I am too tired, and too sad at heart, to write anything of my own. The words don’t come.

    I send along two pieces of writing by others, who speak about the great and important things, the spiritual things.

    In essence, both essays are a call for a spiritual rebirth of Europe, and of western culture.


    The first essay is by Chad Pecknold, a professor of historical and systematic theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. He did his doctorate at Cambriudge University in England, and is a profound student of the thought of St. Augustine (353-430 A.D), arguably the most influential of all the early Church Fathers on later western European culture.

    To read Pecknold is to begin to understand our spiritual history, and to recognize the crossroads where we now stand, undecided…


    The second essay is by an Orthodox writer who writes under the name “Batiushka” on the Vineyard of the Saker blog, a website organized by an Orthodox Christian man named Andrew, which hosts many other writers. The essay is a re-publication of a lecture the author gave in London in 2005, 17 years ago.     

    “Batiushka” dedicates the essay, in this re-publication, to the memory of the young Russian woman who was blown up by a car bomb on Saturday night — four days ago — in Moscow, Darya Dugina, the 29-year-old daughter of Russian philosopher and political theorist Alexander Dugin.

    The piece is a haunting and profound reflection on the need for European culture to remember where it came from: from Jerusalem, and from Christ.

    The author writes: “In the First Millennium, we find the roots of Europe, we find Holy Europe.”

    And he gives a marvelous list of saints who gave their names to the cities and towns of Europe (more than halfway down through this essay — scroll down to where I place all the saints’ names in boldface — read at least this list of saints, if you do not have time for anything else…)

    The author then writes: “It is my belief that in seeking common European roots, or origins, we shall find routes, or paths, out of the present European crisis towards what I have called an ‘Interpatriotic Europe,’ summed up so harmoniously in the French phrase ‘l’Europe des Patries.

    “It is in our common spiritual origins that we shall find our common spiritual opportunities. It is in our common spiritual identity that we shall find our common spiritual freedom.

    “But if Europe denies her common roots, her common spiritual origins in Jerusalem, then, as even the warlike Churchill said of earlier twentieth-century Europe: ‘…the whole world…will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister and perhaps more protracted by the lights of perverted science.’—RM  

    Out of the Feverish City: Part Two (link)

    Christianity remains the sole bulwark and makeweight of Western civilization.

    By: Chad Pecknold

    August 18, 2022

    This is the second part of an address I gave earlier this summer at the New Polity Conference in Steubenville, Ohio and at the ISI Summer Honors Conference in Philadelphia. In the first part of the essay, I treat Plato’s “two cities” — the healthy, and the feverish — and examine especially his analysis of “the feverish city,” and his own way out of it through the contemplative vision of philosopher-kings. In this second, lengthier part, I turn to Augustine, who famously has his own account of “two cities.” While he agrees with the need for a philosopher-king who “sees” how to rule, Augustine also argues that the Platonic “way out of the feverish city” lacks the one thing necessary.

    Fast forward from ancient Athens to ancient Rome — in places like Milan, Florence, Ravenna, and in Naples, as well as imperially far-flung, in North Africa, in Constantinople, Gaul and Roman Britain. Like Athens, the Roman world was suffused with religious rites, shrines, altars, and narratives about the movements of the gods in human affairs.

    Yet Augustine grows up between two worlds, one pagan and one Christian — perfectly represented by his pagan father Patrick, and his Christian mother Monica. In his famous account of his conversion, he confesses his errors and sins, and says that they were like sacrifices offered to demons on the interior altar of his heart. This analogy is apt because Augustine is profoundly aware that what binds the soul and the city together is religion, sacrifice, worship, the interior gaze, who or what orients our action. Since he lives in a world where pagan shrines abound alongside the shrines of saints and martyrs, it is easier to see that these exterior altars of the city correspond to the interior altar of the human soul.

    After the sack of Rome in 410, many elite Romans who had never accepted the Christianization of the empire from Constantine to Theodosius, had charged that Rome was falling precisely because Christ and His Church had usurped the place of the ancestral gods. Augustine writes his magisterial City of God precisely against these charges — as the original title reflects, De Civitate Dei Contra Paganos.

    Augustine initially responds that during the sack of Rome, pagans and Christians alike found shelter not in pagan shrines but in the great basilicas of the apostles and martyrs of Jesus Christ. Far from being bad from Rome, Augustine immediately retorts that it is the Church alone which gave sanctuary to Romans in their time of need — the Church brings not only eternal but also temporal, material benefits for the people of Rome. Indeed, his argument echoes throughout history, namely that the Catholic Church remains the sole bulwark and makeweight of Western civilization.

    Against the accusations of elites, Augustine argues that Rome’s fall is due to a corruption of the Roman soul that has been mediated by the gods of the city. Rome’s problem is at root a religious problem. Indeed, Plato’s own way out of the feverish city fails because while Plato may banish the bad religion of the poets, and while the philosopher-king may contemplate the true God, Platonism lacks the very means of uniting people to God.

    So Augustine narrates Rome’s history from the vantage point of her “gaze” — always mindful of the Platonic resonance. What is it that Rome most admires, adores, and worships? And how does this shape the “public thing” (res publica) that is Rome? In this sense, he is asking an essential Socratic or Platonic question: what is the relationship between contemplation and action? If Rome seems in dire straits, if it’s actions are decadent, inclining towards self-destruction, it stands to reason that this has its root in how Romans see their highest good, and their Final End. It has its roots in what orients their interior altar.

