Tag Archives: Secularism

Eastern Orthodox Identity and “Aggressive Liberalism”: Non-Theological Aspects of the Confrontation

by Dmitry Uzlaner

This essay is part of a series stemming from the ongoing research project “Contemporary Eastern Orthodox Identity and the Challenges of Pluralism and Sexual Diversity in a Secular Age,” which is a joint venture by scholars from Fordham University’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center and the University of Exeter, funded by the British Council, Friends of the British Council, and the Henry Luce Foundation as part of the British Council’s “Bridging Voices” programme. In August 2019, 55 scholars gathered for an international conference at St Stephen’s House, Oxford. These essays are summaries of presentations given in preparation for the conference and during it. They together reflect the genuine diversity of opinion that was represented at the conference and testify to the need for further reflection and dialogue on these complex and controversial topics.

angry mob

I am not a theologian, and I am not going to speak as a theologian. I am scholar of religion. And my perspective is that of an outside observer. It is the perspective of a person who has been studying contemporary Orthodoxy (in Russia) for many years—with special focus on religious conservatism in its different manifestations.

In the discourse of contemporary Orthodoxy (Russian), one of the most important topics in recent years has been the struggle with what is called in this rhetoric “aggressive liberalism” or “aggressive secularism.” “Aggressive liberalism” is a multidimensional concept, but the most threatening part of it which is often mentioned as an evidence of why liberalism is dangerous is “sexual diversity,” in particular non-traditional sexual relations, same-sex marriages, feminism, etc. It seems that Church’s vision of itself is structured around this confrontation, around this feeling of being attacked by an aggressive ideological enemy imposing some alien values and practices. Continue reading

Theology in a “Post-Truth” Landscape

by Jack Louis Pappas

The last year has seen an overwhelming number of think-pieces and public reflections on the collapse of facts. Indeed, even for the most casually engaged individual, the term “post-truth” has gained an undeniable familiarity within the collective lexicon. We have been reminded with ever-increasing frequency that despite legions of assembled “fact checkers,” the public seems all too willing to give “[itself] over to all kinds of magical thinking, anything-goes relativism, and belief in fanciful explanation—small and large fantasies that console or thrill or terrify us.”

While much of this analysis has focused upon the populist and ideological reasons for the embrace of post-truth in the political arena, few seem to have noticed the ways in which our “post-truth” reality has disrupted our religious communities and the very act of thinking theologically. Continue Reading…