We Will Have To Choose Between Orthodoxy and Liberalism
As swine flu took hold in the West, many countries reportedly installed holy water sterilizing machines in Catholic Churches. Scientists have not yet explained the miracle of holy water, which has unique properties it maintains for a whole year. The question is, if a person is so irreligious that he is afraid of catching “Pig Flu” from holy water what purpose do his visits to church serve?
Faith does not obey the laws of reason. Nor does arguing about which religion is better than another. This is a matter of belief, and you can never explain to anyone else why your belief is better than theirs. This is why people of other faiths peacefully co-exist with the Orthodox in Georgia.
In Georgia people did not only uphold their own values but took the same attitude towards the values of others. When King David the Builder prohibited the slaughtering of pigs in Moslem districts this was not a gesture of tolerance. It was an acknowledgment of the legal culture and principles of that community. King of Kartli Vakhtang VI included the traditional laws of the Jewish, Armenian and Greek inhabitants of Georgia in his collection of laws (these had been practiced well before the King wrote these laws between 1705 and 1709). This move gave Georgians the opportunity to judge cases according to laws appropriate to the community offended against by the alleged lawbreaker.
“We have collected noble books and chosen from them the parts we believe are appropriate for the sake of justice,” Vakhtang VI stated. He added, however, that foreign laws should not likewise extend to the people of Kartli as the “rules and behaviour of Georgians are not similar to those of other countries.” Georgians do not force others to live against their beliefs and values and do not do so themselves.
Today local liberals often talk about the Orthodox Church 'interfering' in political life, saying this is inadmissible. They often cite the principle of secularism - separating State and Church from each another, with neither interfering in the other's affairs. No one disputes that this is a valid idea. But despite this no one condemned Pope John Paul II when he interfered in the political affairs of Poland in support of democracy, although as a direct result of his action the public threw their support behind Solidarity and the political system there changed. When the West wanted to win, the principle of non-interference went out of the window. The same double standard was also applied to Georgian nationalism. The West thought this was a good thing when it could use it to dismantle the USSR, but building an independent state on this basis was declared inadmissible.
Sometimes it is difficult to understand the aggression Georgian liberals show towards “Motherland, Language, Faith”, but this is another expression of their double standards. They do not condemn the State interfering in the affairs of the Georgian Orthodox Church, only the other way round. Furthermore they expect the Patriarch to justify his actions but not the State. They ask naively, "Do we not have the right to ask questions?" Of course, everyone has that right, but no liberal questioned the Government's zero tolerance of opposition, or indeed valid questions. They did not question how many millions had been spent on building the President’s residence. They do not question the increased number of shootings of young people, why the number of prisoners has increased to 30,000, nor the strategic facilities of the country being sold off. Where did Kakha Bendukidze disappear to during the August 2008 war? He who says he does not know what strategic facilities are? If they don't exist why the Government tell us during the war that the Russians were deliberately bombing them?
While they see no need to comment on these issues, they are concerned about the Government supporting the Church from the Budget. Not long ago a priest told me that when he was studying at the seminary in the 1970s he was sitting on the windowsill and saw Patriarch David V being driven into the yard and said - His Holiness has come by car! The Patriarch called him over during a break and said, "My son, consider this and then answer me - if Our Saviour had had a car would he have entered Jerusalem on foot?"
We are reminded of double standards every day. As the Georgian proverb goes: you can put a handle on a pot on whichever side you like. An expensive concert is given in Guria “to attract investment”, in Ukraine a group of Georgian election observers, entirely unqualified for this job, behaves lawlessly, farces are held under the name of elections which are then declared an indisputable victory for the Government, and this all passes without comment. Does all this happen by chance? Are these double standards unconscious or wilful? What good is a liberalism which allows a narrow circle to do what it wants but abuses everyone else?
Today the phrase "true Orthodox believers" is often used sarcastically. Talking about religious fundamentalism and “ignorance” as the same thing has become very fashionable in liberal circles. People say that reform of the Orthodox Church is inevitable and its theology needs to be updated but these statements are purely political, they are not the product of a desire to help the Church. In the West the Protestant work ethic is regarded as the “machine of capitalism”, so it is said that if you want to build a capitalist country you should adopt Protestant ethics. It is clear that an Orthodox believer cannot do this. That is why attempts to “modernise” Orthodoxy do not stop.
Weber’s 'Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism' demonstrates that this work ethic leads to an extreme vulgarism which will never become part of the Georgian consciousness and cannot replace Orthodoxy. A world of extreme social inequalities, desperate poverty and excessive luxury, moral relativism, a Darwinist fight for survival, sacrificing other people for your own prosperity and a complete lack of principle is the monster disguised by the labels of Liberalism and Capitalism.
The complete neglect of national values in the education system is another problem and to satisfy the demands for these the Orthodox Church is welcoming increasing numbers of people. The Patriarch’s epistles are increasingly becoming the guidebooks for people who have lost everything and are now afraid of losing even their graves. Under capitalism, if you are a poor person it is your own fault and not the fault of the person who has grabbed your property, and only the rich can achieve justice; it is a world where competition must be maintained but not the Orthodox principles which should underpin social relations and where an aggressive minority sets rules to suit itself using the majority's name, thus displaying there is no actual good and moral principle they can refer to.
Some think that religion and faith are purely a means of cultural identification. In fact they provide a firm system of values, and trying to dismantle this is far more dangerous than changing political ideologies. The word 'ideology' has become discredited, like many other words, since the collapse of the USSR. When this happened people really thought that the era of non-ideology had come but in fact one ruling ideology has simply been replaced by another.
It took us years to realise that Liberalism and Marxism are two sides of the same coin, both eroding the historic character of nations. In Marxism history is the ultimate arbiter, in Liberalism it is the individual. Marxism is openly atheistic, liberalism hides its attitude towards religion but also tries as hard as Marxism to oppress it. You are allowed to be religious yourself but must not tell anyone else about it, 'imposing' its restrictive values in a world where, allegedly, anything goes. What is worse - openly declared war or pharisaic “freedom” of faith?
Both Marxism and Liberalism seek to destroy nation states and create a global universe. Georgia is a country from the old universe, which has restored its state after the collapse of the USSR. Our country cannot adjust to either of these two ideologies. Opposing the Orthodox Church is an ideological trick which serves to inculcate into this country values which are as alien to Georgians as Communism. The difference between the two is that we know Communism from experience, but have not yet seen what the full flowering of a liberal state will subject us to, thus making it appear the lesser evil.
The saying “an idle mind is the playground of demons” is very well known and its truth is manifest in the minds of fundamentalists of any ideology. Liberalism absorbed unthinkingly from other models during two months in the West is a demon we should immediately resist.