Conservatives trying to remain “conservative”

H/T: www.serbianna.com

By Srdja Trifkovic

The intention of postmoderns to destroy real people, with their natural loyalties, traditional morality, and inherited cultural preferences, is the same everywhere. Its specific manifestations may be different in the United States and Serbia—the homes of our two interlocutors and my good friends—but the underlying motivation is identical. It is Christophobia, the incubator of countless secondary pathologies that are imposed and celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic under the label of diversity. Having suffered countless disasters and progressive disintegration during the modern era, how may Christian civilization be effectively revived? “For true-blooded Western conservatives, this is the overarching question of their political life,” says Greg Davis, as we savor boutique vodkas in downtown Santa Monica. “Conservatives are forever trying to get back to something better, sounder, nobler, truer. But how far back? A decade, a century—a millennium?”

I met Greg five years ago, while he was producing and directing the must-see documentary Islam: What the West Needs to Know. He is a soft-spoken convert to Orthodoxy, in his mid-30’s, with a Ph.D. in political science from Stanford and an abiding sense that our civilization is collapsing. Western conservatives, he says, are hoping to save the key institution of the West—namely, Christianity—but Christianity did not originate in the West, and therein lies the crux of the matter: “The development of the West since 1054, in opposition to the Orthodox East, was a revolutionary act. The West, at its core, is revolutionary; hence the shouting of our conservatives for history to stop, while intermittently effective in slowing the slide, has proven vain. The West’s defining act was the fundamental innovation of the filioque. The fruit of the schism was apparent in successive heresies and rebellions, which led to the wars of religion that would kill millions and tear Europe apart. Later subversives would translate the revolutionary logic into decidedly unchristian contexts such as the French and Bolshevik revolutions, with monstrous results.”

While the unraveling of Western Christianity has been under way for a thousand years, it gained a new head of steam in our time. With Vatican II, Greg says, Roman traditionalists were dealt a tremendous blow, and they are still suffering its consequences. Meanwhile, “The more traditionally minded Protestant denominations are now sprinting toward Sodom, while the newer ‘Bible churches,’ holding the line somewhat more effectively on the moral front, show themselves very much of this world in their Dionysian revels featuring ‘Christian’ rock music and self-help philosophies about how to succeed in the world of mammon without really trying. The job of shoring up what remains of traditional Western Christianity is, needless to say, not getting any easier.”

Orthodoxy, on the other hand, does not lend itself to the political realm, precisely because its kingdom is not of this world. It is impossible to turn Orthodoxy into a “movement” in the modern political sense, yet the Orthodox view on most political issues today largely tracks the views of traditional Roman Catholics and Protestants, in spite of their theological and ecclesiological differences: “Even in a decidedly Protestant and “revolutionary” country such as the United States, the Orthodox easily recognize the practical wisdom embodied in a document such as the Constitution and its principle of limited government. They are more than anyone averse to the deification of political figures and of the state that has been the bane of the modern era. But they are by nature ill-adapted to navigating the turbulent waters of modern politics, which grow ever more frenzied and anti-Christian.”

The Orthodox countries still outside the Western orbit have shown themselves routinely outclassed in the geopolitical great game to extend U.S.-style materialism and “democracy” to the far reaches of the galaxy. Davis points out how the Serbs have consistently underestimated the malevolence of U.S.-led designs on their country and culture, and how Russia naively undertook a series of Western-inspired “reforms” in the 1990’s that devastated the country: “Now, however, Russia is pulling herself together. Vladimir Putin, regularly portrayed in Western media as a cross between Nicholas I and Darth Vader, refuses to let his people commit suicide along the lines of Western Europe, which continues to renew its vote of no confidence in itself. With the ancient enemy of both Western and Eastern Christianity, Islam, once again making inroads into both, Western conservatives should see Russia and Orthodox civilization generally as a natural ally. Yet prominent conservatives continue to support the U.S.-led prosecution of Russia. Their support for an ever-expanding NATO, for the missile shield, and for Western-sponsored color-coded revolutions is the support for a revolutionary power that recognizes no limit to its hegemony.”

During the Cold War, it was still possible to regard the West, the adversary of revolutionary communism, as a netconservative force in the world, but no longer. Western, and especially American, conservatives are now in the illogical position of defending the actions of the world’s leading revolutionary power. For Western conservatives to remain “conservative,” Davis concludes, they must be willing to support the cause of the few genuinely conservative forces left in the world—namely, those Orthodox nations still willing and able to resist indefinite Western cultural and geopolitical expansion.

