The Holy and Great Orthodox Council
Consider the collage:
- [video] Patriarch Kirill meeting Pope Francis – [photo] Patriarch Kirill with penguins - [photo] Patriarch Kirill with the Catholic bishops in Latin America – [opinions] Patriarch Kirill betrayed Orthodoxy – [video] President Putin standing in the stacidia, the supposed Byzantine throne, in the major monastery on Athos – [opinions] “Putin was enthroned as the new emperor - [articles] Patriarch Kirill refuses to go to the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church - [opinions] Patriarch Kirill is the defender of Orthodoxy against the heresy of ecumenism -
This is a sample of what is being poured out of the Russian mass-media into the world on a daily basis over the time period preceding the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church.
Currently the mass-media in Russia and abroad are proposing, as usual, various more or less logical explanations of the behaviour of the Patriarch of the ROC MP who refused to come to the Great Orthodox Council. They say that:
- Patriarch Kirill went too far with the Pope and hence was pressed, by the Russian Orthodox fundamentalists, “to pull back” and not to go to the Council organized by the crypto-Catholic and NATO puppet, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople - Patriarch Kirill is blackmailing Constantinople re his recognising the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Patriarch Kirill is nothing and simply does what Kremlin tells him - Patriarch Kirill only pretended to be crypto-Catholic, fooled the Ecumenical Patriarch so now everyone “sees it all” [what all is not clarified] – and then refused to go to Council - Patriarch Kirill, together with President Putin, simply needs the very murkiness of Orthodoxy and the Council, by its very purpose to clarify at least something in the Orthodox Church, threatens that murkiness, indispensable for the Russian’s murky deeds, in the Orthodox Church and in the secular world -
The problems with those versions are that all of them, apart from the last one, do not withstand the news about yet another astounding move of “the tandem” (Putin-Kirill) which blows off all the previous attempts to attribute to them at least some logic and propose some predictability. And even the latest version does not withstand a close examination: how would the “murkiness” needed by the ROC MP be threatened by the proposed extremely mild relaxation of the fasting rules for example? Another pre-conciliar document which caused most arguments, ‘Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian world’ also could not reduce the murkiness because, if the Council accepted “the most scandalous proposition”, to call the Catholic and other Churches “churches”, it would cause plenty of stirring and murkiness in the ROC MP, especially if such a stirring was aided. One may argue that it is always possible to add the murkiness, stirring Orthodox fundamentalists and liberals, clashing them and so on: the recent waves of the Orthodox fundamentalist uprising in Russia demonstrated it quite well. One must be very naïve to think that the ROC MP [read: Kremlin] has no means to shut up those whom they want to shut up and to encourage those whose voices they find profitable for the moment. Hence, there is only one real insight in this version, namely the statement that the ROC MP and Kremlin need murkiness to work effectively. But this has been well-established long ago, by the various analysts of the principals of “hybrid war”.
The murkiness or chaos does not work well in/by itself though. If we consider the map of moves by our tandem, Putin and Kirill, and look at the naked facts, we will see that both President Putin and Patriarch Kirill have met with the Pope. In fact, Putin has done it several times. Both President Putin and Patriarch Kirill went to Athos recently, together. However, everyone spoke about Putin on Athos, very few about – “Putin and Patriarch Kirill on Athos”, and no one about – “Patriarch Kirill on Athos”. Just the same, hardly anyone in Orthodox circles spoke of Putin meeting Pope Francis as much as about Patriarch Kirill meeting Pope Francis.
The principles of composing
Relatively recently, analysing the work of David Bowie, I proposed that his songs are built up from a highly detailed chaotic library of various symbols, metaphors and messages (as a rule, mutually contradictory) and also of quite random, “simple and straightforward”, statements which work as “camouflage of seeming simplicity” for the major, more sophisticated, messages. Typically, his songs consist of several “sub-songs” in them; each of them was cut and then reassembled in a new way, fogging and hiding what originally [if one can identify that original] was quite clear.
The music and also video clips, especially of the later songs, enable their author “to pull” the desired message out of the chaos (or collage) of meanings, “the murkiness”. Primitively speaking, he “presses the buttons” of the listener using him as an instrument – a synthesiser perhaps – to create a particular meaning. The benefit of this “indirect” approach (i.e. not writing the songs with relatively clear messages) is that it is easier to reject the message which unpleasantly scratches the soul if it is clearly defined, and much more difficult – if it is murky. It is also much easier, for the one who offers, to deny the fact of the offer, pointing at the other messages being presented which contradict/ change the meaning of the questionable one.
