cult takes refuge in cave

Published November 16th, 2007 by Bobby Henderson


CNN reports that a Russian doomsday cult has barricaded themselves in a cave and are waiting for the end of the world.

It’s strange to me that they believe the earth is coming to an end in May 2008, but they’re already in the cave. Six months in a cave is a long time. The move seems a little premature to me, that’s all I’m saying. Why the rush? I feel like I’m missing something. And why would you choose to spend your last days there instead of a nice hotel or something?

Russian anti-cult authorities have determined that up to 29 members, including 4 children, are taking hold in the cave.

I say leave them alone, as long as the children are in no imminent danger. Who cares? What’s the worst that will happen? They’re waiting for the end of the world – they’re not going to mass-suicide. It seems to me that most of the cult disasters have been triggered by authorities trying to intervene. So what if they’re in cave? Leave them alone. If you try to force them out, they very well might mass-suicide.

By far, the scariest thing about this situation is the response from the mainstream church:

“It is obviously some kind of insanity,” Mitropolitan Kirill, a high-ranking Russian Orthodox Church official, told Russian television. “It is perhaps even a medical case. A very dangerous phenomena is happening in Russia’s religious life.”

He added, “What we’re seeing in Penza right now is a most vivid example of what could happen to a country, to a society, if this society is deprived of proper religious education.”

(I added the bold.)

To Mr. Kirill: What is “proper religious education”, and who do you propose decide the curriculum? What makes your cult more legitimate than theirs? You believe the earth is 5000 years old and we rode around on dinosaurs, they’re just living in a cave.

You can read the CNN article here.

196 Responses to “cult takes refuge in cave”

  1. Captain W says:

    1.You think that because Christians visit a website that is predominantly atheist that suddenly religious people are losing their faith
    -Where did you get this from? I may be mistaking but I don’t think most people here think that.
    2.perhaps it’s possible that someone who disagrees with ID being taught in schools, goes to a website that thinks the same, and comments on it, just got frustrated with the portrayal of all Christians as idiots and decided to voice her opinion.
    -Not our fault. We don’t portray christians as idiots, they do that on their own. If you look around you will notice well written, intelligent posts get respectful intelligent responses, regardless of the original posters religion. People who post incomprehensible, illogical or angry posts, generally get dimissed or reamed on, again regardless of the original posters religion. I can speak for everyone, but I atleast am an equal-oppurtunity hater.
    3.Sure I think about what it might be like to be “free” of belief. But for most of us it was just a phase. All of us (excepting fundamentalists) go through it. For some it is not just a phase, I know, but it’s not uncommon to be an atheist for about a year or more
    -This i a hasty generalization, therefore illogical or untrue. Also in your first paragraph you were very quick to criticize us for making assumptions, yet it you do exactly that.
    4.Lastly, I would like to say I have also gone thruogh an atheist phase. I was never free.
    -Is there a point to this? Statements like this really only works on teenagers, they are not convincing.

  2. CatholicLiberal says:

    Hey, I’m still here.
    I’m sorry if I was rude, I’ll try to be nicer. I just have a very sarcastic tone, which has become second nature. Also I have seen a letter from a Catholic being nice, and I saw mostly nice responses,(one of the writers happens to be a relative), the main reason I thought you guys were being accusing was that someone called me a rambling idiot, and I assumed, perhaps stupidly, that some atheists were under the opinion that all Catholics took pleasure in being ignorant or something similar, or at least out to turn everyone into blind followers. Obviously I was the one being ignorant. (I’m not being sarcastic here.)
    I never meant to say that all religious people broadcast their religion, I should have said most. However I did say religion
    @storm petrel-I’m sorry I didn’t answer your question, I must have skipped over it. At my school we had always been taught that it was symbolic, but perhaps I was wrong.
    @pluto- as for limbo, I didn’t know what you meant, as I’ve never heard of it. I asked my Dad, and he said he was always under the impression that limbo was for family members of someone who had been saved, or went to heaven, but commited a horrible sin (murder etc.), some people say that they can go to heaven after Jesus returns to Earth, or until they pay off their sin. As far as I can tell it is no longer taught, but that’s the best I can do.
    As for Popes, no, they’re not infalliable, they’re human. Only God is infalliable, and the Pope is not God. There have been really good popes and really bad popes (see the Inquisition and the Crusades) which the Catholic church is aware of.
    @Captain W- I was responding to the post above mine.
    Any other questions?

  3. CatholicLiberal says:

    Also, I would like to add I’m only fourteen. That’s probably why I act like a teenager.

  4. storm petrel says:

    @ CatholicLiberal, looks like we were taught different systems, I was taught religion by a Dominican sister for one year, and according to Dominican teachings the host and wine being changed to the body and blood is not symbolic. That sister was one of the few honest believers I’ve ever met, and she didn’t believe in Limbo, or the idea that a baby wouldn’t be allowed into heaven just because they weren’t baptised, despite this having been cathilic teaching for many years.
    As far as I know, the idea of limbo was that it was kind of a waiting room for heaven, where you had to do some sort of penance because noone was good enough to go straight in, but if people still on earth prayed enough for the departed soul, it could reduce the waiting time.
    As I said above, for many years the catholic church preached that to have any hope of heaven, a person must be baptised. In Ireland, this belief was so strong that still-born, or otherwise unbaptised babies would not be given a funeral and would be buried in unmarked graves in unconsecrated ground. Priests would sometimes be asked to attend child-birth and baptise the baby as soon as it was born if there was a chance it would die soon after, a full baptism would be held later if it lived.
    @ Old Grouch, just out of curiosity, what is the orthodox view of communion? Transubstantiation, or consubstantiation?

