Thursday, April 24, 2008

Are You Going to be a Missionary?

I was just chatting last night about how a lot of people from the church I was raised in assumed that since I'm (was? -- oh god, just finished the last undergrad class!) double majoring in Russian Studies and Religious Studies that I'm going to go out and convert the heathen masses of Russia.

Yeah, I don't want to make Putin that mad. (And there's that whole opinion I have that Orthodoxy, while not perfect, is far superior to the Evangelical groups who tend to be running missions in Russia.)

There are huge problems with the way that the Orthodox Church in Russia has been caught up in a nationalist movement. There are issues of freedom of religion. (However, we Americans should be careful to not read our experiences with certain religion dominating government policy into the situation with Russia.) Obviously, Orthodox bishops dubbing Protestants "Christ-killers" is a problem. But the article would have you believe that the Russian Orthodox are all hateful barbarians and that the Protestants are squeaky-clean.

I really feel like this article didn't do justice to the colonizing element of Protestant missions in Russia. Many people involved with these missions seem to not even recognize Orthodoxy as Christianity. I have heard comments that dehumanize and defame Russians. (Most famously: "They just don't know how to love each other.") It's difficult to sort these colonial attitudes out from some genuinely good impulses that are also present in mission work, but the colonial attitude can't be ignored. That is -- the poor, persecuted Protestants aren't necessarily as innocent as this article would have you believe.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Scary, but charismatic...

So, I'm a bit behind times, but have you seen this video of Putin's latest take down of Bush?

Not that I'm interested in having Russian style democracy in the U.S. (Although, with the Real ID, that lovely document carrying at all times portion of the Russian experience might be coming to a state near you!), but stuff like this is why I just can't bring myself to completely dislike Putin. He's got guts. He's intelligent. Witty. And he calls Bush for what he is to his face.

Oh, and yes -- if push comes to shove, I'd rather be living under a Russian style democracy than the mess that's passing under that name in Iraq right now. I think the survival rates in Russia are a bit better for the average person on the street.