    It’s for this reason that Augustine repeatedly uses the Latin word ‘spectare’ — which is usually translated as spectacle. Anyone with a passing understanding of Augustine knows that he is highly critical of the Roman games and the stage plays of the theatre. These are “spectacles” — to which we might nod our heads and say to ourselves, “yeah, the grammies are really awful.” But the brutality of the games, and the debauchery of the theatre were very obviously suffused with religion (by the way, our spectacles are also suffused with religion even if we are not always attentive to this). Both the games and the theatre were not only circuses which entertained and thus formed the people, but they focused the Roman gaze on the very immorality of the city’s gods. Roman theatre held up the immorality of the gods as either humorous or tragic, but Augustine said that the Roman soul is deformed by these spectacles not because he is against games, or the theatre, but because he is against how these spectacles shape the soul and the city alike. In this sense, consistent with the Platonic insight about “men who are like their regimes,” but now “men who are like what they gaze upon,” or “men who are like their gods.” We become what we contemplate.

    Augustine personalizes the effect that Roman spectacle had upon him. “When I was a young man I used to go to sacrilegious shows and entertainments. I watched the antics of madmen; I listened to singing boys; I thoroughly enjoyed the most degrading spectacles put on in the honor of gods and goddesses — in honor of the Heavenly Virgin, and of Brecynthia, mother of all.” (2.5) In other words, Augustine knows the Roman “gaze” from experience, and recalls the verbal and sexual obscenities performed in the theater and in the city. The goddess cults demand that men castrate themselves, sometimes with rocks, in order to serve at the altar of fertility. Priestesses perform sexually degrading rites that in a domestic context would be unacceptable, but which is acceptable because the gods demand it. He asks “who could fail to realize what kind of spirits they are who could enjoy such obscenities?” The gods of the theater and the city are not friends of our souls, and they are not friends of Rome. Only someone who refused to recognize that these spectacles were created by unclean spirits who, masquerading as gods, deceive men into thinking that the Roman soul was not being directed by a “depraved cult.” This notion of spectacle, then, is critical for understanding Augustine’s argument.

    Elite Romans were often not as attached to the gods as the people of Rome — even though they regarded the gods as essential to the glory of Rome. Some Roman elites held an attitude not dissimilar from Plato’s “noble lie,” the view that there were no actual gods, but that they served a kind of pedagogical social function, or they were useful for binding a diverse and far-flung empire together.

    Augustine asks these tolerant Roman elites why they tolerate having “temples to demons where Galli are mutilated, eunuchs are consecrated, madmen gash themselves, and every other kind of cruelty or perversion”? (2.7)[1] The gods, and the plays which were largely about them, had a hold on the public imagination. Romans are captivated by spectacles which spout lies, cruelties, and obscenities which are all intimately ordered to the gods. Their souls had become like their religion — so why does it not occur to Roman elites that the problem might not be Christianity, but with Rome’s own gods, who are nothing other than human inventions puffed up by demons? Augustine commends them to read Plato, who at least had the good sense to “banish poets from his city to prevent their misleading the citizens, with the divinity of the gods who demand stage plays in their honor.” (2.14). Such spectacles direct the Roman soul—and “the most depraved desires” of the human heart are given a “kind of divine authority.” (2.14) And so it follows that just as men may be like their regimes, so the city may become a reflection of the human soul.

    He cites their own “best men” on this point to ensure that they know that the critique comes not just from without but from within. Augustine cites Sallust on the moral deterioration he witnessed after the Civil Wars between the plebs and the patres, noting that after that time “the degradation of traditional morality ceased to be a gradual decline and became a torrential downhill rush. The young were so corrupted by luxury and greed that it was justly observed that a generation had arisen which could neither keep its own property or allow others to keep theirs.” (2.18)

    Augustine sets out his thesis very clearly before Roman readers when he writes: “Rome had sunk into a morass of moral degradation before the coming of our Heavenly King. For all this happened not only before Christ had begun to teach in the flesh, but even before he had been born of a virgin.” (2.18).

    The Bishop will not allow the roman elites the luxury of blaming their decline on christianity. He forces them to face their history squarely, through their own revered authorities and histories. It is not only a defense of the City of God, it is an examination of the Roman conscience. Not only did their gods not protect the Roman people, they guaranteed their “torrential downhill rush” into immorality, leading Rome down the metaphysical scale into the pit of self-destruction. “There you see the Roman republic changing from the height of excellence [virtue] to the depths of depravity.” (2.19)

    As he puts it, “the worshippers and lovers of those gods” imitate their “criminal wickedness,” and are “unconcerned about the utter corruption of their country.” (2.20) Imitation thus remains central for thinking about the relation of the soul to the city: men who are like their regimes, and regimes who are like their gods.

    Augustine rails against the way in which materialism and libertine hedonism in Rome are simply a human performance of the debauchery of the gods. Romans based their moral code only in “consent,” and as Aristotle understood, this consent-based morality fuses the Oligarchic and Democratic Man into one great tyranny built upon Lust. He summarizes Rome’s radical libertinism thusly: “get as rich as you can, and let people do whatever they desire as long as there is consent.” (2.20) But consent-based morality develops into a society turned in on itself, and tends to punish anyone who speaks for a higher, more transcendent standard.

    As if speaking for many Christians in our late liberal empire today, Augustine laments that to stand opposed to this bad-religion because of the disorder it introduces into the soul and city alike invites only derision, cancellation, exile. He writes, “Anyone who disapproves of this kind of happiness should rank as a public enemy: anyone who attempts to change it or get rid of it should be hustled out of hearing by the freedom-loving majority: he should be kicked out, and removed from the land of the living.” (2.20)

    So far, so devastating. Rome is enslaved by bad religion which has disoriented their interior altars by the deceptions of demons.

    Augustine destroys the gods of the theatre, and the gods of the city. He leaves intact the philosophers who are lovers of wisdom. Roman philosopher-statesmen like Cicero are praised for directing Rome to that “complete justice” which is “the supreme essential for government.” (2.21) Cicero sees that a republic should be bound together by a common sense of what is right — which is to say a shared view of the common good — and bound by the common interests, loves, and ends. But Cicero laments that instead the republic has fallen far from this standard. Cicero says in Scipio’s voice: “What remains of that ancient morality which…supported the Roman state? We see that it has passed out of use into oblivion, so that far from being cultivated, it does not even enter our minds…We retain the name of a commonwealth, but we have lost the reality long ago; and this was not through any misfortunate, but through our own misdemeanors.”

