zenpundit.com » violence

Archive for the ‘violence’ Category

DoubleVision: two troubles with religions

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — religious violence and sexual abuse scandals from a perspective grounded in comparative religion ]
.

Two images from my feed a couple of days ago, similar enough that they make a (visual) DoubleQuote:


The Atlantic, Abolish the Priesthood


WaPo, Sri Lankan government blocks social media and imposes curfew following deadly blasts

**

The first image above comes from an article in the Atlantic about child sexual abuse by members of the Catholic priesthood and accompanying cover-ups by the church hierarchy.

  • The Atlantic, Abolish the Priesthood
  • The abuses are horrific.They are horrific, horrific.

    My grouse here is that articles such as this focus on the Catholic Church, although Billy Graham’s grandson claims the situation is similar if not worse among Protestants; sexual abuse of spiritual authority and cover-ups are also found in so-called “sects” such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and in other religions altogether:

  • Vice, Billy Graham’s Grandson Says Protestants Abuse Kids Just Like Catholics
  • The Atlantic, A Secret Database of Child Abuse
  • Tricycle, a Buddhist magazine, Sex in the Sangha … Again
  • And if that’s not enough — consider this list of non-religiously specific sources of sexual abuse the Feeney Law Firm, LLC encounters in its practice:

  • Feeny Law Firm, Sexual Abuse and Assault Lawsuits
  • **

    The second image above is from a Washington Post piece of April 22nd, about “the aftermath of suicide attacks that killed hundreds of people” in churches and hotels across the island. The coordinated attacks were claimed by ISIS, but appear to have been locally planned and executed.

    Executed: what a word!

    My plea here is simple: that extremists should cease targeting followers of other religions in the names of their own various religions.

    As I’ve noted before, attacks here in the US and abroad have included:

  • The Gurdwara (Sikh temple), Oak Creek, WI, 2012
  • Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, NC, 2015
  • The Tree of Life and New Light synagogues in Pittsburgh, PA, 2018
  • The Al Noor and Linwood Mosques in Christchurch, NZ, 2019
  • and violent extremists can be found claiming affiliation to these religions:

  • Judaism
  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • Hinduism
  • Buddhism
  • **

    Violence in the name of religion — whether personal violence as in sexual abuse or political violence as in the case of terrorism — is both human and deeply abhorrent. Understanding how widespread the human urge to violence in fact is will tend to put our recriminations against any particular religion into a clearer perspective. Religions, too, can benefit greatly from acknowledging, and not hiding, the shameful skeletons in their various closets.

    As David Ronfeldt would say: Onwards!

    The importance and impotence of language, #28 in the series

    Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameronmetaphor, that Owen Barfield thing that undergirds Tolkien, who gives us our hero myth at highest, truest pitch — see final section ]
    .

    One for the arc archive:

    There is not a word in the American lexicon for such gatherings—the semi-spontaneous assembly of people in the wake of tragedy, who are united by both grief and by anger, and whose public mourning serves to reaffirm their civic bond to one another. But we need such a word..

    That’s an important point.

    **

    Look, large events have — what do events do, transpired? no — eventuated, actuellement, actually, which is to say, right about now..

    From MTP 3/25/2019:

    Chuck Todd:

    At this point it seems pretty clear that, while politically Democrats have been perhaps, if not check-mated, a pretty touch check on the chess board here, politically..

    Chuck Todd:

    None of us have read the Mueller report. None of us have got a single complete sentence of the Mueller report.

    Jake Sherman:

    It’s certain that Democrats run the risk of beating this drum too loud collusion on the collusion thing. The collusion angle, politically, was the singular focus of this investigation. That’s why it started.

    Is this going to be like the last scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, buried in some warehouse in New Mexico?

    If they find something, a hundred of them jump on it — it’s the bandwagon effect ..

    The Beat, Ari Melber:

    Ari: Is Barr departing from those preedents?

    Preet:*****

    He [Mueller] punts to Congress, and then Bill Barr runs on the field, takes the ball, runa in for a touchdown for the President..\

    Holder:

    I think Preet was wrong there..

    Rossi:*****

    Using a football analogy, that’s what Preet did, I want to use a basketball analogy. We have a jump-ball, we’re giving it to Bill Barr, who’s taking the ball, he already decided the possession arrow..

