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Russian Orthodox Monks Sell Prayers Online

By imrdkl in Culture
Wed May 14, 2003 at 04:46:31 PM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

Monks from a famous but financially troubled Russian monastery are now offering their prayers for sale online.

Sponsor: rusty
This space intentionally left blank
...because it's waiting for your ad. So why are you still reading this? Come on, get going. Read the story, and then get an ad. Alright stop it. I'm not going to say anything else. Now you're just being silly. STOP LOOKING AT ME! I'm done!
comments (24)
active | buy ad
At the Holy Lake Monastery of Our Lady of Iberia, south of Moscow, the monks are struggling with finances like many other churches within the Russian Orthodox Church. The Church was revitalized after 1991 and has since fielded several commercial ventures, but without much success. The monastery itself has also recently received one million rubles for restoration from Vladimir Putin's Presidential Reserve Fund, but the day-to-day expenses related to running the monastery were apparently not considered in the gift. To that end, the monks are now offering single-mention prayers for less than $1, and an "eternal" mention for about $30.

A priest from the monastery, in an interview with The Scotsman, claims that the monies received will go towards "supporting the brothers, and funding reconstruction of the monastery", and defended the decision to sell prayer as part of tradition. The monks also feed visiting pilgrims at their own expense.

The Lady of Iberia Icon, around which the Iberian monastery finds it's purpose, dates back to the 4th century, and has an interesting history. The icon purportedly "floated" to the gates of the monastery to protect itself from the iconoclasts who sought to destroy it. The celebration of the icon also happens to fall on the same day that the Moscow Theater was taken by siege last year, a coincidence which some Russians consider significant.

Payment for prayers can be rendered via credit card and other internet payment methods. Despite some criticism, the plan is working, with people from around the world paying for prayer for children, or recently deceased relatives. Their website is only available in Russian, however.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Selling Prayer Online
o Disgraceful 10%
o Innovative 18%
o Traditional 24%
o Bah 46%

Votes: 129
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o prayers for sale online
o Holy Lake Monastery of Our Lady of Iberia
o one million rubles
o interview with The Scotsman
o Lady of Iberia Icon
o taken by siege
o Also by imrdkl

Display: Sort:
Russian Orthodox Monks Sell Prayers Online | 78 comments (73 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
What's the problem? (4.44 / 9) (#1)
by BadDoggie on Wed May 14, 2003 at 05:16:16 AM EST

Nothing wrong with selling a prayer. It's a good business to be in, really, since costs are extremely low and there's no taxes or transportation to worry about.

It's only when you start selling indulgences and violating all those rules that you get uppity Germans nailing stuff to your front door.


"You're more screwed up than turmeric and you're not even drunk!" — A Proud

I'm wondering... (3.00 / 2) (#2)
by ti dave on Wed May 14, 2003 at 05:24:49 AM EST

What kind of return will I get on my investment?

I'd like to put a bullet in your head, Ti_Dave. ~DominantParadigm
[ Parent ]

If you believe (1.75 / 4) (#3)
by monkeymind on Wed May 14, 2003 at 06:13:41 AM EST

Then you don't have to ask the question. If you don't then you are an idiot.

I believe in Karma. That means I can do bad things to people and assume the deserve it.
[ Parent ]

Best religious advocacy *evar* (4.75 / 4) (#24)
by ti dave on Wed May 14, 2003 at 11:46:01 AM EST

Have you considered a career as a missionary?

I'd like to put a bullet in your head, Ti_Dave. ~DominantParadigm
[ Parent ]

77 vrigins ... (3.25 / 4) (#4)
by mami on Wed May 14, 2003 at 08:21:41 AM EST

[ Parent ]
err, God didn't seem to agree with me (3.50 / 4) (#5)
by mami on Wed May 14, 2003 at 08:25:14 AM EST

considering the spell he put on my spelling of virgins ...

[ Parent ]
No, these monks are not going to martyr themselves (none / 0) (#50)
by Berkana on Thu May 15, 2003 at 05:31:21 AM EST

If I'm not mistaken, you're referring to Muslim "martyrs", and what the Koran says they will get. . .

In that case, these monks would have you pay them to convert to Islam and go on a "martyrdom" mission on your behalf. . .