    There was the “fancy picture” of the glory of Rome, and then there was the degraded reality evident to all of Rome’s greatest men. By the end of book two of the City of God, Augustine returns to the importance of the gaze. He writes that Rome had not been formed by the fancy picture it had of itself, but rather it has been formed by Roman spectacle, by “acts presented before all men’s eyes for imitation, to put forward for them to gaze at.”

    So what is all of the reflection on “spectacle” all about? Remember Plato’s philosopher-king. Can their purified “gaze” lead us out of the feverish city? Can their contemplation of the eternal form of the City not lead to a purification Rome? Now we come to the central question.

    Augustine admires the Platonists, and especially the Neo-Platonists of the Roman world. Unlike Cicero or Varro, who collapse God into the soul of the world, the Platonists truly order their gaze the transcendent God — the Final End, Supreme Being above all being, the Wisdom of God.

    Socrates had taught that the soul must be purified to enjoy the contemplative vision of the One cause of all. But the Platonists tolerate the gods, because they are still too impure to be united to their Cause. Even the philosopher-king cannot purify Rome because they cannot purify themselves of sim and ignorance.

    Only Jesus Christ can purify the soul, and so unite us to the eternal city.

    So it’s not enough to simply “banish the poets” and get the right kings The only way to crush false religion is privilege true religion, and to ensure that the ruler, or rulers, have the “right sort of worship.” The only way to safeguard the soul and the city from the torrential downhill rush into decay and immorality is to redirect the rulers’ interior and exterior gaze to Christ.

    Augustine ends the second book of the City by contrasting the degrading gaze to the elevating Christian vision which raises people up to the most glorious city of God. There is the yoke of “polluted powers” from which Rome must be freed. “The Christian purge,” as Bettenson has it, could also be understood as Augustine’s aim in the whole work: to hold up the necessity of Christian purification for the whole Roman world. This is the view that succeeded the Platonic vision, and it reigned supreme in the West for more than a thousand years.

    Today, we see that the gods of the theatre and the city have come back with a vengeance. So too have the gods of Oligarchy, Democracy, and Tyranny — circling souls around a new false faith, set on destroying God and the image of God. We inhabit a feverish city, and there seems to be no escaping it.

    Many have written about the Great Awakening, as something which both taps into America’s Puritan and Evangelical traditions — but which represents something like a new civic religion to replace the old, more consciously Christian civil religion. We see the new solemnities everywhere we look. The positivist Auguste Comte was foolish to introduce a rationally mapped out calendar for France — he should have rolled out the new holidays one by one by getting corporations to celebrate them.

    Cancel culture is but a mechanism for establishing new solemnities, and redirecting the soul’s gaze. In order to exchange one civic religion for another, one must exile, or cancel all the old images of the person, of marriage, of sexual difference, of family. You need to break the bonds of old loves in order to forge new ones in the civic soul.

    Today we regularly see images that would have been unthinkable even a decade ago. We now regularly see images of men dressed as women who ascribe disordered desires even to children who they treat as sexual objects during their Drag Queen Story Hours at the local library — ever increasing levels of disorder “normalized” as spectacles for public consumption. These are the new priests and priestesses like those of Galli, and they are forming souls to be like that self-destructive city which pulls down the ramparts.

    The feverish city purports to celebrate “equality and human dignity of all people,” but the claim is incoherent. The equality of human beings can only be affirmed if we have some objective standard in which we are all the same — in which we are all hold something in common. Yet, the city of pride, which celebrates itself this month, doesn’t have a theology fit for the recognition of equal dignity. That would require an anthropology that understood that each of us were “equal” by virtue of our common cause, and that our dignity was elevatable according to the end and purpose for which we have been made. What the city of pride celebrates, however, is an anthropology of transgressive difference which cannot celebrate God as prior to us, as the uncaused cause of a nature we all share in common, but rather celebrates only individual desire as an originating cause of sex, gender, identity. This is not only capricious and rootless, but “the community” it forms is vicious and tyrannical. It’s for this reason that St. Augustine calls pride the libido dominandi — the lust for domination — and he describes this as a spiritual disposition which is fundamentally disordering. While he sometimes refers to this as a “city of man,” what he really means is a disordering principle rather than a city, more of an anti-politics than a politics proper, because it is actually deprives people of their own proper good, and blinds them to the ends which would elevate them in the way of goodness and happiness.

    What would Augustine tell us? I think he would remind us of the limits of the limits of Plato’s philosopher-king. He would remind us that it’s not enough to have a ruler (or rulers) who may contemplate the one true God, yet who has does not offer “the right kind of worship.” The philosopher-king has the spectare but lacks true latreia, being himself incapable of offering the sacrifice which could truly make us adhere (adhaerare) or cling to God, “that final Good which makes possible our true felicity” (10.6). Augustine would remind us that the only universally acceptable sacrifice, the only “way out” of the feverish city comes by way of a Mediator who suffers for our humanity in his humanity, and so becomes the true sacrifice which would adhere us to God.

    Augustine doesn’t deny the need for a philosopher-king, but such a ruler is not per se “the way out.” Rather Augustine points to the sacred rites of the Catholic Church to supply supplying the “right sort of worship” that must be offered to ppace souls and cities on the Way to happiness:

    “This is the sacrifice of Christians, who are ‘many, making up one body in Christ’. This is the sacrifice which the Church continually celebrates in the sacrament of the altar, a sacrament well-known to the faithful where it is shown to the Church that she herself is offered in the offering which she presents to God.” (10.6)

    And it is in this light that we should view his very high view of Constantine and Theodosius. In the fifth book he had already asked the essential question that Romans asked: what will make Rome happy?

    We must ask ourselves this same question.

    But Augustine’s answer, like Plato’s, does indeed turn to the just ruler.