    Preet, Holder, Rossi — a touch of Calvinball, one game becoming another?

    **

    Let’s take a break:

    Malcolm Gladwell, Thresholds of Violence

    Thresholds are — in Latin — limina. Here a shooter threshold, a limen — a red line which, having been crossed, now shifts towards the susceptible:

    The kid .. requires a finely elaborated script in order to carry out his attack .. : the effect of Harris and Klebold’s example was to make it possible for people with far higher thresholds — boys who would ordinarily never think of firing a weapon at their classmates — to join in the riot.

    The caption to the illustration heading Gladwell‘s piece reads:

    In the years since Columbine, school shootings changed; they became ritualized

    That’s what my piece on Tarrant as a follower of Breivik was about.

    Here too, from Gladwell, is a serpent that turns to bite its tail when SWAT arrives:

    I would detonate when people were fleeing, just like the Boston bombings, and blow them up too. Then my plans were to enter and throw Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs and destroy everyone and then when the swat comes I would destroy myself.

    **

    And serpentine sinuosity in the Mississippi at English Bend, the great river’s tail not quite bitten? Another border blurred, line receding…

    The plane took off to the north, over Lake Pontchartrain, and looped back toward New Orleans. We picked up the Mississippi at English Turn, the sharp bend that brings the river almost full circle. Then we continued to follow the water as it wound its way into Plaquemines Parish.

    Eh?

    The control of nature? Good luck with that.

    **

    Back to business — a rush of chyrons, with a couple of texts:

    Booker to Ari:

    I have had you on background in many of the rooms I’ve been in

    There must be a lot of thoughts about who the umpire should be ..
    the letter came from somebody who was already suspect and should have recused himself ..

    Booker:

    We’re seeing a lot of dots that seem to be directing us toward a real problem, a potential collusion that continues to seem tom be smoldering and that might result in a real fire..

    Let’s look at the fact pattern ..

    — that last is an interesting phrase —

    Just a couple more from Sen Cory Booker to Ari Melber, then we’ll take a break.

    Sen Booker:

    This is a sacred constitutional moment for us ..

    That’s an excellent quote***** for USian civil religion ..

    A call to creaate what King calls “a more beloved community”

    **

    Barfield on metaphor

    At a later stage in the evolution of consciousness, we find [the principle of living unity] operative in individual poets, enabling them . . . to intuit relationships which their fellows have forgotten-relationships which they must now express as metaphor. Reality, once self-evident, and therefore not conceptually experienced, but which can now only be reached by an effort of individual mind–this is what is contained in a true poetic metaphor; and every metaphor is “true” only in so far as it contains such a reality, or hints at it. The world, like Dionysus, is torn to pieces by pure intellect, but the poet is Zeus; he has swallowed the heart of the world; and he can reproduce it in a living body.

    See here the relationship with Tolkien? with poetry, with HipBone Games?

    **

    Out.

    Christchurch, NZ, The Great Replacement and a hail of bullets

    Monday, March 18th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — hold onto your Stetsons, New Zealand, massacre, tips from JM Berger and Clint Watts, sadness, anger, the 8chan ouroboros, more ]
    .

    On the left, the symbol which fronts the Christchurch mosques killer’s manifesto, The Great Replacement; note the black sun wheel in the center, and compare: on the right, the Nazi SS black sun or schwartze sonne. The SPLC’s Flags and Other Symbols Used By Far-Right Groups in Charlottesville page notes:

    Schwarze Sonne (Black Sun), sometimes called the sonnerad: symbol has become synonymous with myriad far-right groups who traffic in neo-Nazi and/or neo-Volkisch ideologies. The symbol is based on the ancient sun wheel artifacts that were made and used by Norse and Germanic tribes as symbol of their pagan beliefs. Those sun wheels, made centuries upon centuries ago, do not usually resemble the complexity of this particular version. The version above is inlayed into the marble floor of the Castle Wewelsburg, the castle that Himmler made the spiritual and literal home of the SS during the reign of the Third Reich, and has significance within the occult practices of the SS.

