"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, June 30, 2020

On Black Icons of the Jewish Jesus and His Mother

This moving and powerful image, of the Mother of God cradling her dead Son, is making the rounds today for obvious reasons, and it has set off some foolish white people who claim to be Catholic while understanding little about theology and even less about iconography. So herewith a brief note about some relevant books on iconography, which I teach regularly, with special reference to a tradition I deeply love, the Ethiopian.

General Studies:

Of the three primary traditions of iconography one finds in the Christian East, the Ethiopian is perhaps the least known. The Byzantine tradition is of course far and away the most widely and popularly practiced, not least because of its associations with the empire of that name. When people typically think of Eastern or Orthodox iconography, it is the Byzantine style that they almost invariably imagine and turn to. There are hundreds of books about this tradition, including many that have been published just in the last two decades, and most of these by Western Christians suddenly "inventing" (in both senses of the word) the tradition and eager to explore its riches. Searching on here using the relevant labels (at bottom of this post) will bring up dozens and dozens of posts about recent publications, scholarly and popular. If you asked me to name just 3 for those with no background, I would recommend the following:

First, for your average Roman Catholic today, start with Sr Jeana Visel's book (which I reviewed here). Second, for those desiring more historical and theological depth, then Lossky's book has long been a standard text. Third, for still more depth and detail, Ouspensky's two-volume set has long had an obligatory place on every bibliography.

Finally, for those who clearly do not understand the doctrinal approval (albeit ambivalent) given to the use of images, and who do not realize that such approval said absolutely nothing at all about what we today would call "racial" or "ethnic" differences, then this new book--one of several in an invaluable series from Liverpool University Press--will bear careful reading about the acts of Nicaea II in 787. Precisely as the defined and received doctrinal teaching of the Catholic and Orthodox Church, and precisely because it was, after all, given at an ecumenical (="whole inhabited world") gathering, we should not expect to find the diverse divines there assembled forbidding or requiring that Christ, the Theotokos, and the angels and saints be portrayed as Africans or Greeks or Copts, Romans or Armenians "for all are one in Christ Jesus."

The Coptic Tradition:

But there are other traditions within the Christian East, including the Coptic, which differs sharply from the Byzantine for all sorts of complex historical (and other) reasons we will not get into here. But this tradition lacks the vast number of books in English that the Byzantine tradition has. For those who read French, this is not a bad, if now dated, overview. For those who want a scholarly overview of iconography in all the so-called Oriental Churches, including the Coptic and Ethiopian, then Christine Chaillot's book reads like a dissertation.

For those who want to begin to understand the historical complexities around what could even be said to constitute "a tradition," as though such a thing exists in isolation from other traditions, then Magdi Guirguis's recent book will take you into some fascinating cultural alleyways.

To see Coptic iconography situated in a wider cultural context, there are numerous books, including this one, this one, and this one. I would also recommend the respected work of the scholar Nelly Van Doorn-Harder in several places, including this book which has a chapter on Coptic art.

Ethiopian Christianity and Iconography:

And now to the Ethiopian tradition. For some general studies that will give you historical context, there are several recent volumes. See, e.g., this one. For those who read German, this book (which I have only skimmed) appears to offer a wide-ranging overview. Like the Guirguis book above, this scholarly study looks at the complex cultural connections between Ethiopian iconography in a period of turbulence and transition.

Narrowing in slightly on Ethiopian churches and monasteries, which of course feature icons, we are starting to see several books devoted to these appear in English in the last decade, including this one. Just this year we had an historical overview of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. I have not read it yet, but the author, John Binns, is a respected scholar at Cambridge whose other works I have read and recommended.

This book treats just one form of images/symbols, viz., Ethiopian crosses. This book, from the invaluable Gorgias Press (which all those interested in Eastern Christianity should keep regular eye on), does something similar in a more scholarly way.

This book looks at royal connections between Ethiopian art and court.

This book looks at illustrated Ethiopian manuscripts at Oxford. Similarly, this book looks at Ethiopian illustrated gospel books.

Finally, turning to iconography proper, let me end by recommending two "coffee table" type books I sometimes look at again and again just for the sheer exuberance and joy of the colours and details: African Zion: The Sacred Art of Ethiopia by M. Heldman and S. Munro-Hay. Published by Yale University Press in 1993, there are still copies floating around for those who are interested.

