Russia Conducts Nuclear Exercises Amid Orthodox End-Times Talk

[ by Charles Cameron — the US as seen through Russian eyes! ]


Under the headline I’ve made the title of this post, John Schindler, ex-NSA Kremlin-watcher gives us something invaluable — the US as viewed through Russian eyes.

Imagine that! The Russians don’t see us through Western eyes, the way we see ourselves! No, they see us through nationalistic political and religiously Orthodox eyes, yup, religiously Orthodox eyes.

The yawning gap between Russian and Western values can be partly explained by the fact that Communism shielded the former from the West’s vast cultural shifts since the 1960s. Living under the Old Left provided protection against the New Left. As a result, Russians are living in our past and find current Western ways incomprehensible and even contemptible.

Imagine the moon disk as a halo over Russia, do we see, do we understand things differently? KGB Putin the Orthodox believer?

Religion! Oh, noe! The Kremlin takes religious passion seriously: it’s got not just an ideology but a theology.

Schindler makes this clear — we need for this insight to jump from his page, not merely to be read but to be absorbed, to suffuse our thinkimg. But there’s more.

A religious Kremlin?

This means Orthodox theology deeply entangled with Russian political analysis — as explained by Putin‘s pal, the Patriarch Kirill:

Simply put, Kirill explained, America today is doing to itself what the Bolsheviks did to Russia: forcing a godless, secular ideology onto society. “Christian values are being destroyed… The West is abandoning God, but Russia is not abandoning God, like the majority of people in the world. That means the distance between our values is increasing,” he stated bluntly. Kirill’s insistence that America and the West are the outliers here, with Russia and most of the world on the side of traditional religion and values, is an important point that merits pondering.

The traditionalist nature of Putinism, always present, has grown more intense in recent years as the Kremlin has sought to enshrine an official ideology as confrontation with the West has grown. Whatever Vladimir Putin may actually believe, he has played the public role of an Orthodox believer quite effectively. He has cultivated senior ROC clerics, who provide regime-endorsing soundbites as needed, and the church gives Putin legitimacy in the eyes of average Russians, who aren’t especially religious in terms of church-going, yet they see an Orthodox identity as reassuring and plausible in Communism’s wake.

And Orthodox apocalyptic?

Every time I think end times thinking must have had its day, up it pops again.

Even the Mueller inquiry runs up against it – Gulen, the reclusive cleric Turkey wants to snatch from his Poconos compound, is believed by many of his followers to be the God-given, rightly guided Mahdi, Islam’s end timess Savior figure, roughly. That’s something Rachel Maddow should take note of.

Here we go again:

The notorious gadfly Aleksandr Dugin goes further: “Simply said, the Antichrist will not come before there will not be anymore supporters [of Orthodoxy]… What is the coming of Antichrist? It is secularism. It is modernization. Westernization. Materialism. Scientific development. The concept of progress.” He added that Putin is “exactly” the figure who is resisting the Antichrist on earth.

Dugin, it should be noted, isn’t some random flake or religious nut, he’s a Big Idea thinker who’s taken somewhat seriously in the Kremlin, although his real role seems to be Moscow’s ambassador-at-large to the Western far-right. He is close to the Russian security services and he runs a website that pushes his hardline Orthodox nationalist message in several languages, including English. Its name comes from the Greek word for “he who resists the Antichrist.”

Okay, that’s only Aleksandr Dugin — but then again, it’s Aleksandr Dugin. Watch out, this stuff is contagious!

Whoo-eee! Two new significant end times entries in one week. And nukes.

11 comments on this post.
  1. zen:

    Dugin draws a lot of ideological currents from the late Tsarist period of reaction before the 1905 Revolution through the ideas of White exiles and National-Bolshevists in Weimar Germany and Third Republic France in the 1920’s. Some of these currents also infected the early Nazi Party via Baltic German refugees and the virulently anti-Semitic and anti-communist ideologues Alfred Rosenberg andLudwig Maximilian Erwin von Scheubner-Richter(killed in the Beer Hall Putsch). It was those two who helped cement the idea of “Jewish Bolshevism” in Nazi circles. Dugin draws from other disparate sources but the old, Tsarist Orthodoxy state ideology and far right (Black Hundreds)is a favored one

  2. Charles Cameron:

    Zen made an interesting comment when this was posted on Facebook, and I’m bringing it over to encourage further discusion:

    Agreed. Aside from the fact that our political class is generally resistant to viewing foreigners as anything but defective future western liberals and tuning out anything religious, it points out that the beloved secular religion of political correctness looks asinine to foreigners as much as say Trump’s antics. While it’s largely true the reaction it gets is anger and dismissal. Then there’s John Schindler personally as the messenger

    What d’you make pf Schindler?

  3. Scott:

    So I guess the question becomes, who is Putin’s Rasputin?

  4. zen:

    I like John – he has a great deal of information and insights to share that resonate with me from many years of reading Soviet and Russian related histories. He has also been very intemperate from time to time and had a personal scandal; that and his willingness to hammer the Hillary and Obama camps along with Trump on Twitter makes him very unwelcome in some quarters. Particularly with a message most of the Beltway class does not wish to hear anyway.

