Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Wild Wild East ?

The BBC ran a story today about the Russians christening their children in ice cold water. While I don’t endorse this practice (and neither does the Russian Orthodox Church, from the way the article reads), I can’t help but think that this article is another one of those “aren’t those Russians weird and crazy!” pieces you see a lot in the Western media. At one point the Russians were weird and crazy for being communists, now they are weird and crazy for experiencing a religious revival. The fact that Russia happens to be an Orthodox Christian country probably makes this revival seem even weirder to many Westerners.

However, when I think about the more bizarre sections of American Christianity (I am looking at you, Christian Zionists!)  I can’t help but be a little jealous of the Russians. In the United States we have televangelists who literally promise miracles for people if they send them money. I wish I were exaggerating, but this is essentially what some of the more unscrupulous televangelists say. I don’t want to pick on Evangelicals too much (the vast majority are decent people and so are their ministers), so I think it can also be said that many mainline Protestants and even some Roman Catholics would prefer such a politically correct, watered-down version of Christianity that it is not surprising that so many Americans are attracted to the more emotionally powerful versions of Christianity, such as Pentecostalism and other faiths within the galaxy of Charismatic Christianity. 

Western Christians (and American Christians in particular) need to do a better job recognizing the importance of our Orthodox brothers and sisters. The ignorance and prejudice that marks much of Western attitudes towards Eastern Christianity probably helps explain the popular nonchalance that accompanied the bombing of Serbia, the support for Islamist terrorists in Chechnya, and the invasion of Iraq, which has devastated that Middle Eastern country’s ancient and important Christian community.


  1. As an Orthodox Christian myself, I certainly appreciate your admiration of our faith. I hear constantly that there is hope of unification between Catholics and Orthodoxy, and that would certainly be great news.

    I think you are right on the money concerning Evangelicals and Christian Zionists. Keep up the great work!

  2. Hi Mr. Gagic,

    Thank you for the comment and the kind words! I also hope that Christianity may one day be united.

  3. 'Western Christians (and American Christians in particular) need to do a better job recognizing the importance of our Orthodox brothers and sisters.'

    Agreed, and same for us Orthodox as well.