As we’ve mentioned before, Fr. Dmitry Smirnov is a very popular Russian priest, dedicated activist in the Russian fight against abortion. He is an influential supporter of large families, homeschooling, and, simply put, traditional family values. He has a huge media presence, regularly appears on television, and has numerous subscribers and fans in Russia and in other countries.
He is prized by many for his unapologetic refusal to sugarcoat anything. When asked about the possibility of redeeming the sin of abortion, his answer is very clear.
Forgiveness is something God can grant, of course, but a person cannot reverse an action that has destroyed human life. Thus, in a human understanding, ‘redeeming’ the sin with actions is impossible… there is no price for human life.
Is there any way to redeem the sin of abortion? There is no way. Because human life is invaluable.
The bank robbery can be redeemed by paying out the stolen money, the offence caused to someone can be redeemed by bringing excuses, giving presents or buying something the person dreams of for a long time, but didn’t have a chance to buy.
But in case of abortion, there is no way to do that. Abortion is taking away person`s life.
That’s why it is impossible to redeem that sin. There is only hope for the grace of God,so that God would forgive a person, who should pray the whole life with devotion to good actions.
To comfort the conscience, you can, for example, adopt an ill orphan and devote your life to him. So that a child wouldn’t just barely survive in a foster home but live in the family, feel the family care, this can be a considerable achievement.
Redeeming the sin of abortion is still not possible, but proving to God your sincere repentance is possible.
A video introducing Russian Faith
OPINION: Watching from Italy we always knew UK’s Covid response was a ‘failure’
Watching the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK from Italy was like looking into a parallel universe.
As someone with a dual British and Italian identity, it was also a defining moment for my relationship with the UK.
On March 9th, 2020, Italy’s then-Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the first nationwide lockdown. The message of his historic ‘Io Resto a Casa’ (‘I’m staying home’) speech was clear: public health comes before other interests, as important as they may be.
And we stayed home. The Great Italian Bake-Off had begun.
As the crisis worsened in other countries, Britons living in Italy – and Italians living in Britain – looked at the UK’s response and thought: what are they waiting for?
To our frustration, the recent Commons report on the UK’s handling of the first wave of the pandemic only told those of us with connections to both countries what we already knew. The UK hadn’t learned from Italy’s experience.
Unsurprisingly, the Commons report called the UK’s government decisions on lockdowns and social distancing in the early weeks of the pandemic “one of the most important public health failures the UK has ever experienced”.
It was a delay that cost thousands of lives.
Italy battled the pandemic with little data. But crucially, Italian officials drilled the message, quite literally, home: the situation is serious and there is no time to waste.
By comparison, the UK’s attitude – despite by then having access to data from China, the WHO and Italy – was staggering.
The Commons report brings the bewilderment we felt at the time into clear focus.
On January 31st 2020, then-Health Minister Matt Hancock was informed by experts that a worst-case scenario would cause 820,000 deaths.
The same week Italy locked down, the numbers in the UK started to align with this worst-case scenario. Despite the alarming data, Britain’s lockdown plan was yet to be formulated.
The same day, famed TV doctor Christian Jessen was forced to issue a public apology after comparing Covid-19 to the flu and accusing Italians of using lockdown as an excuse for a “siesta”.
Faced with such widespread mixed messaging, it’s little wonder the British public appeared largely oblivious to the looming danger.
As the military was called in to help with Bergamo’s overflowing morgues on March 18th, British acquaintances happily announced on social media that they were not closing shop.
Watching the UK’s response to Covid from Italy was like watching a drunk friend get behind the wheel of their car. Unfortunately, there was no snatching the keys out of their hands and calling a taxi.
Sharon Braithwaite, a British-Italian journalist living in London, says that, as people stocked up on pasta and toilet paper, she too asked: ”when will the (UK) government do something concrete?’.
It was frustrating – and at times insulting – for those of us with connections to both countries to hear how the Italian crisis was being narrated in Britain.
A great deal of myths have been used to justify why Italy was so badly affected. Some blamed multi-generational families living under the same roof, while others pointed the finger at the Italian practice of kissing on the cheek. Though multigenerational families are more common in Italy than they are in the UK, the set-up is not so widespread that it could explain the overfilled morgues.
