31 October 2009

Novel-Writing month

National Novel-Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is upon us again.

Three years ago I challenged people in Inklings forums to take part and try to write a novel of the same genre as Charles Williams.

That's because I like Charles Williams's novels, and though he's dead and so can't write any more, I've hoped that others would write novels in the same genre, and Inklings fans would be among the people most likely to do that.

For a while I hoped that Phil Rickman would develop into the kind of writer like Charles Williams, but the trend of his writing is now more towards conventional whodunits with a little ecclesiastical intrigue thrown in -- Ruth Rendell meets Susan Howatch. My take on his latest book is at Recent reading: To dream of the dead: Khanya

I was thinking of reissuing the challenge this year, and taking part in NaNoWriMo myself, even though inspiration has been mostly absent, and I'm still trying to revise the one I wrote three years ago in answer to my own challenge.

But I won't be able to do that this year, as something else has come up. A couple of years ago I was struck by the way in which the charismatic renewal movement had been written out of South African church history, to the extent that much of what was published was a distortion of history. I began to collect material with the idea of documenting some of the vanished and vanishing history, before everyone who remembered it was dead. Someone pointed out that a church historian had actually written something 25 years ago, but was told by colleagues that he would ruin his academic reputation if he published it. I managed to locate him, and he kindly sent me his unpublished MS, which I read, and found as gripping as a page-turner novel. But it also killed my project, because he had written the book I wanted to write. I'd simply be trying to reinvent the wheel.

But then he suggested to me that I edit it and rewrite it, to bring it up to date and add my material, and that we try to find someone who will publish it under both our names. So that will keep me out of NaNoWriMo this year.

But I still wish that someone will be moved to write something in the Charles Williams genre (which includes C.S. Lewis's That hideous strength).

If you have even the slightest urge in that direction, sign up with NaNoWriMo now and get writing!

26 October 2009

The devil in popular culture

John Morehead has an interesting article on Satan in popular American culture on this blog at Morehead's Musings: Satan and America:
W. Scott Poole, an associate professor of history at the College of Charleston. He has written a book titled Satan in America: The Devil We Know (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009), and the following essay is adapted from that book. It originally appeared in The Post and Courier.

Quite a lot of the things mentioned in the article have also affected popular South Africa culture, so the article makes interesting reading. The films mentioned in the article, such as Rosemary's baby and The exorcist were also shown in South Africa, and so influenced the perception of the devil in popular culture in South Africa as well.

Back in the 1980s there was an "occult" unit of the South African Police, which dealt with "satanists", very much as perceived in American popular culture, and there were indeed some self-described satanists whose own self-understanding appeared to be shaped by the prevalent images in popular culture.

But the most striking example of the American cultural influence on South African popular culture in my experience was back in 1977, when we were in the Anglican Church in Utrecht, a small mining town in Northern Natal. In the town there was a big Dutch Reformed Church (NGK), and a small Anglican Church, and nothing else, so at the Anglican Church we had ecumenical services on Sunday evenings which were for anyone in town who wasn't white Dutch Reformed. The services were multidenominational and multicultural. There were Anglicans, Assemblies of God, Afrikaans Baptist, and many others, black, white and coloured.

One evening the Assemblies of God evangelist from Newcastle, Piet Joubert, brought a film that that been produced by American Evangelicals, called The burning hell, and this was shown to the congregation. It struck me as a crass materialistic spirituality. Val and I sat at the back and giggled the whole way through, and especially at scenes where middle-class white suburban Americans in dressing gowns were swallowed by holes in the earth in a crude re-enactment of Numbers 26:8-11. The symbolism of the book of Revelation was interpreted in crudely materialistic terms.

But at the end of the film there was an altar call and a very big response, and nearly all the black and coloured teenagers went up, many of them weeping and sobbing. The film had obviously had a profound effect on them in spite of its shortcomings. And it wasn't simply a short-lived one-off emotional response either. Some of those who had come to the church that evening for the first time returned regularly afterwards, and became active in the Anglican youth group. In this way images from American pop religious culture seemed to have considerable influence in South Africa as well.

I was in three minds about it.

