Is it Enough?

Pope Leo XIII concludes his writing by stating that the employer and the worker need each other; they have a dependent relationship. This may seem obvious, but the simplicity of the situation did not occur to me until I read Rerum Novarum where Pope Leo related the struggle of the worker to human nature. Pope Leo was an intelligent, adaptable, decently educated young boy who caught the eye of members in the Church. He eventually worked up the line on rank due to his enthusiastic energy and self-control.… Read the rest here

Religion and Pop Culture in Post-Kievan Rus’

Religion had a very prominent role in pop culture in Post-Kievan Rus’, influencing the social structure, everyday life,  and art as well.  Churchmen and high officials were easily threatened of the toppling of the social structure throughout Rus’ and were highly cautious of the entertaining minstrels. The Rus’ minstrels were looked down upon by the church because their performances “caricatured the world around them,”1 no doubt making fun of the church at times.  But because the church was a part of the elite society, they were able to “[prevent] the minstrels from bequeathing these performances to subsequent generations,”2 thus displaying the church’s power to the people of Rus’.… Read the rest here

Cultural Changes due to Mongol Invasion

It is clear that the Mongol’s conquest of Russia was the cause of huge amounts of destruction in Russia as they are consistently described as “cruel and evil infidels”1.  However, Halperin’s view on the Mongolian influence was particularly interesting as he does not focus on the negative contributions from the Mongols but the positive  influences the Rus people borrowed from them in order to better their society.  In order to fully understand the influence of the Mongol’s in Rus’ society, It is important to recognize the different perspectives taken when analyzing this historical event.… Read the rest here

The Mongols and their Relationship with the Orthodox Church

By most accounts, the Mongol invasion was a bloody time for the people of Russian territories in the thirteenth century. Arriving from southeastern Russia in 1223, they had superior military tactics to overthrow the Russian Princes and keep that power for the next 150 years to 250 years with the help of their proficient administration skills that Russian officials lacked. The wide-spread massacre and destruction ruined towns and deprived the population at large from farming land in the steppe and from critical trade routes.… Read the rest here

Freud’s Weltanschauung

Sigmund Freud, known to college students everywhere for his ability to trace all human activity back to sex, published “Civilization and Die Weltanschauung” in 1918, near the end of World War I. While Freud never explicitly mentioned WWI in the excerpt discussed here, he did state that man’s natural inclination to aggression is one of the greatest impediments to civilization. The struggle between a number of contrasting factors, including the struggle between the instinct for life and the instinct for destruction (aggression) forms the evolution of human civilization, according to Freud.… Read the rest here

Religious Symbolism as Rebellion in Akhmatova’s ‘Requiem’

In the Catholic Church, a requiem is a mass dedicated to the souls of the departed. Therefore, it serves as a fitting title for Anna Akhmatova’s poem written for those who suffered in the prisons and were executed under Stalin’s regime. Akhmatova wrote ‘Requiem’ in stages between 1935 and 1940, a time of unrest in the Soviet Union. After the prelude and dedication, the poem details the pain and anguish the people of the Soviet Union experienced during this time through the viewpoint of a widow who lost her husband to injustice and whose son is imprisoned.… Read the rest here

Heads Would Roll, But That Wasn’t Enough

Just as Louis XIV  created symbols of his power as the absolute ruler of France, such as the palace of Versailles and even himself (he was the “Sun King” and claimed that he was the state/the state was him), so did the leaders of the French Revolution create their own symbols and culture in order to aid their overthrow of the monarchy and subsequent attempts to create a whole  new society.

In a pamphlet entitled What is the Third Estate?Read the rest here

The Cult of the Supreme Being

One of the main factors contributing to the French Revolution was an intensifying contempt for the relationship between the Catholic church and the State. Robespierre alludes to this dissatisfaction in his writing saying, “He did not create priests to harness us … to the chariots of kings”. Robespierre was one of the most influential figures in the French Revolution, but rather than lead a charge against the Church and religion like some of his revolutionary peers, he is able to rally a cause for revolution fueled by new, but fervent religious grounds.… Read the rest here

A Look into Peasant Life in Tsarist Russia

After reading Village Life in Tsarist Russia by Olga Semyonova Tian-Shanskaia and edited by David L. Ransel, one has gains new insight into what the world of a peasant in tsarist times looked like.  For instance, as they lived in the countryside and were not a part of urban society, their views on religion were much different than citizens living in cities.  While in the city, people were practiced Russian Orthodoxy quite strictly; however, in the countryside, peasants did not receive formal education when it came to religion, and this led to an odd mixture of paganism and Orthodoxy.  … Read the rest here

Studying Peasant Life in the Late 19th Century

Shanskaia’s Village Life in Late Tsarist Russia, an ethnographic study of peasant life in the late 19th century. Yesterday, we discussed some of the book’s major themes, namely, gender, marriage, and childhood.

Here, I want to focus on religion. Semyonova writes, “Among the mass of peasants, there is nothing mystical about their relationship to the tsar or to God, just as there is nothing mystical about their idea of an afterlife. They simply give no thought to an afterlife, just as they give no thought to the coming year.… Read the rest here