Saturday, 5 December 2015

Holy Russia

In 1977, as a schoolboy, I had the opportunity to visit the Soviet Union. I had little appreciation of faith in those days but did attempt to attend Mass on Sunday. Arriving at the one church that was still open we met with the news, from a few grandmothers, that there would be no Mass as the priest was ill. Sixty years after the revolution the youngest priest must have been in his mid-eighties. The lights must have almost gone out on the church in Russia in those days.

And yet perhaps it was from amongst those grandmothers (orthodox and catholic) that the countries future return to faith lay. Both Mikhail Gorbachev and Vladimir Putin were secretly baptized as infants, a spirit lying dormant for many years as they grew up atheists & part of the communist party machine.

Now Putin seems to be the standard bearer for a new Russia that, astonishingly but correctly, pointed out how Godless America and the west had become whereas Russia upholds the traditional family and teaches the Christian faith in state schools, a freedom now curtailed in the USA. The high ground has shifted so perhaps it’s fitting that the Russians are the ones to lead in the fight against ISIS in Syria. 

At the beginning of the air strikes, on TV, I noticed a Russian MIG pilot entering his jet with an icon in his hand, showing an understanding of what alliance he and his comrades needed for this particular fight. 

Whilst Putin may never be the poster boy for tactful foreign policy, in this instance he is the only leader with the backbone to tackle ISIS which is certainly the world’s priority at present. 

Defining a just war in our days is difficult but perhaps defining the adversary leads to the conclusion. I searched for an apt description of ISIS on Wikipedia and these extracts look close:-‘no ability to feel pity, compassion, or remorse’... ‘soon came to view themselves as the supreme race and began a conquest of domination and extermination’. ..’having had every emotion removed except hate’

Actually the definitions above are found under the heading ‘Daleks’; same psychological profile and modus operandi as ISIS though.

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