    Wikipedia’s page on the Great Replacement conspiracy theory notes:

    The great replacement (French: le grand remplacement) is a right-wing conspiracy theory, which states that the white Catholic French population, and white Christian European population at large, is being systematically replaced with non-European people, specifically Middle Eastern, North and Sub-Saharan African populations, through mass migration and demographic growth. It associates the presence of Muslims in France with potential danger and destruction of French culture and civilization. [ .. ]

    The theory has been popularized by Renaud Camus.

    **

    God I’m sorry.

    **

    News sources will have more details on the shootings, the shooter or shooters, the trial of Brenton Tarrant and so forth. My interest, posting here, will be in this act of cruel terrorism, in Tarrant‘s manifesto and its close relationship to Anders Breivik‘s manifesto, 2083, and whatever else emerges.

    Is Islamophobia the issue here? The ideology of Branton Tarrant‘s manifesto is white supremacist, but the attacks themselves, the massacres, take place not on immigration centers, hut on two mosques — clearly identifying the spear-tip of Tarrant‘s rage.

    Consider: Hatred, hatred, hatred, and prayer, prayer, prayer:

  • The Gurdwara (Sikh temple), Oak Creek, WI, 2012
  • Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, NC, 2015
  • The Tree of Life and New Light synagogues in Pittsburgh, PA, 2018
  • The Al Noor and Linwood Mosques in Christchurch, NZ, 2019
  • There’s context there.

    **

    On this most recent occasion I feel a mix of emotions:

    The terrorist massacre of women, men and children in two places of Muslim worship on Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, is heartbreaking: my tears and prayers go out to the victims, their families and friends, and all in New Zealand, a small and notably peaceful country — my friend Walter Logeman, therapist and man of peace, lives in Christchurch, and my heart goes out to him this day, as it does to Marianne Elliott, known on Twitter as @zenpeacekeeper, and Leah Farrall, @allthingsct — see below.

    In this moment of rage and hate, it is good to remember and praise the lives of those who untiringly promote peace and love.

    So I feel sad, very sad, and grateful for my friends.

    **

    Meanwhile:

    This, I’m afraid, makes me angry.

    Australian Senator Blames Muslims for Terror Attack at New Zealand Mosque

    Australian Senator Fraser Anning released a statement blaming “the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place” as “the real cause of bloodshed” following Friday’s shootings.

    **

    Tarrant’s manifesto :

    The first thing to know about Tarrant‘s manifesto is that it is propaganda:

    JM: The manifesto is — We treat these often as confessional documents, which are supposed to educate us about the person — but what it really is is a work of propaganda. And this one more than most.

    We can tell from the manifesto that he’s a white supremacist, he’s anti-immigrant, he’s anti-Muslim, but when you try to drill down into the details,there’s not a lot of utility in the document. [ ..

    One court appearance is probably going to be more illuminating nthan the document itself.

    On the mix of immigration, racist and religionist issues:

    Immigration and race are closely linked issues. Anti-immigration views allow white supremacists and people who have general right-wing views to incorporate a lot of different forms of hatred under one umbrella. It’s anti-Muslim, obviously, he targeted Muslims. It’s also racist as he describes it. Immigration is a convenient umbrella or fig-leaf for underlying bigotries that are more complex.

    **

    Having said that, let’s dig into the weeds, and take a look at one particular item in Tarrant‘s agenda, and that of Breivik. I’ll use the example of Constantinople, but Jerusalem and Vienna would have been other candidates..

    Tarrant‘s manifesto includes a Q&A in which the imagined questioner asks:

    Did/do you have ties to any other partisans/freedom fighters/ethno soldiers?

    to which Tarrant responds:

    I support many of those that take a stand against ethnic and cultural genocide. Luca Traini, Anders Breivik, Dylan Roof, Anton Lundin Pettersson, Darren Osbourne etc.
    But I have only had brief contact with Knight Justiciar Breivik, receiving a blessing for my mission after contacting his brother knights.

    That’s of particular since it mentions actual contact of some sort with Breivik , and also suggests there are in fact, as Breivik suggested, more Knights Justiciar besides (the self-proclaimed) Breivik himself.

    We’ll return to that. The next question and response also mentions Breivik, and emphasizes his importance to Tarrant, whose 74-page manifesto was no boubt inspired by Breivik’s own manifesto of 1,515 pages:

    Were your beliefs influenced by any other attackers?

