Christianity and Modernity in Eastern Europe

Christianity and Modernity in Eastern Europe

Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 403
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    Christianity and Modernity in Eastern Europe
    Book Description:

    Religious history more generally has experienced an exciting revival over the past few years, with new methodological and theoretical approaches invigorating the field. The time has definitely come for this “new religious history” to arrive in Eastern Europe. This book explores the influence of the Christian churches in Eastern Europe's social, cultural, and political history. Drawing upon archival sources, the work fills a vacuum as few scholars have systematically explored the history of Christianity in the region. The result of a three-year project, this collective work challenges readers with questions like: Is secularization a useful concept in understanding the long-term dynamics of religiosity in Eastern Europe? Is the picture of oppression and resistance an accurate way to characterize religious life under communism, or did Christians and communists find ways to co-exist on the local level prior to 1989? And what role did Christians actually play in dissident movements under communism? Perhaps most important is the question: what does the study of Eastern Europe contribute to the broader study of modern Christian history, and what can we learn from the interpretative problems that arise, uniquely, from this region? 

    eISBN: 978-615-5211-82-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)

    Academics are continually urged to “internationalize,” but most of us know how many difficulties stand in the way. Here we have a fine example of international collaboration on a large scale, with the main impetus coming from the united states, but with contributions from seven other countries. The result is a volume that specialists in the history of Christianity in other regions of the world will read with great interest, and a degree of envy. As an historian of religion in Western Europe, I can say that although there is a vast literature on the religious history of the nineteenth...

  6. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids
  7. Introduction Christianity, Christians, and the Story of Modernity in Eastern Europe
    (pp. 1-34)
    Brian Porter-Szűcs

    Studying the history of Christianity in modern Eastern Europe places one at the intersection of two extraordinarily dynamic fields. On the one hand, specialists in the history of Christianity are currently experiencing a period of particular intellectual vitality and innovation. Older forms of confessional history or “church history” were steadily disappearing from most secular universities in the United states in the 1970s and 1980s, sharing the tarnished reputation of political, intellectual, and diplomatic history as elite-centered relics of a bygone scholarly era. But just as the “new international history” has given diplomatic history an updated image, just as cultural studies...

  8. Religion in Urban Everyday Life: Shaping Modernity in Łódź and Manchester, 1820–1914
    (pp. 35-60)
    Andreas Kossert

    The nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were regarded in many Western countries as a time of religious crisis. The crisis was generally believed to be most acute in cities, especially among the working class. This article focuses on religion and its impact on everyday life in two major European industrial cities—Manchester in the West, and Łódź in Central Europe.¹

    As gigantic centers of textile production, Łódź and Manchester, known as the “Promised Land” and “Cottonopolis,” respectively, became mythical cities in their own regions. When it came to new methods of manufacturing, both cities stood at the forefront of technical...

  9. Christianity, Nation, State: The Case of Christian Hungary
    (pp. 61-84)
    Paul Hanebrink

    Christian symbols dominated the public life of Hungary between the two world wars. During these years, a Catholic feast day—St. István’s day became the most important national holiday. Every August 20, priests carried Catholic Hungary’s most sacred relic—the holy right hand of Hungary’s first king and patron saint, István—through the streets of Budapest in a splendid sacral procession. At the same time Hungary’s political leaders made innumerable speeches praising István’s legacy as a Christian ruler. But public invocations of Christianity were not only holiday fare in post-World War I Hungary. After the defeat in the war, the...

  10. Searching for a “Fourth Path”: Czech Catholicism between Liberalism, Communism, and Nazism
    (pp. 85-110)
    Martin C. Putna

    From a purely literary point of view, the term “Catholic literature” is questionable. But from the perspective of cultural and intellectual history and the sociology of literature, Catholic literature is a rich and undeniable phenomenon in modern European culture. A distinct Catholic literature (or Catholic culture) emerged during the nineteenth century, in different countries at different times, in response to the apparent marginalization of religion in public life.¹ Faced with secularizing governments and anti-clerical political and cultural movements, European Catholics used literature as a vehicle of self-expression and self-identification and as a means of building community in increasingly non-Catholic societies....

  11. The Roman Catholic Church Navigates the New Slovakia, 1945–1948
    (pp. 111-128)
    James Ramon Felak

    Adjusting to abrupt changes in regime is nothing new for the Roman Catholic Church and its leadership. An institution that counts its age in millennia and banks on being around at the end of time has faced and plans to face a great variety of such challenges. Whether the well-known cases of the French Revolution, the unification of Italy, or the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, or the host of lesser-known examples of which history abounds, an examination of how Catholics responded to a changing political situation deepens our understanding of the Church and its relationship to the regimes...

  12. Bulwark or Patchwork? Religious Exceptionalism and Regional Diversity in Postwar Poland
    (pp. 129-158)
    James Bjork

    Pick up any text dealing with the history of modern Poland, and you are likely to find a passage relating how the country became, in the aftermath of World War II, a “nearly homogeneous Polish and Roman Catholic nation-state.”¹ In one sense, statements like this are both incontestable and important. Groups that had been a vital part of Polish history were now irrevocably absent. This was the result of the killing of the vast majority of Polish Jews during the Nazi occupation; the loss to the Soviet Union of Poland’s old eastern borderlands, with their largely Orthodox or Uniate populations;...

