Author Topic: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution  (Read 2623 times)

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Offline Byzantine Catholic

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Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« on: April 18, 2006, 10:05:21 PM »
I am not seeking confrontation, but understanding.  As I have studied Orthodoxy in Russia a little bit (dern little actually),  I have come to view Russia as being a stronghold of the Orthodox Faith,  and particularly the Czar, who I believe is considered a saint in the Russian Church.

Yet as I did some reading regarding the causes of the Revolution, it seems as if despite the high level of spirituality in Russia, somehow this did not trickle down to the peasants and create better living conditions for them.  Seemingly, there was something lacking which caused the unrest that eventually caused the downfall of the Czar and was instrumental in establishing the next 80+ years of Communist terror.

Could some of you who have a better grasp of history in Russia -- both religious,secular, and philosophical --  help me to a better understand of these incredible events.   Suggestions of links and books to read would be appreciated also.

Thank you.

Ed -- great sinner.





Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,  have mercy on me a sinner!

Offline TomS

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2006, 08:54:11 AM »
A quick overview of my viewpoint -

One of the problems of Orthodoxy as practiced by the Russian Church has always been its historic association with misery and depression. It seems that the Russians saw that as normal - since Orthodox Christians are supposed to be unhappy, because they are not of this world.

The Greeks (the REAL Orthodox) went through 800 years of rule by Islamics, and they did not fall into this trap.

And the idea that the last Czar is a Saint in the Russian Church is stupid. Just as stupid as Saint Constantine and Helen.

« Last Edit: April 19, 2006, 08:55:52 AM by TomS »

Offline Fr. George

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2006, 09:31:07 AM »
Not to get too off track: but you include St. Helen in your critique?  That's a bit out there; I can understand your objections to St. Constantine.

Otherwise, I wholeheartedly agree with your assesment of the Russian Church's association of Orthodoxy with misery in life.
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Offline TomS

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2006, 09:47:32 AM »
Not to get too off track: but you include St. Helen in your critique? ÂÂ

Yeah, maybe you are right about St. Helen.

Offline Fr. George

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2006, 12:24:00 PM »
Eh, I just pointed it out 'cause I don't seem to remember her name being associated with anything other than good stuff (other than being married to Constans, that is).
"O Cross of Christ, all-holy, thrice-blessed, and life-giving, instrument of the mystical rites of Zion, the holy Altar for the service of our Great Archpriest, the blessing - the weapon - the strength of priests, our pride, our consolation, the light in our hearts, our mind, and our steps"
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2006, 02:09:21 PM »
A quick overview of my viewpoint -

One of the problems of Orthodoxy as practiced by the Russian Church has always been its historic association with misery and depression. It seems that the Russians saw that as normal - since Orthodox Christians are supposed to be unhappy, because they are not of this world.

Judging from what I've read, it does appear as if traditional Russian Orthodox spirituality has always valued suffering.  However, suffering is not synonymous with misery and depression.  It is possible that Russians have learned what it means to experience joy in the midst of great suffering.

Quote
And the idea that the last Czar is a Saint in the Russian Church is stupid. Just as stupid as Saint Constantine and Helen.

If you want to voice your personal disagreement with the Church's decision to glorify certain persons as saints, I guess that's your prerogative, and nobody can argue that this is your personal opinion.  However, to call objectively stupid the idea that such persons are glorified borders on bad-mouthing the Saints and the authority of the Church.

The fact is that these persons are glorified as Saints and should be honored as such.  If you don't want to glorify them in your private prayers, that's your thing.  But out of respect for us here who read your posts, I would like to see you speak more respectfully of these Saints on this public forum.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2006, 02:09:53 PM by PeterTheAleut »
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Offline augustin717

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2006, 02:17:35 PM »
In fact, they are called "Equal to the Apostles".

