Ten years have passed at the St. Irinaeus of Lyon Information-Consultation Center in Moscow and two things have just happened. The center has just re-registered under the name of St. Irinaeus of Lyon Religious Studies Center. Please, note this change. Also, on the occasion of this anniversary, His Holiness Alexey, the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, has awarded center director Alexandr Dvorkin the Order of St. Sergeus of Radonezh. It is believed that this award goes not only to Mr. Dvorkin, but to the entire cause. Congratulations on a job well done.
Anniversary for Alexandr Dvorkin
September 8, 2003
On September 5, 2003, Alexandr Dvorkin marked the ten-year anniversary of his anti-cult information center which carries the name of the holy bishop Irinaeus of Lyon. For the sake of fairness it needs to be said that Alexandr Dvorkin in the ratings of Russian "religious journalists" of the last decade had to share first place with Sergei Bychkov. The matter revolves around degrees of influence on the social conscience on the whole. In the "Moscow Komsomolets" Bychkov sorted out a large-scale PR campaign against the ROC. [...] Dvorkin, succeeded to a possibly far greater extent - beginning in the mid-90s, in hundreds of publications and interviews, personal appearances in many cities of the country, he so easily and professionally - also often pointedly - was able to point out the horrors of "totalitarian sects," that a unified front towards sects resulted at all levels of the government and in broad public opinion. In PR measures, Dvorkin's work is really comparable only to that of [Gleb] Pavlovsky, for example. It was that gift of "riding the wave" that permitted the broadcast of concepts to all stages of the social hierarchy. With colossal results. Many foreign Protestant organizations, including those of the altogether respectable variety, curtail their hyperactivity in Russia, as they prefer not get the reputation of a "totalitarian sect" by squabbling with Russia and having to direct their missionary activity into Latin America and southeast Asia.
Alexandr Dvorkin is one of a kind in the history of religious journalism in Russia. With a fantastic capacity for work (besides the publications about sects, he also published a thick textbook on the history of the Ancient Church this year) and having little in common with timid people - after all in the mid 90s he truly defied particularly zealous cultists, Dvorkin is a natural born PR man, who coordinates the mass media in a most gifted manner to obtain maximum results with minimum resources.
Cultologist resolves to defend Russia from destructive cults
December 11, 2002
In Yekaterinburg work is near completion for the International Scientific-Practical Conference on "Totalitarian Cults - the threat of religious extremism," having been adopted under the aegis of the plenipotentiary of the RF president in the Ural federal Okrug, Petr Patyshev.
Members of the conference, in which over 300 politicians, religionists and representatives of the clergy are participating, consider it, as ITAR-TASS reports, "extremely necessary to defend Russians from totalitarian sects and destructive cults." They are pressing for a preamble of a legislative decision for "traditional religion," along with an insertion of a supplement into the law "About opposition to extremist activities."
It was proposed at the conference to develop scientific expertise on religious organizations during their registration by justice organs. In the expert committee, which is supposed to perform this function, it recommended that specialists be drawn from the Justice Ministry, the Education Ministry, MVD, Health Ministry, FSB, procurator, and also representatives of the clergy who belong to traditional denominations.
In the words of the renowned Russian cultologist Alexander Dvorkin, more than 300 destructive totalitarian cults operate in Russia, and they have more than 130 Russian-language pages on the Internet that describe human sacrifice in detail.
5 September 2003. The Information-Consultation Center has been operating in the name of St. Irinaeus of Lyon for ten years (Prof. A.L. Dvorkin, center director).
9 a.m. begin Divine Liturgy in the church of the Life-giving Trinity in Khokhlov (metro instructions given).
3 p.m. begin First Irineyevski lectures. Topics to be discussed are "Homeopathic Medicine - for and against" and "Theory and practice of priest Anatoli Garmayev." The lectures will be held in the conference hall of the Moscow Patriarchal Publishing Council building (Metro directions given).
The public is invited.
Participants of the 1st Irineyevski lectures criticized Fr. Anatoli Garmayev and proposed a discussion about homeopathy
September 9, 2003
As "Blagovest-Info" reported, the first part of the 1st Irineyevski lectures, which was held 5 September at the publishing house of the Moscow Patriarchy, was devoted to discussion of the doctrines and practices of Orthodox clergyman Anatoli Garmayev.
