You can listen to a podcast of this blog post at https://www.spreaker.com/user/youngfaithradio/osc-54
Christ is Risen!
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Last time I said that I was going to go back to writing finished essays. Well, I am going to stop announcing new directions like this, because I realize that my pastoral and family duties present such different challenges every week, every day, that I cannot predict how much time I will have for preparing the lecture. And, it seems, the present crisis calls for more frequent instruction, though we must always be measured and not in so much of a hurry that we are just reacting to every new thing. Our mission is to step back and look at the big picture.
So every lecture will simply be what it’s going to be: Sometimes there will be finished essays, sometimes just outline notes, sometimes something in-between. Today it will be a hybrid – I’ve written a rough essay, but I may probably go off-script more than last time. I also hope at some point to get back to real in-person classes at St. Irene, at least on occasion if not every week. But definitely I plan to make no more definitive statements that we’re going to do it this way or that way. This is just a work in progress, and I have to beg you to put up with the roughness of the whole thing. By the way, if anyone wants to volunteer to start listening to the lectures and transcribing them, or to pay someone to do it – given the current economic situation, perhaps we have brethren who need the income! – that would be great. That’s what the text of the Fr. Seraphim lectures is – which I can provide upon request – a transcription of his oral delivery. It is not polished, but it has the advantage of greater liveliness, and reflects the insight of the moment.
Introduction – We Are Part of the Great Story; the Teleology of History
A. You Need the Big Picture: People cannot understand the current situation in the spring of 2020 – they are confused and panicky – because they do not see the big picture, how this fits into the entire story of the human race and God’s plan for us. They are obsessed with the details of the moment, see things in a fragmentary fashion, and get sidetracked and neutralized by endless debate over endless bits and pieces of data. False teachers – whether malicious or simply misguided – can use this fragmentation to mislead them by encouraging them to obsess on the fragments and just argue endlessly, so that their attention is taken away from who the real bad guys are and how we are supposed to resist them.
It is inherent in the teachings of Holy Scripture and the Church that there is a teleology of history – we are part of a Big Story, and that story has a beginning, middle, and end, and it has a purpose, and we understand our relationship to God through understanding our part in that story. No one is exempt from the struggle to acquire this understanding; no one is allowed to disobey the command of Christ to read the signs of the times.
B. The Big Picture is Knowable: We’ve said many times in our course that the Christian Faith is unique, in that it reveals that there is such a thing as history: That things had a beginning, have a middle, and will have an end. Reality is not circular but directional, and the forces directing history are not impersonal but personal, and not only personal but knowable, identifiable. Pointing out who did what and why in the past, who is doing what and why today, and who will probably do what and why tomorrow, is not impossible. Quite to the contrary: under the right guidance and with the right sources it is certainly possible. Moreover, it is morally imperative, for we are required to discern good from evil and to read the signs of the times, in order to make moral decisions. False teachers will barrage you with a lot of disconnected facts and confusing academic jargon, in order to brainwash you to accept the idea that history is so complicated that you cannot discern its main movements and main actors, and you just need to trust the people in power. But this is just to blow smoke in your eyes, so that you will not practice discernment and take action, so that you will be passive and give up. They are not telling you the truth.
C. Two reductionistic approaches to history and current events
1. The reductionism of “leave it to the experts”. According to this idea, history is so complicated as to be, in effect, impersonal and unknowable. You can only compile details not discern patterns. An overall philosophy of history is impossible. “Leave history to the experts.” But actually those who say this do have their own philosophy, either unconsciously, if they are innocent, or consciously, if they are malicious, and they are trying to push it on you. And they claim that they can decide who the experts are! By “experts” they mean their anointed experts, the anti-Christian establishment academia, whose motives and outlook are well-known. With academia and science, you have the same situation as with the Old Testament prophets and the Church’s clergy: Just as there were the court prophets of the Old Testament, and the sell-out, careerist bishops and clergy of the Church, who lie to the people so as to lead comfortable lives, so there are the prostituted professors and scientists of the establishment, who are heavily funded and heavily promoted, who live cushy lives in return for lying to people. Just as there were true prophets in the Old Testament, and there are the God-pleasing and therefore marginalized honest bishops and clergy, so there are the marginalized and suffering truth-speakers in academia and science, who suffer loss of income, position, and reputation, and even risk being assassinated – the ultimate form of “de-platforming”!- in order to bring the truth to their fellow man. If someone’s social acceptability, power, and comfort are being increased – not threatened – by the position he takes, don’t trust him. There are real experts, both in the spiritual and the secular realms, and we must humbly seek them out. But we must also use our own minds! Real experts will encourage you to think for yourself!