[ Parent ]

nah (none / 0) (#70)
by mami on Thu May 15, 2003 at 09:07:19 PM EST

the God of the Christians is loving enough to give you the 77 virgins for free without martyrdom. No need to convert, neither the monks, nor you.

That's why it makes sense to pay a little for the "right" prayer from the monks, because they don't manipulate our minds with a "killing others by martyrdom" doctrine.

These days we must be grateful for everything that doesn't glorify the self-sacrificing murderer martyrs.

[ Parent ]

I think it's a good idea, (3.33 / 3) (#6)
by ChaosD on Wed May 14, 2003 at 08:35:37 AM EST

but then again, I'm not a believer - so all I see is a nice way of making charity look like a service.
I can see how the faithful (I come from a Christian society, so my perceptions are influenced accordingly) would find this idea uncomfortable - salvation is not something you can buy.
So I wish them luck - I think they will need it, but more importantly I think they deserve it (God does, after all, help those who help themselves...)
As a slight aside, does anybody know what the Russian Orthodox Church traditons actually are (in relation to receiving payment for prayer)? I had a look at the Scotsman link, but it doesn't provide any more information.
There are no stupid questions
It was common (4.66 / 3) (#23)
by tftp on Wed May 14, 2003 at 11:28:19 AM EST

During last 800 years it was customary for peasants to pay the priest for his services. Note that a priest was the closest thing to a government office - he could read and write, managed all kinds of notarial records, registered children, marriages, deaths, etc.

Often the payment was not in cash but in food, or labor, or something else. That's how it is portrayed in books. Priests often held special services for special causes, and I would understand that they were paid for that in some way. Religious work is no different from any other work.

However, the church in old Russia was collecting a 10% tax on every form of income, that was its main revenue source. The church was quite rich - richer than many czars.

[ Parent ]

not so weird (3.20 / 5) (#7)
by the wanderer on Wed May 14, 2003 at 08:43:22 AM EST

This isn't so uncommen. Granted, i hadn't heard of the specific concept of buying a prayer before, but in essense it's not so much different then any other form of selling religous items to generate funds. I don't know how commen it is in other religions, but for christianity it's rather normal.

david, the Lost Boy
the Written Pixel

India (3.00 / 1) (#10)
by j1mmy on Wed May 14, 2003 at 08:57:45 AM EST

I think this is rather common in Hinduism, but I could be wrong.

[ Parent ]
Hinduism (none / 0) (#47)
by Soviet Russian on Thu May 15, 2003 at 04:39:31 AM EST

Hindu priests charge for conducting/performing a ritual, not for prayers. They're not essentially the same.

[ Parent ]
God strongly disapproves (4.00 / 4) (#15)
by czth on Wed May 14, 2003 at 09:42:51 AM EST

When this was tried earlier, God got seriously upset. It's mostly the more outward/ceremonial pseudo-Christian religions that sell "religious artifacts", blessings, blessed relics, etc.; even baptists won't go near that crap.


[ Parent ]

Hmm (2.33 / 3) (#16)
by imrdkl on Wed May 14, 2003 at 09:46:41 AM EST

Is this why you voted the story down? Because you disapprove of the practice itself?

[ Parent ]
No, that's not why (2.50 / 2) (#19)
by czth on Wed May 14, 2003 at 10:57:05 AM EST

No, I voted it down because it wasn't all that interesting to me and I don't think it's new (maybe the "online" part, but "so what?" - anyone that's seen an AOL commercial lately knows that monks are online ;). I try not to vote stories down just because I don't like the content (although I reserve the right to do so :). I also don't see that it can generate much useful discussion (look at the comment so far...).


[ Parent ]

Okay (4.33 / 3) (#22)
by the wanderer on Wed May 14, 2003 at 11:20:17 AM EST

I'm not much of a bible-connaiseur, however i do seem to remember that the first biblical quote you refer to was about commerciants selling unrelated crap even inside the church-building.
What i'm talking about is the more "buy your candles and pray-books" kind of deal you find alot now, not the "get into heaven free card" or the "blessed finger bone of (insert random saint here)" deals that were done during medieval times.
The sort of stuff i refer to is widely done and probably authorized, if not encouraged, by the vatican.

david, the Lost Boy
the Written Pixel

[ Parent ]
Same thing... (5.00 / 3) (#29)
by Skywise on Wed May 14, 2003 at 12:30:13 PM EST

The commercialization in the temple that Jesus trashed in a world-globalization-protest style also included selling ready made calves and lambs for the slaughter.

