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Christianity and Modernity in Eastern Europe

Edited by Bruce R. Berglund, Brian Porter-Szűcs

Publication Year: 2010

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? 

Published by: Central European University Press

Title Page

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pp. iii

Copyright Page

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pp. iv

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Maps

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pp. vii

List of Tables

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pp. viii

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pp. ix-xi

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. ...

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pp. xiii-xvi

This book is the result of a major collaborative project, encompassing several years’ worth of conversations, debates, shared bibliographies, circulated papers, and workshop presentations. Our group first met in June 2005, at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. ...

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Introduction: Christianity, Christians, and the Story of Modernity in Eastern Europe1

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pp. 1-34

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”...

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Religion in Urban Everyday Life: Shaping Modernity in Łódź and Manchester, 1820-1914

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pp. 35-59

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...

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Christianity, Nation, State: The Case of Christian Hungary

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pp. 61-84

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...

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Searching for a “Fourth Path”: Czech Catholicism between Liberalism, Communism, and Nazism

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pp. 85-109

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. ...

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The Roman Catholic Church Navigates the New Slovakia, 1945–1948

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pp. 111-128

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 wellknown cases of the French Revolution, the unification of Italy...

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Bulwark or Patchwork? Religious Exceptionalism and Regional Diversity in Postwar Poland

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pp. 129-158

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. ...

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Competing Concepts of “Reunification” behind the Liquidation of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

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pp. 159-189

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 ...

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From Bottom to the Top and Back: On How to Build a Church in Communist Romania

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pp. 191-216

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...

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Human Rights as a Theological and Political Controversy among East German and Czech Protestants

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pp. 217-243

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 ...

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State Management of the Seer Vanga: Power, Medicine, and the “Remaking” of Religion in Socialist Bulgaria

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pp. 245-267

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...

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Constructing Peace in the GDR: Conscientious Objection and Compromise among East German Christians, 1962–1989*

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pp. 269-291

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...

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On the Ruin of Christendom: Religious Politics and the Challenge of Islam in the New West1

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pp. 293-327

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. ...

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Drafting a Historical Geography of East European Christianity

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pp. 329-371

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...

List of Contributors

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pp. 373-374


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pp. 375-386

back cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9786155211829
Print-ISBN-13: 9789639776654

Page Count: 404
Publication Year: 2010