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Author Topic: The Russian Orthodox church Not spreading the faith  (Read 7165 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: March 09, 2012, 12:37:01 AM »

Quote
The Russian Orthodox church
Not spreading the faith
Russia’s Orthodox church has far to go before it wins young people in number into its ranks

“WHAT are we supposed to believe in?” asks Natasha, a student teacher in Tver, a run-down provincial town between Moscow and St Petersburg. “In the past our young people had the party, and its youth movements—the Pioneers, the Komsomol. It was all rubbish, maybe, but at least it was there.” Natasha and her friends at a student café are all training to teach young people. Like 94% of Russians aged 18-29, she does not go to church. She has been once or twice out of curiosity, “but didn’t understand it much”. Her own parents are not religious.

Russian young people live in a moral and spiritual vacuum. A decade after the collapse of communism, there is little to fill it. Schools are mostly tatty, depressing and too short of cash to do more than try to preserve basic educational standards. The youth clubs, summer camps and other activities of the Soviet era have collapsed for lack of money. Sports facilities are expensive. Sergei, a muscular 22-year-old in Irkutsk, in Siberia, spends every morning in the summer months playing football with his friends on a patch of waste ground. The rest of the time he looks for passengers to ferry around town in his decrepit Toyota; the slender profits pay for occasional trips to a sports centre during the winter. He has never been to church.

Young Russians can meet the boredom and poverty of their lives with drugs, alcohol, promiscuous sex and crime, and all too often do so. But this also presents an opportunity for anyone offering something more wholesome. The scout movement, for example, has blossomed since the collapse of communism: there are tens of thousands of members of scout and guide troops, with a wide range of affiliations. Western and other charities that work with young people are usually overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and gratitude of the response. But there is one notable absentee: the Orthodox church.
http://www.economist.com/node/457135
Over a decade after this, how much has changed?
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« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2012, 10:13:54 AM »

Quote
The Russian Orthodox church
Not spreading the faith
Russia’s Orthodox church has far to go before it wins young people in number into its ranks

“WHAT are we supposed to believe in?” asks Natasha, a student teacher in Tver, a run-down provincial town between Moscow and St Petersburg. “In the past our young people had the party, and its youth movements—the Pioneers, the Komsomol. It was all rubbish, maybe, but at least it was there.” Natasha and her friends at a student café are all training to teach young people. Like 94% of Russians aged 18-29, she does not go to church. She has been once or twice out of curiosity, “but didn’t understand it much”. Her own parents are not religious.

Russian young people live in a moral and spiritual vacuum. A decade after the collapse of communism, there is little to fill it. Schools are mostly tatty, depressing and too short of cash to do more than try to preserve basic educational standards. The youth clubs, summer camps and other activities of the Soviet era have collapsed for lack of money. Sports facilities are expensive. Sergei, a muscular 22-year-old in Irkutsk, in Siberia, spends every morning in the summer months playing football with his friends on a patch of waste ground. The rest of the time he looks for passengers to ferry around town in his decrepit Toyota; the slender profits pay for occasional trips to a sports centre during the winter. He has never been to church.

Young Russians can meet the boredom and poverty of their lives with drugs, alcohol, promiscuous sex and crime, and all too often do so. But this also presents an opportunity for anyone offering something more wholesome. The scout movement, for example, has blossomed since the collapse of communism: there are tens of thousands of members of scout and guide troops, with a wide range of affiliations. Western and other charities that work with young people are usually overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and gratitude of the response. But there is one notable absentee: the Orthodox church.
http://www.economist.com/node/457135
Over a decade after this, how much has changed?

What does Eastern Orthodoxy do to evangelize people with no church background? I've seen material aimed at promoting Eastern Orthodoxy to members of non-EO churches, but I don't recall ever seeing material that presents the Gospel to teenagers or adults who were raised in a secular family or culture where they were told that the Bible is just a collection of myths.

After years of atheism and communism, Russia must have many secular and humanistic teens and young adults who won't seriously consider any "Bible story" until their belief in evolution has been challenged. Maybe they would benefit from an aggresssive Creationistic form of evangelism such as Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis promotes. I've heard him talk about this, and his approach is based largely on that of the apostle Paul's sermon given on Mars' Hill (Acts 17:22-34). Getting people to believe in a Creator who will one day judge the world in righteousness is a necessary step for persuading them to abandon their relativistic, purposeless lifestyles.
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« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2012, 10:17:22 AM »

It's kind of funny you would quote something from over ten years ago.

How about something from 2012?
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« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2012, 10:29:03 AM »

It's kind of funny you would quote something from over ten years ago.

How about something from 2012?

That's his point, biro. After a decade has past, what has changed from 2000 to 2012 with the Russian Orthodox Church reaching out to young Russians.
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« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2012, 10:31:32 AM »

It's kind of funny you would quote something from over ten years ago.

How about something from 2012?
LOL.  I would have to quote something from ten years ago if I'm going to ask the question "how much has changed?"
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« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2012, 10:36:21 AM »

It's kind of funny you would quote something from over ten years ago.

How about something from 2012?

That's his point, biro. After a decade has past, what has changed from 2000 to 2012 with the Russian Orthodox Church reaching out to young Russians.

Indeed. Has much changed at all in Russia? Or does the Russian Church still remain a meaningless cultural relic of Russia's past with no meaning for today?
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« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2012, 10:40:08 AM »

While not the same (much to Vladik's chagrin), perhaps Nektarios can speak to how different things are in Ukraine as opposed to ten years ago?
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« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2012, 10:50:45 AM »

It's kind of funny you would quote something from over ten years ago.

How about something from 2012?

That's his point, biro. After a decade has past, what has changed from 2000 to 2012 with the Russian Orthodox Church reaching out to young Russians.

I get the sarcasm. I just don't think he should throw out a blank charge like that, and not have posted what he thinks will back it up.

I could post again the article about 200 new churches being built in Moscow, but then again, we're not allowed to prove him wrong, now, are we?

It would all just mess up his idea that there are people who are not as good Orthodox as he is. And we wouldn't want that.  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2012, 10:58:26 AM »

It's kind of funny you would quote something from over ten years ago.

How about something from 2012?

That's his point, biro. After a decade has past, what has changed from 2000 to 2012 with the Russian Orthodox Church reaching out to young Russians.

