||FIRST, THE NEWS:
RUSYN BISHOP MILAN: 'MANY PEOPLE HAVE LOST THEIR LIVES FOR THIS CHURCH'
from Kyiv Post
(6 Nov) Bishop Milan Sasik’s eyes shine as he guides visitors through his residence, discussing the restoration of the 18th-century murals adorning the unfurnished chamber. Located about a mile from Ukraine’s border with Slovakia, the 62-year-old Vincentian’s residence had been part of a state university library for nearly 60 years, until 2004. The bishop pauses at a painting of a winged herald sounding a trumpet. “We had artisans come from Lviv to do the painstaking restoration work. They did this for more than a year,” he says.
This dedication is an example of the historical pedigree Bishop Milan is trying to restore in Ukraine’s westernmost region of Transcarpathia, in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. This wooded, mountainous area has a diverse population, which includes ethnic Ukrainians, Slovaks, Hungarians, Jews and Roma. Many identify themselves as Rusyns (often Latinized as “Ruthenians”), an eastern Slavic people who trace their roots to the Kievan Rus’, a kingdom that flourished about a millennium ago. Their spiritual traditions are founded on the sermons of two Byzantine sibling monks, Sts. Cyril and Methodius, credited with introducing the Cyrillic alphabet in Central Europe in the ninth century.
Isolated by mountains from other eastern Slavs, such as the Ukrainians and Belarusians, Rusyns developed their own unique culture and identity. Although Transcarpathia is their primary homeland, they also inhabit portions of eastern Slovakia and Hungary, as well the southeastern border areas of modern-day Poland. “We have four Romanian parishes, 40 communities that speak Hungarian, as well as Slovaks,” Bishop Milan says. “We celebrate the liturgy in four languages — Church Slavonic, Ukrainian, Hungarian and Slovak.” In addition to their Eastern Christian faith and distinct alphabet, the unique wooden churches that dot the area constitute an art form unto themselves. Constructed from carved wooden joints without the use of nails or other tools, these airtight buildings are a distinctive part of the Rusyn heritage. [read more...]
GEORGIA: STATE OBSTRUCTS BUILDING NEW NON-GEORGIAN-ORTHODOX PLACES OF WORSHIP
by Mariam Gavtadze, and Eka Chitanava, to Forum 18 News Service
(5 Nov) Non-Georgian-Orthodox religious communities repeatedly face obstruction from local municipal councils and national state bodies such as the State Agency for Religious Affairs to building new places of worship, Forum 18 News Service notes. Such problems affect communities such as Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, Catholics and Protestants. Typically, local Georgian Orthodox clergy and congregation members oppose proposals to build non-Georgian-Orthodox places of worship.
Then the local council finds excuses to obey Georgian Orthodox demands, even if the demands go against a court decision, often using spurious reasons to deny the building permit application. State authorities also often tell non-Georgian-Orthodox communities to stop trying to build a place of worship on their own land and find some other land to build on. Georgian Orthodox hostility has led to extreme physical violence against those they dislike. National state authorities, such as the State Agency, have refused to answer Forum 18's questions on the issues. [read more...]
STONE FROM CRIMEA LAID IN FOUNDATION OF MONUMENT TO ST. VLADIMIR IN DOWNTOWN MOSCOW
(5 Nov) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia consecrated a stone laid to foundation of the monument to St. Vladimir the Baptizer of Rus at the Borovitskaya Square in downtown Moscow. "Prince Vladimir was a founder of a new civilization, which included the Russian people, the Ancient Rus - the civilization decorated with the greatest achievements of the human spirit, thought and people's heroism," the patriarch said at the ceremony. According to him, the Baptism of Rus in the 10th century refers to everyone who lives in Russia, Ukraine and Byelorussia preserving "the spiritual unity rooted in Prince Vladimir's historic step."
In his turn Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky reported that the foundation stone was brought from Chersonese where Prince Vladimir was baptized. The monument will be built on donations. The place for the monument - the Borovitskaya Square (buffer zone of the Moscow Kremlin) - was chosen by residents of the capital in the course of an Internet poll. This year it will be 1000 years since Prince Vladimir passed away. In 2010, the President in his decree proclaimed the Day of Russia's Baptism a state memorable date. In 2008, Patriarch Kirill's predecessor Alexy II introduced a tradition of celebrating the Feast of Russia's Baptism in Kiev. However, in 2014 for the first time in these years main celebrations took place in Moscow, not Kiev. [read more...]