    I have read the writings of Dylan Roof and many others, but only really took true inspiration from Knight Justiciar Breivik.

    **

    Anders Breivik scans geopolitics and notes such things as Hindu nationalism in India as well as crusades and jihad, and one of his focuses within the latter pair of concerns is Anatolia, now known as Turkey — and within Turkey, Constantinople, now known, with the inclusion of largely residential areas on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, as Istanbul.

    Breivik quotes a hadith of the Prophet:

    Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will he be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!

    He refers to Constantinople as a gem of the Christian world:

    Constantinople, the jewel of Eastern Christendom, finally fell in 1453 to the armies of Sultan Mahomet II.

    He also terms it “the greatest Christian city in the world” and nites that the First Crusade was called by Pope Urban II “in response to an urgent plea for help from the Byzantine emperor in Constantinople”

    Tarrant‘s manifesto is much shrter, though 77 pages is long enough to cram in a fair amount of detail, vitriol, and propaganda, including this section, in which he too writes of the Christian city of Constantinople:

    To turks

    You can live in peace in your own lands, and may no harm come to you.
    On the east side of the Bosphorus.
    But if you attempt to live in European lands, anywhere west of the Bosphorus. We will kill you and drive you roaches from our lands.
    We are coming for Constantinople and we will destroy every mosque and minaret in the city.
    The Hagia Sophia will be free of minarets and Constantinople will be rightfully christian owned once more.

    **

    Knights Justiciar?

    As we have seen, Tarrant suggests there is in fact a community of Templar Knights of the sort that Breivik also claimed:

    I have only had brief contact with Knight Justiciar Breivik, receiving a blessing for my mission after contacting his brother knights.

    Breivik himself in his manifesto offers an open invitation to all those Europeamns who self-identify as Knights Justiciar:

    Normally, any individual who decides he want to choose the road of the PCCTS (ie Knights Templar), a road of strength and honour, courage and martyrdom, should leave any other organisation for practical reasons (first and foremost in order to protect them). He will then spend a predefined time preparing himself mentally (this cannot be emphasised enough) as well as for planning the actual operation (planning, financing and eventually execution of the plan). This may take longer than 36 months depending on the nature of the assault.

    Breivik also stated that the Knights Templar had been reconstituted as an order in 2002, with founding members of the following nationalities and observances:

    English Protestant, English Christian atheist, French Catholic, German Christian atheist, Dutch Christian agnostic, Greek Orthodox, Russian Christian atheist, Norwegian Protestant, Serbian Orthodox, Swedish, Belgian, and European-American

    That white supremacism may be, as Breivik either knew or fantasized and hoped, an international movement is suggested by the breadth of Tarrant‘s travels, financed by his “profits from investing in the cryptocurrency Bitconnect, in such places as North Korea, Poland, Ukraine, Iceland, and Argentina [details].

    Breivik‘s own sense of Temoplar membership as he understands it is reported in his manifesto:

    varies from 15-80 Justiciar Knights in Western Europe (2008 estimate)

    And to the extent that he wishes his manifesto to foment other actions beyond his own assaults on Oslo and Utoya, Breivik has clearly been successful.

    Thus JM Berger notes:

    The Newtown shooter Adam Lanza reportedly collected news clippings on Breivik’s attack and other incidents of mass violence before he killed 20 children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Other young men, such as the British college student Liam Lyburd, have been inspired to plan or carry out mass shootings based on their admiration for Breivik’s lethality, rather than his beliefs.

    More recently:

    U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Hasson was charged with planning a mass-casualty attack modeled in significant part on Breivik’s strategy, and bearing the marks of his belief system.

    And now, courtesy of an Australian, New Zealand.

    **

    Clint Watts and cascading terrorism:


    .
    Clint: If you look at Al-Qaida or ISIS, it starts as this central body, this network, and then it expands out and then they inspire their followers.

    In the West, it happens in reverse. Inspired followers start to network online, which build into this infrastructure.

    We know this is getting more serious because the frequency and pace are picking up. When the pace picks up, that means that the network is tighter [ .. ] They’re citing each other ideologically, they’re playing to reach others’ attacks — and so this often does what I call cascading terrorism. It inspires others to begin acting.