A medieval person would also add that it is very preferable, for the evil one, if a man says “yes” to him seemingly on his own accord. Leaving the medieval ideas aside, I think it is simply convenient to have “everything” in the library of meanings which can be organized in a new [any] composition. There is also the mockery and the sense of superiority involved: the composer enjoys himself perpetually offering a new lens or a new tonality which miraculously allows one to see, to a stupid listener or viewer, the ever-new picture made out of the same old worn parts, like a kaleidoscope, while the author [the Architect] perceives himself to be the creator of the inner world of the stupid viewer. Here I speak not so much of Bowie but of the tandem, Kremlin and ROC MP.
If we apply this principal (of deliberately creating the murky mess suitable for the orchestration in ever-new ways) to these recent events we can see that the [otherwise senseless] collage was not accidental. It is also possible to identify its major tunes. One of them, to my mind, stands out: vocalized, by the Orthodox fundamentalists, the ridiculous idea of the enthronement of Putin which reportedly took a place during his recent visit to Athos. I find it very interesting and very telling that the idea of “Putin the Emperor” looks plain stupid when taken out of the whole collage of events of the previous months but, being considered together with them, it makes perfect sense.
The sense of the absurd, something unreal, something that only a fool could take seriously is one the most recognisable features of the works of postmodernism. There are multiple reasons for this; for the current article it will suffice to say that it is very much to the benefit of one who corrupts to maintain that he does not really corrupt, that he does not mean it – that it is all in the eye of the beholder – and in any case it is only a show, an intelligent person would never be so straightforward and primitive as to believe such a thing – how could you?
The video of the short Putin in a modern suit standing in the opulently decorated, tall Byzantine stacidia, the supposed place “where only the Byzantine emperor could stand”, was mocked all over the Internet – indeed, he did look a bit comical there. But not all the time; there were certain moments when he looked perfectly natural. The Internet mockers seem to miss one point: if President Putin went into “the Byzantine throne” seriously – i.e. if he was proclaimed to be “enthroned”, implicitly or explicitly, by virtue of looking like the emperor or being announced as such by the Athonites – then precisely the sheer reality and the seriousness of what was happening would raise the alarm, and further more – such reality and seriousness would make it very difficult to allow for multiple interpretations. But no, the President of Russia for some reason stood somewhere that can be called anything, from the “throne of the Byzantine emperors” to the simple “stacidia”, and the flexible image necessary for the new musical composition [the image which allows all possible interpretations including their opposites] was made. I am not a specialist in Byzantine court ceremonies to judge how much the meeting of Putin by the Athonites matched the ancient meeting of the Byzantine emperor but that is entirely irrelevant; the important point here is that he was met in such a way that it is possible to claim that he was met as the emperor, and it was done. What bothers me most though is that the footage of Putin coming to the monastery through the very narrow gate (or the arch) reminded me somehow of the Entrance (of
Christ) to Jerusalem as it is shown in the movies, with the difference that he was met by the Word – the opulently decorated book of the Gospels, carried by the Athonite priest outside of the church; another notorious entrance of Putin to Athos, with the donkey or mule somehow came to my mind – and I suspect it is precisely how the “soup of meanings” is designed to operate.
The Emperor and the Patriarch
This terribly offensive, for intelligent modern people, theme of “a postmodern emperor” immediately brings more light onto the strange behaviour of the second figure of the tandem, Patriarch Kirill. Indeed together they do look like some semi-parody of the two key-figures of the Byzantine symphony, the Emperor and the Patriarch. Those who are familiar with Byzantine history know that it was the Emperor – not the Patriarch – who was considered to be the guarantor of the ecclesiastical order and the defender of the Orthodox faith or even, as some now maintain, “one who prevents the Antichrist from coming” (from this idea stream various heresies about the salvic/divine function of the Tsar, in Russia). It was the Emperor – not the Patriarch – who would call the Holy and Great Councils. It was the Emperor who could (and did) depose Patriarchs and other key-figures of the Orthodox Church, on the pretext of defending the true doctrine as it happened for instance during the Palamite controversy.
In the frame of “the Emperor, the defender of true Orthodoxy” Putin’s trips to Athos make perfect sense; how his various trips are presented in the news also make sense. His cultivated image is of the modern version of the Orthodox emperor, a flexible one. When he sees the Pope he does it as “politician Putin” – “when in Rome do as Romans do”. However, his trips to Athos are presented in a very different key, as something spiritually very important for the whole Orthodox world; if his partner in the tandem, Patriarch Kirill, also happened to be on Athos he is overshadowed, barely mentioned. But, when Patriarch Kirill meets the Pope all the lights are on him.