Offline augustin717

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2006, 02:41:47 PM »
Quote
The Greeks (the REAL Orthodox)
Do you imply, by this, that the Russians,the Serbs, the Arabs, the Bulgarians, the Georgians,  the Romanians, the Westerners that came into the OC, are, in some way, less than "real Orthodox"?
« Last Edit: April 19, 2006, 03:04:15 PM by augustin717 »

Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2006, 02:46:48 PM »
In fact, they are called "Equal to the Apostles".

You mean Ss. Constantine and Helen?
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Offline augustin717

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2006, 03:03:38 PM »
Yes.
The last Tsar's "official" status among the Saints seems to be lower.

Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2006, 03:04:16 PM »
So I guess that Luke is the preferred Scripture for Russians?

"Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh." - Lk. 6:21

"Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep." - Lk. 6:25

And not to be outdone by his half-brother:

"Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness." - James 4:9

;D  :P
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Offline GiC

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2006, 03:34:22 PM »
If you want to voice your personal disagreement with the Church's decision to glorify certain persons as saints, I guess that's your prerogative, and nobody can argue that this is your personal opinion.  However, to call objectively stupid the idea that such persons are glorified borders on bad-mouthing the Saints and the authority of the Church.

Perhaps his intent is to 'bad-mouth' the saints and undermine the authority of the Church? Should that not also be his prerogative?

Quote
The fact is that these persons are glorified as Saints and should be honored as such.  If you don't want to glorify them in your private prayers, that's your thing.  But out of respect for us here who read your posts, I would like to see you speak more respectfully of these Saints on this public forum.

Everyone here should know in what high esteem I hold St. Constantine the Great, Equal-to-the-Apostles, after Caesar Augustus he was probably the Greatest of all the Roman Emperors, and his command on the field of battle was unequaled in his day; and this command was often wielded in the favour of the Church, thus, by his sword and the wisdom of his rule, bringing the civilized world to the Christian Faith. However, if TomS wants to dispute the significance or worthiness of St. Constantine why should he not be allowed to do so?

Instead of whining about what TomS said, perhaps you could actually try to defend your posistion? ::)
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2006, 03:40:14 PM »
Yes.
The last Tsar's "official" status among the Saints seems to be lower.

Though many Russian Orthodox monarchists such as you will find in ROCOR consider the Tsar to be a martyr, I believe he is officially titled a "Passion-Bearer".  In the mainstream opinion, the political nature of the Bolshevik execution of the Tsar and his family make very untenable the idea that they died as martyrs.  To be a martyr, I suppose one must be murdered solely for the Orthodox Faith.  Much could be argued about how the Bolsheviks executed the Tsar and his family in order to sweep away every vestige of the imperial government.  Undoubted, though, is the fact that the Royal Family suffered much for their Orthodox faith in Christ.
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2006, 03:41:07 PM »
Perhaps his intent is to 'bad-mouth' the saints and undermine the authority of the Church? Should that not also be his prerogative?

Far too dangerous a prerogative to assume on this forum, IMO.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2006, 04:00:51 PM by PeterTheAleut »
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Offline Timos

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2006, 04:26:15 PM »
I asked my priest about St. Constantine and he told me that some siants of the church were saints not necessarily becase of personal holiness. However, their life did show a love of Christ and as such their actions helped the Church immensly and so someone like Constantine would be considered a saint in so much as he helped the Church out of his love for Christ.

Thats just my priest's pov (who btw went to HCHC more than 10 years ago).

Offline Byzantine Catholic

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #15 on: April 19, 2006, 05:23:34 PM »
So are you saying that Lenin took the people from a state of accepting poverty and suffering to a state of rebelling against it and blaming the  Czars, the "proletariat" and anything else not socialists.

And how do people redress persecution?  Or is it the understanding of Orthodoxy that these things only come by way of the Lord's will, for our sanctification, and are to be welcomed without grumbling or rebellion?

Thank you.


