Yesterday’s symposium on Traditional Values in the Era of Globalisation was essentially devoted to the interaction between Christianity and secularism.
Chaired by the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, the symposium was organised by the Russian Embassy, which in effect means the KGB (or FSB as it’s now called).
Both the panel and the audience featured an assortment of luminaries in the C of E, the Russian Orthodox Church, other confessions, the academia and, well, the KGB, aka Russian diplomats led by the Ambassador himself.
Also present in large numbers were those whom Lenin once described as ‘useful idiots’, Western fellow travellers who would sell the Bolsheviks the rope on which the West would be hanged.
The KGB international strategy from the start has been to portray the ghoulish murderers in the Kremlin as the flag-bearers of Old, ‘Holy’ Russia. It speaks volumes both for the Bolsheviks’ cynicism and the idiocy of the useful ones that such canards have always found gasping takers in spite of the on-going persecution of the Church.
Tens of thousands of priests and millions of believers were being murdered while the useful idiots talked about the convergence of ‘capitalism’ and ‘socialism’, with the former moving to the left, the latter to the right, and the two meeting in the middle ground of eternal happiness.
Such talk was actively promoted by the KGB. One of their tricks was to talk about the ongoing Christian revival in Russia, a stratagem that began during the Second World War, when Stalin found out that his army wouldn’t fight for bolshevism. The hierarchy of the Orthodox Church was hastily co-opted to this cause.
Since then the hierarchs of the Church have been combining their pastoral duties with those of career KGB operatives. Thus the uncovered KGB archives show that the current Patriarch of all Russia Kirill, codename ‘Mikhailov’, is a lifetime KGB/FSB agent, as were the two other candidates for the post in the 2009 elections.
This is the background to last night’s spectacle. The principal Russian guest was Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Church’s External Affairs Department. He spoke well about aggressive secularism destroying every traditional, which is to say Christian, value.
A truly accomplished man, he’s also a composer of liturgical music (such as St Matthew’s Passion) and a prolific writer on dogmatic theology. I was so impressed with him that I felt sorry he was tarred with the KGB brush – as, alas, a man in his position has to be.
It rapidly went downhill from there. Lord Green, Dave’s ex-Minister of State for Trade, kindly explained that global trade needs to be ethical to be successful. He then demonstrated the downside of erudition by shaking together an unlikely cocktail of Kant, Smith, Bentham and, amazingly, Francis Fukuyama.
Mercifully, he didn’t illustrate his truisms with HSBC, whose chairman he was from 2006 to 2010, a tenure punctuated by his bank richly contributing to the credit crisis, breaking US sanctions against Iran and laundering money for Columbian and Mexican drug cartels. Lord Green concluded with a derogatory remark about global-warming denial.
After a short break Metropolitan Hilarion invited brief comments. The invitation was avidly taken up by the Papal Nuncio who possibly didn’t know the meaning of the English word ‘brief’. He took over the pulpit and read a 15-minute statement in what I assumed was Italian, with an unusually large number of English words mixed in. Later I found out His Excellency had actually spoken in English.
Then the floor was yielded to the Revd Dr Walters, Chaplain to the LSE. The youthful clergyman cum scholar explained that all religions have the same core, and he saw his task as that of a translator of the peripheral differences. His multi-culti heart was screaming out for an ecumenical bliss resting on such common ground, and damn the differences. He clearly saw Christianity as just one ingredient in the stew, no better or worse than others.
The LSE, he continued, has always been devoted to finding both inter-religious and inter-governmental accommodation. Personally, I would have been tempted to add that this fine tradition goes back to the university’s founders, the Webbs and GB Shaw. These apologists for mass murder were among those Lenin meant specifically when talking about ‘useful idiots’.
The next speaker, Professor Tolkunov, also represented an academic institution. He’s head of MGIMO University of International Relations. Prof. Tolkunov proudly declared that his university, founded in 1944, had produced a number of noted scholars, writers and theologians. The useful idiots nodded enthusiastically. I, on the other hand, couldn’t recall a single MGIMO alumnus who distinguished himself in such pursuits.
Remembering all the spies trained at that KGB hatchery was much easier. Specifically, most of the 31 spies expelled by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1985 were educated at MGIMO, which no doubt enhanced the University’s academic reputation no end.
Yet again I marveled at the speaker’s cynicism and the audience’s credulity. Why, the blighter actually said that the spy school founded in 1944, when the KGB was outscoring the Nazis in the number of Soviets killed, was wholeheartedly dedicated to the values of Christian universalism. Of course it was, prof, we all know that.
On to another Russian (actually Armenian) academic Prof. Agadjanian, who delivered an incoherent, barely intelligible panegyric to Rowan Williams for his 2008 proposal to incorporate aspects of Sharia into ‘the law of the land’.
Prof. Agadjanian gave the audience to understand that the expression ‘the law of the land’ was a quaint phrase coined by the former Archbishop. As far as one could understand, the good professor felt that the Archdruid blazed the trail we must all follow. After all, British Muslims have as much right to live by their own laws as do British Christians.
As far as I could follow, no specifics were commented upon, such as the stoning of adulterers, the killing of apostates or polygamy, all time-honoured parts of the Sharia law. But then the multi-culti story was so compelling that it ought not to have been spoiled by incidentals.
The ensuing discussion was actually a love-in. One speaker after another, including, alas, our third most senior bishop, extolled the virtues of accommodation with the secular world. This, according to them, would strengthen Christianity.
The two principal confessions involved in the love-in illustrate the point perfectly. One has effectively become an extension of the most evil organisation in history, best exemplified at present by Col. Putin. The other has endorsed female ordination and consecration, homomarriage, socialism, welfarism and the virtual ousting of traditional liturgy (a young man about to be ordained in the C of E told me he had never attended a 1662 mass, for once leaving me speechless).
Birds of a feather and all that, but I felt like getting up to say it was hard not to observe an unbreakable continuity: accommodation – appeasement – collaboration – surrender.
I didn’t though. On the one hand, I didn’t want to mar the festivity of the occasion. On the other, there were too many people trained in martial arts present.