This article examines the influence of religion on the formation of social capital in Russia. The study suggests that the active involvement of parishes in organizing social work, based on the principles of the delegation of responsibility from priests to laity, increases parochial social networks and engages more laypeople, including those who do not practice an active religious life. The data for the article comes from research projects conducted from 2011–13 at the “Sociology of Religion” Research Seminar at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University, and includes a mass survey of parishioners in 12 parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church, located in cities of various size and in various regions of Russia (the total sample size is 985 respondents); in-depth interviews with parishioners and priests in 15 parishes (in total, 153 interviews); and the first wave of results from the nationwide survey OrthodoxMonitor (national representative sample of 1500 respondents).
The Problematics of Violence in Post-Soviet Russian Orthodox Discourse
This article analyzes a number of issues in contemporary Russian Orthodoxy from the perspective of the link between religion and violence. After a brief survey of the theoretical apparatus, it turns to the imagery of “cosmic war” in the discourse of official representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate and of Orthodox nationalists; to the ways that imagery affects questions of ethics and morality; to the events of 2012 associated with the performance of Pussy Riot and the reactions to it; and to examples of symbolic and actual violence. The analysis will conclude with eschatological images of “cosmic conquest” and with what might be called the “sacrificial crisis” of Orthodox parish subculture. This article then attempts to draw links of religion and violence on the theoretical level.
Religious Conversion, Utopia and Sacred Space (Okunevo Village in Western Siberia)
Elena Golovneva, Irina Shmidt
This paper represents an attempt at theorizing a “sacred space” that coalesced in the last two decades in association with the village of Okunevo in Western Siberia. Using discourse analysis and the ideas of social constructivism, the authors highlight some contemporary narratives related to Okunevo. They view this “site of power” as a social product and a result of the interplay of mythological narrative, archaeological interpretation, and tourist practices. The production of mythos and “invented traditions” are vital ways in which non-traditional religious communities in Okunevo remember, reactualize and articulate their religious identity. The highlighted discourses, which illustrate the social logic of the development of “sites of power” and methods of representing them, allow us to analyze this “sacred space” from a historical perspective.
“Ukrainian” as “Non-Orthodox”: How Greek Catholics Were “Reunited” with the Russian Orthodox Church, 1940s–1960s
Drawing upon archival, published and oral sources, as well as recent studies on the correlation between religion and nationality, this article argues that the formal “reunification” of the Greek Catholics with the Russian Orthodox Church became a successful “subaltern strategy,” ensuring the survival of the Greek Catholic Church through the Soviet period. The article demonstrates that the “Church within the Church,” which came into existence because of “reunification,” for decades preserved its separate identity within the Russian Orthodox Church. The “Church within the Church” did not oppose the regime’s assimilation policy directly, yet positioned itself as Ukrainian and therefore as non-Orthodox (because non-Russian) and even as non-Soviet. This article examines these specific issues within the wider context of the survival of the Church in the Soviet state.
Book Reviews: Mystical Politics as Contradictio in Adjecto: Thoughts on the Margins of Aristotle Papanikolaou’s Recent Book
This article is an expanded critical review of the book The Mystical as Political: Democracy and Non-Radical Orthodoxy (2012), written by Aristotle Papanikolaou, a contemporary Orthodox theologian. The article contains analysis of key assumptions and arguments of the author of the book, who looks at the political regime of liberal democracy from the perspective of Eastern Christian ascetic theology. The position of the author of the book is considered through a possible distinction between several models of Christian political theology: a theology of “using” (the political) versus a theology of “participating” (in the political) versus a theology of anachoresis (withdrawal from the political). Papanikolaou’s interpretation of traditional asceticism as compatible with liberal democracy is criticized, as well as his overall support of a certain type of political regime, which seems arbitrary, as the author avoids any formulation of a specifically Christian political ideal as opposed to the secular philosophical foundations of contemporary statehood.
Book Reviews: Robert Collis (2012). The Petrine Instauration: Religion, Esotericism and Science at the Court of Peter the Great, 1689–1725. Leiden, Boston: Brill. — 576 pages.
Book Reviews: Tatyana Shevchenko (2013). The Valaam Monastery and the Establishment of the Finnish Orthodox Church (1917–1957). (Valaamskii monastyr’ i stanovlenie Finliandskoi pravoslavnoi tserkvi). Moscow: Pravoslavnii Sviato-Tikhonovskii gumanitarnyi u