else, aspire to be something more than mindless animals who do nothing but hump one another and follow the latest idiotic trends. Sloshing about in a sewer filled with their own spiritual feces, they must pull everyone else down into it, and erase any suggestion that it might be possible to escape. That is the only way it can be enjoyed.”

  • The problem with calling the group in question a “hate group” is that, despite the name, they do not hate Christianity. As I understand it what they’re protesting is the perversion of the Russian Orthodox Church by the Russian government. Disagree with their methods, and even disagree with their point of view about the Church hierarchy, but this isn’t a Madonna situation where they were being needlessly provocative in an effort to harass Christians. They’re calling attention to something which is legitimately troubling. John O’Sullivan has more details about them here and here.

  • The jerks have a point. There’s something wrong in Russia, and the Orthodox Church is happily cooperating with it.

    There was a case in Chicago in 2008 where a group of protesters disrupted a mass being said by the Cardinal. They received probation, community service, and a $2600 fine (to pay for cleaning the fake blood out of the carpet). That seems appropriate.

  • No, Paul. I will not sign on to what seems to me to be a morally and spiritually blind bandwagon assault on the Russian state. In a world in which millions of Christians live under direct Islamic oppression and are increasingly marginalized in the secular West, Russia stands out as a beacon of hope for afflicted Christians.

    In my view, and in the view of millions of believers, this group’s act was OBJECTIVELY hateful. It had the effect of rallying the average Russian around this supposedly dangerous regime. Even if you’re right and they don’t hate Christianity – frankly I find it impossible to reconcile their actions with any sort of love for it – they have violated Christianity. All theological and historical disputes with the Orthodox aside (and we can’t just forget those either), they willingly and knowingly defiled a sacred space. In my view, this is a hateful act. Maybe their subjective rage is channeled at Putin, but their objective victim is Christianity.

    And it is far from their first anti-social act. Other members of this group have engaged in public orgies, for heaven’s sake. A Ukrainian sympathizer also cut down a cross memorializing the victims of Stalin’s genocidal campaign. Their very name is an affront to any sort of public Christian morality.

    Nope, I’m not on the anti-Russia bandwagon, and not going to get on it any time soon just because they don’t like the neoconservative foreign policy (yeah yeah “neoconservatism doesn’t exist”, whatever) of remaking the Middle East, which has included the ousting of secular regimes relatively friendly to the millions of Christians in the region and their replacement with Islamic fanatics who murder and oppress them. I actually have family in that part of the world.

    No, what I see here is a government under assault from a gaggle of Western anti-Christs who are enraged at the existence of a country whose leadership isn’t afraid to openly profess a traditional form of Christianity. I absolutely will not side with them or the filth they seek to defend.

  • Pinky,

    “There was a case in Chicago in 2008 where a group of protesters disrupted a mass being said by the Cardinal. They received probation, community service, and a $2600 fine (to pay for cleaning the fake blood out of the carpet). That seems appropriate.”

    There was a time when they would have been publicly disemboweled. If they did this in a mosque in the Middle East, they would have been torn to pieces. If they did it in a mosque in Europe, they would probably go to jail for longer than two years.

    I think 18 months behind bars is comparatively light. Maybe it will cause them to think long and hard about the seriousness of defiling a sacred space and disrupting social order. If this was some kind of first-time offense by a group of silly teenagers, I would agree with you. But this is a group of anti-social provocateurs that have repeatedly engaged in public acts of blasphemy and obscenity. They are finally getting their just deserts.

  • With all due respect, I believe that Bonchamps’ responses to Paul Z. and Pinky are correct. I agree.

  • “Since its formation in presumably 2008 Voina has staged in public a succession of extreme actions described as performance art. These have included the painting of a male phallus on a St. Petersburg Bridge, the staging of a public orgy at the Timiryazev Museum in Moscow involving nudity and (apparently) full penetrative sex (Tolokonnikova was a participant though heavily pregnant), the throwing of live cats at the staff of a McDonald’s restaurant in Moscow, the overturning of police cars apparently on one occasion with a policeman inside, the firebombing of property with petrol bombs, the staged hanging of an immigrant and a homosexual in a supermarket, the projection of a skull and crossbones onto the building housing the Russian government, the spilling of large live cockroaches onto the stomach of a pregnant member of the group (Tolokonnikova again) and the theft of a frozen chicken from a supermarket, which was stuffed up the vagina of one of the women members (apparently Maria Alyokhina, Tolokonnikova apparently was also present).”