I get the sarcasm. I just don't think he should throw out a blank charge like that, and not have posted what he thinks will back it up.

I could post again the article about 200 new churches being built in Moscow, but then again, we're not allowed to prove him wrong, now, are we?

It would all just mess up his idea that there are people who are not as good Orthodox as he is. And we wouldn't want that.  Roll Eyes

Why project such motives onto Isa?  I don't think he's being sarcastic.  He asked a question.
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« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2012, 11:04:16 AM »

It's kind of funny you would quote something from over ten years ago.

How about something from 2012?

That's his point, biro. After a decade has past, what has changed from 2000 to 2012 with the Russian Orthodox Church reaching out to young Russians.

I get the sarcasm. I just don't think he should throw out a blank charge like that, and not have posted what he thinks will back it up.

I could post again the article about 200 new churches being built in Moscow, but then again, we're not allowed to prove him wrong, now, are we?

It would all just mess up his idea that there are people who are not as good Orthodox as he is. And we wouldn't want that.  Roll Eyes

Why project such motives onto Isa?  I don't think he's being sarcastic.  He asked a question.

Well, I think so. I'm not projecting a thing: he never seems to approve of anything other jurisdictions are doing, other than the holy Antiochians (because he's one of them). It's funny that you don't see him express sympathy for the fact that the Russians have to fight against problems such as very rich American televangelist ministries sending over their missionaries. No, that might mitigate against his desire to make the ROC look bad.

Again, here's this:

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Foundations-laid-for-first-of-200-new-Orthodox-churches-in-Moscow-21434.html

Building 200 new churches- doesn't seem like they're lying down and letting the faith fizzle away, now does it?

So, there goes his theory. You're welcome.
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« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2012, 11:15:28 AM »

While not the same (much to Vladik's chagrin), perhaps Nektarios can speak to how different things are in Ukraine as opposed to ten years ago?

The answer is too complicated for me to write right now, but I'll get to it after my classes tonight.  Things have changed a lot in the big cities in some ways. 
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« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2012, 11:18:19 AM »

It's kind of funny you would quote something from over ten years ago.

How about something from 2012?

That's his point, biro. After a decade has past, what has changed from 2000 to 2012 with the Russian Orthodox Church reaching out to young Russians.

I get the sarcasm. I just don't think he should throw out a blank charge like that, and not have posted what he thinks will back it up.

I could post again the article about 200 new churches being built in Moscow, but then again, we're not allowed to prove him wrong, now, are we?

It would all just mess up his idea that there are people who are not as good Orthodox as he is. And we wouldn't want that.  Roll Eyes

Why project such motives onto Isa?  I don't think he's being sarcastic.  He asked a question.

Well, I think so. I'm not projecting a thing: he never seems to approve of anything other jurisdictions are doing, other than the holy Antiochians (because he's one of them). It's funny that you don't see him express sympathy for the fact that the Russians have to fight against problems such as very rich American televangelist ministries sending over their missionaries. No, that might mitigate against his desire to make the ROC look bad.

Again, here's this:

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Foundations-laid-for-first-of-200-new-Orthodox-churches-in-Moscow-21434.html

Building 200 new churches- doesn't seem like they're lying down and letting the faith fizzle away, now does it?

So, there goes his theory. You're welcome.

See, was posting that article so hard?  Of course, I expect Isa to counter, because that's what discussion is all about.  But all he asked for, initially, was what has changed.
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« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2012, 11:29:53 AM »

All he did was imply that they'd done nothing. He should have looked into it first.

If he had, he never would have had to post this thread, and I wouldn't have to do his work for him.

I don't expect he'll apologize to the Russian Orthodox Church, however.
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« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2012, 11:35:55 AM »

All he did was imply that they'd done nothing. He should have looked into it first.

If he had, he never would have had to post this thread, and I wouldn't have to do his work for him.

I don't expect he'll apologize to the Russian Orthodox Church, however.

This is a discussion forum.  To discuss things, ones must come up with a question or position to discuss. 

But if you'd rather just cast aspersions onto Isa, be my guest.
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« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2012, 11:38:49 AM »

I understand, there are people whom it isn't permitted to question. I shouldn't be surprised that you have no problem with his implied negative claim about the ROC, but instead with my easy proof that he was on the wrong track. (Which I posted several times last year.) I shouldn't be surprised by very much anymore.



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« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2012, 11:42:36 AM »

The ROC had so many challenges that allowances should be made for some of the dismal indicators of church health. On the negative side, you have the continuing low numbers of regular church attendance and involvement in parish life. On the positive side, the work on infrastructure of the church is paying off dividends. As for evangelization, they are doing something about it, albeit rather timidly. For example, they imported Father Maximus Regis Urbanowicz from the US but did not use him in the main population centers. It seems to me that the ROC is trying the "tried and true" Orthodox way of getting things done through collaboration with the state. As long as the ROC tries to prosper as the de facto state church, I am afraid that she will fail in in her primary mission of making disciples of the people of Russia.
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« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2012, 11:44:57 AM »

I understand, there are people whom it isn't permitted to question. I shouldn't be surprised that you have no problem with his implied negative claim about the ROC, but instead with my easy proof that he was on the wrong track. (Which I posted several times last year.) I shouldn't be surprised by very much anymore.

There you again casting aspersions, now on my motives.  If you've been watching, I've challenged Isa more than once on things.

Hope you're having as wonderful a Lent as I am...
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« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2012, 11:46:22 AM »

Isa was jsut asking a question. Lets not turn this into another attack thread. We see what happened last time someone percieved an attack thread on them.

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« Reply #18 on: March 09, 2012, 11:52:51 AM »

Over a decade after the events under question in the OP, a lot has changed.

Gee, do you think something new may have happened since the early 2000s?

But let's just throw the implication out there that it hasn't, which is what he did. And still I am the one who questions this, and we see what happens. Sigh...

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« Reply #19 on: March 09, 2012, 02:40:29 PM »

Building churches alone doesn't prove much, if the churches are empty. How about statistics about church attendance, baptisms etc?
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« Reply #20 on: March 09, 2012, 03:25:06 PM »

Building churches alone doesn't prove much, if the churches are empty. How about statistics about church attendance, baptisms etc?

