It’s April 21, 2021, and if NFTU has gone largely quiet, it’s mostly because this editor has no idea what to report on. A year ago, as COVID madness swept the globe, Christianity was suddenly targeted in Western countries: Churches were forcibly closed and subject to restrictions that the year before would have been rightly labelled “persecutions”.
But that’s old hat now in 2021, as Orthodox since seem to have fallen into two camps (across both True Orthodox and World Orthodox lines): the “obedient” who would willingly sacrifice their rights to celebrate the Holy Mysteries and simply close down versus the “resisters” who notably refused to close down their services, even at the risk of arrest. Most sort of cautiously fell in between these two camps, moving towards doing services more or less in secret, which, in retrospect, seems to have been the smartest move.
Here in many parts of the United States of America, just keeping your church open, despite following government directives, gets you labelled a “super-spreader”; going to Church now makes you a threat to society. If the mask mandates, COVID passports and devotion to psuedo-science under His Holiness Dr. Anthony Fauci are a type of the one-world religion, they are a pathetic and miserable type indeed.
The psychological effect on young converts to Orthodoxy to be restricted from attending services last Great Lent and Pascha was visible and painful on social media and for this writer was simply heartbreaking. The failure of leadership showed globally, with the exception of Tbilisi, which refused to bend the knee to the high priests of Pandemic Incorporated and as a result were punished by getting closer to herd immunity before, well, everyone else and defying predictions of a population decline. By contrast, the Georgian government’s ad campaign to join zombie nation led to a nurse’s death.
(We’ll spare the reader a recap of the drama surrounding the stolen election of one Donald J. Trump and the mass collective realization that when you give one company control of, say, your phone data or, perhaps your personal data, that said company controls a significant chunk of your actual life and to some degree becomes like your actual government.)
For the first time in seven centuries, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was closed to the public (presumably to the delight of the Israeli authorities)– a thought to consider this year as we move again towards Holy Week. How quickly so many of us globally were willing to give up our liberties over a flu variant! And yet it seems like so many years have passed since that innocent time. “Two weeks to slow the spread!” evolved, as we all know, into what we have today in Western lands: paranoid, crippled, anti-Christian bureaucracies that increasingly show the marks of failed states.
And of course COVID-19 has had its effect on the Orthodox world: the ecumenists and anti-ecumenists in World Orthodoxy seem to increasingly butt heads, which would probably benefit True Orthodoxy long term if we weren’t in a state of constant collapse. But at least the Ukraine nightmare helped to make obvious to people like Patriarch Kirill what real schismatics actually look like! (Yay for us!) Now if he could stop being besties with Italy’s most famous communist he’d be a perfect model of leadership for the rest of the Orthodox world. (Sorry, Patriarch Ilia is still at the top in our World Orthodox power rankings. The present writer is frankly amazed that COVID-19 took out the Rebbe in Serbia but they actually have to resort to trying to poison Patriarch Ilia.)
Ukraine is now the leading choice for Rome’s “one church to place in communion with Rome and Constantinople.” Of course, if we’re being honest, the Uniates tried this 25 years ago too– with Antioch. Really, nothing is new under the sun. The difference is that back then, world Orthodoxy seemed to lack the ability to know what heresy and schism actually were. (Also, to be fair to the Antiochians, the Ecumenical Patriarch is a much more willing partner in selling out Orthodoxy to Italy’s most famous communist.) So this is positive news overall!
In True Orthodox news, three Bishops– including the Primate and Secretary– of the Avlona Synod reposed in succeeding weeks. The Parish of ROAC in St Petersburg which was previously against name-worshipping seems to now be for name-worshipping. Somewhere in the past two or three years there developed another ROCOR breakoff by combining two of the other ones. But outside of those developments, things are largely the same, as Orthodox go on with their lives. And here in the States that means: usually with a mask on– or two if you watch CNN.