    **

    Brenton Tarrant: Suspected New Zealand attacker ‘met extreme right-wing groups’ during Europe visit, according to security

    **

    Online presence:

    Talk about the significance of the ouroboros!

    Urban Dictionary: 8chan

    Like a deeper layer of Hell, 8chan is an image board for anyone who is too much of an edgelord for 4chan. Created during the Gamergate fiasco when even the brass of 4chan decided that situation was getting out of hand and became a base of operations of sorts for the GG crowd.

    Should 8chan Be Wiped From The Web?

    **

    Let us not forget President Donald Trump:

    You know, the left plays a tougher game, it?s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don?t play it tougher. OK? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump ? I have the tough people, but they don?t play it tough ? until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad. But the left plays it cuter and tougher. Like with all the nonsense that they do in Congress ? with all this invest[igations]?that?s all they want to do is ?you know, they do things that are nasty. Republicans never played this.

    **

    Okay, horrors:

    For myself as a poet, one of the great but largely unremarked horros of Brenton Tarrant‘s manifesto is its epigrap=h, spelled out in full immediately after the title, Dylan Thomas‘ great poem Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night — with emphasis on the final line:

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light..

    .
    Listen to Dylan Thomas himself voice this, his final, trembling plea to his dying father:

    God, that’s a breth of fresh air amidst all this hatred.

    The poem is one of the finest in the English language: to see it thus dragged through the mire is shocking and saddening in the extreme.

    **

    Readings:

  • South China Morning Post, New Zealand shooting: 49 killed, more than 20 wounded
  • Guardian, 49 shot dead in attack on two Christchurch mosques
  • Guardian, Far-right ideology detailed in Christchurch shooting ‘manifesto’
  • Bellingcat, Shitposting, Inspirational Terrorism, and the Christchurch Mosque Massacre
  • Wikipedia, The Great Replacement conspiracy theory
  • SPLC, Flags and Other Symbols Used By Far-Right Groups
  • NYT, Massacre Suspect Traveled the World but Lived on the Internet
  • JM Berger, The Dangerous Spread of Extremist Manifestos
  • Vice, how Facebook, Twitter and Youtube failed to keep gruesome video from going viral
  • ProPublica, White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi Videos Take Stubborn Root on YouTube
  • Breitbart, Trump Is ‘Encouraging’ Supporters to Assault People, Behave in a Dangerous Way
  • Lethal Mass Partisanship, and more

    Monday, March 18th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — from propensity to act, and from individual act to outbreak ]
    .

    The NYT the other day had a stunning, terrifying and or terrific piece by Thomas B. Edsall titled No Hate Left Behind. That’s almost pure slick-bait. The sub-title gives us the sense that we’re talking now and soon, that the article is both a current assessment and a warning: Lethal partisanship is taking us into dangerous territory.>

    This article will likely interest Zenpundit readers.

    **

    Let me offer a quick personal side-note before addressing the substantive issues Edsall‘s piece raises.

    Edsall quotes Steven Pinker as saying:

    Certainly there is a tribal flavor to political polarization. Men’s testosterone rises or falls on election night, depending on whether their side wins, just as it does on Super Bowl Sunday.

    American politics, in other words, is like American football — like enough, IMO, to richly justify the use of football metaphors to describe political outcomes — and vice versa. I’ll return to this theme in the tail-end of this post.

    **

    Okay, No Hate Left Behind.

    Edsall‘s article is a grim one — grim not because the writer is grim by nature, although that may or may not be the case, I’m no psychiatrist — but because it contains statistical evidence, measurable scientific evidence, of our propensity towards a violent response to the 2020 elections — a propensity which is:

  • stronger in well informed voters than in those less so
  • currently stronger in the Democratic electorate than the Republican
  • and which on election night will be

  • stronger in the supporters of the victorious candidate than those of the other party
  • Oy.

    **

    Edsall‘s piece in turn draws on the paper Lethal Mass Partisanship: Prevalence, Correlates, & Electoral Contingencies by professors Nathan P. Kalmoe and Lilliana Mason.

