About forced baptism of a child
I’ll say as a former catechist and missionary. I am sorry that the people, and even more so the church authorities, perceive the history of violent and even traumatic baptism of a child as a kind of violence in itself. Like, some villain almost crippled the baby, trying to fold it in half and stuff it into the font. Like, rude and bad pop.
Yes, of course, the central emotional component of this incident is violence. And it interrupts the rest, much more important aspects. Obviously, for any parent, the video footage of a child’s power pack is terrible. I personally could not watch the video with forced baptism to the end. I was disgusted, anger overwhelmed me.
Church leaders seized on this emotional moment and made organizational conclusions against the rude priest. But with this, it hid from the fact that it had long ago, like an ostrich, hid its head in the sand and did not want to see the world with open eyes, did not want to understand that the incident with forced baptism was a direct and inevitable consequence of the development of church life in all thirty post-Soviet years. Although it is likely that everyone understands. But direct benefits and money – they pay for everything.
Now in more detail.
1. Baptism, in spite of any declarations, for many, many, many years does not mean anything in the practical life of the Church as a large community, in the life of a particular church community and in the life of a specific person. The Orthodox have long since devalued this Sacrament of Birth into eternal life, turning it into something like a registry to a polyclinic. To get help, you can’t just go to the doctor, you must be assigned to the institution. Moreover, the registry itself does not cure and does not give anything but the right to visit a doctor.
Any pious discourse on the great significance of baptism is broken down into two arguments. The first is practical. All post-Soviet years, in the vast majority of cases, baptize everyone indiscriminately, the faith of the baptized person (or his parents) and his readiness for a Christian life does not matter. There is only one criterion for admission to baptism – payment, that is, money.
The second argument is that baptism in practice does not give the right for Christian unity with Christ, for participation in the Eucharist, for Communion. Confession, deduction of a certain set of prayers, refusal of meat and dairy dishes, observance of ritual purity – these are the most common conditions in practice for the acceptance of the Body and Blood of Christ. And this is a very serious distortion. Here it is important for me to make a reservation that I am infinitely far from the thought that you should open the doors of the temple and let everyone in communion. I’m talking about something else in this article.
People who have gained faith in God are called to be baptized in order to find unity with Christ, in whom they believed as their God, their Lord and Savior. That is, they are baptized to receive communion. And on the other hand, Christians are called to have unity with Christ and partake of His Body and Blood thanks to only one thing – baptism as a birth into a new life.
Today the essence is broken. In the life of the Orthodox, the only true logic has not been working for a long time. Baptism is a kind of devalued formality. Without it, it seems impossible, but with it, too, almost nothing is expected of a person. Some kind of donut hole. By the way, it is not posited not only in the religious cult aspect, but also in the social and hierarchical. Baptized in relation to the management of the Church and the development of church life do not acquire any rights. They do not actually become members of anything.
Of course, this is a history dating back to centuries when everyone was baptized in a row, when the way was traditional, when there was nowhere to go from the “submarine”. And it is clear that baptism devalued a long time ago. But 30 years ago it was already possible to understand that the level of freedom, the level of education and the level of independence of people is completely different than in archaic times. To restore churchliness according to the model of a traditional society is to baptize everyone in a row, because “we are Russians” is like building a house of cards.
2. Since no one wants to change the order of things, and the Church, as a small community of real faithful, is not needed by anyone, and Christians, as consistent, serious and responsible disciples of Christ, too, but mass is needed and formality is beneficial, the emphasis inevitably passes from the meaning of baptism to it form. The form is sacralized, it becomes for the vast majority the most important rite in which almost nothing is understood, except for speculation and interpretation. Now it’s not the “new man in Christ” coming out of the font, but the man, as it were, with a stamp or some kind of registration. But God forbid to make a mistake in the rite: it's like leaving a blot in the documents. Incorrectly filled paper does not give grounds for registration. An improperly or unfinished rite is a dummy.
The Orthodox do not see and do not want to see that the self-valuable ritual that has outlived itself requires sacrifice and food. And what happened is nothing more than a normal situation, brought to its logical end, where the victim is made through physical violence.
The priest, famous for his forced baptism, in the television program on NTV sincerely does not understand what he did wrong. He began baptism (and in his understanding, apparently, baptism is identical with the order of succession, which cannot be broken, because it is sacred) and could not interrupt the process. He sought to subtract, pronounce, complete all prescribed. The priest, obviously, was sure that nothing but the rite affects the result. Even the complete meaninglessness of what is happening, even the disbelief of the new family, even his priest, is violence against a resisting child.
And after all, in his logic (and this logic is almost universal), the priest is absolutely right! Here, the rite is valuable in its integrity and completeness. Otherwise – it's zilch. And even that is a sin for the priest. So, it is necessary to complete the rite at any cost and do good to the child. So that he is with an effective “residence permit”. It’s okay that he will be like a guest worker with “left” registration. The difference between such and this citizen is unknown to the modern baptized and baptized.
