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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dress code for Russian women?

I saw a post at Reuter's today - Orthodox Church asks Russian women to dress modestly Here's a bit of the post ...

Russian feminists expressed outrage Wednesday after the country's Orthodox Church proposed women dress more modestly and refrain from walking down the street "painted like a clown." Endorsed by Russia's leaders as the country's main faith, the Orthodox Church has grown increasingly powerful since communism fell and its dominance has drawn criticism from rights groups who say it undermines Russia's secular constitution.

"We should create an all-Russian dress code," top Church official Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said in a letter published by Interfax news agency Tuesday. "Either scantily clad or painted like a clown, a woman who counts on meeting men on the street, in the metro or a bar not only risks running into a drunken idiot but will meet men with no self-respect," he said. Chaplin, who also heads the Church's department for relations with society, said last month that women in mini-skirts were to blame if raped as they "provoke men." ....

Well, as you might guess, I'm on the side of the feminists.

I'm not sure I know enough about the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian government to write a post on this subject - my knowledge of things Russian is sort of spotty - I remember St. Basil's Cathedral from art history class, I've watched Nicholas and Alexandra and Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky, read Dostoyevsky's The Grand Inquisitor, read a couple of Gabriel Allon novels which took place in Russia so I know about the Moscow Rules, my college boyfriend named his two pet rats after Russian saints Boris and Gleb, I like dancers Mikhail Baryshnikov and Alexander Godunov, the porms of Anna Akhmatova, the art of Kandinsky, and I recall that Russia was one of the few places the Society of Jesus was welcome when it was suppressed by Clement XIV.

Still, having said that, I do remember reading here and there some misgivings about the combo of the modern Russian government and the modern Russian Church. Here's some of a a 2007 TIME article, Putin's Reunited Russian Church ...

The Russian Orthodox Church was torn in two by revolution and regicide, by the enmity between communism and capitalism, nearly a century of fulmination and hatred. That all formally ended on Thursday in Moscow. Thousands of the Russian Orthodox faithful — including several hundred who flew in from New York — lined up under heavy rain to get into the Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior. There, they witnessed the restoration of the "Canonical Communion and Reunification" of the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) .... While the sumptuous ritual was clearly an emotional and pious event, the reunification has political resonance as well because the Russian Orthodox Church is increasingly a symbol and projection of Russian nationalism.

Indeed, rather than first give thanks to God in his speech, the head of the ROC, Patriarch Alexy, paid homage to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Patriarch emphasized that the reunification could happen only because the ROCOR saw in Putin "a genuine Russian Orthodox human being." Putin responded in his speech that the reunification was a major event for the entire nation.

Nationalism, based on the Orthodox faith, has been emerging as the Putin regime's major ideological resource. Thursday's rite sealed the four-year long effort by Putin, beginning in September 2003, to have the Moscow Patriarchate take over its rival American-based cousin and launch a new globalized Church as his state's main ideological arm and a vital foreign policy instrument. In February press conference, Putin equated Russia's "traditional confessions" to its nuclear shield, both, he said, being "components that strengthen Russian statehood and create necessary preconditions for internal and external security of the country." Professor Sergei Filatov, a top authority on Russian religious affairs notes that "traditional confessions" is the state's shorthand for the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Church's assertiveness and presence is growing — with little separation from the State. The Moscow City Court and the Prosecutor General's Office maintain Orthodox chapels on their premises. Only the Orthodox clergy are entitled to give ecclesiastic guidance to the military. Some provinces have included Russian Orthodox Culture classes in school curricula with students doing church chores. When Orthodox fundamentalists vandalized an art exhibition at the Moscow Andrei Sakharov Center as "an insult to the main religion of our country," the Moscow Court found the Center managers guilty of insulting the faith, and fined them $3,500 each. The ROC had an opera, based on a famous fairy tale by the poet Alexander Pushkin, censored to the point of cutting out the priest, who is the tale's main protagonist. "Of course, we have a separation of State and Church," Putin said during a visit to a Russian Orthodox monastery in January 2004. "But in the people's soul they're together." The resurgence of a Church in open disdain of the secular Constitution is only likely to exacerbate divisions in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious Russia. ....

And more recently, and with Kirill I chosen Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus' and Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church in 2009 (an ex-KGB agent - can this be true?), things don't seem to be getting any better .... Art under arrest: A blasphemy trial shows the limit of Russia’s cultural freedom

I know this close relationship between church and state warms the cockles of the hearts of religious conservatives but I find it creepy.


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