    In the nineteenth chapter, Augustine answers the question directly: “As for those who are endowed with true piety and who lead a good life, if they are skilled in the art of government, then there is no happier situation for mankind than that they, by God’s mercy, should wield power.” (5.19) Though it is God alone who gives power to Julian the Apostate and Constantine alike, it is inarguably happier for a people to be ruled in ways which “see” by the light of the one true God than those who rule only in the shadows of false religion. It is for this reason that Augustine finally turns to his speculum, or “mirror” for “the Christian emperors.”

    “When we describe certain Christian emperors as ‘happy’, it is not because they enjoyed long reigns, or because they died a peaceful death, leaving the throne to their sons; nor is it because they subdued their country’s enemies, or had the power to forestall insurrections by enemies in their own land and to suppress such insurrections if they arose. All these, and other similar rewards or consolations in this life of trouble were granted to some of the worshippers of demons, as their due; and yet those pagan rulers have no connection with the Kingdom of God, to which those Christian rulers belong.”

    Augustine avers that the Christian ruler does not look to any of these material goods, mere “temporal benefits” as the “highest good” for polities, but rather:

    “We Christians call rulers happy, if they rule with justice; if amid the voices of exalted praise and the reverent salutations of excessive humility, they are not inflated with pride, but remember that they are but men; if they put their power at the service of God’s majesty, to extend his worship far and wide; if they fear God, love him and worship him; if, more than their earthly kingdom, they love that realm where they do not fear to share the kingship; if they are slow to punish, but ready to pardon; if they take vengeance on wrong because of the necessity to direct and protect the state, and do not satisfy their personal animosity; if they grant pardon not to allow impunity to wrong-doing but in the hope of amendment of the wrong-doer; if, when they are obliged to take severe decisions, as must often happen, they compensate this with the gentleness of their mercy and the generosity of their benefits; if they restrain their self-indulgent appetites all the more because they are more free to gratify, and prefer to have command over their lower desires than over any number of subject peoples; and if they do all this not for a burning desire for empty glory, but for the love of eternal blessedness; and if they do not fail to offer to their true God, as a sacrifice for their sins, the oblation of humility, compassion, and prayer. It is Christian emperors of this kind whom we call happy; happy in hope, during this present life, and to be happy in reality hereafter, when what we wait for will have come to pass.” (5.24)

    This is Augustine’s speculum regum, or as it will later be called a speculum principum.

    Yet Augustine, ever the realist, does not place this standard far out of reach, but rather identifies two emperors in particular who “saw” by the light of this mirror.

    Who does he single out? He names two Christian emperors, and particularly praises the religious aspect of their rule, while mindful of their sins.

    The first emperor he names is, of course, Emperor Constantine. “God, in his goodness . . . heaped worldly gifts such as no one would have dared to hope for, upon Constantine, who made no supplication to demons, but worshipped only the true God.” Augustine praises God for granting to Constantine “the honor of founding a city,” namely Constantinople, “which contained not a single temple or image of any demon.” (5.25) If this is Augustine passing over Constantine’s Christianization of the empire in silence then I can hardly recognize what it means for Augustine to still speak to us today.

    The second ruler who unites the “speculative” to the political is Emperor Theodosius, about whom he has much more to say not only because Augustine has a living memory of the man but because he witnessed the way Theodosius used his political power “to help the Church against the ungodly by just and compassionate legislation,” just as the speculum regum recommends. Theodosius greatly expanded Constantine’s Christianization of the empire, and helped the Catholic Church by removing support for Arian heretics. “He ordered the demolition of pagan images, knowing that even this world’s prizes are not in the gift of the demons, but in the power of the true God.” (5.26) Most know that Bishop Ambrose, had condemned Theodosius to penance for his crimes against the people of Thessalonica, but what Augustine notes is not that Theodosius failed to rule justly at all times – he has no illusions about that – but instead praises Theodosius for his repentance! He writes that “nothing could be more wonderful than the religious humility he showed [before God certainly, but also Bishop Ambrose] after the grievous crime.” Augustine heaps the highest praise on Theodosius for being “more glad to be a member of that Church than to be a ruler of the world.” (5.26)

    This is precisely what we need to make America happy: Christians who know their eternal city, and how to elevate, and yes, how to rule, the ones they live in now.

    You don’t need a majority for this, but you do need a new elite who dare to rule in a way that leads us out of the feverish city — people like Constantine and Theodosius — men who can tear down the images which disorder us, and who bind themselves to the great Christian reservoir of grace recognize that will make happy the soul and city alike. —Prof. Chad Pecknold

    [1] The Galli were priests of the Great Mother (Cybele) who had castrated themselves and oversaw animal sacrifices every March 24th.

    Here is the second essay, from 2005, by an Orthodox scholar.

    In Memoriam: Daria Dugina (link)

    August 23, 2022

    By Batiushka for The Saker blog (link)

    The news of the Western-sponsored terrorist murder of Alexander Dugin’s daughter, Daria, has shocked us all. Of course, in one sense it is no different from all the other brutal murders carried out by drone by the Obama regime, or the CIA’s disposal of countless human-beings under their puppet regimes from the Philippines to Vietnam, from Italy to Latin America, from Greece to Africa, and in many other countries over the last three generations. Nevertheless, it concerns me more personally, as I know her father.

    I first met the Russian Eurasianist philosopher Alexander Dugin in London in 2005. He and I were two of the four speakers at an International Conference on the European Tradition. My approach was spiritual and so politically neutral, his approach was that of a right-wing academic. But regardless of that, we were heading in the same direction and, all the more as I was the only Orthodox priest present, we sympathised. I was able to speak to him between talks and we had a photograph taken together.

    Alexander went on to become quite well-known on the academic and political philosophy circuits internationally. His influence on President Putin has been much exaggerated by the ignorant and hate-filled Western media which has decided (or rather been ordered) to cast him as ‘Putin’s adviser’, but that is another story. In fact, Alexander was a theoretician. However, as such his books, articles and talks were always stimulating and thought-provoking and will continue to be so.

