In 1919, three Ugandan Anglicans converted to Orthodox Christianity, as they became sure that this was Christianity’s original and only true form. In 1946, Ugandan Orthodox Christians aligned with the Eastern Orthodox Church of Alexandria. Since the 1990s, new trends in conversion to Orthodox Christianity in Uganda can be observed: one is some growth in the number of new converts to the canonical Orthodox Church, while another is the appearance of new Orthodox Churches, including parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church. The questions we raise in this article are: Why did some Ugandans switch from other religions to Orthodox Christianity in the first half of the 20th century and in more recent years? Were there common reasons for these two developments? We argue that both processes should be understood as attempts by some Ugandans to find their own way in the modern world. Trying to escape spiritually from the impact of colonialism, post-coloniality, and globalization, they viewed Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Islam as part of the legacy they rejected. These people did not turn to African traditional beliefs either. They already firmly saw their own tradition as Christian, but were (and are) seeking its “true”, “original” form. We emphasize that by rejecting post-colonial globalist modernity and embracing Orthodox Christianity as the basis of their own “alternative” modernity, these Ugandans themselves turn out to be modern products, and this speaks volumes about the nature of conversion in contemporary Africa. The article is based on field evidence collected in 2017–2019 as well as on print sources.
The phenomenon of fitnah could be traced throughout history in different regions and cultures. The Arab spring events of 2011–2012 are not an exception in this context. The next outburst of protest activity occurred where it was not expected in the near future—in Ukraine. If we compare the events in the Arab countries in 2011 and Ukraine in 2013–2014, it can be concluded that in essence they fit the characteristics of fitnah very well, which are attributed to it by the Arabic political culture. In both cases, the fitnah acquired permanent character turning into anarchy and chaos (“fouda”). The government/the ruling power found itself unprepared for such manifestations of fitnah and miscalculated the threat posed by the protesters. From our perspective, in the modern world this phenomenon can be explained by the rapid development of Internet technologies that gives the opposition an opportunity to prepare a protest virtually, in an area not totally controlled by the government.
Since 2011, the Arab world has entered a period of political turbulence accompanied by widespread growth of protest activity. The events that were metaphorically called the “Arab Spring” referring to the “Spring of Nations” of 1848, affected virtually all countries of the Middle East and North Africa. In Libya, Syria, and Yemen, antigovernment demonstrations led to almost complete destruction of statehood raising the question of the existence of these political entities in their former borders. Egypt and Tunisia ended up with a change in the ruling regimes that repeated many times. The ruling elites of other Arab countries, having experienced the wrath of the Arab streets to varying degrees, managed to stay in power. The “Arab Spring” events should be more adequately viewed in the framework of “fitnah”, a form of protest traditional in the Arab-Muslim political culture. Indeed, since the emergence of Islam, fitnah was one of the most common forms of protest activity in the Middle East. However, in the last two centuries, it was replaced by “thaura” or the “revolution,” much more common in the European mentality. While the term "fitnah" has mainly negative connotations, “thaura” has been praised in every possible way and even became the basis for commemorative practices. This paper makes an attempt to compare these two forms of protest in the Muslim world.
Internet censorship remains one of the most common methods of state control over the media. Reasons for filtering cyberspace include ensuring the security of the current regime, attempts to limit all kinds of opposition movements, and the protection of the religious and moral norms of society. In Arab countries, where religion plays a major role in the sociopolitical sphere, the latter is particularly important. Since, in Islamic law, there is no direct reference to censorship in practice, governments cause many resources to be filtered under various pretexts. At the same time, as the example of Egypt during the Arab spring shows, moral and religious reasons for filtering the Internet have more grounds than, say, the persecution of opposition leaders.
The article focuses on the reclaiming of militaristic ideas and the emergence of specific “militant piety” and “theology of war” in the Orthodox discourse of post-Soviet Russia. It scrutinizes the increasing prestige of soldiering in the Church and its convergence with the army. This convergence generates particular hybrid forms, in which Church rituals and symbols interact with military ones, leading to a “symbolic reception of war” in Orthodoxy. The authors show that militaristic ideas are getting influence not only in the post-Soviet but also in American Orthodoxy; they consider this parallel as evidence that the process is caused not only by the political context—the revival of neo-imperial ideas in Russia and the increasing role of power structures in public administration—but is conditioned by socio-cultural attitudes inherent in Orthodox tradition, forming a type of militant religiosity called “militant piety”. This piety is not a matter of fundamentalism only; it represents the essential layer of religious consciousness in Orthodoxy reflected in modern Church theology, rhetoric, and aesthetics. The authors analyze war rhetoric while applying approaches of Karen Armstrong, Mark Juergensmeyer, R. Scott Appleby, and other theoreticians of the relationship between religion and violence.