The director of the St. Irinaeus of Lyon Center, Professor Alexandr Dvorkin, who came forward as the lead initiator in conducting the lectures, believed that the necessity to give a studied appraisal of Fr. Anatoli was long overdue. The priest published a series of books on "moral psychology," based in the Volgograd and Kamyshinsk Diocesan Sergievsky ecclesiastical school, in which "at first was taught conventional theological subjects, which with time were all the more replaced by the studies of Fr. Anatoli's psychological system." Alexandr Dvorkin also noted that "alarming testimony from people" who had been in Fr. Anatoli's community, did not then permit experts to put off these phenomena of the subject which indicate the existence of a totalitarian sect. All the participants of the discussion - Archpriests Alexi Uminsky and Dimitri Smirnov, and Deacon Michael Pershin - emphasized repeatedly that what was being discussed and evaluated was not Fr. Anatoli's personality, nor even his immediate or psychological activity, but just his theory, which had already received a broad enough circulation in the Orthodox environment. "Profound misgivings" about the grounds supporting this theory were voiced by a key speaker, member of the Russian Orthodox Church's Department for Working with Youth Deacon Michael Pershin, who analyzed the most well known of Fr. Anatoli's books, "Psychological Circle in the Family." The language itself of this book raised a red flag for Fr. Michael, because the author introduced a special system of terms and concepts, "a blend of psychoanalytical and ascetic principles." In Fr. Anatoli's anthropology the speaker saw "shades of Manicheism": people were appraised as a "product of family life and who were determined by family psychopathy." Fr. Michael provided a number of passages from the book which, in his opinion, indicated a proximity of Fr. Anatoli's theory with sect theory. The "creation of an enemy figure," which presented the mother as a "power vampire" (this thesis reminded Fr. Michael of the theory of the "Bogorodichny Center" Johann Bereslavsky); the doctrine about "imprinting" - verbal programming of children's souls; the attitude towards "all-pervasive power radiation," particularly of the sexual nature which purportedly emanates from people and has an especially pernicious influence on children's souls in large cities. With this Fr. Anatoli substantiated the necessity "to flee the cities," where "salvation was impossible."
As incompatible with Christianity Fr. Michael also considers "transparent [?] chains" - mass behavioral instructions for Fr. Anatoli's followers, particularly the "nonsensical rituals around the precept of 'breeding and reproducing,'" and also ordinary conditions dangerous for life and health such as condemning Caesarian cross-sections. Fr. Michael arrived at the conclusion that theories like this presented "pseudotheology," they "discredited" the Orthodox Church and could debilitate people.
Archpriest Alexi Uminsky, who used to be a school teacher, emphasized "the unmistakable, personal, scholarly talents" of Fr. Anatolia Garmayev. But with his books "he leads not to Christ, but only to himself," believes Fr. Alexi. In his words, Fr. Anatoli's thinking was "occultic," and his theory presented itself as "secret esoteric doctrine." Having spoken, he noted that although he called his doctrine "Christian pedagogy," nowhere did the Orthodox clergyman cite the Gospel, and he only used his scholarly talent and religious rank for "controlling people."
The chairman of the synodal department for interaction with the armed forces and legal protective organs, archpriest Dimitri Smirnov, talked about his long-term acquaintance with Fr. Anatoli, whom he knew long before present situation as a "charming person with an impressive personality." In Fr. Dimitri's opinion, at the foundation of Fr. Anatoli's doctrine lies "his own experience, designed as indefeasible law." Fr. Dimitri likened Fr. Anatoli's "home-bred" theory to a "new chronology of the history" of scholar A. Fomenko, but the practice of his communal life was said to resemble the phenomenon in the community of Fr. Georg Kochetkov. In Fr. Dimitri's opinion, the books under discussion could serve as a special test: to mentally healthy people they were incomprehensible, they were obvious doctrines of "blurred hopelessness." The adepts came from people "of any confession" in whose environment existed "a worsening malignant psychological process." Therefore Fr. Dimitri regarded Fr. Anatoli's activites as "absolutely injurious," which he said more than once, also during which the creator of "moral psychology" "was not receptive to criticism at his address." On the question of approval from the ruling archpriest, Mitropolit of Volgogard and Kamyshinsk German (Timofeyev), being extended to Sergievsky school and all Fr. Anatoli's publications, Fr. Dimitri answered that Vladyka German, to all appearances, had not read these books. Those who appeared also promised that Sergievsky school, if it turned out to be "not spiritual, but cult-reasoned, would be permanently "closed down." Fr. Anatoli Garmayev was not present at the lectures himself, but the arrangers underscored in conclusion that they did not consider the discussion unethical in his absence, because the discussion was not about the clergyman's personality, but about "events in the life of the church to which the Church needed to react." As far as Fr. Anatoli himself, the organizers of the discussion behaved "without irritation and with love", and did not consider him "a conscientious adept of dark forces operating with a single purpose."