And then this hefty collection, now twenty years old, but still worth tracking down: Ethiopian Icons : Catalogue of the Collection of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies Addis Ababa University by Stanislaw Chojnacki.

There is, let me note in conclusion, still ample work to be done here studying this tradition if there are aspiring graduate students out there. There are, as I noted at the outset, often dozens of new books in English alone in one year alone devoted to the Byzantine tradition alone. The Coptic and Ethiopian (to say nothing at all of other lesser known Eastern Christian traditions--e.g., the Georgian, Armenian, Syro-Malabar, etc.) traditions are still comparatively poorly understood by anglophone historians and theologians; but the Ethiopian is a profound, venerable, beautiful tradition deserving of all the once and future love we call scholarship that we can devote to it.

Hearing Voices or Hearing God?

Historically of course when psychology, psychiatry, or psychoanalysis has turned to something called "religion" (a definition of which is not at all an agreed-upon thing), it is very often done so in reductionist and simplistic ways at best; at worst it has pathologized "religion" as the province of neurotic people.

More recently, however, some clinicians and others have attempted to move beyond such an approach, trying to understand "religious" practices and beliefs on their own terms, and even realizing that some of them are practiced by perfectly healthy people. I have shown some examples of this on this blog and elsewhere.

Now we have a new book that will add to and enrich this discussion. I'm looking forward to reading Hearing Voices and Other Matters of the Mind: What Mental Abnormalities Can Teach Us About Religions by Robert N. McCauley and George Graham (Oxford University Press, 2020), 280pp.

About this book the publisher tells us this:
A man with schizophrenia believes that God is instructing him through the public address system in a bus station. A nun falls into a decades-long depression because she believes that God refuses to answer her prayers. A neighborhood parishioner is bedeviled with anxiety because he believes that a certain religious ritual must be repeated, repeated, and repeated lest God punish him. To what extent are such manifestations of religious thinking analogous to mental disorder? Does mental dysfunction bring an individual closer to religious experience or thought? Hearing Voices and Other Unusual Experiences explores these questions using the tools of the cognitive science of religion and the philosophy of psychopathology.
Robert McCauley and George Graham emphasize underlying cognitive continuities between familiar features of religiosity, of mental disorders, and of everyday thinking and action. They contend that much religious thought and behavior can be explained as the cultural activation of our natural cognitive systems, which address matters that are essential to human survival: hazard precautions, agency detection, language processing, and theory of mind. Those systems produce responses to cultural stimuli that may mimic features of cognition and conduct associated with mental disorders, but which are sometimes coded as "religious" depending on the context.
The authors examine hallucinations of the voice of God and of other supernatural agents, spiritual depression often described as a "dark night of the soul," religious scrupulosity and compulsiveness, and challenges to theistic cognition that Autistic Spectrum Disorder poses. Their approach promises to shed light on both mental abnormalities and religiosity.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Russian Orthodox Nationalism During the Gorbachev Years

As I noted on here recently, we have seen, and are still seeing, a slew of books on post-Soviet religiosity in Eastern Europe. Released earlier this year is a unique volume that backs up into the last days of the Soviet period to take a look: Sophie Kotzer, Russian Orthodoxy, Nationalism and the Soviet State during the Gorbachev Years, 1985-1991 (Routledge, 2020), 188pp.

About this book the publisher tells us this:
This book examines how the Russian Orthodox Church developed during the period of Gorbachev’s rule in the Soviet Union, a period characterised by perestroika (reform) and glasnost (openness). It charts how official Soviet policy towards religion in general and the Russian Orthodox Church changed, with the Church enjoying significantly improved status. It also discusses, however, how the improved relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the state, and the Patriarchate’s support for Soviet foreign policy goals, its close alignment with Russian nationalism and its role as a guardian of the Soviet Union’s borders were not seen in a positive light by dissidents and by many ordinary believers, who were disappointed by the church’s failure in respect of its social mission, including education and charitable activities.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Byzantine Sex, Gender, and Race

The world "intersectionality" evokes anxious sneers from some people who rarely give evidence of any serious thought, much less any thought informed by history or psychology. But the term, however much it may appear a species of contemporary jargon, simply refers to what good scholars have always done: examine connections between multiple phenomena.

