Tag Archives: Russia

CHRIST IS RISEN! (some thoughts for Easter)

CHRIST IS RISEN!

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Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin was a Russian Communist leader who took part in the Bolshevik Revolution 1917, was editor of the Soviet newspaper Pravda , and was a full member of the Politburo.

Once in Kiev in 1930 he gave an anti-Christian speech to a large gathering on the subject of atheism

After putting down Christianity for an hour, at the end of his diatribe, a man approached the platform and mounted the lectern standing near the communist leader. He surveyed the crowd first to the left then to the right. Finally he shouted the ancient acclamation:

“CHRIST IS RISEN!”

En masse came the reply:

“HE IS RISEN INDEED!”

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A professor from Moscow University some years ago said that religion in Russia was virtually dead and  he claimed “There is no one in the Churches, except a few little old ladies”

Well, these so-called “little old ladies” have seen off the Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, and Gorbachev, and the rest.  The little old ladies have won – and,  it is most likely that what sustained them was their abiding hope in the living Christ – the one who is and always will be the Resurrection and the Life.

No one and nothing can defeat him: no political system, no military dictator, no communist, no fascist – nobody.

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!

He was dead and he was buried.  Then on the third day, he rose from the dead and is alive forever more

And the world has never been the same since.

a brief story…..

PIt concerns a little girl who one day was restless and fidgeting.  Her father was trying to read his newspaper, but was being constantly interrupted by his young daughter.

To amuse her, her dad tore a map of the world from the paper he was attempting to read.  He then cut the page into small pieces.

“Here’s a jigsaw puzzle” he told the little girl, “Why not sit down somewhere quiet and put it together”

The youngster whose knowledge of geography was pretty limited, went to work on the map and, to her father’s amazement, soon had it reassembled.

“How did you do it so quickly?” he asked her.

“Oh it was easy” she replied, “There’s a picture of a man on the other side. I put the man together and the world came out right!”

If we truly believe in the power of God and that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life – put back together, as it were, on Easter day – then one day the world in all its difficulty and brokeness, will come out all right.

Christ will triumph.  The victory will be his. Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!

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A case of mistaken identity

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from “The Mirror”, 25 December 2014

 

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A school boy thought he was all set to play Joseph Stalin in the end of term play – but it turned out he was supposed to be Joseph of Nazareth.

Russian pupil Ilya Gavrichenko told his parents he was playing the Soviet despot, and so as requested, they made his outfit, including army boots, the red stripe on his military trousers, and a marshal’s jacket.

“We even got him a perfect moustache,” said his father Fedor, from St Petersburg. “We were all ready for him to be a success.”

It was only when they arrived at the performance that the horrified parents realised this was a nativity play and their 12-year-old son was supposed to play a very different role – Joseph of Nazareth.

“He was supposed to accompany the Virgin Mary but there was no time to change the outfit,” said his father.

“Each time he went out on stage, the mothers were in hysterics, crying and yowling from somewhere under their chairs.

“My son was lost because of mixing up the part he was playing, and feeling guilty for having done so.”

 

 

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Prince Alexis

An old Russian tale tells of Prince Alexis 

He lived in a luxurious palace, while all around him the peasantry existed in squalor, poverty, and misery.

Alexis was moved with compassion at their plight, and wanted to help in some way.

 He left his luxurious surroundings, and walked amongst them, but he had no point of real contact.  They were in awe of him, and treated him with great deference and respect.

 Therefore, he could not win their confidence or affection.

 His visit to them proved futile, and he returned to the palace, a defeated and disappointed man.

 Some time later, a very different man came among the people.  He was rough and ready, with no airs or graces.  He was a doctor who wanted to devote his life to helping the poor.

 He rented a vermin-infested shack, and lived amongst them.  He wore old and tattered clothes.  He ate plain, simple, peasant food, and, most times, he did not know where his next meal would come from.

He made no money because he treated the people free, and gave away his medicines.

 Consequently, he won great respect and was loved by the people in quite a different way to their Prince, Alexis.

 He was one of them.  And he managed to transform the place.  Not only did he minister to them as their doctor; he also settled quarrels and reconciled enemies.  He helped make better lives.

 Eventually, of course, his secret was discovered.  The doctor was none other then Prince Alexis himself.  Alexis had deliberately abandoned the palace and gone down to the people and lived amongst them……to fully identify with them in their need and in their suffering, in order to help them and make their lives happier and stronger.

