Category Archives: Russian Orthodoxy

Russian Orthodox Clergy Support Justice and Respect for the Law

by Sergei Chapnin  |  ру́сский

Photo: Reuters

The reform of the judicial system, which practically never acquits and is fully subordinate to law enforcement agencies, has long been discussed in Russia. However, only civil activists are involved in the debates. The government keeps evading any participation in the discussion, and the courts continue arbitrarily to pass unreasonably strict verdicts for both civil activists and businessmen. In mid-September, a number of professional societies called for a review of the decisions concerning the cases of participants in unauthorized demonstrations in Moscow from July 2019. An appeal by Orthodox clergy was among the first, followed by public petitions by teachers, doctors, publishers, and philosophers. However, the clergy’s letter was most unexpected and had an unexpectedly profound resonance in Russian society.

What is the letter about?

On September 17th, a group of Orthodox priests came to the defense of young people who were detained after unauthorized protests in Moscow. The chosen format of the letter—clerical intercession—was unexpected and has never been used in post-Soviet Russia. Continue reading

The Diverging Paths of Orthodoxy

by Theodore Theophilos

The following is a review of Russian Nuclear Orthodoxy, a study of the role of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) in shaping the nuclear arms program for the Russian Federation written by Dmitry Adamsky and published by Stanford University Press (2019). 

I approached this surprisingly accessible book with perhaps a unique perspective. I have no background in the complexities and horrifying potentialities of nuclear weapons and the political policies behind their creation and use. My interest in this book was to explore two quickly diverging paths of Orthodoxy. One path is that of the statist—the Church in a collaborative relationship with government in the “Byzantine model.” The other path is that of the stateless—the Church existing in a polity but in a pre-Constantine relationship with government. In his analysis of the relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and the Russian nuclear defense community, Professor Adamsky chronicles the alarming merger of the missions of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Federation and its nuclear armed forces.

Russian Nuclear Orthodoxy analyzes the relationship between the ROC and the Russian armed forces in three evolving periods: the Genesis Decade (1991-2000); the Conversion Decade (2000-2010); and the Operationalization Period (2010-2020). Continue reading

Theology as Science in Russia and the German Model

by Anna Briskina-Müller  |  ελληνικά  |  ру́сский

“The Moscow University was founded on the same principles as all German universities” – so says a Russian report from the early 1770s. Because no Russian professors were available, “no theological faculty was established […] That said, it would be beneficial to establish such a faculty for the training of the clergy” – so states the report.

Both the statement that theological faculties are necessary and the reference to “German universities” are still relevant today. Nowadays, we observe controversial discussions around this question in Russia.

There is a wide spectrum of positions here: “hard positivists” (“all the humanities are basically not science”), “moderate positivists” (“theology is, in contrast to the other humanities, not a science because of its denominational limitation”), “religiously-interested positivists” and “religious scholars” (who deny the scientific nature of theology because of its subjective character), neutral to benevolent “observers” and theological autodidacts (representatives of humanities dealing in theological issues), and lastly, the representatives of the Church (the “positivists” call them “clericalists”). Continue Reading…

The Russian “Matilda” Controversy: The Politics of Religious Feelings

by Kristina Stoeckl  |  ελληνικά   |  ру́сский

Karl Marx famously said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. The truth of this statement can be witnessed these days in Russia when looking at the controversies surrounding the film Matilda, due to show in Russian cinemas on October 26th, 2017. The street protests of groups of Orthodox believers, the charges launched against its director Aleksej Uchitel by conservative politicians, two cars set on fire by a group that calls itself “Christian State – Holy Russia,” and a parliamentary commission that hastens to “examine” the film only to find it harmless…

Matilda is public upheaval over “offense of religious feelings” as a farce. The tragedy dates back to 2012 and revolved around the Pussy Riot incident. Continue Reading…