By Christopher Marsh; Nikolas Gvosdev (Editors)
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Extra resources for Burden or Blessing? Russian Orthodoxy and the Construction of Civil Society and Democracy (Orthodox Church in Russia)
I will not argue here that Russia is a consolidated democracy. I will, however, propose that, for all of the alarm bells in the Western press and despite Colin Powell’s concerns to the contrary, the prospects for Russia’s descent into an autocratic abyss are less significant than one would gather from a surface analysis focusing solely on current events. However, the type of regime that is emerging is unlikely to be one that will be fully recognizable as a democracy modeled on the Western European or American secular state.
Nevertheless, there are areas of potential friction. Anticipating the subsequent attempts to introduce Orthodox teachings into the publicschool curriculum, in 1996 the army began to open departments of “Orthodox culture” in some of its military academies. ”4 By the end of the 1990s, opinion polls suggested that the interest of military officers in religion was falling. 5 These figures are strikingly high given that the high command had consistently supported cooperation with the Patriarchate. The formal institution of a military chaplaincy has yet to move beyond the stage of discussion, so in that area the Russian military is still more “secular” than that of the United States.
Thus, it should not surprise anyone that Orthodox Christians are often skeptical about the social changes which improve people’s economic conditions but fail to draw them nearer to God. A society in which earthly interests of sinful Man are given preference over God and His Truth cannot be viewed positively by an Orthodox believer. 34 Orthodoxy and the Societal Ideal On the Threshold of the Values Debate Western colleagues have repeatedly tried to convince members of the Orthodox Church that the above mentioned “peculiarities” of the Orthodox societal ideal will disappear as East European nations reach a higher stage of social and economic development.
Burden or Blessing? Russian Orthodoxy and the Construction of Civil Society and Democracy (Orthodox Church in Russia) by Christopher Marsh; Nikolas Gvosdev (Editors)