 Jesus said ‘I have come to give life, life in all its fullness, life in abundance.’  In Jesus Christ, God left his lofty heavenly home, to come down into the human condition – to be like us – to be for us and with us…..God Incarnate….Emmanuel…..whose coming we greet at this Holy time.

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Franklin Graham (from Huff Post)

imageFranklin Graham Thinks Putin’s Stance On Gay Rights Is Better Than Obama’s
Kevin EckstromReligion News Service03/14/14 03:45 PM ET
(RNS)

Evangelist Franklin Graham is praising Russian President Vladimir Putin for his aggressive crackdown on homosexuality, saying his record on protecting children from gay “propaganda” is better than President Obama’s “shameful” embrace of gay rights.

Graham, who now heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association started by his famous father, praises Putin in the March issue of the group’s Decision magazine for signing a bill that imposes fines for adults who promote “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.”

The Russian law came under heavy criticism from gay rights activists, and from Obama, ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. In response, Obama included openly gay athletes as part of the official U.S. delegation to Sochi.

“In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues,” Graham writes. “Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.”

“Our president and his attorney general have turned their backs on God and His standards, and many in the Congress are following the administration’s lead. This is shameful.”

With the caveat that “I am not endorsing President Putin,” Graham nonetheless praised Russia’s get-tough approach toward gay rights.

“Isn’t it sad, though, that America’s own morality has fallen so far that on this issue — protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda — Russia’s standard is higher than our own?”

Graham also implicitly seems to side with Putin’s ally, embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, in the ongoing civil war that has claimed more than 140,000 lives. Syria’s small Christian population has largely sided with the Assad regime throughout the three-year conflict.

“Syria, for all its problems, at least has a constitution that guarantees equal protection of citizens,” Graham writes. “Around the world, we have seen that this is essential where Christians are a minority and are not protected. … Christians in Syria know that if the radicals overthrow Assad, there will be widespread persecution and wholesale slaughter of Christians.”

Graham’s father was a virulent anti-Communist in his early years; in 1949 he called communism “a religion that is inspired, directed, and motivated by the Devil himself who has declared war against Almighty God.” But as he took his message around the world, he softened his rhetoric on a host of issues, including politics and hot-button fronts in the culture wars.

“If I had it to do over again, I would avoid any semblance of involvement in partisan politics,” the elder Graham, now 95, wrote in his 1997 autobiography, “Just As I Am.”

For years, Billy Graham sought to take his gospel behind the Iron Curtain, ultimately preaching to huge crowds in Moscow in 1982. At the time, Putin was a young agent in the KGB. “In fact, he was in charge of monitoring foreigners in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) when my father preached there in 1984,” the younger Graham wrote. “If he was eavesdropping on our meeting, which I hope he was, he heard the Gospel!”

Since Franklin Graham took over in 2001, he has steered the Graham franchise in a more political direction by openly questioning President Obama’s faith, endorsing a North Carolina measure that banned gay marriage, calling Islam an “evil and wicked religion” and implicitly endorsing Mitt Romney’s 2012 White House bid.

Michael Hamilton, who has studied the Graham legacy as a historian at Seattle Pacific University, said both father and son have been known to wade into controversy, but Franklin Graham responds differently.

“When the firestorm would hit, Billy Graham would always backtrack or walk back his comments in some way,” Hamilton said. “But when the firestorm hits Franklin, he doesn’t seem to really care.”

Hamilton also questioned why Franklin Graham — who has received wide praise for his relief work through his organization Samaritan’s Purse — didn’t approach Syria through the lens of “its enormous humanitarian crisis.”

A spokeswoman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said Friday (March 14) that Franklin Graham was traveling and unavailable for comment. A statement from BGEA noted his article went to press before the current crisis in Ukraine that’s pitted Putin and Russia against the West.

“Franklin Graham consistently encourages Christians to be informed and take a stand for biblical values and biblical truth,” the statement said. “The Putin cover article was a way to provoke engagement of readers on this important issue and encourage further thought, prayer, and action.”

But Marianne Duddy-Burke, who heads the gay Catholic group DignityUSA and is a member of the National Religious Leadership Roundtable of gay-friendly religious groups, said she’s met with gay and lesbian Russians who have been beaten, stabbed and burned as Russia cracks down.

“It’s really disturbing when a religious leader seems to endorse laws that lead to this kind of behavior,” she said.