Forthcoming in October is a book that does this for some of the most explosive issues of our time and indeed of all time: Roland Betancourt, Byzantine Intersectionality: Sexuality, Gender, and Race in the Middle Ages  (Princeton University Press, October 2020), 288pp.

About this book the publisher tells us this:
While the term “intersectionality” was coined in 1989, the existence of marginalized identities extends back over millennia. Byzantine Intersectionality reveals the fascinating, little-examined conversations in medieval thought and visual culture around matters of sexual and reproductive consent, bullying and slut-shaming, homosocial and homoerotic relationships, trans and nonbinary gender identities, and the depiction of racialized minorities. Roland Betancourt explores these issues in the context of the Byzantine Empire, using sources from late antiquity and early Christianity up to the early modern period. Highlighting nuanced and strikingly modern approaches by medieval writers, philosophers, theologians, and doctors, Betancourt offers a new history of gender, sexuality, and race.
Betancourt weaves together art, literature, and an impressive array of texts to investigate depictions of sexual consent in images of the Virgin Mary, tactics of sexual shaming in the story of Empress Theodora, narratives of transgender monks, portrayals of same-gender desire in images of the Doubting Thomas, and stereotypes of gender and ethnicity in representations of the Ethiopian Eunuch. He also gathers evidence from medical manuals detailing everything from surgical practices for late terminations of pregnancy to save a mother’s life to a host of procedures used to affirm a person’s gender. Showing how understandings of gender, sexuality, and race have long been enmeshed, Byzantine Intersectionality offers a groundbreaking look at the culture of the medieval world.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Oxford Handbook of Russian Religious Thought

I have been delighted to be asked to contribute to several Oxford handbooks and collections over the last few years. But even before doing so I recognized how valuable these books were, which very often feature leading scholars in various fields giving a helpfully comprehensive treatment of a given area. That will be no different in a forthcoming handbook late this year: The Oxford Handbook of Russian Religious Thought, eds. George Pattison, Randall A. Poole, and Caryl Emerson (Oxford UP, November 2020), 736pp.

About this collection the press tells us this:
The Oxford Handbook of Russian Religious Thought is an authoritative new reference and interpretive volume detailing the origins, development, and influence of one of the richest aspects of Russian cultural and intellectual life - its religious ideas. After setting the historical background and context, the Handbook follows the leading figures and movements in modern Russian religious thought through a period of immense historical upheavals, including seventy years of officially atheist communist rule and the growth of an exiled diaspora with, e.g., its journal The Way. Therefore the shape of Russian religious thought cannot be separated from long-running debates with nihilism and atheism. Important thinkers such as Losev and Bakhtin had to guard their words in an environment of religious persecution, whilst some views were shaped by prison experiences. Before the Soviet period, Russian national identity was closely linked with religion - linkages which again are being forged in the new Russia. Relevant in this connection are complex relationships with Judaism.

In addition to religious thinkers such as Philaret, Chaadaev, Khomiakov, Kireevsky, Soloviev, Florensky, Bulgakov, Berdyaev, Shestov, Frank, Karsavin, and Alexander Men, the Handbook also looks at the role of religion in aesthetics, music, poetry, art, film, and the novelists Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. Ideas, institutions, and movements discussed include the Church academies, Slavophilism and Westernism, theosis, the name-glorifying (imiaslavie) controversy, the God-seekers and God-builders, Russian religious idealism and liberalism, and the Neopatristic school. Occultism is considered, as is the role of tradition and the influence of Russian religious thought in the West.

Here, also, is the table of contents on which you will recognize many names featured, reviewed, or interviewed on here over the years:

FOREWORD, Metropolitan Hilarion Of Volokalamsk

1: Christianity in Rus' and Muscovy, David Goldfrank
2: The Orthodox Church and Religious Life in Imperial Russia, Nadieszda Kizenko
3: The Orthodox Church and Religion in Revolutionary Russia, 1894-1924, Vera Shevzov
4: Russian Religious Life in the Soviet Era, Zoe Knox

