I highly recommend that you read Peter Hitchens’ charming and thoughtful essay in First Things about his years spent in Moscow and about Russia’s geopolitical situation today: “The Cold War Is Over.” Hitchens’ sensible consideration should be so obvious for those who have eyes to see—but so few ever bother to look.
As a personal note, I enjoyed remembering the many places mentioned that my brother Aaron and I visited, including Bolshaya Ordynka, Novodevichy Convent, and the Danilovsky Monastery. I laughed at the following reminiscing:
You will have heard that Europe ends at the Ural Mountains. This is not true. The Urals are a much overrated geographical feature, but even if they weren’t, you can find Asia in Moscow, and feel its closeness. In the days before Christmas, when I lived there, Moscow took on the mythical characteristics of the East, as old women wrapped in black took up station on street corners, selling fresh-killed geese raised in snowy clearings. I would not have been surprised if these ageless crones had offered me a handful of magic beans or three wishes. . . .
The rebirth of Russia is a consolation in these mad times when the West appears unflinching in its efforts to destroy itself.
A blessed feast to all!
I have neglected Arimathea for months, being rather tempted by nihilism and gripped by despair. I have not felt much like writing. It has been a challenging few years (more so than usual), but upward and onward, as they say. I am going to try to rekindle my commitment to the page; I have begun to update broken links and missing images, too.
For today, you may view a rather extensive photographic trove of Russia. It features just about every standard aspect of non-high brow Russian life, though I noted to my family that I could not find any trace of kvas in the pictures—a shame. A realistic depiction would require some concrete playgrounds, as well (concrete equipment—e.g. concrete slides—not just the ground surface). High culture gets one representative shot with a painting of Pushkin. Note, also, the crazy Russkies who jump in ice water to commemorate today’s feast.
Drudge linked to an article in The Guardian today about patriotic clubs in Russia that provide martial training for the youth: “The Russian patriotic groups teaching children how to defend their country.” (You may read the linked original Meduza article, “Russia’s Littlest Soldiers”) The article begins with the following:
In a small town outside St Petersburg, a group of children are being prepared for service in the Russian army. Arriving at 7pm, the class – all aged between five and 17 – will spend the evening learning how to fight and handle weapons.
This is St Spyridon the Triumphant Orthodox, a patriotic club aiming to “bring children to the church” through sport and military-style training, says their coach, Michael Lysovskiy.
Thousands of clubs like this exist across Russia, forming an integral part of a nation-wide initiative for the “military-patriotic education of the population”, regulated by the government through a significant programme of financial support.
O Russia, let me count the ways that I love you! The articles also feature a video of a co-ed Cossack camp:
You may also wish to read a post from earlier this year about a similar program in the Crimea: “Boys’ Camp—Cossack Style.”
As Nietzsche noted over a century ago (in Beyond Good and Evil), “[The power to will and to persist] is strongest and most surprising of all in that immense middle empire where Europe as it were flows back to Asia—namely, in Russia. There the power to will has been long stored up and accumulated, there the will—uncertain whether to be negative or affirmative—waits threateningly to be discharged (to borrow their pet phrase from our physicists).” Rather prophetic, given the twentieth century, but then Nietzsche is uncommonly perceptive about the modern world. At any rate, it appears that Russia remains determined to will and to persist, despite the constant refrain in the West that Russia is doomed (see “The Eternal Collapse of Russia”).
O Lord, save thy people and bless thine inheritance.
Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries
And by the virtue of thy Cross preserve thy habitation.
My brother sent me a link to beautiful aerial photographs of Russia, Spain, India, and elsewhere that a man took using a drone. They are lovely: “I’ve spent the past two years shooting drone aerials around the world. Here are 38 images which would be totally illegal today.”
A Luddite at heart, I find current technological “advances” troubling, but there are moments when I reflect, “This is what such a device is really meant to do.” Our global traveller with the drone camera has put those machines to worthy use.
My brother Aaron recently sent me a fascinating but disgusting post from Depleted Cranium about one of the more wretched Soviet rites in the cult of Lenin: “Comrade Lenin Gets a Bath.” Gross but informative.
Aaron and I actually visited Old Vova when we stayed in Moscow. I had reservations about going, but my curiosity proved stronger than my principles. What struck me most was how civilized and orderly the “visitors” were—in contrast to how urban Russians typically behave in crowded spaces. People quietly and patiently stood in line and filed past the corpse in respectful silence. Russkies do not even behave that mannerly during the divine services! However, we did experience such sobriety among pilgrims in the monasteries. Such makes sense, given the Bolsheviks’ perversion of Christian piety. For Lenin is the Marxist saint of the materialists and his tomb a sacred site worthy of Communist veneration. Let us pray that the devotees of such superstition continue to disappear from Russia and from the entire world.
Last year, the Business Insider published an article about a military training camp in the Crimea to which Cossacks send their sons to learn the ways of their fathers: “Welcome to the Camp That Trains 7-Year-Olds to Be Defenders of the Russian Homeland” The article features many pictures by Ukrainian photographer Maxim Dondyuk, who has lived among the Cossacks for years to document their way of life. You may see more of Dondyuk’s photographs of the “sich” on his site.
