I’ve always thought that the concept of nuclear power was spooky. The whole idea of messing with the essential stability of the material world was eerie. The idea that unlocking a Pandora’s Box would yield great power was alluring. But I don’t think anyone even yet understands the consequences. Quite apart from the idea of nuclear war, to me there is a deeper, more unsettling idea that man can somehow control the underlying forces of material nature.
The events of 1986 in Chernobyl (in Ukraine, of course) should have led to a re-assessment. But it hasn’t. We still think, like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, that with the proper procedure (rubrics?), we can control our own environment. Do we even know the root of the rubrics? Do we know the command to undo what we just did?
Now, Chernobyl was the slow-motion version of opening the Gates of Hell. Even someone who has been in close proximity to a raging, uncontrolled fire of conventional fuel can barely grasp the invisible fury that was unleashed in that inferno. The visible flames and flesh-searing heat were only the tip of that iceberg. For it was the unseen waves of radiation, flame and its attendant un-felt heat, that would do the most immediate and long-term damage. A tsunami of invisible radiation riddling every part of every material being, more completely than any Phalanx Chain-gun ever could, in a fraction of the time. Nano-seconds were enough to do the job.
Thirty-three years later, in exactly the same locale, we are witnessing (if we are aware of it) the spiritual version of Chernobyl. Keep staring at that picture. Again, the waves of flame are invisible, although the damage is far greater. And again, because the event is occurring in slow-motion, and because we don’t witness an immediate, all-encompassing explosion followed by the tell-tale mushroom cloud, we are lulled into thinking that nothing of any cosmic consequence is taking place. We couldn’t be any further from reality.
Just as the mistaken withdrawal of the physical control rods at Chernobyl removed man’s ability to avoid the aftermath, hubristic men are once again removing the protections that have been (barely) able to shield us from the consequences of playing with the forces that threaten us today. Unseen forces of unimaginable power. Power far beyond the unleashing of physically fractured atoms. This time, man is unlocking the spirits. These spirits are not our friends.
This post is about an event that is occurring even as I write. It is occurring now, but not in the laboratories of Matter. No, this time it is in the sanctuaries of Spirit. Matter and Spirit. Earth and Sky. An Earth and Sky created by a Power far beyond that which is released in time and space when simple matter is unlocked. And we, in our pride, are imagining (and betting) again that we can control the outcome. Even when the magnitude of this new bet is infinitely greater than the first.
Getting your attention to understand this risk is almost as hard as it is to explain it. So, bear with me, please, as we have a lot of Earth and Sky to cover in order to understand the actual meaning (and size) of this bet. And the real odds involved. And finally, the consequences.
Frankly, I’m betting against mankind on this one.
I’ve written before about the national origins of Russia, in all her forms (Great, Little and White Russia). Any materialistic study of the Three Russias is incomplete unless we understand who the Russian people see themselves to be from a religious perspective. I know there are many who feel this information is irrelevant in a ‘modern’ world. But I insist that one cannot even begin to understand any part of the Russian psyche without understanding this critical element of their nature because man is more than mere matter. If we ignore the other component of his being, we totally miss half his essence.
The ground below your feet defines your earthly nationality. But the sky above your heart defines your heavenly spirituality. These are the wellsprings of your body and soul. Together they are the foundations of your destiny. Whether you are Pagan or Christian, the Earth and Sky that you are born upon and under are elemental to your being. Pagans relate to this in the myth of Ouranus and Gaia. Christians understand it in the story of the Star of Bethlehem.
We Earthlings are always chauvinists in our love of the earth of our being. This is a fair emotion as long as it is tempered by a love of neighbor, and his piece of earth. But many folks elevate themselves by denigrating their neighbor. Pretended humility makes the eventual offensive thrust of the knife so much easier when the time is ripe. We forget that while the separate nations occupy different swaths of Earth, we are all meant to share an over-arching Sky. Talk of a neighbor’s inherent inferiority leads to blood.
So we must never forget that the Slavs see themselves in an entirely different light than Westerners portray them. The West has seen them as ‘slaves’ for two millennia. The East has always accounted them as slated for Messianic Glory. Which is what their name means to themselves. The Word of Glory. This clash of visions has begun to play out.
Well then, let’s do a quick review of the Russian nationality. The Russian people, the muzhiks, are Slavic, for the most part. As is most of Eastern Europe. The Slavic division from ethnic Latin and Teutonic Europe is the root of their many differences (and their resulting clashes). The ruling Russian elite have a Scandinavian root. This root is totally apart from the Slavic people, beginning with the first of the Viking Rus’, by the name of Rurik. He was a Pagan Viking, and his heavenly vision was focused to the north, to the Teutonic heavens. But his earthly vision knew no bounds of direction.