RUSSIA: TWO PRISON TERMS, 25 INITIAL FINES IN 37 CASES FOR PUBLIC RELIGIOUS EVENTS OVER 4 MONTHS
by Victoria Arnold, Forum 18 News Service
(4 Nov) The prosecution of three Baptists in Rostov, among others, illustrates the lengthy, complicated, and unpredictable proceedings some of those charged under Article 20.2 must undergo. "In many cases, it depends on the attitude of the judge," Council of Churches Baptists noted to Forum 18 from Moscow. The three, who had been distributing literature in the street, were all charged with holding an unlawful picket but were acquitted at the city's Proletarian District Court on 8 and 9 June. The police challenged these rulings at Rostov Regional Court on the grounds that the district court had not taken into account the fact that the "picket" had been held near a school.
Here, the defendants, all of whom had been accused of exactly the same offence, faced differing outcomes. The prosecution's appeal against N. Kirillov's acquittal was refused. The cases against L. Leyn and E. Rogachyov (who faced a different appeal court judge) were sent back for re-examination. Upon re-trial on 7 August, both were found guilty. Leyn's subsequent appeal on 8 October was unsuccessful. Rogachyov's case was again returned to Proletarian District Court on 20 October because of a number of procedural violations - no date has yet been set for his second re-trial. Forum 18 called Proletarian District Court on 29 October to ask why the distribution of literature could be considered a picket, but a spokeswoman refused to answer questions by telephone. [read more...]
THIRD ALL-UKRAINIAN CONGRESS FOR TEACHERS OF MORAL AND RELIGIOUS SUBJECTS STARTS IN KYIV
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
(3 Nov) Religious and moral education of Ukrainian youth is a challenge for the entire modern educational system. Chairman of the Public Council under the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine Yuriy Reshetnikov was reported as saying this at the opening of the Third all-Ukrainian Congress of Teachers of Religious and Moral Subjects. “The new education system is a kind of homework assignment for us. However, it is also a challenge for us because we have to rethink the system of education and training of the new generation. But our model of development needs to include international experience, which will be presented at the Congress,” said the expert.
The event is traditionally hosted by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, Public Council under the Ministry of Education, Minor Academy of Sciences, Scientific Publishing Association “Spirit and Letter” together with the Center for religious studied of Dragomanov National Pedagogical University. Changes within education started following recent decree N 580 of the President of Ukraine of 10.13.2015, which envisions eventual introduction of the subjects for moral and spiritual education of a child. The new law allowing religious organizations to establish their own educational institutions should also be kept in mind. [read more...]
RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH TO OFFER PORN-FREE AND 'PURE' WI-FI
from The Guardian
(6 Nov) The Russian Orthodox Church has said it will offer free “Orthodox Internet” Wi-Fi cleansed of immoral content near churches and in public places around Moscow. Orthodox priest Roman Bogdasarov, who heads the Russian Inter-religious Council, told Izvestia newspaper that the internet contains many threats to users, including recruitment materials for Christian sects and Islamic State, pornography and “distorted versions of history.”
Bogdasarov said the new Orthodox Wi-Fi would feature not just religious sites, but also popular content such as films that “instil in people correct values, such as traditional morality, patriotism, protection of family and children. We’re not planning to limit access to most Internet resources, just delete everything that brings evil to people under the guise of goodness,” Bogdasarov said. One thing that users won’t be able to access is any mention of homosexuality. According to Alexei Protopopov, director of child-safe Internet vendor Crystal Protection which is setting up the new network, only information that religious leaders decide does not “disturb believers’ feelings” will be accessible. [read more...]
OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:
ORTHODOX CHURCH DESECRATED IN SIMFEROPOL ON HALLOWEEN
CHRISTIAN AID MISSION BRINGING RELIEF IN UKRAINE'S WAR ZONE
from Mission Network News
UOC MONASTERY ABBOT DIES IN A PLANE CRASH
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
SECURITY GUARD SHOT AT UOC(MP) CHURCH IN LUHANSK PROVINCE
from RIA Novosti
RUSSIAN ORTHODOX REPRESENTATIVES ATTEND GLOBAL CHRISTIAN FORUM ON PERSECUTION AGAINST CHRISTIANS
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
EXHIBITION "ORTHODOX CHURCHES AND CHAPELS IN ESTONIA" IN MINSK
from Belarus News
MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE’S MEDDLING IN THE RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN CONFLICT IS BACKFIRING
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NOW, OUR VIEWS:
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Our lead news article RUSYN BISHOP MILAN: 'MANY PEOPLE HAVE LOST THEIR LIVES FOR THIS CHURCH' goes on to tell that millions of Rusyns ("Carpatho-Russian") emigrated after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, many coming to western Pennsylvania where we live to work in the coal mines and steel mills. Because of the expansion of the Austrian Hapsburg Empire, most of the Rusyns had to switch their Christian orientation westward and acknowledge the Roman Pope in their liturgies. But they were able to retain the eastern liturgical practices and have married priests, just like during their former time in the Orthodox Church. So they were only Roman Catholic in name, not in form.
But the Rusyns were heavily persecuted during the communist era because of their orientation toward the west. When the Iron Curtain fell in 1989 and then the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Rusyns began to restore their old liturgical practices. Some Rusyns who had come to the U.S. remained Catholics and adopted the western mass, but many switched back to the Orthodox Church. Some of them joined together to form the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church, but others went to the Russian, Ukrainian or Greek Orthodox jurisdictions. So the majority of Orthodox people in western Pennsylvania are Rusyns, although not all of them are in the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church.
The type of religious intolerance described in our second news article GEORGIA: STATE OBSTRUCTS BUILDING NEW NON-GEORGIAN-ORTHODOX PLACES OF WORSHIP I have experienced more than once while serving as a Protestant missionary in Russia. The most extreme event was when we lived in Ioshkar-Ola, capital of the Mari Republic: the Baptist church we attended had leased a plot of land near the city center, but when they erected a construction fence and began excavating for the foundation, protests erupted, someone wrote "death to Baptists!" (in Russian) on the fence, and the night watchman was pelted with rocks. The Baptists had to find a different plot of land on the outskirts of the city.
Our last news article RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH TO OFFER PORN-FREE AND 'PURE' WI-FI is written in a somewhat snide tone, as is typical for secular news sources when writing about Christian moral standards. The Internet carries so much sexually-abnormal-oriented material that it is at times difficult to avoid it. The Russian Orthodox Church has every right to filter out such trash for its Wi-Fi users. I have a piece of heavy paper next to my desk that I put on the right side of my monitor when suggestive ads appear in that column of the screen. But many young people may be easily led into temptation by such ads.
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Which Is the Real Jesus?
For many people - especially in the western world - the question "Which Is the Real Jesus?" is a sort of grab-bag game, or a cafeteria-style choosing of what suits your taste. The result is often a smorgasbord serving of logically contradictory, half-baked notions. This semester I'm auditing a course on Christology, and I thought it might be helpful to share some of it with you.
Christology sets us apart from other monotheistic religions including neo-atheism. It is the linchpin of our theology, implicit in the Old Testament and explicit in the New Testament. It includes the two natures, two energies and two wills in one Person of Christ. Orthodox Christian theology possesses an intimate link between Christology and theosis – the deification of mankind. There is not a 3-stage process of justification, salvation, and sanctification. With Orthodox Christianity there is only one process: deification/theosis. Our anthropology flows from the Incarnation and to our deification.
St. Athanasius in The Incarnation of the Word (preface by C. S. Lewis) wrote that The image of God in man was defaced by the Fall, as a face in a painting is defaced by dirt, fading and with painting over it. It is renewed by the One from Whom the image was painted to come and renew the image. The image could not be renewed without death and sinful corruption being eliminated. For this reason it was required that the Logos take on a human body, to renew the image. God can't just wave His magic wand or snap His fingers to transform mankind: if God is love, He can't arbitrarily force change on human nature. We don't believe in magic: God only acts according to His nature.
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Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...
Bob & Cheryl
p.s. Status: Spending money you don't have, to buy things you don't need, to impress people you don't like.