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

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Orthodox Modernity in Estonia and Latvia

To have followed the plight of the Estonian Orthodox Church in the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR was to be introduced rudely to Russian chauvinism, and Moscow-Constantinople rivalry, in a rather ugly way. These were not new conflicts, but dated back to the early decades of the twentieth century. A recent book treats what happened in Estonia as well as Latvia from the time of the Bolshevik revolution until the Second World War: Simon Rimstad, The Challenges of Modernity to the Orthodox Church in Estonia and Latvia (1917-1940) (Peter Lang, 2012), 333pp.

About this book we are told:
After the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917, Orthodox Christians in Estonia and Latvia had to rethink their place in society and reorganise the local Orthodox Church. The Church was challenged both by the new political circumstances and by societal antagonism. In both cases, the local ecclesiastic authorities considered themselves independent from the Patriarchate of Moscow, although in very different fashions. This study uses primarily periodicals and other published sources from the period between 1917 and 1940 to shed light on the internal discussions in the respective Orthodox Churches on issues of authority, identity, and history. This includes creating adequate structures for the Church, reforming liturgical elements and emphasising the positive role of Orthodox Christianity in Estonian and Latvian history.

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