Brother Ed
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Offline dantxny

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #16 on: April 19, 2006, 05:59:25 PM »
B_C,
I don't exactly understand your question, but I'll try to reply based on my interpetation.  Undeniably, there was a general sense of holiness in Russia and the 19th century presented some great spiritual works in a long time.  Genearally, the peasants were faithful Christians too.  However, we cannot take the extremist view that the Russian people were forced.  Although I see many good things that happened under the tsars, there was undeniably many things that hurt the Russian people by certain policies.  This was not helped by the intelligentsia sowing discord every moment available.  The Bolsheviks and even the kadets in the Febuary Revolution could not have won without support among general populance.  
Thus, we see an increasing lack of I wouldn't say spirituality, but a lack of fervent devotion to the Tsar and Orthodoxy.  
In addition, many people fold during persecution.  As much as we like to think that we'd be following right behind the Saints Peter and Paul to Vatican Hill, many also would not.  Also, not only could one preserve his life, but could increase his material betterment.  One saw many people her were singing God Save the Tsar one week and the Internationale the next.
However, I would also agree that Lenin had much to blame too.  There were still many faithful to the Orthodox faith after the Revolution but they were persecuted by the Communists.  Many will disagree with me here, but I find Lenin even worse than Stalin.  He intentianally tried to set up a society without God and to create discord between people where it previously wasn't evident.  Stalin may have killed the Russian people, but in my opinion Lenin killed the Russian culture.
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Offline daher

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2006, 12:35:56 PM »
And the idea that the last Czar is a Saint in the Russian Church is stupid. Just as stupid as Saint Constantine and Helen.

Oh! The greek new-papist rides again  :o. The Tsar-Martyr was one of the greatest saint of our church on the XX's.

This is very curious: this man call Athenagoras of saint, but he dont aceppet the glorificantion of one great saint of our Church.

You are a red?

Offline daher

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2006, 12:38:50 PM »
To the papist one:

http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/nicholas_ii_e.htm

And:

http://www.serfes.org/royal/index.htm

a great work of the Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes, from the EP:

Offline Pravoslavbob

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2006, 01:01:38 PM »
It seems to me that it is clear from an historical perspective that the royal family were not at all upstanding examples of Orthodox piety while they lived.  It also seems clear to me, that, because of eye-witness accounts of how they died, that they indeed died as passion bearers and for this they should be acknowledged as saints.  The MP has glorified them as passion bearers.
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #20 on: April 20, 2006, 01:43:12 PM »
Oh! The greek new-papist rides again  :o. The Tsar-Martyr was one of the greatest saint of our church on the XX's.

This is very curious: this man call Athenagoras of saint, but he dont aceppet the glorificantion of one great saint of our Church.

You are a red?

Did Tom really call Athenagoras a saint?  I don't remember reading it anywhere; maybe you're confusing him with GiC.

And, no, I'm not a red, just in case you decide to ask me too, honorable Senator ;) .
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Met. Meletios of Nikopolis & Preveza, from his ordination.

Offline Bogoliubtsy

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #21 on: April 20, 2006, 01:52:09 PM »


Yet as I did some reading regarding the causes of the Revolution, it seems as if despite the high level of spirituality in Russia, somehow this did not trickle down to the peasants and create better living conditions for them.  Seemingly, there was something lacking which caused the unrest that eventually caused the downfall of the Czar and was instrumental in establishing the next 80+ years of Communist terror.

Could some of you who have a better grasp of history in Russia -- both religious,secular, and philosophical --  help me to a better understand of these incredible events.   Suggestions of links and books to read would be appreciated also.

Thank you.

Ed -- great sinner.


Hi Ed,

I'll try to answer your questions the best I can. I may be brief though as I've got places to be :)

As fas as the "upper level" spirituality trickling down to the peasants in the form of social change-  Well, the fact is that 95% of the people were peasants(or before the 1860's, serfs). It's not as if the serfs were a minority, or even held a small majority. In reality, the peasant was Russia. Unfortunately, the peasants were, for the most part, treated pretty poorly. Sure, some land owners were kind to their serfs or treated them almost as equals, but the fact is that the system itself was corrupt by nature. Among the peasants of the 18th and 19th centuries strong religious belief was certainly prevalent, coupled with the idea that the Tsar or Tsaritsa, depending on the time period, truly cared for the Russian people. It was always thought by the peasansts that "if the Tsar only knew what was happening to us!" he would correct it immediately.

