Category Archives: Religie

Ortodoxia şi identitatea românească.

Pe blogul meu maghiar am postat alaltăieri o invitaţie la prelegerea de azi din Cluj a binecunoscutului scpetic american Michael Shermer. În comentarii am atras atenţia şi asupra unui interviu dat de el portalului în care critică imixtitudinea religiei în educaţia, statul şi politicul din România. Cea ce s-a reţinut din acel interviu mi se părea o premieră binevenită în mass media românească de mainstream. Aşa explicit şi îndrăzneţ poate încă nu a fost nimeni. Era timpul.

Comentatorul nostru fidel depe Limba Cailor, Ovidiu, a binevoit să posteze la acel post un comentariu în limba engleză, fapt care sincer mi se pare un act de interes şi de respect lăudabil. El probabil neştiind maghiara, urmârind blogul meu maghiar probabil prin Google Translate, a comentat în engleză, ca să înţeleagă şi cititorii mei din Ungaria.

Am făcut această introducere pentru că aşi dori să re-postezi aici, cu îngăduinţa lui prezumată, comentariul lui Ovidiu şi răspunsul dat de mine ca să o discutăm împreună şi pe acest blog. Vă recomand ca intâi să vă uitaţi la interviul lui Shermer arătat mai sus şi după aia să reveniţi şi să citiţi cele două comentarii prezentate mai jos, pentru că ele derivă din acesta.

În final, dacă doriţi să vă exprimaţi opinia despre cele zise de noi, vă rog să o faceţi în comentariile acestui post, ori în româneşte, ori dacă vă place mai bine, în engleză.

Comentariul lui Ovidiu:

The sense of ethnic identity of the Romanians is not fully separated from older (pre 1848-revolution) source for identity : the religious one, they are interwoven.

It is made apparent, quite obvious, by the fact that the Romanian nationalist movements of the 1930s (Iron Guard, Legionary) had a powerful Christian-Orthodox dimension. A strange feature noticed by many as weired, it was unlike those of the German extreme nationalism (nazism) or Italian fascism which were openly anti-religious.

The cause (distal not proximal cause) of this (unusual amongst the EU nations) phenomenon are to be found in the great speed and amplitude with which the Romanian “national awakening” unfolded. Starting at the begining of 19th century, in less than 60 years the country switched 180 degrees from Slavic, Greek and Turkish orientation toward West. It was a forced, fast pace, and huge change. Not a small thing, to understand that is sufficient to look at the Russians who tried hard exactly the same during the 17th and 18th centuries and yet they failed big time, they are still not there even today.

But such an ambitious transformation did not succed completely and parts of the old identity could not be destroyed completely but rather they ended up entangled in the new identity ( the new one being the ethnic one, not the religious one).

In the Western Europe the decline, the fall of religion (of faith in God and immortality) as the main source of identity ( the Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, and Secularization) went hand in hand with the rise pf Nationalism so as to replace religion.

In some sense nationalism is a “substitute religion” with faith in your own nation and the singing of the national anathem replacing “God” and the “Our father”-prayer. Immortality too is achieved by the survivial into eternity of the nation to which you happen to belong and for which you are supposed to sacrifice even your own life.

Therefore, in the case of the most of the European nations the “death of God”( secularization) developed naturally and it was helped, balanced and accelerated by the birth of its substitute : nationalism.

In Romania the process was “pushed”, forced at high speed, by the intellectual elites of the 19th century and it had a more difficult task to achieve.
It was achieved in the end but at the price of much of the old (religion) material not being purged but rather embedded into the new (ethnic) identity.

So there we are, and we are stuck now with it. Amongst many other things, to be Romanian requires to also be religious to some extent. The Romanians is always be religious, or they won’t be at all.

Răspunsul meu:

Although what you say does sound like making sense in the details, in the great picture I do not agree with you.

