"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, February 25, 2014

Post-Soviet Secularism

Certain starry-eyed romantics see in today's Russia a resurgence of perhaps the last "great" Christian power in Europe and perhaps the world. Certain critics see in it a thinly disguised version of the old USSR. The truth is messier than that, as it so often is. While the Orthodox Church post-1991 has experienced massive growth, by far the majority of Russians today do not darken the doors of a church with any regularity. So it is correct to say that in the last two decades both "religiosity" and "secularism" have made inroads, and scholars continue to publish numerous books trying to make sense of all this. One such recently reissued effort is Sonja Luehrmann, Secularism Soviet Style: Teaching Atheism and Religion in a Volga Republic.

About this book we are told:
Sonja Luehrmann explores the Soviet atheist effort to build a society without gods or spirits and its afterlife in post-Soviet religious revival. Combining archival research on atheist propaganda of the 1960s and 1970s with ethnographic fieldwork in the autonomous republic of Marij El in Russia's Volga region, Luehrmann examines how secularist culture-building reshaped religious practice and interreligious relations. One of the most palpable legacies of atheist propaganda is a widespread didactic orientation among the population and a faith in standardized programs of personal transformation as solutions to wider social problems. This didactic trend has parallels in globalized forms of Protestantism and Islam but differs from older uses of religious knowledge in rural Russia. At a time when the secularist modernization projects of the 20th century are widely perceived to have failed, Secularism Soviet Style emphasizes the affinities and shared histories of religious and atheist mobilizations.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments are never approved. Use your real name and say something intelligent.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...