Ok, here you go Jonathan:

Percentage of Russians who attend church reaches 71% - poll

Moscow, February 27, Interfax - The number of Russians who go to temples increased considerably over the past two decades. Sociologists have found that the most frequently observed ritual is the placement of candles in. Over the past 16 years, the number of Russians who go to church, mosque, or synagogue increased ... 83% of Orthodox respondents reported going to church. 11% of the respondents said they go into churches rarely or from time to time... The poll, which was conducted in 138 populated areas in 46 regions, territories, and republics of Russia in mid-February, shows that a considerable number of people who go to temples (38%) just speak to God, 31% read prayers, 27% kiss holy relics, 33% give alms, 29% donate money to temples, and 9% go to temples to sanctify things.
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« Reply #21 on: March 09, 2012, 04:10:01 PM »

Over a decade after the events under question in the OP, a lot has changed.

Gee, do you think something new may have happened since the early 2000s?

But let's just throw the implication out there that it hasn't, which is what he did. And still I am the one who questions this, and we see what happens. Sigh...
I read no such implication in Isa's posts on this thread.
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« Reply #22 on: March 09, 2012, 04:59:16 PM »

Building churches alone doesn't prove much, if the churches are empty. How about statistics about church attendance, baptisms etc?

Ok, here you go Jonathan:

Percentage of Russians who attend church reaches 71% - poll

Moscow, February 27, Interfax - The number of Russians who go to temples increased considerably over the past two decades. Sociologists have found that the most frequently observed ritual is the placement of candles in. Over the past 16 years, the number of Russians who go to church, mosque, or synagogue increased ... 83% of Orthodox respondents reported going to church. 11% of the respondents said they go into churches rarely or from time to time... The poll, which was conducted in 138 populated areas in 46 regions, territories, and republics of Russia in mid-February, shows that a considerable number of people who go to temples (38%) just speak to God, 31% read prayers, 27% kiss holy relics, 33% give alms, 29% donate money to temples, and 9% go to temples to sanctify things.


Thanks, Nicholas. So, when it says "83% of Orthodox respondents", does that mean 83% of those who identified themselves as Orthodox (as opposed to atheists or agnostics)? Such recipients would be predisposed to be more active in their faith, and wouldn't necessarily indicate any overall increase in Orthodox religiosity among Russians as a whole.

Oh and the headline is misleading. The statistic is actually the percentage of all Russians (or a presumably representative sample of Russians), regardless of religion, who attend either church or synagogue or mosque. I'm not sure if "church" is exclusively Orthodox, but later the article suggests that the survey covered every possible religious building. So 71% of Russian citizens we can say visit a religious building at least "rarely" (whatever that means; I suppose a reasonable interpretation is about once a year). 7% of the respondents report attending at least once a month, and I would say that, from an Orthodox perspective, once a month is the normal threshold for being considered serious about one's faith. Less than that and I think you can reasonably question the individual's commitment to Orthodoxy (barring some unusual circumstances).

7% of citizens as committed believers (of any religious persuasion, mind) is not much better than the statistics we get from secularized northern European countries, like Denmark. And of course of these we don't know how many are committed Orthodox, as opposed to committed Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists or whatever. Jews are a small minority in Russia, so I wouldn't expect them to make much statistical impact, even if they all attended synagogue every week. There are quite a few more Muslims, however, and we know that in general they are more religiously active than Christians of any persuasion, so I expect a significant proportion of that 7% is due to increased Muslim activity.

So, in conclusion, the report (assuming that its methodology is sound) does provide evidence from some increased religiosity in Russia in recent years, but doesn't really tell us how much of that is due to the increased influence of the official Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #23 on: March 09, 2012, 05:08:12 PM »

Over a decade after the events under question in the OP, a lot has changed.

Gee, do you think something new may have happened since the early 2000s?

But let's just throw the implication out there that it hasn't, which is what he did. And still I am the one who questions this, and we see what happens. Sigh...

 Tongue

Figures. Again, I should have known what to expect.


All right, I get it. We have always been at war with Eastasia. There is no man behind the curtain.

Happy Pascha. I'll get out of your way.

I didn't think Isa was implying anything.  I understood the quoted article as foundation for the question he asked.  Just saying...
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« Reply #24 on: March 09, 2012, 05:09:58 PM »

Building churches alone doesn't prove much, if the churches are empty. How about statistics about church attendance, baptisms etc?

Ok, here you go Jonathan:

Percentage of Russians who attend church reaches 71% - poll

Moscow, February 27, Interfax - The number of Russians who go to temples increased considerably over the past two decades. Sociologists have found that the most frequently observed ritual is the placement of candles in. Over the past 16 years, the number of Russians who go to church, mosque, or synagogue increased ... 83% of Orthodox respondents reported going to church. 11% of the respondents said they go into churches rarely or from time to time... The poll, which was conducted in 138 populated areas in 46 regions, territories, and republics of Russia in mid-February, shows that a considerable number of people who go to temples (38%) just speak to God, 31% read prayers, 27% kiss holy relics, 33% give alms, 29% donate money to temples, and 9% go to temples to sanctify things.


Thanks, Nicholas. So, when it says "83% of Orthodox respondents", does that mean 83% of those who identified themselves as Orthodox (as opposed to atheists or agnostics)?

Yes, I believe that you are reading that correctly.
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« Reply #25 on: March 09, 2012, 06:04:39 PM »

Building churches alone doesn't prove much, if the churches are empty. How about statistics about church attendance, baptisms etc?

Ok, here you go Jonathan:

Percentage of Russians who attend church reaches 71% - poll

Moscow, February 27, Interfax - The number of Russians who go to temples increased considerably over the past two decades. Sociologists have found that the most frequently observed ritual is the placement of candles in. Over the past 16 years, the number of Russians who go to church, mosque, or synagogue increased ... 83% of Orthodox respondents reported going to church. 11% of the respondents said they go into churches rarely or from time to time... The poll, which was conducted in 138 populated areas in 46 regions, territories, and republics of Russia in mid-February, shows that a considerable number of people who go to temples (38%) just speak to God, 31% read prayers, 27% kiss holy relics, 33% give alms, 29% donate money to temples, and 9% go to temples to sanctify things.