There are a lot of nations in Europe where their particular religion was very strongly part of their identity, in some cases it was one of the most important thing separating them from the others, usually their occupiers, thus keeping their national identity alive and strong: Catholicism of the Irish (against the English), Catholicism of the Polish (against the orthodox Russians and protestant Germans), Protestantism of the Dutch (against the Spanish Habsburg occupiers), Protestantism of the Swiss (against the catholic French), orthodoxy of the Bulgarians (against the Muslim Turks), even the Jewish (against the Christian surroundings in Europe), and so on. There are many cases in the European history where the identity of a nation was actually “saved”, formed and shaped by their religion. Even so in most of the cases the secularization occurred already in the XIX. century and speeded up a lot in the second half of the last century. Theese nations could form their identity without problem by leaving behind most of what traditional religion is, out of their state affairs, their media, their public life’s. It was of course also a matter of historical and geographical context, but a matter of political will to.

I strongly believe that the Romanian national identity can and will be strong even without the religious proselytism and hypocrisy that currently shapes our country and politics (let’s ad that only after 1990, before that religion in Romania was officialy „the opium of the masses”).

Also a lot of Romanians are very much not aware, or should I say lied about, the real religious background of the process of the forming of their national identity. It is a fact that the national identity of the Romanians was first developed, created, catalogued and shaped by the greek-catholic Scoala Ardeleana of Blaj, in Transilvania. Therefore the Romanian identity was not even formed by the orthodox, as they like to claim nowdays. The Romanian orthodox church in the XVIII century was a Slavic speaking and writing, backwarded church with very little or no connection to the European nation building trends of those times. They only picked up the work of the Scoala Ardeleana much later, actually not even voluntary, but forced by the high speed latinization process, de 180 degree turnaround that you talk about.

If your theory would be right, nowdays all Romanians should be strongly greek catholic, not orthodox. Let me say, that that would have been much better for them in their process of caching up with the West, and (re)latinizing their identity, since the whole mentality of the nation would have been connected to the West, trough the church. We Hungarians benefited from this since the XI. century.

Even today the Romanian orthodox church is the biggest brake in the modernization of this nation, and it was so right from the beginnings of the XIX. century. It cultivates backward thinking, rejection of rational thinking and science, intolerance, homophobia, immixing in the private life’s and decisions of people, rejection of liberal values, rejection of modernization and globalization. I’ve wrote about this some time ago here and here.

But it could be easily scraped of most of it’s influence and power by the government, by the politics, if they really wanted to, or had the guts to do it (see for example the case of Spain in the recent years). But the current situation benefits both sides, the church offering the votes, the politicians offering the easy and big state money. It’s the greatest business, under the most untouchable cover. Probably quite uniqie in the EU at this scale.

Voi ce părere aveţi? Are şansă o identitate românească fără sau cu foarte puţină religie, cum este acum cazul celor mai multe identităţi din Europa (inclusiv cea maghiară de exemplu)?

Se anunţă Apocalipsa in Cluj!

În Cluj-Napoca, pe str. Pasteur, se poate admira afişul/reclama de mai jos.
Cuprinde un citat din cartea Apocalipsei. Cineva are bani de aruncat?

Oare cât ar rezista în acest oraş un afiş, gen: “Probabil că Dumnezeu nu există!”.


Lobby românesc pentru umanismul secularist

Prietenul nostru Remus Cernea face lobby la World Humanist Congress in Washington DC. Aceasta discuţie a lui cu renumitul autor Christopher Hitchens filmată pe 8 iunie este una care zice foarte multe despre stadiul secularismului, despre incredibila scoatere a teoriei evoluţiei din manualele de biologie, despre problema dominanţei BOR asupra politicului în România. Va invităm să o ascultaţi cu atenţie (daţi volumul la maxim înainte de pornire):

Cine este Christopher Hitchens? Ia sa vedem ce zice Wikipedia despre el:

“Christopher Eric Hitchens (born April 13, 1949) is a English-American author, journalist and literary critic. Currently living in Washington, D.C., he has been a columnist at Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, World Affairs, The Nation, Slate, Free Inquiry, and a variety of other media outlets. Hitchens is also a political observer, whose best-selling books — the latest being God Is Not Great — have made him a staple of talk shows and lecture circuits. Hitchens is said to be a polemicist and intellectual. (…)Hitchens is an atheist and antitheist, and he describes himself as a believer in the Enlightenment values of secularism, humanism, and reason.”