As you're not much of a bible-connaiseur, I'll explain:

Under Jewish law you had to offer sacrifices to God to atone for your sins.  This meant bringing in one of your lambs, calves or a bushel of your harvest.  These would be burned on the alter.  (Although the temple priests would get to eat the goods in an unspoken but well known fact.)

The money lenders in the temple, with the permission of the priests, had setup a business so that you didn't have to go through all the trouble of hauling your livestock with you to the temple or even raising livestock.  You could just buy it right there at the temple ready made for your sin atonement.

Which defeated the whole spiritual purpose of "sacrifice".

[ Parent ]

Really? (4.00 / 1) (#32)
by gauntlet on Wed May 14, 2003 at 02:04:11 PM EST

So sacrificing money doesn't count in judaism?

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

Don't you know? (4.50 / 2) (#35)
by jt on Wed May 14, 2003 at 02:10:09 PM EST

They have so much money that it's not really a sacrifice.

[ Parent ]
Burning cash!? (3.00 / 1) (#36)
by Skywise on Wed May 14, 2003 at 02:14:44 PM EST

What are you?!  Nuts?!

We're talking about sacrifice here.


There's nothing to be gained by burning money!  :)

[ Parent ]

Example of sacrifice and money (5.00 / 1) (#49)
by Berkana on Thu May 15, 2003 at 05:25:59 AM EST

You're certainly right. Here's some Jews at the temple talking about the same thing, about 2000 years ago:
Mark 12:41-44
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on."

[ Parent ]
But she didn't "burn" it. (none / 0) (#62)
by Skywise on Thu May 15, 2003 at 03:43:19 PM EST

I was making a joke about the dual nature of sacrifices and the temple.  It's okay to offer animals on the alter because the meat, after the sacrifice was used to feed the poor and temple priests.

Burning cash on the alter would've destroyed it and it would've lost its value.

So temples accept cash, but sacrifice animals.  So that the "temporal" wealth maintains its value.

Although the church maintains its all for the glory of God.  And that's part of what Jesus' was railing against.

[ Parent ]

Buddhists burn "money" (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by Berkana on Thu May 15, 2003 at 04:06:19 PM EST

The burning of "money" as a sacrifice is not unknown as a religious practice. My grandparents in Taiwam are Buddhists, and they ritually burned sheets of paper with gold-leaf glyphs on them in honor of their ancestors anually: it was literally considered a monitary sacrifice.

[ Parent ]
They didn't have refrigerators (5.00 / 4) (#37)
by Blarney on Wed May 14, 2003 at 02:20:41 PM EST

The sacrifices were an opportunity to feed the priests, yes, but the priests didn't take ALL the meat. Most of it remained with the owner of the animal, who was expected to share it out among the crowds there. Back then, if you wanted to eat meat, you had to make sure that people ate the entire animal real quick - they didn't have walk-in freezers to store it - and slaughtering all these animals at one centralized temple was a good way to do it.

This is the non-spiritual purpose of sacrifice, which wasn't at all affected by the ability of people to buy ready-made sacrificial animals at the Temple. Though I do, indeed, wonder just why spirituality requires raising your own cattle.

[ Parent ]

It's an effort thang... (5.00 / 4) (#38)
by Skywise on Wed May 14, 2003 at 02:44:28 PM EST

A sacrifice is supposed to be something you give of your own blood, sweat and tears.

Note that the temple laws (probably after much debate) had determined that the conversion of blood, sweat and tears into cash and then back into livestock at the temple was considered an OK conversion because you still had to earn it.

Jesus' problem was probably the same as Luther's in that you had wealthy people who were just throwing money to absolve their sins, continuing to sin anyway, and not really caring about the problems they were creating.