Rurik, the Viking prince, was invited in , around 850, to rule the Slavs of Novgorod, the New City. The northern Slavs sought outside rule because their own method of lateral (versus lineal) royal succession (agnatic appanage) resulted in thousands of princes ruling one acre each. The result was predictable: fratricide, in pursuit of the consolidation of power. Since no one prince could prevail, it was necessary to bring in ‘outside management’. Hence the Vikings. Thus, the birth of The Rus’. The Russia we know today. The Slavic people united by Norsemen.
Once enthroned, Rurik sent his vassals, Askold and Dir, to conquer the land to the south. A Slavic city on the Dnieper river, a city named Kiev. Conquer they did, which is where the story gets interesting. Askold and Dir then decided to make that first historic Viking-Slavic (Rus’) raid on Constantinople around 860. This first assault failed, but it would not be the last. This goal of Eastern Empire still bewitches the Slavs of today.
Meanwhile, the Rurikid dynasty set up shop in Kiev (while still holding sway in Novgorod in the north). This new state was known as Kievan Rus’. Rurik’s daughter-in-law, Queen Olga, had already made her personal conversion to Christianity, around 945. Olga would become venerated as the first Russian saint, in both the Latin and Greek wings of the Church. But most of the Slavic nobility remained Pagan until Olga’s grandson Vladimir the Great embraced the faith in 988. In Kiev.
The Photian seed of the Great Schism was already planted in Russia before the conversion of Queen St. Olga. The schism between Latins and Greeks had begun with Photius around 860 but it had not yet worked its way towards the final hardening in 1054. But it had already had its true effect, which was to divide the Church into two opposing wings.
The Latins said the Church was Universal, and was above the Emperors. The Greeks said it was National in character, and served the Emperors. Yes, they did say it was Universal as well, but that it only truly resided in the nations of the East. In other words, it was actually national in nature. This view was most beneficial to the Eastern Emperor, who now controlled the Church in the East. And equally beneficial to Photius, the newly appointed Patriarch of Constantinople who became the effective second-in-command to the emperor. The Emperor’s wizard.
While I do not doubt the Christian sincerity of Vladimir’s conversion, the fact is he embraced a version of the faith that would also offer him political benefits as well. For his conversion also enabled him to bargain for (and win) the hand of the Eastern Roman Emperor’s sister, Anna.
Thus began a two-fold marriage. The marriage of the Rurikid line to the Emperors line, and the marriage of the Slavs to the Greek (Eastern) wing of the Church. And this would result in the claim that Russia was not only the third Imperial Rome (after the fall of Constantinople in 1453), but that it was also the Third Holy Rome. The ruling Russian elites became Greeks, ecclesially-speaking. The people, still in thrall to their Pagan vision of eventual glory, willingly followed. They both rejected Holy Rome in favor of Imperial Rome, as it resided in Constantinople.
Now Vladimir Solovyev, the greatest of Russian philosophers (and son of the greatest Russian historian), foresaw that this sectarian national spirituality would be the fatal weakness of the Slavic-Russian nation. In his momentous work Russia and The Universal Church, Solovyev asked the pregnant question, how can a National Church lead the Universal Church? He saw that each weakened nationalistic division of Christianity would become subservient to the national throne. And each throne would fight to subdue their neighbors, in pursuit of Empire. This is the heart of National Christianity. It is also the heart of Paganism. In this vision of humanity, the Skies only smile upon one people.
The short-term result of Rurik’s dynasty was this: the seat of Viking-Slavic rule had expanded south from Novgorod to include Kiev. The long-term result was the Russian-Byzantine marriage, of both Church and State. This new constellation would eclipse the Pagan stars above. A new constellation appeared, known as Greco-Russian Orthodoxy. This heavenly revolution would overthrow the Slav’s old national Pagan god Perun.
This Slavic embrace of a new Sky would lead to a new empire that united Great Russia with Little Russia (Kiev). An empire that would eventually absorb the remnants of fallen Constantinople in order to become the Third Imperial Rome. With the baptism of Rurik’s great-grandson Vladimir the Great (988) in Kiev, this new Greco-Russian Empire would be nominally Christian in nature until today. But the heart of the current conundrum in Ukraine today is that the baptism of the northern Viking rulers occurred in Kiev, the heart of southern Slavdom. This is the nexus of the dispute that is gripping Greater and Little Russia today.
Is nationality the uppermost criterion of a people’s existence, or is it spirituality? If it is nationality (Earth) then Ukraine is the seat of Christianity amongst Slavs. If, on the other hand, spirituality is uppermost, then Moscovian rule (the ultimate end-seat of Novgorodian rule) must prevail, because the ruler who was baptized into Christianity was initially the ruler of Great Russia before he conquered Little Russia. His choice of spirituality ruled over his subject’s nationality, both north and south. To the conqueror goes the spoils.