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/118287.html

    No civilized nation should be forced to tolerate this. They ought to all be institutionalized, truth be told.

  • this isn’t a Madonna situation where they were being needlessly provocative in an effort to harass Christians.

    In Madonna’s situation, it is nothing but a marketing strategy to prolong her already far too long public career.

    I am with Bonchamps on this one. At least the Russians seem to take Christianity seriously.

  • n a world in which millions of Christians live under direct Islamic oppression and are increasingly marginalized in the secular West, Russia stands out as a beacon of hope for afflicted Christians.

    Russia is essentially a state run by organized criminals, headed by a pseudo-authoritarian regime. It continues to flex its muscles over its former satellite countries.

    All theological and historical disputes with the Orthodox aside (and we can’t just forget those either), they willingly and knowingly defiled a sacred space. In my view, this is a hateful act.

    I don’t disagree with that, nor do I disagree that their act is otherwise repugnant. I am merely contending that their motivation is distinct from cowards like Madonna and others who employ shock for the sake of shock.

    Nope, I’m not on the anti-Russia bandwagon, and not going to get on it any time soon just because they don’t like the neoconservative foreign policy

    A complete non sequiter.

    No, what I see here is a government under assault from a gaggle of Western anti-Christs who are enraged at the existence of a country whose leadership isn’t afraid to openly profess a traditional form of Christianity.

    I think you are blinded to what Putin and the Russian leadership is about. They are about as “Christian” as the current American ruling regime.

  • Paul,

    We’re not going to see eye to eye on this. You subscribe to one narrative about Russia, and I find the truth better represented in a different set of facts and perspectives.

    Even if Putin in his heart was a cold, dark atheist, his public support for the Orthodox Church means something and has a significance apart form whatever he and his lieutenants actually believe.

    Oh, and what I said was absolutely not a “non sequiter.” That is exactly why many in the West oppose Russia. I don’t give a damn if it “flexes its muscles over its former satellite countries.” For a country that developed the Monroe Doctrine and has been actively trying to preserve global hegemony to be miffed by that is beyond hysterical.

  • Bon, you seem to be ascribing bad motives to those who disagree with you. Personally, I’ve seen no information on which to build a positive narrative about Russia. All indications are that any kind of dissent is silenced by the government. I can’t get that worked up in support of this punk band doing some terrible things, but if the reaction to it is emblematic of a regression toward totalitarianism, then it’s definitely to be criticized.

  • Pinky,

    What “bad motives”? I don’t attribute any bad motives to you or Paul. If you mean the Western media establishment and the neocons, yes, guilty as charged, I think their motives are bad and their pontificating on the evils of Russia to be among the most hilariously hypocritical things I have seen in my life.

    It is simply false that “any kind of dissent is silenced by the government” – anti-government protests involving tens of thousands of people have taken place in Russia with no more or less police concern than that which you will see at the RNC and DNC conventions this year.

    The reaction to this band is also most emphatically not a “regression towards totalitarianism” either. The laws under which these disgusting criminals were prosecuted are similar to laws that exist on the books in every Western country – laws that would be quickly invoked and enforced if a politically-protected group was the target of a similar outrage.

    Maybe you haven’t seen any positive information about Russia because you haven’t even consider the possibility that it might exist. It does.

  • What these people did violated the rights of Russian Christians and the Russian Orthodox Church. They deserve to be punished, and I would call for the same punishment if it were done to a Catholic Church here.

    In fact, some imitators HAVE done this sort of thing in Catholic Churches in Europe, and are now facing similar sentences!

    Is the Catholic Church in Germany and the German government “regressing towards totalitarianism”? To ask such an absurd question is to answer it.

    http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/24/13454525-copycat-pussy-riot-protesters-could-face-3-year-sentence-in-germany?lite

  • Don’t you people get it? This is about Christian rights. Forget your views about Putin and the Russian government. The movement, the people supporting the vulgar hate group are doing so because they want to encourage MORE obscene violations of Christian holy places. They want to take away our rights to have our own sacred, protected times and places.