Perhaps most insidious of all were the comments made about Italy’s National Health System.
In one example, Dr Zoe Williams, a family doctor and media personality, reassured the public by saying in an interview on This Morning – a staple of British daytime TV – that ‘[the British] healthcare system is very different to Italy’.
Where the difference lies is unclear: both countries fall under the same universal healthcare model, even though Italy’s is highly decentralised, leaving health care management to individual regions.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Italian health care system is internationally well-regarded and is often ranked as one of the best in the world.
And the pandemic first hit (and overwhelmed) northern Italian regions widely regarded as having the best healthcare in the country.
Seeing Italy’s flagship hospitals in the wealthy region of Lombardy under tremendous strain should have been a further alarm bell.
If Italians have the second-highest life expectancy in Europe (83.1 years, second only to Spain) the healthcare system is to thank.
During the British government’s own enquiry, Professor Dame Sally Davies, former Chief Medical Officer for England, blamed “groupthink” and “British exceptionalism” for the fact British experts did not believe something like SARS could ever get from Asia to the UK.
As Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, said: the UK “missed an opportunity to prepare during the first months of 2020”.
This had long been apparent to many in Italy. As someone with dual British and Italian identity, the pandemic, paired with the chaos created by Brexit, is transforming my relationship with Britain.
No longer the country of common sense and opportunity, Britain seems like a land consumed by isolationism and exceptionalism – an issue which has now engulfed public health.
The UK now has among the highest infection rates in the world, with 45,000 new cases being reported in a single day. The death toll is rising.
In Italy, for now the health situation remains largely under control. The government and the majority of people remain cautious. In some ways, nothing has changed.
Planeta Prize: The truth about Spain’s mystery novelist Carmen Mola: ‘We did not hide behind a woman, just behind a name’ | Culture
The three men who, it turns out, were really writing the best-selling thrillers by Spanish mystery novelist Carmen Mola have spoken out to tell their story, following the controversy triggered last week when their real identities were revealed at the award ceremony of a major literary competition.
Jorge Díaz, Agustín Martínez and Antonio Mercero, professional screenwriters in their forties and fifties, were persuaded to come forward when their manuscript La bestia (or, The beast), a gory tale of child murders set in Madrid during the cholera epidemic of 1834, was named the winner of this year’s Planeta Prize, handed by the same-name publishing house. This year the prize money had been raised from €601,000 to a full €1 million, overtaking the Nobel Prizes in the amount awarded to the winner.
Díaz, Martínez and Mercero said that the idea for picking a woman’s name as a pseudonym was not deliberate. According to Martínez, it took only “a minute and a half of throwing around men’s names, women’s names, foreign-sounding names…”
“I don’t know whether a female pseudonym sells better than a male one, I haven’t the faintest idea, but it doesn’t look that way to me,” added Mercero. “We didn’t hide behind a woman, just behind a name.”
Carmen Mola had become a literary sensation, producing a bestselling trilogy about a female police inspector named Elena Blanco who solves gruesome crimes. The first novel, The Gypsy Bride, came out in 2018 and a fourth book in the series is expected out in March with the publisher Alfaguara, which is owned by the Penguin Random House Group – Planeta’s main rival in Spain. Under the terms of the Planeta prize, which only accepts unpublished manuscripts, La bestia will be published by Planeta.
Mola, whose Elena Blanco trilogy has already sold 400,000 copies, had also been marketed as a university professor in her forties and a mother of three who wrote fiction in her spare time and preferred to remain anonymous by using a pseudonym. She even gave interviews to print news organizations. EL PAÍS conducted an interview with Mola in 2018 through e-mail, the only way that “she” would accept to talk to the media.
When the three authors finally revealed their true identity on Friday at the award ceremony, it caused a stir in literary circles and in social media. Beatriz Gimeno, a writer, lawmaker and former director of the Women’s Institute of Spain, said that the deception goes well beyond the realm of the literary. “Beyond the use of a female pseudonym is the fact that these individuals have been granting interviews for years,” she said in a Twitter message. “It’s not just the name, it’s the fake profile with which they duped readers and journalists. Scammers.”
