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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Orthodox at Heart"—a personal reflection on the church in Russia

Such is the title of my guest post over at The Two Cities blog. If you're interested in the topic, please check it out and feel free to comment on the article at either site.

Much could be said in comparison of American and Russian churches. One topic at which I only hinted (but didn't have room to explore), is that of the relationship between the church and our respective  political revolutions (in 1775 and 1917). Both revolted against monarchist states, accused of exploiting the wealth and prosperity of the people while infringing on individual rights. Both led to quasi-secular nations that broke with the European tradition of a state church. In the American case, however, religious freedom was emphasized as a divine right, and the replacement oligarchy touted a quasi-Christian deism, in which God could be found through academia (forgive the oversimplification). For Russia, religious freedom was promoted only to undermine the Orthodox Church (associated with the strength of the Imperial upper classes), but later squashed through censorship and persecution. As a result, continued health of the Soviet Union relied on a new standard of orthodoxy, and to stray from such made one an enemy of the State. Despite the ostensible opposition to liberty, this structure secured the government against future revolution, as was seen, for example, in the American Civil War (for Southern Independence) scarcely 85 years after the nation's founding.

As the commemoration of our American Revolution approaches, we might ask ours uniquely bears on modern affairs, mindsets, and particularly the church, compared to those of other countries. Many Russians ask today whether their own revolution marked a positive or justified turn in national history. If we ask the same in America, what kind of answers emerge?

I never thought to ask this question, so I thought I would share.

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