The intelligentsia and the Orthodoxy

  1. Lemma
  2. Интелигенцията и Православието
  3. Bulgarian
  4. Nachev, Ivaylo
  5. Culture and national identities
  6. 3-4-2017
  7. Тодоров, Георги [Author]. The intelligentsia and the Orthodoxy
  8. (Православие)
  9. intelligentsia - Paisius of Hilendar - Неофит Рилски - Неофит Бозвели
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    1. The article aims at explaining the evolution of Bulgarian intelligentsia, the class of educated people, which is said to be currently in such a crisis that it could not face contemporary challenges. The author made an overview of the position of Bulgarian intellectuals toward the Orthodox Church tradition. Todorov took a critical stance toward those intellectuals whose work departed from the church dogma and shifted the focus to secular knowledge. The text is separated into three chronological parts: 1) 18th-end 19th century 2) end-19th century -1944 3) 1944-1989, with the author arguing there is continuous trend of eroding Christian values.    

      The first part briefly but critically looked at the work of three intellectuals from the church environment, namely Paisius of Hilendar, Neofit Bozveli and Neofit Rilski. The author speaks of “crawling secularization”. In even more critical light were seen intellectuals outside the church circles. The stance on the Bulgarian Exarchate, which is denoted “illegitimate”, is also negative. To such factors the author attributed the lack of strong “Orthodox intelligentsia”. The secular intellectuals are mostly driven by “hypertrophied ego”, patriotism was a leading idea, and Bulgarian society was dominated by secular values.  

      The second part examined the so called “capitalist” period. The author challenged the perception that this period is completely opposite to the period after 1944 and questioned the statement for full devotion to the Orthodox tradition. Todorov cited the lack of studies on this question and supported his statement with contemporary critical texts in periodic church publications. It was also argued that the genuine faith was replaced by a cold substitute. In addition, Todorov’s opinion was that Bulgarian foreign policy was in essence anti-Orthodox. The intelligence affirmed its dominance in public life, reaffirming the secular views despite the fact that most intellectuals were formally Orthodox.

      In the third part were highlighted differences with Soviet Russia in the process of introduction of communist rule. According to the author, neither most of ordinary people nor the majority of the intellectuals were deeply devoted to the Orthodox faith which explained the lack of an extreme religious clash. So, even the official rhetoric against the church was indolent. The church also saw some positive developments like the removal of the schism in 1945 and the upgrade of the Bulgarian church to patriarchy. The Orthodoxy was also not seen as a political threat given that most of the Orthodox countries were in the socialist bloc. The dominating materialist view regarded Orthodoxy as backward phenomenon which was expected to wither away with scientific enlightenment. According to Todorov, this is a period of hardships for the “right” intellectuals, but also spiritual conversion of many of them towards true Orthodoxy. None of the currents of the new intelligentsia has Orthodox consciousness and the role of the church remained marginal.