MOSCOW (Realist English). Archpriest of the Russian Orthodox Church Andrey Tkachev answered these and other questions in an interview with the Realist News Agency.
Father Andrey, what, from the point of view of Scripture, is the meaning of war?
Andrey Tkachev: From the point of view of Scripture, the meaning is that war is the accumulated energy of sin and problems unsolved in peacetime. Peacetime gives birth to war. And if people have not solved a lot of important things in peacetime, they concentrate the energy of evil, which is shed by someone else’s blood.
For example, the injustice of judges. An unjust judgment according to the Scriptures overthrows the Kingdom. Oppression of the poor — overthrows the Kingdom. And the satanic ideology that takes possession of some states, and mass superiority. According to the Scriptures, we see that there are wars in heaven. Michael and his army are at war with the devil, angels are at war in heaven.
There are wars on earth because we are flesh and blood. Cain and Abel fought when there was no dispute between them yet. They did not argue for a woman, oil, gas, the state border, currency, gold. They had nothing to dispute. But they ran into a contradiction because one said he was better than the other. Cain wanted to restore earthly justice. The first war, the first bloodshed, is fratricide. Scripture tells us that wars always have spiritual problems. That is, when we live in a populated world, our sins accumulate, peel off and flare up. The less the struggle with sin, the greater the likelihood of future war.
How can the Ukrainians and the Russians get out of the spiritual crisis that both peoples are experiencing today?
Andrey Tkachev: I think this way: the Russians need to wake up. The Russians of today are not Russian. A Russian person is someone who prays, works, builds his family, fights if necessary and prepares for the Kingdom of Heaven.
A Russian, ideally, is the New Israel. He is pious, hardworking, sturdy, strong, intelligent, and, if you wish, a martyr. And the Ukrainians are the same Russians who need to be disenchanted. These are the enchanted Russians.
The devil has bewitched them. When the veil falls from their eyes, they will see clearly and understand what kind of filth they have climbed into and what they are doing. And then they will raise a cry to heaven about what they have done. But it will be later. And now they are under a spell, and the devil has arranged for us a civil war between Russians and Russians. Between the enchanted and the un-enchanted. And we have to solve a lot of unresolved spiritual problems inside in order for us to become real Russians inside. Then we will defeat any enemy. Only then.
Armenians and the Eastern Slavs at the very beginning of their relations had an unspoken agreement concluded between Prince Vladimir and the Byzantine Princess Anna, who was of Armenian origin. The essence of the contract was that Anna married Vladimir with the condition that Russia was baptized. However, today, it seems to us, our peoples have departed from this treaty. What needs to be done for this?
Andrey Tkachev: The past centuries have washed away a lot of things that seem unshakable to us. History washes away a lot. What history could not wash away is what is sacred. And what it washed away is worth forgetting. Or it will be known to historians. It is not necessary to rely on this. It’s washed away.
We, every nation, have holy tales, our dreams, legends, but God washes away our dreams, because it’s one thing what we think about ourselves, and another thing what God thinks. We need to build life on God’s will, not on our fantasies. If the world is built on the fantasies of every nation, then we will plunge into a bloody world war.
What is the meaning of empire? Empires embrace different peoples and force them to live within themselves without fighting. If every nation starts pushing for its mythology and sees all its neighbors as its enemies, then we will simply drown in blood. It’s bad.
The question is, what does God want? He wants us to come to Him. It does not matter in which state and system. A person who does not come to God goes to hell. We need to understand that if we let the situation go to nationalism, as [Boris] Yeltsin did — he blessed the flowering of all nationalisms, then every village can find its God, every district its religion. And then we will cut each other mercilessly until the end of time. This is the worst way.
We need to look for meaning in higher meanings. Everyone is needed, everyone is important, but there is a Higher meaning. Your personal idea is not absolute, you need to find your place and calm down. Empires do these things. They take the masses of peoples for themselves, cover them like a cloth in their carpet and make a common whole.
The Russian Empire was one of the important empires that did this work, and it is still doing it. But naked nationalism is a dead—end path, it is a path to blood. It teases the soul to hate someone else. And a stranger is who you are. Today’s nationalism is a terrible thing, invented in big offices.
In one of your speeches, you spoke about the amazing properties of the Armenian alphabet, in which the characteristics of metals discovered later by Mendeleev were encoded. Why do you think the Lord gave Armenians this knowledge through Mashtots?
Andrey Tkachev: I would rephrase the question. Why did such a great Mashtots give Armenians his alphabet, and why are Armenians not as pious as Mashtots today? Mashtots was great, but why do today’s Armenians pray little? Do they go to the temple rarely? And in general, they are confirmed by all the plagues of the modern anti-Christian Babylonian project.
Armenians, of course, are very good people, and Mesrop Mashtots, and Gregory the Great, and Saints Nino, Gayane and Hripsime — they are all great and good, but let’s understand that this is not your glory, this is your judgment! The judgment of any nation is the best people of this people. That is, Moses will judge the Jews, Mesrop Mashtots or Gregory the Great will judge the Armenians.
Let’s stand up to the judgment of great people and say that we have lost everything we had. Let’s change, let’s repent. It will be a reason for pride. If Gregory the Great stands in front of all of us, all Armenians will be ashamed. He led you to faith, and who are you? You like to be proud of them, everyone does it, both Russians, and Serbs, and Greeks. The question is that the saints will judge us. We will be ashamed in the face of the saints. That’s the thing!
What, in your opinion, is the spiritual purpose of Armenia and the Armenian Highlands?
Andrey Tkachev: The ancient biblical peoples, who have preserved their identity, must say their word in times of globalization, that they have their own language, their own culture, their own values and delicious nuances of life, which are now being washed away. It is necessary that Armenian girls and boys do not wander around European bars and discos, so that they remain Armenian girls and boys, otherwise they will simply lose themselves.
Every ancient nation must preserve its identity, and they must carry their bouquet of identity into this world. Otherwise, the evil one wants everyone to be the same — sinful, dirty, stupid. And each nation has its own specificity.
Armenians need to be Armenians, they need to love Gregory the Illuminator, Saints Nino, Gayane and Hripsime and all others, and Jesus Christ Himself. You need to be Armenians, because many Armenians just speak Armenian.
I always say that there are Russians, and there are Russian-speakers. Armenians who love God are Armenians. There are those who carry meanings in themselves, and there are those who live meaninglessly.
I wish the Armenians to be Armenians, Christians. They were the first to take on the Christian burden. I was in Etchmiadzin, I didn’t notice piety, inspiration, spirituality. I realized with sorrow that there is a certain decline. The Armenians need to wake up to the prayer, just like all Christians, just like everyone else. Our peoples have value only by how much they are with the Lord. This applies to the Greeks, the Armenians, and everyone else. We need the Lord, not everything else.