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Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Dixon, S. Petersburg, — PhD diss. London: University of London.


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The Slavonic and East European Review, 82, 1, 50— Dolbilov, M. Moscow: NLO. Eesti Ajaloo Arhiiv. Kasvatus, 2.

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Ernits, E. Freeze, G. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Handmaiden of the State? The Church in Imperial Russia Reconsidered.

3 Reasons I'm an Orthodox Christian

Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 36, 1, 82— Gavrilin, A. Uroki mudrosti [Lessons of wisdom]. Zhurnal Moskovskoi Patriarkhii,6. Geraci, R. Window on the East. Cornell University Press.

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Haava, U. Kirik ja Teoloogia, Kenworthy, S.

New York: Oxford University Press. Russkij mir i Latviya, 27, — Isakov, S. Kizenko, N. Laar, A.

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Manchester, L. Supplement to 11— Plyuhanov, B. Raudsepp, A. One of the most influential of these writers was the Russian philosopher, Nikolai Berdiaev.


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On the one hand, from a functional point of view, historians have pointed to the parallels between Bolshevik practices and Christian ones. On the other hand, the concept has also been used to get at the content of a movement—to take seriously belief and meaning for its members, to unpack their historical consciousness, and to thereby explain both the appeal and workings of the regime. Comparisons with both the social and the intellectual patterns of millenarian sectarianism allow Slezkine to uncover the spiritual quest of the Old Bolsheviks, explain the evolution of their movement from a fraternal, faith-based group to a priesthood in an ideocratic state, and to explain their failure to pass that faith on to later generations.

In all of these ways, the perspective is quite fruitful. Nevertheless, I have long been uncomfortable with comparisons between Bolshevism and religion as explanations for either the success or the functioning of communism in Russia, for two main reasons. The first is the implied attitude toward Russians, whose allegedly collectivist, dogmatic, religious, and ascetic national character made them fall prey to Bolshevism.

The diary of a priest

My second objection is connected to the first: the way in which Orthodox Christianity, the religion of the Russians historically, is usually portrayed as the source of this inadequate national character, as a faith that emphasized form over content and that preached a world-denying passivity. All of this usually adds up to an argument that Russia was insufficiently secularized—and thus insufficiently modern—on the eve of the revolution.

In the process, this approach unnecessarily exoticizes and essentializes Russia. Slezkine does not advance an argument based on national character—indeed, national identity seems of little interest to his multi-ethnic Bolsheviks—and Orthodox Christianity as an explanatory factor is virtually absent from his analysis. On the contrary, although he is careful to draw on the lively research of the last two decades on late imperial Russian religion in order to place Bolshevism within a broader atmosphere of religious ferment, his model of religion in general, and of sectarianism in particular, is overwhelmingly based on Western Christianity and, indeed, on the radical Reformation.

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Here he falls back on a sort of universal Western European-based model of the modernization process, and the concomitant secularization thesis. In his seminal study of the emergence of modernity, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism , Max Weber suggested that Calvinist asceticism produced—and was ultimately secularized in—the rationalized and disenchanted modern world.

Still, comparison is a necessary component of all analysis.


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So is model-building to enable that comparison. But we need to continually refine these models. This involves asking new questions and doing careful empirical work to unpack the assumptions within the models. Useful surveys include: David D.

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