5: The Theological-Aesthetic Vision of Metropolitan Filaret, Oleg V. Bychkov
6: Russian Orthodox Thought in the Church's Clerical Academies, Patrick Lally Michelson
7: Petr Chaadaev and the Slavophile-Westernizer Debate, G. M. Hamburg
8: Slavophilism and the Origins of Russian Religious Philosophy, Randall A. Poole
9: Nihilism, Victoria Frede
10: Dostoevsky, George Pattison
11: Tolstoy, Caryl Emerson
12: Vladimir Soloviev as a Religious Philosopher, Catherine Evtuhov

13: God-seeking, God-building, and the New Religious Consciousness, Erich Lippman
14: Theosis in Early Twentieth-Century Russian Religious Thought, Ruth Coates
15: The Liberalism of Russian Religious Idealism, Randall A. Poole
16: Sergei Bulgakov's Intellectual Journey, 1900-1922, Regula M. Zwahlen
17: Pavel Florensky: At the Boundary of Immanence and Transcendence, Christoph Schneider
18: The Personalism of Nikolai Berdiaev, Ana Siljak
19: The Name-Glorifiers (Imiaslavie) Controversy, Scott M. Kenworthy
20: Judaism and Russian Religious Thought, Dominic Rubin

21: Russian Religious Aesthetics in the First Half of the Twentieth Century, Victor V. Bychkov
22: 'Musical Metaphysics' in Late Imperial Russia, Rebecca Mitchell
23: Furor Liturgicus: The Religious Concerns of Russian Poetry, Martha M. F. Kelly
24: The Icon and Visual Arts at the Time of the Russian Religious Renaissance, Clemena Antonova

25: The Way, The Journal of the Russian Emigration (1925-1940), Antoine Arjakovsky
26: Berdyaev and Christian Existentialism, George Pattison
27: Lev Shestov: The Meaning of Life and the Critique of Scientific Knowledge, Ramona Fotiade
28: Sergius Bulgakov in Exile: The Flowering of a Systematic Theologian, Fr. Robert F. Slesinski
29: Semyon Frank, Philip Boobbyer
30: Lev Karsavin, Martin Beisswenger
31: Varieties of Neopatristics: Georges Florovsky, Vladimir Lossky, and Alexander Schmemann, Paul L. Gavrilyuk
32: 'The Work': The Teachings of G. I. Gurdieff and P. D. Ouspensky in Russia and Beyond, Steven J. Sutcliffe And John P. Wilmett

33: Alexei Losev: 'The Last Russian Philosopher' of the Silver Age, Sr. Theresa Obolevitch
34: Religious Thought and Experience in the Prison Camps, Andrea Gulotta
35: Seeking God and Spiritual Salvation in Russian Cinema, Alina Birzache
36: Mikhail Bakhtin, Caryl Emerson
37: Alexander Men and Russian Religious Thought in the Post-Soviet Situation, Katerina Kocandrle Bauer And Tim Noble

38: Tradition in the Russian Theological World, Rowan Williams
39: The Influence of Russian Religious Thought on Western Theology in the Twentieth Century, Paul Valliere
40: The Tradition of Christian Thought in the History of Russian Culture, Igor I. Evlampiev

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Liturgical Past in Byzantium and Early Rus

Forthcoming in August is a paperback edition of a book first published in September 2019: Sean Griffin, The Liturgical Past in Byzantium and Early Rus (Cambridge University Press, 2020), 285pp.

About this book the publisher tells us this:
The chroniclers of medieval Rus were monks, who celebrated the divine services of the Byzantine church throughout every day. This study is the first to analyze how these rituals shaped their writing of the Rus Primary Chronicle, the first written history of the East Slavs. During the eleventh century, chroniclers in Kiev learned about the conversion of the Roman Empire by celebrating a series of distinctively Byzantine liturgical feasts. When the services concluded, and the clerics sought to compose a native history for their own people, they instinctively drew on the sacred stories that they sang at church. The result was a myth of Christian origins for Rus - a myth promulgated even today by the Russian government - which reproduced the Christian origins myth of the Byzantine Empire. The book uncovers this ritual subtext and reconstructs the intricate web of liturgical narratives that underlie this foundational text of pre-modern Slavic civilization.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Revolution, Memory, and Religion in Contemporary Ukraine

Well do I recall standing in a freezing sleet/snow mix on Parliament Hill in the capital city of Her Britannic Majesty's senior dominion in 2004 with many other Ukrainian Canadians showing support for the Orange Revolution. Before and since then I have always tried to keep an eye on the various developments in the country in which I spent the summer of 2001 teaching, a country I would love to return to if given the chance.