Bosko Obradovic is a Serb of Greg Davis’s age who is resisting both prongs of that expansion. He is one of the founders and leaders of Dveri (The Doors, www.dverisrpske.com), a Belgrade-based NGO distinguished from most others by two key facts: It does not get a penny from George Soros, and in its many social and cultural endeavors it seeks the blessing of the Serbian Orthodox Church and spiritual guidance from its hierarchs. Bosko is a philosophy and literature graduate in his mid-30’s, a teacher, librarian, and father of three. He was in the news recently for making a key contribution to the cancelation of the planned “gay-pride” parade in downtown Belgrade: “The organizers had everything lined up. The government of Serbia was supporting them because the ruling Democratic Party thought this was one way to show to Brussels that we are progressive enough for E.U. membership. All of the major media, all of the Western-funded NGOs, and countless fashionably enlightened public figures were on their side. This was supposed to be yet another proof of Serbia’s terminal fall, its readiness to sell its soul for the elusive ‘European integration.’”

In the end the parade was called off because of security concerns. Its organizers were offered another location, but they rejected it. This, Bosko says, indicates their real agenda: They did not merely want to march; they wanted to provoke. “Their goal had never been to protect anyone’s ‘human rights’ or to protest ‘discrimination.’ Their goal was to promote a clearly defined ideology, lifestyle, and value system, and symbolically to impose it on Belgrade and on Serbia by taking over, however briefly, the old city center. Their objective was also to assert their political power as a privileged and protected group that promotes modernity. Their goal was to inflict a devastating blow on the traditional spiritual, moral, and cultural code, to present it as marginal, obsolete, and doomed to die out. Last but not least, calling the event off amidst a blaze of publicity was a call to their sponsors to continue and even increase their largesse, because the job is not done: Serbia is still its ugly, reactionary old self.”

Bosko and his friends have been called some nasty names since the parade was canceled in mid-September. There have been calls for a ban on Dveri, supposedly for violating recently enacted “antidiscrimination” legislation, which was drafted completely in accordance with E.U. guidelines. He says attacks are “a compliment to all of us who are determined not to give up on the value system that has kept our people alive through the centuries.” He is nevertheless concerned about the future: “We appear to be well on the way to 2084, when totalitarian NGO types will impose their blueprint for the eradication of our traditional spiritual, moral, and national identity. The NGO elite claims to act for and on behalf of ‘the West’ and enjoys the status of protected species, but no such protection will be extended to anyone if they have their way. Our “democracy” is heading for the abolition of the freedom to think differently from the high priests of Western postmodernity. Just look at the media treatment of Metropolitan Amfilohije, our acting Patriarch, for daring to quote the Scripture on sodomy! Is it not paradoxical? The Orthodox Church and all other mainstream religious communities in Serbia are asked to refrain from stating their position on this issue because doing so makes them liable to prosecution for advocating ‘intolerance.’”

Bosko Obradovic sees the problem in clear-cut terms. Either the Church will speak Her mind clearly and without euphemistic evasiveness, or else She will lose the purpose of Her existence as the saving community based on faith and the teaching of two millennia: “The Church as a whole and individual Christians are expected to refrain from taking a position if it does not conform to the standards of acceptable discourse as proclaimed by those who are not Christians, or—to be more precise—who are determined anti-Christians. Of course, Metropolitan Amfilohije and other bishops did not have any choice: Rather than ignore the intended moral and cultural onslaught, they spoke out clearly and authoritatively. Their authority comes from the Scripture and the Fathers, not from our ‘pro-E.U.’ government, or the ‘progressive’ NGOs, or their foreign mentors. They also condemned all forms of hate and violence, in accordance with the Christian principles, but they, and we, cannot accept a self-isolation that can only end in criminalizing any open profession of our faith.”