2. The reductionism of ignorant self-confidence: “Everything is so simple, and I am so smart, that I can correctly interpret every detail.” This is the reductionism of the self-appointed expert, of the ignoramus. It is obviously extremely foolish. You do need to study expert research, at least to some extent, to acquire the details of history, which the specialization of the scholar enables him to master, and you need to be humble – don’t think you know everything. You do need to study the Scriptures and Holy Fathers under reliable guidance, not trusting in yourself – and the same is true of good secular learning – to acquire the ability to discern the patterns of history, to have a true philosophy of history. There are real experts, not just establishment prostitutes, and you need to seek them out and learn from them. If you think and speak ignorantly and foolishly, you become a “poster child” for the establishment claim that everyone who opposes their “experts” is ignorant and foolish.
Those who promote Reductionism #1 create the straw man argument that the crudeness of Reductionism # 2 discredits everyone (except themselves of course!) who tries to discern the patterns of history and current events. E.g., “If you Orthodox say that this is a period of demonic rule, possibly leading to the reign of Antichrist, you are no different from a radio preacher who tells us that he knows for sure that Russia is Gog and China is Magog, and that Christ will return on January 1st 2021.” Obviously this is a straw man: You don’t have to correctly read every single player and every single detail in a situation to understand the overall picture. Above all, we have to discern the spirit of the age, in order to discern when falsehood and evil are being presented as truth and goodness. We acquire discernment through sharpening the instruments of discernment – the mind and heart – through the active Orthodox spiritual life. But we must also point these instruments at the world around us and use them to discern both what has transpired in history and what is going on now. Discernment is not only an instrument to understand what is going on inside of you – the spiritual life – but also what is going on outside of you – life in this world, life shared with others. We are not exempt from the struggle to distinguish between good and evil in the world, to make moral choices in response to the society we live in, and to live by these choices – and to suffer for them.
D. Ahistorical False Spirituality and Falsely Pious Passivity: In situations like today, with the Corona Chaos, people get overwhelmed and begin to – at least unconsciously – accept the #1 idea above. They give up and go along to get along. But if you just give up and say, “Well, it’s too complicated; I’m just going to sit in my house and pray,” you are throwing yourself off the parapet of the Temple and expecting God to catch you. You are tempting God, and you are not doing your job. Of course we have to pray, but we also have to think, to discern, to work, and to fight. We are beings in motion, active, conscious, sensitive, thinking, and feeling beings; our goal is to heal and re-direct the passions, not destroy them; we are to become even more ourselves – living, acting, feeling, and thinking, not to become insensible lumps zoning out into some kind of passive, pacifistic, pseudo-hesychastic nirvana. Apatheia, freedom from the passions, is not becoming insensible but rather acquiring accurate and appropriate sensibilities; not becoming thoughtless but rather acquiring wise thoughts. Love for brother requires us to defend and provide for others. We cannot sit back and watch the beast devour those we love. We are not allowed to refuse the duties of intelligent thought and of active and intransigent militancy in the face of evil. One corollary of these duties is that we must all become historians.
E. The Right Approach – Acquiring the Big Picture and Practicing Discernment
Just as every man is a philosopher – whether he knows it or not – every Christian is a historian – whether he knows it or not. Every man is required to ask and answer the question “What does life mean?” and furthermore every Christian is required to ask and answer the question, “Where am I in history, and how does that govern my choices?” This is knowable, and, moreover, obligatory. It is not a hobby but a moral obligation. We are not required to be experts, but we are required to acquire the big picture and to practice discernment.
