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« on: March 27, 2009, 11:44:10 AM »

Just looking for wise Orthodox people's insights: how should one argue with those who justify syncretism (i.e., "what does it matter where I pray? how I pray? how I call God? He is One anyway, so we all pray to Him - Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, all of us to the same God...")

One reason why I am asking is that in my home country, Ukraine, the Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, publicly boasted that during her recent visit to Japan, she prayed at a Shinto shrine. She likes to portray herself as a devout Orthodox; yet, she not only participated in a Pagan religious ceremony, but told about it to the media, stressing how "ecumenical" she is. When people discuss this on Ukrainian Internet discussion groups, the vast majority defends her, saying that it's OK, she is really good, "progressive"; it's these stupid, narrow-minded bigots, the "traditionalist" Orthodox, who are the problem...
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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2009, 11:51:38 AM »

Just looking for wise Orthodox people's insights: how should one argue with those who justify syncretism (i.e., "what does it matter where I pray? how I pray? how I call God? He is One anyway, so we all pray to Him - Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, all of us to the same God...")

One reason why I am asking is that in my home country, Ukraine, the Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, publicly boasted that during her recent visit to Japan, she prayed at a Shinto shrine. She likes to portray herself as a devout Orthodox; yet, she not only participated in a Pagan religious ceremony....

What are the details of her visit to the shrine? Did she simply go inside the shrine, and pray in the Orthodox manner? Or did she pray to the Shinto deities? Or did she pray just outside of the shrine? Was there an actual religious service going on in the shrine at the same time? Curious minds want to know. Cool
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2009, 12:03:34 PM »

Just looking for wise Orthodox people's insights: how should one argue with those who justify syncretism (i.e., "what does it matter where I pray? how I pray? how I call God? He is One anyway, so we all pray to Him - Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, all of us to the same God...")

One reason why I am asking is that in my home country, Ukraine, the Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, publicly boasted that during her recent visit to Japan, she prayed at a Shinto shrine. She likes to portray herself as a devout Orthodox; yet, she not only participated in a Pagan religious ceremony....

What are the details of her visit to the shrine? Did she simply go inside the shrine, and pray in the Orthodox manner? Or did she pray to the Shinto deities? Or did she pray just outside of the shrine? Was there an actual religious service going on in the shrine at the same time? Curious minds want to know. Cool

I don't know the exact details. She just said that she visited the shrine, and, when she saw the religious ceremony taking place there, she "began to pray with them."

However, what I am really after is not whether or not she did something wrong. Rather, I am concerned that there is such a tremendously strong positive, cheering reaction to that, and such a strong expression of anger towards those "reactionary," "petrified" ("закостeнілі"), stupid, un-modern Orthodox who say that "if she is Orthodox, she should obey the canons, and those canons do not allow us to participate in religious ceremonies of non-Orthodox," etc. The main argument is, she is great, she does exactly what the "modern times" compel us to do, that is, forget prejudice, be open to other cultures and other religions because "God is one anyway."
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« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2009, 12:24:09 PM »

A follow-up note: the two main themes in the tide of pro-Tymoshenko cheer are, (1) maybe she does not realize what it is to be "Orthodox" and therefore calls herself Orthodox - but that's good, she better never find out (because "everyone knows how stupid, reactionary, anti-progress there "true Orthodox" are); and (2) God is one, so it does not matter in what shrine to worship - and when "all these churches" say otherwise, it only means that they are hungry for money and power...
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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2009, 01:47:24 PM »

Двоеверие
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« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2009, 01:59:23 PM »

I'm likely not on track here, but I thought what Yula is engaged in here would be closer to religious pluralism in a sense? I am likely wrong. That's the word that came to my mind upon reading the first post. And dvoeverye came to mind as well, however, my thought was this: if Slavic people have for generations and generations secretly or openly followed the old pagan ways alongside Orthodoxy with most people not being too worried about it, how does this really differ from what Yula is doing? Would the acceptance of dvoeverye influence people's acceptance of Yula's behaviour in this case? Just a thought.
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« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2009, 02:53:29 PM »

Двоеверие

I'm likely not on track here, but I thought what Yula is engaged in here would be closer to religious pluralism in a sense? I am likely wrong. That's the word that came to my mind upon reading the first post. And dvoeverye came to mind as well, however, my thought was this: if Slavic people have for generations and generations secretly or openly followed the old pagan ways alongside Orthodoxy with most people not being too worried about it, how does this really differ from what Yula is doing? Would the acceptance of dvoeverye influence people's acceptance of Yula's behaviour in this case? Just a thought.