All three authors now say that if they had guessed how successful their first thriller about Inspector Elena Blanco would be, they would have given it more thought and perhaps come up with a different name. “But the whole thing started to gain traction and built up into a wave that we could not get out of. There were translations, we were asked for another novel…” said Díaz. “We had to write something about the author for the dust jacket sleeve, so we made up that she was a university professor from Madrid. But she could just as well have been a taster of gin-and-tonics…first we said she had two children, then we forgot and said she had three…we haven’t been very rigorous about it,” added Mercero.
Penguin Random House is playing down the relevance of the fact that its rival publisher Planeta has lured the authors away with its million-euro check. But María Fasce, a publisher at Alfaguara, called it “a marketing operation.” Screenwriters are increasingly sought after by publishing houses due to the growing popularity of television series that are often based on books.
In fact the story begins with a former Penguin employee. Justyna Rzewska, who used to work in Penguin’s international rights sales department, founded a small literary agency named Hanska in 2017 and sent Alfaguara Negra the manuscript for the first novel she was going to represent. This department, which specializes in crime novels, was looking for a writer in Spain who would have a similar impact to foreign authors such as Pierre Lemaitre or Joël Dicker. The manuscript was received by María Fasce, who was fascinated by the story but soon learned that Carmen Mola was a pseudonym and that the real writer wished to remain anonymous.
“In these cases, when a published reaches a deal with a writer, the deal is strictly honored. You act as though it were a writer who doesn’t want to talk to you and you wait for his or her great novels,” she said in a conversation with EL PAÍS. The book was an immediate best-seller.
The publisher said she could not comment on when she knew that Mola was really Jorge Díaz, Agustín Martínez and Antonio Mercero. The secret was always part of the process, even after The Purple Network came out in 2019 and The Girl in 2020.
“We’ve been lying like dogs for four years and several months,” laughed Díaz. “It’s been a long time since [I published my own] last novel, and more than one person had chided me for not writing anything else, for being lazy. And I would think, ‘If only you knew…!’”
There was a circle of people who knew something was up, but very few (and very discreet ones) who knew that one of the three might be behind Carmen Mola. But nobody knew it was the three of them.
Díaz, Martínez and Mercero said they are not expecting to begin a new saga with La Bestia. Then again, they hadn’t been expecting to write several books about Elena Blanco, either. “We’ve had a really good time working within this genre,” said Martínez. “We live by the principle of pleasure. We are hedonistic writers, not authors who suffer when they write, and I believe that when you’re having a good time, the book comes out better. That’s what we’ve always wanted to do, to have fun writing.”
Why Putin’s Christian Faith Is Most Likely Authentic
The author is a well-known academic historian of Russia and Ukraine, which he approaches from a Christian (Russian Orthodox) and nationalist perspective, arguing that nationalism and Christian Orthodoxy are inseparable. He also writes widely on current affairs. Rare for contemporary Western historians of Russia, he sources original materials in Russian, pulling back the veil on much misunderstanding, ranging from modern history back to Russia’s very beginnings in the Middle Ages.
His latest book, Ukrainian Nationalism (2019), (Amazon), is the definitive treatment of this topic and is essential reading to understand the current political turmoil in Ukraine. It argues that Ukrainian nationalism is real and legitimate, but needn’t be Anti-Russian, and that Russia and Ukraine are in fact natural allies. Here is his article on Russia Insider explaining some of the ideas in the book. There is no other scholar writing today about Russia and the Ukraine with this extraordinary command of historical detail and meaning. Johnson is a national treasure, and his works are highly recommended. For a fascinating audio podcast discussion of the book by Johnson and Andrew Carrington Hitchcock, see here.
If you are so inclined, please rate the book on Amazon, as this increases sales greatly. It is a great way to support the author and help spread the ideas in the book. If Amazon blocks you from leaving a review, please let us know in the comments section below, and/or send an email to [email protected]
Vladimir Putin is fairly mute about his own religious views. Being a member of the Communist Party is no evidence of atheism. Its evidence only of conformity. Party membership was essential for having any a career of any substantial kind, especially in the security services.
