There is a British journalist named Sir Michael Parkinson who twice had an interview program on the BBC, from 1971 to 1982 and 1998 to 2007. During the time between the invasion of Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq, Parkinson interviewed a freelance journalist who had spend months living in the training camp run by Osama bin Laden. I don’t remember the journalist’s name, but I can’t forget one thing he observed about religious fundamentalists – they are afraid of the modern world. They are turning their fear into a religious war. He made it clear that this analysis applies to all religious fundamentalists of all denominations.
Bearing that in mind, the news from Russia is almost predictable. Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church has warned Russians that they must be wary of the internet, saying that it makes people “vulnerable to manipulation.” Can’t have that, can we? Only the Church should be able to manipulate people.
Over 40,000 Russians have registered on-line for the Saturday rally in Moscow, protesting the fixed parliamentary elections of last month. January 7th is the Orthodox Christmas, a date which aligns with the Christian Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th.
Patriarch Kirill, told the Interfax news agency, “The naive confidence of a modern person in the information availabe on social networks along with the moral disorientation and the loss of basic values make our cohorts…vulnerable to manipulation.” He said that political change will not save the nation, only a “metamorphosis of the soul.” Sounds bloody familiar, doesn’t it? Only God can save our country.
One definition of the difference between communism and fascism is that in communism, the state controls the means of production and in fascism, the means of production control the state. That is the economic explanation of the difference. The social definition includes the two system’s view of religion. Communism replaces religion as the dominating force for homogenizing a people. Fascism uses religion to achieve the same goal. The Russian Orthodox Church has enjoyed a resurgence since the fall of the communists, and it is now endorsed by the Kremlin as Russia’s main faith. The Church cannot afford to lose that advantage over other faiths, that is why Patriarch Kirill is standing behind the fixed results of the parliamentary election. He needs Vladimir Putin as much as Putin needs the Church. Putin’s conversion from avowed communist atheist to devout Orthodox churchgoer was political, not spiritual.
The Patriarch’s words will fail. The people of Russia aren’t interested in the country’s soul. Nations don’t have souls. They are trying to stop their country’s slide back into the totalitarianism that was their nation until less than a generation ago. That desire is not in opposition to the teachings of Christ.