Maybe... but it's more like "double faith" where one of the two faiths is "progress," "modernity," "European values..." Ukraine is struggling very hard for getting accepted by Europe as a European country, and quite a lot of people are obsessed with what they perceive as true "European" (read "good," "worthy," "exemplary") values. Among these values, there is this notion that being devoted to a certain religious dogma, doctrine is "mediaeval," etc.
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« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2009, 11:39:14 PM »

Двоеверие
Could you please translate this to English?
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« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2009, 11:44:53 PM »

Двоеверие
Could you please translate this to English?

"double faith", as Heorhij said.
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« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2009, 11:45:38 PM »

Двоеверие
Could you please translate this to English?

"double faith", as Heorhij said.
Okay.  Thank you.
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« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2009, 11:53:50 PM »

Двоеверие

Scholars are calling it a myth these days.  Smiley  There may be something to it.  Big difference between Двоеверие in the usual sense and what the Prime Minister is up to though.
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« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2009, 09:40:47 AM »

Двоеверие

Scholars are calling it a myth these days.  Smiley  There may be something to it.  Big difference between Двоеверие in the usual sense and what the Prime Minister is up to though.

Yes. Like I said, in her case it's not that one of her cheerful supporters' two faiths is the old naturalist Pagan one and the other is Orthodoxy. Rather, one is Orthodoxy (or is it? that's the question), and the other is universalism, syncretism, "progressism" (the notion that any dogmatic faith is mediaeval, a relict that has to be done away with).
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« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2009, 09:59:19 AM »

I get it.  "Scholars".  Funny.  Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2009, 10:21:33 AM »

I get it.  "Scholars".  Funny.  Smiley

No, really.  Smiley 
Pretty smart scholars like Eve Levin, for example.  Here are some rough notes I jotted down about her “Dvoeverie and Popular Religion” in
Seeking God:  the Recovery of Religious Idnetity in Orthodox Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia -. Batalden, ed.


Up until recently all argue that the substance of popular religion remained pagan. Marxists saw Christianity as a means of control- paganism survived as a kind of tool of popular revolt. The Semiotic school (Lotman and Uspensky), on the other hand, sees duality in the underlying characteristics of Russian culture. Basic opposition between the old and new- paganism vs. Christianity, East Vs. West, etc. Opposition to the “old” by Christianity kept the “old”/pagan alive. This is still a two sided conflict- all heresies as well as Catholicism are cast as pagan by Russians because of this original dualism.
All previous schools of thought see Medieval Christianity as essentially pagan and the relationship of the Church to the people as antagonistic- a battle to change the people’s paganism. All of this emphasizes a conflict and distorts the evidence and leads to overestimating the conflict between Church and people. So, we must not take at face value as “pagan” what the Medieval church called pagan- “pagan” meant many things. Scholars of the West have seen that premodern beliefs and elite religion overlap more than conflict and that both are part of a single community. Religious influences move in both directions, not just from the top down. 

So what is the true character of Medieval Christianity in Russia?
It is communal, not intellectual. The content of an individual’s faith is of little importance before the reforms of the 17th century. A person is a Christian in this period by their participation in Christian services and rituals. A “Christian” is not defined by his belief system. Heresies became threats because they challenged secular and ecclesiastical authority, not because of “wrong ideas”. Also, ALL accept magic- the manipulation of matter is both pagan and Christian. So, it is not exclusively pagan- not an indication of paganism. MUCH OF OFFICIAL CHRISTIANITY LOOKS LIKE “PAGANISM” THROUGH MODERN EYES. The popular religion of Medieval Russia is a folk version of Christianity.

Of course, this has little to do with Heorhij's topic. Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2009, 10:55:20 AM »

Of course, this has little to do with Heorhij's topic. Smiley

No, I think you are right on topic. Occasionally, I, too, read about the evolution of beliefs in Slavic and other Eastern European countries in the post-Byzantine period, and think: was there EVER any Orthodoxy there, Orthodoxy in the sense that we today associate with patristics, Ecumenical counsils, etc.? I don't know... it does really seem that the Orthodoxy was largely communal and rite-oriented, not at all intellectual, conceptual, doctrinal... While there exists a number of really brilliant, really intellectual theologians like Bulgakov, Florovsky, Schmemann, Meyendorf, Lossky Jr. - who really knows them and who cares? The absolute majority of those Eastern European Orthodox people whom I interacted with never read anything written by theologians... etc. It's a complex issue, and a painful one to me.
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« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2009, 11:27:35 AM »

