Sunday, December 22, 2013

Replies to the comments posted under "Russia and Islam, part eight: working together, a basic "how-to"

Dear friends,

Thanks for your interesting comments!  I will reply to some of the questions which you have put to me:
alizard said...

"Another way to achieve a consensus and keeping the neutrality of paragraph 13.2, could be considered by looking at the example given lately by Croatia: Hold a referendum and introduce one or several new constitutional articles as safeguards from 'the plot against civilization'."

The Saker replies:

Yes, very good idea.  Besides, I really believe that the people need to be consulted much more often by means of referendums.  At the very least, all crucial, civilizational and moral questions should be submitted to a popular vote.

Anonymous said...

Such an outcome would throw the imperialists into a tizzy ... I think the vast majority of Muslims would celebrate - But I have to say, I 'm not sure, do you understand implications of this? A Russian recognition of Islamic in this context, while maybe political, would be a civilizational move - . Because it would rightfully, tie Russia to the "Islamic world" - not just as it is now, but real terms of the future of Russia. 

The Saker replies:

Modern Russia is already tied to the "Islamic world" not only because of the relatively large minority of Muslims living in modern Russia, but because Russia - along with Belarus - is eventually going to form a Federation with Kazakhstan.  Anybody believing that Russia is not tied to the Islamic world does just not understand the reality on the ground.  My position is simple: Russia would be far better of being proactive in tying itself to the Islamic world than being passive because in the former case Russia can influence what kind of ties it wants to have and with which part.  See, in my opinion, and no offense intended to anybody, the concept of the "Islamic world" is a nice fantasy, but not a reality.  There is no "ummah" out there, there are only very many countries, civilizations and various branches of Islam and Russia should try to get closer to those (such as the traditional Sufis of Chechnia and Kazakhstan or the Shia in the Middle East) with whom it could form an alliance against the liver-eating psychos.  Being deliberately tied to the Islamic world does not mean becoming an Islamic Republic or somehow losing the Orthodox roots of most Russians, it just means accepting a fact of history which presents both risks and opportunities and take action to maximize the latter.

Anonymous said...

Fortunately there are plenty decent agnostics and atheists.  So there must be hope for us! But what keeps a secular person decent?

The Saker replies:

First, and this is really important, so please everybody pay attention here: I consider that being an agnostic or an atheist is the normal and healthy reaction to exposure to false religions.  Furthermore, agnosticism and even militant atheism can have very different causes.  It can be a reaction against the absurdity or even dishonesty of false religions, it can be the result of inexplicable suffering and, literally, "anger at God" (in which case, of course, it is neither agnosticism nor atheism), it can be because of high ideals and honesty which are repelled by the very much less than perfect behavior of those who claim to believe, it can be what I call "existential cowardice" it can be simply the result of a lukewarm indifference to this issue.  In all this list, only the last two are reprehensible: existential cowards simply do not have the courage to cope with the possibility that there might be a God above them so they go into denial, while the lukewarm simply don't give a damn ("So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth" Rev. 3:16).  The other forms of agnosticism and atheism are really a form of honesty and intellectual integrity.  Allow me a simple thought experiment to explain my point:

Let us assume that there are 100 religions out there, all different, all contradicting each other.  Since, by definition, the Truth is One and since, by definition, two religions contradicting each other cannot be both right, we have only two possible situations:

a) all 100 religions are wrong, invented, man-made, delusions, etc.
b) one of them is "right" and the 99 others are wrong, invented, man-made, delusions, etc.

Therefore, unless you have been exposed to the putative "true" religion, rejecting the 99 wrong ones is the correct thing to do.

Now what if you have been exposed to the putative "real one" and don't feel in your heart that it is the true one?  In that case, you follow your conscience (something which you should always do no matter the price to pay for it), and also reject it until and unless you change your mind.  God and man always act in synergy and as long as you are at least open to the concept that there might be a true religion out there, even if you have not identified it yet, you are doing nothing wrong and you are living according to your conscience, that is already a rightful way to live you live.

That, however, does not solve the other problem you raise: what can keep a secular person decent?  Logically?  Nothing.  Dostoevsky was quite right when he stated that "if there is no God all is permissible".  There is, however, something the Fathers of the Church called the "law of the heart", a leftover awareness in each human being that there is a right and a wrong along with a nostalgia or a yearning to communicate with God.  Of course, a atheist will deny that too.

Is there a logical reason to suppose that there might be a God and a true religion out there ? Yes, I think that there is.  If you really study the Old Testament you will realize that the ancient Jewish prophets really did predict the life of Christ with great accuracy.  As Augustine of Hippo wrote, "the New Testament is hidden in the Old Testament, and the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament".  Let me immediately say that the notion that the Old or New Testaments were retroactively change to "fit the bill" is ludicrous: first, there is no historical record of such a forgery and, second, knowing how sacred these books were for the faithful then, it would have been impossible to forge them without everybody immediately raising the alarm.  In fact, there was one attempt at forging them, by the Jewish Masoretes who tried to forge the Old Testament after 70AD, but since their Masoretic forgery could be compared to the original Greek Septuagint, that forgery failed miserably.  Having intellectually accepted the reality of the life of Christ accurately predicted centuries before His birth, you would have to conclude that this is indeed a "miraculous" events which points to His messiahship.  After that, "all" you need to do is find out if any of the 100 religions out there is still following His teachings without changing them or adding to them.

I understand that faith is really not an intellectual process but a gift of God.  But if you brain tells you that there might be more out there than an nonsensical existence without meaning or purpose and that pretty good probability that there is a God out there, then you can simply repeat in your heart the simple words of this prayer: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24).

