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A Deadly Mix

by on April 24, 2022

A Deadly Mix: Religion and Politics and Patriarch Krill and Putin.

By Brother Mark Dohle

Our Guest Post is by Brother Mark Dohle, a man I have known for over twenty years. Soon after completing an enlistment in the U.S. Navy Mark entered the Cistercian monastic order. Although a young man at the time, he had seen much of the world and chose to devote his life to spiritual contemplation. Unlike the mistaken image many have of monks, Brother Mark has been active in considering the findings of science, the realities – hidden and obvious – of politics, and especially the ways we humans live and die.

In this piece Br. Mark is discussing the recent coverage of the relationship of the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Moscow to the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and his ongoing genocide in Ukraine. Just as importantly, Br. Mark is discussing a problem, the relationship of Church and State, as it is found in many societies including the United States. (MMP)

All comments are welcome and will receive a reply. If there is truth to the saying, The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword it is because people like us read, consider, and exchange our thoughts with others. (MMP)

When a government, and the church become one, there is only trouble brewing.  In a church that is either run by the state, or works as an equal partner with the prevailing government, it will draw into its ranks men who want power, they become no different than politicians.  The religious nature of their calling may still be important, but in reality it is not central.

Patriarch Krill is the supposed spiritual leader of the Russian Orthodox Church.  Yet his real loyalty is to his country, as well as with Putin.  They are partners.  That is why you can see a religious leader encouraging the total destruction of other people.  The real horror is that God is brought into the picture.

Pictures are shown where priest are blessing weapons, tanks, and solders who are attacking a country that was no threat, and committing genocide with the blessing of Patriarch Krill.  

In the Catholic Church our history has many dark epochs, the darkest is when church and state were one.  Today in the Church, because we do not have political clout, and are not being used by the state, a different sort of man will want to become a priest and religious leader.  The kind of power the Krill has is not present in the Catholic Church.  Yes there is still corruption in the church, and it will always be so, yet at this time, no Pope would ever give support to the destruction of other people, or an unjust attack.

Yet, why are so many people surprised, or shocked?  It is a tragic sad situation and will lead to only more bloodshed, but surprised?  The young Russian men are doing the atrocities, will after returning home wake up to what they have done, and will have to live with it.  Many will live lives of deep regret.  Many will shorten their lives through addiction, and suicide.  While the leaders, both the religious, and political, because they did not dirty their hands will be at peace.  Yet this is not something new.  As a species we are very unstable when it comes to living out what we profess we believe.

Every once in a while people will ask me if I think that I am a good person. My response is ‘no’.  They ask me why.  I respond that I am not a good person, because every day I have to struggle to make the just and loving choices.  I fail, and begin again. 

I am not good, nor am I evil, yet I have a tendency to move in the direction of chaos and self-destruction if I do not keep on the path of seeking God and loving others.  It is a lifelong commitment, which does get easier over time, yet still a struggle.

So Putin and Patriarch Krill’s actions, and religious teachings on what they are doing does not surprise me.  It saddens me, and I can see myself doing the very same thing if I was part of the situation and grew up in Russia.  Which saddens me more, but not surprised at what I know I am capable of doing.

We are not a rational species, yet we try to be.  We are emotional, we can tend to react, and if we think things through, the curse of “confirmation bias” plays a big role.  It is almost impossible to break away into a system of doing things that are actually rational, as well as deeply spiritual.  It is call the “Sermon on the Mount”.—Br.MD

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12 Comments
  1. Mike Stamm permalink

    No disrespect intended, but it strikes me as somewhat disingenuous to claim that the Catholic church has no political clout. It’s true that it has much less influence than the combined various Protestant evangelist denominations, but its power at the polls is a long way from negligible. We remain lucky that Franklin Graham and the increasingly demented Pat Robertson are not at the level of the Papacy or its Russian Orthodox equivalent. Religion as a political force is as dangerous as the political co-opting of religious organizations. The US is–so far–in slightly less danger of becoming a theocracy because this country fosters too many self-styled “religious” groups, each of which all want that title for itself alone…but that may change.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ray Rivers permalink

    Thanks Marco – good piece Ray Z. Rivers 445 Mountsberg Rd., Campbellville ON L0P 1B0 Home and Mobile – 905-659-2069 rayzrivers@gmail.com