Bosko believes that the exclusion of the Orthodox Church from Serbia’s social and cultural life remains the final goal of the parade’s organizers and sponsors. He points out that the chorus of condemnation and indignant disgust against Metropolitan Amfilohije came simultaneously from the usual standard-bearers of “all progressive humanity”—Helsinki human-rights groups, sociology professors, foreign-sponsored “independent analysts,” Soros-financed media outlets—and all had a common accusation: By daring to mention Sodom and Gomorrah, Metropolitan Amfilohije is “objectively” condoning violence and promoting discrimination. Ergo he is guilty of practicing violence and discrimination, of inspiring “far-right groups and all other extremists”: “Their goal is to force the Church into internal exile, just like under communism. This goal is the raison d’etre of many NGOs in Serbia. They always react swiftly and indignantly when the Church adopts a position, treating it as something inherently illegitimate. The Metropolitan’s scriptural reference threw them into rage, as witnessed by the media conglomerate B92, which has assumed the role of ideological prosecutors and star chamber. His reminder that ‘the tree that bears no fruit is cut down’ was twisted in the best tradition of the French Revolution and Bolshevism.”

So what should be a believer’s position on homosexuality—or, for that matter, on any number of postmodernity’s sacred cows? Bosko Obradovic concludes that on this and every other social and political issue of our time, a distinct Christian position can and should be developed: “My faith does not allow it, and I do not want to mistreat, threaten, or discriminate against anyone. At the same time I am obliged to confess my faith, to bring up my children and to contribute to my society in accordance with what has been passed on to me—even if this means suffering legal punishment at the hands of the state.”

That punishment is coming soon to America and Europe alike, and Christians like Greg Davis and Bosko Obradovic are ready for it. They know that the earthly and temporal powers of the state can and should be recognized as imperative only to the degree that they are used to support good and limit evil. In America and Serbia alike, they both agree, a Christian may obey state laws only if such obedience does not demand apostasy or sin. We do not know which of my two friends will be the first to endure martyrdom, but I fear that both will.

A New Religion

There is an excellent blog out there which, I admit, I heard about some time ago but didn’t take the time to bookmark it (until now): Orthodox History. Its filled with so many interesting things.

It was actually reading the blog Mind in the Heart and a post about Orthodoxy in Colonial Virginia that reminded me of this site. Coincidentally, you can read about the Colonial Virginia piece here and here. There is even mention made (in the comments at least) of a Serbian man by the name of  George Fisher, or Djordje Sagic a.k.a “Djordje Ribar”. He studied to be a priest in Karlovci but later joined the army during the First Serbian Uprising, then traveled to Philadelphia before heading out to Mexico.

Anyway, one interesting post I found was about a certain Fr. Christopher Jabara. With all the talk of Orthodox becoming more and more ecumenist this guy seemed to be ahead of his time. After being banished from Russia he somehow ends up in America where he continues where he left off – spreading the message of a new religion. At the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 he addressed the crowd and, among other things, stated:

“Columbus discovered America for the whole world and discovered a home for the oppressed of all nations. As Columbus discovered America, so must Americans show the people of all nations a new religion in which all hearts find rest. “

Needless to say, when he returned to his church the keys didn’t work. The Syro-Arabs ran him out of New York.

See here for the whole story.

No invitation required

I’m sure many of you have already seen this video. Watching it I was reminded of last week’s 60 Minutes episode with Patriarch Bartholomew when, at one point, security pulled him aside to inform him about a threat to his life. Of course, it seems natural that such threats would be commonplace given his environment. One would assume the Pope, on the other hand, is not only in the company of  fellow Catholics but admirers as well. The BBC reports that the woman, Susanna Maiolo, who attacked the pontiff was not taken to jail but to a hospital. She is reportedly mentally unstable.  Fox News reports that this is not an entirely new occurrence since this was the same woman “involved in a similar incident at last year’s Midnight Mass…. In that case, Maiolo jumped the barricade but never managed to reach the pope and was quietly tackled by security….In both cases she wore a red sweat shirt.”

One wonders if Susanna already had a track record how could she have snuck in again? Perhaps this is the Michaele Salahi and Tareq of the Vatican.  Whatever the case, a sad incident. A Merry Christmas to all on the Gregorian calendar.

With the Saints give rest….

Twenty some hierarchs served the Divine Liturgy this morning  at the St. Sava Church in Vracar, Belgrade after which a forty day Parastos (Panikhida) was served for Patriarch Pavle of blessed memory.  A small memorial service was served at the grave site (above) at Monastery Rakovica. See here for more photos.

Memory eternal.

With the saints give rest, o Christ, to the soul of Thy servant
where sickness and sorrow are no more,
neither sighing, but life everlasting

A new Orthodox church?