    This is a time to stand in solidarity with, if not the Russian state, at least your fellow Christians!

  • I worry about my fellow Christians in Russia. I see a far greater threat to their future from Putin than from that band. Their actions, while offensive and ridiculous, were dwarfed by ongoing anti-government rallies alleging electoral fraud and widespread political corruption.

  • Well Pinky,

    I completely disagree with you. In fact I find your statement to be quite at odds with demonstrable fact and reality. Putin has restored the Orthodox Church to prominence and importance in the nation.

    You really need to take a good, long look at the international forces arrayed against the Russian government and the Orthodox Church – what they believe, what they stand for, what they want to accomplish, what they have accomplished in the West. I will without hesitation and with a measure of pride take the side of the Russian establishment over the morally and spiritually degenerate Western establishments any day of the week. What a government publicly endorses and promotes is as important as what it “really does”; what our governments promote are impiety and anti-Christian prejudice, and what the Russian government promotes is piety and respect for established Christian institutions (without, to my knowledge, violating anyone’s individual rights to religious liberty). I don’t care if they get something politically out of it. It has effects that are only good, that are in fact the greatest good for a society.

    Every country, even the United States, has been rocked by allegations of massive electoral fraud and political corruption. We had one president who was impeached recently, another who ascended to the White House in spite of losing the popular vote (which was extremely close), and an administration that is almost certainly complicit in sending illegal guns to Mexico for the purpose of creating a pretext to crackdown on the 2nd amendment. Frankly I see nothing taking place in Russia that is any more alarming than what I see in any other country, certainly nothing worthy of special, explicit hostility.

  • I’d also still like to know if the German Catholic Church and government are displaying signs of totalitarianism and repression in the charges they have brought up against the copycat sympathy protesters, linked in my previous post.

  • Bonchamps, with respect, your entire argument in defense of Russia seems to be based on the idea that all the other western countries are gripped in the throes of secularism. While this might be true to a certain extent, that fact does nothing to exculpate Russia from the charges that its administration or government are corrupt. I think anyone who has studied Russia from afar could tell you that many aspects of Russian life, at least in the political sense, are not much improved since the days of the USSR.

    I don’t care if they get something politically out of it. It has effects that are only good, that are in fact the greatest good for a society.

    This is fairly naive and horrifying. Naive in the sense that you seem to take Putin’s “piety” at face value. Putin is acting not to solidify the Church and sanctify his people, but rather cynically to ensure that the Church has his back. It’s horrifying because you’re essentially saying that cynical piety is all right because it keeps the people in line.

    Frankly I see nothing taking place in Russia that is any more alarming than what I see in any other country, certainly nothing worthy of special, explicit hostility.

    When political opponents here are murdered or almost murdered with the regularity they are in Russia, then I might be more inclined to agree with you.

  • Paul,

    I stand by what I said, and naturally, I reject your spin on it.

    I am absolutely not saying that it is ok to lie about piety to “keep people in line.” I do believe that the government probably considers all of the costs and benefits of its policy decisions (as all governments do), and that there is really nothing wrong with benefit from mutual interests, even if both parties have different reasons for having that interest. Government-promoted piety is positively good, regardless of why it is done. The “why” will matter as far as their individual souls are concerned, but those who benefit from living in an explicitly Christian culture will also benefit. There is nothing “horrifying about this.”

    I take Putin’s belief that the public restoration of Orthodoxy as a defining aspect of Russian culture and politics is good for Russia as a nation at face value. His personal piety is a different story.

    Since we obviously don’t agree on these issues, we should probably both move on before this gets as ugly as I fear it can get.

  • The German case is quite different. There, the protesters disturbed public worship. Every state in Europe guarantees freedom of worship and such actions are rightly criminal.

    That is a very different matter to staging a protest in a building sometimes used for worship, but when no service was in progress.

  • I don’t think it is “very different.” It is somewhat different, but these are differences of degree and not kind. I’m not positive but I believe there were people in the cathedral at the time trying to pray.

  • I mean, what the hell would be the point of a protest if there were no people around to see it?

