How’m I Doin’, Hey, Hey – Combined August/September Edition

Dear Readers:

Welcome to the month of October!   In my part of the world there will be hayrides and haunted mansions where ghosts and clowns egregiously spring out at one.  Not to mention foliage tours, where tourists can marvel at the magical powers of trees.

Perceptive readers with a good memory will recall, that Yours Truly spent a goodly chunk of both August and September on holiday, and therefore was not in a position (no wi-fi most of the time!) to post my usual month-closing statistics for August.  As promised, here be a double feature which take care of dat business for both August and September.  Due to the volume of breaking news which needs to be addressed in real time, I will skip my usual monthly features of the “Standard Disclaimer”, the “Stroll Down Memory Lane” and the “Parade of Nations”.   Just the numbers, ma’am, just the numbers.  Sorry for the disappointment.  But returning next month to my usual razzmatazz.  But for now, just a quickie, truncated, abbreviated stub of a post:



So here goes:  Despite my absence for much of the time, August was a successful month.  Moral of the story:  I need to take more holidays!  Despite the fact that, as compared with July, in August my Page Views went down – from 6,334 to 6,321 (a minor blip on the radar), my number of Distinct Visitors went up, from 3,095 to 3,505.  Yay!

September, however, was a big fat disappointment.  As compared to August, my Page Views went down – from 6,321 to 5,425.  My number of Distinct Visitors also went down – from 3,505 to 2,942.  Oh, to be sure, there was a brief spike of readers and visitors when I did the Zakharchenko assassination story, but then readership fell off, with a big yawn, when I started doing the stories on religion and the Big Schism in the Orthodox Church.

Sorry folks, I know that religion is terribly boring, but this particular story is actually important from a geopolitical standpoint, and I will continue to follow it, no matter what you think – so there!  (And I thank Yahweh that I have a good day job and don’t have to rely on the limited attention span of Philistines to support me.)

Having said that, I thank my Readers gratefully for any attention you can spare, I bid you’all adieu for now, and hereby dive back into the fray of the Russophile blogosphere to review some important breaking stories!

Sincerely yours,

yalensis

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22 Responses to How’m I Doin’, Hey, Hey – Combined August/September Edition

  1. Laninya says:

    Hi yalensis,

    Re: the idea that the fracturing of the Orthodox church is important from a geopolitical standpoint is one that I think needs to be re-examined.

    Yes, Orthodoxy is under attack, but has been for how long? … some hundreds of years? It served a function and a purpose for a long time. Maybe it lived up to its function and purpose, or maybe it didn’t (not up to me to judge). But, maybe its time is passed. Maybe it’s time for its people to shake free of the brittle strictures of ossified dogma and move toward a new understanding and experience of spiritual enlightenment.

    I, myself, though educated in a religious environment, now glance past recent articles on this subject with yawn and a shudder. My feeling is: holy moly! aren’t we 18 years into the third millennium AD, already? As far as I can see, the “Abrahamic religions” have had their day, had their chance, and have blown it. Christianity itself (which, technically, should not consider itself to be an Abrahamic religion at all, but does) couldn’t even, in practice (after two thousand years of practice), manage to embody the most elegantly simple and beautifully articulated of all religious formulae: treat others as you yourself wish to be treated. That’s all that’s required. Easy to understand. Not difficult to do.

    But, no. Where’s the fun in that!? No! We need salt! We need spice! We need battle and blood! So, Dogma gets pulled out. This is a useful tool to develop a complex of minutiae that serves to magically empower each group to claim it alone knows the mind of God while labeling other groups ‘infidels’ or some such equivalent (which inevitably gets reduced to simply ‘demonic’), thus perpetuating schism and nastiness ad infinitum. Well, infinitum is upon us. It’s closing in fast. Who needs that?

    My sense is that people around the globe are sick of the religious wars and tribal bullsh’t. Collectively, as day follows night and spring follows winter, people are instinctively moving away from the symbols of cross, crucible, and single finger pointed skyward toward the graceful fluidity of the yin/yang spiral. The caravan is moving eastward. Towards balance and grace. (Those who want to keep on fighting can get on a green bus to Somewhere-Nowhere and leave the rest of us out of it.) That’s my feeling.

    I don’t comment often on this blog, but I do love your writing.

    Like

    • Laninya says:

      p.s. that was not to suggest that you should not continue to follow the story. On the contrary. It’s probably something people should definitely be watching and discussing.

