Orthodox Culture as the Cross in “Cross-Cultural”

by Steven Hayes

There are differences between Russian culture and Western culture, and differences within Russian and Western culture. There seems to be a huge gap in understanding these differences. But these differing views also have something in common: they share in the failure to understand cultural differences, and they share in the readiness to condemn those whose culture they do not understand.

But what about Orthodoxy? Is there an Orthodox culture, and does it have anything to say about this?

Yes, I believe there is an Orthodox culture, and it is well expressed in one of the hymns we sing repeatedly in the Paschal season:

Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered
Let those who hate him flee from before his face.

Does that apply to Pussy Riot?

Yes, I believe it does.

But you have to come to the end of the hymn to see how it applies:

This is the day of resurrection.
Let us be illumined by the feast.
Let us embrace each other.
Let us call “Brothers” even those that hate us, and forgive all by the resurrection, and so let us cry:
Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling down death by death
And upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

So what do we call the members of Pussy Riot?


And what do we do with them?

Embrace them, forgive them by the resurrection and tell them that God loves them and we love them too.

That’s Orthodox culture.  IC

Borrowed from Khanya, the blog of Deacon Steven Hayes. Khanya means “shine” in Zulu. Deacon Hayes blogs prolifically on Orthodox subjects and matters of interest. His collective posts on the Pussy Riot affair present a thoughtful examination of the various important aspects and dimensions of the entire episode. Visit his blog at:

❖  Summer Issue / IC 65 / 2012