All this is so natural though that the idea of deliberation can be easily overthrown. It is normal, for the leader of a country, to meet the Pope and one would naturally not read a theological component there; it is only natural, when the leader of the Orthodox Church meets the Pope to suspect the “gross betrayal of Orthodoxy” I suppose. Instead of arguing, I propose to consider the idea of “the library of meanings”/the collage again, from the position of how much the image of Putin can be changed and how much the image of his partner in tandem can be changed, according to the need of the moment. The image of Putin, as “a pure Orthodox ruler”, is very stable and consistent. The image of Patriarch Kirill is somewhat wobbly and compromised by his darting from one extreme to another; by the contrast with his instability Putin is now perceived as the sole defender of Orthodoxy. The message: unlike the Emperor, the Patriarch is subject to change, a secondary and deposable figure. And, since in the common consciousness the official ROC MP now means Patriarch Kirill and vice versa there is another, quite strange, message: the Emperor [a temporal human being] is eternal but the Church [which is supposed to be eternal] is temporary. I am speaking here about the messages which two figures/ the symbols seem to convey or at least to hint when considered together. Leaving the metaphysics aside, the rude reality is that the ROC MP is now reduced to a mere tool of the state – so the symbols may convey something that is yet to come after all.
It is true that the Church has been used by the Byzantine Empire as well, but neither in the way nor to the extent that it is currently used. First of all, the Byzantine Church has never been just a mere soulless tool: it conducted all that the living Christian Church is supposed to do including the development and refinement of the doctrinal faith. (Not to mention its role in the culture and science and other areas of human life – the brief look at the Byzantine culture will suffice.) The Byzantine Church had never neglected its main function, to be the Church of Christ i.e. to be preoccupied, first of all, with the divine revelation and with its practical application to the life of the faithful. Second, the Church, by its very virtue of being the Body of Christ, was perceived as something eternal, permanent. Third, the Church was majestic and grand: it has never been mocked. In modern Russia, the ROC MP is perceived as a tool, often pathetic; it certainly lost the flavour of permanence; it is mocked because its leaders behave in a way which provokes mockery and – this is very important – the state perpetuates this mockery, encouraging the Church to be more and more offensive and senseless and then selectively highlighting, in the mass-media, the most shameful aspects of its daily life. And even more, periodically “the postmodern emperor” himself engages in actions which are hard to see otherwise than as a sophisticated mockery and even blasphemy.
This paradigm, of “the postmodern symphony of the postmodern pseudo-Emperor and postmodern pseudo-Patriarch” can explain many, otherwise quite absurd, behaviours of the ROC MP towards the society like the strange trend of building their “module churches” utilizing the children’s’ playgrounds and the civil parks. It may look illogical that the Christian Church seems to do everything possible to provoke the hatred for it among the people. It is illogical indeed – but only if the ROC MP is doing it on its own accord and if it indeed is concerned with following Christ. It may be, as it is commonly said, that such actions provide the ROC MP with a sense of superiority and it got too intoxicated with this to maintain an adequate self-perception. Much more important though, to my mind, is that such illogical behaviour makes the Church into something that it is not supposed to be and also something that can be deposed quickly, if there is need for a scapegoat or if it is simply not needed any longer. Finally, such unseemly actions, being entirely unchristian discredit the ROC MP and that means they discredits, in the minds of the people, Orthodox Christianity, and even Christ. The state, far from being stupid, uses the Church, throwing into her the pieces of rotten meat so to speak; the smell excites the crowds, its’ possible future butchers. Hence, to say that Putin is the new Byzantine Emperor is incorrect in a strict sense of this term because, unlike the latter, he is not planning to use the Church permanently as an ally. The only permanent figure in the new order is the Emperor himself.
