The Effect Of The Russian Orthodox Religion On The Culture Of Russia

1009 words - 4 pages

Orthodox Christianity has had an immense effect on the culture of Russia. The adoption of the Orthodox faith from Constantinople by Prince Vladimir in 988 introduced cultural influences that profoundly affected the Russian consciousness. As the people embraced Orthodoxy it developed a uniquely Russian flavor and rooted deep in the fertile Russian soul. Orthodoxy had a major impact on politics, art, and nearly every other aspect of Russia's culture. Orthodoxy helped forge Russia's world view and defined her place in the world. The church affected the thought patterns and motivations of a whole culture and changed the way Russians thought about themselves and the ways that they lived their lives.The church acted as a unifying factor for the Russian nation. Church holidays and fasts enriched and brought meaning to the cycle of seasons and sowing in the subsistence society. Russians possessed a deep religious faith and from it they derived a sense of purpose in the universe and the promise of salvation. The church nourished and preserved the culture of Russia during centuries of internal strife and foreign intervention. Orthodox people feel a strong sense of community and brotherhood towards one another through a shared bond of faith. As a result of this emphasis on community, the rights of the group tend to take precedence over the rights of the individual in Russian culture. The Orthodox and Catholic faiths had an adversarial relationship for years. As this rift deepened and grew increasingly antagonistic, the rift between the East and the West also grew. The difference in religion between Russia and Europe can largely explain the vast differences that developed in their cultures.The Tsar of All Russia derived his power and right to rule from his status as God's chosen representative on earth. As it is God alone who bestowed power on the tsar, it was in the best interest of the monarchy to protect and promote the church. This conception of the tsar possessing a divine right to rule contributed to the political passivity of the Russian people. In the Byzantium tradition the concept of symphonia defined the relationship between the church and the state and acted as a balance on the unlimited power of the tsar. As the head of the church and the head of the state, the metropolitan and the tsar were equals and the metropolitan had the right to censure the tsar. The dispute between the Possessors and the Non-Possessors challenged the idea of symphonia, or harmony and cooperation between the pillars of society. The Possessors and the Non-Possessors held vastly different ideas about the role the church should play in society and politics. When the philosophy of the Possessors triumphed, the church gained the right to wealth and serfs at the expense of political influence. The tsar became superior to the metropolitan, and the regime could now interfere in secular matters of the church. The release of the tsar from any source of accountability left the...

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