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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Patriarch Kirill and President Putin Address Anti-Alcoholism Congress

Russia, Romania, and most of the Eastern European states see addiction as not only a threat to the spiritual lives of the people, but the very stability of their nations.  In the West, we are absolutely blind to the epidemic.  The closest we came was declaring a 'War on Drugs' which has now become a highly-political topic and somewhat of a joke, as US authorities continue to let narcotics pour through our borders while monitoring all our emails and phone calls but doing little to stem the flow of damaging internet porn.

It is time for a real reform of our social attitudes towards life, spirituality, sexuality, personhood, and responsibilities as humans.  We are dying as humans.  It is not racial, it is not political (both parties have played a part in the US's decadence), it is not economical (in the sense that 'capitalism' or 'socialism' will automatically fix everything)... it is about spirituality.

We have a separation of Church and State in the US Constitution which says:

Amendment 1 - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The government isn't supposed to establish a religion or prevent a religion from being exercised, but it certainly can do a lot about morality.  Alcohol taxes, age of consent, drinking ages, cigarette taxes, narcotics laws,etc. are all part of the big picture of social morality.  We worry about nicotine because of cancer risks, but not about pornography that is transforming the brains of millions of users?

Yes, I do not want an all-powerful state running the show here in America, but we need to stop an examine what it is that we are thinking will solve our problems.  I think it is interesting to note that the Black civil rights movement began in the churches, and was highly effective when it was spiritually grounded.  Now, it has been torn from its spirituality, and become something of a joke: 'Reverend' Jackson and 'Reverend' Sharpton never, ever talk about God anymore, whereas Reverend King ended his 'I Have a Dream Speech' with a spiritual vision for America, and most of his speeches were more sermons than political rants.

Racism is a disease, but so is decadent immorality like that of Miley Cyrus and just about every rap artist you can think of.  Our politicians argue about 'health care,' but do little to think of the spiritual care of people.  That's because our political world has become about hate.  Each party has chosen one group of people to hate and call the enemy, and so no party is left to represent all the people and care for all the people.

I know Russian politics is no easy matter, but you can sense here that the ;leadership actually cares what happens to all the people.  Alcoholism does not 'discriminate'... just go to an AA meeting and you will find the rich and the poor.  Addiction is not about material concerns, but spiritual ones.

I think it is important to see how national leaders look at the problem of addiction.  Some day, I would like to gather all these various speeches together in a single online resource, but the day is far off.  So far, most of my requests have been ignored.  If you find speeches by Orthodox church leaders and state representatives, please send them my way.

In the meantime, here's a couple of interesting bits.

If you have any information about the "Congress of the Church and Community Council for Protection from the Threat of Alcohol," please let me know via email or comment below.



Moscow, February 16, 2012
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill sent to the participants of the Congress of the Church and Community Council for Protection from the Threat of Alcohol, which opened on Thursday, February 16 in Moscow, his blessing and greeting:
"Alcoholism - a grave illness that affected millions of our contemporaries. Broken lives and broken families, socially dangerous behavior and crime, disease and accidents - all this is the bitter fruit of alcohol abuse. The disastrous consequences for the social life of this vice has always attested to by the Orthodox Church. Thus, St. Tikhon Zadonskii indicates that binge drinking '...causes quarrels, fights and subsequent bloodshed and murder, profanity, blasphemy, blasphemy, frustration and resentment neighbor...' ," said the Patriarch in the opening speech of Congress.
"However, the problem is deeper and has a more spiritual aspect. A man with this ruinous passion not only experiences distortion of his nature and suffers material losses, but also spiritually dies, falling into the slavery of sin. Not by chance the Apostle Paul warns us that drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God (see 1 Cor. 6: 10)."
"The Russian Orthodox Church seeks to bear witness in a society to a healthy and sober lifestyle. It is with this purpose in 2009 that the Church Community Board for the Protection from the Threat of Alcohol  was formed, which provides legislative and outreach activities aimed at combating one of the most dangerous social and moral ills," the Patriarch said, expressing hope that "Church-state co-operation in this area will continue to contribute to the moral and physical improvement of our society." He wished all the participants of the Congress, which will run February 16-17 at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, "fruitful work and success in such an important matter. " February 16, 2012


The participants of the Congress of the Church and Community Council for the Protection of Threat of Alcohol 
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir  Putin
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
I welcome the participants and guests of the congress, which brought together representatives of the clergy, leading scientists, artists and writers.
Over the years, the Church Community Board has fully taken its place as a respected and sought after public forum to discuss pressing issues in the field of health preservation, spiritual and moral education, improve the demographic and ecological situation in the country. Among the most important priorities of the Council - to develop consolidated, effective approaches to such a sharp, "sick" issues, such as combating the spread of alcoholism and drug addiction in the Russian society, especially among young people.
The creation of modern social infrastructure, involvement of the younger generation in physical education and sport, promotion of family values, a healthy lifestyle - this is our common goal, a shared responsibility. And so I expect that in the course of your representative meeting there will be proposed major new initiatives to strengthen the partnership and  cooperative work between the state, religious organizations, and civil society institutions.
I wish you a fruitful and constructive work.  February 16, 2012


  1. Father George, I'm glad in particular that you noted the crucial importance of religious faith in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. I remember reading, twenty years ago, Jo Anm Gibson Robinson's memoirs of the Montgomery bus boycotts, and she observed the community of faith was a central part of their motive and success. Many of the addictions and trends you're talking about, and even the "sober" attitudes towards them from mere observers, however, are devoid of spirituality or religion, of course--even contrary to them. The only thing they forgot to do, after Miley Cyrus finished gyrating on stage the other night, was to behead John the Baptist.

    Our mundane obsession with requiring that every important political issue be reducible to economic terms could still allow, by the way, a better discourse on alcohol abuse. Drunkenness costs our society massive amounts of money. Lost work hours, inefficient work hours, lawsuits and injuries resulting from alcohol-related incompetence, criminality closely associated with habitual drunkenness, and of course all of the costs of the health perils. Of course, even appreciating those earthly issues would probably be worth less than a hill of beans, if they were approached in a cold, administrative, and spirit-less way, reduced to strictly pecuniary or otherwise mundane terms.

    Nice post.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful words. Interesting how today (New Calendar) is the Commemoration of the Beheading...

    2. Oh, I'm sure there's a reason I was so easily able to quip about the Beheading, and I believe you've found it! ;-)

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