Military and police careers were, as in all societies, attractive to patriots and nationalists, though it had to be a “Soviet” rather than a specifically Russian nationalism. However, he does say that he was secretly baptized by his mother at 18 months in Petersburg at the Cathedral of the Martyrs Alexandria and Antonia of Rome. From this, it is safe to say that Putin was secretly taught the faith from a young age.
According to his mother, it was the day of St. Michael and all the Angels, so it had to be November 21st. Putin’s views are, in hos own words, to be internal, and never the subject of a show. The cross that his mother gave him at the Sepulcher Church in Jerusalem he wears always. In his house many years ago, a fire broke out from the heating unit of the sauna malfunctioning. Worried that the cross, which he had left near his bed, was gone forever, once of the workmen found it perfectly intact in the midst of all the rubble.
Putin stated on Larry King that he sees this event as a miracle and a “revelation.” His personal commitment to Orthodoxy never wavered afterwards. Normally he goes to obscure, rural churches to spend the holidays, wishing to avoid the cameras and distractions of the major cities. His natural constituency is the Orthodox population, who, as polls have stated since the mid 1990s, trust the patriarch more than anyone else in Russia, even more than Putin himself.
Unlike Slobodan Milosevic, Putin is clearly comfortable and at home in an Orthodox setting, and his ritual movements are smooth and comfortable, not jerky and artificial as might be expected for a hypocritical display. Milosevic was noted for his awkwardness in Orthodox churches in the 1990s, suggesting he had no experience in them. The only time he seemed slightly stiff is when, upon kissing an icon, the background noise was of hundreds of cameras taking pictures.
This is one of the videos in which Putin reveals the origin of his faith.
It shows us the following:
Putin first speaks about his Baptism: 02:00
He believes in the traditional Russian family: 04:03
Over 65,000 Russians defend the Church: 08:02
The Orthodox bikers in the new Russia: 10:52
Putin’s acknowledges the saints and martyrs murdered by the communists: 11:45
Putin is far superior for the church than Peter the Great and many others. Non-Orthodox monarchs in Russia history include Peter I, who was a materialist Freemason. His successor, the mockery “Catherine I,” who was a former prostitute from Germany taken as war booty by Peter. She was placed on the throne in mockery, similar to the French Revolutionaries placing a prostitute on the throne of the Bishop of Paris during the terror. Lord Biron, a Freemason who ruled while the two “Empress Annas” tried on outfits), Peter III who was a Lutheran, soon murdered by, Catherine II, a Deist and vehemently anti-Orthodox and anti-Russian. Alexander I dabbled in the occult, while Alexander II was generally secular. At the same time, these and other monarchs placed atheists and masons as head of the synod on a regular basis. Putin is far more Orthodox than those monarchs.
Putin’s concern with ecumenism with Rome is puzzling. His constituency is Orthodox and nationalist. He has only to lose with this policy. Yet, no one else on earth right now has done more to strengthen and spread Orthodox than Putin and the Moscow Patriarchate. On February 13, 2012, Putin condemned the Red Army in the Russian Civil War. In 2012, 65,000 gathered at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow to defend the church against Pussy Riot and other attacks on it. This is the new Russia.
Back in 2001, Izvestia interviewed Putin’s spiritual father, the Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) of the Sretensky Monastery. This was December of 2001, probably prior to anyone really knowing too much about his policy agenda. The Archimandrite stated:
Putin is really an Orthodox Christian really, and not nominally. He confesses, receives communion and is aware of his responsibility before God for the ministry entrusted to him from on high and for his immortal soul.
The burden and severity of the problems he is undertaking to solve and his responsibility for these is truly enormous. Anyone who really loves Russia and wishes her well can only pray for Vladimir whom the Providence of God sent to deliver Russia.
The Archimandrite was himself sent to prison by the old KGB and had members of his family perish because of them. Thus, Putin’s background in this organization did not initially endear him to the President. However, he soon was convinced of Putin’s Orthodox mind. In his book, the Archimandrite writes:
Combining the modern Russian state with past forms, Putin has undertaken a huge effort to connect it to the heavens. The construction of churches, the reconstruction of destroyed parishes, monasteries and the revival of Russian shrines has become an urgent matter for Putin.