Hitchens dând un interviu lui Anderson Cooper la CNN despre noua sa carte: God Is Not Great:

Biserica ortodoxă şterge istoria

“De mai bine de 10 ani, Biserica Română Unită cu Roma, Greco-Catolică, se luptă pe diverse căi legale pentru a împiedica fărădelegea la care pare a fi condamnată vechea biserică greco-catolică din localitatea mureşeană Ungheni: demolarea.

Biserica de piatră din Ungheni, a fost construită între anii 1858 şi 1864 de către credincioşii greco-catolici din localitate. În 1948, odată cu desfiinţarea abuzivă a Bisericii Române Unită cu Roma, Greco-Catolice de către autorităţile comuniste, şi această biserică a fost preluată de Biserica Ortodoxă Română.

În 1997, Parohia Ortodoxă din Ungheni a început lucrările de construcţie a unei noi biserici, în jurul celei vechi greco-catolice, şi până în anul 2000 lucrările s-au efectuat fără obţinerea avizelor necesare şi a autorizaţiei de construcţie.

În ciuda nenumăratelor rapoarte, memorii şi sesizări transmise diverselor foruri interne şi internaţionale şi în ciuda numeroaselor apariţii în mass-media a acestui caz, lucrările de construcţie au continuat şi, în baza unei decizii a comunităţii ortodoxe din Ungheni, s-a optat pentru demolarea vechii biserici.”

Comunicatul indignat al BRU il puteţi citi mai departe aici.

Pe 8 mai 2008, a început demolarea acestui lăcaş de cult, fără nici o autorizaţie legală în acest sens. BOR îşi continua astfel expansiunea agresivă în Transilvania, finanţată din bugetul statului,  fără milă pentru istorie, pentru diversitate, pentru moştenirea culturală unică a Ardealului.

În locul istoriei, în locul unei cladiri care reflectă moştenirea adevarată a unei comunităţi româneşti din Transilvania se ridică un monstru de beton și cărămidă străin locului. Se şterge istoria adevărată cu forţa ciocanelor şi a buldozerelor, sub ochii închişi a autorităţilor locale şi centrale a statului român loiale BOR.

Prin astfel de decizii se câştigă alegeri. Şi tot prin astfel de decizii se şterge istoria adevărată a românilor din Transilvania.

Discriminare pe fond religios?!

Iată, că au trecut şi zilele de paşti. Acum atât romano-catolicii, reformaţii, sau unitarienii, cât şi ortodocşii sau greco-catolicii sunt după paşti. Creştinii activi au sărbătorit aceeaşi eveniment în zile separate, dar din păcate în Cluj sărbătorile de paşte nu au fost privite în mod egal de către autorităţile locale. Totul, în ciuda faptului, că în perioada 21-23 martie pe lângă locuitorii de etnie maghiară al oraşului, au sărbătorit şi multe persoane de etnie română, dar care nu sunt ortodocşi, ci romano-catolici. Deci cam în jur de 20% a oraşului.

Dar despre ce fel de discriminare este vorba?

Etnică? Religioasă? Sau şi-şi, fiind vorba despre “paştele maghiar” şi “paştele român”?

Cum sa manifestat această discriminare?

Într-un mod foarte simplu: în perioada 21-23 martie pe autobuze în afara informaţiilor obişnuite nu apărea textul: “Primăria şi CL vă urează Sărbători Fericite!”. În schimb în perioada 25-27 aprilie aceste mesaje au fost prezente pe autobuze. Iată dovezile, care au fost filmate sau fotografiate în aceeaşi zonă în ambele perioade.

1. O secvenţă filmată pe data de 22 martie:

2. Fotografii făcute tot pe 22 martie:

3. O secvenţă filmată pe data de 27 aprilie:

4. Şi fotografii făcute în aceeaşi zi:

Un weekend plăcut la toţi!

Cu cât mai puţină făţărnicie şi cu căt mai puţină îndoctrinare religioasă în mass-media vă doresc ;)

The Christian Republic of Romania

About a week ago, the Romanian Orthodox Church (BOR) reached a consensus allowing their cleric’s participation in local elections.  Is this a surprise? If we consider the relation between the state and the church in the last 3 years, we will not be surprised at all. It is becoming univocal, that some Churches in Romania, lead by the “National” Romanian Orthodox Church aspire to gain more and more political power. We silently march toward theocracy. We are still far, but already on the road.

