Don’t insult my religious feelings

H/T: RT (here)

Putin signs ‘gay propaganda’ ban and law criminalizing insult of religious feelings

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed two controversial laws strengthening the penalties for “propagating homosexuality among minors” and for insulting people’s religious feelings in public.

Vladimir Putin has signed the so-called ‘gay propaganda’ bill after the upper house, the Federation Council, approved it on June 26 and the lower house, the State Duma, on June 11.

It introduces fines for propaganda of non-traditional sex relations to minors, including in the media, on the internet and via viral adverts.

Under the amended law holding LGBT rallies is now prohibited as well as distribution of information aimed at forming non-traditional sexual concepts in children, describing such ties as attractive, promoting the distorted understanding of social equality of traditional and non-traditional relations and also unwanted solicitation of information that could provoke interest in such relations.

Thus, for giving children propaganda about homosexuality – lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community – individuals could be fined up to 5,000 rubles ($US 152) for such ‘propaganda’ and foreigners could be fined the same amount, held in jail for 15 days and deported.

Officials will have to pay up to 50,000 rubles (about US$ 1,500) and companies – up to 500,000 rubles (about $US 15,000).

Using the media or the internet for the promotion of non-traditional sex relations carries even harsher punishment. Individuals will have to shell out up to 100,000 rubles (about US$ 3,000), while organizations – a million rubles or face a 90-day suspension of activities.

The bill was slammed as “anti-gay” by gay rights activists both in Russia and abroad. However, the Russian president tried to cut short the criticism coming from Western countries and, speaking at the press-conference in Finland earlier this month, called  on them not to interfere with Russian internal affairs.

“Some countries … think that there is no need to protect children from this. We do. We are not going to interfere,” he said. “But we are going to provide such protection the way that State Duma lawmakers have decided.”

Meanwhile, one of the recent polls conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Center (VTSIOM) in early June showed that 88 per cent of Russians supported the amendments to the law. Only 7 per cent said they are against. Some 54 per cent said homosexuality should be banned and face criminal liability.

Also on Saturday Vladimir Putin signed another controversial bill that criminalizes insulting people’s religious feelings.

The law allows fines up to half a million rubles (about $15,600) and up to three years of jail time for people convicted of intentionally offending religious sensibilities at places of worship and a year in jail for offenses committed elsewhere.

Premeditated and public desecration of religious objects or books will also be punished – by fines of up to 200,000 rubles (over $6,200).

The law was initially advanced in September 2012, half a year after three Pussy Riot members were arrested for staging an anti-Putin punk prayer in Moscow’s main cathedral. The three convicts – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Ekaterina Samutsevich – were sentenced to two years in a medium-security prison for ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and enmity’ in August 2012. One of them later had her sentence suspended.

The Pussy Riot case attracted unprecedented attention and divided Russia’s society into those who think Pussy Riot’s actions deserve to be punished harshly, and those who think there was no criminal intent.

The case also prompted wide public discussion both on the limits of freedom of expression and on the proper punishment for attacking other people’s beliefs.



A Resurrectional Funeral

justin1H/T: Mystagogy (here)

Testimonies of Miracles Following the Repose of Elder Justin Parvu

By Archimandrite Demetrios Athanasiou

In the Romanian website Blog de Dogmatică Empirică, there is a testimony from Professor Marian Maricaru regarding miraculous events that followed the venerable repose of Elder Justin Parvu at the Monastery of Petru Vodă in Moldavia. Comments below this article by other witnesses confirm the details of these events.

As we know, the blessed Elder reposed on Sunday 16 June 2013 and was buried on Thursday 20 June 2013.

justin2According to the testimony of witnesses, the body of the Elder showed no rigor mortis, which also occurs with Athonite monastics. The skin of his hands were soft, even four days after his repose, and an unusual fragrance came from his relic. Even those who were initially skeptical of the myrrhgushing, saw at the embrace of his body drops of liquid from which derived an exquisite fragrance coming out of the hands and forehead of the Elder.The entire atmosphere of the funeral was resurrectional. Nowhere could be seen a resemblance to the grief of people at death. The tears of the people were tears of joy and not sadness. The body of the Elder itself, with his venerable form, made you feel the joy of the Resurrection. According to Professor Marian, he had never felt this at any other funeral.Another source reports that following the repose of the Elder, during the night of Sunday the 16th towards the 17th of June 2013, tears came from the eyes of the Elder. The Monastery invited a team of doctors to interpret this event, but none were able to give a scientific explanation.

Lastly, the website reports on a woman who was demon possessed being healed after she was brought to the relic of the Elder. The video is below, which may be disturbing for some audiences:

Marriage and Friendship

The below quote is taken from an interview Fr. Josiah Trenham conducted with Roman Catholic Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco about same-sex marriages. Listen to the full interview here:

“….it [legalization of same sex marriage] will also undermine our understanding of friendship. Because what they call the revisionist view of marriage as opposed to the conjugal view, the classical view…. The only difference in marriage is that it’s not one of type but of degree, it’s the most intensive type of a friendship and of affection. And so people will begin to see that the only way to express friendship is in this way and they won’t see marriage as being a unique relationship and friendship having its own unique relationship as well, they won’t be able to understand the difference between marriage and friendship and so it’ll undermine also our capacity for friendship.

