Those Nasty Homophobic Russkis
Guess where this piece of Political Correctness comes from.
A troubling alliance of religion and nationalism is uncovered by Marcel Theroux in Russia, where state-sponsored TV and the Orthodox church promote an agenda of homophobia, anti-abortion and barely concealed misogyny in the guise of faith and ‘family values’.
My old alma mater The Guardian? The New Statesman? The RTÉ Guide, perhaps? Or maybe our own lovely Irish Times, which we used to call the D’Olier Street Pravda (ironic, that, when you come to think of it).
None of the above. It’s from the television page of what used to be sneeringly called the “Torygraph” —the Daily Telegraph, which now allows its young officer class to defy what was, until recently that paper’s policy of defending what remains of Christian civilisation in Britain. Week after week editor Charles Moore, a Catholic convert, still writes witty and very readable articles advancing the case for conservatism with a small c, but his features staff and some of his columnists are allowed a free hand in expressing their progressive prejudices.
Somewhat masochistically, I decided to watch the Theroux programme, and it was far more balanced than you would have expected from the above quotation.
It began with an Epiphany ceremony on an ice-bound lake. A priest chanted prayers while men, women and children in swimming attire crossed themselves from right to left and then one by one jumped into a hole in the ice. This penance would probably have killed me, and it was impossible not to admire the penitential spirit of all concerned. Theroux interviewed one layman who recalled that as recently as the 1960s the Communist authorities would have banned such a display of faith. You don’t have to be a fan of Putin to think the Russians may be on to something these days.
Theroux gave the impression (possibly correct) that Orthodoxy has experienced an astonishing revival in recent years. It certainly has no truck with the kind of modernism now undermining the Catholic Church throughout the western world. One broadcaster was questioned about the Orthodox lack of tolerance for homosexuality which Theroux regarded as reprehensible (the lack of tolerance, not homosexuality). Well, replied the broadcaster, the Bible condemns sodomy, so we do too.
One inspiring sequence which clearly impressed Theroux concerned a middle-aged woman who had taken over the care of a few dozen children who’d been abandoned by their alcoholic mothers. She housed and fed them, and accompanied them to school. All this was done out of love, although she did receive a small state allowance for each child, some of whom had quite severe psychological problems.
What impressed me above all about the Orthodox, as portrayed here, is that they have no time at all for aggiornamento. They see no reason at all to update their liturgy or to encourage any of the progressive prejudices acquired by so many Catholics in Ireland. At the present rate, Orthodox Christianity will be thriving in Russia when Catholicism is near to vanishing point with us.