Of course, this has little to do with Heorhij's topic. Smiley

No, I think you are right on topic. Occasionally, I, too, read about the evolution of beliefs in Slavic and other Eastern European countries in the post-Byzantine period, and think: was there EVER any Orthodoxy there, Orthodoxy in the sense that we today associate with patristics, Ecumenical counsils, etc.? I don't know... it does really seem that the Orthodoxy was largely communal and rite-oriented, not at all intellectual, conceptual, doctrinal... While there exists a number of really brilliant, really intellectual theologians like Bulgakov, Florovsky, Schmemann, Meyendorf, Lossky Jr. - who really knows them and who cares? The absolute majority of those Eastern European Orthodox people whom I interacted with never read anything written by theologians... etc. It's a complex issue, and a painful one to me.

God looks at the heart, not the head. angel That's my theory, at least.
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« Reply #16 on: March 28, 2009, 02:16:27 PM »

Of course, this has little to do with Heorhij's topic. Smiley

No, I think you are right on topic. Occasionally, I, too, read about the evolution of beliefs in Slavic and other Eastern European countries in the post-Byzantine period, and think: was there EVER any Orthodoxy there, Orthodoxy in the sense that we today associate with patristics, Ecumenical counsils, etc.? I don't know... it does really seem that the Orthodoxy was largely communal and rite-oriented, not at all intellectual, conceptual, doctrinal... While there exists a number of really brilliant, really intellectual theologians like Bulgakov, Florovsky, Schmemann, Meyendorf, Lossky Jr. - who really knows them and who cares? The absolute majority of those Eastern European Orthodox people whom I interacted with never read anything written by theologians... etc. It's a complex issue, and a painful one to me.

Essentially what I was trying to say here:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20179.msg304834.html#msg304834

I'm not saying any of that is a bad thing.  Much of what is practiced is folk religion and has been for a long time.

Regarding the topic, I don't believe Tymoshenko is worshipping Perun on the side.  As you can see in these pictures

http://www.tymoshenko.com.ua/eng/photo/?tema=5tv021005

her daughter even wore the very traditional Orthodox see-through wedding dress with midriff exposed.

The God of political correctness demands worship from all of us as it so happens.
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« Reply #17 on: March 28, 2009, 02:24:50 PM »

Quote
her daughter even wore the very traditional Orthodox see-through wedding dress with midriff exposed.


Ah-this is surely said in sarcasm?  Shocked
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« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2009, 03:16:32 PM »

I think Yulia was just being diplomatic. I'd never use any political figure as an example of how I should live my Christian life-there are other places to look for that. The Bible, the lives of the saints, etc.

Having said that, the worldly part of me admires her lovely, classical, and feminine style  and would love to have the money to dress as she does... Cry 
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« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2009, 04:43:35 PM »

^^Guys, again, I am not criticizing Yulia Volodymyrivna Tymoshenko; I am, rather, concerned about the reaction to my own and to some other people's comments (particularly on the Maidan web site) that the Orthodox Church does not encourage syncretism or universalism. Maybe I am not conveying it, but the reaction is fierceful. It's generally like, "you, fanatics, mediaeval types, who do you think you are? How dare you say that you are "the only One Church?" There is plenty of different churches out there, and besides, there are Muslim mosques, and Buddhist pagodas and what not. And God is one, how come you, dumb ones, fail to understand it? So, it does not matter, where you pray and to whom you pray (or how you call this God, or how you envision Him/him/her/"it"). It's all the same. If a human being is anywhere near decent, he or she should understand it." I just thought there could be some good arguments to defend the Orthodox Church, to explain to these people that when the Church sets certain requirements, it does not necessarily mean that She is "reactionary" or "mediaeval..."
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« Reply #20 on: March 28, 2009, 04:57:06 PM »

