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Turns of Faith, Search for Meaning

Orthodox Christianity and Post-Soviet Experience


Alexander Agadjanian

The book examines deep shifts in the religious life of Russia and the post-Soviet world as a whole. The author uses combined methods of history, sociology and anthropology to grasp transformations in various aspects of the religious field, such as changes in ritual practices, the emergence of a hierarchical pluralism of religions, and a new prominence of religion in national identity discourse. He deals with the Russian Church’s new internal diversity in reinventing its ancient tradition and Eastern Orthodoxy’s dense and tense negotiation with the State, secular society and Western liberal globalism. The volume contains academic papers, some of them co-authored with other scholars, published by the author elsewhere within the last fifteen years.
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2. Religion between Universal and Particular: Eastern Europe after 1989


Religion vs. Global Culture: To Resist or to Accept?

This chapter will attempt to summarize some recent religious developments in Eastern Europe1 with one specific perspective in mind: to investigate the ways how religions of this area in the post-Cold War era have responded to the advance of “global culture”.

Responding to global culture – or to whatever we can call a trend thereto or an expression thereof – means to revisit a religion’s eternal claim to represent the universal while being constantly bound to a particular entity: community, ethnos, polity, or tradition. In the past, universal and particular have been always dialectically linked in the history of religions. They might simply ignore this distinction as a problem, as in isolated tribal communities whose particular gods were the only conceivable source of universal order; they might have tried to cultivate a certain universal divine space that would overcome particular regional preferences while at the same time tolerating them, as in classical Greco-Roman oecumene; they might have posited a hierarchy of access to the ultimate universal truth, with a particular community being clearly marked as having an exclusive mission to be the God’s people, as in the Judaic theology of covenants; they might have established an imperial expanse combined with exclusive dualistic regime of messianic warfare with infidels, as in classical Islam or medieval Christianity; or to postulate a more inclusive universalism recognizing particularities as only accidental, outer forms of an essential inner unity, as in modern...

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