Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ambassador Nathaniel Davis: A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy


Ambassador Nathaniel Davis's excellent history, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, has been posted online by the Holy Trinity Mission. Read Ambassador Davis's obituary in the New York Times (5-22-2011).

The Bolsheviks purged churches by withdrawing their registration. Often, it was claimed that the buildings did not meet safety codes; and they were "deregistered," padlocked, and left to fall into disrepair and ruin.

The Soviet media typically depicted the forced closings of churches as the result of "objective" socioeconomic processes: believers were "voluntarily" closing their own churches. On other occasions, officials were more truthful. An August 15, 1965 article in Komsomolskaya pravda by G. Kelt acknowledged that "storm tactics" were not making believers into atheists:

Today, we a deceiving ourselves again: "Many believers in our country have left the church and religion." This is self-delusion. It is true that there are no churches and no ministers in a large part of the Soviet Union. But there are believers. If they are not Orthodox, then they are members of one or another of the multitude of finely-differentiated sects.  Where do they come from? From the ranks of those who leave the church...For, as has been said in official statements, closing a parish does not make atheists of believers.  On the contrary, it strengthens the attraction of religion for people and it embitters their hearts besides.

Today, Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is also using bogus health and safety codes to purge abortion clinics.  These regulations are called TRAP laws or Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers. [See another article about TRAP.] Even if you do not agree with abortion, do the ends justify the means? Does anyone think that closing abortion clinics will stop abortions? The Supreme Court has ruled that abortion is legal, and bogus regulations should not be used to circumvent the law. If you don't like abortion, don't have one!

If Cuccinelli is willing to abuse health and safety regulations to close abortion clinics, perhaps he will target other organizations he doesn't like with bogus health and safety regulations. Perhaps he will purge teachers and schools that teach students about climate change. The Vatican says that climate change is endangering mankind. "Choose life" isn't just about abortion.  Even science teachers in Catholic schools teach students that climate change is happening.

If Cuccinelli is such an outstanding Catholic, why does he persecute famous college professors who are telling us about climate change? The reason is because Cuccinelli gets money from the fossil-fuel interests. He's not choosing life when he persecutes scientists who are warning us about the dangers of climate change for world civilization. He is a political gangster who is choosing power and wealth. 

Catholic women have abortions at the same rate as non-Catholic women, according to Catholics for Choice. The best way to avoid the misfortune of an abortion is to use birth control--religiously! The overwhelming number of adult Catholic women use birth control, in spite of what the Church teaches. They don't want to have to have an abortion like their ancestors generations ago. I agree with Hilary Clinton: Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. 

The Board of Health only voted Cuccinelli's way in a 13-2 vote because he threatened them that he would not defend them from any lawsuits arising out of their decision. Perhaps they should have all resigned instead of rubber-stamping Cuccinelli's dictat if they could not risk a ruinous lawsuit. Instead, they caved and passed the burden on to young or poor women. Two Board of Health member were brave, according to NECN.com (9-14-12):

Board member James H. Edmondson Jr. of McLean unsuccessfully tried to persuade his colleagues to stick with their previous position, saying they have an obligation to base their decisions based on sound medical and scientific evidence — none of which supports the strict building standards, he said...Edmondson, who along with H. Anna Jeng of Norfolk voted against the regulations, said he and his colleagues "were thrown into a totally political situation and we didn't cope very well." He expressed frustration at what he said is a mixed message from the General Assembly.

"On one hand they say be a regulatory body — you are independent," Edmonson said. "On the other hand, 'Do as we say.'"

Edmondson and Jeng are among the five board members appointed by former Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat. The other 10 were appointed by McDonnell.

"Please, don't be cowed by an assertion that you don't have the authority to do what our job is to do," he said.

I was really distressed to see the Catholic Bishops supporting Cuccinelli's outrageous abuse of the law. The ends do not justify the means. During communism, the Catholic Church in the Soviet Union was a bastion of Western legal tradition and spoke out loudly against the abuse of health and safety laws to deregister churches. Sooner or later, the Church will probably change. After all, the Catholic Church includes the mothers  and fathers in the pews, not just the unmarried, all-male clergy in the pulpit. Probably, some of these mothers and fathers leave the Church because they are sick of sitting there respectfully with their mouths closed while unmarried, male priests harp on birth control and abortion.

Married and single women of all social classes frequently got abortions during the 100 years that abortion was legal. They went to their doctors if they were affluent. If they were poor, they went to some untrained abortionist or took home remedies that sometimes were fatal. Today, we have excellent birth control; and if women have access to birth control, abortion could be rare. Making access to abortion difficult will only take us back to those times when poor women often died of an abortion. Is that "choose life"?  

Yesterday, Think Progress (9-14-12) reported that Cuccinelli's crew also ignored dissenting opinion:

Officials barred testimonies by doctors and advocates opposed to the regulations today, a move that further enraged pro-choice activists. In a statement, the Virginia Health Coalition said, “If passed, the regulations may end access to legal abortion in Virginia, creating the most restrictive state abortion regulations in the country and ending access to critical cancer screenings and annual care for thousands of Virginia women.”

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