      Like

      • yalensis says:

        Dear Laninya: Thank you so much for your comment, I am glad you like my writing! As for your point, I could not agree with you more. I too believe that humanity needs to move on past the religious mode of magical thinking and get more into science and engineering, that sort of practical stuff. People spend too much time debating about god and not enough time building a shield against the next asteroid!
        Unfortunately, the Orthodox Schism thing is considered an important geopolitical issue among many Russians, even atheists. The reasoning is similar to the Schism between Henry VIII and the Catholic Church, that was a way of establishing England’s independence from Rome by founding a new religion.
        Similarly, Ukrainian Banderites believe that if they get their own church, then that will be one more thing separating the Ukrainian and Russian peoples as enemies, rather than brothers.
        It is interesting to note that even the Soviet government, under Stalin, came to a sort of compromise with the Russian Orthodox Church, regarding it as sort of a wing of the government, and an extra way of keeping people in line.
        Being a complete cynic when it comes to religion (I see god as Santa Claus for adults), I regard religion as just another way for the elites to manipulate the lower classes. People who feel a sense of spirituality disagree with that and believe there is actually something there.
        I think I read somewhere that there is a part of human DNA that responds to religion, some people are born with it, and some people aren’t. I definitely don’t have that DNA. Those who do have it, say that I am missing something. Maybe, I dunno. How would I know, if I never had it? I am a materialist by nature!

        Anyhow, I appreciate your comment and hope to have more input from you in the future.
        🙂

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        • Patient Observer says:

          Dear Yalensis – the problem with an exclusive focus on “scientific thinking” is (in my opinion) that it degenerates into Ayn Randism.

          The Universe is indeed magical if by magical we mean all that science can not explain. If we let science consume our awareness, then we have little energy left to experience the humbling awe of the infinite universe. For me, the infinity of the universe (spatial, feelings concepts, consciousness, etc) is what keeps us sane. Religion attempts to do such, perhaps clumsily. By religion, I don’t mean the splintered and frankly ridiculousness versions of Christianity in the West. Orthodox Christianity captures much of what I am trying to say. Buddhism and perhaps aspects of Islam may do the same.

          Like

          • Jen says:

            Early modern Western science did have a sense of the wonder and vast scale of the universe and many personalities considered to be pioneers in the history of Western science were either religious or held peculiar beliefs we’d regard as cranky or superstitious. Some early Western astronomers did astrological horoscopes on the side for royalty and other wealthy patrons to earn money to support their star-gazing activities. Isaac Newton was known to be obsessed with numerology and astrology. The Swedish taxonomist Carl Linnaeus (who invented scientific nomenclature for classifying plants, animals and other living things) had room in his classification system for mermaids and other mythical creatures which he thought just might exist. Most scientists in Victorian Britain would have known of and tolerated spiritualism – it was popular among middle class women – and some of them even went over to spiritualism themselves, especially if they experienced family tragedies (usually the deaths of wives in childbirth or children from disease). Surprising believers in the Spiritualist movement in the 19th century include Alfred Russell Wallace (who independently came up with the theory of natural selection at the same as Charles Darwin who himself at one time studied to become a country vicar) and Pierre Curie. Spiritualism itself was founded in the 1700s by the Swedish scientist Emanuel Swedenborg who originally made his name as an inventor, mathematician, engineer and metallurgist. And of course we cannot go past Nikola Tesla, whose father was a Serbian Orthodox priest and whose mother was also from a priestly family.

            Most religious schisms in Christianity and Islam have occurred more for political reasons involving leadership rivalries and questions of loyalty than over issues of doctrine which tend to be minor. In Europe, some countries or regions are Protestant rather than Roman Catholic mainly because some leader of theirs during the Thirty Years War in the 1600s decided to back the Protestant side to get money to hire mercenary soldiers and horses. In the 16th century, Persia became Shi’ite because its Safavid rulers were promoting an early Persian nationalism against the Ottoman empire. Since the Ottomans were Sunni, the Safavids opted to make Shi’ism their official religion. This had nothing to do with whether Shi’ism was a kinder or more mystical religion or was more suited to Persian thinking and culture. Egypt used to have a Shi’ite dynasty (the Fatimids) a thousand years ago but the population these days is majority Sunni.

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            • yalensis says:

              Wow! As always, Jen, you amaze me with your erudition.
              I would just humbly submit that I am dubious of P.O.’s proposition, that the scientific mode of thinking necessarily devolves into Randism. To my knowledge, there are only a handful of real Randites on the planet, and most of them are American politicians who probably know zero about science or mathematics! More than likely, they studied law or economy, and were probably C students, at best.

              Though I strive for logic and rationalism in my own thinking, I do admit to a sense of awe at the scope of the universe, or universes. There is a completely scientific theory about multi-universes existing in some endless space called “the bulk”, and just thinking about that sends a chill down my spine! Which is why I try not to think about it too much.

              Also, this comment is addressed to Patient Observer, I don’t know if you read Scientific American, but last month they had a very good issue with an article touching on the “Undecidability” theorems of mathematics. The piece touched on both Godel and Turing. As a computer scientist myself (not a very good one, but better than the person on the street), Turing being one of my personal faves. His “Halting theory” problem was discussed as an example of a rigid mathematical proof that certain problems in computation are not solvable. To be specific, Turing proved (the wiki does not get it exactly right) that it cannot be rigidly proved for ALL computer programs (and all possible inputs) that the program will ever actually halt, or will continue to run forever in a loop. This doesn’t sound very important on the surface, but it is actually pretty deep. Not to mention scary, in a sense, and not just for computer programming.

