Russian Monasticism and Social Engagement: The Case of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra in the Nineteenth Century
A common stereotype has it that the Orthodox Church is “otherworldly” and unengaged in this world, particularly as contrasted with the social engagement of Western Christianity. According to this image, the Orthodox Church is (and has historically been) preoccupied with liturgy and ritual, on the one hand, and contemplative prayer and mysticism, on the other, and therefore has not actively sought to ameliorate the conditions of those in need. Although this depiction is not entirely inaccurate, particularly as pertains to the Orthodox Church in recent centuries, it is my argument that this lack of social engagement is not somehow “essential” to the nature of the Orthodox Church, but rather specific to particular historical circumstances.
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Also Published In
- Philanthropy and Social Compassion in Eastern Orthodox Tradition: Papers of the Sophia Institute Academic Conference, New York, Dec. 2009