Religion and Politics

The Russian Church: Profiting by Silence

by Sergei Chapnin

Russia protest

Last Sunday Russia saw a wave of protests against corruption in the upper echelons of power. Masses took to the streets ignited by the investigation of the Anti-Corruption Foundation titled “He is Not Dimon for You,” which focused on the alleged corrupt affairs of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The outcome of these events surprised everybody, including the government, the organisers of the protests, and society at large.

Firstly and most importantly, Alexei Navalny, the author of the investigation who had previously announced his bid to seek the presidency in 2018, managed to lead tens of thousands of people out to the streets all over Russia, from Vladivostok to Voronezh. Nobody, the organisers included, expected the protests to achieve such scale. In many cities, the rallies remained unauthorized and led to people being arrested despite the peaceful nature of these demonstrations.  Continue Reading…

A Time for U.S.-Russian Repentance?

by John P. Burgess

moscow

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Orthodox churches throughout Russia on Sunday, February 26th. In the church that I attended, the priest spoke of a God who invites humans to confess their sins and make a new start. As dozens of flickering candles cast gentle shadows into the darkened room, he bowed his head and in a hushed voice spoke of his own shortcomings. “I don’t always give you the attention that you need. I’m not always patient with you. The priesthood is a high calling, and I’m not always worthy of it. I ask you please to forgive me.” I held my breath, but his parishioners responded, quietly but firmly, “God forgives.” And then they came forward one by one to ask him to forgive them.

This ritual takes place in Orthodox churches throughout the world on Forgiveness Sunday, the beginning of the seven weeks of fasting and prayer that mark the Great Lent. But this year the words, “God forgives,” had a special poignancy to me. Continue Reading…

My Silent Church

by Katherine Kelaidis

silence

Above my desk is a sign I bought years ago in an antique shop in the town where my Yiayia Kay grew up. It says, “No Dogs, No Greeks.” I originally bought it with a fair amount of Millennial irony, too gleeful at the fact that it would preside over a room that normally contains only  me and my 4.5 lbs Maltese named for the fourth Musketeer. On the same wall is hung a framed copy of the famous Life Magazine cover of Archbishop Iakovos standing next to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I have fixed in the frame a handwritten slip of paper with Dr. King’s words, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” These words serve as a reminder to me each time I sit down to write: Which friends will remember my silence today?

However, over the past few weeks, these words have become a sort of accusation each time I see them, particularly resting as they are under an iconic image of a Greek Orthodox Archbishop’s friendship with one of the great heroes of the American Civil Rights Movement. Continue Reading…