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Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas in Russia and around the world

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Today, January 7th, many Orthodox Christians around the world witness the celebration of Christmas.  For Russians and most Slavic people, this day IS Christmas, and the western celebration on Dec 25th is a workday.

This is not an innovation.  It is actually because an innovation was never made to the Julian Calendar, which is followed by most Orthodox Christians in the world, so it lags behind the civil calendar by 13 days at present.  So, for the Church it is today which is December 25th.

In Russia, this brings an interesting shift in present-day life.  The Communist times were not able to destroy all the Christmas traditions, but it did shift many of them.  Father Christmas (a.k.a. Santa Claus) became “Grandfather Frost”, and got a sidekick, the “Snow Maiden”, and the celebration that is accompanied by what is unmistakably a Christmas Tree got centered on New Year’s Day.  To this day, even in post-Communist Russia, it is New Year’s that gets the bulk of attention.  This is an unwitting blessing, for it takes away the commercialized emphasis that Western Christmas has associated with it. Instead, the Nativity retains its character as a religious holiday in a very pure form.

A nativity scene in a chapel made of snow in Dubna.

The celebration of the Nativity of Christ, features very beautiful church services, lasting many hours. The one this author attended last night ran nearly six hours long, from 11pm until 4:45am.  The church was full of people from beginning to the very end.  These people have endurance.  As an American, to see the patience and dedication of the Russian people in church is humbling, especially that of the people who stand for that entire length of time.

The Russian Church has suffered greatly under the hale of Communism, but, starting in the late 1980’s and accelerating till today, the Church has regained much of its traditional role in this country as the “guardian of the conscience of Russia.”  The government and the Church work in a manner foreign to Western understanding, called “symphonia”, and this is a renewal of the ancient Byzantine model of government, where the Caesar (Tsar) was, in essence, a “bishop in charge of State affairs,” and hence a Christian believer, and responsible in his own office to uphold the Christian faith and principles in all secular and governmental matters.

While we do not have a Tsar today, some emulation of this structure exists, surrounding president Vladimir Putin.  He has long been a Christian believer (yes, even while in the KGB), and as he has grown older, he has shown an increasing level of commitment to protect Christians wherever they may be.  (This is actually part of the reason Russia got involved in Syria in 2015, because Syria is also an Orthodox Christian center, with a Patriarch resident in Damascus for the Antiochian Orthodox Church.)

President Putin attends Nativity services this year in his hometown of St Petersburg, at the Church of Saints Simeon and Anna.

The concept of symphonia means that the Patriarch of Moscow has significant say in the direction the country takes.  The Western narrative is that the Church is the “toady” to the State here, with Vladimir Putin, the thug, running the Church.  And there are some Russian people who hold the same view.  But the truth of this is the opposite, and most Russian Orthodox believers know this to be true – that the State is increasingly striving for symphonia with the Church, to gradually realign the country with the values appropriate to a Christian nation.

Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow and all Russia

Every Christmas the Patriarch sends out his own greeting, just as President Putin does at the very end of each year.  This year the Patriarchal encyclical highlighted the remembrance of the beginning of the tragic period of Communism, which began just 100 years ago in 1917.  He highlighted the theme of the love of God even in this terrible time, because the people that would be needed to help the Church survive this fearsome persecution were set in place, both in the ranks of clergy and laity, and they endured through the trial, even though the Church was all but destroyed.

Further, Patriarch Kirill pointed to things today:

Today we are undergoing a special period: afflictions have not yet left this world, every day we “hear of wars and rumours of wars” (Mt 24:6). Yet how much of God’s love is poured out upon people! The world exists in spite of the forces of evil, while human love and family values abide in spite of the unbelievable attempts to destroy, desecrate and distort them. Faith in God is alive in the hearts of the majority of people. And our Church, in spite of decades of persecution in the recent past and the endeavours to undermine her authority in the present, remains and shall always be with Christ. (emphasis mine)

In a world that seems often like it is coming apart at the seams, most particularly in the West, this message speaks to much of the heart of the matter.  In this author’s experience, the ability to truly be “red-pill” – one who sees and faces reality – is impossible without the basic understanding of the way things are.  Although one tries to avoid a sermon here, it is pretty much impossible to be truly reality based without some sort of understanding that we are not the highest power in the world, and that there is Something or Someone that is.

Russia seems to be one of the very few places in the world where this relationship is understood and put into practice.  This is the real reason the Western media and politicians are so antagonistic, because to be traditional is “uncool”, “outdated”, and “not with the times…” – but the things that crowd to replace traditional values all share a very destructive tendency – to put people out of touch with their own reality, to deny the truth, and to blame everyone around them and insist that the world is full of persecutors and victims, with one’s self always the victim.

Russia stands in a much more honest and reality-based frame of reference than this.  And one major reason for this is in the souls of those thousands, maybe millions of people who stood for hours and hours in churches across the Russian land last night and today.

To all, a very merry Christmas!

