‘Christ is risen!’ Воистинну воскресе! ‘Indeed he is risen!’ This year today is Russian Easter. The world’s biggest Orthodox country celebrates. So here are some reasons why Catholics and other conservatives should like the Russians including Vladimir Putin.
- Good old-fashioned, traditionalist Christian nationalism standing athwart all of the following: political correctness, the European Union and both the American left’s and right’s expansion plans. A check and balance. Still a quasi-superpower thanks to nukes and its size; Europe’s big nyet. Putin’s ex-KGB but really just an old-school Russian patriot, not New World Order like Gorby. (Ditto Lukashenko in Byelorussia. Nobody would be surprised if Russia and Byelorussia get back together. Maybe the Ukraine too.)
- A quasi-state church with no ‘Reformation’ or Vatican II; trads’ natural compadres. The only error is the schism. The answer is NOT to latinize the proud Russians the way the Ukrainian Catholic Church ended up latinizing itself but to bend over backwards to persuade the Orthodox that, as the late, great Archimandrite Serge (Keleher), who spent time on each side (he was ordained an Orthodox priest*), put it, NOTHING really in their great tradition is incompatible with the Catholic Church. That you can come into the church and not lose your Russianness. It’s on us to make it and keep it so. They would help us a lot and, I dare say, we them.
- A Russian priest has a gay wedding; Russians tear down the parish church where it happened. Stupid girls do a political skit in church making fun of the religion, and go to jail for it. I don’t have a problem with those answers.
- Real men light candles to icons. Where it’s politically advantageous to have your picture taken at an Orthodox church.
- The Pope repeats that Catholicism claims it’s the true church. The secularists and mainline bitch. The Russian church respects it; they understand.
- Diversity, not ‘diversity’. Clannish, low-trust cultures, family writ large, such as the non-Christian Chechens, all in the empire.
- The Eurasian mix is part of Russia’s riddle. You have the Cossacks, basically Russians but with a difference, the Chechen strain. The traditional liturgy is basically High Mass, etc., in an archaic version of the language, with our baroque finery including the choral music but with that beautiful ‘sad’ Asian minor-key lilt. The people ‘don’t participate’! They are either silent or mill about doing their devotions, lighting candles to their lucky saint or at the table for the dead. A modern liturgist’s nightmare: wonderful!
- Like most Catholic countries, most people don’t go to church. When they do, they just let the singing and incense waft over them, hoping to get some grace. What much of the country was doing today.
- Among the world’s most beautiful, sexiest women. The men are more masculine; the women often more feminine (also true of Polish women, who have the same Slavic cheekbones and modelly way about them). Both sexes seem in top shape. A reason so many of them are Olympic medalists.
- They’re famous drinkers. I’m not, but from the empire you have the semi-sweet red wines of Georgia, among the best in the world.
*And as he said to me with a twinkle in his eye, his Russian bishop was nice by not deposing him when he came back to Catholicism so he remained an Orthodox priest in good standing. Born Catholic in New York; ’doxed in ’61; priested in ’67; returned in the early ’70s.