First, I was repelled by the crude materialism and bad theology of the film itself. Secondly, I welcomed the enthusiasm that it engendered in the youth in Utrecht. Thirdly, I was concerned that it was entirely disconnected from the experience of other youth in the country who were being treated to the rocky rioter teargas show in Soweto and elsewhere.[1] In those days, the main sphere of demonic activity was in the implementation of the apartheid policy itself, and the white, middle-class American interpretation in the film did nothing to help the youth in Utrecht or elsewhere to understand that.

And then I compare it with Charles Stewart's study of folk theology in rural Greece, Demons and the devil, which has perhaps not been quite so strongly influenced by American popular culture. Stewart summarises his findings as follows:

The Orthodox moral world emerges as an arena in which good struggles against evil, the kingdom of heaven against the kingdom of earth. In life, humans are enjoined to embrace Christ, who assists their attainment of Christian virtues: modesty, humility, patience and love. At the same time, lack of discernment and incontinence impede the realization of these virtues and thereby conduce to sin; sin in turn places one closer to the Devil... Since the resurrection of Christ the results of this struggle have not been in doubt. So long as people affirm their faith in Christ, especially at moments of demonic assault, there is no need to fear the influence of the Devil. He exists only as an oxymoron, a powerless force.



[1] Hopkins, Pat & Grange, Helen. 2001. The Rocky Rioter Teargas Show. Cape Town: Zebra. ISBN: 1-86872-342-9

The Rocky Rioter Teargas Show was the title of a satirical theatre presentation performed by Cape Town students at the time of the 1976 Soweto uprising. The book goes inside the events and their causes, and recreates the drama and excitement of the events. The narrative is illustrated with photographs and documents, many of which have hitherto been secret, such as cabinet minutes giving explicit approval of "more deaths" through police action.

18 October 2009

Anti-Zionism and antisemitism

Ad Orientem: Anti-Zionism & Anti-Semitism recommends a post that addresses (from a Catholic perspective) the often blurred lines between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism: Vivificat!: When Anti-Zionism Turns Into Anti-Semitism:
I start with a statement that many will find counterintuitive and is this: since Zionism is a non-religious political movement belonging to the sphere of politics according to its own founders, to oppose Zionism a priori does not make one a Judaeophobe and anti-Semite of necessity. Said in other words, in theory, it is possible to be an anti-Zionist without hating Jews as a people or as a believers of their particular religion and at the same time, there is no obstacle in principle impeding an otherwise tolerant state to oppose Zionism and to protect the civil liberties of the Jewish people in their midst.

Unfortunately Ad Orientem: Anti-Zionism & Anti-Semitism also says "Please leave your comments at Vivificat!", and that is something I find difficult to do, because an Orthodox perspective on the matter must differ from a Catholic perspective, and operates with different asumptions. I think the assumptions of the Vivificat! article are flawed, not merely because they are Catholic, but because they are approaching it from a different end.

In my experience (which is no doubt fairly limited) the link between Anti-Zionism and antisemitism has been made by apologists for the government of the state of Istrael, who denounce any criticism of any policy of the government of the state of Israel (such as the bombing of Lebanon in 2006) as "antisemitic".

And if that is what "antisemitism" has come to mean, then I have no hesitation is saying that I think "antisemitism" is a thoroughly good thing.

I don't believe, however, that that "antisemitism" has come to mean that, or that it ought to mean that. I believfe that those who make propaganda for the government of the state of Israel have been twisting the meanings of words.

But that is what all warmongers do. Criticism of the Israeli bombing of Lebanon in 2006 have been described as "antisemitic" (on the grounds that "anti-Zionism is anti semitism"), just as critics of the US bombing of Iraq in 2003 and of Yugoslavia in 1999 have been described as "anti-American".

The Israel apologists also accuse those who criticise any policy of the government of the state of Israel of denying Israel the right to exist, as if the right to commit mayhem is an essential part of the right to exist.

There's no arguing with such people, and I've given up trying. I do not believe that criticising the policies or actions of the government of a state means that one denies that state's right to exist, but then, I don't believe that the right to exist includes the right to commit mayhem.

We had the same kind of attitudes in South Africa back in the 1960s. People who criticised the apartheid policy of the South African government were denounced by the government and its appologists as "anti-South African". But they believed that it was not possible for South Africa to exist without apartheid. They confused the government of the state with the state itself.