Would the Tsar have fixed the problems? Well, in the 18th and 19th centuries that would be close to impossible. What would be done? How could a feudal society be transformed into a modern one? Peter tried to modernize, but his policies mostly affected the top 5-10% of society while crippling the Church and its pastors. The abolition of the Patriarchate(not to be restored until right before the revolution), the confiscation of Church lands, and compulsory civil service and taxes on clergy(and several more reasons) made it difficult for clergy to unite and advocate for their rights. This lack of unity and strength in the Church as a result of Peter's reforms took away what could have been a roadblock to the revolution.

Other (text book) factors contributing to the revolution were the Russo-Japanese war in which Russia got slammed and the toll of WWI. The instability created by famine and a people worn out by a bloody war coupled with revolutionary fervor, led the Tsar to abdicate the throne for what he felt to be the good of Russia. Next came Kerensky's provisional government which remained in the war(against the wishes of most russians) and soon lost popular support. Keep in mind though that even if the people wanted the tsar gone(which is debatable...which people??? it's hard to say), Kerensky's government(or a form similar) which would have developed a constitution of some kind if they had not screwed up, is what the people really seemed to want. It was the Bolsheviks who, to paraphrase one historian ..."saw power on the street and picked it up". Bolshevism wasn't a popular movement. It was a successful coup, with high ranking members being Jews- nothing to do with anti-semitism, but it does show that these were, for the most part, not Russian Orthodox Christians. US Military reports from the period confirm this, as do writings from Winston Churchill, as well simply looking at a list of names. After the murder of the Tsar and his family, most Russian people, from what I've read, were disgusted.

Ok..there is so much more involved, but I've got to take off. Next we can talk about the intelligensia and the messianic origins of russian communism. ;)
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Offline daher

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #22 on: April 20, 2006, 01:57:44 PM »
Did Tom really call Athenagoras a saint?  I don't remember reading it anywhere; maybe you're confusing him with GiC.

And, no, I'm not a red, just in case you decide to ask me too, honorable Senator ;) .

Oh, really sorry. I made a mistake with the neo-papist.
Anyway, GiC and Tom are seams...  ???

Offline Orthodoc

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #23 on: April 20, 2006, 05:52:54 PM »
A quick overview of my viewpoint -

One of the problems of Orthodoxy as practiced by the Russian Church has always been its historic association with misery and depression. It seems that the Russians saw that as normal - since Orthodox Christians are supposed to be unhappy, because they are not of this world.

The Greeks (the REAL Orthodox) went through 800 years of rule by Islamics, and they did not fall into this trap.

And the idea that the last Czar is a Saint in the Russian Church is stupid. Just as stupid as Saint Constantine and Helen.

What I find  stupid is the above remarks you make.  Since its Holy Week I'll let them slide.



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Offline TomS

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #24 on: April 20, 2006, 06:34:36 PM »
What I find  stupid is the above remarks you make.  Since its Holy Week I'll let them slide.

Rest assured that I will be here when Holy Week is over. Y'all come back now, y'here?

Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Orthodoxy and the Russian Revolution
« Reply #25 on: April 24, 2006, 03:40:43 AM »
Oh! The greek new-papist rides again  :o. The Tsar-Martyr was one of the greatest saint of our church on the XX's.

Not to question the glorification of Tsar St. Nicholas, but why do so many of today's Russian Orthodox declare him to be an actual martyr?  It often appears to me as if this is not so much a glorification of St. Nicholas himself as it is a glorification (over-hyped, IMO) of the holiness of the Russian Empire of which St. Nicholas was the last Tsar.  (I just don't see monarchism and Orthodoxy being compatible.)  I have to agree with the assessment of a previous poster that the Romanov Tsars did more to prepare the way for revolution than they did to actually fight the tide of revolution.
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