Title: His Kingdom Come: Orthodox Pastorship and Social Activism in Revolutionary Russia
Book Condition: New
Publisher: Northern Illinois Univ Pr February 2008
0875803822 / 9780875803821
Seller ID: 20101018179985
Long-standing stereotypes depict the late imperial Russian Church as a tool of the autocratic state, its cynical, inebriated clergy out of touch with a struggling flock. In this account of the decades leading up to 1917, Jennifer Hedda lays such simplistic views to rest by examining the actual ideals and activities of parish priests in St. Petersburg, the empire's capital. Late nineteenth-century Russian theologians, paralleling the 'social gospel' movement in Britain and America, declared that the Church had a responsibility to address social as well as religious needs. Parish priests embraced new forms of social outreach by preaching homilies, establishing charities, and promoting temperance societies. As political turmoil worsened, some priests became politicized, arguing that the Church must guide parishioners in troubled times and serve 'the greater good, the higher truth.' In 1905, such convictions impelled Fr. Georgii Gapon to lead a Russian workers' protest that was brutally suppressed. Hedda documents the wrenching dilemmas faced by priests (although her focus leans toward the more liberal minority), clerical groups, and hierarchs, and explains why calls for Church 'reform' never gained traction. Ultimately, we sense not revolutionary defeat, but suffocation. These clergymen never view themselves as victims of modernity: they are still striving to answer the demands of the gospel even as a Gordian knot of government restrictions, institutional dysfunction, and suspicion stifles their every move.