The Anniversary of the Baptism of Rus in the Mass Consciousness: Yes, and so What?

23 September 2013, 09:54 | Michael Cherenkov's column | 2 |   | Code for Blog |  | 

The anniversary of the Baptism of Rus and the debates about this event diverted attention from the problems in the murky depths of history. The celebration was a good occasion for PR. The denominations competed for claims in their historical role and authority today. Politicians earned points from comments, sponsorship of churches, and photos with hierarchs. People avoided the celebration, ordinary people could not even come close to the holy places, polices lines guarded the crowned and holy persons.

Yes, and so what? Somehow the 1,025th anniversary of the baptism echoed in the minds of 99% of the population. It would have been strange to expect any other reaction from the people who were excluded from the celebration, its essence and values​​, its joy and hope.

And was there a celebration? The anniversary was one of the simulacra of our times – in no way connected with the original one.  There was something, but how the name relates to the history of Christianity, the life of the people – no one checked and no one is even interested.

I would call this an anniversary of a celebration what was not. In other words, it all turns out to be feigned – and the celebration, and the celebratory events, the joy of the participants, and the spoken words.

What was not right with the celebration? None of the organizers nor the church and state leaders of the anniversary took it seriously, nor with full responsibility. There was no repentance. There were no sincere words. There were no living people. There were actors who staged a socio-cultural and politico-religious spectacle. From the very beginning it was all a show. The game was also poorly played – no tears, no miracles.

How can we make sense of what happened around the 1,025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus, so that the event – beforehand virtual, ostentatious, fake – did not pass in vain?

First, the “baptism of Rus” has still not taken place, in the sense that the story is not over yet and no one can talk about in the past perfective. This is not a past, one-time event, but a long saga, a series of events, the process of decision-making.

Some philosophers define people as a permanent plebiscite – questions and decisions about “whether people want to continue to live together” (Ortega y Gasset). Similarly, we can understand the “Baptism of Rus” as a permanent self-determination of each representative of the nation, as well as a public discussion and decision on the Christian heritage, and even deeper – to the gospel, the doctrine of Christ, faith in God, commitment to live by faith. In this sense, the series of the “baptism” (this includes the “baptism” performed by the Apostle Andrew, accepted by Prince Askold and Princess Olha) – this is a decision of our ancestors, which must be constantly discussed and consciously confirmed. Even if the decision was made before us, it requires a kind of “confirmation.”

Second, the “baptism” requires not only immersion, but immersion in teaching. Only in this context do Christ’s instructions to the apostles become clear: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). How can one baptize himself in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, without knowing anything about them? How can one be proud of a thousand-year history, not having learned in all that time even to read? After all, the biblical texts became available in the native language only in the nineteenth century. And the question is not even about availability, but whether there is a thirst for learning, for culture learning, for the development of Christian education. Today, the Scripture is available, is on the shelves almost everywhere, but is very rarely opened. And it is not even worth commenting on the ability to penetrate and understand the sacred texts of the native Christian faith.

Thirdly, the belief that experienced baptism not only confirms and grows, but also is becoming responsible, lively, effectual. A person not only believes, but also lives by faith, keeps his promises. This apostle James told the early Christians: “You believe that there is one God? You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble. But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:19-20).

It is clear that faith must be expressed in the changes of life. Despite such a long history of our Christianity, we cannot boast a high-quality life. We cannot escape from the question: if we are spiritual, why do we live so dysfunctionally and poorly?

Finally, baptism requires my participation. This does not happen without me, of course. Baptism does not save without faith in Christ and faithfulness to Him. This is not a magical means, but a covenant, mutual promise, an agreement from both sides. “Baptism now saves you. Not the washing of the filth of the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3.21). The promise by default envisages implementation, fidelity to the word. If we break the covenant, we are depriving ourselves of the blessings promised by God in response to our promise of a good conscience.

Baptism is connected with our personal repentance – for the sins, crimes of the past, a retreat from God, breach of the covenant with Him. So the best wishes for the celebration are the apostolic words: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

It’s too bad these words were not said during the celebratory “events.” Just as without repentance there is no baptism and the Holy Spirit, without the gift and power of the Spirit the long-awaited revival of the individual, society, and country will not take place

Without the life-giving Holy Spirit, all will remain a dead history of what has not been; a recollection of what is not known; an empty, fake holiday.

Yes, and so what? This stereotypical reaction to Christian holidays should concern and wake if not the whole “Christian” society, at least the conscious Christian community.

It’s too bad that when we celebrated “our” Christianity, we forgot its essence – repentance, Christ, and the Spirit. This Christianity becomes not a holiday but everyday.

Система Orphus
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  • vasyltk | 27 September 2013, 18:49
    comment comment

    "Як можна пишатися тисячолітньою історією, не навчившись за весь цей час бодай читати? Адже біблійні тексти рідною мовою стали доступні народові тільки в XIX столітті.Як можна пишатися тисячолітньою історією, не навчившись за весь цей час бодай читати? Адже біблійні тексти рідною мовою стали доступні народові тільки в XIX столітті." Може хтось пояснить, що автор сказав цими словами, бо або в мене якісь неправильні уявлення про українську (руську) культуру, літературу і освіченість народу, або пан Михайло щось тут загнув, як і ті, кого він звинувачує (я тут не перечу) в релігійному артистизмі

  • artyukh | 24 September 2013, 16:50
    comment comment

    Який же ви тільки й протестант, пане Михайле. Ну, от не розумієте ви московської православної душі, не розумієте.

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