This is an overview of the Pussy Riot trial and imprisonment from the British Christian think-tank Ekklesia, which leans to the left theologically and politically. The article makes two points which haven’t been highlighted by most of the other media:
In the performance, the musicians walked into the cathedral, donned brightly-colored balaclavas and began to gesticulate and dance in front of the altar. Their actions were filmed as a video and set to music with the lyrics “O Birthgiver of God, Get Rid of Putin” and an expletive as a refrain.
The video went viral, shocking many Russians and infuriating the Kremlin and the Orthodox hierarchy, but also setting off a debate in the church about the role of forgiveness and mercy in Orthodoxy.
The Moscow Times has two very good opinion pieces about the verdict against Pussy Riot last Friday. This very good one from Garry Kasparov (former World Chess Champion) is in contrast to the blog post I linked to yesterday about the verdict. Kasparov says:
Despite whispers of leniency, I never doubted that a conviction and prison term would result. Not because they violated anything in the Criminal Code, which, as of this writing, is still freely available on the Internet. No, Pussy Riot’s actions were hateful toward religion only in breaking the First Commandment of today’s Russia, “Thou shalt not take Putin’s name in vain.”
Yulia Latynina uses the verdict against the band to draw a contrast between the civil religion and idolatry of Partriarch Kirill and Vladimir Putin (Homo Orthodoxus – “Human Orthodoxy”) and the Christianity of genuine Russian Orthodoxy:
The Pussy Riot case is a useful case study to understand the religious views of a large segment of Russia’s Orthodox Christian community, a group I will call “Homo Orthodoxus.”
First, this belief holds that God does not forgive. A typical example: During a recent demonstration against Pussy Riot, an Orthodox activist screamed “God does not forgive, and to claim otherwise is blasphemy,” while beating a female supporter of the punk group. This unforgiving nature is such an important characteristic of God for the Homo Orthodoxus believers that they hold it in a category apart from the direct commandments of Christ.
Despite evidence of the presence of an oppressive police state in Russia night now, it’s great to see the presence of an articulate civil society in that country too.
This post from Eastern Orthodox Blog Get Religion about the media coverage of P***y Riot’s protest flashmob song at Christ our Saviour Russian Orthodox Church, and the band’s subsequent conviction, shows the need to regularly question the perspective of our regular media outlets.
The author of this post claims that it was “unbalanced and inaccurate journalism for the mainstream American press, in story after story, to essentially ignore the details of what the protesters said and did and where they did it”.
Note: neither the author nor I am not supportive of the two-year sentence handed down by the Russian judiciary for this act – even the Russian Orthodox Church has questioned the severity of the punishment. But this may be the unintended consequence of well-intentioned laws designed to discourage religious hate speech against, Muslims, Jews, Orthodox Christians …