    Like

  3. mkdohle permalink

    *Thank you Mike for your comment. I understand your point, and it is well taken. The church is old, and failures are many, and the church still fails today in many ways. Yet, there is much good, and there is wisdom as well. I do believe that the Catholic Church, in spite of its checkered past, does have something important to share with the culture at large. However, because the church has lost its political clout, those who lead are of a different sort than those of the past. The church cannot command any world leader to do it’s will. Which is good. Nor does the church have some sort of partnership with any government.*

    *To try to force others to obey would take away from their dignity. that is the difference today, than it was in certain eras in the churches past.The church has the right and the obligation to speak what it feels is the truth, as well as its mission. People have the right to disagree and to go their own way. Which they do. People who are devout, will listen more than those who are not for it is important to be clear about one’s faith, or what one believes and live according to where that leads. We are all responsible to live out of our informed conscience.PeaceMark*

    Like

  4. Dana permalink

    Br. Mark, it is good to see you are still writing.

    What most stood out is the following passage you wrote. It is relatable to me even as a non-theist. We can always strive for compassion and decency without being categorized as good or bad. Any time we feel we have failed or made a mistake is another learning opportunity. Sometimes those sting a bit, but I try to wipe my slate clean and begin afresh.

    “Every once in a while people will ask me if I think that I am a good person. My response is ‘no’. They ask me why. I respond that I am not a good person, because every day I have to struggle to make the just and loving choices. I fail, and begin again.”

    Thanks for sharing your perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mkdohle permalink

      Good hearing from you. Dana, Loved your comment.

      Peace
      Mark

      Like

  5. William Boyd permalink

    Thanks, Mark, for your open-ness in revealing your introspections. BB

    Liked by 1 person

  6. John Redmond permalink

    Br. Mark – nice post and thank you for the perspective. I don’t know if you watched the TV show Messiah a couple years ago, but there was a line from that show that relates to your quote that Dana emphasized. I don’t remember the exact quote, but it was that one thing God gave us was the ability to make a change – and at every moment that opportunity exists. I thought about this for addicts and anyone wanting to change – and even if, everyday, you regress back from that change, you can chose to change again – Maybe Putin or Patriarch Kirill will change – not likely, but the opportunity allows for hope. – Peace, John R.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mkdohle permalink

      Thank you John. No, I did not see the program, thank you for bringing it to my attention. There is always hope, for everyone.

      Peace
      Mark

      Like

  7. Br. Mark, thank you for sharing your honesty and insight. I think the part of this post that resonated with me most was that of the soldiers who will live with deep regret for the rest of their lives. My thoughts are the same. The idea of two individuals fighting to the death for the pride of some label that they feel is important is beyond me. To fight for freedom, or for a worthy cause is one thing, but this is not one. It is as the character Colonel Aureliano Buendía says in “100 years of solitude” after many years of futile wars. “As far as I’m concerned, I’ve come to realize only just now that I’m fighting because of pride.”

    Like

    • mkdohle permalink

      Thank you anomoly. Many years ago one of my Uncle’s who was in the Korean war, opened up his heart and told me of his regrets while fighting. He simply said “Mark, sometimes in Korea, we did not take prisoners”. It was then as we talked, that i really had no idea how I would react, or what I would do in like circumstances. I could tell that he kept it deep in his soul, and probably did not tell many people, of any about this experience.

      His faith helped him face it. It is sad that young men and women have to experience; the horrors of war. The hardest thing to do can be to forgive oneself.

      Thank you for your comment

      Peace
      Mark

      Like

  8. Thank you, Br. Mark. Your wisdom is timeless and transcends short sighted, self driven follies of Mankind. Of course, my familiarity with the long term consequences you speak of dates to the Vietnam war and other conflicts occurring elsewhere in that time period. Certainly your hours spent at the Veterans Administration hospital brought you many encounters with the alcohol and other drug addicted survivors of those conflicts. It is hard for someone to deeply accept from a clergyman that a God they feel they have lost touch with understands and forgives them. That realization must come from within.

    I am so heartened by the number and the depth of the comments rendered so far. Marco

    Like

    • mkdohle permalink

      Thank you Marco. Yes, going to the VA can be a course on the aftermath and tragedy of war. It was truly sad to see so many young there. Some injured and crippled for life, and others for help in dealing with their PTSD.

      Peace
      Mark

      Like

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