  5. Old Grouch says:

    @storm petrel – Orthodoxy doesn’t use either of the philosophical designations as a “definition” as such. However, the fundamental of the Mystery is the actual transformation of the Holy Gifts, by way of the Holy Spirit, invoked in the Epiclesis, to be what Christ said they were, His Body and Blood.
    When discussing the matter with Western based folks, the word, “Transubstantiation”, fits best, since there is Reservation. And the whole cycle of the Divine Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified utilizes the Reserved Gifts as the Elements of Communion. Which makes that “label” more easily understood in terms of comparison, perhaps.
    I think you are kind of melding “limbo” and “purgatory” a bit. The notion of “purgatory” develops from the Roman concept of “original sin” being a transmitted form of “guilt” – in geometric proportions – down through the ages; which “guilt” has so loaded human kind down as to never be able to actually “pay up” – or even “pay the interest” on the “debt owed to God”. Thus, even though Christ’s Suffering, Death, and Ressurection is, for Orthodox Christianity, the absolute fulfillment of God’s gift of restoration, to ALL creation – God’s gift of Himself by His own choice, NOT a matter of “contract”, or “covenant” with a group, institution, or collective body (Church) – Rome’s adoption of Augustinian “definitions” (brief and oversimplified; but accurate) led to the idea of having to “work off” the still “unpaid” matter of “penance and suffering” each individual still “owed” at death.
    This led to the idea of a “waiting room” – as you quite accurately call it – in which the soul was deprived of the ultimate joy of seeing God, until his “debt” was “paid off” – by Prayers and Masses, with the earthly monies going to Rome, where “Indulgences” could be granted, at a price, that would ultimately “reduce the sentence”, or “pay up”.
    Orthodoxy, of course, has none of it; since this development of “Institutional Salvation” is alien to the whole Theology of Orthodox Christianity. And, the abuses of the whole thing ultimately led to the Protestant Revolution, which was based on an attempt to get a “cut of the take” locally, as much as upon anything else.
    Since the Augustinian/Aristotelian/Origenist adoption of philosophical “definitions and limitations” for the Mysteries (Sacraments) was expressly condemned by Council, Orthodoxy also has no concept of “limbo” – or a state after death where unbaptized infants might reside. Again, we come to the diametrically opposed set of concepts concerning the “guilt of original sin”.
    For Orthodoxy, Baptism/Chrismation is the Incorporation of the INDIVIDUAL into the Living Body of Christ on Earth, His Church. And, while Baptism does “wash away” sin, for those who have committed sin in their lives (adults, or teenagers), Orthodoxy DOES NOT hold the idea that humans are “conceived and born in sin, with Adam’s guilt”. Nor does Orthodoxy have the concept that the creation (human kind) can, or does, “sin” against the Creator (God). The finite cannot, and does not, affect the Infinite. Adam turned away from God; and Adam suffered the consequences himself. In that turning away from God, the consequences for Adam’s descendents were the weakening of the will and ability to live with God in a “face to face” relationship, and the entry of physical suffering and death. “As in Adam, all die; so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
    Thus, if a little child – or a baby – dies before Baptism, that is a matter left to God, NOT “legislated” by a Curia as to what happens after death.
    Recent attempts to entice Orthodox Christians into some kind of detente with the Vatican have led to a sort of “back burner” approach to matters such as “limbo”, for instance. One might liken it to the “Out of sight, out of mind” attitude Rome often adopts when it is trying to present itself as some kind of “moral authority”. But, that aside, the “limbo” matter itself has never really occupied all that much of a place in discussions between Orthodox Christianity and the Roman Religion.
    It would take a great deal more time, and space, to deal properly with the subject in its entirety; but I can recommend the works of Father John Meyendorf – starting with his BYZANTINE THEOLOGY, and also with his historical works – as well as those of Father Alexander Schmemann – especially his catachetical series – for those who would be interested.
    And thanks for your patience in allowing me to write what I have. HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO EVERYONE!

  6. Star says:

    Why is everyone making such a big fuss? I say if they want to live in a cave, let them be. Everyone deals with ‘the end of the world’ in different ways, I myself would just spend all my money and go to the Caribbean, but you know, whatever floats your boat!

  7. CatholicLiberal says:

    @storm petrel-Dominican? that makes sense. My teacher was a Jesuit. As for Baptism, it was never taught like that at my school. The idea that baptism was essential to salvation was frowned upon. But this is America and perhaps were allowed to be a little radical over here. (I know no one ever gets mad at me for voicing my beliefs.) You are from a different country right?
    And as for fundamentalism in general, most fundamentalists don’t even like to talk about Catholics and spend a large amount of time teaching that Catholics will go to hell. It’s kind of funny, because enemy # 1 isn’t atheists or buddhists or hindus but other christians (even though they are the only real Christians. For anyone who is interested in how the fundamentalist movement got started, I highly recommend Stealing Jesus, How Fundamentalistism Betrays Christianity by Bruce Bawer. And, yes, I know the authors gay.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. storm petrel says:

    The sister who taught me religion didn’t believe that baptism was essential either, she actually said at one point that she had no way of knowing for sure which religion was right, so she was never going to try to force catholicism on us, which is why I said she had honest faith. I think the different teachings of baptism as essential versus non-essential are more due to different times than countries though, noone would ever say a baby wasn’t going to heaven just because it wasn’t baptised now.

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