So much for my experience.

But one needs to go deeper and examine the roots of Zionism, which was a form of nationalism that arose in central Europe, and partly grew out of the romnatic movement in Germany. In this sense Zionism is akin to Hellenism, the Greek nationalism that arose from much the same roots. And there were other Balkan nationalism too, and others in Eastern Europe. Zionism, Hellenism and the other Balkan nationalisms wanted to establish "homelands" in territory under the rule of multinational empires. In most cases this was the Ottoman Empire, and in some cases the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Prussian Empire, or the Russian Empire (e.g. Polish nationalism). One could even say that in South Africa Afrikaner nationalism has similar philosophical roots.

In some ways, Zionism is to Judaism as Hellenism is to Orthodoxy. Just as there are those who say "Antizionism is antisemitism", there are those who say that "Hellenism is Orthodoxy and Orthodoxy is Hellenism". And there are others who have tried to coopt religion for that kind of nationalism. The Roman Catholic Church is not exempt from this -- Croatian nationalism is not all that disssimilar from Zionism either.

I've written about this elsewhere, in an article on Nationalism, violence and reconciliation, though that link will no longer work after 26 October 2009, when Geocities closes.

16 October 2009

The heat death of the Internet

A couple of days ago I commented on entropy on the Internet, and things are getting worse. Amatomu is still broken. Technorati returns "Page not found". I'm thinking of removing their widgets/links from my blog, since they no longer serve any purpose.

And last weekend my ISP, Telkom, announced that there would be service interruptions over the weekend so that they could improve their service, and the service interruptions have continued ever since. The service seems to work for 30 seconds, and then to be off for two minutes, in a continuing cycle. Two out of three web pages I click on return the following message:

Network Timeout

The operation timed out when attempting to contact groups.yahoo.com.

The requested site did not respond to a connection request and the browser has stopped waiting for a reply.

Is it just me, or are any other Telkom subscribers experiencing similar problems?

15 October 2009

Celebrity cults

About twenty-five years ago we were driving through the Northern Transvaal (now Limpopo Province), and had just crossed, or were just about the cross the Tropic of Capricorn (where we stopped so our American visitors could take a photo) when we saw a large handpainted sign on an old bed sheet, advertising a concert by Brenda and the Big Dudes at a community hall in some village off the main road.

That was the first time I ever heard of Brenda Fassie.

Over the years I was to hear a lot more of her, and about eight years ago, as we drove over the humps in Tsamaya Avenue, on our way to church in Mamelodi East, there was scarcely a Sunday when the Sunday newspaper placards, tied to every lamppost, did not have a headline about Brenda. If it wasn't Brenda, it was Chico (her boyfriend). And you can bet your bottom Euro that not one of the stories that these headlines referred to had anything to do with her music.

When she died five years ago we thought that we'd see headlines about some of the other topics that sell Sunday newspapers (like "Zombie ate my soap"), but no, Brenda dominated the headlines for the next two years at least. Brenda had ceased being a musician and had become a celeb, and sex, soccer and celebs is what sells Sunday newspapers.

Then when I joined Technorati there used to be a page that showed the top tags in blogs, and the top tags searched for (they no longer have that, so I won't give a link). I found it fascinating that usually at least half of them related to things I had never heard of or had no significance for me. Curiosity made me look some of them up (that was how I discovered Twitter). One that puzzled me was Paris Hilton. Why on earth were so many people blogging about a hotel? Then I discovered that Paris Hilton was a person. That raised a new question -- why would parents name their child after a hotel, even if they did own the hotel? I mean, has anyone ever named their child Tshwane Sheraton? And why would people blog about her? The answer is that she is a celeb. But she wasn't even a musician like Brenda. What makes a hotel owner's daughter a celebrity? The media, that's what.

Over the last few years I've also seen newspaper placards saying that Barbie is doing this or said this or is going to do this and is going on trial. Barbie this, Barbie that, everything about Barbie, as if everyone knows who Barbie is. Barbie? But Barbie's dead. Barbie did indeed enjoy celebrity for a time, but it wasn't fame, it was infamy. I mean, everyone knows about the Barbie trial, don't they? Apparently not the readers of the Pretoria News. Because when the Pretoria News writes about Barbie, they are referring to some lawyer, whose name isn't even Barbie. But they've turned her into a minor celeb, or tried to, because celebs sell newspapers.