The places of power
If we look at the “map of the powers of the Church of Christ” [by the Church I mean the Church established by Our Lord in a certain moment of history which later broke into pre-Chalcedonian, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic Churches – all of them having valid sacraments and unbroken apostolic succession] we firstly see the worldwide Catholic Church with its centre in Rome; the pre-Chalcedonian Churches seem to gravitate towards this centre, some of them are in full communion with it. This is the Church which has one leader, the Pope who does not need the Emperor to govern the Church. He has all means to manage the Catholic Church because those means are given to him by the Church; the power comes from the Church itself (which receives it from Jesus Christ). At the same time, despite all his power the Pope is by no means the Emperor. He is devoid of the usual attributes of the Emperor’s power: his is only a tiny plot of land; furthermore, the current Pope seems to be determined to live out the ideal of the Gospels’ poverty and humility which is the exact opposite of the image of an Emperor. This direction, from the Pope to the much more accessible Bishop of Rome, was taken and followed by several predecessors of the Pope Francis. However, even if the Pope would suddenly go for the luxury of the worst decadent Popes in history, even this (nowadays impossible) turn would not make him an Emperor. To merge with the image or symbol of the Emperor perfectly the Pope must stop being the Bishop i.e. he must renounce his primary function, to lead the Church in accordance with the will of Jesus Christ, and begin using it as a tool which has no value of its own. The poorer is the Bishop of Rome, the less secular power he has, the more independent he is from various secular power institutions, the more he is the Pope. This law is true not just about the
Pope but about any common priest and any Christian; the more we renounce the secular powers the more we become the royal priesthood.
The Eastern camp, the Orthodox Church, appears to be very different. There are various local Churches which represent, as it is commonly said, sobornost that is the democracy entirely unknown to the Catholic Church. To secular people the Eastern camp may look like the usual stable self-managing mess of various (often clashing) affairs of the local churches; stable because this mess seems to be the permanent way Orthodoxy operates. However, if one looks at the Orthodox Church through the “Pope – Emperor” prism above, he will see there something less common.
It is a common place now, for some Orthodox, to mock Patriarch Bartholomew as someone who is “trying to become the Eastern Pope”. Indeed, if we apply to the Ecumenical Patriarch the title “first among equals” or “first by honour” we will get exactly the same title the Bishop of Rome had in the first centuries of the Christian Church (and also the title which the current Pope said he is content with). In this sense Patriarch Bartholomew does not need to try to be the Pope – he is in a sense the Pope of the East already, with his position canonically defined as the second after the Bishop of Rome. However, this similarity of the Eastern and Western Pope defined by these given titles is not nearly as remarkable as the similarity of the facts of real life. In a striking resemblance of the current papacy, Patriarch Bartholomew has nothing – and he has even outdone the Western Pope in his nothingness. Indeed, as many Orthodox mockingly state, he is the head of a tiny congregation in a Muslim country and his title (Patriarch of Constantinople) refers to the no longer existent capital of the once glorious empire. The Ecumenical Patriarch, by his geographical position and historical circumstances, happens to be totally free from the constraints which the leaders of the other local Orthodox Churches inevitably experience while being in the midst of their earthly local affairs. Hence, the Ecumenical Patriarch in his lack of possessions and earthly ties, which always meddle with the Church’s true interests, is really fit to lead the Orthodox Church. The irony of this situation is that his very poverty, which qualifies him
for the position of leadership, excludes something without which the Orthodox Church as a whole seems to be unable to function: the Emperor. The potential Emperor is of course Putin the postmodernist.
I find the refusal of the Orthodox Church (as a whole) to accept the necessity of a leader from their own, even in the mildest form, as spokesman and final arbiter, i.e. someone who occasionally makes a final decision after “democratic discussion” has got hopelessly stuck, to be mind-blowing. It appears to me that precisely the lack of a desire for unity, of the local Churches and their Patriarchs, propagates the dysfunctional pseudo-democracy which is eternally stuck (unable to make any decision at all); if they wanted unity they would recognize the necessity of the “final arbiter” because that is exactly how the local Churches operate. Perhaps the problem is that because the Patriarchs are first in their Churches they cannot tolerate someone above them, even symbolically, even temporarily?
As I see it and as the current Holy and Great Orthodox Council amply demonstrates, there is no way to reconcile the centuries-old model “Emperor – Patriarch” with the re-emerging model of the “Eastern Pope” because the Pope and the Emperor cannot be combined. The Pope is always, a priest of the Church; the Emperor is always a lay person, even if he decorates himself with icons embroidered on his robes (as it was done in Byzantium). This symphony is always apostasy because it ruins the Church even while defending its interests, via compromising its only possible mode of real existence: living for Christ and relying on Christ only. The Church, being the Body of Christ, does not need to be defended by anyone but Him. Hence Orthodoxy is now paying for its old “sanctified by centuries” comfortable apostasy, for all those emperors sitting in the altars, deciding what is wrong and what is right in the Church, deposing Patriarchs and even pushing heresies onto the Church. Any thought that the Church of Christ needs state power to function is apostasy; it is the same as to say that Jesus Christ needs to be defended by an earthly ruler. (Obviously I am not saying here that Christians do not need to be defended, as human beings – as all human beings – by the state; that is an entirely different matter.)
