Monday, 14 December 2009

UK’s motor vanity fair (13) [Bâlciul deşertăciunilor cu motor din UK]

Throughout the previous 223 posts of this blog there were many little stories of mine + comments where I and my readers made (not necessarily programatic) attempts to offer some insights about how the truly British are.

Of course, there’s no way I could claim that we could have drawn an exhaustive general picture of the Brits on a blog. Nevertheless, one of my claims was that motorists in this country appear to love German cars, as these pictures show.

It seems I wasn’t wrong at least on this one. If we were to give credit to what I accidentally read on this website, the British love for German cars is a particular feature of this nation. I came across this definition of Britishness:

Being British is about driving in a German car to an Irish pub for a Belgian beer, then travelling home, grabbing an Indian curry or a Turkish kebab on the way, to sit on Swedish furniture and watch American shows on a Japanese TV.

Then the little joke (taken from here) adds: “And the most British thing of all? Suspicion of anything foreign.

There’s little doubt that the national British manufacturing industry is in dire straits – as long as even an iconic car brand like the Mini was taken over by the Germans! – but are the Brits really suspicious about anything foreign?!

According to my personal experience, I’d say that the Brits are more open to experiencing anything foreign than most other European nations, and also more tolerant than others to anything alien, unusual, and even bizzare.

Why is it that some believe the opposite? Are the Brits suspicious of foreign stuff? Or is this because they are suspicious of everything, including themselves? God willing, maybe I’ll have some comments on this topic!

[For all the episodes of this series, and all the posts on this blog go to/Pentru toate episoadele din această serie şi toate postările de pe acest blog mergi la: Contents/Cuprins]


Gregor said...

Hi Bogdan

I wish that I had more time to write about this, but I think the joke has a lot of truth.

True, Brits (I think Scots especially) are not just friendly, but open minded about nations. There is none of the insularity in other countries (sadly, including the Greeks though they make up for it in other ways) where you are from country 'X' so therefore you have characteristic 'Y' and go to church 'Z' and you fit into culture 'A' and feel affinity to country 'B' but hate country 'C'.

I dislike the concept of nations overall. I was born in Scotland, but I don't feel 'Scottish' or 'British' or have any idea what this would feel like.

However, as I have tried writing on my blog and elsewhere, there is also a dark side to Britain which is that that there is a tendency to idolise Churchill and Big Brother, and so when the news says 'We need CCTV cameras to protect us from wicked foreigners', the Brit sheeple will accept it. Or if they say 'this is 1939 and Putin is Hitler' sheeple believe it.

Also, ironically, I think our open-ness does have the downside that when foreign people are rude, we do not know what to say. A Serbian woman was very rude to me in the church and one part of me wanted to say 'In Britain we have things called manners and if you can't learn them why don't you go back to the violent, racist nightmare of a country you came from'.

I didn't of course, and am pleased I didn't, but it does seem ironic that it would be 'bigoted' for me to say that Serbs have committed mass murders and yet it is not bigoted to say that Bliar was right to drop bombs on Serbia but it would be bigoted to say that Bliar was wrong to bomb Serbia then watch Kosovo turn into an Islamist Criminal Dystopia.

Perhaps because we Brits have little concept of national identity, we have 'political correctness' which may well turn out more dangerous than any political ideology.

A last point I've also tried making is the Brit media's attitude towards the 'BNP timebomb' which is nonsense: the BNP vote has remained static; the suggestion that tens of millions of poor people would vote BNP is just a means of dehumanising each other and creating divided society.

With best wishes

MunteanUK said...

@ Gregor (part one)

I guess any answer of mine is coming better later than never or than no answer at all, isn't it?

So here I am giving you a reply, and with it the chance for 'more time' to reflect upon this meaningful joke!


1) I'm glad we agree that the Scots (but many other Brits as well, I assure you!) make up fine citizens of this world, being open-minded, friendly, ready to embrace novelty, and generally willing 'to give a chance' to foreigners.

Maybe some of them do this because of a complex of superiority, somehow being 100% sure that not a single thing 'foreign' could be better than anything 'theirs'.

However, throughout the ages, many bright minds of this world have fled persecution in their countries and found not only 'temporary shelter', but a place where to 'blossom' on British soil.


2) People in your county may have shortcomings as well, but we must reckon they are not as bad as others at 'misjudging' people.

Indeed, we could say that, from a certain point of view, Greeks and Serbs are more 'insular' than the Brits are!

In spite of the great treasures these nations brought to the world (and mainly to the Orthodox Church), many Greeks & Serbs appear to have they minds soaking with cliches & stereotypes about others.

Up to a certain point, this attitude is 'excusable', given the fact that history has been very harsh on Greeks, Serbs & most other Balkan nations.