[ Parent ]

Not really. (4.00 / 1) (#52)
by tkatchev on Thu May 15, 2003 at 06:42:56 AM EST

Don't forget that creating a marketplace (Have you been to one? Those places are filthy.) inside the Temple is highly disrespectful and blasphemous.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

The temple priests (none / 0) (#69)
by Skywise on Thu May 15, 2003 at 05:50:21 PM EST

didn't seem to have a problem with it.  :)

[ Parent ]
Agreed. (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by Berkana on Thu May 15, 2003 at 05:45:42 AM EST

1 Timothy 6:3-10
If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
They cherish the use of graven images (icons) in spite of the fact that God commanded otherwise:
Exodus 20:4-5
You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God. . .
How can they expect their prayers to be answered?
Psalm 66:17-18 I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
I've had some interesting theological discussions with folks of the Orthodox persuasion before. . .

[ Parent ]
Bollocks. (none / 0) (#53)
by tkatchev on Thu May 15, 2003 at 06:44:35 AM EST

Read some history.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Knott Art Will Save You (3.00 / 4) (#8)
by knott art on Wed May 14, 2003 at 08:45:28 AM EST

From eternal damnation for ONLY $39.99. Lifetime Guarantee.
Knott Art
-1 (2.41 / 12) (#9)
by AmberEyes on Wed May 14, 2003 at 08:52:15 AM EST

Too "Russian Orthodox Monks Selling Prayers Online"-Centric.


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
As always (4.11 / 9) (#11)
by imrdkl on Wed May 14, 2003 at 09:02:36 AM EST

I seek to appeal to the mass audience with my stories. Unfortunately, on this occasion, you are simply the odd man out. But don't give up hope, I'm planning a piece on anal-retentiveness soon.

[ Parent ]
YHBT HAND (nt) (2.50 / 6) (#14)
by A Spineless Liberal Commie on Wed May 14, 2003 at 09:30:36 AM EST

[ Parent ]
-1... (3.18 / 16) (#12)
by K5 ASCII reenactment players on Wed May 14, 2003 at 09:14:51 AM EST

Pray for teh advert.

   | --- 
    /  ## 
    - -## 
    /_ ## 

Nothing so new... (3.50 / 2) (#17)
by RareHeintz on Wed May 14, 2003 at 09:51:35 AM EST

I don't see anything new or particularly disturbing. "Give to us and we'll put in a good word for you." OK.

My favorite religious con game, though, has to be the Catholic practice of "indulgences". The idea was that one could reduce one's time in Purgatory by giving money to the church - which is a nice loophole in the idea that you can't buy your way into Heaven directly. Of course, it was yet another way for the church to soak the wealthy while simultaneously gaining their favor.

And don't get me started on how much easier it is to get an annulment if you're Teddy Kennedy...

- B
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily

Irony (4.50 / 2) (#21)
by enterfornone on Wed May 14, 2003 at 11:13:51 AM EST

Martin Luther founded protestantism for this very reason, yet look at the number of protestant preachers telling you to send them money.

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
That's a fine line though... (5.00 / 4) (#28)
by Skywise on Wed May 14, 2003 at 12:14:07 PM EST

Pat Robertson doesn't claim salvation in return for your donations to his church.  Only that your donations help him to further his mission to spread the word of God.  (Not that I'm a fan of Pat Robertson)

That's opposed to Robert Tilton who liked to preach that your investments in the name of God would be an investment in Heaven which would be paid back to you on Earth.  Now, you didn't have to invest in Robert Tilton's church... but if you did, you got perks...

One is obviously a charity (aka the United Way) the other is a... "spiritual bribe".

[ Parent ]

Not the same thing as here (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by Eater on Wed May 14, 2003 at 09:29:25 PM EST

Nobody promises to get you into a heaven, just to pray for you, and that's not the same thing. The monks are not promising anything they cannot do, and they are not preachers, nor are they trying to convert anyone or (most likely) further their agenda, they just want to keep their monestary running (while some would disagree, I strongly doubt the Orthodox Church is looking to get teeth, and certainly not through a monestary), but with the lack of government support (as they had in the Russian empire) or a global infrastructure (such as the Catholics have), they really have no means of getting the money needed to stay afloat. This is just another extension of the donation box.


