The Roots and Growth of Christianity in Early Rus

Something that I found to be particularly interesting is the manner in which Christianity came to Rus compared to the power that the church wields in Russia today.
Pages sixty-three to sixty-seven paint a very clear picture of the real purpose for the introduction of Christianity to Rus. It’s made quite clear that Vladimir wanted to bring Greek Orthodoxy to Rus because it was a religion that could bring him greater wealth, influence, and power than he currently possessed, but he didn’t have to sacrifice much for it.
The book states that numerous religions presented themselves to Vladimir in order to grow throughout his lands, but Vladimir declined them because of personal opinions or dislikes for them. For example, Vladimir rejects Islam because it requires him to become circumcised and stop drinking alcohol (apparently his favorite activity).
Then, Vladimir sends judges to the lands of these religions to determine which one he wants to accept or which one is most favorable to him. Eventually, Vladimir decides that because he can extort a wife, a city, and an alliance of sorts out of it, he will convert himself and all of Rus to Greek Orthodoxy (I should also mention that his envoys liked the Greek church services the most, too).
It takes time, but the Orthodox church grows over the next few centuries to become a significant political, cultural, and religious (obviously) player in Russia with major influence over the direction that the nation takes.
The part of this whole situation that is most interesting to me is the course of growth that the church and the state take together. In much of Europe the Roman Catholic church (or the Orthodox church in Eastern Europe) grew independent of the state. In fact, the church often grew in times that the states were not growing, but in Russia, the church often grew with the state. The timeline of growth is not perfect for this as the church grew in times when the state was stagnant and the state grew in times when the church was less influential, but I think that two factors have primarily caused this unusual growth pattern.
First is Vladimir made the Orthodox church the state religion at a time when Rus did not yet have a great sense of “self” or national unity. This allowed the church to establish at a time when the state gained a greater identity, causing the two bodies to have a very heavily linked history of growth.
Second is the mutual relationship between the church and the state. Vladimir made Orthodoxy the state religion for the benefits that he (and his children) would reap. The church benefited from the large amount of previously unreached people and the state benefited from the economic and cultural effects that the church had on Rus.