Luxury has largely made the Western world forget what is necessary for survival. Hopefully, Western peoples will remember (likely due to very unfortunate circumstances) those lost lessons that their ancestors knew and valued before they altogether perish.
Happy feast of the Holy Spirit!
I have been absent for weeks, and I shall likely not resume normal posting for some time. However, I want to wish everyone a pleasant summer and safe vacationing.
Suitable to the occasion is an article from The Daily Telegraph about “Camping in the Caucasus.” Ignore the political commentary and enjoy the rest. A humorous section that I find rather accurate:
Yet over the course of the week, everyone we met on the trail – maybe two groups of three or four hikers a day – offered us something to eat or drink. Russians can seem unfriendly, and rarely ask any questions (a Greek will have details of your divorce out of you in five minutes). But they are often generous. My menfolk had never been to Russia before, and all three expressed surprise at the welcome we experienced in the Caucasus.
Americans have become accustomed to think of themselves as the only people in the world who donate to charity. There is something to that belief—Americans do have a strong philanthropic and volunteerist heritage, and the great wealth of the country’s citizens have allowed them to store up some treasure in heaven by giving it to others in need. Yet, that giving spirit lurks abroad, as well, as can be seen in the following Russian news story about a toddler who is waiting for a heart transplant in Cincinnati: ”Первый канал и Русфонд призывают помочь девочке, которая срочно нуждается в пересадке сердца.”
It is strange for me to see a Russky news story that covers my hometown.
Rusfond had already raised a half million dollars to send the child to Cincinnati, and they received another four and a half million dollars from Russian viewers following the broadcast. Such is enough to help the little girl and dozens of other children.
It is always a joy to have russocentric posts on Arimathea, and the Olympics are a fitting occasion for such as the world is currently focused on Russia. Sadly, Western media coverage has been a tad nasty. As I mentioned at the beginning of the games in “To Sochi, with Love,” the depiction of the pussy rioters as heroic dissidents has annoyed me. As thousands of online commentators have noted, The New York Times, Madonna, and the State Department would treat these wretches quite differently had they performed a protest song in a mosque in Riyadh. Of course, had such occurred, the band would not have lived to go on a cushy, all expense paid bitchfest circuit throughout the West.
Moreover, I have been surprised by the politicization of the Olympics by third party Western journalists, and having to tolerate NBC’s “journalistic” commentary is a painful cost to pay to be able to watch the games. I have two thoughts regarding the snarky media comments about Sochi. First, Western journalists are digging for any dirt in order to portray the Russians negatively as a form of revenge for the Russians’ failing to get with the Open Society Foundation’s program. How dare the Russkies defy the delicate sensibilities of the Davos-SWPL set! Second, even if we discount the political agenda of the newsies, their white leftist programming is on full display. For when white leftists travel to non-white regions, they display the most ridiculous diplomatic sensibilities: venerating the local idols of the tribe with as much fervency as Urban Outfitters atheists can muster, acknowledging the supposed cultural superiority of colored folk (you know, like the soulful wisdom of Apaches), and commenting on the ecological sustainability of using human excrement as a building material. They never show their entitled, arrogant essence, worrying that such would betray their deeply internalized racism. Yet, they have no problem unmasking themselves as Ugly Americans when they travel to a white man’s land that pales in comparison to luxurious Manhattan living. Remember how the Western media portrayed the Chinese at the Olympic Games in Peking, and consider how they will react in Rio de Janeiro. Can you imagine mainstream media types’ whining about colored water or Third World plumbing in Pardo Land?
Wasn’t that red balloon enough for them?
It appears that the mass media’s conditioning of the public has worked well; see Gallup’s “Americans’ Views of Russia, Putin Are Worst in Years.” Not long ago, Western conservatives hated the godless Communists while Western lefties made excuses for the Soviets. “Conservatives” remain russophobic (cf. “Liberals for War”), while the Left loses its enthusiasm for Russian autocracy when it is wielded to defend Christianity or traditional civilization. Now, both Republicans and Democrats dislike Russia, and Gallup’s survey shows the results. Just last night as I was channel surfing during Olympic commercials, I watched Bill O’Reilly and Charles Krauthammer criticize Stephen Cohen’s article in The Nation, “Distorting Russia,” as yet another example of leftist apologies for Russia. The Fox News men ought to have addressed the points in Cohen’s fair article rather than handwaving it away like Nate the Neocon because it questions the legitimacy of their perpetual belligerence against the Russians.
I remember hearing somewhere (in class, conversation, or online) that there were only three sovereign nations in the world—Russia, China, and the United States of America. Those three largely dictate the policies of the rest of the world. I think of that when I encounter neoconservative bile for the Russians. Are men like McCain and Krauthammer spiteful toward Russia because it obstructs American imperialism? Or are they against Russia because they are liberal true believers—whether economically or socially—and they are sad that the United States did not colonize the crippled country of the Yeltsin era when Wall Street, NGOs, and the State Department had the chance? Or are they upset that all their money and efforts to transform the former Soviet block into their mirror image have not really paid off? Consider all the organizations, newspapers, and political plants Americans have sown in post-Soviet lands—all the colored revolutions, all the Kyiv Post editorials—and still someone runs the Kremlin who has the gall to disregard the wishes of post-national traitors and global economy puppeteers.