    It is my hope and prayer that the sacrifice of his daughter, Daria, which leaves him heart-broken, as it would any father, will not make him bitter. Rather it will inspire him to purify and refine his thought further, so that his influence through her will be ever greater. Below I attach the talk I gave that day, seventeen eventful years ago. I dedicate it to Daria.

    —23 August 2022

    [Note: The lecture below was delivered in 2005.]

    Holy Europe and Anti-Europe

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten

Psalm 136, 6


    Last November I was invited to come and speak to you about Europe. My viewpoint is perhaps an original one for most of you, since it has an Orthodox Christian perspective. In the Orthodox Church we have a very different understanding of the Trinitarian God, and therefore of life, from that found in the Catholic/Protestant religion. I hope that this will become apparent to you in the course of this talk.

I have lived all over Europe and have travelled in many other parts of Europe and worked with dozens of European nationalities. I have been deeply drawn to many places in Europe, some well-known, others very obscure. I have very good friends in many European countries. So I have learned to have compassion for others, and try and look at the world from different standpoints. The following is a viewpoint which expresses the underlying unity of Europe, but which is also respectful of the diversity of the national traditions of European peoples. I hope that it will be of interest to you.

    Introduction: Cynicism and Belief

Great nations are born in real belief and enthusiasm. They die in unbelief and cynicism.

Alfred Noyes, 1937

    So wrote the English Catholic poet Alfred Noyes nearly seventy years ago. Perhaps we may also say, paraphrasing his words: ‘Great civilizations are born in real belief and enthusiasm. They die in unbelief and cynicism’.

    These words, sadly, may seem strangely apt in relation to modern Europe, which does appear to be drowning in unbelief and cynicism.

    In today’s decadent European context it may therefore seem peculiar to use the words ‘Holy’ and ‘Europe’ together. However, if we can speak of ‘Political Europe’, ‘Economic Europe’ or ‘Social Europe’, then we should also be able to speak of ‘Holy Europe’. Moreover, it is our duty to speak of this, for it is the belief of the Church that if the European house does not first have a holy foundation, if it is built not on rock, but on sand, then it will possess no lasting moral or cultural values, it will be flooded and blown away, and great will be the fall of it.

    It is our belief that the cause of moral and cultural decadence is always in spiritual decadence. It is our belief that a humanity deprived of spiritual values is a humanity doomed to falter and fail in a cultural and moral quagmire. Not believing in God, we no longer believe in ourselves. The result is the purposeless but uniform futility that we see around us in today’s throwaway culture, with its throwaway remarks, disposable goods, junk food, junk music, junk TV, junk culture, junk existence. This is the situation today, not so much of Europe, but of Anti-Europe. How has this Anti-Europe come into being and how can we return to a Europe of spiritual culture and moral dignity, a Europe of nobility and indeed holiness?

    Europe and Jerusalem

We have forgotten Jerusalem and the land where He was born

Christmas 1912, J.E. Flecker

    In any consideration of Europe and the Christian understanding of the word holiness, we must first point out that Christianity came down from heaven and became incarnate not in Europe, but in Asia. In the fourth century this was the whole sense of planting the capital of the Roman Christian Empire on the Bosphorus. At the gates of Europe and Asia, New Rome, or Constantinople as it came to be called, looked to unite both East and West, as symbolized by the emblem of the double-headed eagle.

    Although Christians in Asia, including in the Middle East, were eventually to become a minority in a sea of Islam, the source of what some might call ‘the European Faith’ is not in Europe, but in Asia, or more precisely in Jerusalem. It does not matter whether it was the Russian Patriarch, Nikon (1605-1681), who in the seventeenth century built to the south of Moscow, a complex of buildings imitating the sacred geography of Jerusalem, which he called ‘New Jerusalem’. It does not matter whether it was the English visionary, William Blake (1757-1827), who wrote that he would not cease from mental fight, till we had ‘built Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land’. It has always been to Jerusalem that Europeans, East and West, have looked for inspiration as the source of holiness. And every step that Europe has taken away from its roots in Jerusalem has always been a step away from Christ. Jerusalem is at the roots of Europe’s Faith and Europe’s Holiness.

    Indeed, when the region around Jerusalem where Christ lived was given the name ‘the Holy Land’, Europeans imitated it. Thus, like the Holy Land, the largest country in Europe, Russia, was also given the title ‘Holy’ and called Holy Russia. Elsewhere there is the Holy Mountain (Mt Athos), and in England, Scotland and Wales there are Holy Islands. As for Ireland, it was once known as ‘The Island of the Saints’. And all European countries, from Armenia to Iceland, Lapland to Portugal via Liechtenstein and all points inbetween, have adopted Patron Saints, be it St Gregory or St Columba, St Tryphon or St George and St Theodul, St Andrew or St Patrick, St Modest or St Olaf, St Denis or St Sava, St James or St David.

    Furthermore, two European countries and thousands upon thousands of settlements in Europe, have taken their names from those who have won holiness and so become local Patrons. There are Georgia and San Marino, named after St George and St Marinus, and then countless cities, towns, villages, islands, mountains and lakes. To name but a few: St Petersburg in Russia and the same dedication of St Peter Port in Guernsey, St Andrew’s in Scotland and the same dedication of Szentendre in Hungary, the island of São Miguel in the Azores and the same dedications of Archangelsk in the far north of Russia, Monte San Angelo in Italy and Mont St Michel in Normandy, Santiago de Compostela (St James) in Galicia and San Sebastián (St Sebastian) in the Basque Country, Sankt Gallen in Switzerland and Sankt Johann in Austria, Saint Nazaire in France and the island of Aghia Marina in the Dodecanese, Sviatogorsk in the Ukraine and St Alban’s in England, St Agnes in the Isles of Scilly and Santa Cruz, the Holy Cross, in the Canaries.

