“Nationalization” of religion: contemporary debates and practices

  1. Lemma
  2. “Национализирането” на религията: съвременни дебати и практики
  3. Bulgarian
  4. Nachev, Ivaylo
  5. Culture and national identities
  6. 23-11-2018
  7. Богомилова, Нонка [Author]. “Nationalization” of religion: contemporary debates and practices
  8. “Национализирането” на религията: съвременни дебати и практики - Sofia: Paradigma, 2015.
  9. nationalism - Byzantine Empire - religious education - Mutafchiev, Petar
    1. The book examines the relations between the state, nation and religion in the context of the modern history of Southeastern Europe. The author analyses in the first chapter various theoretical approaches to nationalism as a notion in academic debates. She then looks at contemporary debates in the axis ethnic group – politics, with a focus on human rights, factors that generate conflict and others. The author sees as a trend in Europe and the Balkans in particular tensions with the “'other” with its ethnic-confessional projection (the case of the wars in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s). Noted was the indicated much lower level of religiosity among Serbs than the attachment to Orthodoxy in a broader cultural sense.  Bogomilova analyzed the role of religion as a possible factor for generating conflict between various religious groups, which is done along with other aspects such as the conflict potential in social-economic factors. In addition, there is a trend in modern media to frame conflicts as religious as this attracts more attention. The Bulgarian case shows lower level of tension between different religious groups, as shown by different sociological studies. Some circles within the Bulgarian Orthodoxy (including some in BOC) have shown in the last 20 years tendencies of turning to nationalism. To this trend add efforts for introduction of compulsory religious education with a focus on Orthodox Christianity. Bogomilova pointed that according to academic circles this model may bring ghettoization and bears risks for the social peace. In spite of the existing variety, there is a trend in Europe for secularization of the religious education driven by historic and cultural approach towards religion (p.64-65).The author also analyses the primacy of the state over religion in Europe and the Balkans in particular, and observes certain similarities despite the existence of specific forms in different cases.

      The second chapter is elaborated on the national and universal interpretation of history by comparison of different approaches towards the “own” and the “other” in the  Bulgarian hhistorical context using as case studies works of  three historians: Bulgarian Petar Mutafchiev, along with Dimitri Obolensky and Arnold Toynbee. Bogomilova highlighted Mutafchiev's interpretation of “Byzantinism” as a combination of Byzantine imperial interests and the rival interests of Bulgarian ruling elites which sought to implement on local soil the imperial practices. Bogomilova stressed Mutafchiev’s criticism toward the elite (including the religious leaders) who failed to meet many of the challenges of their time. In contrast with this vision, Obolensky put the focus on different conception, namely the Byzantine commonwealth. The relations between the imperial center and periphery are presented in categories such as exchange and acculturation. This interpretation claims that ethnic identities played smaller role than presumed in historiography. In the interpretation of Toynbee, Byzantium is placed in the framework of universal world history where there is lesser attention to the national.  Bogomilova also compared the historical  and philosophical approaches of Hegel and Toynbee with their emphasis on religion as a spiritual core of civilization. The last part compared the interpretations of relations between man and God in the novel of Bulgarian writer Emilian Stanev “Anti-Christ” and works of Immanuel Kant with emphasis on moral dilemmas of human essence and freedom.