Excerpt: We headed out to the far southern edge of Moscow, and then caught a bus for even further out. Our destination was the Church of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, a sanctuary built next to a Stalinist killing field sometimes called the Russian Golgotha. In the field, called the Butovo firing range, the Communists murdered 21,000 political prisoners in a 14-month period between 1937 and 1938, at the height of Stalin’s Great Terror. They buried their bodies there. At least 1,000 of them are known to have been martyred for their Orthodox faith. The nearby church glorifies not only them, but all those murdered by the Bolsheviks — including the Romanov family…

Standing at an exhibit at the edge of the field, looking at a tally of the number of dead killed each day, a Russian man struck up a conversation with us. He was there because his grandfather had been murdered by Stalin for telling people on the collective farm where he lived and worked to save their own houses in a fire, not the farm. Someone told the authorities, and that was the end of  Vladimir Alexandrovich’s grandfather. On this spot they killed the priest of his church back then, and also the man who held the door at the church…

Let me add that it is cold, cold, cold here. Napoleon got what he deserved. I am thinking about the time I saw, in the military museum in Paris, the coat Napoleon wore on his disastrous winter siege of Moscow. It was made of cloth. Russia’s winter mocked him bitterly. Moscow isn’t even in winter yet, and it’s mocking this Louisiana boy bitterly. I feel as if I’ve had a full winter, and it was only my first day.

Postcard From Moscow

Here are some comments on the Rod Dreher article from Russia that I found interesting:

Augustine: It pains me that Russia is so vilified in the Western media way more than it deserves. For its living memory of its recent past is a treasure trove for mankind. From St. Sergious’ lips to God’s ears, Lord, have mercy on us, the comfortably numb.

Roman Candle: The Bolsheviks built good subways, and the Nazis built the autobahn. Even the few good things these brutal totalitarians accomplished are similar in nature.

Pechorin: I don’t know whether you are aware, but there are also prominent, growing currents of Orthodoxy and Leninism in Russia that identify close compatibility between Orthodox theology and Soviet communism. Lots of religious iconography of Stalin as a saint, positive views that Marxism-Leninism was a continuation of Orthodox theology, synthesis of Bolshevik history and pochvennichestvo in one way or another continuing the arguments of Berdyaev. An example of a prominent thinker/politician in this vein is Segei Kurginyan, a Marxist-Leninist and Soviet restorationist who emphasizes outreach to Orthodox religious. His movement is pretty large, numerically, and has proven its ability to turn people out in the street. You can say the USSR was evil, if you like, but it did a better job of delivering needs, not wants, e.g. housing, food, employment, health care to its population than the contemporary U.S. does, and there are Russian Christians who identify those achievements as more moral than liberalism’s social model.

Gaius: Liberalism from its inception was more than religious tolerance. It viewed “suffering” as a moral evil and so the pursuit of “happiness” as a moral good. While working towards happiness is a “good” value, it can’t be priority #1. Instead, it is a result of complying with other principles. Immortality and licentiousness and other sins can not result in long term happiness. Modern liberals attempt to shame Christians into policies and beliefs contrary to scripture by appealing to avoiding suffering.