    Another tiny European country, Monaco, is named after the monks who once dwelt there, and there are hundreds of towns named after the same monks and nuns who sought and brought holiness, from München, Mönchengladbach and Münster in Germany, to Monastir in Macedonia. There are countless French towns including the word Moutiers and some thirty-two English minster-towns from Axminster to Westminster. As regards the word ‘church’ and all its equivalents, we could start with Christchurch in the south of England, go to innumerable Llan names in Wales, to Kirkwall in the Orkneys, from there to Dunkirk, the church on the dunes, in northern France, pass on to Belaya Tserkov to the south of Kiev and then back to Trinité sur Mer in Brittany, to cite just a few examples.

    Other sites and towns are famous simply as holy places, be it Rome, Echmiadzin in Armenia, Trondheim in Norway, Tinos in Greece, Iasi in Romania, Roskilde in Denmark, Czestochowa in Poland, St Paul’s Bay in Malta, Zhirovitsy in Belarus, Braga in Portugal, Mtskheta in Georgia, Echternach in Luxembourg, Diveyevo in Russia, Montserrat in Catalonia, Rila in Bulgaria, Skellig Michael in Ireland, Pochaiev in the Ukraine, Iona in Scotland, Piukhtitsa in Estonia, Utrecht in Holland, Ochrid in Macedonia, the shrine of the Virgin of Meritxell in Andorra, Pec in Serbia, Birka in Sweden, Marianka in Slovakia, Valaamo in Finland, Fulda in Germany, Velehrad in Moravia, Einsiedeln in Switzerland, or Canterbury in England.

    Despite these historic facts, there are those who, to the amazement of men and angels alike, would deny the Christian basis of Europe. Indeed they have just drawn up a Constitution for the atheist Europe of their dreams, and our nightmares. Such people would cut Europe off from its spiritual roots, they would confirm the Anti-Europe.

    Europe and Anti-Europe

    The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.

Lord Grey, 3 August 1914

    In speaking of an Anti-European spirit we may first think of the insular nationalism of the Irish and the Icelanders, of the Maltese and the Corsicans, of the Cypriots and the Sicilians, of the Sardinians and the English, of the Faeroese and the Shetlanders. Their insularity comes from living on islands. However, continental Europeans can also be insular. Those who live in the mountains have also fought their tribal battles, whether in the Swiss valleys, the mountains of Armenia and Georgia, the Carpathians of Slovakia, the glens of the Scottish clans or in the Balkans, from Bosnia to Croatia, Albania to Macedonia, Serbia to Montenegro, Romania to Bulgaria.

    However, it is not only island and mountain peoples who can be insular and nationalistic. The French, for instance, have fought wars to preserve the geometric integrity of ‘L’Hexagone’, ensuring ‘insular’ borders, the Pyrenees, the Alps, the Rhine, the Vosges, the Ardennes. Where there was no natural border, nations constructed the buffer-state of Belgium between France and emerging Germany. Other European countries have been constantly overrun, because they had no natural borders, through lack of insularity, as one might say. The flat plains of Hungary, the Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, provide no protection.

    In the modern context, we can also see the same insularity, the same nationalist reluctance to accept others. Western European politicians are prone to say the word ‘Europe’, and in fact mean their own country. ‘La France forte dans une Europe forte’, ‘A strong France in a strong Europe’, was the war cry of French President Jacques Chirac only a few years ago. Many another European politician has made it clear down the years that when they spoke of Europe, in fact they often meant their own selfish interests. Another example: wherever you travel in the European Union, you will see signs with the yellow ring of EU stars, in the centre of which you will find a GB or D or I or SU, or whatever it may be. This is not a European identity, this is a national identity under siege.

    Thus, although nationalist insularity can embody the spirit of Anti-Europe, there is also another sort of Anti-European insularity. In order to exercise close control and create the illusion of a centrally united Europe, many politicians speak of ‘Europe’, when in fact they mean the European Union. In fact, this so-called ‘Union’ is not Europe, but merely an insular Europe. It is merely the Western corner of Europe, with some significant gaps – Norway and Switzerland, for example, which, for many, are the most European countries of all. And in this so-called European Union there are the gaps of the two largest countries in Europe: Russia and the Ukraine, and some fifteen other countries and peoples.

    There is nothing new in this, for such a European Union was attempted even towards the end of the First Millennium. As the great French medieval historian, Jacques Le Goff, has written of the first attempted European Union, that of the Carolingian Empire: ‘Of all previous attempts to unite Europe, this was the first example of a perverted Europe…it was the first failure of all the attempts to build a Europe dominated by one people or one empire. The Europe of Charles V, that of Napoleon and that of Hitler, were in fact anti-Europes’. (In ‘Was Europe born in the Middle Ages’, p.47 in the French edition of the collection ‘Faire l’Europe’, Seuil, 2003). It is our belief that the present version of the European Union is just such another Anti-Europe. The very word ‘Union’ symbolises this fact, for any centrally-imposed Union, not freely-chosen, inevitably crushes the diversity of its peoples.

    True, strides have recently been made to incorporate several ‘missing’ parts of Europe into the European Union. Here I am thinking of the addition of ten more countries to the EU on 1 May 2004. However, these new members have not yet been absorbed into the Brussels machine and perhaps, thank God, never will be. The accession of these ten new members has revealed an obscure but highly symbolic problem; it has proved impossible to find a single person out of 450 million who can interpret or translate from Finnish to Maltese and vice versa. Other permutations, such as Slovak to Danish, Estonian to Greek, Lithuanian to Hungarian, Dutch to Latvian, Slovene to Spanish and vice versa, have also proved very problematic. This problem symbolises the diversity within even the present European Union and the impossibility of actually imposing the Brussels centralist nightmare on such a diverse and obstinately real Europe.

    Thus, in our context, when we speak of Anti-Europe, we mean both the nationalist refusal to accept the underlying unity of Europe, and also the internationalist refusal to accept its diversity. By Anti-Europe we mean that spirit which cuts Europeans off from the only thing that Europe really has in common, Jerusalem, Europe’s Christian roots, Europe’s Holiness, and that also cuts Europeans off from other Europeans. For in cutting themselves off from God, Europeans cut themselves off from their neighbours and so become tribal:

    In failing to love God, Europe fails to observe the first commandment of the Gospel.