    Their abstract notes that historical accounts of partisanship “recognize its contentiousness and its inherent, latent threat of violence,” but that “social scientific conceptions of partisan identity developed in quiescent times” and “have largely missed that dangerous dimension” in their researches. Nathan P. Kalmoe and Lilliana Mason aim to “rebalance” that tendency. Their findings can be found in detail and with appropriate nuance in the body of their paper, but it is their Conclusions that I will note here>

    **

    The authors open their conclusions with a deft touch of historical background:

    Two and a half centuries ago, American founders worried about the lethal consequences of partisanship and hoped to avoid the pernicious development of parties. After ultimately founding parties themselves, their worst fears were realized in the extraordinary partisan violence of the American Civil War and the lesser violence before and after, carrying body counts in the hundreds rather than the rebellion’s hundred-thousands.

    They continue by describing how their own work explores the propensity for political violence in our own times::

    We conceptualized and measured three aspects of lethal partisanship: 1) partisan moral disengagement that rationalizes harm against opponents, 2) partisan schadenfreude in response to deaths and injuries of political opponents, and 3) explicit support for partisan violence.

    Them’s fighting measures to put to scientific test.

    **

    Selected quotes:

    The challenge for democracy, as always, continues to be how to procure the political goods that parties provide while staving off partisanship’s most sanguinary pitfalls — the ones identified by Madison but seemingly forgotten in modern behavioral scholarship.

    Madison seems to be the name that keeps popping up as the father of essential American wisdom..

    Here are three paragraphs worth considering, each in turn bringing us closer to en understanding of how the propensity to tolerate violence “comes to the boil” in action, either on the individual scale — incidents of mass shooting — or in an uprising somewhere between civil unrest and war:

    In two nationally representative surveys, we found that large portions of partisans embrace partisan moral disengagement (40-60%) but only small minorities report feeling partisan schadenfreude or endorse partisan violence (5-15%). Even so, their views represent a level of extreme hostility among millions of American partisans today that has not been documented in modern American politics.

    Ultimately, these results find a minority of partisans view violence as acceptable acts against their political opponents. Many times more embrace partisan moral disengagement, which makes the turn to violence easier if they have not made it already. As more Americans embrace strong partisanship, the prevalence of lethal partisanship is likely to grow

    Finally, experimental evidence showed that inducing expectations of electoral victory led strong partisans to endorse violence against their partisan opponents more than expectations of electoral loss.

    **

    Let’s end on a lighter note.

    I said above that American politics is sufficiently like American football to justify metaphorical use of one to describe the other — and just as the Republican and Democratic parties holds primaries and National Conventions to determine each party’s candidate in the Presidential election, so the respective American and National Football Conferences hold games culminating in championships to determine each conference’s contenders in the Super Bowl.

    Perhaps, indeed, the President-elect should face off against the Super Bowl MVP in a grand culminating match to establish the testosteronic Super-Person. Heaven alone knows where such a match would be held, but the opportunity to discover whether football is a more passionate and partisan sport than politics should not be missed..

    2019: Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman vs sitting President Donald Trump?

    Forget religion, it’s all politics!

    Sunday, December 16th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — Ukraine-Russia tensions reach Greece’s holy Mount Athos ]
    .

    Holy Athos

    **

    Forget religion, it’s all politics!

    Thee title of the Guardian piece, which came to me via my admired scholar friend Michael Robinson, is Ukraine-Russia tensions reach Greece’s holy Mount Athos. Michael pointed it my way because “holy Mount Athos” — not because “Ukraine-Russia tensions”.

    Nevertheless, forget religion, it’s all politics! (a popular refrain in our secular-dominant world)..

    “Ukraine is an independent country and deserves its own church,” Makarios told the visiting Belarusians, who nodded dubiously. His view is not shared by all: a Ukrainian monk based at Makarios’s cell, Father Agafon, had a different opinion, calling those Ukrainians in favour of an independent church “splitters and heretics” and saying the Ukrainian church should remain under the control of Moscow.

    and:

    Although most of the monks on Athos are Greek, for many Russians, as well as Ukrainians and Belarusians, a pilgrimage to Mount Athos has become almost like an Orthodox version of the Islamic hajj, seen as a spiritual must for any true believer. Oligarchs and government elites particularly like the peninsula, with its difficult-to-obtain permits and air of a VIP club. In the weeks prior to the Guardian’s visit, Makarios said he had hosted a Belarusian army general, a number of Ukrainian MPs and several rich Russians at his austere cell.

