In the Don Bass region of Eastern Ukraine is the monastery of Sviatagorsk Lavra. I can’t recall whether they are loyal to the Patriarchate of Moscow or not. Eastern Ukraine has a significant population of ethnic Russians.

This part of the world is an ongoing tragedy, where the politics and/or the religion serves to put merely a veneer on the killing. The Ukrainians and the Russians find reasons to kill each other.

It is more like a coat of paint really. In the name of The Revolution, Stalin starved a million Ukrainians to death. One Million. Genocide is difficult to forget. After that came the Great Patriotic War (WW Two). Some Ukrainians sided with the Nazis until the Nazis began killing these Slavic Untermenschen Ukrainians with the same gusto with which they killed Russians, Communists of all nationalities, and Jews.

Then Communism wore off. A new identity is applied. The mistrust, refined over centuries, survived. In this maelstrom of power struggles, it is easier for a politician to steal some government’s money (Ukrainian or American) and offer loyalty to the highest bidder. It is a pastime for cynics.

But here at the monastery, the people come and worship and celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. They do this celebrating thirteen days later than we do (The pesky old Julian Calendar). They offer gifts of cakes to Metropolitan Arseneyem ( Арсением). And they sing. The liturgical music is sung a capella. There is no instrumental music, like organs, in their liturgies. The children sing, led by a bearded monk dressed all in black, from head to toe.

It is ironic to see the same clear polystyrene cake protector domes here in Ukraine that you would see in Richmond or Denver or The Bronx.

What do the machinations of the politicians in Kiev, Moscow, or Washington have to do with the beliefs, values and aspirations of these simple people?

More to the point, what do the politicians’ machinations have to do with your beliefs, values and aspirations?