    In failing to love its neighbour as itself, Europe fails to observe the second commandment of the Gospel. And he who fails to love his neighbour as himself, automatically begins to hate himself.

    And so Europe takes the path of suicide. Hatred of God leads to hatred of man; hatred of man leads to hatred of self.

    This is the path that Anti-Europe has taken again and again, from the Deicidal Crusades and Inquisitions of the Middle Ages, to the Fratricidal ‘Wars of Religion’ of the Reformation, to the Suicidal Wars of 1914 and 1939.

    After committing tribal genocide against its own European peoples in the first half of the twentieth century, Anti-Europe came directly to its post-1945 reaction. This was the temptation of centralising, creating the cosmopolitan uniformity of the European Union. As a result, since 1945 a cultural suicide has been taking place in Europe. Mafia-like Eurocrats, encouraged by the United States, have tried to impose uniformity on all, crushing European national identities by imposing secularism. This is not the underlying unity of Europe’s roots in Jerusalem, but a false unity, the pseudo-unity of secular Brussels, of Anti-Europe. From the Christian standpoint, such ‘unity’, top-down centralisation, is no more a solution to Europe’s problems than the warring nationalisms which marred so much of Europe’s history in the Second Millennium.

    In contrast, the original Christian model of international relations has never been aggressively nationalistic. Neither has it ever been soullessly cosmopolitan and internationalistic. The original Christian model has always been that of Trinitarian unity in diversity, Community, Commonwealth, Confederation. What hope is there for the victory of such a model today?

    Europe and Interpatriotism

You are seeking and you shall find,

Not in the way you hope, not in the way foreseen.

A King’s Daughter, John Masefield

    It is the recent accession of ten new members to the EU, with very diverse, but very European, histories, cultures and languages, which gives us hope. Their EU membership, together with the future potential membership of other European countries, may at last begin to break down the secular Anti-Europe. New members could destroy Anti-Europe’s ignorant and bigoted cosmopolitanism and its anti-religious ‘political correctness’, imported from post-Christian Puritan America, by creating a new awareness of real European identity. Their membership may at last put paid to the absurd ‘one size fits all’ standardisation and soul-destroying egalitarianism of the present European Union.

    Above all, their membership could lead to a new awareness of the underlying stratum of what all European countries really have in common: Europe’s roots in the Faith from Jerusalem. It is those roots which reveal to us neither belligerent nationalism, nor soulless internationalism or Americanisation and Zionisation, which is now camouflaged under the name of ‘Globalisation’. Those roots reveal to the ignorant and bigoted a balance between the national and the international, a replacement for both nationalism and globalisation. I would call this replacement – Interpatriotism; the love not only of one’s own homeland, patriotism, but the love of the homelands of others too.

    Bez Boga, ne do poroga. The Russian proverb can be translated freely as ‘No God, no entry’. It neatly illustrates opposition to the present-day EU among all who belong to the European Spiritual Tradition. It neatly illustrates what all European Christians have in common, in spite of and because of, their diversity. There are certain orthodox principles on which all who belong to the European Spiritual Tradition can agree. This is in our opposition to Godless secularism, the spirit of ‘this world’, to which we say ‘No entry’.

    We saw this in October 2004 with the affair of Rocco Buttiglione, who was not allowed to express Christian sense, the sort of common sense that fifty years ago every five-year-old European child could express. At the end of 2004, personalities as diverse as Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens, were at one in declaring that Buttiglione had been persecuted for his Faith, the once common Faith of Europe. On 19 November 2004 Cardinal Josef Ratzinger spoke of how the forces of secularism in Europe, the so-called ‘liberal consensus’, have now become aggressive persecutors of European Christendom. Like many others, we had been saying it for years before him.

    There are such turning-points in European history, moments of truth, when questions of principle arise. Then we have to say where we stand, in black and white. And the united spiritual forces of Europe, united as they were for most of the First Millennium, the living Faith of Europe, can bring strength. Here I would like to give a few examples from that Europe of the First Millennium, a Europe united in diversity, before the Apostasy, betrayals and tragedies, before the Deicide, Fratricide and Suicide, which rapidly took form in the Second Millennium. For most of the First Millennium, called by many ‘The Age of Faith’, although divided and diverse, there was also unity, a spiritual unity which gave Europe the strength to absorb and baptize barbarian hordes and produce a new Europe. Here are a few names from that epoch, who illustrate true internationalism, or as I have called it – Interpatriotism:

    St Irenaeus of Lyon was a Greek from Asia Minor. He was a disciple of St Polycarp, who had been a disciple of St John the Evangelist, ‘the disciple whom Christ loved’. A Church Father, he was Bishop of Lyon in Gaul, where he was martyred for the Faith at the beginning of the third century.

    St Chrysolius was an Armenian who lived in the fourth century. Under persecution from the Persians, he left his homeland, went to what is now Belgium, and evangelised the area. He was martyred in Flanders and is still venerated in Bruges.

    St Martin of Tours was born in the fourth century in what is now Szombathely in Hungary. He was educated in Pavia in Italy and enrolled in the Imperial cavalry. Posted to Gaul, he left the army after the famous incident in Amiens. He was to become the Bishop of Tours and one of the greatest saints of Christendom, a patron of the Loire Valley, of hundreds of French villages and towns and his name became one of the most common French, and indeed European, Christian names and surnames.

    St John Cassian was born in the Dobrudja in what is now Romania. He became a monk in Egypt and in the fifth century established a monastery near Marseille in the south of France, becoming one of the great monastic Fathers of Christendom.