Let us look the phenomenons which dissolve the boundaries between the Church and the State in today’s Romania:

The pressure of the Church on the Education

• Proposing the introduction of religion as an obligated subject from the 1st elementary class to the end of High school. This proposal is actually more fought for by the “liberal” Ministry of Education than the churches (isn’t that surprising?).

• Canceling the teaching of evolution from the biological studies beginning form the 2007/2008 academic year. Ministerial authorization of “biology” textbooks with elements of creationism

• Canceling the chapter “God” from the Philosophy textbooks beginning form the 2007/2008 academic year. By this act, students will be revoked from the possibility to learn opposing ideas about God and religion.

• Establishing more and more usually partly state-subsidized religious schools, high-schools, gymnasiums, kindergartens.

The smarmy press

• The Romanian media is obsessed with using the “fellow Christian” expression. This attribute is used with predilection by the press in different environments, where it should not have any relevancy, for example in the news, reports, shows (For example lately it was mentioned in the case of Costel, Spain’s „Romanian Pavarotti”)

• The obsession of the Romanian press by emphasizing the “faith keeping” of those Romanians, who leave abroad. There almost no report about Romanians emigrated to Spain or Italy, where it would not appear that the Romanians living in these countries are loyal to their religion, they regularly go to the newly established local Romanian church, the message being that “you are a good Romanian if you are keeping strongly to your religion”.

• The obsession of the Romanian press in the presentations of religious feast, habits and rituals. It could be the feast of a well or little known Saint or simply the starting the fast; all the News Channels focus on it for days

• The constant featuring of religious personalities and religious themes in the emissions of the Realitatea TV and other popular Channels. In the talk-shows all the time the ones representing the Church get most of the speaking time, they get the chance to do the closing words, and they are treated with more respect during the show.

• The Romanian Press mostly lacks the criticism of the Church, presenting only positive approaches toward religion, or the Church (does this seem familiar? Press in comunism times?). A few exceptions we can count: Hotnews and sometimes the Cotidianul and Catavencu try to be more critical.

• The criticism of the Church is considered taboo even in the Transylvanian Hungarian media. The Church is considered as an institution that sustains national identity, as such, it is untouchable. 18 years after the regime change most of the Transylvanian-Hungarian journalists think that we have stuck in the communism, where only the Church offered the possibility to preserve national identity. But 18 years did pass. Nowadays the Transylvanian Hungarian Churches are considered as only one of players in the minority’s public life, and a lot of times instead of helping the development of the community they are actually more a break to it.

• The Romanian and the Transylvanian-Hungarian media usually withholds all information regarding the changes happening in the West in the matter of religion, in the matter of secularism. We can’t hear about Europe’s growing secularization, we don’t hear about atheist movements, we don’t know about public debates and discussions that take place in the west, we don’t know about Richard Dawkins or about the penetration of  humanist  familial ceremonies. The Romanian citizen is mislead by the idea that Europe is still the great medieval citadel of Christianity, the Church being the leading protagonist in the societies accros the continent..  The truth is, as we all know, is something totaly different. Most of Europe is very secular. The media plays as the Church whistles and united they keep us away from the secular mentality, from atheistic ideas and ideological openness of the west.

By-product: the penetration of the quackery

• By its silence, and lack of rational approach the press consolidated a fruitful ground for all the nonsense and irrational craps, such as the horoscope, astrology, bio-energy, divining, talking to the dead.

• With the support of the „liberal” government some fields of quackery, under the name of “alternative therapies”, have been placed on the list of the medical interventions sponsored by the state controlled National Health Insurance (CAS). We speak about therapies that have no or to littel scientific references, and it is known about most of them that beside the placebo they have no effect on the health condition:  homeopathy, reflexology, feng shui, ayurveda, crystal therapy and so on.  The 118/2007-law states that these therapies are subsidized by the state budget because they have as their basis the theories, faith and experiences of different national cultures. In Romania this is called reform of the healthcare system.

The Alfa and Omega of all things: The union of the State and the Church

• On the inauguration of Daniel patriarch President Traian Băsescu named the BOR as „national church” of Romania. The Romanian law forbids the notion of “national church”, stating that in Romania all the recognized churches have equal status (September 2007).

