_ Fay Voshell. Princeton Theological Seminary. June 27th 2016. Published for debate.
On June 20th of this year, CNN ran a piece containing declassified information about the Cold War spies of the 1970s. During the presentation, a former CIA Chief of Counterintelligence articulated the foundational assumptions behind the struggle between the former Soviet Union and the Western democracies. He said, “We were faith. They were atheist.” He added, “They (the USSR) were authoritarian; we were democratic.”
He and the others interviewed for the program described the Cold War as a death struggle between two diametrically opposed systems of belief: communism vs. liberal democracy.
President Vladimir Putin has recently expressed his hope and desire that another Cold War between the West and Russia not begin. Putin lamented the fact that the Western democracies and Russia were still far apart and largely antagonistic toward one another even after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
He, along with other political observers, expressed the hope that after communism fell in the 1990s, there could be rapprochement between the West and Russia. The idea of such a rapprochement was long an elusive if not impossible goal as long as the Soviet Union was dominated by Marxist thought and principles. Alliance with the West was not within the realm of possibility.
The revival of a Cold War, the Russian president said, was partly due to what he regards as over extension of NATO and the economic sanctions imposed by the West due to the issue of the Russian presence in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. But there are other factors behind a possible renewal of the Cold War than realpolitik geopolitical power plays, which will always be part of world political dynamics.
At the core of the continued antagonism between the West and Russia is the breathtaking shift in ideologies that have occurred in America during the Obama administration and in Russia during Putin’s ascendance to power.
While Russia has embraced a spiritual revival that includes the re-establishment of the ancient Russian Orthodox Church and its Christian values; and while Putin is committed to Russia the nation, the Obama administration has committed itself to an anti-Christian ideology characterized by extreme aggression toward the majority Christian community and its values; and has its gaze set on a radically secularist global world order that disregards nation states.
In brief, there has been a nearly complete role reversal since the 1970s, with some leaders of the West now devoted to a radical secularism that marginalizes and excoriates the Christian majority of the United States in systematic ways once unthinkable.
For example, rejecting the Christian concept of what it means to be human beings created in the image of God, the Obama administration has committed itself to the transgender movement, which at heart represents a view of the human being so extreme as to go against observable and scientific reality. Transgenderism has devoted itself to a concept of “equality” so dangerously reductionist that it threatens the very foundations of Western civilization.
The sexual revolution now spearheaded by transgenderism rejects the binary nature of humanity, and thus is far more radical than the French and Bolshevik Revolutions, which at least recognized the distinctions between men and women. It is at heart nihilistic and anarchical, as it jettisons reality and strikes at any and every foundation for law and order influenced by Christianity. Total destruction of everyone and everything that stands in the way of final annihilation of Western Christian foundations is the goal of the sexual revolutionaries. A brave new global order presently only vaguely imagined is then to be built on the ruins of formerly Christianized nations — the very concept of nations being anathema to the new revolutionaries.
President Obama is wholly committed to the transgender movement. In fact, one could term him a proselytizer in chief for the transgender cause.
What rapprochement is possible between Russia and the West while such a radical viewpoint is embraced by leaders of Western democracies? What hope is there for diplomatic agreements between America and Russia when the current administration of the United States, and quite possibly a future administration under Hillary Clinton, is committed to a utopian world order that requires the death of nation states and the eradication of any Christian framework for law and order? Shall these radical notions be the standard for Russia, just as she is committing herself to rediscovery of her national and religious heritage?
No wonder there is talk of a new Cold War when there is such a radical ideological reversal.
Lest we forget, the anarchical viewpoints of Western sexual revolutionaries have affected some in Russia — just as the nation under Putin is recommitting herself to her ancient and authentic roots.
We have seen in Russia, to give only one example, the spearpoint of the anarchical sexual revolution in the behavior of Pussy Riot, the female rock group who invaded the sanctuary of Christ the Savior Cathedral in 2012 in order to proclaim its manifesto in a “Punk Prayer.”
Black robes brag, golden epaulettes
Freedom’s phantom’s gone to heaven
Gay Pride’s chained and in detention
The head of the KGB, their chief saint
Leads protesters to prison under escort
Don’t upset His Saintship, ladies
Stick to making love and babies
Crap, crap, this godliness crap!
