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Modernity, Religion, Nationalism - An Eastern Orthodox Perspective
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Modernity, Religion, Nationalism - An Eastern Orthodox Perspective


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  • 1. Modernity, Religion & Nationalism: Reflecting on Eastern Orthodoxy Ben GavinSunday, December 11, 2011
  • 2. Today... • Nationalism • “Classic Debate” - Modern or Pre-Modern. What are its implications? • Religion & Nationalism? • The ‘place’ of Eastern Orthodoxy in the broader debate • Balkan Examples: Serbia & Macedonia • Starring Role, or Supporting Actor?Sunday, December 11, 2011
  • 3. Nationalism • What is Nationalism? (Trick question, not going there;)) • Most commonly cited definition? - ‘primarily a principle that holds that the political and national unit should be congruent.’ (Gellner, 1983) • Or a ‘secular religion?’Sunday, December 11, 2011
  • 4. Frame the Debate • Modernists? • Pri(e)mordial(ern)ists? • Perennialists (Both)?Sunday, December 11, 2011
  • 5. But... That’s only part of the story, right? • If most of the prominent Modernists play down the role of religion, then how do we explain the persistence of the religious element in national movements in the Modern Era around the globe? To do so let’s take a closer look at the relationship between the two...Sunday, December 11, 2011
  • 6. Relationship: Religion & Nationalism • Both share a cult of ‘Imagined • Both produce a Code of Conduct Community.’ Can be particular or (Legal or Sacred) universal (A gospel of Democracy?). • Both share Myths • Both emphasize the importance of Symbols and symbolic practice. Think - flags, crosses, hymns, national anthem, Christmas and the 4th of July. • Both share an emphasis on certain Figures. Patron Saints like Sava & Patrick vs. National Heroes like Washington & Lenin • Both have geographical considerations. Think Holy Territory, Sacred Space,Manifest Destiny, Sharia Law in AfghanistanSunday, December 11, 2011
  • 7. Classic Conception of E. Orthodox NationalismSunday, December 11, 2011
  • 8. Re-thinking this paradigm (Theodor Schieder, Ina Merjadnova) • 3 distinct phases in Europe - Western, Central, and Eastern • Western (French)- Voluntaristic, Horizontal, Political (Renan, Sorbonne - 1882) • Central (German & Italian)- Volksgeist exists ‘before’ and ‘above’ state • Eastern (Orthodox)- Developed not ‘on the base of’ but ‘against’ centralized power. AKA- separatist, or developed through ‘disjunction’ with great empires (Orthodox, Catholic, Islamic). It borrowed modern ideas from Western and Central Europe and fused them with local tradition.Sunday, December 11, 2011
  • 9. Distinct Differences: Eastern vs. Western & Central • The Catholic and Protestant interpretations of individual paths to salvation and intimate (personal) connections to God. • Western Christianity’s ‘Universal’ (New Testament) mission and salvation. • Juxtaposed against Orthodox understandings of the consecrated nation of the faithful and oftentimes territorially defined (Israel in the Old Testament). • Individualism (St. Thomas Aquinas, John Lock) in the West vs. the Ekklisia of the Orthodox world.’ (video clip-RT) • Autocephalous national churches (mainly Orthodox-but Protestant as well) as a form of religious Federalism.Sunday, December 11, 2011
  • 10. Symbols, Space & Myths in The Balkans... • Serbia • Sava (Book example), Lazar • Flag (Book example) • Chosen Peoples (Hastings), ‘people of heaven’ • Kosovo Myth - literature, epic poetry, art, Vidovan...Sunday, December 11, 2011
  • 11. Symbols, Space & Myths in the Balkans • Macedonia • The Autocephalous nature of the church as a symbol itself • Its name (FYROM) • Alexander, Cyril & Methodius • Flag (New vs. Old) • Maps - ‘Stara Macedonia?’ • T-shirtSunday, December 11, 2011
  • 12. Skanderbeg & Cyril and MethodiusSunday, December 11, 2011
  • 13. VMRO rally - Ohrid, MacedoniaSunday, December 11, 2011
  • 14. Listen: Jovan Miklosavljevic Thessaloniki, Greece. 06-06-2011 1 min (3:33-4:40)Sunday, December 11, 2011
  • 15. Conclusion • So... Religion: Starring Role or Supporting Actor? • Probably more of a supporting actor, but it contains a sacred element that when instrumentalized can make the nationalism at hand more dangerous and creates a greater capacity for violence.Sunday, December 11, 2011