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A taste of their own medicine?

31 August 2012

A group of Orthodox protesters attempted to give Pussy Riot supporters a taste of their own medicine: Pro-Church Activists Interrupt Pussy Riot Event | News | The Moscow Times:

A group of Orthodox Christian activists accompanied by an NTV camera crew burst into a theater event about punk band Pussy Riot and scolded those present, the show’s director said.

The activists shouted “Repent!” and “Why do you hate the Russian people?” before being hustled out, Teatr.doc artistic director Mikhail Ugarov wrote on his Facebook page late Monday.

They attempted to mount the stage at the tiny theater near Patriarch’s Ponds but were stopped by audience members and tossed out after about 30 seconds, Novaya Gazeta reported.

But, as one commenter notes, Pussy Riot foes adopt its tactics | FP Passport:

In case you were wondering if the activists were arrested for “hooliganism” and imprisoned, they were not — and also appeared to be followed by a camera crew from state-controlled NTV.

And there’s the rub.

At the Teatr.doc event, participants talked about Pussy Riot band members and answered questions about the trial

As with the original event back in February, we aren’t told exactly what happened — one gets the impression from the picture here that it is the protesters who are sitting on the floor engaging in dialogue with those seated on chairs, and it doesn’t look very much like “disorderly conduct”. But perhaps the picture is not very much related to the story.

If the picture does show what happened, then perhaps that would be a good way of engaging in dialogue, using the methods of Pussy Riot themselves, to some extent. But the arrest, trial and imprisonment of the Pussy Riot members takes away that possibility. If Orthodox Christians can engage in hooliganism and disorderly conduct with impunity, then it is better that they should stay silent and say nothing at all.

For those who disagree with Pussy Riot to adopt their tactics is fine, provided there is a level playing field. But the arrest and trial of the Pussy Riot members, and the absence of such action against those who oppose them shows that the playing field is not level.

If we read the Church Fathers and Mothers, there is no warrant for such behaviour.

“It is good not to get angry, but if this should happen, the Apostle does not allow you a whole day for this passion, for he says ‘Let not the sun go down’ (Eph.4:25). Will you wait till all your time is ended? Why hate the man who has grieved you? It is not he who has done the wrong, but the devil. Hate sickness but not the sick person” Amma Syncletica.

” Do not rail against anyone, but rather say, ‘God knows each one.’ Do not agree with him who slanders, do not rejoice at his slander and do not hate him who slanders his neighbor. This is what it means not to judge. Do not have hostile feelings towards anyone and do not let dislike dominate your heart; do not hate him who hates his neighbor. This is what peace is Encourage yourself with this thought, ‘Affliction lasts but a short time, while peace is for ever, by the grace of God the Word'” St Moses the Ethiopian.

“What are the passions in themselves? They are ‘a certain hardness or insensitivity of being.’ Their causes are to be found in the things of life themselves. The passions are the desire for wealth and amassing of goods, for ease and bodily comfort; they are thirst for honor and the exercise of power; they are luxury and frivolity; they are the desire for glory from men and fear for one’s own body. All these passions have one common name – ‘the world.’ The world means carnal conduct and a carnal mind. The passions are the attacks of the world on man by means of the things of the world. Divine grace is the only power capable of repulsing them” Fr Justin Popovich.

And it seems, from the media reports, that the behaviour of the “Orthodox activists” was dominated by the passions. We cannot demand that others repent when we show no signs of repentance ourselves. There is a mandate for mission and evangelism, that we should proclaim the good news of the Gospel to every creature, including Pussy Riot and their supporters, but it is counterproductive if we proclaim the good news as if it were bad news, because we are controlled by passions rather than by the Holy Spirit.
For more on the Pussy Riot affair and its missional implications see:

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