You omitted the most important facts (from the article that you cited):

Over the past 16 years, the number of Russians who go to church, mosque, or synagogue increased from 57% to 71%.
7% of the respondents go to religious buildings at least once a month,
30% go to religious buildings from time to time, and
34% go to religious buildings rarely.

Now, tell me why we should be impressed by these figures.
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« Reply #26 on: March 09, 2012, 06:29:22 PM »

Building churches alone doesn't prove much, if the churches are empty. How about statistics about church attendance, baptisms etc?

Ok, here you go Jonathan:

Percentage of Russians who attend church reaches 71% - poll

Moscow, February 27, Interfax - The number of Russians who go to temples increased considerably over the past two decades. Sociologists have found that the most frequently observed ritual is the placement of candles in. Over the past 16 years, the number of Russians who go to church, mosque, or synagogue increased ... 83% of Orthodox respondents reported going to church. 11% of the respondents said they go into churches rarely or from time to time... The poll, which was conducted in 138 populated areas in 46 regions, territories, and republics of Russia in mid-February, shows that a considerable number of people who go to temples (38%) just speak to God, 31% read prayers, 27% kiss holy relics, 33% give alms, 29% donate money to temples, and 9% go to temples to sanctify things.


You omitted the most important facts (from the article that you cited):

Over the past 16 years, the number of Russians who go to church, mosque, or synagogue increased from 57% to 71%.

That is why. It is a start for a previously Atheist country. There are lots of Christeasters (Come only for for Pascha and the Nativity) in every country. Haven't you seen the number of people at your parish at least triple for these great Feasts too?
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« Reply #27 on: March 09, 2012, 07:47:01 PM »

While not the same (much to Vladik's chagrin), perhaps Nektarios can speak to how different things are in Ukraine as opposed to ten years ago?

This sort of post really has to be contextualized.  The late Soviet Union offered a lot of good things, and nearly everyone who grew up in the USSR (i.e 60s, 70s, 80s) had a great childhood.  People weren't rich, but there were a lot of social services that made life interesting.  This odd critter called a palace of culture was all over the place.  These served the gambit from entertainment for children, to gyms, to cultural centers for performing and fine arts as well as continuing education centers for adults.  Schools were generally high quality.  In short there were plenty of wholesome, good things to do for people for little or no cost whatsoever.  Then the 90s rolled around, which across the board people will tell you were the worst times of their lives.  All of those good, wholesome things were gone.  Unemployment instantly became out of control.  Enter the lost generation. 

The Church was in a curious state at this point in the late Soviet period.  I'd say it was something like Stockholm syndrome, but even beyond that.  The Church was privileged but in a very odd sort of way.  All of the hierarchy were true Soviet people, not like their ethnic counterparts in diaspora churches.  The idea of having to keep your Church alive (and more practically yourself fed) by filling the pews (metaphorically) simply didn't exist among Soviet clergy and doesn't really seem to exist in the modern MP either.  This really does breed a certain arrogance.  I'm Herr Priest - kiss my....

So where do these two stories connect?  The lost generation here really is searching for something.  Unfortunately making vodka at home is nearly free.  Beer is still considered a foodstuff in Ukraine (was recently considered alcoholic in Russia).  Alcoholism was one out.  It doesn't take long to realize an unfortunately high number of people have chosen this route.  Drugs, sex, entertainment along those lines is another popular route.  Google "krokodil drug" to see something absolutely horrific.  I've seen this in real life.  It is simply indescribable.  Alcohol has ravaged the lower and lower-middle classes.  The Orthodox Church, for the most part, isn't going near these lepers.  The braver Protestant and Muslim missionaries do but not with great success. 

The upper-middle and parts of the middle class have got one with life since the fall of USSR.  These are the sorts of people who can afford to do the things I mentioned in the late Soviet period (i.e visit a sports hall).  The ideology of communism gone and nothing to fill the void, there is a great intellectual curiosity.  Some go down the road of substance abuse, mindless entertainment etc.  Others do choose the spiritual path.  New Age sorts of things are popular and Yoga centers are sprouting up like mushrooms here.  These are more Yoga as life-style: they promote abstinence from alcohol and usually have attached vegetarian cafes.  Protestant communities are also sprouting up all over.  I've mentioned in other threads why I think people are attracted to them; there's no need to repeat that here.  Like has been mentioned, Orthodox churches are also slowly increasing.  A general awareness of Orthodoxy is definitely on the rise, even if observance isn't.  The demographics of the parishes that I've attended are fairly typically: mostly old women (60-80%) and (get ready...) yuppies.  I don't mean this disparagingly as I'd put myself in this group. 

What is the Church doing to draw people in?  Pretty much nothing.  The attitude still prevails that Russians should automatically be Orthodox therefore the Church need not evangelize.  To many in power it makes more sense to simply persecute Protestants and find Catholic boogy-men rather than draw people in.  Of course there are exceptions and my gut feeling is that things will get better as the new generation starts to take over.  One of the biggest problems is the inherent clericalism and conservationism (by this I mean ossification) of the Church here.  As the article Isa quoted mentioned, "she does not go to church. She has been once or twice out of curiosity, “but didn’t understand it much”."  I can't emphasize enough that unless you already know the text of the Divine Liturgy really well, you will not actually understand anything if you walk into an MP parish.  People aren't friendly in churches.  If you make some accidental faux paux you will be yelled out.  If you buy a prayerbook it will be very difficult to understand.  Generally speaking the emphasis is on external forms and observances.  It is a somewhat of a caricature, but I see it a lot: eat, drink and be merry - fast during Holy Week, go to confession, go to communion on Easter and that's the extent of Orthodox life.  This isn't everywhere, but it is pretty common.  There are decent priests and parishes out there, but IME mediocrity predominates.  If Ukraine had been my first exposure to Orthodoxy, there is absolutely no way I would have decided to become Orthodox.     

To answer the question - yes things are different than ten years ago and getting better, but there is still a long, long way to go.                 
   
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« Reply #28 on: March 09, 2012, 07:58:58 PM »

^ In other words, just like it was in Way of the Pilgrim.

Thanks very much for your observations, Nektarios.
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« Reply #29 on: March 09, 2012, 08:20:38 PM »

It's kind of funny you would quote something from over ten years ago.

How about something from 2012?