The Serbian paper Politika had an article yesterday [here] about a group of Croatian citizens who are in the process of organizing a Croatian Orthodox community since it was recently discovered that there are some Croatians who are of the Orthodox faith.  The last time something similar was attempted was during WWII when the  so-called Croatian Orthodox Church was formed, essentially a political tool of the Ustasha used to destroy the Serbs and the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The Orthodox wishing to form this new religious community didn’t reveal their identity as they explain in a statement in one of the Croatian papers: “There is a large number of Orthodox who do not wish to identify themselves as Serbs. They declare themselves as Croats, but there are also other nationalities, and they ask that something be done so that they might be differentiated from Orthodox Serbs. Their children do not attend the Orthodox religious education classes offered in the schools since they would then be automatically considered as Serbs.”

Coincidentally, the Croatian Orthodox Church was never recognized. And as this new attempt looks to the example of the Macedonian and Montenegrin so-called Orthodox churches — both of which are non-canonical — I doubt this venture will go anywhere either, as least canonically speaking.  After all, if these Croatians really do want to attend Orthodox churches they can always attend the ones that already exist in Croatia.  I’m sure they know where they can find them. If not, they’ll be sure to recognize them by the swastikas and Ustasha “U”s spray-painted on their walls and doors [here].

The Americans who read

I was out and about this morning and decided to pick up a newspaper. Surely, what better way is there to enjoy the wintry scene outside one’s window but with a cup of coffee and the morning paper? It goes without saying then that my purchase was more for the company than its frivolous content.  But it’s nice to be in the company of journalism from time to time, though I will admit that it’s not newspapers I enjoy on a regular basis as much as I prefer books. Currently I happen to be reading William Safire’s Scandalmonger which calls itself a novel even though I’ve spent most of my time wondering if it’s a history textbook I’m reading instead.

The story sets off in 1792 with the discovery of a scandal involving the financial speculation of the nation’s first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton who, in turn, makes an attempt to hide his crime by revealing another one. Namely, he has committed adultery and is being bribed. The novel proceeds from there to describe the life and times and scandals and, at least for me, confusing politics of a very young America.  Interestingly enough, Safire notes that even though it is a novel and thereby fiction, most of it is based on history. “Much of the dialogue”, he says, “is based on contemporary letters, diaries and newspaper accounts.”

The media, like today, was very busy in the midst of political life. If their goal was not always to report the facts to the people then it was certainly to offer them some entertainment.  In one part of the book Thomas Jefferson is recorded as saying:

“At a very early period of my life,” Jefferson said, “I determined never to put a sentence into any newspaper. I have religiously adhered to the resolution through my life, and have great reason to be contented with it. Newspapers are a bear-garden scene into which I will enter on no provocation….”

By the way, there was one part of the story which fascinated me since I am quite accustomed to hearing Serbs bewail the taste of fruit and vegetables in America as opposed to the old country. One of the characters, a political campaign manager by the name of John Beckley, welcomes two new writers, journalists from Europe and one of them, William Cobbett, makes the observation:

“The land is bad; rocky. The houses are wretched, the roads impassable after the least rain. I was a farmer before I was a soldier, and I judge that America has fruit in quantity but not to compare with an apple or peach in England or France.”

Perhaps he was biased since right before that he states:

“This country is good for getting money, provided a person is industrious and enterprising. In every other respect…the country is miserable, exactly the contrary of what I expected.”

But, getting back to newspapers, we find the following exchange:

“I’m curious,” said Beckley…. “what you think of our newspapers.”

“Tupp’ny trash,” Cobbett snorted. “But the Americans who read, read nothing else. The fathers read the newspapers aloud to their children while the mothers are preparing breakfast.”

Well, that’s it from me. I should really be getting back to my coffee and catching up on the latest in the Tiger Woods scandal.

The Other Half

Happy St. Nicholas Day to all.  This is by far the most popular Slava of Serbs. The saying is that half of Serbia is celebrating their Slava today while the other half is going to someone else’s Slava.

Today happens to be quite a special day for me as well as it marks the anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood thirteen years ago. This day is also the ninth slava and anniversary of our online bookstore, www. orthodoxgifts.com, which is run by my Popadija.  Subsequently, by choosing this as the business Slava, we have been added to that other half of Serbs.