Over at WWWtW, Lydia has closed comments because yours truly was arguing with her.
See, I've got this particular sin. Sins, really. I will make claims, and I will buttress my argument with points - evidence, or rationales, which serve to advance my claims. In this case: Western civilization has a lot of shared values, shared across various religious beliefs or unbeliefs, etc. Some of these shared values are toxic, and have been doing harm not only to us, but to other cultures we expose them to. Russia - which has its own problems, but different ones - is trying to shield itself from our influence, in part because of these problems. They are not wrong to do so, and in fact our condemnation of them is short-sighted.
Lydia's response has basically been to swing her arms wildly and scream at the top of her lungs, accusing me of things that are just... wild. Like my supposedly blaming protestantism for gay marriage, which is quite a trick since I explicitly said more than once that even Catholics are part of this 'Western problem' I speak of. I've pointed out that churches don't just 'communicate love for the Lord Jesus Christ' but act as yet more NGOs which can spread various ideas, hence Soros happily funding them at times. I've noted that Lydia herself doesn't care just about Jesus - she expressed fury that Russia doesn't have full-blown Western-style 'freedom of religion' laws, inviting all and sundry to spread their religious beliefs, community and cultural unity be damned. Lydia ignores this, then accuses me of saying Southern Baptists will spread gay marriage through missionaries.
It's pretty bonkers.
I'll skip psychoanalyzing her in favor of pointing out a few things.
There is no such thing as 'just spreading Jesus'. Baptists don't want to spread mere belief in Christ, but the Baptist faith. A new religious community, in a country largely used to cultural and theological homogeneity, even during its worst times. And its one which has some very strong views about how government should be run and how lives should be led, most of which stand in opposition to Russian culture, practice and traditional faith. I am sympathetic to Russian Orthodox who do not relish the idea of helping not only turn their country away from their own faith, but closer to one of a teeming milieu of competing views of God and religion. America is that mix - we have been a mix, at least nationally, from the start. For good or ill, heterogeneity is the norm here. It's not in Russia, never has been. I do not feel outraged that they wish to avoid it.
That's a statement against new religions across the board in Russia. They seem content to protect Orthodoxy and their extant minorities. I further note that Russia doesn't just dislike new religions - they dislike Western influence, period. They have been cracking down on NGOs, foreign ties, and more - including secular. It is also not unheard of for religions to be used as a vector to spread secular values. Normally, this is something we religious people brag about, and we hope and pray that (say) China will change substantially as Christianity continues to take root there. It does no good to deny this reality where Russia is concerned, especially when it's documented that full-blown irreligious like Soros will happily dump money on churches precisely to 'give them a voice' and let them advance their religious cases - which always come with secular pushes as well.
The fact is, I think churches in the west are in a poor state. We should recognize that before cheering on their continued influence elsewhere. At the very least, in the case of Russia - which seems to be doing things we should hope to do, in terms of spreading faith and making itself a cultural cornerstone. I know that Baptists may scream that the Orthodox are quasi-papists whose practices may be leading them to hell, but frankly the Baptists seem to be contracting a case of self-effacing shame which may well prove to be fatal over time. I am more emboldened and encouraged by the spread of Russian orthodoxy than I am by the Baptists' desire to go over and get in on things. Or, for that matter, for the Catholics to do so. Imagine explaining the Pope to them right now.
The Russian Orthodox have gall; they regard Russia as, by and large, theirs. Theirs by historical right, by cultural right, and they believe laws and practice should reflect that. I'm Catholic, and while Russian orthodoxy has a unique relationship with Catholics, I find that concerning in a sense. I would like Catholicism to spread in Russia. On the other end of the spectrum we have Western religions, which - last I checked - can't even run a formally religious school without making ample allotment for LGBT clubs, clubs of every other faith, secular alliances and more. Because we're so open minded, and more importantly, so powerfully ashamed of being accused of promoting our values to the exclusion of others'.
Pardon me if I think the Russians are less in the wrong here, in a very real sense.
By the way: I don't even hold it against Lydia that she'd shut down discussion. Their blog, their rules. Rather like a microcosm of the Russian situation, in a way. I just likewise hold my right to reply on my own turf.