This paper explores how Levinas redefines the traditional notion of prophecy, shifting the emphasis from the content of prophecy to the figure of the prophet, thus making prophetic inspiration a key feature of ethical subjectivity. The principal aim of the paper is to analyse the resulting triangular structure involving God and the Other. This structure is inherently unstable because God is incessantly stepping back in kenotic withdrawal. I show how this fundamental instability is reflected in the structure of the phenomenalisation of God’s glory, the structure of obedience to God’s order, and the structure of the authorship of prophecy. The prophetic experience is marked by heterogeneity; it can never be completely appropriated. Responsibility for the Other brings the subject to light as a witness of the glory of the Infinite, but not as the subject of self-identification.
In this article, the authors investigate ontological strategies in Meister Eckhart's metaphysics, which remounts Neoplatonism and the Corpus Areopagiticum, and in two schools of Indian philosophical tradition, the Advaita Vedanta and Early Buddhism. Along with differences in the anthropology, epistemology and soteriology of these traditions, we can find similar strategies of ontological negativityand mystical experience in both traditions: detachment from the world of images and formsas the highest blessing; non-association of oneself with corporality, feelings, cognitive ability and reason; interiorizing the intentionality of consciousness, and termination of its representive function. Practically all systems of Indian philosophy were projects of liberation or personal transformation from subjugation and suffering into being free and blissful. The idea of spiritual release is also the corestone of Christian salvation as with the renouncement of sin and entering blissful unity with God. The apophatic doctrine of Christian neo-platonic mystics about the concealment, non-comprehensiveness, and inexpressibleness of God as the One and Nothingness, and also the idea of comprehension of God by means of detachment from the created world and one's own ego, gives us the opportunity for such comparative analysis.
The main research issue of this article is to determine the extent to which Western esotericism influences the formation of computer game plots. The methodological framework is the occultural bricolage theory (C. Partridge). This article looks at how the paranormal is represented in the game “Gray Matter”, created by J. Jensen. Jensen has always used occult bricolage as the main method for creating her games, but in “Gray Matter” this method is perfected. Although the game plot is built around paranormal events, they are not given any unambiguous interpretation; their status is the main question of the game. There are three answers to this question. The first answer is the beliefs of Sam Everett, a girl magician who does not believe in the supernatural. The second answer is the research of Dr. Styles, a neurobiologist convinced that the mind is an energy that can be objectified after death. The third answer is the theory of Dr. Ramusskin, a psi-phenomena specialist, who believes that super-abilities are real, and that spirits and the afterlife exist. It is the last answer that Jensen promotes in creating the game. The basis of “Gray matter” is a bricolage of Stephen King, the works of the Society for Psychical Research, works on parapsychology and the debates around psi-phenomena in neuropsychology.
This article analyzes Schmemann’s ecclesiology in the context of his attempt to give an assessment of the Church’s attitude to life; as well as the problem of defensiveness in Orthodoxy; reductionism of ecclesial culture; “rejection” of the world and traditionalistic isolation. The author focuses upon the socio-cultural interpretation given by Schmemann to such important categories of the ecclesial language as “piety,” “humility,” “churchliness,” “spirituality,” etc.; showing that in real life these categories express the isolation and stereotypification of Orthodoxy. In the context of “lived” religion, these categories deliver a protective and reductionist message, justifying a kind of anthropological pessimism, “religion of guilt” and psychological self-closure of a person. The theologian juxtaposes two religious traditions: one based on the defensiveness and the other based on a sense of joy; the feeling of God’s presence and affinity to the Kingdom of Heaven. According to the author, the accents put by Schmemann in his ecclesiology can promote the formation of ethics of laity and a more adequate attitude towards the world in the 21st century Orthodoxy.