Since 2004, of course, much has happened. The analysis of those developments continues to catch up with events on the ground, as here with a recent scholarly collection, Three Revolutions: Mobilization and Change in Contemporary Ukraine I: Theoretical Aspects and Analyses on Religion, Memory, and Identity, eds. Pawel Kowal and Georges Mink (Ibidem Press, 2019), 800pp.

About this collection the publisher tells us this:
Volume One of Three Revolutions presents the overall research and discussions on topics related to the revolutionary events that have unfolded in Ukraine since 1990. The three revolutions referred to in this project include: the Revolution on Granite (1990); the Orange Revolution (2004–2005); and the Euromaidan Revolution (2013–2014). The project’s overall goal was to determine the extent to which we have the right to use the term “revolution” in relation to these events. Moreover, the research also uncovered the methodological problems associated with this task. Lastly, the project investigated to what extent the three revolutions are connected to each other and to what extent they are detached.Hence, the research in this volume not only discusses the theoretical aspects but also provides new analyses on such issues as religion, memory, and identity in Ukraine.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Post-Communist Romanian Orthodoxy

The number of books treating post-communist religion and much else in Eastern Europe seems to have picked up pace again. Later this summer we shall have another: The Orthodox Church and National Identity in Post-Communist Romania by Adrian Velicu (Palgrave Macmillan, August 2020), 178pp.

About this book the publisher tells us this:
This book explores the Romanian Orthodox Church’s arguments on national identity to legitimize its own place in a post-communist Romania. The work traces the clergy’s deployment of the concepts of Christian Orthodoxy and Latin legacy as part of an uncharted constellation of arguments in contemporary intellectual history. A survey of public intellectuals’ opinions on national identity complements the Church’s views. The investigation attempts to offer an insight into the Church’s efforts to re-assert itself, given free rein in a post-dictatorial world of accelerated modernization. After clarifying and surveying the Church’s claims on institutional and national identity, the book then also explores the secular ideas on the subject. The subsequent analysis treats this material as “speech acts” (statements doing, not only saying, something) which are occasionally out of sync. Against a background of secularization, the Church’s rhetoric articulates a distinct line of thought in the post-89 intellectual landscape.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Inochentism in Russian and Romanian Orthodoxy

I've only heard a couple of papers at conferences over the years about Inochentism, so I'm no expert, but it has always fascinated me. Now I can indulge in learning much more about this movement thanks to a new book by James A. Kapalo, Inochentism and Russian Orthodoxy: Religious Dissent in the Russian and Romanian Borderlands. of Resistance (Routledge, 2019), 296pp.

About this book the publisher tells us this:
This book explores the history and evolution of a controversial new religious movement that emerged in the Russian borderlands of Moldova and Ukraine in the context of the Russian revolutionary period. It centres around the charismatic preaching of Inochentie, a monk of the Orthodox Church, known to his followers as the ’Prophet of Fire’, who inspired an apocalyptic movement that was soon labelled heretical by the Orthodox Church and persecuted as politically subversive by Soviet state authorities. This book charts the emergence and development of Inochentism through the twentieth century based on oral testimonies, folk narratives and previously unstudied secret police and church archival material. Focusing on the role that religious persecution and social marginalization has played in the transformation of this understudied and much vilified group, the author explores a series of counter-narratives that challenge the mainstream historiography of the movement and highlight the significance of the concept of ’liminality’ in relation to the study of new religious movements and Orthodoxy. This book constitutes the first systematic study in the English language of an Eastern European ’home-grown’ religious movement taking a ’grass-roots’ ethnographic approach to the problem of minority religious identities in post-Socialist Eastern Europe.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Ronald Heine on Origen's Life and Thought

One of the several interesting "rehabilitations" we have seen in the last several decades of previously controverted figures is of course Origen. We've already seen, thanks to Augustine Casiday, that Origen's supposed "disciple" Evagrius has been exonerated of various charges against him. Now it seems increasingly hard to sustain some of the charges against Origen as well.

For an overview of his life, which has been much studied in the last 15 years or so, we have a new book by Ronald Heine: Origen: An Introduction to His Life and Thought (Cascade, 2019), 182pp. I previously interviewed Heine here about an earlier work on Origen.