• Ioan Oltean Vice-president of PD-L submitted a bill to the Romanian Parliament, stating that his party would assent the presence of the BOR’s delegates in the Parliament. Oltean confessed that former he had a talk with Patriarch Daniel on this topic. (February 2008).

• Mircea Geoană, President of the Social-Democrat Party (PSD) objected the opening of the orthodox priests’ secret service dossiers (August 2007). This suggestion had been done one year before by PRM President, Vadim Tudor.

• Traian Băsescu is Romania’s first President, who kissed the Romanian Patriarch’s hand. Nowdays only in Iran can you see “hand-kissing” the highest prelate by the president.

• Prime Minister C. P. Tăriceanu called for a national bereavement period after the death of Patriarch Teoctist, which act is against the rules of the separation of Church and State.

• The President, the Prime Minister, the Members of the Parliament, and the ministers of the Government never miss a chance to appear on a common picture with the leaders of the BOR during a religious feast. Performing political speeches on religious festivities became a routine.

• The government gave 30 million RON from the state budget and donated a highly expensive, publicly owned land to the BOR to build the “Nation’s Salvation Cathedral”. It worth mentioning that this cathedral will probably be built right next to the Parliament, thus practically symbolizing the union of the two powers.

• During the preceding years the sum from the state budget appropriated for the Churches is constantly increasing. I refer here to the sum allocated for building churches and rising salaries of the prelates (since February 2008 the bishop of any state recognized Church gets a salary of 7.366 RON from the state budget).

• As a result of the 2007 EP Elections a practicing bishop got into the European Parliament, representing Romania (namely: László Tőkés). The bishop’s political campaign was fully supported by two protestant Churches (Reformat and Unitarian). The campaign used the infrastructure of the Churches and the camaign speeches had been spread to the public from the pulpit of the temples.

• As mentioned in the introduction the BOR reached a consensus that it will allow (maybe even demand in some places?) its priests to run on the local elections as independent candidates. This unexampled resolution was received by the public as a natural step, but I ask: in which other EU country is it allowed to the local priests to run on the elections? To whom will he swear allegiance if getting elected? To the Constitution or the Bible? To the local mayor, or to the local bishop? Who will finance the campaign? Where will he campaign, in the Church? 

• Bartolomeu Anania, Cluj County’s orthodox bishop declared that if the priest doesn’t want to run on the local elections, hi is allowed to give his full support to a layman candidate closely connected to the Church and its activities. Clearly speaking: the BOR’s most influential bishop stated that the Church has the right to be involved in political campaigns. If we open our eyes and minds we can see that this legal and public declaration of the Church is a very scary step, but seemingly, this affirmation does not bother anyone. 

How far is from us the system of Iran? Porbably closer than we would imagine. In the groove after the victory of the 1979’s Revolution in Iran, no one thought that all will turn into theocracy. And what happened? The clerics became the State and the State became the clerics’ – there is a sometimes public, sometimes oblique dictatorship running under the wings of the Church. The wheel of the history turned back centuries and broke the modernisation of the Iranian nation. 

The Romanian nation is mostly superstitious and bigot (beside Turks, Greeks and Poles it is one of the last nation as such in Europe). The Romanians are uninformed, they are the victim of an organized news black-out. The nation does not know its Churches, that is why it highly trusts them. About the Church and its behind the door politics and hi volume bussineses we can hardly ever read or hear anything, while the names and the actions of the everyday politicians are daily washed as dirty linen in public. Under the pressure of the transit period’s perplexity and disappointed in politics (which is partly legitimate partly induced by the media) the nation is disposed to give political power to the Church. Most people probably think that in it lays the last guarantee of an illusion of the old times, which should be finally deleted from the minds. Let’s take care what and how much do we allow to our Churches in politics!

But we should be even more careful with our politicians! Sometimes in low-key parliamentary commission votings very important and very problematic issues int the matter of the separation of Church and State could get official seal, without anyone noticing it.

Also in Iran everything started with keeping and protecting “the morality of the nation”, and it ended up with the Islamic Republic of Iran. I do not think we need a half theocratic Christian Republic of Romania in the 21st century secular Europe.


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