• Thank you, Byron. I’ve had several people mention that seeing the faces helped. Well, not sure if they meant seeing my face actually helped, but anyway… 🙂


  1. Good afternoon, Hal!
    My name is Alexander, I also live in Luga and have been reading Your blog for a long time. The religious theme is not very close to me, but Your observations about life in Russia and America are much more interesting. But I would like to discuss some of your comments.
    The topic of religion and faith (I believe that this is not the same thing) is very ambiguous in Russia. The country is multi-religious, so the topic of relations between the Orthodox Church and the State is very sensitive. I do not think that the significant increase in the construction of temples (with public money), which You mention, is liked by representatives of other religions or atheists. And many believe that this money could be used for other purposes, for example, for medicine or roads (in the same meadow). In the Luzhsky district there are a lot of destroyed and abandoned beautiful churches that could be restored, and not build pompous new ones. https://sobory.ru/geo/distr/100
    Therefore, many people have a very personal attitude to God. On the one hand, they believe in God, but they don’t trust the Church. On the other hand, they may be non-religious and non-believers, but they are Orthodox only because they are Russian and consider themselves a Christian civilization. I ironically consider myself an “Orthodox atheist”. This, I think, applies to the problem of self-identification and even to relations with other countries: with Serbia, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Belarus, Greece.

    I don’t want to talk about my country’s interference in the American elections, especially since You covered the topic exhaustively in your blog. I just can’t figure out how we could get close to every American voter and get them to vote for the candidate we need. Did not beat him on the hands or on the head?!

    About the poisoning of Navalny (no matter how anyone treats him) a good article in AgoraVox https://inosmi.ru/politic/20200922/248171308.html in Russian and https://www.agoravox.fr/actualites/international/article/l-affaire-de-l-empoisonnement-de-227203 in French.

    I remain Your reader,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Alexander!
      It was so interesting to hear from someone who lives in this area of Russia! I was shocked! Your English is excellent–surprised no one has mentioned your name to me before.
      As to your comments on religion, faith, churches in Russia. First, I would remind you that this was an interview. I did not “frame” the questions. I responded to what Regis asked me about how it is being an Orthodox family here, and Oksana explained her background as well. Second, Regis focuses the films/interviews he does on what he believes an American audience needs to hear. Like me, he’s an American living in Russia who realizes the majority of Americans know little about life in Russia. They know little about Russia at all–and a lot of what they know is based on the grossly inaccurate reports of the American media and politicians. In this sense his purposes are very much like mine with my blog. I think every blog I have written has been translated and posted on at least one Russian site, although I have no idea who does the translations or postings. Nevertheless, I don’t write primarily for a Russian audience. For some reason many Russians like hearing how I present Russia to my American followers, and I am glad for that.
      That brings me to your point on religion and Orthodoxy. Regis’ purpose was not to get into how different Russians view Orthodoxy or the relation of “Church and State” as we call it in America. So he did not bring up some issues you mentioned b/c that was not his purpose. Likewise, I would say your understanding of Orthodoxy would take a LONG time to explain to my American audience. Your view of being able to say you’re an “Orthodox atheist” is one I have heard since I first came to Russia 18 years ago. Someone said to me on that first trip: “Yes, I’m Orthodox; I’m Russian.” At the same time many Russians would strongly disagree with you. Since I move in Russian Orthodox circles, I’ve heard strongly opposing opinions. They say your view of Orthodox is essentially passive. Orthodoxy is something that requires nothing of you. You don’t have to have faith; you make no effort to practice it; and it is your right just from being born here. They say you are using Orthodoxy in a political or nationalistic sense. So did Russia “steal” its culture from Constantinople? They say this is far from the view of the Elders of Russian Orthodoxy. My point is that this disagreement is an intramural debate between Russians.
      Finally, when I write a blog or Regis gives an interview, we are quite aware of the limits of space and time. If I go over a certain length in my blog I know I will lose most of my audience. (I’ve done it before and watched my readership drop!) Regis is the same with the time he grants for interviews. In other words, we can’t discuss everything. So my point is not that we just want to ignore the important debates like the ones you mentioned. I like hearing the various perspectives. We just can’t fully delve into all the differences because we would go overtime and as a result lose our primary audience.
      Thank you again for your thoughtful response.


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