  • The Russian Orthodox Church has valid Holy Orders and valid Sacraments, though it is not in union with Rome. Even Rome recognizes the validity of Eastern Orthodox Churches, of which the Russian one is an autonomous, autocephalus member. As such, isn’t there a Tabernacle in the Church where the Pussy Riot was staged, and doesn’t that Tabernacle contain the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Blessed Lord and Savior? Don’t Eastern Orthodox do it the same way? Orthodox Anglicans do. So the actions of the Pussy Rioters are even more reprehensible.

    Get out of thinking that the Roman jurisdiction is the only Catholic one. It demonstrably is not, and Rome’s recognition of the validity of Eastern Orthodox Holy Orders and Sacraments is a case in point. BTW, even the Pope had kind words to say about the recent meeting between Patriarch Cyril of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Archbishop of Poland.

  • While this doesn’t relate to the merits of the case (I’m in agreement with Pinky and Paul Zummo on them), for informational purposes:

    “As such, isn’t there a Tabernacle in the Church where the Pussy Riot was staged, and doesn’t that Tabernacle contain the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Blessed Lord and Savior? ”

    The Russian Orthodox do not reserve the sacrament in a tabernacle, because the bread and wine are combined and served out of a single chalice (the intinctioned cube of Eucharist is dropped into the communicant’s open mouth by the priest using a a golden spoon).

    Actually, I’ve had some Russian Orthodox folks online (which, as we all know from Catholic combox wars can be a weird sample) tell me that they consider the Catholic practice of reserving the sacrament in the tabernacle and most especially the Catholic practice of Eucharistic adoration, to be idolatrous. “It misses the point that the Eucharist is food” was the way it was put to me.

    While it in no way excuses the behavior of the punk band, there is, honestly, reason to be concerned about the Russian Orthodox Church and its place in modern Russia. Keep in mind, despite the official atheism of the Soviet regime, there were strong and disturbing ties between the ROC and the communist regime. These ties have continued in Putin’s Russia, where not only are a lot of ex-KGB types running the government, but Patriarch Kirill himself has been strongly implicated as having been a long term KGB informant and collaborator.

  • Thank you for the clarification, Darwin.

  • “I’m in agreement with Pinky and Paul Zummo on them”

    I’m not the least surprised about that.

    “there is, honestly, reason to be concerned about the Russian Orthodox Church and its place in modern Russia”

    I’m more concerned about the place of the Church in the West and under Islamic rule. I don’t see why it is any of our concern at all what happens in Russia, which is not persecuting Christians, which is not threatening any of our legitimate interests, and which has a government that has the overwhelming support of the people.

  • One might care because they like to threaten Catholic Poland at times, or because although the Orthodox are not officially persecuted by the state, the Orthodox have consistently used the state to harass Catholics in Russia — going so far as to effectively kick Catholic clergy out of Russia by revoking their visas.

    One might also consider it problematic for a Christian church to explicitly align itself with an oppressive and at times murderous regime. That can seem helpful at times (especially when the other options seem fairly barbaric — though that’s not the case with Russia) but in the long run being too cozy with nasty people never seems to work out very well.

  • “One might care because they like to threaten Catholic Poland at times”

    Oh please. When did the post-Soviet Russian government threaten Poland? Other than, perhaps, in response to NATO’s belligerent insistence upon a missile shield (why do we have a divine right to that again?)’

    “or because although the Orthodox are not officially persecuted by the state, the Orthodox have consistently used the state to harass Catholics in Russia”

    Ok. That’s a legitimate problem and it should be addressed. I’ll grant that one, no question. But it is hardly a matter that warrants Russophobia, or joining in the obscene chorus of celebrities, government officials and media personalities condemning Russia on the grounds that these hideous criminals were simply “expressing themselves.”

    “One might also consider it problematic for a Christian church to explicitly align itself with an oppressive and at times murderous regime. ”

    You really need to take off the nationalist blinders. This country has only been free of racial apartheid for a generation, has supported murderous regimes around the world for geopolitical gains, and has killed millions in “wars of choice.” I’m not saying that all of these acts were totally unjustifiable, but together they constitute the thinnest of glass houses from which no stone ought to be cast.