Heine is a well-known Origen scholar, and author, editor, and/or translator of such previous works as The Commentary of Origen on the Gospel of St Matthew as well as Origen's Commentary on the Gospel According to John, Books 13-32.

About this new book of his, the publisher tells us this:
The late second and early third century was a turbulent time in the Roman Empire and in the relationship between the empire and the church. Origen was the son of a Christian martyr and was himself imprisoned and tortured in his late life in a persecution that targeted leaders of the church. Deeply pious and a gifted scholar, Origen stands as one of the most influential Christian teachers in church history, and also one of the most controversial. This introduction to Origen begins by looking at some of the circumstances that were formative influences on his life. It then turns to some key elements in his thought. The approach here differs from that taken by most earlier studies by working from the central position that Scripture had for Origen. Heine argues that Origen’s thought, in his later life especially, reflects his continual interaction with the Bible.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

La Belle Provence est une Hotbed of Religious Craziness?

My dear friend, the Archpriest Robert Anderson, lived in Aylmer, Quebec on chemin de la Montagne, enabling him to refer to himself as a real mountain-top hermit, which he was in his own charming and inimitable ways. After the turn of the century until his shocking death in December 2010, I visited that house many times for drinks, dinner, discussion, and then in the summers went up regularly to cut the grass and look after the place as he spent every year from late June through August teaching in Ukraine and then often visiting family in Greece and other parts of Europe. One summer, after debating which day of the week to go up to cut the grass, and indifferently thinking it didn't really matter, I rather suddenly decided to go up mid-afternoon only to be greeted with this bizarre hissing noise as I unlocked the house and went in. It sounded like water but I thought that impossible...until I went to the basement where his vast library (I'd estimate at least 3500 volumes) was kept, and where the pump on his well had burst, and was showering the entire basement in water! There was a good inch or more on the floor by the time I got there and had to hire a plumber to come fix the pump. But praise God we lost almost no books or the liturgical paraphernalia he kept in his wee basement chapel.

In any event Fr Bob, had spent long stretches of his student years in and around Paris, where he became fluent in French (as he was in several other languages, most self-taught, including Ukrainian). He would go on to teach French and theology in Catholic schools for over 30 years. So he was always fascinated by francophone culture in Canada and, in a Flannery O'Connor vein, used to speak to me regularly of how much he thought Quebec was haunted by its recently rejected Catholic past coming out of the Révolution tranquille. His experience was that you just had to waft a bit of incense and trot out some Gregorian chant and you could immediately, if only briefly and not permanently, evoke waves of nostalgia from Quebecois Catholics.

In place of an often repressive Catholicism (or so the myths run in Quebec, where its Catholic phase, especially under Maurice Duplessis, is sometimes called la grande noirceur), what developed in that province after 1965 was often a fascinating but bizarre mixture of hyper-reactionary Catholicism, "new agey" cults, very liberal and often strange (and drug addled) "spiritual" practices, and much else besides. It was fascinating to discuss with him, who had a hilariously well-honed taste for kitsch, which Quebec still abounds in.

All this is just a long preface to say how much he would have been fascinated by a brand-new book: The Mystical Geography of Quebec:Catholic Schisms and New Religious Movements, eds., S.J. Palmer, Susan J., M. Geoffroy, and P.L.Gareau (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), 287pp.

About this book the publisher tells us this:
This study of new religious movements in Quebec focuses on nine groups—including the notoriously violent Solar Temple; the iconoclastic Temple of Priapus; and the various “Catholic” schisms, such as those led by a mystical pope; the Holy Spirit incarnate; or the reappearance of the Virgin Mary. Eleven contributing authors offer rich ethnographies and sociological insights on new spiritual groups that highlight the quintessential features of Quebec's new religions (“sectes” in the francophone media). The editors argue that Quebec provides a favorable “ecology” for alternative spirituality, and explore the influences behind this situation: the rapid decline of the Catholic Church after Vatican Il; the “Quiet Revolution,” a utopian faith in Science; the 1975 Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms; and an open immigration that welcomes diverse faiths. The themes of Quebec nationalism found in prophetic writings that fuel apocalyptic ferment are explored by the editors who find in these sectarian communities echoes of Quebec’s larger Sovereignty movement.
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