That's his point, biro. After a decade has past, what has changed from 2000 to 2012 with the Russian Orthodox Church reaching out to young Russians.

I get the sarcasm. I just don't think he should throw out a blank charge like that, and not have posted what he thinks will back it up.

I could post again the article about 200 new churches being built in Moscow, but then again, we're not allowed to prove him wrong, now, are we?

It would all just mess up his idea that there are people who are not as good Orthodox as he is. And we wouldn't want that.  Roll Eyes

Why project such motives onto Isa?  I don't think he's being sarcastic.  He asked a question.

Well, I think so. I'm not projecting a thing: he never seems to approve of anything other jurisdictions are doing, other than the holy Antiochians (because he's one of them).
LOL. You seen this thread?
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,19965.990.html
It's funny that you don't see him express sympathy for the fact that the Russians have to fight against problems such as very rich American televangelist ministries sending over their missionaries. No, that might mitigate against his desire to make the ROC look bad.
I think my Russophile tendencies are well documented.  Take a look here at any conversation I had with Heorhij.
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« Reply #30 on: March 09, 2012, 08:20:38 PM »

It's kind of funny you would quote something from over ten years ago.

How about something from 2012?

That's his point, biro. After a decade has past, what has changed from 2000 to 2012 with the Russian Orthodox Church reaching out to young Russians.

I get the sarcasm. I just don't think he should throw out a blank charge like that, and not have posted what he thinks will back it up.

I could post again the article about 200 new churches being built in Moscow, but then again, we're not allowed to prove him wrong, now, are we?

It would all just mess up his idea that there are people who are not as good Orthodox as he is. And we wouldn't want that.  Roll Eyes
I could list all sorts of better Orthodox than me, but I already have 24,000 posts and I don't need to make it 50,000
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« Reply #31 on: March 09, 2012, 11:06:59 PM »

^ In other words, just like it was in Way of the Pilgrim.

Thanks very much for your observations, Nektarios.
Exactly.

There was a reason why Holy Mother Russia collapsed and the Bolsheviks took over.

If every single person in Russia were Orthodox, there would still be a reason for outreach by the Church and conversion.  Like any country.
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« Reply #32 on: March 12, 2012, 12:42:22 AM »

Over a decade after the events under question in the OP, a lot has changed.

Gee, do you think something new may have happened since the early 2000s?

But let's just throw the implication out there that it hasn't, which is what he did. And still I am the one who questions this, and we see what happens. Sigh...

 Tongue

Figures. Again, I should have known what to expect.


All right, I get it. We have always been at war with Eastasia. There is no man behind the curtain.

Happy Pascha. I'll get out of your way.

 Wow what is with this dude?  Legit question. Its not going to be easy to undo the damage of the communist wretches and their mindF$!@ing of the Russian population. I can see the same stuff beginning here how kids dont even know about Genesis and Christ, when I grew up it was taken for granted.

 I think copies of Alexander Schmemmans "For the Life of the World" would do wonders. If that book doesnt seriously contribute to a conversion I dont know what will. Such an organic picture of salvation history and the sacraments it makes the more legalized western take seem almost perverse.  But one thing they will need above all else is a heart. If you have a heart, you can be converted.  Most of these people are at the state in what CS Lewis describes in 'Abolition of Man'. Basically you're nothing but a robot. You're not human because you have no heart which affects your worldview, etc... etc...
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« Reply #33 on: March 12, 2012, 02:47:23 AM »

Its not going to be easy to undo the damage of the communist wretches and their mindF$!@ing of the Russian population.

This, in my view, is part of the problem.  All ills of Russian society are blamed on "communism" by outsiders.  Lately that is becoming more and more of fashionable excuse domestically.   This is branded about as if "communism" were some tiny element of society that wreaked havoc on the rest.  The reality is that a very large percentage of society supported the early Bolsheviks because of their political agenda.  Thousands upon thousands gleefully destroyed their churches.   To this day the Orthodox Church has no real comprehension of its own culpability in this. 
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« Reply #34 on: March 12, 2012, 03:23:23 AM »

Its not going to be easy to undo the damage of the communist wretches and their mindF$!@ing of the Russian population.

This, in my view, is part of the problem.  All ills of Russian society are blamed on "communism" by outsiders.  Lately that is becoming more and more of fashionable excuse domestically.   This is branded about as if "communism" were some tiny element of society that wreaked havoc on the rest.  The reality is that a very large percentage of society supported the early Bolsheviks because of their political agenda.  Thousands upon thousands gleefully destroyed their churches.   To this day the Orthodox Church has no real comprehension of its own culpability in this. 

 Well for every one compliant 100 were martyred, probably more, and its a bit easier to be compliant with a gun to your head. Even Sergius needed to be tortured for a few years or so. The fact of the matter is, the powers that be put in all sorts of programs to de-Christianize Russia. This anti-theist mentality permeated only well after the revolution and it was more the rulers or officers in the military. Now at the time of the revolution, there might have been some anger towards conceived corruption in the church(so said the Bolsheviks to be sure), and surely against the aristocrats, but in general it was not against Orthodoxy per se.  That was an outright campaign from the commies to blot it out.  Thier mission was to erase that from the hearts and minds so they could forge in their own sick godless image as you being an instrument of the state. Whatever the Russian soldiers problems were with the ruling class it was most likely exaggerated and inflamed by communist elements in the first place to gain power, but to say the mind set of the Russian people towards the church en masse was anything like how it was after being raped by an atheist state for 80 years is ludicrous. 
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« Reply #35 on: March 12, 2012, 03:25:56 AM »

While not the same (much to Vladik's chagrin), perhaps Nektarios can speak to how different things are in Ukraine as opposed to ten years ago?

This sort of post really has to be contextualized.  The late Soviet Union offered a lot of good things, and nearly everyone who grew up in the USSR (i.e 60s, 70s, 80s) had a great childhood.  People weren't rich, but there were a lot of social services that made life interesting.  This odd critter called a palace of culture was all over the place.  These served the gambit from entertainment for children, to gyms, to cultural centers for performing and fine arts as well as continuing education centers for adults.  Schools were generally high quality.  In short there were plenty of wholesome, good things to do for people for little or no cost whatsoever.  Then the 90s rolled around, which across the board people will tell you were the worst times of their lives.  All of those good, wholesome things were gone.  Unemployment instantly became out of control.  Enter the lost generation. 