  13. Competing Concepts of “Reunification” behind the Liquidation of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
    (pp. 159-190)
    Natalia Shlikhta

    The L’viv Council of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, convoked by order of the Soviet regime on March 8, 1946, declared the “unanimous willingness” of the faithful of the Church in Eastern Galicia to “liquidate the Union, break all ties with the Vatican, and return to the Holy Orthodox faith of our ancestors and the Russian Orthodox Church.”¹ The Council’s decision, considered uncanonical by the majority of observers at the time and scholars in the decades to come, put an end to the legal functioning of the Catholic Church of the Eastern Rite in Western Ukraine, which had come into...

  14. From Bottom to the Top and Back: On How to Build a Church in Communist Romania
    (pp. 191-216)
    Anca Şincan

    In 1987 the Italian journalist Francesco Strazzari journeyed throughout Eastern Europe investigating the life of the Christian church in its encounters with the communist state. In Romania, Strazzari managed briefly to interview Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist and Bishop Nicoale Mihăiţă, the Church’s specialist in ecumenism and chief liaison between the Church and the state’s Ministry for Religious Denominations. Strazzari raised questions about religious life in Romania, particularly the demolition of church buildings in Bucharest in the process of urban redevelopment.¹ The answer he received was designed for an international audience increasingly concerned about the status of religious life in Romania. According...

  15. Human Rights as a Theological and Political Controversy among East German and Czech Protestants
    (pp. 217-244)
    Katharina Kunter

    Undoubtedly, Christian churches, church-based groups, and individual believers were significant participants in the process of democratic transformation in Central and Eastern Europe at the end of the 1980s. The Catholic Church’s political impact on Poland has been likened to “seeds of triumph,” while some observers have labeled the East German transition a “Protestant revolution.”¹ The role of the church has been symbolized by pictures of, for instance, the candlelit Monday demonstrations in front of St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig, or thousands of Poles gathered for a papal mass. From such images we gain the conventional perspective of the Christian churches...

  16. State Management of the Seer Vanga: Power, Medicine, and the “Remaking” of Religion in Socialist Bulgaria
    (pp. 245-268)
    Galia Valtchinova

    The conventional wisdom holds that religion was suppressed in, or absent from, communist societies. But proponents of this interpretation often obscure facts that counter the black-and-white view. Based on careful ethnographies, anthropologists such as Caroline Humphrey and Katherine Verdery have shown the dangers of oversimplification in the study of socialism. Similarly, the anthropological study of religion also refuses easy dichotomies.¹ The “domestication” formula is already applied to religion in the USSR with regard to the local-level negotiation between the official discourses and ongoing practices.² The rigid interpretations of religion under socialism were challenged in an analysis of ritual, an area...

  17. Constructing Peace in the GDR: Conscientious Objection and Compromise among East German Christians, 1962–1989
    (pp. 269-292)
    David Doellinger

    In September 1964 a young East German conscientious objector named Wolfgang Stadthaus began an eighteen-month tour of unarmed military service within the National Peoples Army (Nationale Volksarmee; hereafter NVA). Stadthaus, like the other 219 men who chose to serve in the military’s newly created construction units (Baueinheiten) that year, participated in a compromise agreement between the state, church, and society. Stadthaus’s experience as a construction soldier (Bausoldat) and his commitment to pacifism in civilian life afterwards run counter to the traditional narrative of East German history. Scholarship on the German Democratic Republic has typically emphasized the militarized authoritarian state’s success...

  18. On the Ruin of Christendom: Religious Politics and the Challenge of Islam in the New West
    (pp. 293-328)
    Patrick Hyder Patterson

    Can the political and cultural order of Europe make a place for Muslims and Islam? More than is now realized, the answer may depend—as it has in the past—on the histories, values, and experiences of the European East. Adopting a broad understanding of the historical and ideational confines of Europe, I want to suggest here the need to reframe the contemporary examination of the Western engagement with Islam. The new perspective required must recognize the implications and complications of merging the former communist countries into a predominantly liberal-secular and arguably post-Christian Europe and, in turn, into an expansive...

  19. Drafting a Historical Geography of East European Christianity
    (pp. 329-372)
    Bruce R. Berglund

    What distinguishes Christianity in Eastern Europe? In the meetings and conversations leading to these essays, contributors to this project have turned repeatedly to this question. Can we identify patterns of religiosity in the region that are distinct from those in Western Europe? How has Eastern Europe’s differing pace of industrialization, urbanization, education, and consumption affected church institutions and religious life? And what of the churches’ and individual Christians’ relationships to nationalist movements, to authoritarian regimes, to groups engaged in ethnic violence and groups engaged in political resistance—have these important players in Eastern Europe’s modern history been decisive in the...

  20. List of Contributors
    (pp. 373-374)
  21. Index
    (pp. 375-386)