“Russia has returned to the pagan or Roman times, or to the Horde”


«Россия вернулась либо к языческим римским временам, либо к ордынским»

The photo, spread the world: priests, confidently walking at the head of the column of demonstrators in Armenia. Latest news from Russia: social activists asked the Patriarch to order the writing of “Putin’s icon of our lady” with the image of the Russian President; in Kolomna, the police overpowered the priest, who single-handedly tried to block the road a garbage truck. “Russian vizantiyschina” — as usual we will be commenting on. Professor Andrei Desnitsky denies the historical relationship of the Russian state and Church, on the contrary, violate the Byzantine tradition, which we are lacking, and probably date back to Ancient Rome and the Horde. We offer to your attention the main content of the lecture by Andrei Desnitsky at the Yeltsin Centre.

“A very good model of the Byzantine Symphony of powers”

Today there is a dispute, what we have should be the relationship between the state and religion. We are now in a complete misunderstanding of the guidelines. One point of view — the state should be atheistic. Other — it has to be clerical. Or should it be secular, as it should be according to the Constitution. But what does it mean secular? For someone identical to secular atheist, and religion is a purely private matter, which does not need to become public. For others, secularism is close to clericalist: not forced to go to Church, but, Oh please, listen to a lecture about the spiritual foundations of our society and fill in the application form how you meet these basics.

I suspect that in the near future we are waiting for is rather clerical state, and then the pendulum will swing and it will be quite atheistic. Personally, I, frankly, don’t like neither. I am for the Constitution, for the principle of secularism. But it seems to me that Russia is a very good model — Symphony [the state and religious authorities] in the Byzantine sense. “Symphony” from the Greek means “consent”: the state is the Church, one cares about the beginning of bodily, the other about the spiritual, and they are consistent.

«Россия вернулась либо к языческим римским временам, либо к ордынским»FR. Igor Palkin / Press service of the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia

The concept of the Symphony of powers assumed a very important caveat: until they behave well and fulfill their purpose. But when they cease to do so, each party shall have the obligation to admonition retreating side. Therefore, in practice, in Byzantium the relations of Church and state structures were not just tense, and very hot and hostile. The monk Theodore the Studite, wrote to Emperor Leo V in IX century: “You, the Emperor, presented to the political government and the army. Beware of them and leave the Church to its pastors and teachers, as commanded by the Apostle”. Can we today imagine a similar dialogue of the diocesan Bishop and the Governor? “We leave the Church, stay out of it”.

And this is not an isolated story. In Byzantine history there are examples when the Emperor-Iconoclast (there was a period when there struggled with icons) goes to a Christmas service in the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia in front of him and slam the door, not allowed, or when the Patriarch demands from the Emperor of repentance for what he came to the throne by a Palace coup. You can imagine that in St. Petersburg of the XVIII century, when a Palace coup took place one after the other, before Regal special slam doors of the Cathedral and it required repentance.

The most famous story — the Archbishop of Constantinople John Chrysostom, who was exiled for what was requested by the sermons against Empress and — indirectly — of the Emperor (John came to the defense of the widow and children of a nobleman, who, by order of the Empress, was threatened with confiscation of property. — Ed.). You can imagine that today the diocesan Bishop, speaking in a Cathedral, a Governor’s couple of thugs and thrown in her face hard charges?

“Nothing Byzantine here, there was only a shell”

In this sense, Russia is not the Byzantine Empire, and for a long time. Remember the story of Ivan the terrible, and [the Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia] Philip Kolycheva (for the denunciation of the oprichnina terror, the Metropolitan was defrocked and by order of the king strangled by Malyuta Skuratov. — Ed.). About this great movie [Pavel Lungin] “King.” The line of subordination of the Church to the state structures continued Peter the great (which abolished the Patriarchate and established a Synod for the management of the Affairs of the Church, headed by the official, the chief Procurator. — Ed.). The highest point is the reign of Paul I.