The Church was in a curious state at this point in the late Soviet period.  I'd say it was something like Stockholm syndrome, but even beyond that.  The Church was privileged but in a very odd sort of way.  All of the hierarchy were true Soviet people, not like their ethnic counterparts in diaspora churches.  The idea of having to keep your Church alive (and more practically yourself fed) by filling the pews (metaphorically) simply didn't exist among Soviet clergy and doesn't really seem to exist in the modern MP either.  This really does breed a certain arrogance.  I'm Herr Priest - kiss my....

So where do these two stories connect?  The lost generation here really is searching for something.  Unfortunately making vodka at home is nearly free.  Beer is still considered a foodstuff in Ukraine (was recently considered alcoholic in Russia).  Alcoholism was one out.  It doesn't take long to realize an unfortunately high number of people have chosen this route.  Drugs, sex, entertainment along those lines is another popular route.  Google "krokodil drug" to see something absolutely horrific.  I've seen this in real life.  It is simply indescribable.  Alcohol has ravaged the lower and lower-middle classes.  The Orthodox Church, for the most part, isn't going near these lepers.  The braver Protestant and Muslim missionaries do but not with great success. 

The upper-middle and parts of the middle class have got one with life since the fall of USSR.  These are the sorts of people who can afford to do the things I mentioned in the late Soviet period (i.e visit a sports hall).  The ideology of communism gone and nothing to fill the void, there is a great intellectual curiosity.  Some go down the road of substance abuse, mindless entertainment etc.  Others do choose the spiritual path.  New Age sorts of things are popular and Yoga centers are sprouting up like mushrooms here.  These are more Yoga as life-style: they promote abstinence from alcohol and usually have attached vegetarian cafes.  Protestant communities are also sprouting up all over.  I've mentioned in other threads why I think people are attracted to them; there's no need to repeat that here.  Like has been mentioned, Orthodox churches are also slowly increasing.  A general awareness of Orthodoxy is definitely on the rise, even if observance isn't.  The demographics of the parishes that I've attended are fairly typically: mostly old women (60-80%) and (get ready...) yuppies.  I don't mean this disparagingly as I'd put myself in this group. 

What is the Church doing to draw people in?  Pretty much nothing.  The attitude still prevails that Russians should automatically be Orthodox therefore the Church need not evangelize.  To many in power it makes more sense to simply persecute Protestants and find Catholic boogy-men rather than draw people in.  Of course there are exceptions and my gut feeling is that things will get better as the new generation starts to take over.  One of the biggest problems is the inherent clericalism and conservationism (by this I mean ossification) of the Church here.  As the article Isa quoted mentioned, "she does not go to church. She has been once or twice out of curiosity, “but didn’t understand it much”."  I can't emphasize enough that unless you already know the text of the Divine Liturgy really well, you will not actually understand anything if you walk into an MP parish.  People aren't friendly in churches.  If you make some accidental faux paux you will be yelled out.  If you buy a prayerbook it will be very difficult to understand.  Generally speaking the emphasis is on external forms and observances.  It is a somewhat of a caricature, but I see it a lot: eat, drink and be merry - fast during Holy Week, go to confession, go to communion on Easter and that's the extent of Orthodox life.  This isn't everywhere, but it is pretty common.  There are decent priests and parishes out there, but IME mediocrity predominates.  If Ukraine had been my first exposure to Orthodoxy, there is absolutely no way I would have decided to become Orthodox.     

To answer the question - yes things are different than ten years ago and getting better, but there is still a long, long way to go.                 
   

Good grief, a thoughtful post.
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« Reply #36 on: March 12, 2012, 04:00:21 AM »

Well for every one compliant 100 were martyred
No.
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« Reply #37 on: March 12, 2012, 04:03:46 AM »

Well for every one compliant 100 were martyred
No.

Link?
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« Reply #38 on: March 12, 2012, 05:16:42 AM »

Its not going to be easy to undo the damage of the communist wretches and their mindF$!@ing of the Russian population.

This, in my view, is part of the problem.  All ills of Russian society are blamed on "communism" by outsiders.  Lately that is becoming more and more of fashionable excuse domestically.   This is branded about as if "communism" were some tiny element of society that wreaked havoc on the rest.  The reality is that a very large percentage of society supported the early Bolsheviks because of their political agenda.  Thousands upon thousands gleefully destroyed their churches.   To this day the Orthodox Church has no real comprehension of its own culpability in this. 

 Well for every one compliant 100 were martyred, probably more, and its a bit easier to be compliant with a gun to your head. Even Sergius needed to be tortured for a few years or so. The fact of the matter is, the powers that be put in all sorts of programs to de-Christianize Russia. This anti-theist mentality permeated only well after the revolution and it was more the rulers or officers in the military. Now at the time of the revolution, there might have been some anger towards conceived corruption in the church(so said the Bolsheviks to be sure), and surely against the aristocrats, but in general it was not against Orthodoxy per se.  That was an outright campaign from the commies to blot it out.  Thier mission was to erase that from the hearts and minds so they could forge in their own sick godless image as you being an instrument of the state. Whatever the Russian soldiers problems were with the ruling class it was most likely exaggerated and inflamed by communist elements in the first place to gain power, but to say the mind set of the Russian people towards the church en masse was anything like how it was after being raped by an atheist state for 80 years is ludicrous. 

Do you have any sort of academic sources to back up your claims?  I'm particularly interested in your quantitative claims.  Off the top of my head the numbers I remember from my university courses on the topic were about 20% active supports of the regime (i.e party members, members of the police, actual material supporters).  That's a far cry from 1%.  The fact remains that people were willing to abandon the Church fairly quickly (not all of course, but in large enough numbers to make it feasible to persecute the Church).  Have you read much by Ivan Bunin?  The more I read, the more accurate I think his depiction of rural life in the Russian Empire was.  Christianization was very superficial in many aspects, hence quickly abandoning it when it became politically expedient to do so. 
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« Reply #39 on: March 12, 2012, 05:41:28 AM »

The topic is quite complex, and like Nektarios, I am much more familiar with Ukraine than with Russia. But there is one point I do want to mention: My impression in Ukraine is that most parishes nowadays depend on wealthy sponsors much more than on the actual parishoners, both for financing the construction of buildings and for the salaries of the clergy. And if normal people pay larger amounts of money, than that is not in the form of monthly tithing, but reather for special occasions such as baptisms, weddings and funerals.