So it was refreshing to read the following article, hat-tip to St. Aidan to Abbey Manor: 'A sickening misuse of the gift of life'.

Stop the sick, degrading culture of celebrity | Times Online:
Celebrity culture spreads like a stain. It engulfs even those whose fame is rooted in real achievement or real responsibility. As the empty are valued, so the valuable are emptied. They are treated as if they were as vacuous as pop idols. Scientists, artists and politicians become defined in the collective consciousness not by the serious, complex matters that they deal with or by their real achievements but, increasingly, by their sex lives, their personal traumas, their peccadillos.

If you go into religious bookshops, you can find books that warn about the dangers of "cults", but if you read the books you find they are not actually about cults at all, but just about other religious groups whose theology differs from that of the author of the book. But celebrity cults are far closer to actual cults in the sense of what the word "cult" actually means. And the high priests of the celebrity cults are journalists, and the archbishops, or artmages, or whatever you want to call them, are the accountants of the newspapers that publish the stories. But they don't actually worship at the altars of the celebrities themselves, they just lurk in the back rooms and rake in the cash. Turn the page of your newspaper, and you'll probably find a story about some religious leader who rakes in the cash. Shame!

14 October 2009

Tolerance, intolerance and zero-tolerance

There are two kinds of people: those who think that tolerance is a good thing, and those who think that the absence of tolerance is a good thing.

Zachary Christie, First Grader Suspended for Bringing Camping Utensil to School - ABC News:
Debbie Christie's son Zachary, a first-grader at Downes Elementary School in Newark, Del., was suspended for carrying a camping utensil that contained a spoon, fork, bottle opener and knife to school.

'I wasn't really trying to get in trouble,' 6-year-old Zachary said. 'I was just trying to eat lunch with it.'...

School administrators deemed Zachary to be in violation of their zero-tolerance ban on weapons, and he may have to attend the district's reform school.

Actually there are three kinds of people, and I suspect that the third type is actually the majority. They are the ones who think that speaking of "tolerance" as an absolute virtue, and speaking of "zero tolerance" as a virtue are equally nonsensical.

13 October 2009

Recent reading: The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium, #2) The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Yet another Scandiwegian whodunit!

I seem to have been reading quite a lot of these recently. This on is the second of the "Millennium" trilogy, the first being The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The plots include the staff of Millennium magazine, based in Stockholm, Sweden.

Unlike most of the Swedish whodunits I've read, in this one the protagonist is not a boozy middleaged divorced or divorcing police detective with health problems and in trouble with his superiors, but is Lisbeth Salander, a young female computer hacker with antisocial attitudes.

One problem for me was that just about the time I started reading the book I read a post on Jarred Harris's blog Mary Sue gets me thinking - The Musings of a Confused Man:
A Mary Sue (sometimes just Sue), in literary criticism and particularly in fanfiction, is a fictional character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as wish-fulfillment fantasies for their authors or readers.

Jarret linked to a site, The Universal Mary-Sue Litmus Test, and I had a look at it and started doing the test for my own fictional characters. They seemed very remote from being Mary Sues, and hardly any of the criteria applied to them even slightly. Perhaps that's because I've always believed what G.K. Chesterton said about fairy tales -- fairy tales are not about extraordinary people, but about extraordinary thing happening to ordinary people.

But the further I went into the test, the more it seemed to apply to Lisbeth Salander. Could she be a Mary Sue?

I have to admit that for the first 100 pages or so I was tempted to abandon the book, mainly because my wife had just finished one that I wanted to read more. But I stuck with it, and the pace picked up, especially after page 200 or so (there are 569 pages) and in the end I would say that it was a good read, though I still have mo reservations and some of the other characters.

Perhaps some of the flaws in the book can be attributed to the fact that all three books in the trilogy are being published posthumously, and so are in a semi-raw state. A good fiction editor might have pointed out some of the flaws in the characters, for the author to revise. But with the author being dead, no one really can revise them any more.

