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"Russia's Vladimir Putin is a brilliant tactician who does not crack under pressure. ...Thank the Lord that Putin has publicly avowed his unswerving dedication to protecting Christianity and Christians". The above is a fairly representative example of the positions currently surfacing in world-policy blogs.
The American Conservative favorably quotes Putin as saying at the Valdai forum: «We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual. They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan. I am convinced that this opens a direct path to degradation and primitivism, resulting in a profound demographic and moral crisis». No Western leader in the recent past could have adopted such a stance, comments the the journal with a tinge of envy.
Hungary's embattled premier V. Orban - much to the displeasure of Washington and Brussels - is perhaps the only other voice to articulate similar notions. No doubt, the Russian president is widely seen as the politician championing a viable alternative to Europe's reckless departure from Christian values.
In a curious paper, the Sunday Times claims to have discovered the cause behind the sudden chill in the relations between V.Putin and A. Merkel. Supposedly, Putin criticized Europe's legislative tendencies in a conversation with the Bundeskanzlerin on the grounds that they erode the foundations of the European civilization. According to the paper, Merkel thus arrived at the conclusion about extreme conservatism of the Russian leader's thinking and became a staunch proponent of the strategy aimed at containing Russia. The paper may be loaded with overstatements, but, on the other hand, there is no smoke without fire.
It is an open secret that many Europeans feel that their perceptions are being challenged as Europe upholds sex minority rights, legitimizes gay marriage, euthanasia for adults and even children etc. For Merkel, advocacy of traditional values somehow sounds unnatural. It is widely believed that she hails from East Germany, but this is not exactly right: in fact, her family moved there from West Germany when she was a child. Angela Merkel's father was a Lutheran pastor, and, the protestants' penchant for Bible studies being well-known, Angela Merkel must be familiar with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah or, generally, with the Christian perspective on sodomy and a lot of other things. Given that, the question pops up why she stars at the helm of a party bearing the name of the Christian Democratic Union. Another question — by no means a rhetorical one — is whether it's news to anyone that the Bible is not Putin's invention.
Speaking of the rights of sex minorities, at least the Orthodox Christian tradition teaches that sins and temptations — not people whose only judge is God - are subject to condemnation. The impression is that those espousing the rewritten European morality chronically fail to grasp this key point. An individual's freedom to sin or to avoid sin is God-given and may not be revoked, but the message addressed to people affirming and deliberately spreading sin and temptations is lucid: «If anyone causes one of these little ones — those who believe in me— to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea» (Matthew 18:6 (NIV)). I am sure that the passage used to be rehearsed multiple times in Merkel's childhood home and her father's parish.
For ages, the mission of the European statehood used to be to shield citizens from temptations, in unison with the church's working to eradicate sins. These days, a child coming back from school might tell his parents that his current homework is to decide about his sex orientation, and, no matter how they feel, the parents can't indicate that the whole thing sounds crazy to them. Charges of intolerance, if not legal problems, will follow if the kid echoes the parents' invectives at school.
A nurse in Great Britain lost her job for offering a patient in a critical condition to invite a priest, and France imposed a ban on wearing crosses and scarves. A modern philosopher remarks justly that «the reality to be acknowledged is that liberal ideas have seldom been implemented by liberal means».
There is plenty of realism in the view that we are witnessing a new ideological conflict rather than a mere outbreak of informational warfare. It shocks liberal democrats, says The National Interest, that the Russian system attempts to survive by denouncing their principles and norms as hypocrisy and deception. The point made by the journal is that, relying on no far-out ideology, the Kremlin, nevertheless, succeeded in building a fairly efficient mechanism, with information, culture, and money employed as weapons.
It is certainly right that the Christian ideology was not devised in the Kremlin, plus, evidently, the author admits that the Western postmodern principles are unfit to function as human behavior regulators. Doing so, he still asserts bluntly that Russia undermines the West's global governance system and spearheads anti-Western ideology.
Actually, the opposite is true: Russia has no intention to spearhead any anti-Western ideology, nor does there exist a coherent one. Rather, the ideological niche is filled in by desultory post-industrial ideologems churned out by abstract-minded theorists. Persistent efforts to impose the commandments of postmodernism and post-Christianity trigger a backlash, in Russia and beyond. Putin has been resisting the attempted dictate unwaveringly, and, moreover, he spells out his position in the terms that a European should recognize as completely legible.
Putin has never proclaimed a value system of his own making - contrary to the portrayals compiled by his foes, he is no Mao Zedong to do that. He simply reminds us – and all Europeans in particular – that our civilization can be traced back to Christianity. It should be borne in mind that the very term "Europe" became commonplace as late as in the XVII century, the continent having been referred to as the Christian world till the time. Paradoxically, these days Russia appears to be the most European country if judged from the standpoint of the legacy of the European civilization and culture.
The most astute of Europe's thinkers discern a tide of "new paganism" in today's Europe and the US. Indeed, the legislation concerning gay rights, unsolicited euthanasia, etc. is consonant with the normative component of paganism in its earliest and roughest tribal forms. Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Alexy II warned in an address to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg that humans easily give in to calls for wrongdoing, thus rejecting their own dignity, unless they constantly cultivate their thoughts and feelings. Such work serves to set moral guidelines and to define the border between the normal and the unacceptable in human life. "The Christian concepts of dignity, freedom, and morality create a unique code of European conscience, possessing an inexhaustible potential of progress in personal and public life", stressed late Patriarch Alexy II.
Whoever has ears, let them hear (Matthew 11:15).
Published as a part of the RIA Novosti Authors project
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The Bible is not Putin's Invention