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Dreher’s warfare, half 2

(RNS) — After a timeout to contemplate the Supreme Court docket’s seemingly reversal of Roe v. Wade, right here’s the promised follow-up to my backgrounder on Rod Dreher.

So how has America’s foremost Japanese Orthodox tradition warrior responded to his co-religionists’ warfare in Ukraine?

For starters, let’s observe that, unlike some on the far right (together with just a few Republican members of Congress), Dreher’s pro-Russian leanings haven’t led him to again the invasion.

“Putin has gone manner too far this time,” he tweeted on Feb. 26, two days after Russian troops crossed the border. “Being pro-Russian is just not with out limits. I’m usually extra favorable to Russia than most, however invading Ukraine is an excessive amount of.”

RELATED: Dreher’s war, part 1

On March 9, he tweeted, “Putin had higher hope no person in his circle decides to shiv him at present, as a result of after bombing that maternity hospital, he would bust Hell huge open.”

Nice. However to grasp the place Dreher’s Orthodox coronary heart lies, take a second to learn what he had to say on March 10, in his solely detailed commentary to this point on the the battle. 

As an Orthodox Christian, I can inform you that the tragedy enjoying out right here is tectonic. Patriarch Kyrill and Vladimir Putin are going to go down because the Russian leaders who misplaced Ukraine, politically and religiously. The one manner Kyrill might probably save Church unity at this level — if it’s even achievable — is to successfully martyr himself by publicly and unambiguously denouncing the warfare. Putin would eliminate him one way or the other — both professionally or actually by martyring him — however he might need an opportunity at saving the unity of the Church. If not, although, Ukraine, the birthplace within the yr 988 of Russian Orthodoxy, shall be misplaced to Russia without end.

The worst value of Putin’s warfare is the lack of human life. However this comes subsequent. That is fratricide, and by not overtly condemning it, the Patriarch seems to bless it … Russian Orthodoxy — grounded in Reality, long-suffering piety, and a matchless magnificence that magnifies the Everlasting — will survive this, as will Orthodoxy in Ukraine. However each shall be diminished and wounded. It is going to be left to generations to return to heal this warfare between brothers — a warfare that didn’t need to occur, however was chosen by Vladimir Putin, and successfully sanctified by Patriarch Kyrill.

Politically and religiously, this was off the wall. Ukraine has been an unbiased nation because the finish of the Soviet Union, and one with a language and nationwide id of its personal for a lot, for much longer than that. It was not Putin’s to lose, besides within the sense that he has succeeded in profoundly deepening Ukrainian nationalism and Ukrainians’ hostility to Russia.

On the faith entrance, as Dreher himself acknowledges, the unity of Russian Orthodoxy was already damaged by the current institution of an unbiased Orthodox Church of Ukraine — acknowledged as such by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Solely to the extent that the invasion succeeds in pushing the Orthodox Ukrainian minority that continues to be a part of the Russian Orthodox Church into the brand new physique may Kirill, the Moscow patriarch, be stated to have “misplaced” Ukraine.

However other than that we must always ask: Is a full institutional separation of Orthodox Russians and Ukrainians worse than having one’s non secular chief bless an unjust, fratricidal and all however genocidal warfare? 

I’d say no. For one factor, within the Orthodox world, it’s very a lot the norm to have unbiased nationwide church buildings. I’d additionally enterprise that Kirill didn’t have to anoint Putin’s imperialist enterprise with the unction of holy warfare to keep away from metaphorical or actual martyrdom. He might merely have stored his mouth shut. In contrast to the Orthodox leaders who’ve heaped Kirill with criticism, Dreher lets him off the hook.


Keep in mind that Kirill has been Orthodoxy’s main tradition warrior, a hierarch who has labored laborious to position himself on the head of what’s been termed “The Moralist Worldwide.” On March 7, the primary day of Orthodox Lent, he gave a sermon by which he asserted that the combating in Ukraine was the results of a rejection of “basic values” by those that “declare world energy.” The powers, he claimed, “demand that you just maintain homosexual delight parades as a check of loyalty.”

Dreher’s most constant cultural concern has additionally been with the necessity to protect heterosexual norms, and his angriest language has been reserved for the powers and principalities that undermine them. That is why, two months after the U.S. and its NATO companions summoned the power to oppose Russian aggression, he could write, “The West is dominated by an evil elite who deserve nothing however defiance.”

Merely put, Dreher shares the Russian patriarch’s ethical obsessions. 

Not that he ignores the peril of flitting too near the flame of secular energy. Certainly, he cautioned at present’s Catholic integralists — conservative intellectuals who favor an formally Catholic state — to “suppose laborious concerning the knowledge of intently uniting Church and State.” For: “When the Church turns into a de facto arm of the State, individuals will maintain it liable for State selections.”

Nor has he exempted the Russian Orthodox Church. Due to the huge sums showered on it by the post-Soviet Russian state, he wrote, “now we see that it makes it very laborious for the Church to talk prophetically to the State in occasions of disaster.”

So sure, Dreher has directed a few of his personal prophetic thunder towards Putin & Co., however he has railed no much less towards the West’s army response — tweeting, for instance, “We’re as soon as once more being frog-marched off the precipice by our ruling class. Thank God for @TuckerCarlson and @ggreenwald for being among the many few senior journalists prepared to name all of them out.”

It’s laborious to keep away from the conclusion that, on the finish of the day, he’d be content material to see Ukraine pressured into the Russian fold by Putin and Kirill. Higher that than subordinate itself to the “evil elite” of the West that he defies.

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