 

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Thank you candle-enlightened Seraphim : you highlighted some essential features of the Lands of the Rus which the West systematically suppresses, ignores, distorts (lies about), belligerently opposes, even tried to kill . See ya in Sarov some day, hey?!

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Lori Loughlin’s daughter was aboard USC official’s yacht in Bahamas when mom was charged

Lori Loughlin’s daughter was on the yacht of USC’s Board of Trustees when her mom was accused in scheme.

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Via Fox News


Lori Loughlin’s daughter Olivia Jade Giannulli was spending spring break on a University of Southern California official’s yacht when her mother was accused Tuesday of involvement in a college admissions scheme, reports said.

Giannulli, 19, was on Rick Caruso’s luxury yacht Invictus in the Bahamas, a report said. Caruso is chairman of USC’s Board of Trustees.

Giannulli, who currently attends USC, was with Caruso’s daughter Gianna and several other friends, the outlet reported.

“My daughter and a group of students left for spring break prior to the government’s announcement yesterday,” Caruso told TMZ. “Once we became aware of the investigation, the young woman decided it would be in her best interests to return home.”

Loughlin’s daughter has since returned to Los Angeles to face the allegations that could result in her getting expelled from USC.

USC’s Board of Trustees will not decide the status of Giannulli and the other students involved in the case, but rather, the university’s president will make the decisions, according to TMZ.

Business deals in jeopardy?

Giannulli is a YouTube beauty vlogger and social media star, but in the midst of her mother’s charges, she may lose the lucrative brand-sponsorship deals she has landed over the years, Variety reported.

HP, having cut ties with Giannulli, said in a statement, “HP worked with Lori Loughlin and Olivia Jade in 2017 for a one-time product campaign. HP has removed the content from its properties.”

Giannulli also cut brand deals with partners including Amazon, Dolce & Gabbana, Lulus, Marc Jacobs Beauty, Sephora, Smashbox Beauty Cosmetics, Smile Direct Club, Too Faced Cosmetics, Boohoo, and Unilever’s TRESemmé, the report said.

Giannulli’s rep declined to comment, Variety reported. Estée Lauder Companies, which owns Smashbox and Too Faced, also declined to comment, while the other brands or companies the magazine reached out to did not immediately respond to their requests for comment.

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$250M Lawsuit Against CNN Imminent; Covington High MAGA Student Suffered “Direct Attacks”

CNN will be the second MSM outlet sued over their reporting of the incident, after Sandmann launched a $250 million lawsuit against the Washington Post in late February. 

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Via Zerohedge


CNN is about to be sued for more than $250 million for spreading fake news about 16-year-old Covington High School student Nicholas Sandmann.

Sandmann was viciously attacked by left-leaning news outlets over a deceptively edited video clip from the January March for Life rally at the Lincoln Memorial, in which the MAGA-hat-wearing teenager appeared to be mocking a Native American man beating a drum. Around a day later, a longer version of the video revealed that Sandmann did absolutely nothing wrong – after the media had played judge, jury and executioner of Sandmann’s reputation.

CNN will be the second MSM outlet sued over their reporting of the incident, after Sandmann launched a $250 million lawsuit against the Washington Post in late February.

Speaking with Fox News host Mark Levin in an interview set to air Sunday, Sandmann’s attorney, L. Lin Wood, said “CNN was probably more vicious in its direct attacks on Nicholas than The Washington Post. And CNN goes into millions of individuals’ homes. It’s broadcast into their homes.”

They really went after Nicholas with the idea that he was part of a mob that was attacking the Black Hebrew Israelites, yelling racist slurs at the Black Hebrew Israelites,” continued Wood. “Totally false. Saying things like that Nicholas was part of a group that was threatening the Black Hebrew Israelites, that they thought it was going to be a lynching.”

Why didn’t they stop and just take an hour and look through the internet and find the truth and then report it?” Wood asked. “Maybe do that before you report the lies. They didn’t do it. They were vicious. It was false. CNN will be sued next week, and the dollar figure in the CNN case may be higher than it was [against] The Washington Post.”

Watch: 

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Rand Paul refuses to support emergency declaration, deepening problem

Rand Paul gives a principled reason for his refusal, and he cannot be faulted for that, but it leaves the borders open and unsafe.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Senator Rand Paul indicated he will vote to terminate President Trump’s National Emergency Declaration on Sunday. This continues a story that seems to want no resolution.

Weeks ago, the seed to this news piece started this way:

One 35-day partial government shutdown and almost three weeks later, the debate over a statistically tiny amount of money in the US budget for the building of a border wall drags on with no solution. On February 15th, if there is no agreement that is to President Trump’s satisfaction, the government will once again descend into a partial shutdown.

And on February 15th, the President signed a continuing resolution to keep the government open through the rest of the fiscal year. This CR gave sharply limited authority of funds with regards to the border wall. This prompted the President to take it a step farther and declare a National Emergency.