Anyway, home come Romanians - who have also suffered greatly for centuries - are at least a bit more open-minded and warm-hearted when it comes to accepting foreigners?

You may say that I'm biased, but I hope - I'm saying this according to what you wrote in previous comments or in our personal correspondence! - that you noticed a substantial difference between how Romanians & other 'Balkan nations' interact with foreigners.


3) I know that your dislike of the concept of 'nation' has nothing to do with Marxism, Internationalism, Socialism etc.

Like me probably, you simply can't fit into a narrow pattern, as no Orthodox believer could. It's obvious that we have 'national features' from the place where we grew, but there's always more beyond that.

Our Lord didn't come just for one nation, He came for all of us, even for those who have kept rejecting Him for millennia.


4) As you witnessed, I also wrote a lot about the dangers lurking the Brit 'sheeple' beneath the promises of 'prosperity'.

I don't know to what extent we could still 'ring some bells', but I guess we should keep on writing.

MunteanUK said...

@ Gregor (part two)

5) It's not polite, nor in accordance to what our Lord commanded us ('not to judge anyone!'), therefore I'd rather say very little about your experience with 'Serbian rudeness'.

The little incident you described is not unsual with some people :-(

Anyway, the British politeness is one of the best qualities of you nation, and I'm glad you stayed polite to the end!


6) Neither the Brits, nor the Serbs would bear the truth easily, and none of us actually does, as we are not humble enough.

Strictly speaking about what happened to Kosovo, London is 'guiltier' than Belgrade, but the Brits are more polite than the Serbs.

I imagine you can talk more openly in the UK about London's role in setting up what you rightly name 'the Islamist Criminal Dystopia' of Kosovo than you could talk in Serbia about Serb mistakes which led to the loss of Kosovo.


7) It was criminal to force Serbia into submission through bombs (dropped even on Pasha Day in 1999!), yet I'm afraid few people (if any?!) in Serbia are wondering which is their part of the blame for what befell them.

NATO's intervention and Kosovo's independence made up only the last stages of a process lasting for centuries. The Serbs have been losing Kosovo since 1389...

They drew the ire of the Albanians while most Albanians were still Orthodox, then many other mistakes (both moral & political) were made by the Serbs.

Far be it for me to judge, and say that 'they deserved what happened', but there's no smoke without a fire. History is more complex than the Serbs would like the world to believe.

The squareheads in Washington & London bear most of the fault from what today's Kosovo has become, however, the Serbs have had a bloody history - full of massacres, attempts to assimilate other nationalities, betrayals - which eventually led to the loss of Kosovo in 1999.

After 1990, Romanians were also 'provoked', and ethnic clashes could have erupted in Transylvania. God spared us from that, but I guess He worked 'in full collaboration' with how Romanians are - a far more peaceful & tolerant nation than the Serbs!


8) I agree that this catastrophic political correctness could prove more dangerous for Britain than any presumed 'outburst of nationalism'.


9) I also agree that it's nonsense to believe that the BNP will ever have 'millions of voters'.

But it's 'convenient' for NWO artisans, for Big Brother & his henchmen, to maintain this fear.

Division & dehumanizing people are tools which the Antichrist's forerunners use with great skill.

Gregor said...

Dear Bogdan

I am pleased to have finally met another Orthodox Christian who takes the position that the bombing of Serbia was appalling, but the Serbs are far from perfect…

I think with Romania, there is an element that ‘those who would be first will be last and those who would be last will be first’. They appear to see themselves as Orthodox Christians who happen to be Romanian rather than Romanians who happen to be Orthodox.

I hope I wasn’t too harsh on the Greeks; they are wonderful people. But to give one example, because of a stomach problem, I have to eat fruit before other foods, and when I was in Greece they seemed to assume that this must be a British custom. I’ve usually found it typical that they assume Brits have lots of customs. Maybe it is natural, given that they have a fairly idiosyncratic society, but it can be grating, especially if you have little in common with most of your compatriots.

As for Romanians compared to the others, I do think they tend to accept the country more, but I probably don’t know enough to say. From what I’ve heard, the Greeks can be very different from each other, with the Cypriots ironically being more ‘Hellenophile’ than most mainland Greeks. Certainly, Matthaios who is from Thessalonika has shown me immense warmth and hospitality as has Fr Rafael and his mother from Myteline.

Though, can I drop a bombshell here and ask if Romania may be a bit different due to contact with Roman Catholicism? I’m just interested because whilst I deplore a lot of their heresies and their supreme authority of the (ahem) ‘infallible’ Popes, I do think there are some positive features of Roman Catholicism: their counter-reformation evangelising in dangerous regions of the New World, their mystic tradition and their interaction with political and philosophical ideas. It sadly seems to me that we Orthodox have stagnated somewhat by comparison?

