Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Sieve: The Icon and the Axe

Even before the advent of Google Reader, but certainly moreso after the cracking of that Pandora's jar, I noticed the tendency in myself to sift through books, rather than read them, by which I mean reading largely for those passages I could pass on to others.

Rather than fight this noxious habit, I'm going to make you all accomplices, by occasionally posting such passages here, without comment. I've decided to group such posts together with a snappy name, which makes it a feature of my blog, and not lazy writing.
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The following are excerpts from James Billington's The Icon and the Axe, which is the most enjoyable treatment of Russian history I've yet to encounter:
"Nikon changed the traditional Russian reading in the creed that Christ's kingdom 'has no end' to 'shall have no end.' From representing Christ as 'sitting' at the right hand of God, the new creed read 'was seated'; and from affirming belief in the 'true and life-giving Holy Spirit,' the new creed substituted 'life-giving Holy Spirit'.

Though these changes were intended merely to rid the Russian church of uncanonical accretions, their effect to the fundamentalists was to imply that Christ was now sometimes on and sometimes off his throne (like a seventeenth-century monarch) and that the Holy Spirit merely participates in truth (like any student of the worldly sciences)."

"Some extremists among the Russian fundamentalists even took the position that the Bible itself was s secular book, since it contained many worldly and even pornographic stories and had first come to Russia by means of the 'guileful' printing presses of corrupted Western Slavs."
Духовная культура, indeed!

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