With all of this in mind, let us return to the Age of Revolution:
I. The Age of Revolution – Review
Go back to Fr. Seraphim’s OSC Lecture Six on the French Revolution and my OSC classes 20 through 23 – the French Revolution and Napoleon. Go back to the sources I mention: Abbe Barruel, Nesta Webster, and Fr. Luke’s article on the French Revolution. There are several facts about the French Revolution that help us understand our present situation:
A. Secret societies were and are real, and it was they who engineered the French Revolution. They formed a network of anti-Christian revolution intended to be permanent, and there is indeed a continuity of this network up to and including the present time. Fr. Seraphim, in his approach to the 18th and 19th century revolutions, as well as the Russian revolution, in agreement with all of our recent holy fathers and teachers, clearly teaches this. These societies, this network, created an underground anti-government to overthrow the Christian governments of Europe. Now this network – through a series of violent revolutions as well as the Gramscian “march through the institutions” (see OSC 53) is no longer underground; it is no longer a conspiracy, but rather it has become the establishment. Thus the governments of today are morphing from national governments into a form of government condemned by God since the Tower of Babel: a global super-government. To the extent that any of our authorities become part of the global super-government, they thereby become to that extent “bezbozhnie vlasti,” “godless authorities,” as the term is used in the litanies of the true Orthodox Russian Church – the Catacomb Church and non-MP Russian Church Abroad. Since all of the great national governments are in some stage of this process, the legitimacy of them all has become extremely tenuous, and the principle of our obligation to obey them must be applied with great caution. We must proceed on the working hypothesis that the people at the top are acting in accordance with the spirit of Antichrist and are in obedience to demonic powers, not to “the people,” and certainly not to God.
It is critical, then, to learn from the French Revolution, that the methods used by the criminals then are the same methods used now. They tell lies, create a fake crisis, and they take advantage of the fake crisis to cause catastrophic overturn of the existing order. Recently a priest of the state church of Greece, Fr. Peter Heers, has made a podcast lecture in which he clearly explains how these revolutionary criminals are using these methods right now to overturn what is left of the old order of Christian society and usher in the open reign of some kind of demonic global totalitarian super-state. I don’t agree with Fr. Peter about the New Calendar or how we must respond to ecumenism – he’s butted heads directly with some of us GOC people before, and we all know where we stand on those issues. But in this talk he is totally, exactly spot on, about what is going on today, and you need to accept the truth when you hear it. To say, “Well, he is a New Calendarist and so he must be wrong about this current events issue” is a crude ad hominem, not a legitimate argument. Listen to his talk, and then compare it to Fr. Seraphim’s and my lectures on the French Revolution and to my talk today. Here is the link: https://orthodoxethos.com/post/the-coronavirus-narrative-and-its-demonic-methodology
B. The French Revolution was not a spontaneous rising of the masses but a coup d’etat engineered by criminals.
i. The evils of the Ancien Regime were real, but they did not justify complete overthrow of the existing order: Recall Fr. Seraphim’s important teaching in Russia’s Catacomb Saints and in these lectures, on the difference between primary evils and secondary evils. E.g., that there are abusive husbands, fathers, and male authorities in general is the result of sin, and it must be corrected, but it does not justify overthrowing patriarchy in favor of matriarchy, which is an entire system inimical to Christian life.
ii. Abbe Barruel’s book on Jacobinism and Robinson’s Proofs of a Conspiracy demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that this was a criminal conspiracy. The behavior of the revolutionaries confirms this beyond all doubt.
iii. The “mainstream” view was created by Carlyle and Dickens, and is perpetuated mindlessly until today. “Yes, the revolution went to evil excesses, but the king was bad and had to be overthrown.” The people who don’t want you to understand the French Revolution try to get you to believe that it was some random event when a bunch of starving peasants played Robin Hood and fought the bad king. This is also what the “mainstream” teaches about Russia and the Tsar. This is obviously as false as it is crude and unintelligent.
C. The French Revolution was not an isolated event but Step 1 of a plan to reshape the whole world. This is made clear by the pseudo-messianism of Napoleon – see OSC #23. Everyone, I mean everyone, at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 – Tsar Alexander I, Metternich, Lord Castlereagh, EVERYONE – understood that the enemy they were dealing with meant to erect an entirely new global order of governance on the ruins of Church and State. This was crystal clear 200 years ago, a working assumption accepted by the greatest statesmen in Europe. How can anyone say that this is an obscure “conspiracy theory”?
D. The 19th century conservative reaction to the French Revolution and Napoleon slowed down the Revolution but did not stop it.