I find it curious in a sense that the word ‘Catholic’ refers solely to the Vatican, because surely we are also ‘Catholic’ in the sense that ours is the universal church? I wonder how we (as it were) gave up the word ‘Catholic’?

Maybe I was exaggerating to say I hate the idea of country, but I do think that it can be harmful and exploited by certain people. As you’ll know, I have a very romantic idea of immigration and would love to help in an Orthodox mission somewhere. I was thinking of East Asia, but increasingly wonder about Latin America (as I’m trying to learn Spanish).

Be interested in your thoughts

Gregor said...

Perhaps I should also add that we Brits have a short history of Orthodoxy, but are already developing some cultural characteristics I dislike. I always correct people who call me ‘a covert’, pointing out I’m a neophyte. Whilst this may sound pedantic, I do think it is a distinction worth making because a lot of Brit converts became Orthodox due to strife in the Anglican Church and seem to want to take some Anglican ideas into Orthodoxy. A lot of American Orthodox are converts from the Evangelical Church and seem to want to take their heretical arrogance and political ideology with them.

I hope this doesn’t sound judgmental, but my point is that the devil can use any human culture to weaken God’s Church.

MunteanUK said...

@ Gregor (part one)

Dear friend,

I may have plenty of stuff to do, but every now & then I come back to tie up the loose ends of our online conversations. At least in what concerns the public ones on this blog.


1) The Serbian nation is full of contradictions, and like Russians, Greeks, Jews (or any nation for that matter), both Saints & Martyrs, plus not-so-noble characters rose from the Serbian land.

From St Sava to St Nicholas Velimirovich & St Iustin Popovich, the Serbs have many Saints, yet their history is also full of 'bloody episodes'.

Trying to open a Serbs' eyes, in order to see their historical mistakes is often pointless. Not unworthy us should point to their mistakes, as their own Saints often revealed them!

They should listen to their own Saints, to those who are praying for the entire Serbian nation in front of the Lord, and they will be able to live through these rough times!


2) Indeed, Romanians are one of the least 'nationalistic' nations I can think of. While the Greeks, Italians, Poles, Serbs, Chinese in diaspora stick together, we are even more divided than the Russians.

Even 'irreligious' Romanians are not excessively nationalistic, while most of those who cherish their Orthodox faith don't put nationality above belonging to the One Church of Christ.

Greek or Russian Saints lived on Romanian soil, among Romanian Orthodox believers, while also some Romanians became Saints among the Ukrainians or Russians.


3) However, don't think about Romanians as being 'better' than other Orthodox people; we do have our shortcomings as well.

Of a truth, we are not so stubbornly narrow-minded as Serbs or Greeks can sometimes be - and I'm saying this without meaning that they are always like this or that all of them have this fault.

Romanians can be egoistic, caring only about themselves, too lazy, often sunken into cowardice, adaptable & versatile but also chameleonic. Our tolerance can often turn into indifference & carelessness...


4) Unfortunately for the purpose of any (albeit empirical) research, my dear Gregor, you & I are not 'typical representatives' of our nations. Thus, no matter what we write here may not be 'representative'.

I don't see you as being a 'typical' Scot or Briton, and I assure you (if you didn't figure it out until now!) that I'm not a 'typical' Romanian.

If anyone looked only at our blogs, at how we write, and that would be enough to see how 'atypical' we are!


5) It's funny how we can have different views... For instance, you may be right that Cypriots are more 'Hellenophile', but the ones I met in the UK seemed to adhere more to the values of the former colonial power (Britain) than to those of the historical motherland (Greece).

In a way, Cypriots appeared to me as fascinated with Britain as some Moldavians (those of Romanian stock from the Republic of Moldova) are attracted more to Moscow & the former USSR than to Romania.

These may be just irrelevant observations, but - as far as I know - there are some 700,000 inhabitants in Cyprus, and also some 500,000 of Cypriote descent in Britain. Are there equally many Cypriots settled in Greece?!

'Enosis' (incorporation of Cyprus into Greece) is no longer on the agenda of most political parties on the island. Moreover, given the critical situation of the Greek economy (while Cyprus is an offshore paradise), union is more & more unlikely...

MunteanUK said...

@ Gregor (part two)

6) Well, it's not necessarily a 'bombshell', as you aren't the only one suggesting that.

There are many scholars (some with studies in Rome, Vienna & other Catholic strongholds :-) who state that Transylvania has been historically more 'advanced' that the other Romanian principalities thanks to the contacts with the 'civilised' Catholics (first Hugarian kings then the Habsburg monarchy).