(Adelle M. Banks and Cathy Lynn Grossman contributed to this report)

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Letter from The Learned Mr Fry

Dear Prime Minister, M Rogge, Lord Coe and Members of the International Olympic Committee,

I write in the earnest hope that all those with a love of sport and the Olympic spirit will consider the stain on the Five Rings that occurred when the 1936 Berlin Olympics proceeded under the exultant aegis of a tyrant who had passed into law, two years earlier, an act which singled out for special persecution a minority whose only crime was the accident of their birth. In his case he banned Jews from academic tenure or public office, he made sure that the police turned a blind eye to any beatings, thefts or humiliations afflicted on them, he burned and banned books written by them. He claimed they “polluted” the purity and tradition of what it was to be German, that they were a threat to the state, to the children and the future of the Reich. He blamed them simultaneously for the mutually exclusive crimes of Communism and for the controlling of international capital and banks. He blamed them for ruining the culture with their liberalism and difference. The Olympic movement at that time paid precisely no attention to this evil and proceeded with the notorious Berlin Olympiad, which provided a stage for a gleeful Führer and only increased his status at home and abroad. It gave him confidence. All historians are agreed on that. What he did with that confidence we all know.

Putin is eerily repeating this insane crime, only this time against LGBT Russians. Beatings, murders and humiliations are ignored by the police. Any defence or sane discussion of homosexuality is against the law. Any statement, for example, that Tchaikovsky was gay and that his art and life reflects this sexuality and are an inspiration to other gay artists would be punishable by imprisonment. It is simply not enough to say that gay Olympians may or may not be safe in their village. The IOC absolutely must take a firm stance on behalf of the shared humanity it is supposed to represent against the barbaric, fascist law that Putin has pushed through the Duma. Let us not forget that Olympic events used not only to be athletic, they used to include cultural competitions. Let us realise that in fact, sport is cultural. It does not exist in a bubble outside society or politics. The idea that sport and politics don’t connect is worse than disingenuous, worse than stupid. It is wickedly, wilfully wrong. Everyone knows politics interconnects with everything for “politics” is simply the Greek for “to do with the people”.

An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillyhammer, anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world.

He is making scapegoats of gay people, just as Hitler did Jews. He cannot be allowed to get away with it. I know whereof I speak. I have visited Russia, stood up to the political deputy who introduced the first of these laws, in his city of St Petersburg. I looked into the face of the man and, on camera, tried to reason with him, counter him, make him understand what he was doing. All I saw reflected back at me was what Hannah Arendt called, so memorably, “the banality of evil.” A stupid man, but like so many tyrants, one with an instinct of how to exploit a disaffected people by finding scapegoats. Putin may not be quite as oafish and stupid as Deputy Milonov but his instincts are the same. He may claim that the “values” of Russia are not the “values” of the West, but this is absolutely in opposition to Peter the Great’s philosophy, and against the hopes of millions of Russians, those not in the grip of that toxic mix of shaven headed thuggery and bigoted religion, those who are agonised by the rolling back of democracy and the formation of a new autocracy in the motherland that has suffered so much (and whose music, literature and drama, incidentally I love so passionately).

I am gay. I am a Jew. My mother lost over a dozen of her family to Hitler’s anti-Semitism. Every time in Russia (and it is constantly) a gay teenager is forced into suicide, a lesbian “correctively” raped, gay men and women beaten to death by neo-Nazi thugs while the Russian police stand idly by, the world is diminished and I for one, weep anew at seeing history repeat itself.

Published on August 7th, 2013
Written by: Stephen Fry

– See more at: http://www.stephenfry.com/2013/08/07/an-open-letter-to-david-cameron-and-the-ioc/#sthash.JvPwyAIc.dpuf

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The biggest building in the world that’s made entirely from wood (Daily Mail article)

It has withstood the Earth’s elements for more than 150 years and yet this spectacular church remains the tallest wooden structure in the world.

The magnificent building is made entirely of wood, from the frame to the rivets and the stunning exterior, and shows just how resilient this construction material is.

Standing at 123 feet tall (37.5m), it is believed to still be the world’s tallest entirely wooden building – a record it has kept its entire existence.