Hence, what we have on the map now are the Catholic Church led by the Pope who has nothing, the tiny minority of the Orthodox Church that seems to (spiritually) organized around the canonical first among equals, the Ecumenical Patriarch who has nothing, and the majority of the Orthodox Church which, in one way or another, are tied up with the Patriarch of the ROC MP who has everything, that is the Emperor who renders him nothing [he is the nothing who has everything by participation].
The process of preparation for the Holy and Great Council made it clear that the seemingly new way of managing the Orthodox Church (seemingly because it repeats the principle of the operation of the ancient apostolic Church, with the apostle Peter having primacy among equals), cannot come in any agreement with the later “sanctified by the centuries” “Patriarch – Emperor” model. One of them must go, and it is very likely that the original apostolic model will go first, at least in the eyes of the majority of Orthodox who are unable to recognize Orthodoxy where there is no Emperor or his substitute or, at the very least, the longing for such.
“The secret knowledge”
I do not remember how exactly a random Internet reference, while searching for materials related to the Holy and Great Council, brought me to the chapter ‘The symphony of powers’ from the book ‘The Absolute Motherland’ by Alexander Dugin, a supposed Kremlin’s ideologist. Dugin has been known to me since Perestroyka: I had been searching for meaning and he was publishing ‘Elements’, the thoroughly occult journal (Rene Guenon, Elena Blavatskaya, Gudzhiev, Alister Crowley, alchemy, Atlantis and so on) so I subscribed to it. Internet sources say that it was also the trumpet of the “ultra-right nationalists”; very possibly but I simply do not remember this because I was busy trying to find God in – what I now know is – dung. Dugin, together with Guenon, called it ‘Traditionalism’.
The hallmark of the gnosis/ occult is its way of masking itself using various elements of the world religions. The method is superficial: the broken pieces of various doctrines, random terms, rituals are cut off from their source and placed around the only element that is stable, the occult/ gnosis itself, “the secret/ esoteric knowledge” that the authors claim to have. The behaviour of Trichoptera, the insect which, in a certain stage of its development, builds up a house or “artificial shell” made with the broken pieces of whatever it can find, sometimes with the small empty shells of molluscs, comes to mind. By definition, gnosis cannot do without a comparison, of the “mainstream/ church teaching” to the “esoteric one”. Quite naturally, one cannot expect depth from something made up from these random, often incompatible, pieces. This is why reading occult literature is a trial of endurance for those who are familiar with the real world religions and (as was the case with Dugin’s book discussed here) with real Christian theology. Finally, there is an issue of the spirit of the gnosis which must be experienced personally to be appreciated i.e. of the emptiness, the eternal loneliness – in one word, the sense of something strangely impersonal that is desperately trying to incarnate itself. This spirit that is the complete opposite to the Christian God makes it particularly repulsive for a Christian to deal with.
Dugin’s ‘The Absolute Motherland’ with its chapters ‘Sacraments in the Eastern and the Western Churches’, ‘Eucharist and Liturgy’, ‘The world of the divine energies’ is no different in this respect; it has something special though, and this “something” made me read it. It brought to my mind, for some reason, the most unlikely association, the book ‘The Mystery of Faith: the introduction to the mystical theology of the Orthodox Church’ by priestmonk Hilarion Alfeev. By no means I am saying that this fine book of Alfeev has something occult in it – no, I perceived the book of Dugin as its evil twin, something like ‘The Mystery of Faith: the introduction to the theology of the Occult Orthodoxy’. What I mean is that Dugin seems to achieve a far more refined marriage of gnosis with Orthodoxy than anyone I know. A few examples, with my comments:
On the “outer” level God to a human being is an unaccusable object, entirely different from a human being. On the “inner” (esoteric) level God to a human being is his “highest spiritual I”, as “inner person” or “a new human being”. In Christian tradition those aspects correspond to the figures of Peter and Paul. Apostle Paul represents the “inner Church” (Eastern), apostle Peter – “outer Church” (Western), this division was “fixed” by the Schism of 1054. The “inner Church” corresponds to the mystical knowledge, the “outer Church” – to the scholastic one and to the rituals and morals. Latin heresy, as Orthodox understand it, is de facto deposition of the metaphysical and initiatory heritage of Paul. Orthodox Church of esoteric venerates both but simplemindedly chose Paul.
