Martin, Dominic A. (2017), “Loyal to god: Old Believers, oaths and orders,”History and Anthropology, 28 (4): 477-496.
Abstract: Since the reign of Peter the Great, the Russian sovereign, be it Tsar, Soviet or Putin, has required demonstrations of ‘loyalty’ that evidence subjects’ interior as well as exterior states. This article explores, through historical and current ethnographic examples, how Old Believers, a dissenting movement of Russian Orthodox Christians, have sought to reconcile this worldly demand with their overarching allegiance to the Kingdom of God, and their refusal to acknowledge a separation between the spiritual and the temporal. This dichotomy is particularly problematized around the swearing of oaths of fealty and the giving and receiving of decorations and orders that vouchsafe loyalty to state or sovereign.
Excerpt: This study explores the dynamics of post-Soviet religious life in the Komi Republic, in Northern Russia. After the demise of communism and the Soviet Union, the question of identity has been a central concern in Russia as well as in the Komi Republic. Consequently, religion has acquired an important social role as it is a means of creating and sustaining identity and culture. Religions which are perceived as “new” or “foreign”, however, have gained more and more negative attention since the mid 1990’s. Following the religious freedom law in 1990, numerous (locally) “new” religious groups began appearing. These faiths were introduced and promoted by foreign missionaries. One Russian peculiarity is that some of these religious groups, which are quite mainstream in other parts of the world, are termed “new”, despite their often actually having had a considerable history within Russia as well. Protestant Christianity and especially its evangelical offshoots are probably most notable examples of religions holding this peculiar position and being surrounded by popular controversies.
Abstract: This article introduces the notion of multiple glocalizations as a means of analysing Christianity’s historical record and argues that multiple glocalizations are constitutive of the intertwining between religion and historical globalization. It proposes that four concrete forms of glocalization can be observed: vernacularization, indigenization, nationalization and transnationalization. Each of these offers different combinations of universal religiosity and local particularism. The salience of this interpretation is demonstrated through a cursory analysis of the historical record of Christianity’s fragmentation. It is argued that the very construction of distinct religious traditions (Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism) is an expression of this broader process. Finally, the historical record of Eastern Orthodox Christianity is examined in order to provide for additional historical instances of these forms of glocalization.
Abstract: This article provides an ethnographic account of the tensions arising from the different ways of building authority as teachers and the role of higher education in establishing teachers’ legitimacy in Russia through the specific example of religious education. After state atheism was abandoned in 1991, an unprecedented demand for religious knowledge appeared in Russia, in particular in relation to Russian Orthodoxy. Since the Russian context of Orthodox education lacks shared standards, there is considerable latitude in the criteria determining norms and rules. Seeking to increase its influence, the Russian Orthodox Church aspires to have Orthodox catechism taught in a systematic way both in parishes and in secular schools. In practice, the Church is encouraging professional pedagogues to submit their curriculum proposals that would be suffused with Orthodoxy and at the same time be eligible for adoption in all settings and institutions. Thus, in order to educate teachers of religion, the Church has made available multiple, diverse sources of religious knowledge (self-learning, various courses offered by the eparchies, Spiritual Academies, and other institutions of higher education). But the legitimacy of these sources is often questioned, for instance by asking whether the institution that delivers diplomas of religious higher education has been granted formal state recognition. The teachers’ quest for being acknowledged as competent technicians of religious education leads to competing claims for the authenticity of the sources of their training.
Abstract: The organizational niche, a fruitful concept from the organizational ecology literature, frames this study on the diverse orthodoxy of congregations within the same denomination. Congregations diversify along a conservative-to-liberal continuum, which lessens niche overlap with nearby congregations in their denomination. Pastors and priests in United Methodist and Episcopal congregations in three U.S. regions were able to locate their congregations (and other congregations in their denomination in close proximity) along this conservative-to-liberal continuum, an indication that orthodoxy distinctions were important to congregational identity. In comparison, Assemblies of God congregations showed little intradenominational diversity in orthodoxy, since sectarian boundaries narrow their niche. Theoretical and methodological implications of this intradenominational diversity are explored.