    The bottom line is that the forces arrayed against Russia in this case are enemies of Christianity. In this case, Catholics ought to stand in solidarity with the Russian Orthodox against the onslaught of hypocritical condemnation coming from people like Obama, Madonna, the rest of the vapid Western media-government complex.

  • You really need to take off the nationalist blinders. This country has only been free of racial apartheid for a generation, has supported murderous regimes around the world for geopolitical gains, and has killed millions in “wars of choice.” I’m not saying that all of these acts were totally unjustifiable, but together they constitute the thinnest of glass houses from which no stone ought to be cast.

    If the Catholic Church (or any other) was as totally subservient to the US government and US national interests as the Russian Orthodox Church is to Russia’s, I would consider that very, very problematic as well.

    And that’s despite the fact I think it’s clear that the US is a much safer and better power to have controlling the international scene than the Russians. I’m about as comfortable with Putin’s Russia as I am with what China has developed into. It’s not an “evil empire”, and Putin is certainly no Stalin, but that’s praising with faint damns.

    Am I joining the chorus of people decrying Russia’s action? Not at the moment. The band does basically sound like hooligans to me (even if they’re hooligans on the right side when it comes to Putin) and if you’re going to stage a protest such as theirs in Putin’s Russia, you can’t be surprised to land in prison for a couple years. So my reaction to the celebrity fuss is basically, “What, this is what it took to make you notice the repressive regime in Russia?”

    But I do not think that Putin’s regime is good for Russia, and I don’t think it’s remotely a benevolent force in the world.

  • Darwin,

    Suffice to say, I disagree with you across the board. I’m particularly disturbed by the fact that you are more concerned with getting in shots at “Putin’s Russia” than you are the the sanctity of holy places and the rights and sensibilities of fellow Christians. I believe your priorities are completely wrong, and I’ll leave it at that.

  • While I think that what they did was bad — I think that Putin’s attempt (successful, thus far) to coopt the Russian Orthodox Church to support his own corrupt and violent ends is more blasphemous than anything that these bozo protesters have done.

  • Well, let me put it this way. In the future, I’ll make another big foreign policy post with special emphasis on Russia/Putin and we can hash it all out then. I’m neither willing or able to do it now, though.

  • It is perhaps worth recalling that the Kram Khrista Spasitela was built by the blood-spattered tyrant, Tsar Alexander to commemorate the defeat of Napoléon. Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture was commissioned and first performed at its dedication.

    It is a monument to the victory of despotism and ignorance over freedom and enlightenment and to the defeat of that Grande Armée, whom Hilaire Belloc hailed:

    “You who put down the mighty from their seat
    Who strove to fill the hungry with good things
    Who turned the rich man empty to the street
    And trailed your scabbards in the halls of kings…”

    It could be truly said of Moscow, as was written of Jerusalem, “If you had known the time of your deliverance…” Alas! its priests, too, then as now, had “no king but Caesar.”

  • I mean seriously, anyone who praises Napoleon while denouncing another ruler as “blood-spattered” is brain-damaged. And the suggestion that Napoleon’s army was bringing “enlightenment” and “freedom” is just as arrogant, deluded, and disgusting as the illusions of people who think they can bomb and mass murder the Muslim world into democracy.

    From now on, leave your sanctimonious comments and pedantic lectures on someone else’s posts. They aren’t welcome here.

  • Against the bigoted, ignorant, Russophobic filth penned by Belloc (whom I’ve never cared for) and praised by MPS, I offer a passage from the Marquis de Custine’s multi-volume work “The Empire of the Czar”, written in 1843:

    “Moscow is everywhere picturesque. The sky, without being clear, has a silvery brightness: the models of every species of architecture are heaped together without order or plan; no structures are perfect, nonetheless, the whole strikes, not with admiration, but with astonishment. The inequalities of the surface multiply the points of view. The magic glories of multitudes of cupolas sparkle in the air. Innumerable gilded steeples, in form like minarets, Oriental pavilions, and Indian domes, transport you to Delhi; donjon keeps and turrets bring you back to Europe in the times of the crusades; the sentinel, mounted on the top of his watch tower, reminds you of the muezzin inviting the faithful to prayer; while, to complete the confusion of ideas, the cross, which glitters in every direction, commanding the people to prostrate themselves before the Word, seems as though fallen from heaven amid an assembly of Asiatic nations, to point out to them the narrow way of salvation. It was doubtless before this poetical picture that Madame de Stael exclaimed – Moscow is the Rome of the North!”