Philosophers and Saints

east_westTaken from an article that appeared in the Serbian Patriarchal newspaper Pravoslavlje (no. 1110), Western Philosophy and Eastern Philosophy...:

“Until recent times the dominating thought in Europe has been that ancient Greece is the cradle of philosophy. When it came to a more serious and studious investigation of culture’s orientation, in the mid 19th century and the onset of the 20th, this thinking changed. More and more researchers see primeval philosophy in India.

Bishop Nikolai was assured of the same. He even respected Eastern philosophy much more than Western. He believed that the East has certain predispositions for philosophy, while the West for science.

India is the mother of all philosophies (Beyond the East and West, 802). Transcendence is  a characteristic of the East, naturalism of the West (ibid, 759). The West fights for the visible (science), the East for the invisible (philosophy) (ibid, 808). The East has Saints and wise men (philosophers), the West has researchers (scientists) and conquerors (ibid, 808). The East yearns for an escape from the world, the West for a subordination to the world (ibid, 809). The West is the land of science, the East of philosophy (ibid, 800).  “Neither is the East for science, nor the West for philosophy” (ibid, 801).  Nikolaj is drawn to the Indian thought of philosophy because, first of all, it is firmly connected with life, in which truth and good are inseparable. That philosophy always implies asceticism and a virtuous life, which is the not the case with the West.

“All Indian philosophers are ascetics” (ibid, 802), he says. They are considered “saints” there (ibid, 802). Eastern philosophers are saints, while the Western are professors (ibid, 802).   And the space between saints and professors is greater than the distance the East is from the West (ibid, 802).”

Orthodoxy and Yoga


[H/T:  Mystagogy here]

An encyclical issued on June 4, 2013 by Metropolitan Markos of Chios on Christians who practice Yoga and whether or not it is merely a physical exercise. He basically explains that the Hindu religious practice of yoga was established for the sole purpose of entering into a spiritual state, and never had anything to do with exercise until a few decades ago when Hindu yogis explained it this way when they were trying to win converts in the West.

Encyclical 14: Is Yoga Exercise?

To the Sacred Clergy and Pious People of our Sacred Metropolis,

My brethren,

A key feature of our time is the confusion observed in various aspects of human life. A characteristic example of this spiritual and existential confusion is the fact that yoga is fundamentally a religious technique of Hinduism, advertised in our country, in Europe and in the United States as an exercise-fitness solution which is offered to release us from the numerous problems stemming from a stressful lifestyle.

But what is yoga? The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yujwhich means to “unite”, meaning the union of the individual soul with the impersonal Absolute One of Hinduism (see P. Schreiner, Yoga: Wörterbuch des Christen-tums, 1995, p. 1376). This union is considered a liberation and redemption of mankind from karma, that is, from the consequences that result from our choices and actions in supposedly previous lives.

Moreover, concerning the term yoga, we must stress that it is used as a qualifying term of one of the six classical orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy (see H. Baer, ​​”Yoga”, in the Lexikon der Sekten, Sohdergruppen und Weltanschauungen, 7th Ed, 2001, pp. 1166-1174).

But is yoga exercise? Can one isolate the practical exercise from its religious content and background? Can one ignore the purpose for which it is used? Unquestionably no.

And what about the claim of various centers, institutes, schools, groups, journals and gyms, that present it as lacking a religious nature, alleging it to be a “scientific” psychosomatic practice, or a practice for a simple existence and spiritual self-knowledge? Without doubt these assertions are inaccurate. They oftentimes misinform and confuse using an extremely attractive vocabulary (see R. Hauth, (Hrsg), Kompaktlexikon Religionen, 1998, p. 366).

On the contrary, yoga is a religious systematic theory, technique and method that evolves in stages and practices, one of which is meditation, which leads those who use it, with the guidance of a teacher (guru), to a singular life joined to the impersonal Absolute of Hinduism. In this way a person is redeemed and atones for the errors and mistakes made during the source of all supposedly previous incarnations.

From the above, therefore, we observe that the view of yoga simply as an exercise is incorrect. And this 1) because it is a fundamental feature of the Hindu system, 2) it cannot be stripped of its religious character according to the conditions of the content and purpose of exercise, 3) it is intrinsically linked to the anti-Christian concept of reincarnation, and 4) because it constitutes a humanistic effort towards redemption through techniques and exercises.

Why are the various techniques of yoga dangerous? The answer is given to us in an article on yoga from an authoritative encyclopediaΔο­μή. It says there: “It is known that the practice of yoga creates for the individual not entirely physiological properties – and parapsychological – because it reverses certain physical and mental functioning” (Δο­μή, vol. 4, p. 199).

To conclude this brief offering of ours on whether or not yoga is exercise, we must again remind all of the obvious. The value of our identity as Orthodox Christians is incompatible with the use of Hindu religious practices in any aspect of our lives.

The salvation of man which is freely housed within the Church, is the work and offering of the love and grace of our Christ. For us does Paul say with all gravity: “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27), and: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14-15).

With warm fatherly prayers,

The Metropolitan of Chios, Psara and Oinouses, Markos