For the dark, soulless landscape that was imposed on Russia after 1991 – one dominated by nihilism, anger, and nonsense mercantile scams – Russia was in a condition completely unsuitable for any future development. Anything built in this context, any laboratory or university, immediately plunged into the abyss of a toxic lifestyle.
The restoration of churches and monasteries is truly the creation of huge sewage treatment plants which are to filter and processing the fetid waste of the 1990s. It is the construction of spiritual filters through which passes the poisoned spirit of the Russian people.
In his visit to Valaam, Putin stated that “without Orthodoxy, there would be no Russia.”
On the website of the Valaam monastery, they speak of the sincerity of the President’s faith. They state that visiting the northern shrines was a “turning point” for Putin and began a sincere conversion. He ensured that there was a minimum of meetings and no talk of politics. On August 16th of 2001 Putin first began his pilgrimage and acted like an “ordinary believer.” He walked the three kilometers to the main monastery to St. Nicholas’ skete. He then decreed that the island of Anzer be granted officially to the church and more specifically, the monastery of Solovki.
On the 1025th anniversary of the baptism of Rus under St. Vladimir, Putin stated:
Today, when people are again looking for moral support, millions of our fellow citizens see their Russian Orthodox religion as a beacon.
Trust the wise pastoral words of the Russian Orthodox Church. Her selfless, educational and social service demand respect. Her public authority and peacekeeping efforts aimed at strengthening the harmony and stability of Russia, as well as her efforts to restore the historical ties among peoples, and especially with our compatriots abroad, has been her legacy.
It is also important that a new level of state-church relations has developed.
We act as genuine partners and as co-workers in solving the most pressing domestic and international challenges in the implementation of joint ventures for the benefit of our country and people.
On the 90th anniversary of the restoration of the Patriarchate, Putin stated:
The Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church helped the people survive the agony of the 20th century. It helped defend the faith, to unite the flock and to save not just the church, but the ideas of Christianity. And later, already in a revival of religious life, the Church has helped continue his tireless service.
And today, we appreciate the desire of the Russian Orthodox Church to return the ideals and values to Russian society that for centuries were our spiritual landmarks (Putin, 2007).
It is common to condemn Putin for being a “KGB agent.” the truth is that the security services of any nation attract nationalists. Few doctrinaire Marxists existed in the USSR. This is the exclusive domain of capitalist universities. Putin has condemned Marxism and communism. He has stated that the fall of the USSR was a great “catastrophe.” Indeed it was: Solzhenitsyn said the same. The destruction of the Soviet economy in a few years and its liquidation into the bank accounts of a few Jewish oligarchs is well known. The USSR was preferable to the 1990s in Russia. The life expectancy of the Russian male went down to under 60 years.
To be a career man of any kind in the USSR, one had to join the party. Spouting a few slogans that no one believed is a minor price to pay for the ability to feed one’s family. Putin clearly (albeit secretly) rejected the party’s atheism. He was and is a Russian nationalist. My book, Russian Populist: The Political Thought of Vladimir Putin (TBR Press, 2012) shows this at great length. I’ve translated some speeches and writings that have not seen the light of day in the west. The revelations of Putin’s secret baptism make sense out of his post-soviet career and ideological development.
(NB: Readers should buy directly from The Barnes Review (the publisher of this book) due to the fact that Amazon and other retailers are deliberately charging outrageously high prices for it).
Владимир Путин посетил Ипатьевский мужской монастырь. Kremlin.ru, March 23 2005
Putin, BB (2007) Выступление В.В. Путина на встрече с иерархами Русской православной церкви по случаю 90-летия восстановления патриаршества. Doxa.ru
Valaam (2001) Finding Himself. “Вера-Эском” 16(394)
Путин и его семья – христиане. Это главное. Izvestia, December 7 2001
Читайте далее: http://izvestia.ru/news/255666#ixzz3udNeNBJg
Проханов А., Нарочницкая Н., Ивашов Л., Аверьянов В. (2014) Putin: The Keystone of Russian Statehood. A Publication of the The Izborsk Club
Путин, BB (2013) «Нравственные основы православной веры сформировали менталитет народа» Русская народная линия. Summer
Putin – Defender of the Faith, President Vladimir Putin, December 12, 2012 at St George Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace on Constitution Day in Russia
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