[ Parent ]
The problem is (4.00 / 1) (#64)
by Skywise on Thu May 15, 2003 at 04:07:40 PM EST

This is how the Catholic church got into the habit of accepting donations to pray for the absolution of sins.  The idea being, you build a new cathedral for the church and the priests would put in a good word for you in heaven.  And that's what ultimately led Luther to start the Protestant church.

I'm all for priests trying to earn money to support their church.  Taking money for special prayers shouldn't be one of them.

Now how do I reconcile that with paying for a priest to perform a marriage ceremony?  I have no idea.  :)

[ Parent ]

You're confused. (4.00 / 1) (#66)
by tkatchev on Thu May 15, 2003 at 04:49:02 PM EST

The problem with indulgences is not the fact that they are sold for money; the problem is that the Catholic Church has no authority to absolve sins. Only God can do that.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Authority to absolve sins. Abuse of indulgences. (none / 0) (#77)
by Verax on Tue May 20, 2003 at 06:06:15 AM EST

the problem is that the Catholic Church has no authority to absolve sins. Only God can do that.

The early Catholic Church was the Disciples. In John 20:23, It is very clear that Jesus gives the Church the authority to forgive (or not forgive) sins. "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

A note on indulgences, by the way. Some members of the Catholic Church caused scandal by abusing indulgences. It was never the teaching of the catholic Church that indulgences were to be used that way. Also, an indulgence is not a "get out of hell free" card. Assuming one makes it to purgatory, the indulgence only reduces time spent there, but that amount of time is never specified.

"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
You do realize that practice (none / 0) (#44)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed May 14, 2003 at 11:01:01 PM EST

was banned centuries ago? Something to do with a "Protestant Reformantion", of one sort or another...

Fishing for Men, Trolling for Newbies, what's the difference?

[ Parent ]
Ok, I'll get you started (none / 0) (#56)
by jolly st nick on Thu May 15, 2003 at 09:53:08 AM EST

It's really not that unusual for regular folks to get annulments. It's just that depending on the diocese it can take some time.

[ Parent ]
can you request ANY prayer? (4.00 / 4) (#18)
by semicolin on Wed May 14, 2003 at 10:11:22 AM EST

i'll give them a dollar if they pray for a 3-legged, kilt-wearing elephant to waltz (literally) into their monastery and sneeze on each of the monks.

they would probably refuse (none / 0) (#43)
by TRASG0 on Wed May 14, 2003 at 09:35:33 PM EST

for the same reason they would refuse to pray for you to get a bj from claudia schiffer.  the whole thing is blasphemous and disresepectful of the process of prayer.

read my diary or I shall turn you into a newt
[ Parent ]

Well, biblically speaking. . . (4.00 / 1) (#48)
by Berkana on Thu May 15, 2003 at 05:17:47 AM EST

The question is, why ask them when you can ask God yourself? Not right with God yourself? How can paying monks to pray for you get around that? As if that could fool God. . .

As for the question of what one can ask for in prayer, here's the biblical basis for what one can ask for (since we're talking about Monks, who in principle, follow Jesus Christ):
John 14:13-14 [Jesus speaking]
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

1 John 5:14-15
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him.
What it means when it says to ask "in my name" (that is, in the name of Jesus) is to ask as on behalf of Jesus, or as Jesus would ask. So, a prayer such as "God, give me a Ferrari. In Jesus' name, Amen" is ridiculous; one should not expect God to answer such a prayer. Such a prayer of greed is not according to God's will; it is for prayers according to God's will that the asurance is given.
James 4:1-3
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Also, if one asks without faith that God could or would answer, one should not expect to receive anything: If you don't believe God could or would, he's not going to respond to such lack of confidence:
James 1:5-7
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. [that is, unstable] That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord. . .
Lastly, if you're shrugging of God's requests, don't expect God to respond to your requests:
Psalm 66:17-20
I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;

but God has surely listened
and heard my voice in prayer.
Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!

