Ryan Hunter’s speech at the 45th annual Congress of Russian Americans Forum in San Francisco | Orthodox in the District

Ryan Hunter speaking at the Russian Center
Ryan Hunter delivers his speech at the CRA Forum on Saturday, 8 September 2018 at San Francisco’s Russian Center. Photograph by a participant and appearing on his blog.

The increasing public veneration of the Imperial New Martyrs in Russian society is an integral part of the comprehensive, multifaceted vision of a gradual re-Christianisation of Russian society and culture in the wake of the Soviet system’s collapse.

Source: My speech at the 45th annual Congress of Russian Americans’ Forum in San Francisco | Orthodox in the District

Notwithstanding my ambivalence toward the ever-burgeoning influence of information technology – and in particular, social media – within our present society, it has benefited me in a number of respects, over years. One of those benefits has been the fact that it has enabled me to virtually “meet” and interact with quite a number of people I would probably have never come into contact with, otherwise.

One of these is the individual who delivered the speech that is the subject of this blog post, and which is linked above and elsewhere throughout this post. Ryan Hunter is a  brilliant and articulate young scholar. A recent graduate (BA, History, 2016) and current MA candidate (European History) at Stony Brook University, his intelligence, perspicacity, and perspicuity have already garnered him considerable respect and recognition, as his invitation to speak at this conference demonstrates.

Among the numerous points raised by my erudite young friend, that it might behoove some (perhaps many) of our political leaders and media “talking heads” to consider, is this:

“None of the former Soviet states today maintain atheistic, single party communist dictatorships, and — regardless of the exact state of rule of law, due process, or democracy in any former Soviet states — none of the various political leaders in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) can aspire to anything even remotely approaching the totalitarian level of political control or terror held by Lenin and Stalin.”

The idea that the Russian Federation under Vladimir Putin is simply the Soviet Union “lite” does not bear either historical or objective contemporary scrutiny. Yes, the Federation has its own national interests, and no, they are not always congruent with ours.

And yes, political, intelligence, and other operatives of the RF doubtless act, and doubtless under orders from the government, to protect those interests – as do our own, for the same reason. We live in a house with sufficient glass in its makeup, that it ill-behooves us to lob stones at Russia!

But alongside and despite all this, it is incontrovertible that the political and social changes in Russia, in particular, and the former USSR in general, since Soviet days are dramatic and, in the vast majority of cases, positive. As Ryan continues,

“Think of all the progress that has been made in Russian and American commercial relations, developing business ties, and above all the laudable work of so many citizen diplomacy groups in overcoming negative stereotypes, biased news coverage, and misguided ideological prejudices between ordinary Russians and Americans.

“Think, also, of those who, even now, sadly seek to bring to Western countries the murderous communist ideology which inflicted untold suffering on tens of millions in Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and indeed worldwide.”

Sadly, some of these occupy positions of prominence among the political, academic and media “elite” here in the U.S. – and some of those are among the harshest critics of the Russian Federation.

I have commented elsewhere on the irony that the same political party, and indeed some of the same people, who were willing to appease, accommodate, and apologize for the Soviet Union in its attempt to achieve worldwide Communist hegemony now squawk like plucked chickens at the thought that today’s Russia may have legitimate national interests, and the right to pursue them. Interesting, that!

At any rate, as Ryan continues,

“We certainly need a new spirit of mutual respect, rapprochement, and détente today, but I believe that it is vital that we hail what progress our two countries have made in the last five decades.”

Indeed! And perhaps we could even begin to grow away from this foolishness of considering Russia as always and automatically our enemy.

Of course there will be times when our interests are far from congruent! (Imperial Russia played the “Great Game” for a long time before the Communist Revolution.) But that is the case with every nation, even long-time allies: every country has its own interests, and rightfully so; the trick is dealing with those sometimes conflicting interests diplomatically, rather than confrontationally, wherever possible.

It would not hurt us to recognize, for instance, the historic and cultural reality that Russia feels safer when surrounded by buffer nations, balancing those nations’ equally legitimate desire for sovereignty with the Russian need for security, in a way that does not require us to push our sphere of influence right up to the Russian border.

Russia is not quite the superpower the Soviet Union was during the Cold War; but then, we are not quite the superpower we were during that long conflict, either. Both the numerical strength of our military, and our technological edge, have slipped in the years since the 1990s, and so has our political and economic strength in the world. And poking the Russian bear is likely to push it into a closer embrace of the Chinese dragon, which would be very much to our detriment.