  • Well, de Custine went to Russia looking for arguments against democratic governments which he opposed. He liked the Russians but was appalled at the autocracy he found. Many of his quotations are absolutely damning, and could apply to Putin’s regime today:

    “I don’t reproach the Russians for being what they are; what I blame them for is their desire to appear to be what we [Europeans] are…. They are much less interested in being civilized than in making us believe them so… They would be quite content to be in effect more awful and barbaric than they actually are, if only others could thereby be made to believe them better and more civilized.”

    “Russia is a nation of mutes; some magician has changed sixty million men into automatons.”

    I heartily recommend his Letters From Russia which gives a nice overview of what he saw in Russia.

    http://www.oxonianreview.org/wp/the-marquis-de-custine-and-the-question-of-russian-history/

  • I don’t have a problem with the Russian government’s prosecution per se. But two years in prison seems wildly excessive.

  • Donald,

    I don’t particularly care for autocracy, or for the head of the state to be the head of the church – these are aspects of Russia I can do without.

    But a nation that produced Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Balakriev, Borodin, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Shostakovitch, Prokofiev, and many lesser known but equally talented artists and musicians is not a nation of mutes and automatons. The Russian 19th century produced some of the most enduring and amazing artwork I’ve ever known.

  • I don’t have a problem with the Russian government’s prosecution per se. But two years in prison seems wildly excessive.

    These broads are serial public nuisances, so something more severe than parole after 20 days might be expected.

  • “The Russian 19th century produced some of the most enduring and amazing artwork I’ve ever known.”

    I have long been a student of not only Russian history but also its culture. I even took three semesters of Russian language as an undergrad, to the detriment of my gpa, alas. There is much to admire in Russian culture. As to Russian government, I am afraid that an all too accurate assessment was given by a Russian nobleman after the murder of Paul I in 1801: “Despotism tempered by assassination, that is our Magna Carta.” A good book on Russian culture is James Billington’s The Icon and the Axe.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Icon-Axe-Interpretive-History/dp/0394708466

  • Art Deco,

    They’ve already been in jail for six months. I don’t think you can call that getting off easy.

  • Although it seems clear that Vladimir Putin is up to no good in co-opting the Orthodox church to his grandiose plans, nonetheless these punks have deliberately chosen to insult the memory of millions of victims of Communism by cavorting at the restored Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, which was destroyed at the orders of the monster Stalin.

  • >Oh please. When did the post-Soviet Russian government threaten Poland? Other than, perhaps, in response to NATO’s belligerent insistence upon a missile shield (why do we have a divine right to that again?)’

    Um … how does a missile *shield* signify belligerence? All it does is prevent missiles from destroying a country. Yes, I know, Russia thinks it’ll just protect us from nuclear retaliation if we attack them. But to you seriously think any president (real or potential) – Bush, Obama, Romney, Ryan or another realistic candidate – wants to incinerate innocent Russians in an aggressive nuclear strike?

    Poland’s desire to be defended from Russia is understandable, given the recent East European history – Russia dominating Poland in the 18th century, the Partitions at the end of said epoch, the Russian occupation of central Poland in the 19th century (and the brutal repression of any and all Polish rebellions during that time), the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1920-21 or so, and of course Stalin’s betrayal of the Warsaw rebels and subsequent establishment of a Communist puppet state in that land after World War II. And that’s not even counting the rivalry between Moscow and Poland for Eastern Europe in the centuries before Peter the Great.

    Even if we forget Poland (since, given history, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Kremlin thought trying to dominate/occupy/control that country is too much trouble than it’s worth) , there’s still the ex-Soviet republics, which Putin’s Russia is trying hard to dominate. Just think about the 2002 hacking of Estonia, Russia’s interference with the 2004-2005 Ukranian elections (Putin was on the losing side of the Orange Revolution), and the 2008 invasion of Georgia, among other things. Want to know why Alexander Lukashenko is still dictator of Belarus. Because he and Putin are BFFs.