Discussion of the issue related to the spiritual character of the basic principles of homeopathic medicine took place in the second part of the 1st Irineyevsky lectures. The need of such discussion, said studies participant archpriest Aleksey Yminsky, who for many years has closely cooperated with the Center of St. Irineaus of Lyon, was linked with a great number of questions from laymen as well as clergymen who entered the Center and from whom parishioners had sought approval for homeopathic courses of treatment. The main question of discussion -- was homeopathy part of supernatural, spiritual influence and, in case of an affirmative answer, what was its character? Taking part in the studies was a well-known Moscow pastor, chairman of the synodal department for interaction with the armed forces and legal protective organs, archpriest Dimitri Smirnov, who noted that these questions had already been discussed twice in the church-public council for bio-medical ethics, but a simple conclusion was not to be reached, the "search for truth had not succeeded." Fr. Dimitri admitted that now and then he had used homeopathic means himself and did not see a large risk as such in this course of medicine. At the same time, the Helladic Orthodox Church, Fr. Dmitiri reminded those assembled, had already resolved this question. It categorically denied the option of using homeopathy by Orthodox believers. Those present were split for and against homeopathy, and they took turns speaking. In the latter's side appeared "long standing opponent of homeopathy", MS in physical-mathematical science, MIFI speaker Vladimir Reshetov. He was convinced that the basic principles of homeopathy ("like curing like," use of medicinal ingredients in infinitesimally small doses, special methods of preparation of ingredients by means of repeated shaking and mixing) contain an irrational character and that they assume some metaphysical impact. "Formally one can consider homeopathic preparations as idol sacrifices because its origin lies in worshipping the spirit of medicine," maintained V. Reshetov. The MIFI speaker regarded homeopathy as indisputably harmful because it "sowed mystical view in the world and erodes consciousness."
This point of view was supported in the speech prepared by the clergyman from Novosibirsk diocese, Archpriest Alexandr Novopashin. According to his information, a scientific effect of the application of homeopathic preparations was unproven, the needed research had not be conducted, and in a number of European countries (Belgium, Italy, Spain), homeopathy as a method was prohibited. Referring to a number of publications, Fr. Alexandr insisted that homeopathy was related to astrology, occultism agni[?]-Yoga, cosmic energy influence, etc., compromised in the name of E. Blavatsky and other mystics. In his presentation, Fr. Alexandr liberally used material from the All-Russian Congress on Homeopathy, which took place last year in Novosibirsk.
Specialists - practicing homeopathic doctors - spoke up in defense of homeopathy, many of whom also represented the "practicing" Orthodox. So, Alexey Vysochansky, doctor and translator of the works of the German doctor who founded homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), considered that such tones of criticism were associated with opponents who had inadequate information. According to his information, research on the effectiveness of homeopathy had been impressive enough; homeopathy was even regarded to be in the same department as the scientific method, school and allopathic medicine, and drawing the "homeopathy - official medicine" line of opposition was tactless. In A. Vysochansky's opinion, homeopathy did not have anything in common with occultism or mysticism, and by the reports of individual followers of the trend of those "insinuating themselves into homeopathy", it was impossible to judge the methods on the whole. Homeopathy was considered strictly as scientific method by homeopath and doctor of veterinary medicine Alexandr Lipin, who also cited persuasive research of the All-Russian Organization of Health-services (VOZ). To the tests of his work Lipin refuted the assertions that homeopathic preparations acted on the placebo (by suggestion) principle. He had invented a homeopathic method with the aid of which 80,000 cows were cured of sterility.
Homeopath-doctor Vladimr Chernov read a letter by archmandrite Rafail (Karelin) in defense of homeopathy, which recalled that some Russian saints - Feofan Zatvornik, Ignatii Bryanchaninov, Johann Kronshtadtski - not only used homeopathic preparations themselves, but also advised their use by others. The letter emphasized that "homeopathy does not claim to be a substitute for the mysteries of the Church." The discussion acquired a sharper tone after the appearance of Dr. Alexsi Kyzmin, who called Jesus Christ the "first homeopath," basing this on the mystery of the Eucharist allegedly serving as the realization of the principle of "like curing like."
"Reconciliation" characterized the address by the chairman of the Society of Orthodox Doctors, cardiologist Alexandr Nedostup, who sought to enumerate all the "pros" and "contras." According to what A. Nedostup said, the two-hundred year experiment had positive applications, an absence of negative results and the so-called "medicinal disorder" during the use of homeopathic preparations, particular attention to the sick, acceptance by homeopath-doctors on the one side, and on the other it had insufficient study of how homeopathic methods worked, they did not allow the drawing of unequivocal conclusions nor the consideration of homeopathy as "synonymous to evil."
In concluding the conference, archpriest Alexi Uminsky noted that the issue about homeopathy was not concerned with religious teaching, but it was generating confusion in the Orthodox environment. He noted that if homeopathy was a scientific method and did not maintain spiritual elements, then the notion of an "Orthodox homeopath", which had been widely spread in recent times, was meaningless. Fr. Alexi underscored that forming a consistent conclusion about homeopathy was impossible at the present time, and he suggested closing the discussion for the Irineyev studies, and beginning a multilateral discussion with the appropriate experts.
Sedmitsa.ru / "Blagovest-Info"