Interestingly, Dugin’s un-Orthodox teaching repeats the Orthodox argument that the Catholic Church since the Schism has only speculative [and not experiential] knowledge of God while the Orthodox Church has the mystical knowledge of God. Here the typical gnostic lines which were mentioned before are introduced: “inner” – “outer”, “esoteric” – “mainstream”. The “gnostic tails” are especially noticeable to a Christian who lives in the tradition: apart from being nonsense, it is inappropriate and even unthinkable to make such a definition using the figures of the apostles, and not just apostles but the two most venerated and venerated as two together (Dugin acknowledges this fact but is evidently unable to draw the Orthodox conclusion from it).
“The Western Church is the Church of Salvation, the Eastern Church – of theosis”
Totally senseless and yet it reminds one of the Orthodox insistence that the Catholic Church does not know theosis. “Church of Salvation” also brings to a mind another Orthodox notion, that Catholics (“the Church of Salvation”) are too preoccupied with the Crucifixion and Passion and miss the Resurrection, unlike the Orthodox (“the Church of Theosis”). Of course a Christian would never oppose Salvation and theosis; later Dugin does it implicitly, stating later that Catholicism, from the Orthodox point of view, is nothing else but a “Latin heresy” which must be dropped if Catholics wish to be united with the Orthodox; from here it logically follows that Salvation must be dropped as well.
“The Orthodox iconostasis is the sign of the preservation of the esoteric level in the Orthodox Church” (unlike the Catholic Church).
A genuinely Orthodox version would be “the iconostasis conveys the sense of the sacred, Roman Catholics lost the sense of the sacred”. However “preservation of the esoteric level” is a phrase entirely alien to Christianity.
“Non-esoteric and Judeo-Christian character of the Western Church”
“The Orthodox tradition and all Orthodox sacraments preserved their initiatory dimension… the Orthodoxy is the original Christianity in its fullness… Catholicism, on the other hand, lost that metaphysical dimension on the ritual-dogmatic level and the Roman Church changed the original metaphysical and initiatory nature of Christianity and became the simple soteriological non-esoterism of the Judeo-Christian kind.”
The entirely Orthodox counterpart would be: “The Orthodox Church has true sacraments, unlike Catholics; Orthodoxy is the original Christianity in its fullness; Catholicism lost the mystical, supernatural dimension”. What the Orthodox would never say is “simple soteriological non-esoterism of the Judeo-Christian kind” but some could still speak about “Judeo-masons”, and not just in the Catholic Church but in the Orthodox as well, the Ecumenical Patriarch for example.
“All “deificatory” power of the sacrament here [in the catholic Church] is absent. In Orthodoxy the same power, the same tranfiguratory rays manifest themselves in their original nature, as non-created realities and, thus, the metaphysical essence of the sacrament and its effect on the people are radically different…”
This is almost Palamism.
“Communion is the centre and axis of all Christian Liturgy, the meaning of its existence…In communion a Christian receives the power of initiation – fire and light – for his spiritual realisation… The whole service is built around the main sacred event – transubstantiation of the wine and the bread into blood and flesh of Christ and partaking holy communion by the congregation of the faithful… In terms of initiation the communion, strictly speaking, should be periodical “confirmation”… of the status of deified human being, “god by communion” so the communion is not done once but periodically”
So that the reader will not be confused by Dugin’s vigorous use of Orthodox terminology in the application to Holy Communion, I will give here another quote, also about communion, in which the Gnosticism appears so unbelievably stupid that there is no need to comment:
“Probably precisely that the non-equality of the apostles, their relations to the different aspects of the Church is symbolically depicted in the Orthodox iconographic subject, often seen on the iconostasis, in the centre of the Deisis row. This subject depicts the Last Supper where the Saviour distributes (sic!) to the apostles the Eucharistic Holy Gifts: to one half of the apostles he gives bread (flesh of the Lord), to another – whine (blood of the Lord). On the initiatiory level bread (flesh) relates to non-esoterism, and blood – to esoterism.”
I find it very exhausting to continue the analysis of this text so I will cut it short and instead state the reason why I kept digging into Dugin’s spiritual dung. It was entirely unexpected: I suddenly noticed how natural Palamism looks in the context of the occult. The phrases of Dugin and the Palamists’ definitions appear to convey a very similar spirit. It is particularly noticeable when they speak about Holy Communion. Dugin: “In communion a Christian receives the power of initiation – fire and light”. Palamists: “in communion we partake the divine energies, the uncreated light”. It is the spirit of the impersonal, the habit of speaking about partaking the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ without reference to the living Christ, as if communion had nothing to do with His Person. It is the vector towards the reduction of Holy Communion to some magical substance, a mere tool for obtaining theosis.
