Praying with the Senses: Contemporary Orthodox Christian Spirituality in Practice

By Sonja Luehrmann | Go to book overview

EPILOGUE
Not-Orthodoxy/Orthodoxy’s Others

WILLIAM A. CHRISTIAN JR.

THE ESSAYS IN THIS VOLUME address the nature of prayer in Orthodoxy. Almost all, directly or in passing, allude to the religions and ideologies that share the human environment with the Orthodox and affect their faith and their prayers. In these essays, Muslims in Ethiopia, Egypt, the Balkans, and Cyprus; Protestants in Egypt, India, and Eastern Europe; Roman and Greek Catholics in Romania and the Ukraine; Paganism in central Russia; and New Age practices everywhere constitute adjacent alternatives that impinge on Orthodoxy, bleed into it, galvanize it, undermine it, reconfirm it.

One way, then, to parse the differences in prayer among the different Orthodox communities is to look at the different religious and political fields in which they are inserted. There is considerable variation in the fields on a nation-to-nation level, ranging from historical near-monopolies in the case of quasi-state churches (Belorussia, Serbia, Greece); dominance in a plural field (Russia, Ethiopia, Romania, Cyprus); close competition (Ukraine); substantial minority (Egypt); and a small minority (India, Western Europe, the Americas). Furthermore, these fields are dynamic, shifting in part on the religious policies of the dominant political power.

A rich ethnographic sense of the range of person and group interrelations in a single community can be found in David Frick’s meticulous account Kith, Kin, and Neighbors: Communities and Confessions in Seventeenth-Century Wilno (2013). It is an exceptional example of a number of studies of interconfessionalism in early modern Europe—in this case, in Wilno, currently more often known as Vilnius, now in Lithuania, a city that had a significant population of Orthodox inhabitants.

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