1. The revolutions of 1848
2. Assassinations, anarchism, etc.
3. The new nation states of Europe were controlled chiefly by Masons.
– mixed nature of the new Balkan states
4. Proliferation of both pagan and nihilistic ideologies.
– pagan nationalism vs. pagan nihilism
– disappearance of catholic Orthodox true universalism and true localism
5. Inherent weakness of liberalism in the fact of nihilism. Liberalism in essence is a negation and has no power in the face of paganism and nihilism. See T.S. Eliot “The Idea of a Christian Society,” Lecture I.
E. The great triumph of European material civilization in the 19th century, the “Proud Tower,” was bound to fall, because it was based on hubris. Man had forgotten God. See Fr. Justin Popovich’s essays on the difference between Orthodox and European civilization, and Fr. Alexey Young’s A Man Is His Faith on the Kireyevsky brothers and Optina. (The Kireyevskys, Khomiakov, and the Slavophils in general, living in the security of 19th century upper class life, were not as savage as Fr. Justin! They appreciated what was good about Europe but wanted to correct it with Orthodoxy. Fr. Justin, a Serb living under Communism, was “done” with Europe, and his views are radicalized by suffering).
F. The bifurcation in Russian life in the 19th century opened the door to revolution. There was a wonderful flourishing of Orthodox life in Russia in the 19th century, inspired by the 18th century work of St. Paissy Velichkovsky and his disciples, and marked by the repentance of the tsars and their return to piety, but Russian society was still bifurcated, and the upper classes, intelligentsia, and even many clergy were dominated either by Masonic and liberal ideology or openly nihilistic, Marxist ideology. Dostoevesky portrays this masterfully.
Thus the conditions for revolution were present.
II. The Bolshevik Revolution – Preliminary Remarks
Today is just our introductory session to the topic of the Bolshevik revolution; we’ll make some preliminary remarks today in preparation for our next lecture. I want to cover some of the lies that establishment academia and media tell about the Bolshevik revolution, as well as two reductionistic theories about who is to blame for the revolution.
A. Lies: Just as the “mainstream” has perpetuated lies about the Ancien Regime in France and the nature of the French Revolution, so the “mainstream” perpetuates lies about Tsarist Russia and the Russian Revolution.
Lie #1. “Revolution was inevitable” – This is one of the Big Lies of Marxist historical thought, that historical events are pre-determined by the “march of history,” some kind of blind juggernaut that just runs over people. As Christians, we believe that men make moral and wise choices, and immoral and unwise choices, and that they make history by acting on their choices. We are free beings with conscience and will, and we are expected to fight evil, not to say, “It is inevitable” and give ourselves over to a pseudo-pious passivity while we watch our brothers suffer.
Lie #2. “The Russian people were oppressed and impoverished.” This is a huge lie. I encourage you to get Fr. Michael Polsky’s The New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, a very important companion volume to Andreyev and Rose’s Russia’s Catacomb Saints. At the end of the most recent edition of the English translation of the book, as most recently published by Monastery Press in Alberta, there is an appendix giving the real economic data from the reign of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II. It is abundantly clear that private ownership of land was more widely distributed in Russia than in any of the other modern European states, that industrial productivity and the standard of living grew exponentially, and that Russia simultaneously had the most comprehensive social services combined with the lowest taxes in Europe. All of this, combined with the fact that the Russian population was skyrocketing (estimates are that if the revolution had not occurred, the Russian Empire would have attained a population of 600,000,000 by the 1960’s), made Russia the great power for the international Antichrist cabal to reckon with. It was the great Christian power, the katehon. The revolutionaries had to overthrow the Tsar, not because the people were unhappy, but precisely the opposite: Russia was a successful Christian state, a gigantic proof that the lies of the revolution are lies. It was the great bulwark against Revolution.
Lie #3. “The Revolution was a spontaneous uprising of the masses.” This is grossly false. Just as with the French Revolution, a relatively small cabal of criminals took advantage of the weaknesses of one, specific moment – in this case the specific situation of January and February 1917 during World War I. If the United States had entered the war a month earlier, March 1st instead of April 2nd 1917, it is certain that the morale of the Russian army and people would have soared immediately, that the Germans would have been forced to divert resources quickly to the West to knock out the British and the French before the Americans could arrive, and that the Russians would probably have won the war in the Eastern Front against the Austrians. Churchill – no friend of Russia or of Orthodoxy – points this out in Volume V of his history of WWI (see The World Crisis, Volume V “The Eastern Front,” chapter 24). With the war going well, it would have been easy to put down the orchestrated unrest in Moscow and St. Petersburg, there would have been no mutiny in the armed services, and the Empire need not at all to have fallen. Also, it was a small coterie of aristocrats and officers – all baptized Orthodox Christians but who were in fact apostates, because they were Masons and liberals – who isolated the Tsar in a train car on that fatal day – 3/16 March 1917 – and pressured him to abdicate. This is well known. The Bolshevik October Revolution was the result of the liberal Masonic coup d’etat in the previous spring that created Kerensky’s hopelessly weak Provisional Government. This is the pattern of all recent history: The unbelief, apostasy, weakness, and venality of the liberals opens the door to the destructive and nihilistic satanic malice of the Marxists.