If the northern ruler and his northern Slavic subjects converted on southern soil, and both Slavic groups claim the same Slavic ethnos and tongue, and both claim nationalistic Christianity as their spiritual birthright, can it be doubted they are one? What is the real difference? Whether you call him Vladimir or Volodymyr, we are talking about the same man. The only difference is one of local dialect. Within the common nationality they share.
Here’s the funny part of this soon-to-be tragedy. Both sides of this Slavic family are happy to claim the inheritance of the throne of Constantinople, the Second Imperial Rome. Do they believe that nationalistic Eastern Orthodoxy is the core of they being? Because if they do, each of them, both Uke and Rus’ alike, are claiming spiritual descent from national Christianity, and not Universal Christianity. They’re not really fighting each other for opposing visions of different Skies. They’re only contending over common ground. Common Slavic Earth.
Of course, nothing is that simple today. After all, if any of the Three Russia sees herself as the seat of Slavic (e.g. Eastern) Christianity, then she has aligned herself today with the See of Constantinople. Which is to say, today, Istanbul. Which is in an Islamic nation almost entirely devoid of Christians. With the exception of the Patriarch of Constantinople and his retinue of a few thousand, Holy Constantinople is nothing but a dim memory of the past. The past of nationalistic Christianity. I’ll discuss this in the second part of this post, as it is the real reason for this article.
If any part of Slavdom looks to Constantinople for spiritual guidance today, they are embracing the Islamified West. This makes no sense to an Orthodox believer, regardless of the particular location of the Earth beneath him. Anywhere. Embracing Istanbul makes no sense to me either. For to believe this version of their destiny means these Slavic people are in the back of the Western Islamic Bus. Look at England, Germany and France if you want to see your (Slavic) future in the West.
Yes, the Poles are Slavs too. Western Slavs. Catholic as well. Yet they recoil from Europe which welcomes Islam. As do the Magyars of Hungary. And the other Slavs in Central Europe. For this resistance they are reviled as Nazis. The only one who lauds their defense of their Christian heritage is Vlad.
If you’re a Moscovian Slav, you see Kievans as being brats within the common glorious Slavic family. What makes those Uke’s in Kiev so special? Where is their Eastern resistance to the West? How can they claim the special (i.e. national) identity of Eastern Orthodoxy while trying mightily to embrace the ‘core values’ of Western ‘diversity’. This is impossible. Even Uniates have more self-respect than that, Komrade!
When put in this perspective, no self-respecting Slav, north, south, east or west, would agree that they should be subservient to Islam either politically or spiritually. Since Christian Constantinople no longer exists (except on parchment) today, the answer is clear. If you want to reject the agnostic and/or increasingly Islamic West, you’ll need to look to Moscow for help, and not to the groveling westernized rulers of Kiev today. The rulers in thrall to the rotted West. Brussels is no more Christian than Istanbul today. Maybe even less, if that is possible. You may think this is a tangential point. But it’s not. Definitely not. At least, not for anyone who still actually harbors actual Christian belief. While that may not include you, that would certainly include the Slavs.
Shortly after the death of Ivan the Terrible’s last son Feodor I in 1598, the Rurikid dynasty emerged from the Time of Troubles transformed into the shirttail Romanov dynasty. But nothing had really changed. The people had already converted to the skies of Eastern Christendom, while their rulers were still wedded to the earth of Eastern Empire.
The Romanovs had the same problems any Caesar has. Which is that the greater number of their subjects still believed that Earth must be subordinate to Sky. In other words, the people are generally Christian (in some fashion) but their leaders are generally not. Thus, each contender for Caesar’s throne, East or West, must find a way to motivate his own Godly people to fight for Caesar’s own earthly imperial purpose. Even Joe Steel had to relent on this point if he wanted to defeat Dolph.
Well then, my Slavic brothers, here is the question for you today. Are you fighting for Earth or for Sky? Do you actually know who commands you? Are you unclear about where your allegiance lies? Are you one of those who, like a sleeping bat, fails to understand the logical need for the Sky to be above the Earth? If you are, we have a name for you. Cannon fodder. And the cannons are hungry.
Russia was baptized, but never truly Christianized.
For the truth about what Russia is and is not, today, listen to John Lennox who has actually been there, traveled, and lectured on Christian matters as well as mathematics.
Christianity resides within human hearts.
The key point regarding mixing arguments about left and right with those about Christianity is that they are separate matters. Political activism is one thing. Christianity is another.
Destroying the notion of God destroys value for human life, if God is replaced by an essentially competing power.
That is where Russia went wrong. In brief.
The rest is politics. Stop mixing the two.
Countries are not baptised. .. Silly big talk.
Ok I am really confused. Is Watt telling us we should support the Orthodox Church cause it’s the most viable game in town? Or warn us against the rise of the Russian Orthodox Church? Or what? Has he ever been to Russia? Sometimes I wonder.
Ianto as usual knows his history well. I guess I will see more where this is going on the 2nd or 3rd part of this subject.