This piece lays out a new conception of religion applicable to contemporary post-secular conditions. In these conditions, neither the secular model of religion, typical of modernity, nor the pre-secular understanding of religion / religiosity comports with sociocultural reality. The article emphasizes that the secular understanding of premodern religion distorts religion’s nature by allotting it a fixed and therefore limited place in line with the idea and practice of functional differentiation typical of modern European societies. In this way the article unpacks the “hidden” worldview behind secularism as an ideology. Kyrlezhev suggests that this conception should be replaced by one in which the “religious” is regarded as one pole of a bipolar sociocultural whole (the other being the “eternal” secular) and that the benefit of this model is that it can be applied to various historical periods and sociocultural settings.
The Pussy Riot Case and the Peculiarities of Russian Post-Secularism
This article analyzes materials generated by and related to the Pussy Riot Trial, which was conducted in response to the scandalous “Punk Prayer” performed by the musical group on February 21, 2012 in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. These materials are used to illustrate the peculiarities of the post-secular situation in Russia, focusing on two particular issues: 1) The “Punk Prayer” and the religious-secular boundary; 2) The “Punk Prayer” and post-secular hybrids. Uzlaner emphasizes that post-secularism does not follow a single pattern and has not led to a unified normative vision. To understand the post-secular situation, we should turn our attention to collisions between different normative models of post-secularism, each supported by its own actors and activists. The Pussy Riot case and its discussion in the public sphere allow us to single out two such models: the “proauthority” (supported by state and Church leadership) and the “oppositional” (supported by the political opposition and opposition within the Church).
The Russian Origins of the So-Called Post-Secular Moment: Some Preliminary Observations
This piece argues that there are a number of paths through which we might investigate Russian connections to the emergence of postsecularism, with the collapse of the USSR and the post-Soviet revival of Russian Orthodoxy representing only the most obvious. A thus far less developed but important approach involves unraveling an intellectual-historical trajectory by focusing on the influence of anti-Bolshevik Russian religious philosophers in the West. The article shows that after the founding of the Soviet Union, the anti- Bolshevik Russian emigration emerged as a significant vehicle for the transmission of Russian ideas in the West, contributing to the development of an anti-secular discourse with roots in the 19th century that was able to achieve some prominence thanks to the Cold War. This discourse associated religiosity with freedom and atheism with unfreedom. Stroop argues that this discourse, in the development of which Russian intellectuals played an important role, emerged in reaction against the perceived cultural threat of nihilism, and he suggests that it is a similar concern over the possible consequences of nihilism that has led to the emergence of the postsecular moment.
From Outsider to Parishioner: Religious Identity Among the Older Generation in the Ivanovo Archdiocese
This article deals with religious identity among the older generation in the recently formed Ivanovo Archdiocese through the analysis of two criteria: self-identification (Do you consider yourself a believer?) and regularity of church attendance (Do you attend church, and if yes, then how often?). Data gathered through a phone survey is analzyed through a mixed research methodology, in which the insights gleaned through statistical data are supplemented with those gained through detailed conversation analysis applied to the exchanges between questioners and respondents. This analysis is used to develop a typology of religious identity along with indices of religious indifference and religious mobility. One striking conclusion is that religious identity among the older generation in the Ivanovo Archdiocese seems to be largely independent of external social factors.
The Practice of Taking Communion Among Orthodox Parishioners in the Soviet Era
This article uses the methods of historical anthropology to look at the evolution of practices associated with the Eucharist in the Russian Orthodox Church during the Soviet era. Beglov shows that during the Soviet period the frequency of individual communion increased by 5 – 10 times in comparison with the pre-revolutionary period, when most Orthodox Christians took communion no more than once a year. This evolution can be accounted for by exploring three processes associated with the rise of the USSR: 1) an “emancipation” of the ritual from functions related to state control; 2) the believers’ sense of existential fragility and insecurity under the new Soviet regime, which allowed for the same relaxation of pre-communion requirements that is permissible in the case of possibly imminent death; and 3) the blurring of the boundaries between the more intensive monastic practice and the ordinary lay practice that developed under the old regime.
Sergei Filatov and Alexey Malashenko (Еds.) (2011). The Orthodox Church under the New Patriarch. (Pravoslavnaia Tserkov’ pri novom patriarkhe). Moscow: Moscow Carnegie Centre (in Russian). — 416 pages.
Alexander Agadjanian and Kathy Rousselet (Eds.) (2011). Parish and Community in Today’s Orthodox Christianity: The Grassroots of Russian Religiosity. (Prikhod i obshchina v sovremennom pravoslavii: kornevaia sistema rossiiskoi religioznosti). Moscow: Ves’
Mikhail Smirnov (2011). Sociology of Religion: A Dictionary. (Sotsiologiia religii: Slovar’). St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg State University Press (in Russian). – 411 pages.