«Россия вернулась либо к языческим римским временам, либо к ордынским»A scene from the movie “the King”, dir. Pavel Lungin

Looked like the coronation of the Emperor in the Byzantine Empire? This is a complicated ceremony in which the Emperor became an icon of Christ, but as the man remained mortal. During the ceremony before the Emperor was the man who was holding the bag to the ground and said remember that will go in the ground. That is: as a person you are like any of us. This is another Roman tradition: when Julius Caesar enters Rome, in front of him go jesters and clowns and sing about his obscene ditties. The triumph includes the time of ridicule, or the ruler conceited.

But the coronation of Paul I. “His Imperial Majesty deigned to specify to Lodge the Imperial crown, which the privy Councilor of the first class count Bezborodko was filed by the metropolitans, and they brought to His Majesty on the pillow.” Metropolitans — the extras on the dancer, the background, and the main character — His Imperial Majesty, the second character — count Bezborodko. After this the Emperor enters the Royal doors into the altar that can’t do nobody, except the priests, and puts on the altar the act of succession. Moreover, it is known that Paul wanted to self-serving mass, doing what only priests. He is the head of the Church, which was established in passing in that document. This is a very sharp contrast with the Byzantine ritual. Byzantine emperors faced serious resistance of the Church in Russia in the late XVIII century is impossible. Nothing Byzantine here, in Russia, the Symphony of powers was only a shell.

«Россия вернулась либо к языческим римским временам, либо к ордынским»The coronation of Paul I and Maria Fedorovna.-F. Kvadal

Starting with Ivan the terrible Russia turned the Byzantine idea, leaving only the rhetoric and symbols, and has actually subordinated the Church to the state. The Byzantine Basileus, the Emperor plays a huge role in Church life, but the appearance. In Russia, beginning with the first Tsar, Ivan the terrible, his role becomes a sacred (i.e. Holy, religious. — Ed.) because, as the famous scholar Boris Uspensky, the title of king, assimilated Russian Grand Prince “as a result of the transfer of functions Byzantine Basileus”, for the traditional consciousness is associated primarily with [King of kings] with Christ.

Ivan the terrible was considered the ancestor of the first Roman Emperor Augustus Octavian. At first August had the status of Princeps, first in the Senate, then — Dominus, “the host”, his name is the whole Empire, and he its rightful owner. In addition, in the post, he, the divine August, the divine during his lifetime, and after death even more so. And Pontifex Maximus — the Supreme priest, if to translate literally “bridge Builder”, that is building bridges between heaven and earth. In the Roman Empire the question of the relationship between pagan [religious] institutions and the state is simply not worth it, they are part of the state religion incorporated into the government: the Emperor, the high priest and one of the deities.

[Thus, in Russia] Byzantine shell filled with largely different content, the Church structure was only part of the state mechanism. Russia has returned to the pagan or Roman times when the Emperor was high priest and God at the same time, or to Horde. In any case, the idea of the Symphony of powers in Russia has ceased to work, the state begins to replace everything. In connection with the sacralization of the state as the voice of the Church was seen the image of the Holy fool: when the bishops are silent, or silenced, as Philip Kolychev, begins to speak whacky and doesn’t shut him up because he had to take nothing, he fears nothing.

“In Russia there is the idea that Christ’s sacrifice is not enough”

Very interesting story from Russian history — the first Russian saints, canonized princes Boris and Gleb. This is a new, unique order of Holiness that in the Byzantine tradition was virtually unknown and that Rus was added to Byzantinism. These princes did not want to participate in the civil war with his brother Svyatopolk the accursed, and let themselves be killed. For Viking, Viking type of the nobility to which they belonged, it is unthinkable behavior: you have to fight to the last. And they decided that Christian is not good to quarrel with his brother, even if he wants to kill you, it is better to die but not to wage a fratricidal war. Non-resistance to evil — that was then developed by Leo Tolstoy in the global concept. What we see today? Appear icons “blessed ruler of Joseph” Stalin — extreme, absolutely does not coincide with the Boris and Gleb. What is where? How does this compare with the stream to the original Russian Holy? I think this is largely the result of the sacralization of the state, when the head of state is at the center of the belief system.