(In case you wonder what some Christians think of this, Christdot.org ("News for Jesus freaks. Eternal matters") has some interesting discussions on such topics in the news. ;o)

[ Parent ]
biblically speaking (none / 0) (#78)
by TRASG0 on Mon May 26, 2003 at 02:28:39 AM EST

it is quite silly to lecture the orthodox church about the meaning of the bible, since the orthodox church at large decided what books make up the bible and what do not.  reject its authority on biblical matters, and one must resort to also reading the other, non-biblical scriptures and gospels.  by the time you get done with that, you wont even know what Xianity is.

read my diary or I shall turn you into a newt
[ Parent ]
Protestant fallacy. (none / 0) (#55)
by tkatchev on Thu May 15, 2003 at 06:56:20 AM EST

You don't pray "for" something.

God is omnipotent and omniscient.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Where does "protestant" come in? n/t (none / 0) (#61)
by J T MacLeod on Thu May 15, 2003 at 02:01:27 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Re: (none / 0) (#65)
by tkatchev on Thu May 15, 2003 at 04:46:46 PM EST

Various cooky fringe Protestant groups like to view God is a sort of unversal candy factory -- some people, for example, ask God to give them a new coat or a shiny sports car, that sort of thing.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

That's certainly true... (none / 0) (#72)
by J T MacLeod on Fri May 16, 2003 at 12:47:49 AM EST

But you can't define an entire group by a lunatic fringe.  

[ Parent ]
I didn't. (none / 0) (#76)
by tkatchev on Fri May 16, 2003 at 05:01:36 AM EST


   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

My understanding (none / 0) (#67)
by Cro Magnon on Thu May 15, 2003 at 04:55:30 PM EST

Is that they're called "Protestants" because they protested against the Catholic Church.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Naturally... (none / 0) (#71)
by J T MacLeod on Fri May 16, 2003 at 12:46:17 AM EST

I was just wondering how it related to the parent.  

[ Parent ]
Beer (4.42 / 7) (#27)
by nklatt on Wed May 14, 2003 at 12:10:18 PM EST

These guys should take a pointer from the Belgian monks and open a brewery.

Major problem... (4.33 / 3) (#30)
by jd on Wed May 14, 2003 at 01:44:39 PM EST

With Internet Taxes very likely to be introduced in the US, for all goods and services, the US will be forced to invade Russia, to avoid having to violate the seperation of church from state.

(Churches in the US are all registered charities, but Russian churches aren't necessarily registered in the US as such, and monastaries or individual monks are even less likely to be so considered.)

hm.. just as long as they're paying their taxes (3.50 / 2) (#31)
by Mysidia on Wed May 14, 2003 at 01:48:24 PM EST

that any publisher or author selling their work would would have to do.

Well, I belief that most religions institutions are just enterprises of indoctrination and eventual profit to use to advance their interests (ie: reputation, agendas, &c.) anyhow, given all those examples of such things: that this sort of thing happens I don't find too surprising. In my view, the CoS' ventures aren't even the tip of the iceberg with respect to people hiding corporate interests behind religious interests

The real conspiracy is when governments respect religious institutions/ organizations/enterprises and give them things like tax breaks.

-Mysidia the insane @k5
Not as cut and dried as you might think... (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by Skywise on Wed May 14, 2003 at 02:04:39 PM EST

The US government has laws on ths books to go after a religious institution that has gone "for profit".

Which is what happened to Jim Bakker.

It's not an easy thing to prove (IE Do Girl Scouts selling far more cookies than the money they need equate to a profit center or just earning more cash to expand their charitable works?)

Once an institution has lost its non-profit charity status, it can be sued for back taxes.

[ Parent ]

With enough convulation (3.00 / 1) (#39)
by Mysidia on Wed May 14, 2003 at 02:55:20 PM EST

Many things can be seen as charitable or related to something charitable even if their real intent isn't a charitable one; with religious instutions you have things such as prayer services, those cost money (to pay for priests, maintain facilities, etc): but they could still be justified as part of charity in that they need a community (customer base) to fund charitable work

At length, of moneys collected by charities, the cash always ends up in some people's pockets, as is the nature of capitalism, and the effect of the charity spending it. Oh, but no, they don't profit, they just get to spend money on behalf of others: others profit from the charity, especially those it hires.

People just like to set their concious at ease by donating money to big corporations like churches and get the warm and fuzzy feeling that they've done their share to help humanity, and that they can now happily ignore all humanity in need of charity they see, since they've done their part. Yet much of that little share goes to overhead, administrative costs, like hiring the armies of employees to keep the giant organizations working, accountants,, people to send out those requests for more $$$, &c., &c..