    Honestly, I find it quite ironic that such a devoted opponent of US imperialism (real or otherwise) seems to be just find and dandy with Russia’s very real imperialism in eastern Europe and the Caucasus region.

  • They’ve already been in jail for six months. I don’t think you can call that getting off easy.

    Did I even imply it was?

    These women are attention whores. They thrive off challenging authority with paying trivial prices for it. Give them small (but escalating) jail terms for each instance of vandalism, disorderly conduct, disruption of a religious service (a class A misdemeanor in New York, btw), criminal trespass, and resisting arrest. Eventually, though, it is not unjust to point the cannon at the cat. They ought to do themselves and everyone else a favor and get normal jobs.

    As for Russia, it is a foreign irritant, not a peril. As for the Russian political order, regrets but the attempt at democratic institutions was contemporary with an economic catastrophe. One ought to hope for a recovery in fertility, successful improvements in the effectiveness and reliability of police and courts, and a regulatory regime that does not ratify or promote rent-seeking before one hopes for a restoration of competitive elections. (Even so, Putin’s regime is likely the most liberal-democratic in the civic realm of any outside the periods running from 1905 to 1918 and 1988 to 1999).

  • >As for Russia, it is a foreign irritant, not a peril.
    Tell that to the people of Eastern Europe…

  • The basis of the the ABM Treaty is that in the realm of ballistic missiles so called defensive weapons tend to destabilise existing deterrents. If the Russians had wanted to use their missiles against the Poles, the propitious time was in 1989; that era is long gone now. The Poles should not rely on bear baiters in the Pentagon for support, but instead come to a regional understanding with the other Europeans including the Russians.

  • Tommy,

    To answer your questions…

    “Um … how does a missile *shield* signify belligerence? All it does is prevent missiles from destroying a country. Yes, I know, Russia thinks it’ll just protect us from nuclear retaliation if we attack them. But to you seriously think any president (real or potential) – Bush, Obama, Romney, Ryan or another realistic candidate – wants to incinerate innocent Russians in an aggressive nuclear strike?”

    Do I think that any of these people want to attack Russia unprovoked? No. Well, maybe John McCain… but this is besides the point. To deprive Russia of first-strike capability can only be interpreted as hostile. Do you seriously expect Russia to just assume the permanent good intentions of the West? You speak of “recent history” going all the way back to the 18th century. Russia only needs to go back as far as Operation Barbarossa to justify the maintaining of a sphere of influence and nuclear first-strike capabilities.

    It is unreasonable to demand of others what you would find unreasonable if demanded of you. You would not rest on the assumption of Russia’s permanent benevolence, and so it is absurd and almost dehumanizing to expect them to do likewise.

    “Poland’s desire to be defended from Russia is understandable, given the recent East European history”

    Poland really has nothing to do with this. It was brought up by Darwin as an example of Russia’s offenses against another Christian nation – as if no two other Christian nations have gone to war, as if all three Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox nations haven’t engaged in regrettable belligerence and war with one another.

    A NATO missile shield isn’t about protecting Poland from a nuclear strike, for heaven’s sake. It is about limiting Russia’s offensive and defensive capabilities.

    “there’s still the ex-Soviet republics, which Putin’s Russia is trying hard to dominate.”

    Oh really? There’s no other power using its own international spy agency to ferment political upheaval and regional opposition to Moscow in these republics? There’s no power whose actions are obviously aimed at the complete encirclement of Russia?

    Russia would be insane not to oppose the West. The color revolutions are CIA-engineered shams.

    “Honestly, I find it quite ironic that such a devoted opponent of US imperialism (real or otherwise) seems to be just find and dandy with Russia’s very real imperialism in eastern Europe and the Caucasus region.”

    I am not opposed to imperialism as an abstract category. I don’t have an abstract, moral problem with say, the Monroe Doctrine. But – and I will elaborate on these issues much more when I eventually do a big foreign policy post (maybe after the elections) – I do believe that

    a) Russia is completely right in identifying Western actions in the ex-Soviet republics as encirclement, and this is fundamentally hostile
    b) Russia is completely justified as a nation in opposing Western attempts to encircle it
    c) Russia, in supporting the secular dictatorships of the “Islamic” region of the world (North Africa, Middle East, Central Asia, etc.) is objectively supporting the Christians who live relatively unmolested under these regimes, while recent US support for Islamic fanatics in Lybia, Egypt and now Syria is – among other things – a direct threat to tens of millions of Christians around the world.