Palamism is the doctrine of St Gregory Palama (13-14cc) about the uncreated energies of God and is accepted by the Orthodox Church as dogmatic teaching. Its main thesis: God’s essence cannot be known; He can be known in his energies; those energies are what the disciples of Christ perceived on mount Tabor. Palamists are known for their peculiar practice of prayer, hesychasm; its major purpose is to see the light of Tabor, this vision understood as partaking the divine energies, is theosis. Hence the practice of hesychasm is, in effect, made equal to Holy Communion as in both the uncreated energies are partaken. My argument, in previous papers on Palamism, was that while the doctrine itself is irrelevant to personal salvation, it unfortunately introduces a psychological barrier between God and believer because for the human psyche the statement “only the energies of God can be known but not His essence” means in effect “I cannot know God the Person”. Hence Palamism, in my opinion, planted “the seeds of the impersonal” into the body of the Orthodoxy, conditioning the believers to think not so much about God the Person and communion with Him but about what energy they receive from Him and communion with it. And here is the very fine point of turning from desiring God the Person for His own sake. Here Palamism comes quite close to the attitude of gnosis/ occult.
It is easy to understand that the action of pushing aside from the centre (paradoxically, in communion as well) the Person of Christ and depersonalizing Him:
1) causes a change in how He is perceived and,
2) vacates the space in the centre to something else.
Jesus Christ becomes a remote figure with seemingly contradictory features: with much reduced human nature if I can put it this way, more spirit than flesh and blood, and incorporates features of the Byzantine Emperor. He is the heavenly Emperor that is more a function than a Person, and the earthly Emperor is his “icon”, as Dugin puts it in his occult book. Very naturally, His “icon” or “image” now takes His vacant place and “incarnates” itself there as “vice-Christ”. This entirely irrelevant, for the Kingdom of Heaven, doctrine seems to be perfectly fitting for the kingdom of this world, i.e. for the absolute power of the Emperor. And, because Christ is so far away, He can now hardly be thought of as the Head of the Church thus the Orthodox Church is always at risk to have the strange transplant of the State (or the Emperor) as its head.
It appears to me as if Palamism, apart from being a mistaken doctrine with a clear gnostic/ occult vector, was designed to back up the symphony of church and state – for the price of deviation from Christ. [The story of how it made its way into the Orthodox Church, despite anathemas and deposing its opponents (including the Patriarch) and also causing the profound disgust and accusations in “Gnosticism” among the original supporters of Palama, supports my view.] And, precisely because Palamism causes the deviation from Christ (albeit subtle but there is no such a thing as degrees of deviation from the Person of Christ, it either is or is not) it is the “gate of weakness” in the building of the Orthodox Church, through which various unpleasant things may come and seem to have already began coming – the figures of the “old believer” Dugin and of others like him make me think this way. What concerns me most is a palpable change in the streams and directions, of how Orthodoxy is being used, from the crude using of its attributes [by “Orthodox healers and white witches” or the member of the state government] to creating its perverse echo: the political leaders now are giving various signs, the Satanists writing about theosis and the goodness of the Jesus prayer – all this without renouncing their Satanism/occultism/gnosis i.e. writing about it at the same time, and so on. On the outer level all this is too obvious and amateurish, for intelligent people, to bother themselves with. On the inner… how to describe it? – It is as if the occult world became sophisticated enough to “establish contact”/ “to find the key” / to water down itself sufficiently/ to find the right proportion, colour and smell to begin… the molecules of the occult at last mutated enough to begin the process of binding with the islands of the occult potentiality in Orthodoxy itself. In turn,
something alien which was planted in the Orthodox Church itself and has been dormant until now began actualizing, being provoked by the changes in the outer world, growing heavier and turning towards the [unrecognized] evil in the world.
