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An Archbishop of Destiny

When we first met in April 2011, what initially impressed me about Sviatoslav Shevchuk was his almost preternatural calm: which was striking, in that, less than a month before and still a few weeks shy of his 41st birthday, Shevchuk had been elected Major-Archbishop of Kyiv-Halych and head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church—the largest of the Eastern Catholic Churches, Byzantine in liturgy and governance while in full communion with the Bishop of Rome. Continue Reading »

Putin: Ideological, not Irrational

Last Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”—the breakfast salon of the bien pensant—Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Rick Stengel took on Vladimir Putin. Stengel attempted to explain how Putin’s conduct in Ukraine damages Putin’s own interests. Putin, Stengel told his interlocutor Steven Rattner with an air of frustration, “is making fundamental errors” that would get him in trouble with the Russian people. “He’s moving further away from the West,” Stengel said, at a time when “people want to be closer to the West.” Rattner agreed that Putin is being “irrational.” Isn’t it obvious? Continue Reading »

The President and the Patriarch

Vladimir Putin, who after a sham “referendum” completed his aggressive seizure of Crimea, denies he has plans to invade Eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, he is increasing the number of troops on the Russian-Ukrainian border and sending provocateurs and criminals to incite ethnic tensions in . . . . Continue Reading »

The Language of Addiction Takes Over

There was a period, shortly before the Bolshevik Revolution, when the history of the Russian temperance movement became thoroughly intertwined with the history of Russian social reform in general. “The history of the Russian temperance movement” may sound like a world’s-shortest-book joke, . . . . Continue Reading »

The Last Station

 Over the weekend, courtesy of my friends at Netflicks, the wife and I watched what may be the most under appreciated film in quite some time, The Last Station. Beautifully filmed while adhering closely to period costume, architecture, and environment (1910 Russia) the drama examines both . . . . Continue Reading »

Tolstoy and Dostoevsky
(and Christ)

I have had this experience three times now, on three different occasions, in admittedly similar circumstances, but not similar enough to explain the coincidence: I am speaking from a podium to a fairly large audience on the topics of—to put it broadly—evil, suffering, and God; I have been talking for several minutes about Ivan Karamazov, and about things I have written on Dostoevsky, to what seems general approbation; then, for some reason or other, I happen to remark that, considered purely as an artist, Dostoevsky is immeasurably inferior to Tolstoy; at this, a single pained gasp of incredulity breaks out … Continue Reading »

The New Russian Revolution

Anyone eager for an inside and in-depth exploration of the New Russian Revolution of August 1991 can thank a watchful Providence that James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress and America’s foremost historian of Russian culture, just happened to be in Moscow on library business when . . . . Continue Reading »

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