The twenty-second Olympic Winter Games will soon begin in Sochi. I wish the athletes well, and I send my best wishes to our Russian brethren for a peaceful, successful, glorious Olympics. Four years ago, I confessed to being an Olympics junkie in “A Vancouver Night,” and I am very excited about indulging in my favorite sports program. I even like the commercials. My hometown company Procter and Gamble has mastered the understanding of its most important customer demographic—mothers (“P&G and the big business in sentimental Olympics ads”). And who doesn’t support a “Thank You, Mom” campaign? When I first saw the “Pick Them Back Up” advertisement, I was moved—and impressed:
As a Cincinnatian, I know many Procter and Gamble employees, but I don’t know if any of them work in the company’s marketing departments. If this campaign was done inhouse, the folks behind it deserve the promotion that they surely received. Ditto for the Madison Avenue types, if contracted out.
With the games in Sochi, lately Russia has been in the mainstream news more often than usual. That would normally be pleasant, but I have lamented the increased Western coverage of the Pussy Riot strumpets; the Russkies should have thrown away the keys to those cells. [Update: For more evidence against Russia’s clemency, see what the nasty girls have been doing right before the opening ceremony: “U.S. and Russian diplomats spar over Pussy Riot” and “After Prison Stint, Pussy Riot Keeps Up Anti-Government Stand.” Russians are oddly merciful at times with adversaries of the regime; e.g. Vladimir Ilyich and Ioseb Besarionis—the tsarist authorities should have had them shot for their crimes, sedition, and terrorist activities.] How the tolerance crowd got the vapors when they read about the “Don’t Let Pussy Riot into the Cathedral” video game during their HufPost breaks. (Read “Russian Orthodox Church video game lets you slay Pussy Riot members” for the details.) I, by contrast, couldn’t wait to play it—it delivers a heavy dose of sacriliciousness and it allows you to exorcise demonic leftist sluts! What else could one want in a video game? (Obviously a rhetorical question—horses, swords, castles, apothecaries, magical fountains . . .)
Apart from the pussy rioters, I have several other russocentric links that have been collecting in my post folder. Here is another unholy item from the Motherland, as noted in The St. Petersburg Times: “‘Holy Spirit’ Infecting Russian Computers.” Apparently, impious hackers have spread a virus that fraudulently demands payment “for the upkeep of temples.” Temples of harlotry, more likely! (See, Arimathea can even find a use for Lutherisms; it is very ecumenically conscious.) I sent the story to Fr. Z. as a fitting occasion for his wholly appropriate “Litany for the Conversion of Internet Thugs.”
For some serious fare, here is a transcript of an informative and insightful panel discussion hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations: “Snowden, Syria, and Sochi: U.S.-Russia Relations on the Eve of the Winter Olympics.”
No list of Russian story links is complete without an anguished nod to the Soviet past, readily provided by The Telegraph: “How the Bolsheviks sold Russia’s treasures.” Bastards.
Yet, the story does not end with the Commies in charge. The following video shows Saint Petersburg on the feast of Saint Alexander Nevsky last year:
Similarly, you may read “Thousands queue in Russia to see religious relic” or any of the dozens of such stories that appear each month about today’s Russia. The times—they’re a-changin’.
As such, Pravmir’s “Solzhenitsyn and the Russian Renaissance” may interest you.
The following story is only in Russian, but you might enjoy the videos of the recent greater consecration of the Optina Hermitage Metokhion in Saint Petersburg: ”Святейший Патриарх Кирилл освятил восстановленное подворье Оптиной пустыни в Петербурге.” Patriarch Kirill is a busy man—and he means business.
See, for instance, “Church-Theme TV Channel to Search for Souls Nationwide” from RIANovosti or “Russian priest wants church in social networks” on New Kerala. I sent the stories to my friend with the following note:
The Russkies know what is at stake—and how to fight.
I heard someone recently say that the top guys in Russia all experienced Soviet control and cultural warfare methods. Many of them knew this from the inside (like Putin, who was KGB). They all saw the methods in action while growing up. So, they know the leftist methods of subversion extremely well—they exported many of them to the West! And they thus know the enemy.
However, Western conservatives never learn. They are the Left’s perennial bitches.
That gives me more hope for Russia.
Wise as serpents!
So, I do rejoice for Russia but cry inside for my own nation when I read stories like “Who’s ‘godless’ now? Russia says it’s U.S.” in The Washington Times. After the Grammy Awards (and the last fifty years), it is hard to dispute Vladimir Vladimirovich’s contention.
I end with a toast to the Russians on the occasion of the Olympic Games in Sochi—ваше здоровье!