    St Martin of Braga lived in the sixth century. Born in what is now Hungary, he became a monk in Palestine, then went to Galicia, in what is now Portugal. He is one of the greatest figures of the Iberian Peninsula and played an important role in converting pagans, like his namesake in Gaul. He made his see of Braga into the first spiritual centre for all north-west Iberia. Indeed, in Portuguese, Braga, ‘the Rome of Portugal’, has become proverbial: ‘tao velho como o sede de Braga’, ‘as old as the see of Braga’, means in English, ‘as old as the hills’.

    St Theodore of Tarsus lived in the seventh century in Asia Minor, a hundred miles from the coast of Cyprus. In middle age he left for Rome and there played an important role in uniting East and West at a time of controversy. Then he was appointed the first Greek Archbishop of Canterbury. Here he played a fundamental part in uniting the strands of Irish and Roman Christianity in England, approving both as complementary to one another.

    St Boniface was born in Devon in the south-west of England. In the eighth century he went to the German Lands and became a great missionary Archbishop, reforming much of the Christianity of north-western Europe. Supported by three Popes, including the Greek Pope St Zacharias, this Englishman, known as the Apostle of Germany, was martyred in Frisia in Holland in 754.

    St George of Córdoba was born in Bethlehem in the ninth century and became a monk at St Sabbas Monastery outside Jerusalem. Fluent in Greek, Arabic and Latin, he then travelled via North Africa to Córdoba in Spain where he preached the Faith, finally being martyred with Spanish brothers and sisters by the Muslims.

    St Wenceslas, or Václav, was Duke of the Czech Lands in the tenth century. He was martyred there in intrigues and is venerated in St Vitus Cathedral in Prague to this day, as the Patron-Saint of the Czech Lands.

    St Olav was King of Sweden in the mid-tenth century. He and his family were baptized by the English missionary St Sigfrid. His daughter married into the Russian royal house, lived mainly in Novgorod, had twelve children, one of whom is venerated as a saint. In her widowhood, she became a nun, taking the name Anna and is herself honoured as a saint.

    St Gregory of Burtscheid was a Greek monk from Calabria who, fleeing from the Muslims, met Emperor Otto III in Rome. At the latter’s invitation, Gregory went north and founded a monastery just outside Aachen where he was a holy Abbot, reposing in 996.

    St Simeon of Padolirone was an Armenian pilgrim. Having visited Jerusalem, then Rome, Compostela in Spain and Tours in France, he settled at a monastery outside Padua in Italy, where he was renowned as a wonder-worker, reposing in 1016.

    St Simeon of Trier was a Greek, born in Syracuse, educated in Constantinople, and who then lived as a hermit by the River Jordan, in Bethlehem and on Mt Sinai. Sent by his Abbot to Normandy to collect alms, he eventually settled in Trier in Germany and lived there as a much-venerated hermit. He was canonized seven years after his repose, which came in 1035.

    Another Anna of the eleventh century, this time of Kiev, married Henri I of France. She played a vital role in spreading Christian values, like many other women of the First Millennium before her. As examples, there are St Clotilde in Gaul, the Greek Theodosia and also Ingonde in Spain, the Bavarian Theodelinda in Lombardy, the French Bertha in England, the English St Bathilde in France, the Czechs, St Ludmila in Czechia and Dubrava in Poland, the Swedish St Helga, or Olga, in Kiev, the Greek Empress Theophano in Germany. In Anna’s eleventh century Kiev, they were to welcome Christians such as Thorwald of Iceland and Gytha of Winchester. Both Kiev and Winchester were famed for their standards of civilization, running water, drains, pavements, education.

    Here are but a few examples of the concourse or coming together, of Interpatriotic Europe in the First Millennium, before the advent of both warring nationalism and soulless internationalism in the Second Millennium.

    In the First Millennium, we find the roots of Europe, we find Holy Europe.

    Conclusion: Roots and Routes

Die Weltgechichte is das Weltgericht

The history of the world is the judgement of the world

Friedrich von Schiller

    Europe – you forgot holiness, and so you began a hundred wars of crusade and conquest over a thousand years.

    Europe – you silenced your conscience, and so you invented the machine-gun and saturation bombing.

    Europe – you stifled the voice of God, and so you invented the concentration camp and the Atom Bomb.

    Europe – you forsook your roots in Jerusalem, and so you invented Anti-Europe.

    I would paraphrase the most terrible, above-quoted words of Friedrich von Schiller, as he spoke in Jena in 1789: Die Europageschichte ist das Europagericht: The history of Europe is the judgement of Europe.

    The blood-soaked deeds of Anti-Europe are Europe’s judgement, but they are only part of Europe’s judgement. There is another Europe too.

    As I said at the beginning of this talk, the conjunction of the words ‘Holy’ and ‘Europe’ may seem strange, as though words from two different planets had collided, but I tell you, and have been telling you all this afternoon, that it was not always so. A voice from the past should be jarring on the memory of today’s Anti-Europe.

    It is my belief that in seeking common European roots, or origins, we shall find routes, or paths, out of the present European crisis towards what I have called an ‘Interpatriotic Europe’, summed up so harmoniously in the French phrase ‘l’Europe des Patries’. It is in our common spiritual origins that we shall find our common spiritual opportunities. It is in our common spiritual identity that we shall find our common spiritual freedom. But if Europe denies her common roots, her common spiritual origins in Jerusalem, then, as even the warlike Churchill said of earlier twentieth-century Europe: ‘…the whole world…will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister and perhaps more protracted by the lights of perverted science’.

    In recent years, I have heard certain naive people declaring that ‘the barbarians are at the gates’. They are not at the gates and have not been for a very long time. The barbarians entered long ago and began their long task of expelling Wisdom from the City. Ever since the barbarians have been parading in the City, destroying the walls and opening the gates wide, whenever new forms of barbarianism appeared.

    Nevertheless, I would end this talk with words of optimism, inherent to all Christians, who know that the last words in history will be Christ’s. As the Emperor Julian the Apostate is reputed to have said on his death-bed, some sixteen hundred years ago: Thou hast conquered, O Galilean…—Batiushka

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