That means that there is no direct relationship between the number of people regularly attending and the money in the priest's pocket. And in many cases, that indeed leads to mediocre results. But there are quite some examples to the contrary: If clergy with a vision and a supportive sponsor come together, quite a lot can be done. A good example for this would be the monks of St. Jonah's monastery in Kyiv's Botanical Garden, who are running a great youth ministry, and who have renovated the monastery to a wonderful state, after it was used as a waste disposal during communist times. All this happened with the support of Petro Poroshenko, the chocolate oligarch.

As for being welcomed in parishes, I did notice that hardly anyone actually welcomes newcomers in most parishes of the MP in Ukraine. People are usually just being ignored. That is a big problem, especially since the Greek Catholics (and Protestants) are doing much better at this. In fact, it is a pity that the UGCC is Catholic, because apart from being in communion with Rome, it is just as good Orthodox Church should be: Welcoming, a strong faith but without fanatism, beautiful liturgies in the language of the people, putting a strong emphasis on education...
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« Reply #40 on: March 12, 2012, 05:46:21 AM »

If you're asking me, common sense.  Wink
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« Reply #41 on: March 12, 2012, 08:57:30 AM »

Its not going to be easy to undo the damage of the communist wretches and their mindF$!@ing of the Russian population.

This, in my view, is part of the problem.  All ills of Russian society are blamed on "communism" by outsiders.  Lately that is becoming more and more of fashionable excuse domestically.   This is branded about as if "communism" were some tiny element of society that wreaked havoc on the rest.  The reality is that a very large percentage of society supported the early Bolsheviks because of their political agenda.  Thousands upon thousands gleefully destroyed their churches.   To this day the Orthodox Church has no real comprehension of its own culpability in this. 

 Well for every one compliant 100 were martyred, probably more, and its a bit easier to be compliant with a gun to your head. Even Sergius needed to be tortured for a few years or so. The fact of the matter is, the powers that be put in all sorts of programs to de-Christianize Russia. This anti-theist mentality permeated only well after the revolution and it was more the rulers or officers in the military. Now at the time of the revolution, there might have been some anger towards conceived corruption in the church(so said the Bolsheviks to be sure), and surely against the aristocrats, but in general it was not against Orthodoxy per se.  That was an outright campaign from the commies to blot it out.  Thier mission was to erase that from the hearts and minds so they could forge in their own sick godless image as you being an instrument of the state. Whatever the Russian soldiers problems were with the ruling class it was most likely exaggerated and inflamed by communist elements in the first place to gain power, but to say the mind set of the Russian people towards the church en masse was anything like how it was after being raped by an atheist state for 80 years is ludicrous. 

Do you have any sort of academic sources to back up your claims?  I'm particularly interested in your quantitative claims.  Off the top of my head the numbers I remember from my university courses on the topic were about 20% active supports of the regime (i.e party members, members of the police, actual material supporters).  That's a far cry from 1%.  The fact remains that people were willing to abandon the Church fairly quickly (not all of course, but in large enough numbers to make it feasible to persecute the Church).  Have you read much by Ivan Bunin?  The more I read, the more accurate I think his depiction of rural life in the Russian Empire was.  Christianization was very superficial in many aspects, hence quickly abandoning it when it became politically expedient to do so. 

I would not be surprised if a bell curve existed: 20% Bolsheviks, 60% passives, and 20% opposed/martyred.
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« Reply #42 on: March 12, 2012, 12:51:27 PM »

Permit a non-Orthodox outsider to give his point of view.

The Russian Orthodox Church went through 74 years of Communist rule, followed by a decade of immense national stagnation, confusion and impoverishment (which few seem to want to factor in). In that decade (and the decade that followed it) it has had to confront everything from nationalist schisms (Ukraine, Estonia and, to a much lesser extent, Belarus), the foundation of innumerable "Catacomb" and "True Orthodox" groups, sects from East and West, numerous theological disputes within the Church itself, the arising of long-suppressed ultranationalist pathologies combined with the rapid invasion of Western-style consumerist and liberal ideologies, and relentlessly negative media portrayals within and outside Russia. While trying to deal with these problems, the Russian Orthodox Church also had to improve its seminary system, restore its traditions, build its own media and communications system, and basically find its bearings in a rapidly-changing world -- all the while being led by a relatively small group of bishops, few of whom had the education or background to effectively deal with these things.

It received thousands of churches and buildings back from the Russian State in the past two decades, but these tended to be dilapidated if not completely ruined inside, and many of the great churches that have been restored tend to be in places where people no longer live; hence the drive to construct new churches in the suburbs where people actually live.

To this outside observer, it is a miracle that not only is the Russian Orthodox Church alive, it is also growing in terms of the number of churches and the number of adherents, even if there are debates regarding the extent of that growth.

In contrast, my own Church, the Catholic Church, has had relative peace and prosperity for the past many decades, and even to this day; the media attacks on it, while on a terrible scale, hardly compare to a bloody persecution, and the great majority of Catholics are free to exercise their faith. For 26 years it was led by a Pope who commanded unprecedented international respect and prestige. It has spent untold sums, invested unimaginable resources on every program of evangelization that one can think of, from all sorts of youth programs to massive social works. And yet, we close thousands of churches all over the world every year, and thousands more await closure in the next 2 decades as the last priests ordained prior to Vatican II enter retirement. There is much hype about the explosive growth of the Catholic Church in newly-evangelized areas Asia and Africa, but it remains to be seen how deeply the faith has actually been planted in these areas. (If the recent history of African countries with large Catholic populations such as Uganda, the two Congos, Central Africa, Rwanda, and Burundi are any indication, the answer is -- not very deeply.)

Meanwhile, in the "old countries" of Catholicism the only story is one of rapid secularization and loss of faith.

I've read, from time to time, of Orthodox who urge their co-religionists to adopt Protestant methods. Oh, no, you don't know what you are talking about. We Catholics have adopted almost every Protestant / Evangelical / Pentecostal trick on the book, from charismatic worship to a style of apologetics and preaching that is de facto 'sola scriptura'. Has this helped the Catholic Church in the long run? I think these have only contributed to the Protestantization of Catholicism and the loss of millions to Protestantism. Why imitate Protestantism when you can be a real Protestant? Be careful what you wish for.