^^Guys, again, I am not criticizing Yulia Volodymyrivna Tymoshenko; I am, rather, concerned about the reaction to my own and to some other people's comments (particularly on the Maidan web site) that the Orthodox Church does not encourage syncretism or universalism. Maybe I am not conveying it, but the reaction is fierceful. It's generally like, "you, fanatics, mediaeval types, who do you think you are? How dare you say that you are "the only One Church?" There is plenty of different churches out there, and besides, there are Muslim mosques, and Buddhist pagodas and what not. And God is one, how come you, dumb ones, fail to understand it? So, it does not matter, where you pray and to whom you pray (or how you call this God, or how you envision Him/him/her/"it"). It's all the same. If a human being is anywhere near decent, he or she should understand it." I just thought there could be some good arguments to defend the Orthodox Church, to explain to these people that when the Church sets certain requirements, it does not necessarily mean that She is "reactionary" or "mediaeval..."
Maybe I'm being simplistic, but I think the proper reply starts with the exclusivity Jesus asserted in His own words:  "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No man comes to the Father but by Me."  (Now, what exactly this means has long been the subject of its own debate. Cool)
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« Reply #21 on: March 28, 2009, 05:10:27 PM »

^^Guys, again, I am not criticizing Yulia Volodymyrivna Tymoshenko; I am, rather, concerned about the reaction to my own and to some other people's comments (particularly on the Maidan web site) that the Orthodox Church does not encourage syncretism or universalism. Maybe I am not conveying it, but the reaction is fierceful. It's generally like, "you, fanatics, mediaeval types, who do you think you are? How dare you say that you are "the only One Church?" There is plenty of different churches out there, and besides, there are Muslim mosques, and Buddhist pagodas and what not. And God is one, how come you, dumb ones, fail to understand it? So, it does not matter, where you pray and to whom you pray (or how you call this God, or how you envision Him/him/her/"it"). It's all the same. If a human being is anywhere near decent, he or she should understand it." I just thought there could be some good arguments to defend the Orthodox Church, to explain to these people that when the Church sets certain requirements, it does not necessarily mean that She is "reactionary" or "mediaeval..."

These critics seem to lack an understanding of Islam, Buddhism, and other religions. Of course, you have your conservatives and your liberals in all faiths. But ask a conservative Muslim, and he'll say that Islam is the only way. Ask a conservative Buddhist, and he'll say that Buddhism is the only way (or some such equivalent). So why can't Christianity also exhibit conservatism regarding Christian teachings?

That's a starting point. Then, if they ask, "Well, why do religion's need to be conservative? Why can't they all be liberal?", then you bring up the fact that it's the conservative elements of religions that often keep the tradition alive over time (because of greater commitment, greater reproductive powers, or what have you). Liberal versions of religions are nice and 'tolerant', true, but liberalism lacks power. This is not to say that conservative religions are perfect and without failings, but conservative religions serve the very important social and civilizational functions of keeping intact teachings and behaviors that have proven true and firm.
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« Reply #22 on: March 28, 2009, 05:18:13 PM »

^^Guys, again, I am not criticizing Yulia Volodymyrivna Tymoshenko; I am, rather, concerned about the reaction to my own and to some other people's comments (particularly on the Maidan web site) that the Orthodox Church does not encourage syncretism or universalism. Maybe I am not conveying it, but the reaction is fierceful. It's generally like, "you, fanatics, mediaeval types, who do you think you are? How dare you say that you are "the only One Church?" There is plenty of different churches out there, and besides, there are Muslim mosques, and Buddhist pagodas and what not. And God is one, how come you, dumb ones, fail to understand it? So, it does not matter, where you pray and to whom you pray (or how you call this God, or how you envision Him/him/her/"it"). It's all the same. If a human being is anywhere near decent, he or she should understand it." I just thought there could be some good arguments to defend the Orthodox Church, to explain to these people that when the Church sets certain requirements, it does not necessarily mean that She is "reactionary" or "mediaeval..."
Maybe I'm being simplistic, but I think the proper reply starts with the exclusivity Jesus asserted in His own words:  "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No man comes to the Father but by Me."  (Now, what exactly this means has long been the subject of its own debate. Cool)

No, you are not being simplistic - thank you, maybe that's really a good start...
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« Reply #23 on: March 28, 2009, 05:21:47 PM »

I personally don't see Buddhism or Confucianism as necessarily being antithetical to Christianity since neither is really theistic.

Anyway, take the Moscow Patriarchate as an example.  They publicly recognize Judaism, Buddhism and Islam as native Russian religions alongside Orthodoxy.  To my knowledge, they do nothing to discouraging any of these groups from building temples, holding meetings or simply existing.  The same cannot be said of for instance various Protestant groups.  To my knowledge as well the Patriarchate does nothing to reach out to non Russian pagans/non believers inside the Federation.

Syncretism?
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