    Makarios’ austere breakfast, btw, is coffee and nuts — for the visiting generals, MPS and rich folk, too..

    **

    Forget religion, it’s all violence and strategy!

    With a meeting in Kiev on Saturday set to formally proclaim the church’s independence, some are predicting violence if Kiev tries to seize church property from the Moscow patriarchy.

    Subtitle of the piece:

    Orthodox church’s decision to make Ukrainian branch independent of Russia causes schism and predictions of violence

    and:

    M:alofeev blamed the Americans for the turmoil, claiming that “Pyatt is trying to stir up the same things he did in Ukraine” in Greece. He also claimed Bartholomew’s entourage was “infiltrated with CIA agents” and said the decision to grant independence to the Ukrainian church could lead to violence in Ukraine and Athos to split with the ecumenical patriarch.

    **

    Forget religion, it’s all money!

    One Russian who has been particularly active on Athos is Konstantin Malofeev, a businessman known as the “Orthodox oligarch”, who is currently on EU and US sanctions lists for his alleged role in funding the separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

    and:

    He insisted that most of Athos was united in its loyalty to the ecumenical patriarch, but conceded that the feeling was not unanimous. “There are some monks who just love Russian money,” he said with a sigh.

    **

    Forget religion, it’s quintessentially religion..

    For centuries, Orthodox men have come to Mount Athos, a closed peninsula in northern Greece, to sequester themselves away from the everyday concerns of the outside world. The only entrance is by boat, and women are strictly forbidden to set foot on the territory. Male pilgrims, after receiving a special permit, can visit to confess and seek counsel from the 2,000 monks at the 20 monasteries and smaller “cells” dotted along the hilly shoreline. It is one of the holiest sites of Orthodoxy, the eastern form of Christianity that split with Catholicism in the 11th century.

    Monks enter Athos “to sequester themselves away from the everyday concerns of the outside world,” okay?

    Athos runs on Byzantine time, an archaic system in which the clocks are reset each day at sunset, and it uses the Julian calendar, rendering Athos 13 days behind the rest of the western world. At sunset the monasteries shut their gates and a stillness settles on the peninsula until the bells ring for morning liturgy.

    “People come here to try to be saints, and leave the difficulties of the world behind,” said Father Porfirius, a 27-year-old Greek monk. “The hardest part is to kill your will. We try to destroy it, to get to the level of obedience of Jesus Christ.”

    Patriarch vs Patriarch (with Putin Plus):

    All is not well in Orthodoxy currently, with a split linked to Russia’s war in Ukraine causing a schism and dark talk of violence among the various Orthodox churches. Bartholomew of Constantinople, known as the ecumenical patriarch and the “first among equals” of the Orthodox patriarchs, agreed in October to give autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox church, essentially making it an independent church. Patriarch Kirill of the Russian church, which regards Ukraine as its domain, responded furiously and announced a split from the ecumenical patriarch.

    and:

    Kirill has banned Russians from taking holy communion in the churches of Athos, calling any priests who bless the ecumenical patriarch schismatics, leading to a dilemma for those Russians who want to visit.

    Schism is about as bad as it gets within Christianity. The Pope and the Patriarch are currently trying, with some little success, to heal a schism between Catholics and Orthodox which began as a dispute over a clause in the major credal statement — the filioque clause in the Nicene Creed — which broke the two major branches of the Church, east and west, apart in 1054. That’s more than a millennium of strife between brothers whose savior prayed at the end of his life [John 17.22-23]:

    And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

    **

    Okay, kudos to Guardian writer Shaun Walker for knowing the importance of religious reporting of issues that also have economic, strategic, political aspects!

    And let’s conclude with a link to this related Orthodox prayer page:

    :Concerning the Orthodox Prayers for the Union of All and the Prayer in St. John 17
    Excerpts from Ecumenism: A Movement for Union or a Syncretistic Heresy?
    by Bishop Angelos of Avlona


    Switch to our mobile site