Russia may or may not ever be a close friend and ally; but there is no reason to view, or treat, her like an adversary. To conclude with the words with which Ryan concluded his speech,

“May this centenary year [of the murder / martyrdom of the Romanovs] be a Providential source of healing of divisions and wounds between friends, families, neighbours, and nations and peoples, especially Russia and the United States, and Russia and Ukraine. May the witness and prayers of the Imperial New Martyrs, and all their co-sufferers, be with us, in every city and country, and may they bring much-needed healing of the traumas of historical memory, the bitterness of ancient conflicts, and resentment of past wrongs. May we strive to build a world worthy of their legacy as they intercede for us all before the Throne of God!”

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Christianity in Europe is dying out, says Russian Orthodox leader | Interface Institute

Metropolitan Hilarion has called Christians to unite in fighting the imminent death of Christianity in Europe. He also stated that Christians in the region “must keep on defending their values and heed the cries of the persecuted and suffering believers” throughout the world.

Source: Christianity in Europe is dying out, says Russian Orthodox leader | Interface Institute

Metropolitan Hilarion called for unity between and among Christians:

“Christians in Europe must strive to defend their values ​​on which the continent has been built for centuries, and listen to the lamentations and sufferings of Christians from all over the globe,” he continued.

The Feast of the Resurrection: The Paschal Sermon of St. John Chrysostom

The Catechetical Sermon of St. John Chrysostom is read during Matins of Pascha:

If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of of his Lord…

Source: The Paschal Sermon – Orthodox Church in America

The Paschal Sermon of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop, Metropolitan, and Patriarch of Constantinople (434–446) and one of the great Fathers of the Church, is traditionally read on the Feast of the Resurrection (Pascha, or Easter) in the Eastern Orthodox Christian Churches. It is often read in Anglican and other churches of the liturgical / sacramental tradition.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Wishing everyone a very Happy Easter, and a holy, blessed, and joyful Eastertide.

Putin congratulates Russians on Christmas

The Russian president noted the huge and unique role of the Russian Orthodox Church and other Christian denominations in reviving high moral values and preserving rich historic and cultural heritage

Source: TASS: Society & Culture – Putin congratulates Russians on Christmas

Wishing all our Eastern Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters, in Russia and elsewhere, a holy and blessed Feast of the Nativity!

And may I also express my fervent wish that the political and other elites of the Western world – in both Europe and America – placed a similarly high priority of “reviving high moral values and preserving rich historic and cultural heritage.”

In Pictures: Orthodox Christmas celebrations

In Pictures: Orthodox Christmas celebrations

Source: In Pictures: Orthodox Christmas celebrations

For us in the West, using the Gregorian calendar, today is the Feast of the Epiphany; but for our Eastern Orthodox Christian friends – in Russia and elsewhere – who still use the Julian reckoning, today is Christmas Eve! Wishing all of them blessings on this Feast of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rejoice! Christ, our Saviour, is born!

The Prince of Wales attends the consecration of the new St Thomas Cathedral Syriac Orthodox Church

Source: The Prince of Wales attends the consecration of the new St Thomas Cathedral Syriac Orthodox Church

During a speech, The Prince said: “It gives me great happiness to be present at the consecration of the Cathedral of St Thomas.

“It is surely deeply encouraging, at a time when the members of the Syriac Orthodox Church in their homelands of Syria and Iraq are undergoing such desperate trials and such appalling suffering, that in Britain the Syriac Church is able to expand and gain in strength. In this way the consecration of your Cathedral is indeed a notable sign of hope for the future.”

Well spoken, Your Highness! Thank you, Sir. Anglicans have long had both contacts and (given our emphasis on tradition and antiquity) theological affinity with the ancient Orthodox Churches of the East, dating back at least to Theodore of Tarsus, who served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 668 to 690, but in fact going back much further.

It is reported that British bishops may have been present at the Council of Nicaea (in Asia Minor) in 325! And given that Britannia was a Province of the Roman Empire until c. 400 AD, and that sea travel was often faster and safer than travel by land, it is not surprising that contacts between East and West were more common than many nowadays believe.

In any case, it was very gracious of HRH The Prince of Wales to give Royal support and blessing to the new Cathedral, especially given the challenges Syrian Orthodox Christians are experiencing in their homelands, as His Highness’ address mentioned. I wish them many blessings!

Queen Elizabeth II receives Russian patriarch at Buckingham Palace

Queen Elizabeth II has received Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia at Buckingham Palace her London residence the patriarch secretary Alexander Volko

Source: Queen Elizabeth II receives Russian patriarch at Buckingham Palace

“According to Volkov, the Queen and Patriarch Kirill will discuss problems of ‘Christians in the Middle East, as well as the current status of traditional Christianity in Europe, which, unfortunately, is facing hard times.'”