This is because very few people in the US government actually desire a solution to close and secure the American-Mexican border. In fact, what we see is a government that is largely aligned against the will of its citizens.

President Trump has made repeated statements and speeches in which he outlines a fair array of facts concerning the problems experienced in the US by illegal border crossings of both people and controlled substances.

However, the issue of border security remains something that Congress only supports with words. We saw this in action both last week and the week before with the Democrat led House of Representatives voting 245-182 to terminate the National Emergency declaration. While this was to be expected in the House, on March 3rd, libertarian Senator Rand Paul, a known strong supporter of President Trump, nonetheless penned an Op-Ed piece on Fox News in which he said he planned to also vote against the National Emergency in the Republican-led Senate (emphasis added):

In September of 2014,  I had these words to say: “The president acts like he’s a king. He ignores the Constitution.  He arrogantly says, ‘If Congress will not act, then I must.’

Donald J. Trump agreed with me when he said in November 2014 that President Barack Obama couldn’t make a deal on immigration so “now he has to use executive action, and this is a very, very dangerous thing that should be overridden easily by the Supreme Court.”

I support President Trump. I supported his fight to get funding for the wall from Republicans and Democrats alike, and I share his view that we need more and better border security.

However, I cannot support the use of emergency powers to get more funding, so I will be voting to disapprove of his declaration when it comes before the Senate.

Every single Republican I know decried President Obama’s use of executive power to legislate. We were right then. But the only way to be an honest officeholder is to stand up for the same principles no matter who is in power…

There are really two questions involved in the decision about emergency funding:

  • First, does statutory law allow for the president’s emergency orders,
  • and, second, does the Constitution permit these emergency orders?

As far as the statute goes, the answer is maybe — although no president has previously used emergency powers to spend money denied by Congress, and it was clearly not intended to do that.

But there is a much larger question: the question of whether or not this power and therefore this action are constitutional. With regard to the Constitution, the Supreme Court made it very clear in Youngstown Steel in 1952, in a case that is being closely reexamined in the discussion of executive power.  In Youngstown, the Court ruled that there are three kinds of executive order: orders that carry out an expressly voiced congressional position, orders where Congress’ will is unclear, and, finally, orders clearly opposed to the will of Congress.

To my mind, like it or not, we had this conversation.  In fact, the government was shut down in a public battle over how much money would be spent on the wall and border security.  It ended with a deal that Congress passed and the president signed into law, thus determining the amount.

Congress clearly expressed its will not to spend more than $1.3 billion and to restrict how much of that money could go to barriers.  Therefore, President Trump’s emergency order is clearly in opposition to the will of Congress.

Moreover, the broad principle of separation of powers in the Constitution delegates the power of the purse to Congress.  This turns that principle on its head.

Some are attempting to say that there isn’t a good analogy between President Obama’s orders or the Youngstown case. I disagree. Not only are the issues similar, but I think Youngstown Steel implications are even more profound in the case of emergency appropriations. We spent the last two months debating how much money should be spent on a wall, and Congress came to a clear conclusion: $1.3 billion. Without question, the president’s order for more wall money contradicts the will of Congress and will, in all likelihood, be struck down by the Supreme Court.

In fact, I think the president’s own picks to the Supreme Court may rebuke him on this.

Regardless, I must vote how my principles dictate. My oath is to the Constitution, not to any man or political party. I stand with the president often, and I do so with a loud voice. Today, I think he’s wrong, not on policy, but in seeking to expand the powers of the presidency beyond their constitutional limits. I understand his frustration. Dealing with Congress can be pretty difficult sometimes. But Congress appropriates money, and his only constitutional recourse, if he does not like the amount they appropriate, is to veto the bill.

This statement by Rand Paul is extremely – and painfully – fair. It marks not the actions of a liberal but of someone who is trying to do things truly “by the book.” He cannot be faulted for this.

But his “Nay” is very poorly placed because it comes in the context of a Congress that is full of people far less committed to the vision of America and its sovereignty than he or the President are. One of the reasons stated for lax border security is that cutting off illegal immigration also cuts off very cheap labor for several industries. Some of those industry leaders donate lavishly to political campaigns, ergo, corruption.

Rand Paul, in trying to fight for what is right by the letter of the law, may be correct, but in the short term it appears to exacerbate the problem of the porous US-Mexico border.

President Trump is trying to do the right thing in the company of a Congress who does not want this, for various reasons. Some of it is because some Congressmen and women are petty, Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer being the crabby National Grandparents in this aspect. But add to the “resist Trump because he is Trump” lobby those people who gain from illegal immigration in the short term, and those like the new socialist crop of Congressional members who are ready to change the very nature of the United States into something like their cannabis-induced dream of Sweden (which didn’t even work in Sweden!) and we see that border security is every bit the uphill climb that President Trump has shown it to be.

The government shutdown did one very good thing: It got the American focus on the border and some opinions on the matter moved – at least among the American people.

But since when did our representatives and senators really represent us, the American people?

It has been a long, long time.

 

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