I beg to differ. Catholics used false promises, blackmail, and eventually their cannons to force the birth of a Greek-Catholic Church in Transylvania.

Greek-Catholicism helped raise a Romanian middle class and bourgeoisie in Transylvania, but it also divided the nation. Many peasants were martyrs because of refusing to bow to the papists' rule.

Why would have Catholicism contributed to forging the open-ness of Romanians to the outer world, and not our connection to the Byzantine Empire? We were first a Roman province (for some 150 years), then an ally of the great Byzantium.

When the Empire fell (1453), the three Romanian principalities remained the strongest defenders of Orthodoxy in this part of the world. Serbia had fallen (1389), then Catholic Hungary (1526), while Russia would rise to its glory only by the late 1600s & even later.

Romanian principalities had to have good relations with everybody... Mongols to the East, Catholics (Poles & Hungarians) to the North & West, and Ottoman Turks to the South...

There were troubled times, with princes rising up to almost Sainthood, others being traitors (swearing alleagiance to Hungary or Turkey) but - all in all - the Lord helped Romanians survive as long as they held their Orthodox faith.

Then Russia arose as the 'New Rome'. At first, Russians were most welcome, as 'Orthodox brothers'. Sadly, these Orthodox brothers often treated us as bad as the Catholic ones :-(

By the late 1880s, the ailing Ottoman Empire was not necessarily our friend, but a 'convenient' neighbour: too weak to harm us anymore, however still strong enough (with the help of Britain & France) to counter the growing influence of Austria, Germany & Russia in this part of Europe.

I'm hoping that a little summary of Romanian history will make you more interested in our country! :-)


7) There are countless 'positive aspects' about Catholic people (they are people like us who are not necessarily 'better humans' because we embrace the right faith in the Lord). Of course I agree with that.

I can also agree that there are good examples to follow, but the so-called 'Catholic Church' is just a human institution, set up on grave heresies. Pope Bewnedicts may have 'good intentions', and other Catholics may have 'good intetions', but the outcome of their deeds can prove catastrophic.

Just ask T. Bliar, and he'll have plenty to say about his 'good intentions'!


8) It is possible that we, as Orthodox believers and societies may have 'stagnated' but the core of Orthodoxy is still alive and always 'new'.

Those who keep the faith alive, in monasteries stretching from the frozen North of Russia & Finland, to the Sinai Pensinsula, up to the deserts of Arizona or the forrests of Northern California have not 'stagnated'.

When that happens, the Antichrist will come. It is the Orthodox - unspoilt by heresies! - Divine Liturgy that keeps the world alive, and prevents the Antichrist to assume power.

MunteanUK said...

@ Gregor (part three)

9) Isn't the word 'Catholic' still part of the Creed we say every Sunday?! Why do you think that the Orthodox Church has renounced its claim of universality?

I don't think it has done so. But there's a big difference in how we state this. Popes in Rome are somehow forced to emphasize their 'catholic' embrace of the world, while the Orthodox only stay 'open' to anyone who comes to the Truth.

Like American Neo-Protestants, Catholics use billions for propaganda. Should our (true) Church do the same?! God directs those who want the Truth in finding it...

Were you attracted to the Light of Christ by Orthodox 'propaganda'? Was Ignatios? Or Theophan? Or my friend from Brighton, Dionysios?


10) However, I'm not saying that we should renounce missionary work. The Orthodox Church should set-up churches & little congregations wherever possible, but I believe that we should rather let the Lord direct us to those who really seek Him.

I a world exhaused with propagandistic hysteria (global warming, terrorism, swine flu), I don't think we should try to sell the 'brand Jesus' like American Protestants do.

In this respect, I'm sure that you would never become an aggressive propagandist if you went to South America. It's enough to make the people see the Light of Christ in you, in your everyday work, and they will come to you.

Have you made serious research about the possibility to go on such a mission? Is your health (you said you have a bad stomach) a problem preventing you? Did you speak to Fr Raphael about this?

Maybe this link could serve as a srating point of your research:


11) The risk of bringing Anglican ideas into the Brtish Orthodoxy is not new. Ever since Apostolic times, this has always happened, and eventually only what was useful was kept. What didn't fit the Holy Tradition was scrapped.

Your worry is a 'healthy' one; ideed, you should pay attention to people trying to bring all kind of apparently good ideas to 'improve' the Orthodox Tradition.

On the other hand, don't be too harsh on such people. Some of them may have 'good intetions', others may be genuinely ignorant, and only some may be 'tools' of the Antichrist.

I think that some of the best advices in dealing with this phenomenon were given by Fr Seraphim Rose. Find his writings on this, and don't be disheartened! This is a 'risk' that the Church has been (successfully) dealing with for millennia.