Perhaps this is the best path of evangelization: the tried and true path of keeping to the traditions of the Church. I think this is what the Russians are doing. It may not necessarily bring in the crowds, but it surely keeps the faith, in the hope of a better tomorrow. This is the same path used by Traditional Catholics and Traditional Anglicans.

I do not know what scandalizes me more: the fact that most Russians are "unchurched", or the fact that other Orthodox are more than happy to put down and denigrate their fellow Russian Orthodox for not being a perfect Church.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2012, 01:16:05 PM by filipinopilgrim » Logged
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« Reply #43 on: March 12, 2012, 01:11:11 PM »

Its not going to be easy to undo the damage of the communist wretches and their mindF$!@ing of the Russian population.

This, in my view, is part of the problem.  All ills of Russian society are blamed on "communism" by outsiders.  Lately that is becoming more and more of fashionable excuse domestically.   This is branded about as if "communism" were some tiny element of society that wreaked havoc on the rest.  The reality is that a very large percentage of society supported the early Bolsheviks because of their political agenda.  Thousands upon thousands gleefully destroyed their churches.   To this day the Orthodox Church has no real comprehension of its own culpability in this. 

 Well for every one compliant 100 were martyred, probably more, and its a bit easier to be compliant with a gun to your head. Even Sergius needed to be tortured for a few years or so. The fact of the matter is, the powers that be put in all sorts of programs to de-Christianize Russia. This anti-theist mentality permeated only well after the revolution and it was more the rulers or officers in the military. Now at the time of the revolution, there might have been some anger towards conceived corruption in the church(so said the Bolsheviks to be sure), and surely against the aristocrats, but in general it was not against Orthodoxy per se.  That was an outright campaign from the commies to blot it out.  Thier mission was to erase that from the hearts and minds so they could forge in their own sick godless image as you being an instrument of the state. Whatever the Russian soldiers problems were with the ruling class it was most likely exaggerated and inflamed by communist elements in the first place to gain power, but to say the mind set of the Russian people towards the church en masse was anything like how it was after being raped by an atheist state for 80 years is ludicrous. 

Do you have any sort of academic sources to back up your claims?  I'm particularly interested in your quantitative claims.  Off the top of my head the numbers I remember from my university courses on the topic were about 20% active supports of the regime (i.e party members, members of the police, actual material supporters).  That's a far cry from 1%.  The fact remains that people were willing to abandon the Church fairly quickly (not all of course, but in large enough numbers to make it feasible to persecute the Church).  Have you read much by Ivan Bunin?  The more I read, the more accurate I think his depiction of rural life in the Russian Empire was.  Christianization was very superficial in many aspects, hence quickly abandoning it when it became politically expedient to do so. 

I would not be surprised if a bell curve existed: 20% Bolsheviks, 60% passives, and 20% opposed/martyred.

You're probably right about there being a bell curve, though I'd probably put the percentages closer to 10/80/10.   Wink
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« Reply #44 on: March 12, 2012, 01:11:48 PM »

Permit a non-Orthodox outsider to give his point of view.

The Russian Orthodox Church went through 74 years of Communist rule, followed by a decade of immense national stagnation, confusion and impoverishment (which few seem to want to factor in). In that decade it also confronted everything from nationalist schisms (Ukraine, Estonia and, to a much lesser extent, Belarus), the foundation of innumerable "Catacomb" and "True Orthodox" groups, sects from East and West, numerous theological disputes within the Church itself, the arising of long-suppressed ultranationalist pathologies combined with the rapid invasion of Western-style consumerist and liberal ideologies, and relentlessly negative media portrayals within and outside Russia. It received thousands of churches and buildings back from the Russian State in the past two decades, but these tended to be dilapidated if not completely ruined inside, and many of the great churches that have been restored tend to be in places where people no longer live; hence the drive to construct new churches in the suburbs where people actually live.

To this outside observer, it is a miracle that not only is the Russian Orthodox Church alive, it is also growing in terms of the number of churches and the number of adherents, even if there are debates regarding the extent of that growth.

In contrast, my own Church, the Catholic Church, has had relative peace and prosperity for the past many decades, and even to this day; the media attacks on it, while on a terrible scale, hardly compare to a bloody persecution, and the great majority of Catholics are free to exercise their faith. For 26 years it was led by a Pope who commanded unprecedented international respect and prestige. It has spent untold sums, invested unimaginable resources on every program of evangelization that one can think of, from all sorts of youth programs to massive social works. And yet, we close thousands of churches all over the world every year, and thousands more await closure in the next 2 decades as the last priests ordained prior to Vatican II enter retirement. There is much hype about the explosive growth of the Catholic Church in newly-evangelized areas Asia and Africa, but it remains to be seen how deeply the faith has actually been planted in these areas. (If the recent history of African countries with large Catholic populations such as Uganda, the two Congos, Central Africa, Rwanda, and Burundi are any indication, the answer is -- not very deeply.)

Meanwhile, in the "old countries" of Catholicism the only story is one of rapid secularization and loss of faith.

I've read, from time to time, of Orthodox who urge their co-religionists to adopt Protestant methods. Oh, no, you don't know what you are talking about. We Catholics have adopted almost every Protestant / Evangelical / Pentecostal trick on the book, from charismatic worship to a style of apologetics and preaching that is de facto 'sola scriptura'. Has this helped the Catholic Church in the long run? I think these have only contributed to the Protestantization of Catholicism and the loss of millions to Protestantism. Why imitate Protestantism when you can be a real Protestant? Be careful what you wish for.

Perhaps this is the best path of evangelization: the tried and true path of keeping to the traditions of the Church. I think this is what the Russians are doing. It may not necessarily bring in the crowds, but it surely keeps the faith, in the hope of a better tomorrow. This is the same path used by Traditional Catholics and Traditional Anglicans.

I do not know what scandalizes me more: the fact that most Russians are "unchurched", or the fact that other Orthodox are more than happy to put down and denigrate their fellow Russian Orthodox for not being a perfect Church.

I have to agree with you on every point.
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