To know I know little about Eastern European affairs. And that includes the tangled mess that is Russian History. One could spend a lifetime studying that monster and you'd still only scratch the surface.
My chief problem is the divisiveness that tends to dumb down discourse. You get a million experts running around and calling down hellfire on this or that topic. Naturally I defer to those who are in Russia, or Ukraine. But even then, only with caution. It's not like going east will suddenly make you honest or always right. Still, I've had the chance to befriend several over the years who call east of the Danube their home, and it's been a revelation to be sure.
When I was in graduate school, one of our best friends was a fellow named Alexander and his wife, Luba. He was from Russia, she was from Ukraine. It was then I learned the most important of all lessons: never say a Ukrainian is Russian. Their perspectives on life in the USSR, even in its waning days, was an education to be sure.
Likewise, in my years with the Orthodox Church I had the chance to meet and talk to many from those regions: Bulgaria, Serbia, Russia, Ukraine, and Romania. Again, it was an eye opener. My favorite was a Romanian professor who often spoke about his life in the Soviet and post-Soviet system. He eventually immigrated to the US in the late 1990s. He also had perspectives about the increase of Muslim immigration and the designs of the Russian government in these post-Cold War years.
In any event, like those from the Middle East we became friends with during those years, I learned the stories we are told in America are seriously deficient when it comes to what people in other parts of the world see. That may always be the case. It's likely they don't get being American. But it's enough to know most of the punditry and talking points is likely missing big pieces of the puzzle.
Well, if you have any knowledge at all of the Russian Orthodox Church, you wouldn't be shocked in the least. Much less disappointed. It would make perfect sense, as many Orthodox Christians outside the dominant circle of Russian Orthodoxy often lament. Even those Russian Orthodox struggle with the church's allegiance with the State in light of the need to protect the Church against those modernist forces that would happily see the Church put back in the chains it wore during the Soviet era. It isn't simple, and likely shouldn't be commented on as quickly as I believe the stories were wanting us to.
In fact, I can't help but think part of what Deacon Greydanus sees is based on that modern progressive narrative that assumes the very best in anyone except those in my own circle of neighbors. That is, 'the East' isn't us, therefore he sees it through those modern, progressive rose color lenses. Which is why it's shocking that things may be as complex anywhere else in the world as we should admit they really are here. But that's for another post. For now, I'm shocked that he's so disappointed if he knows enough about the history of the Russian Orthodox Church to think he should be disappointed.
Therefore, during this time I'll keep trying to focus on the prayers for peace, and those who are clearly trying to find ways to mitigate the suffering and seek paths toward realistic ends to the conflict. I will ignore those who talk like experts when their talking makes it clear they're anything but experts.