"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
mattress,/
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Secularism and Religion in Russia and Ukraine

Scott Kenworthy, author of the splendid history of Trinity-Sergius Lavra which I discussed here, just alerted me that he has a chapter in a new book edited by Catherine Wanner that is supposed to be released later this month: State Secularism and Lived Religion in Soviet Russia and Ukraine (Oxford UP, 2013 [paperback]), 304pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
State Secularism and Lived Religion in Soviet Russia and Ukraine is a collection of essays written by a broad cross-section of scholars from around the world that explores the myriad forms religious expression and religious practice took in Soviet society in conjunction with the Soviet government's commitment to secularization. The implementation of secularizing policies invariably shaped the forms of religious expression that emerged in Soviet Russian and Soviet Ukraine. Religious practices across confessional groups over time reflect the waves of intensification and relaxation of repressive practices. During the post-world War II period, which most of the essays in this volume address, repressive tactics shifted from raw coercion and violence to propaganda and agitation as the main means to suppress religious practice and belief in the public sphere. Unlike other studies that have focused on such forms of repression, the authors in this volume consider how some communities and individual believers were able to adapt their practices and beliefs to the social, political, and ideological constraints of Soviet society so as to pursue their beliefs. The volume thus offers a new perspective on Soviet secularization that moves beyond the formation of policies and decrees to consider two additional dimensions. First, the essays engage how governing mandates to suppress religion and promote a secular society were experienced by believers. Second, this approach allows the authors to illustrate the variety of secularizing polices and how they were invariably implemented across regions, over time, and in response to perceptions of local religious practice. By considering the intersection of religious practice and Soviet secularizing policies, this collection expands our understanding of religiosity in the region and illustrates how specific denominations and the believers within them adapted to the conditions set by socialist modernity.
This book reads something like a who's-who, featuring some of the most prominent names in East-Slavic historiography today, many of whom have been featured on here before: 
Introduction - Catherine Wanner
1. Subversive Atheism: Antireligious Campaigns and Religious Revival in Ukraine in the 1920s - Gregory L. Freeze
2. GPU-NKVD Repressions of Zionists: Ukraine, the 1920s - Olga Bertelsen
3. Christianity and Radical Nationalism: Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky and the Bandera Movement - John-Paul Himka
4. The Revival of Monastic Life in the Trinity-Sergius Lavra after World War II - Scott Kenworthy
5. ''They burned the pine, but the place remains all the same'': Pilgrimage in the changing landscape of Soviet Russia - Stella Rock
6. Confession in Modern Russia and Ukraine - Nadieszda Kizenko
7. Time and Space of Suffering: The Soviet Past in the Memoirs and Narratives of Evangelical Christian Baptists - Olena Panych
8. Preaching the Kingdom Message: Jehovah's Witnesses and Soviet Secularisation - Zoe Knox
9. The Revival before the Revival: Popular and Institutionalized Religion in Ukraine on the Eve of the Collapse of Communism - Victor Yelensky

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