Incredible: This impressive Kizhi Pogost church, on Kizhi island, west Russia, is not only the world's tallest entirely wooden building , but it is also more than 150 years oldIncredible: This impressive Kizhi Pogost church, on Kizhi island, west Russia, is not only the world’s tallest entirely wooden building , but it is also more than 150 years old

Stunning: Bathed in the sun, the aged wooden domes of the incredible church look silver and decadentStunning: Bathed in the sun, the aged wooden domes of the incredible church look silver and decadent

Craftsmanship: The sheer scale of the skill involved in creating such an enormous, beautiful snd purposeful wooden building is only fully appreciated up closeCraftsmanship: The sheer scale of the skill involved in creating such an enormous, beautiful snd purposeful wooden building is only fully appreciated up close

The Russian Orthodox Church buildings, called Kizhi Pogost, are 150-miles east of the Russian border with Finland. After pleas from churchgoers, the wooden buildings have undergone some renovation, but still without using any other materials.

The impressive domes of the two churches tower over the surrounding countryside and were designed to attract the Christian community of this remote wilderness to one spot on a small island called Kizhi on the waters of Lake Onega.

The churches were built in the 18th century and the complex was finally finished without hammering a single nail or other metal fastener in 1862 when the bell-tower was completed.

The vast size of the church is only appreciated once set against the tiny figures, beside the entrance on the leftThe vast size of the church is only appreciated once set against the tiny figures, beside the entrance on the left

Design: Few wooden structures have since been built to such intricate and eye-catching designs
Design: Few wooden structures have since been built to such intricate and eye-catching designs

Design: Few wooden structures have since been built to such intricate and eye-catching designs

To this day, the fully-wooden buildings on the small island of Kizhi, serve as a Russian Orthodox church for the surround rural communitiesTo this day, the fully-wooden buildings on the small island of Kizhi, serve as a Russian Orthodox church for the surround rural communities

Topped with 22 domes called cupolas and an internal vault shaped like a pyramid there are 102 religious icons from the 17th and 18th centuries displayed inside the structure.

The bell tower was created by visionary carpenter Sysoj Osipov and the larger northern Church of Transfiguration was a mecca for pilgrims of the eastern Orthodox Christian Church.

The Kizhi Pogost is such a rare example of religious architecture that the churches, which are still regularly used, were listed as a world heritage site by UNESCOThe Kizhi Pogost is such a rare example of religious architecture that the churches, which are still regularly used, were listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO

Little has changed on the inside of the church in the last 150 years, where basic needs are served for in basic waysLittle appears to has changed on the inside of the church in the last 150 years, where basic needs are served for in basic ways

The tallest wooden structure in the world is said to be the 600-foot-tall ATLAS-I (Air Force Weapons Lab Transmission Aircraft Simulator) near Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. However this Cold War structure uses metal parts to hold together its huge wooden frame.

Kizhi Pogost is such a rare example of religious architecture that the site it was listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1990.

Idyllic: The stunning religious buildings are topped with 22 domes called cupolasIdyllic: The stunning religious buildings are topped with 22 domes called cupolas

 

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July 12, 2013 · 08:06

Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin

Probably none of us will know the name Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin, who is largely forgotten now.  But during his time he was as powerful a man as there was on earth. A Russian Communist leader he took part in the Bolshevik Revolution 1917, was editor of the Soviet newspaper Pravda (which by the way means truth), and was a full member of the Politburo. His works on economics and political science are still read today.

There is a story told about a journey he took from Moscow to Kiev in 1930 to address a huge assembly on the subject of atheism. Addressing the crowd, he aimed his heavy artillery at Christianity hurling insult, argument, and proof against it.

An hour later he was finished. He looked out at what seemed to be the smouldering ashes of men’s faith. “Are there any questions?” Bukharin demanded. Deafening silence filled the auditorium but then one man approached the platform and mounted the lectern standing near the communist leader. He surveyed the crowd first to the left then to the right. Finally he shouted the ancient greeting known well in the Russian Orthodox Church:

“CHRIST IS RISEN!”

En masse, the crowd arose as one man and the response came crashing like the sound of thunder:

“HE IS RISEN INDEED!”

 

A Professor from Moscow University some years ago said that religion in Russia was virtually dead and that he claimed “There is no one in the Churches, except a few little old ladies”

Well, these so-called “little old ladies” have seen off the Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev  and Gorbachev.  The little old ladies have won – and it is most likely that what sustained them was their abiding hope in the living Christ – the one who is and always will be the Resurrection and the Life.

No one and nothing can defeat him: no political system, no military dictator, no communist, no fascist – nobody.

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!

He was dead and he was buried.  Then on the third day, he rose from the dead and is alive forever more

And the world has never been the same since.

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