«Россия вернулась либо к языческим римским временам, либо к ордынским»“What we see today? Appear icons “blessed ruler of Joseph” Stalin — extreme, absolutely does not coincide with the Boris and Gleb”Gleb Schelkunov/Kommersant

The story of the canonization of Nicholas II. He and his family were canonized as Boris and Gleb. The Christian heroism of the last Romanovs found in how they behaved in conclusion: the last part of their lives they spent as the ideal Christians. And yet this understanding — it is a small number of people. Usually understand Nicholas II as Tsar-Redeemer. From the point of view of Christian theology, there is one Redeemer, the Christ, who sacrificed Himself and atoned for the sins of mankind. And in Russia there is the idea that [Christ’s sacrifice] is not enough, and the last Emperor would have dokupil for us. Those who revere Nicholas as a Saint and Martyr, to develop the theme of sacrifice of the king for the people, the subject is mythological, the pagan, present in many cultures, when if something goes wrong, the king sacrificed or he sacrifices himself.

It would seem that there’s something schizophrenic: how you can simultaneously read both the victim and the executioner [Stalin]? But if you think of it in mythological categories, everything becomes clear: the ruler, whatever it was, amalgamate the whole of sacred power, it focuses all Holiness. Just someone who is weaker, and sacrifices himself, the one who is stronger, it rises, spreads his Holiness on others, transforming — in this case, the Bolshevik — chaos in the Imperial order. But anyway, in the center of the sacred figure of the king, which carries the entire structure and without which the structure does not hold. And it is not Byzantium.

But the figure of Yeltsin is very Byzantine in many ways. The local ruler becomes Emperor in conflict with the Central government and implementing reform, in my opinion, it’s absolutely Byzantine history. Yeltsin’s style of leadership — the autocrat in the dialogue is also very Byzantine. And flexible foreign policy: when are unions that bargain at the moment; then are others.

“Do not reject the Byzantine and try to get back”

Today Symphony [ecclesiastical and secular authorities very often treated us as plexus, vzaimoponimanie each other to the point of indistinguishability: here the Governor of the festive Liturgy, that sponsors are awarded the Church orders, and the father, which event to take, to hold services.

Symphony in the Byzantine sense is completely different, it is a very clear distinction, when both sides of the process, each with its own point of view, evaluates what the other is doing. For example, for anybody not a secret that on the territory of the Russian Orthodox Church Code of labour laws are not valid in principle. So, in a Symphony of structure is an abnormal situation, where state laws apply throughout the state. Conversely, our state officials of high rank understand that the blessings and guidance of the Church hierarchy is provided to them by virtue of their position. Symphony state Byzantine style Church hierarchy preach right in the face, if [state officials] admit something unthinkable. Thus, sympathy is a kind of expression of the emancipation of the Church from the state, which today, in my opinion, starts very strongly spliced, stick together [with the Church] that is not helpful to any of the parties.

«Россия вернулась либо к языческим римским временам, либо к ордынским»

In this case, “Byzantine” does not mean “paternalistic”. Montenegro more Byzantine state [compared to Russia] on its coat of arms and flag are preserved [Byzantine] the double-headed eagle of Christianity on its territory was made in the first century of our era, is an Orthodox state, there is a very strong Orthodox identity. While this paternalistic state, I wouldn’t exactly call it the state where all the neighbors agree. There you can hear: our family bought this land 600 years ago. Or 400, or 300. They feel themselves to be owners of this land. This is the opposite of paternalism. (Though there has never been a strong Empire, a strong Empire seized the land, and it was necessary to keep their land under their onslaught.)

So, do not reject the Byzantine as pounds of the weight on his feet and try to get back to the ideas, priorities and partly the practices of the Byzantine Empire, realizing the impossibility of reproducing in the twenty-first century what it was from VI to XV century and reinterpreting the Byzantine experience, is, I think, absolutely necessary.


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