Religious institutions' intents of collecting funds might be deemed charity, but that's not their only intent -- they want to sustain themselves & their community (customer base) too.

Hey, remember Microsoft and their huge donation of billions worth of software to Mexico? Could that make them a charitable organization? What if they started doing the same for other countries, maybe donating software 'worth more' than their revenues?

Helping starving kids in 3rd world countries who've been deprived for so long be able to boot up their computers to the WinXP logo and see the renowned blue screen of death for once in their lives! Sounds like a charity to me!

Who gets to say what counts as charitable work?

-Mysidia the insane @k5
[ Parent ]
The government... (5.00 / 1) (#40)
by Skywise on Wed May 14, 2003 at 04:18:16 PM EST

The government makes it very difficult to get the non-profit status to begin with.  But once you've achieved it, its alot easier to play around with the rules.

Look how much effort it took for the Federal Government to bring down Enron... a PUBLICALLY traded company whose books are open for public inspection and require quarterly filings.

Charities still have to file a ton of paperwork, but they can use the same accounting tricks to divert how funds are used.

[ Parent ]

I work for a large charity (5.00 / 1) (#42)
by TRASG0 on Wed May 14, 2003 at 09:32:54 PM EST

doing accounting . . . and I can tell you that this is certainly true.

At what point does revenue become profit?  We have revenue just like any other corporation.  It goes to pay the employees, up to and including the CEO and the rest of the executive management team.  If we have more revenue than operating expenses, we can expand, investing the revenue back into the business by giving raises, opening more charity centers, etc - its no different from a corporation investing its revenue back into the company by giving raises or opening another store.

Just like a corporation re-invests its revenue unless it is giving out dividends, which most dont any more ( I think they should be required to give out substantial dividends to be legally allowed to sell stock ), a not for profit corporation re invests its revenue in its employees.  the corporation itself doesn't profit (how could it?  no stock holders, no "owners") but the employees sure do, especially the executive management team.
read my diary or I shall turn you into a newt
[ Parent ]

This raises an interesting theological question... (4.66 / 3) (#45)
by Pervy Hobbit Fancier on Thu May 15, 2003 at 03:44:49 AM EST

I am, of course, assuming for the sake of argument that God exists (in the Christian sense). If you don't make that assumption then there is no theology to question...

God is omniscient and knows what it is that you need, and what you want. Praying is merely a polite way of formally asking Him for the help that He already knows you want.

So in this case, assuming that you are already personally praying for help - and God hasn't helped you for ineffable reasons of His own (or maybe He is helping you, and you just don't realise it), then what advantage is there in paying a Russian monk to also pray for you?

It is not as if God doesn't know that the monk has never heard of you and is only praying on your behalf because you have payed him to.

An answer to this theological question (4.20 / 5) (#46)
by Berkana on Thu May 15, 2003 at 04:32:34 AM EST

So in this case, assuming that you are already personally praying for help - and God hasn't helped you for ineffable reasons of His own (or maybe He is helping you, and you just don't realise it), then what advantage is there in paying a Russian monk to also pray for you?
There is none. The point of prayer is the relationship aspect: it's like a parent knowing what his child wants, but desiring the child to acknowledge the provision and to interact with him. If you're so lazy as to not even beseech God on your own, but paying monks to do it for you, and God knows it, you defeat the purpose of prayer, which is to draw you into a closer relationship with God. I doubt that paying monks to do your praying for you is of any advantage: if anything, God might withold or frustrate your requests to teach you a lesson. God is not a giant slot machine, and prayer is not the lever. To treat prayer mechanistically, like some incantation that will work so long as someone says it, is to insult God. I mean, if you had a son who paid off the neighborhood poor-boys to ask you for things he ought to be asking himself, what would your response be?

[ Parent ]
Well, that's one viewpoint (4.00 / 2) (#58)
by jolly st nick on Thu May 15, 2003 at 11:01:03 AM EST

You have to be careful about how you analyze other people's religion, because it's easy to mischaracterize their practices.

Another way of looking at the donation is that it is a good work. There is a big split in Christian theology over the value of good works to salvation; the RC and Orthodox positions ascribe more value than the Protestant.