View all my reviews >>

There are a couple of things I can add to this blog post, which I won't include in my review on Good Reads -- some of the questions in the test that made me wonder whether Lisbeth Salander is a Mary Sue:

  1. On the subject of your character and his/her family...

    1. Was your character orphaned, abandoned, kicked out, or at least raised by a family/person that was not his/her own family?
    2. Was a major villain responsible for the death of the parents or guardians?
    3. Was your character responsible for the death of his/her parents/guardians?
    4. Did your character witness the death of the parents/guardians?
    5. Was he/she adopted by a cruel family or person?
    6. Ran away at any point?
    7. Raised him/herself?
    8. Lived in the streets?
    9. The very last or only survivor of anything?
    10. Adopted by another species/racial group?

    1. What about any of these?
      1. Born/raised in extreme poverty?
      2. Born/forced into slavery?
      3. Banished from anywhere?
      4. A member of a despised, outcast, and/or downtrodden race?
      5. An illegitimate child?
      6. The parent of an illegitimate child?
      7. Abused?
      8. Raped?

    1. If your character has a torment-ridden, pain-filled past, do you believe it excuses his/her actions?

    1. Does a major villain have a personal fixation/obsession with your character?
      1. For no apparent reason?
      2. Something that has to do with your character's family, and not your character him/herself?

    Those are just a few of the things that seem to me to apply to the protagonist, but it may be just me. But if you've read the book, and have the time, perhaps you'd like to compare the protagonist, and the villains, with the Mary Sue Litmus test and see what you think.

Fighting for the right to dry clothes

I was amazed to discover that many people in the USA do not have the right to dry clothes.

Debate Follows Bills to Remove Clotheslines Bans - NYTimes.com:
Like the majority of the 60 million people who now live in the country’s roughly 300,000 private communities, Ms. Saylor was forbidden to dry her laundry outside because many people viewed it as an eyesore, not unlike storing junk cars in driveways, and a marker of poverty that lowers property values.

In the last year, however, state lawmakers in Colorado, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont have overridden these local rules with legislation protecting the right to hang laundry outdoors, citing environmental concerns since clothes dryers use at least 6 percent of all household electricity consumption.

Laws that stop people from drying clothes in their own backyards is surely big government gone mad, and must be one thing that liberals and conservatives (however defined) could agree to fight. For liberals it is an issue of human rights, the freedom to dry clothes. And for conservatives it can be seen as an issue of conserving a tradition thousands of years old.

I wonder who were the petty fascists who sought to introduce it in the first place?

Hat-tip to Notes from a Common-place Book: Fight For Your Right to Dry!, who also has some pretty good things to say about this particular piece of bureaucratic idiocy.

10 October 2009

Peace prize, anyone?

I don't have much to say right now, and what little I do have to say has been said for me by Notes from a Common-place Book: That is what I am saying:
Recognizing Kosovo was madness, and Georgia paid the price for it. Trashing international law and ignoring state sovereignty when it suited us paved the way for other major powers to do the same to their weaker neighbors. The aggressive and confrontational foreign policy of at least the last ten years, including both Clinton and Bush administrations, brought about this state of affairs, and it will probably take decades to undo the damage that “humanitarian” and “well-intentioned” hawks have done to the international order.

08 October 2009

Recent reading: The return of the dancing master

The Return of the Dancing Master The Return of the Dancing Master by Henning Mankell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Scandinavian whodunits seem to be flooding the bookshops right now, with new authors (at least new to English-speaking readers). Henning Mankell, whose novels about detective Kurt Wallander seem to have started the trend, was one of the first to be published in English, but this book has a new protagonist and a new setting. A detective on sick leave reads that a former colleague has been murdered in a remote village that he retired to, and decides on impulse to go there to find out what happened, and finds himself drawn into the investigation.

If you like whodunits, it's worth a read.

View all my reviews >>

06 October 2009

On making poverty history

Tales of the desert fathers, as told by ORTHODIXIE ... Southern, Orthodox, Convert, Etc.:
A very rich man who lived in Alexandria prayed to God every day that the lives of the indigent be made easier. On hearing about this, Abba Makarios sent him a message: 'I would like to own all your estate.'

The man was puzzled, and sent one of his servants to ask what [Abba Makarios] would do with all that wealth.

Abba Makarios said: 'Tell your master that I would immediately answer his prayer.'