As long as you always follow your conscience and seek The Truth will all your heart, mind and will, you are living a righteous life :-)

Mindfriedo said...

In Islam, a law of Allah cannot be changed by humans.  Even though it may sound noble and logical at the time.(...)  "what Allah has made halal I cannot make haram,

The Saker replies:

That is absolutely logical and self-evident: what has been revealed cannot be changed.  One can only deny the reality of the revelation, but not demand that what has been revealed suddenly be changed to fit human desires.  Not being a Muslim myself I don't find it appropriate for me to make suggestions about this issue other than saying that it might be a "show stopper" in Christian-Muslim relations.  Beyond that, it is not for me to suggest alternative approaches.

Old auntie said...

Defending cultural, social and civilizational values together: Fine.
Doing this by changing the Russian constitution: Really?

The Saker replies:

I am not sure that this is the only way or even the best way.  I just think that this is a nice opportunity.

Anonymous said...

excellent post. I wonder though why you dismiss RC and the protestants

The Saker replies:

I am in no way dismissing the Papacy or the Reformed denominations.  I just don't believe that there is any possibility of collaboration with them.  For 1000 years now, the so-called "Christian West" has used every possibility to destroy or subjugate the Orthodox Church and that hostility is still evident all over the modern "post-Christian West".  I am not talking about individual people here, but the western "Christian" denominations are all more or less rabidly anti-Orthodox and anti-Russian.  It just makes no sense to deny that reality, at least not from the Orthodox point of view.  Having spent over 1000 years on the receiving end of the "brotherly love" of western Christian denominations we learned our lesson really well.

WizOz said...

What one can certainly agree upon, is that the whole problem is a particularly tricky one. I have the feeling that asserting a special role for Islam in the formulation of the Russian culture, society, system of values can lead only to the relativization of religion. The more that I am not convinced that its role was that important in shaping the character of Russia.

The Saker replies:

Pre-1917 Russia was indeed almost exclusively a product of the Orthodox culture and, after Peter I, the western Masonic elites.  But that old Russia is gone forever, murdered by the Commissars, killed by the Nazis and finished off by the "democrats".  What we have today is a qualitatively different reality I call "post-Soviet Russia" and that modern, post-Soviet, Russia has been from day 1 (which I place roughly around the turn of the millennium) strongly influenced by Muslims who, while fewer in numbers than the Orthodox Christians, are far more socially and political active.  Again, the example of Kadyrov and Chechnia immediately comes to my mind.  Who does modern Russia owe more to, that lying crook "Patriarch" Kiril, or Akhmad and Ramzan Kadyrov?

WizOz said...

Russia was the continuator of Byzance, her Tsar the defender of Orthodoxy and the protector of all Orthodox. Against that role all hell broke loose and we had the Revolution. Now the time to recover that role has come for Russia.

The Saker replies:

Yes, Russia had that potential, that calling, but nothing spiritual happens "automatically", it has to be struggled for in the spiritual battle between light and darkness.   I am sure you know the prophecies as well as I do: "Russia without a Czar is a stinking corpse" said Saint Anatolii of Optino, "God will have mercy on Russia and will lead through great sufferings towards glory if the Russian people repent" said Saint Serafim of Sarov while Father Ioann of Kronstadt said "if the Russian people do not repent the end of the world is near".  Do you see the Russian people repenting today?  Their indifference to the truth has made it possible for the Sergianists to occupy the holy churches of the Kremlin - is that not the the "abomination of desolation" which occurred first in Jerusalem and later in Rome, Constantinople and now Moscow?  Can you imagine what the millions of New Martyrs would say if they new what kind of individual is occupying the see of many holy patriarchs including Saint Patriarch Tikhon?

[Kirill Gundaev, besides being a well-known "clerical businessman" during the Gorbachev years, is also a "spiritual son" of Nikodim Rotov, a former KGB collaborator and a secret Papist who died in the hands of Pope John-Paul I; Gundaev is also a rabid ecumenist and, according to some well-informed sources of mine, there is indirect evidence - though no proof - that he is also a cardinal in pectore].

Alas, all the evidence shows that the Third Rome has lapsed just as the two first ones and "the one who restraints has been taken out" (точию держяй ныне дондеже от среды будет).

WizOz said...

It won't go to convert the Muslims or the Buddhists. But it cannot "hide the light under the bushel" either.  How do you bring "reconciliation" hiding the Truth?

The Saker replies:

You don't.  You clearly remove the topic from the conversation about collaboration and you leave it for each individual to freely decide in his heart according to his conscience.  There is a proper time and place for each thing, and both Muslims and Orthodox Christians claim that their faith is true.  Let them both freely and unambiguously proclaim it and then, having done so, let them sit down together and deal with the immediate issues at hand.  Both Christians and Muslims should be free to speak their mind freely anytime they want, but that does not mean that this is the only topic they can ever speak about.  After all, when Saint Alexander Nevsky - who armies were full of Mongols - fought back the Teutonic Knights he did not constantly have theological disputes with the Shamanist and Muslim Mongols who fought on his side.  I am in no way suggesting that either Muslims or Christians give up their faith, or that they accept that both are of "equal value" (stupid statement anyway), I am not advocating religious syncretism or some silly "ecumenical dialog of love".  I am just saying that we can fight battles together against our common enemies and, when we come home, after the battle has been won, we can have terrific theological disputations and passionate religious and historical debates and we can try to prove to each other that we are in the right until we are blue in the face.  But first, let's us deal with our common enemies.

Two brothers can live in one house, and defend that house together, without having to agree on every single issue.

The Saker