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Russian procurator was to attend convocations of the holy synod in Ejmiacin, but, because the Armenian Church was not in communion with the Russian, it was granted autonomy in deciding its internal affairs, in contrast to its Georgian counterpart.52 It also retained supervision of the network of church schools and the Armenian clergy were guaranteed tax-exempt status and security of property.

Modern education and secularism

Progressive clergy like Gabriel Patkanean and Xacatur Abovean took the first steps towards the establishment of a modern east Armenian idiom. The former even employed it for his short-lived newspaper Ararat. Liberal clergy came under pressure from both the Armenian hierarchy and the Russian censors for what was perceived as their suspicious heterodox views and new-fangled methods. By the end of the decade the first virulently secular and anticlerical review appeared, the Hiwsisap'ayl (Northern Lights), published in Moscow by Mik'ayel Nalbandean and Step'an Nazarean, who harshly criticised the Mxit'arist order's political conservatism from a socialist standpoint and insisted that the church must not dominate any national revival. Many writers in the modern idiom saw themselves as a new cultural force for national progress and hence in conflict with the church over the issue of leadership in society. The popular novelist Raffi (Yakob Melik'-Yakobean) also propagated a socialist creed in his utopian vision of a future Armenian state in his novel Xent'e (The Fool), in which he visualises an ergonomic Protestant-style building which does double duty as both church and school, and the priest similarly offers the children instruction in science. Men and women mingle freely, not segregated in traditional fashion in different sections of the nave or gallery, the laity participate directly in the service, improvising prayers and singing hymns, while the preacher selects as his text the verse 'in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread' (Genesis 3:19), interpreting this not as punishment for original sin, but as an appeal to the community to transform their environment through empowered self-help rather than remaining passive in fatalistic quiescence.53

At the same time, perceiving Armenian nationalism as separatist and subversive, the reactionary tsar Alexander III (1881-94) instituted an aggressive

52 A. L. H. Rhinelander, 'Russia's imperial policy: the adminstration of the Caucasus in the first half of the nineteenth century', Canadian Slavonic Papers 17 (1975), 225-6.

53 Raffi, The fool: eventsfromthelastRusso-Turkish War 1877-78, trans. D. Abcarian (Princeton: Gomidas Institute, 2000). More conservative and pro-church writers supported newspapers like the Metu Hayastani [Bee of Armenia].

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