Tag Archives: John Burgess

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…

“Re-Christianizing” Russia

by John P. Burgess

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Orthodox Church has aspired to nothing less than “a second Christianization” of the Russian nation—a term that appears in its Missionary Concept of 2007. The Church has striven to revive Russia’s historic Orthodox identity by becoming, with state assistance, a comprehensive presence in society. Critics often note the price that the Church pays for close cooperation with the Putin government, but after a decade of tracking these developments on the ground, I see another, less well-known side to the story. “Re-Christianization,” whatever its political deficiencies, is also contributing much good to Russia. Continue Reading…