Crap, crap, this holiness crap!
Virgin Mary, Mother of God
Become a feminist, we pray thee
Become a feminist, we pray thee
Bless our festering bastard-boss
Let black cars parade the Cross
The Missionary’s in class for cash
Meet him there, and pay his stash
Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin
Better believe in God, you vermin!
Fight for rights, forget the rite –
Join our protest, Holy Virgin
Activist Masha Gessen, who has decreed marriage should not exist, was recently honored by the U.S. Department of State. She is typical of the defenders of Pussy Riot’s desecration of Moscow’s Church of the Savior in 2012. She sees the group’s members as martyrs to the radical secularist cause and characterizes their performance as a “brilliant, artistically gifted prank.”
However, the group’s performance was neither “brilliant” nor “artistic.” Any well-informed critic would scoff at the women’s gauche, heavy-handed and inept exhibition. Any educated Westerner or Russian knows what artistry and brilliance in Russian music sounds like. It sounds like Tchaikovsky’s “Hymn of the Cherubim;” it sounds like Rachmaninoff’s Third; it sounds like Shostakovich’s Waltz #2. It sounds like Prokofiev’s “Dance of the Knights.”
What Pussy Riot’s shenanigans revealed was the boorish behavior, sights and sounds typical of postmodern, anarchical iconoclasts, who have been busy at work in Europe and America for decades, determinedly attacking and aggressively seeking to destroy religious beliefs, institutions and founding documents. We in America have heard and seen such “artistry” in the form of Ginsberg’s “Howl,” Serrano’s “Piss Christ,” and Ofili’s dung decorated “The Holy virgin of Mary.”
In like manner, there is absolutely nothing new about Pussy Riot’s sacrilegious assault on the cathedral, which is mere mimicry of the assaults on the Catholic cathedral in San Francisco by gay “activists”.
Pussy Riot chose their target with great deliberation. The Church of the Savior represents the still fragile restoration of Russian Orthodoxy to its rightful place in the history of the Russian nation. Christianity is and has been part of the Russian soul for over one thousand years. The group’s choice to defile the sanctuary was a significant attack on Russian Orthodoxy and the Russian government, as the church is the symbol of the resurgence of the Christian faith once brutally suppressed by the Bolshevik regime. Under Stalin’s orders, the church was blown to smithereens in 1931 after being plundered of its treasures. The Babel-like ziggurat that was to replace it as a monument to Soviet atheism’s triumphalism was never built. The church was reconstructed 1995-2000, and holds a central place in the hearts and souls of Russian Christians.
The impetus behind Pussy Riot is essentially the same as that which once took the cathedral down — an ideology committed to total destruction of faith, religion, and nation. Pussy Riot’s songs of rebellion are their anarchical hymns to chaos, order and atheism. They have about as much musical integrity as the Horst Wessel song.
The restoration of Christianity in Russia is recent and vulnerable to attacks of ideologues. What we see in Pussy Riot is the resurrection of iconoclasm in the form of a debauched rock music group. Russia recently endured an iconoclastic regime for some seventy years. Now is time for rebuilding, not more destruction.
Finally, let’s recall that freedom of speech is not the main issue here. Nor is “artistry.” Pussy Riot can find places to perform outside of the cathedral of Christ the Savior. Indeed, the group’s members have been welcomed as martyrs to the avant garde causes in England and America, causes Richard John Neuhaus succinctly described: “[The] nihilistic avant garde is a regression to the rule of the barbarians… They are those who know nothing and insist that nothing can be known…”
Shall the barbarians prevail? Shall pearls be trampled by swine?
May the Russian Orthodox church and other Christian churches operate freely without the predations of those who wish to destroy them? Does the Russian government have a vested interest in maintaining inviolate the sacred places so important to millions of Russian Christians? Does it have an interest in fostering religion?
The question is whether or not the government of Russia (or America) has a vested interest in protecting the nation’s religious institutions and the national integrity from the predations of those who wish to destroy them.
Does Russia, in sum, have reason to resist the importation of an ideology committed to a new Cold War, an ideology committed to the destruction of everything that constitutes the soul of the nation?
Are there reasons for a possible renewal of a Cold War?
The answer to the above questions is, “Yes.”