03 October 2009

Building bridges for the Gautrain

Just about every road in Gauteng is being dug up, widened or resurfaced, and if that weren't enough, a new railway line is being built between Johannesburg, Pretoria and the airport. One of the most spectacular pieces of construction is where it will cross the N1 highway at Centurion.

When the first railways were built in this part of the world about 120 years ago, President Paul Kruger of the South African Republic (ZAR) did not like Johannesburg, and so would not allow a direct rail link between Johannesburg and Pretoria, but only an indirect connection via Germiston. Now at last this is being rectified, but in the intervening 120 years most of the land in between has been built on, so the new line will be underground from central Johannesburg to Risebank, then on the surface through Midrand, and overhead through Centurion.

There is talk of it possibly being ready in time for the Soccer World Cup next year, though that will also push the cost up.

At the point where it crosses the freeway here, the freeway is also being widened from three lanes to four, though it seems unlikely that that will relieve the traffic congestion. But the road is also likely to become a toll road, and the toll will be about the same as the train fare, which will mean that only vehicles with two or more occupants will be cheaper than the train.

02 October 2009

A dark-adapted eye: book review

A Dark Adapted Eye A Dark Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Barbara Vine is a pen-name of Ruth Rendell, one of the most prolific authors of crime fiction today. Though the division is not absolute, the books she writes under her own name tend to be whodunits, and those she writes as Barbara Vine tend to be whydunits. This book fits the pattern. Right from the first page we know whodunit: Vera Hillyard was hanged for murder in 1950. Nearly forty years later a writer, Daniel Stewart, approaches people who knew Vera Hillyard as he wants to write a book, a reappraisal of the case.

The story is told by Vera's niece Faith, one of those approached by the author, as she remembers her life as a young girl visiting her aunts, and the events and tangled family relationships that eventually led to murder. The thing that strikes me most about Vine/Rendall's writing is that the characters have such depth to them, or at least those who are central to the action. In some crime novels, the plot is everything, and the characters tend to be almost incidental and one-dimensional. Here the characters are all described as seen by the narrator, and so through her own relationships with them. I find it hard to remember my own life in such detail, much less create one for someone else. Ruth Rendell manages to do it again and again.

Recommended for those who enjoy murder mysteries, with the emphasis on the mystery, rather than on the details of the murder: no descriptions of squeamish cops being nauseated at the autopsy, which seem to be almost obligatory in the current crop of crime novels.

View all my reviews >>

01 October 2009

Independent report blames Georgia for South Ossetia war

A year after the war in South Ossetia the politicians are still bickering, while church leaders are trying to promote peace (Hat-tip to ROCOR UNITED: Independent report blames Georgia for South Ossetia war.

Independent report blames Georgia for South Ossetia war | Deutsche Welle:
A new report commissioned by the EU said that Georgia started the South Ossetia conflict last summer, but also found Russia's response illegal. Both Georgia and Russia have claimed the report supports their version.

According to the report, carried out by Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini and presented to the European Union on Wednesday, there is no evidence to support Georgia's claim that Russia had already sent troops to annex South Ossetia before Georgia began its attack on the region's capital Tskhinvali on the night of August 7/8 2008.

'There was no ongoing armed attack by Russia before the start of the Georgian operation,' the report said. 'There is the question of whether the use of force by Georgia in South Ossetia ... was justifiable under international law. It was not.'

And while the politicians are still trying to score points off each other, church leaders have been trying to bring peace. Directions to Orthodoxy - Russian, Georgian patriarchs plea for peace year after Ossetia war:
Orthodox church leaders from Russia and Georgia called for peace while their political counterparts lobbed charges of aggression in marking the one year anniversary of the South Ossetia war.

The Russian and Georgian patriarchs also commemorated the victims of the short, brutal war over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Patriarch Kirill I of the Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Ilia II of the Georgian Orthodox Church stressed the common spiritual heritage of the warring sides, continuing the line taken last year by Ilia and the late Patriarch Aleksei II of the Russian Orthodox Church, who had sought reconciliation as the conflict raged.

At a panikhida, or memorial service, at Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on 8 August, a year after Georgia is said to have begun shelling the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, Patriarch Kirill said that the war, which he called the result of 'aggression set off by evil political will', was 'a tragedy of three fraternal Orthodox peoples'.


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