"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).

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Orthodoxy and Nationalism

I drew attention to this collection edited by Lucian Leustean, Orthodox Christianity and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Southeastern Europe, when it was published last year, and it has since then sat accusingly on my desk. I've picked it up several times and started it over the last few months, but always some interruption or other took me away from it. Only this week had a chance to devote some time to it.

Let me say straightaway that anybody with any interest in the vexed question of Orthodoxy and nationalism--as well as the wider religio-political history of southeastern Europe over the last 150 years--cannot be without this book. The introductory chapter, which cogently sets forth an overview of forms and causes of nationalism and various scholarly theories and treatments of it, is itself worth the price of the book.

After that, the book devotes chapters to Greece, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, and the role of the Ecumenical Patriarch in the sunset of the Ottoman Empire and its millet system. The details unearthed considerably complicate conventional portraits about ethno-phyletism, the role of the French Revolution, and much else besides. This is a deeply fascinating book that has been smoothly edited.

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