  5. zen:

    Schindler is also, BTW a convert to Orthodoxy, if I recall correctly

  6. Charles Cameron:

    Yes, he’s Orthodox, and if he’s a convert he’s one instance of an extremely interesting wave — Frank Schaeffer is another, son of Frank Schaeffer founder of the Christian right as we now know it, and Ron Dreher, proponent of The Benedict option, our own Tim Furnish and Scott Shipman — why are so many ultra-bright people turning to Orthodoxy? And while we’re at it, what’s the connection between Russian Orthodoxy and Vladimir Putin, and what counter-balance to that entanglement of religion in politics exists within the wider Orthodox realm? I don’t know who is tracking these things.

  7. Grurray:

    This article might explain some of the appeal of Orthodoxy
    I don’t necessarily agree with everything in it, such as Catholic Bridal Mysticism for example, which borders on silliness. I think it’s simply that the cultural disharmony between East and West mirrors the divisions now in our own society.
    This part makes sense as some of our most intelligent contributors tend to be contrarian in nature against the excesses and hypocrisies of the modern world:
    Another, who visited Catholic churches, says, “They were conventional, easy, and modern, when my wife and I were looking for something traditional, hard, and counter-cultural, something ancient and martial.” A catechumen says that at his non-denominational church, “Worship was shallow, haphazard, cobbled together from whatever was most current; sometimes we’d stand, sometimes we’d sit, without much rhyme or reason to it. I got to thinking about how a stronger grounding in tradition would help.”
    A convert priest says that… “Men get pretty cynical when they sense someone’s attempting to manipulate their emotions, especially when it’s in the name of religion. They appreciate the objectivity of Orthodox worship. It’s not aimed at prompting religious feelings but at performing an objective duty. Whether you’re in a good mood or bad, whether you’re feeling pious or friendly or whatever, is beside the point.”

  8. Charles Cameron:

    So Orthodoxy involves challenge — fasting, standing for long services — and it’s martial.. I’ve always been impressed by the forthright language, not found eg in Catholicism:

    Inaccessible to human conception is the inexpressible glorious Majesty of the most holy, sublime Sacraments and Revelations on earth of the Divine Incarnation and supreme Holocaust of Love of our celestial Saviour and God Jesus Christ. They open for us the way to possibilities that are not of this earth, forming, purifying and developing the unseen parts of our being, helping us towards Salvation.

    That’s rhetorically extaordinary. And that’s Eucharistic.
    Which brings me to my real question: It’s my understanding that Orthodox Eucharistic theology is compatible with Catholic and differs from the Protestant — to include the notion of episcopal ordination in the apostolic succession. How does that play out with the new converts, eg from Lutherans?

  9. Zen:

    It would be useful if Scott and Lexington Green would chime in here on the theological questions Charles raised as they are outside of my wheelhouse.
    Regarding Putin and Orthodoxy I might be of more use.
    The Russian Patriarchate was abolished by Peter the Great. Not so much as part of Peter’s modernization/westernization drive but because Peter grew up precariously under a regency with a half-brother, a pious but dim witted child, as his “Co-Tsar” and it took Peter some risky manuevers to remove the regent and shut her up in a convent and relegate his brother to harmless, mostly ceremonial and religious activities while Tsar Peter began to remold Russia to his liking in a “revolution from above”. The Patriarch attempted to assert himself as Peter’s equal in matters of state on religious grounds (with backing if the Great boyar nobility bitterly opposed to Peter’s reforms). That was enough for Peter and the Patriarchate was swiftly abolished and replaced by a council, the Procurate of the Holy Synod with a layman minister of state, the Procurator. And so the Russian Orthodox Church was governed as long as the Romanov dynasty lasted. The Church was the handmaiden of the Tsar-Emperor and Autocrat.
    With the February Revolution the Patriarchate was restored under the Provisional government and the Patriarch (Pimen I believe) was the first true independent Church leader in centuries. His reign was brief, being arrested and tried by the Bolsheviks in the 1920’s. Solzhenitsyn writes of the trial in his Gulag Archipelago, but Lenin did not abolish the Patriarchate and while Stalin bulldozed many beautiful Orthodox monasteries and Churches they grudgingly permitted the Church to continue to exist but co-opted the priesthood into working with the secret police when the metropolitans and bishops were not NKVD or KGB officers outright. The current Patriarch and all of his generation are secret police informers at best and ex-Communist intelligence bureaucrats at worst.
    Putin views the Church as a critical component of Russian identity and a pillar of the state’s legitimacy (as did the Tsars in the 19th C). While the lack of Communist ideology obviates a need to waste manpower infiltrating every level of the Church hierarchy as in Soviet times, key Orthodox bishops and officials work hand in glove with the Kremlin and Putin’s assent probably is required before filling the highest posts

  10. Charles Cameron:

    Wonderful! Thank you!
    I’d love to be able to visualize the flow of authority between Putin and Patriarch in secular govermental and clearly religious affairs. Seeing him meekly, or at least quietly, at Mass in photos always pleases me!

  11. Charles Cameron:

    Zen, it would be good to hear from Lex and Scott on matters Eucharistic, but Scott Shipman especially since he’s made the transition in question from Lutheranism to Orthodoxy.