* * *
I think I understood what bothers me most in all this mess. As it was established in the previous chapter, the insistence on the symphony (“Emperor – Patriarch”) seems to prevent the local Orthodox Churches from establishing the true unity of the apostolic Church, and the capacity to act, which includes having one of the bishops as the final arbiter, “the first among equals” or “the first by honour”. Since it is Palamism which backs up this symphony it is permissible to say that it is Palamism which now prevents this unity – the unity, surprisingly enough, not of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches but of the local Orthodox Churches with each other. Although surprising it is entirely logical: the Christian Churches can be united only in Christ, not the remote Christ of Palamism but Christ in the very centre of the Church, in its midst, Christ felt by all and related to by all. This real unity is possible only in a true enduring love given by the Blood of the Lamb and only in and through the Person of Christ – that very Person of Christ whom Palamism pushed aside and swapped with the figure of the Emperor.
The argument that the Orthodox Church needs the Emperor is particularly discordant because (apart from being not the original model of the ancient Church) in the modern world such an Emperor can be only the Emperor of the whole World and this title brings only one association to a Christian mind.
The vectors of evil
Dugin with his books is not important in himself, so as Putin, so as Patriarch Kirill. They are relevant for the current moment only as long as they successfully convey certain ideas and symbols which are incomparably bigger than them. Their actions also have no meaning by themselves but only as a part of the whole process which I tentatively call “the progressive perfection of the orchestration”. By this I mean, as it has been shown already in this paper, the orchestration of the perception of events in the outer world via creating a “library of multiple meanings” and selectively highlighting what is needed, in each given moment. This is effectively the ever-changing virtual reality which is orchestrated by the conductor; the human psyche, the receptor of this new reality, is supposed to begin melting and changing accordingly, transforming itself into a mirror. Hence we have an image familiar in science fiction movies and therefore unbelievable.
I could engage in the argument, considering for example how the erratic change of tunes wears down the humane psyche and conditions it to simply switch off or to enthusiastically embrace every new interpretation offered, even if the next one contradicts the previous one entirely, so as all the previous. I could refer to the sheer illogicality of the opinions and interpretations of the events preceding the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church and consider the very strange phenomenon of how almost all of them render each other to zero and make the real facts and events insignificant, not serious, “nothing to think about really” but I prefer to leave the reader to do (or not to do) that for themselves. Instead I would like to closely consider the phenomenon of “Occult Orthodoxy”.
“Occult Orthodoxy” or “Christian Satanism” or even “Satanic Christianity” appears to me to be a very fitting expression of the purpose of the vectors considered in this paper. It is a far better expression than “the triumph of straightforward evil”. The orchestration cannot be perfect unless all the parts of the composition, all human beings, all ideas etc are its subjects, willing to respond to the slightest move of the Conductor. One obvious method to achieve this is to simply destroy everything that resists i.e. all that is good. This is a very crude method which the humanity saw in the past: rivers of blood, extermination of the thousands, and so on. This method will probably not do any longer; one of the reasons is that it is too familiar. The second method is to incorporate good into evil in a way it becomes responsive to the manipulations of the Conductor, i.e. to attach an evil side, a shadow, to every good, and good to every evil. If it succeeds in doing so, the result will be vastly superior to the simple extermination of the good because the former involves the mockery and total discrediting of all that is good. (I also suspect that the evil, being empty, needs the empty shells of the good in which to operate i.e. to covey its’ meanings.)
The artificially created mix of evil-good or good-evil is very different from the “natural” mixture of good and evil in the human soul, the result of the Fall. The soul of the most terrible sinner still has goodness at its core, the image of God, and this very core or the seed of good, however weak and neglected, is still connected with the Ultimate Good, the source of life. The artificially created mix of evil-good or good-evil is made with the good cut off from its source as a branch from the tree, effectively the empty shells of the good. From here we can conclude that the perfect orchestration, i.e. making the human psyche into an artificial collage of good and evil, must involve the destruction of its core, the God-given spirit of the eternal good which enables a human being to recognize good and evil and to make a choice between them. Since it is impossible to destroy the God-given spirit in a human being completely without destroying a human being himself, it makes sense to make it appear dead, by destroying its ability to make a choice between good and evil via carefully maintaining the dichotomy of good and evil in everything around a person making everything appear as a “soup of meanings” which transforms from good to evil, backwards and forwards, from moment to moment, , by the move of the hand of the invisible Conductor.
At a certain point, as I see it, the human psyche, being constantly manipulated as a Pavlovian dog – with the difference that the dog was given a coherent scheme of causes and effects, always the same – begins losing touch with its eternal element, the image of God and becomes indistinguishable from the world around her. She, so to speak, becomes an organic part of the ever-changing soup of meanings, the ever-changing composition of the Conductor, in whom all things, being broken and turned into their opposite, are coming together.
21 June 2016