3. The educational level of the vast majority of priests and, worst of all, bishops is the level of secondary education. No matter how the seminaries are praised, and among them there are very high-class ones, this is still an analogue of schools (well, say, pedagogical or medical schools).
It is clear that the "professionalism" of this level does not give grounds for a creative approach to the profession.
If we add here ideological pressure about “holy Orthodoxy” and holiness to the last letter, if we add actually animal fear of the church authorities, the level of ignorance of which sometimes goes off scale, then we get a ritual conveyor. In addition, it is packed in an ancient "holy" language incomprehensible to anyone. And all this is priesthood. And no other way.
4. A private, but very revealing confirmation of the preceding paragraphs is direct misogyny in the ritual side of baptism. The mother is removed from the child, often she is expelled from the temple, called "unclean". Again, the clearly obsolete hygiene procedure of archaic societies dominates the meaning and in itself requires sacrifices for oneself – separation of the child and the mother. I have repeatedly witnessed when very educated and learned priests categorically refused to let her mother baptize her baby.
Removing the mother of a child from baptism is the pedagogical blasphemy of our days from the Orthodox.
5. And now here is a picture of how everything happens from the side of people who came to the temple.
A family far from Christianity decides to baptize a child. Common rumor pushes this. The temple offers a schedule of baptisms and calls the amount for payment. Formal requirements are also called – to bring a cross, a shirt, and so on. They often call their mother “unclean” and warn that she should not be present. Often they oblige to have a conversation (a couple of conversations) with a priest or a temple employee. And this priest, who is nobody for this family, is just a bearded man who is not even a gram authority for these people, he tells them about Orthodoxy in an hour and a half. It’s good if this is a sermon about Christ and the Gospel, and not about “holy Russia”, “elders”, fasting and other things.
Let’s imagine for analogy that someone comes to another country. And for an hour they tell him everything that is needed, they take money and give a residence permit. There is no test of motivation, no trial period, no serious acquaintance with the language, lifestyle and laws, etc. Well, is it absurd? Truth. And in Orthodoxy – this is the norm.
And here is the question, the answer to which is known to all. What is the point of this hour-long talk about Orthodoxy? With all that said, there is no point here. The conversation is unable to explain anything of what is happening, for it is simply an idealistic replica from a parallel world. She's all wrong! For the real baptism of unbelievers for money has nothing to do.
So, after a dull and a bit ironic feeling from the conversation, where the parents were loaded on behalf of God with some archaic duties and responsibilities, on the appointed day the family brings the baby to the temple. Makes payment. Mom, elegant and wrapped in a scarf, remains in the vestibule on the bench, overflowing with anxiety and resentment. The rest go to the baptismal font to watch this whole performance in the form of mutterings in an incomprehensible language, waved hands, etc.
The priest himself asks questions and himself, on behalf of those who come to them, answers (well, or suggests, like a prompter). He reads the prayers for those who have come. Himself, as a director, orders what to do: take a candle, take a step forward, etc.
The child at this time, as a rule, is in the hands of the mother’s best friend, called the “godmother”. Here I will not speak in detail about the absurdity of this phenomenon in our days. Being “godfather” is also part of the ritual, a certain obligatory formality, rather a folk custom, the practical meaning of which is extremely difficult to explain.
So, a friend, too, in beautiful clothes, not suitable for carrying a child, wrapped in a scarf, with a sense of anxiety and absurdity thinks only about the baby. Yesterday, she was tender in the presence of her mother. And today her legs are bucking, she does not understand what to do with the child. A friend frantically recalls her mother’s instructions on how to hold her head, where the bottle lies, how to shake it, if it’s yelling, where to run, if it’s poop.
Nearby is the father’s best friend and thinks about what he forgot to buy in the store to celebrate the baptism. Or maybe waiting for a call from work. He is afraid of the child more than anything else. What if something breaks him off?
The father, tired of the morning services, does everything on the machine. In general, he also does not care about those who come, as they do to him. Often priests are sincere and welcoming. But with such a conveyor, this is only a good emphasis on the general meaninglessness.
And now 40 minutes of torment fly by, and the priest congratulates the parents and those who came, saying that another Orthodox Christian was born into the world. And everyone disagrees with a sense of accomplishment.
6. And the last. Since young people are now literate, they rightly approach baptism as a purchased service. And often in hindsight, he fairly evaluates what happened. Well, let's say: “for that kind of money they could have been more polite” or: “they paid a little, but you see how much attention – and the lecture, and kind words, and also presented a rope to the cross”. In the case we are discussing, this perception is brought to its logical conclusion. The service was not provided, the child was hurt – this is already a matter for law enforcement.
7. The absurdity of the situation with mass baptisms is that there is nothing left but to uphold their “effectiveness” in any case. And if so, then this leads to a direct and inevitable conclusion: the faith of a person – both a baptized person and a priest, his responsible choice of life with Christ the Savior – are not important.
God is a hostage to ritual orders. And this is the paradox from which everyone hides their heads in the sand.
Source: Author’s Facebook Page
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