              Which, by the way, the sense of awe you discuss is, to me, more like a sense of terror! I have this recurring nightmare of an endlessly recursive computer program running forever and gobbling up all universal memory and resources in its wake! ARGGGG!

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              • Jen says:

                Aw shucks, thanks for the praise! I’m just very good at flicking back and forth between Wikipedia and wherever I’m commenting. 🙂

                Like

              • yalensis says:

                That’s okay. If people did not have a base knowledge of what to even look for, then no amount of wiki in the world could help them!

                Like

              • Patient Observer says:

                The topic of the end state of rational thinking is simply fascinating. I hope to have time in the near future to respond to your interesting comments.

                BTW, the universe is fundamentally terrifying to our egos and personal identities but it is pretty neat that we mere mortals have the capacity to appreciate its magnificence as displayed by science or by other modes of awareness. A purpose of religion is to remove the ego to minimize the terror.

                Like

  2. Nat says:

    Could you explain why it is important from a geopolitical standpoint (not being ironic, I actually have no idea)? Ukraine have been at odds with everything Russian for a while now (language, culture, books, etc). Why would this schism be more “meaningful”? I agree it’s a dramatic worsening of Ukraine’s relations with Russia, but is it actually meaningful to an orthodox Russian?
    Also, do you know if it’s something that can be undone? I mean if an actual non-Nazi government come to power in the future in Ukraine, can there be a “reunification” of the churches or is that something that once done cannot be turned back?

    Like

    • Laninya says:

      Nat,

      Why don’t I wade in here to suggest an analogy…
      Let’s say ISIS should succeed in creating its Caliphate, which is then recognized as being a state and given a seat at the UN. Is that something that could be undone?

      I think this is a bit like that.

      Like

    • yalensis says:

      Nat:
      In addition to what Laninya pointed out, if the Ukrainian Banderites were to get their Autocephalic Church, then they could quickly evolve into Catholicism and eventually (probably) merge the Autocephalic and Uniate churches with the Roman Catholic church. That’s one scenario. It would bring Ukraine closer to Poland and farther from Russia. The Ukainian Autocephalic Church is actually a way-station on the road from Orthodoxy to Catholicism. Just like in the days of Mazepa.

      Do I care which magical thinking is better, Catholicism vs Orthodoxy? Not really. But people in the know, say this scenario would be a geopolitical defeat for Russia. In that Ukrainians would then be subject to the Roman Pope and lose contact with Russian civilization altogether. The two nations would no longer feel themselves to be brothers.

      As to whether such a Schism could be undone, probably not, not without another war.
      You are thinking an Ecumenical movement could triumph in the end? But even the Catholics and Protestants have never been able to reunite. Because there is too much property, money and power at stake. The priests and patriarchs like to feather their own nests.

      Like

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      Religious schisms aren’t like political disputes – they go deeper and they are rarely healed.

      The split with the Oriental Orthodox shows no sign of ending 1500 years after the fact. The east-west split continues (and should continue, union with Rome would even more poisonous now than it was in the 15th century). The old believers are still sundered from the Russian church after almost four centuries (https://awfulavalanche.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/russian-old-believers-seek-rehabilitation-part-i/).

      Like

      • Nat says:

        “Religious schisms aren’t like political disputes – they go deeper and they are rarely healed.” I agree with your general point, when a religious schism is an actual religious schism. But this particular one is the pure product from a political dispute. There was never an issue between Orthodox Russians and Orthodox Ukrainians before the current Banderite government came to power. Right now, Ukrainians are bombing their compatriots in Donbass under the argument that they are ethnically Russians. What can be worse? It seems to me that from the “hard” Ukrainian side, there are no more brotherhood feeling left. This schism is a manifestation of this, not a cause, and could be resolved when whatever craziness is going on now in Ukraine will. Ukrainians should ask themselves the classic job interview question: “where do you see yourself in 5/10 years”. So far the picture is pretty grim.

        Like

        • yalensis says:

          Very good points.

          Like

          • Patient Observer says:

            There was an artificially induced split in the Serb Orthodox church as well. The split was a direct result of hidden US government (actually CIA) intervention. The feuding Church factions suffered years of legal battles and incurred huge legal fees over the dispute. It fractured the Serb community in the US.

            I do not have a lot of details on how the split was created nor how it was elevated to the point of destroying a unified Serb community in the US. If I have the time and the people who know are willing to talk, I can post something on this.

            Like

            • yalensis says:

              Dear Patient Observer: I would be delighted to post any piece you might write on this topic. Just let me know when your piece is ready. Or, if you would prefer to post it on Mark’s blog, I am betting he would be happy as well!

              Like

              • Patient Observer says:

                Thanks, I will followup.

                Like

              • yalensis says:

                If you want to post it here, just let me know via comment when it’s ready. Then I will look at your email address (the one that is linked to your comment on the WordPress admin page, assuming it’s actual valid email – heh heh!).

                Then I would send you an email from my own yalensis email account.
                Then you would respond to my email, attaching your piece, preferably in a Microsoft Word document. That’s how it works.
                Thanks!

                Like

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