  • Russia is repressive. Nice to see you’re sadistically enjoying P**y Riot’s suffering (clearly, you find femininity&female organs scary) When Russia passed its antigay laws… the first man arrested wasn’t gay, but a straight married man. Russia has been against free speech for years. Read about Dostoevsky and Tolstoy.

    You’re defending oppression&censorship. P**y Riot isn’t sociopathic;they were battling the sociopathic Vladimir Putin.

    How to sweet someone who revels in the censorship and oppression of others. You’re just like Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor. You HATE women and freedom.

  • Susan, the pu$$y rioters defiled a Christian Church. If their intent was to protest against Putin, then they should have carried their protest to a govt bldg, NOT a Christian Church.

    Having pro-sodomy filth laws isn’t fre speech. It’s promotion of godless sexual idolatry and iniquity. The gays who won’t repent belong back in the closet where they belong, and Christianity belongs front and center in the public square.

    As for the first man arrested who was straight, if he was promoting homosexual filth, then his arrest, regardless of his sexual orientation, was right and correct. There are only human rights, and the filth of these sexually promiscuous creatures does not qualify as a human right. Indeed, for this kind of filth God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.

  • How to sweet someone who revels in the censorship and oppression of others. You’re just like Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor. You HATE women and freedom.

    If that’s the way you want to put it, sister, go ahead. Betwixt and between hating women and freedom I have little time for vulgar professional adolescents who deface public property and disrupt other peoples’ common activities.

  • I will leave the judgement on Putin’s Russia to historians who will doubtless have better access to the information needed to make that judgment than any of us is likely to get.

    What is clear is that this band willfully defiled a church. In any country, rights are not absolute, but need to be balanced against other rights. If they had been sent to jail for two years for making their “protest” in Red Square, I would be supporting their right to free speech (even if I very definitely disagree with much of what they are saying). They do not however, have a right to enter a church or other non-governmental or non-publically owned space in order to make that protest.

    Personally, I get the impression that they wanted to be arrested; they got what they wanted and I am not going to loose too much sleep over it.

  • Susan,

    The most frightening thing about your kind is your complete inability an unwillingness to recognize the rights and freedoms of others. In your sick, twisted, limited world view, religious worshipers have no rights and freedom. If you decide you want to stomp into our churches and menstruate on the floor, you believe you should have that right, and that we have an obligation to sit there and like it.

    Well, let me tell you something sister. Under the laws of civilized nations, you don’t have this right, not in Russia, not in the U.S., not anywhere. If you think preventing and punishing such vile, hateful acts is “censorship”, then you are sick in the head and you belong in a mental institution. In a just society, a rational society, you would have already been committed.

  • May God bless Bonchamps, Maryland Bill and Art Deco.

  • God Bless all of us. Just because people disagree with Bonchamps about the nature of the Russian government, that doesn’t make them the enemy (and even if they were, we still should ask God to bless them).

    I do have reservations about Putin’s government, a lot of them. But I know I don’t know enough to be sure one way or the other. I also know that to a certain extent, whether Putin is a saint or a sinner, it doesn’t change the wrongness of what this “band” did in a Church.

  • Susan, I disagree with Bonchamps about this, but I wouldn’t accuse him of hating women or freedom. Attacking someone’s motivations is bad form. And also, just because Putin is a sociopath, that doesn’t mean his oppnents aren’t.

  • The Russian Orthodox do not reserve the sacrament in a tabernacle, because the bread and wine are combined and served out of a single chalice (the intinctioned cube of Eucharist is dropped into the communicant’s open mouth by the priest using a a golden spoon).

    Darwin, you are wrong. We do in fact keep the reserved Sacrament in a tabernacle on the Holy Table at all times, for Presanctified Liturgies during Lent and for the communion of the sick at all times of the year. Just because we don’t have a practice of Eucharistic Adoration outside of a liturgical context doesn’t mean that the Altar does not at all times have the Holy Gifts placed on it.

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