None of this was “inevitable” due to inherent weaknesses in the Russian state, and none of it was a spontaneous popular movement by the common people, the vast majority of whom were both pious Orthodox and loyal to the Tsar.
Lie #4. “The Revolution was God’s will, and so it must have been good and we should not grieve over it or fight it.” This is a pseudo-piety, a clever, diabolical deception put forth by the devil, a twisting of a holy truth into a half-truth, popular among modernist Orthodox. They weaponize this half-truth to de-activate the proper use of our thymos and cause us to be passive, while God really expects from us intransigent militancy in the face of evil. There are choices of man that are directly willed by God, in accordance with His holy will, and then there are evils allowed by God, after man does not obey Him, evils that are then used by the Lord in His wisdom to bring man to repentance. It is true that the catastrophic evils of the Bolshevik revolution – and all of the 20th century revolutions – were allowed by Providence of God, and that we must bow our heads beneath His righteous judgments and find our salvation in the situation in which we find ourselves. Amen! But we are also required by God to discern where these evils came from, who the perpetrators were and are, and how we Orthodox did not respond at that time as we should have, and correct our mistakes. Why? So that we can discern where it’s coming from now, in our own time, and therefore how we should respond today, so that we will be able to do the good that is willed by God and not just have to endure the evil allowed by God. As in Paradise, so today: There is Plan A and Plan B. Plan A is to do God’s holy will, and that should always be our aim. In Plan B, God saves us from the evil our sin has caused. Just because He is good, does not mean that we are allowed to be irresponsible. Let us strive to discern good and evil, and to do His holy will.
B. Two Reductionistic Theories of Blame: Whodunit?
Whenever a man-made disaster occurs, naturally, to understand it, you want to find out who was responsible. (Of course, in the Marxist view, no one is “to blame, ” because everything is impersonal and determined by material processes. But we are talking about two non-Marxist theories). There are two reductionistic non-Marxist theories of blame for the Russian revolution. The “liberal” or “mainstream” view is that the Russians were almost exclusively to blame, and the “reactionary” or “far-right wing view” is that outsiders – whether living outside or inside Russia – were exclusively to blame. The former view is a dishonest and purposeful misdirection, pointing the finger away from the criminal to the victim, to hide the culprits who instigated and orchestrated the Revolution, who were indeed for the most part not Russians or Orthodox Christians , so that those culprits could go on to new crimes, which they have in fact committed and are continuing to commit up to the present moment. But the latter view – that it is all someone else’s fault – is a serious failure of Orthodox Christians to take responsibility for their own sins, their complicity with evil. The demons are a condition for our victory or defeat, not the determinant of defeat. It is true that the devil is our enemy, but a soul falls from within, and the only real evil is sin. The demons are chained by the sovereign might of God and can do nothing apart from His providential plan for our salvation. The devil does his job, and we must do ours. It is undeniable that international financial interests, dominated by powerful Jewish families, and that the Masons, and that the Vatican, and so forth, are the enemies of the Orthodox nations. They are doing their job, and we must do ours. Their machinations are conditions, mere circumstances, part of the plan, for our victory or defeat, not the determining factor. The determining factor is our moral choice, not in an absolute sense of course, but as considered in light of our choices being under the Providence and Sovereignty of God, in synergy with God.
As we go on in successive classes to give a traditional, Orthodox interpretation of the facts of the Bolshevik revolution, we will strive to bring out the reality of both sets of culprits: those who instigated the revolution, and those who cooperated. All are to blame. This is a microcosm of man’s state in general: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3: 23
We need a Savior. The Good News is that we have One.
Christ is Risen!