So, from this viewpoint, the monks are not being paid to pray instead of the donor; it's not a simple transaction like paying somebody to mow your lawn. The donor gets the spiritual benefit of the good deed, and added to that is the spiritual benefit of the monks' sincere prayers.

However, an interesting question is what would the monks do if somebody simply asked them to pray on their behalf? Would they withhold prayer because they were not payed? In that case, it may well be considered an economic transaction rather than a spiritual one.

[ Parent ]

There is no theological basis. (4.33 / 3) (#54)
by tkatchev on Thu May 15, 2003 at 06:51:24 AM EST

The point is to make charity acceptable to people who would otherwise have problems with simply giving money away.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

There are several answers to this (5.00 / 1) (#75)
by TRASG0 on Fri May 16, 2003 at 01:10:18 AM EST

First of all, they are praying for your immortal soul, not just "help" in the general sense of the word as in, perhaps, a better job, or to hit the lottery, or something.

This is an extension of the doctrine of sainthood. One prays to the saints to beseech God on your behalf. One asks the monks to beseech God on your behalf. The idea is that they are closer to the uncreated light than you are.

Moreover, it supports the monastic community, which is a good thing from an Orthodox standpoint.

One might say, if God is everywhere present and fillest all things, how can a saint be said to be closer to him than I? But one could just as easily wonder, if God is omnipotent, why does he need "messengers" (angels). Why did he need his son to be put to death to forgive us? These questions are paradoxical and mysterious, and if you are going to be a Christian then you simply must accept them. It amazes me how people who are perfectly willing to accept paradox from quantum physics demand that their theology be not paradoxical.

read my diary or I shall turn you into a newt
[ Parent ]
So this decade we outsource prayer? (4.42 / 7) (#57)
by Elkor on Thu May 15, 2003 at 10:53:02 AM EST

1980 saw a large move to start outsourcing manufacture to Taiwan and China.

1990 saw a large move to start outsourcing IT to Asia.

2000's we outsource religous obligations to Russia?

Sure, ok, I'll go with that.

Next step, food, politics and then morality.


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
Interesting side note (4.00 / 3) (#59)
by ethereal on Thu May 15, 2003 at 01:43:06 PM EST

I'd never really thought about where the word "iconoclast" came from. People that really have it in for icons, apparently.


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State

thats exactly what it is (5.00 / 1) (#74)
by TRASG0 on Fri May 16, 2003 at 12:56:06 AM EST

it was a movement of people back in the day (like the 12th century or some shit) who decided that the Holy Icons constituted idolatry, and went around smashing them. Was a huge big deal, people were executed and imprisoned, and it took a huge ass church council to decide the issue (obviously the iconoclasts were vilified and the iconodules exonerated, which is why the Orthodox still have icons)

read my diary or I shall turn you into a newt
[ Parent ]
I once saw (4.00 / 2) (#60)
by Cro Magnon on Thu May 15, 2003 at 02:01:07 PM EST

a similar story on 60 Minutes, only that was a bunch of nuns doing it. It made me wonder if people think they have some sort of pipeline to God, just because they're nuns (or monks).
Information wants to be beer.
the prayers of the righeous avail much (none / 0) (#73)
by TRASG0 on Fri May 16, 2003 at 12:52:10 AM EST

the idea is that these people will pray for you every day. do you pray for your own soul every day ? I bet even your mom doesn't pray for your soul every day.

No they don't have a direct line to God but they are probably quite a bit closer to him than us, what with the whole celibacy and poverty thing they got going on. I can't speak about Roman Catholic monastics but the Russians pray *constantly*. If someone is praying for me, I want it to be that guy.

read my diary or I shall turn you into a newt
[ Parent ]
I love it! (5.00 / 2) (#68)
by simul on Thu May 15, 2003 at 05:36:43 PM EST

Really points out what organized religion is.

I'd like to encourage this sort of behavior, but I can't find a place to pay by credit card. It's only wire transfers, mail, e-gold, "pay halls", and some other wacky payment systems that I don't know how to use.

Read this book - first 24 pages are free to browse - it rocks

Russian Orthodox Monks Sell Prayers Online | 78 comments (73 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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