As believers adapted Orthodox piety to the new dynamics of urban surroundings, its practice took on new forms that often led to a more privatised practice of the faith, a shift that may have eventually contributed to the church's rapid demise in the public sphere after 1917, as well as Orthodoxy's survival in clandestine form among secret communities of believers.
One of the great religious developments of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was the spread of disaffection among the educated with the Russian Orthodox Church and its teachings. Peter's assault on the church remained mostly a matter of government prerogative until the publication of the famous First philosophical letter of Petr Chaadaev (1794-1856), a precursor to the still unresolved debates between the Slavophiles and westernisers and their heirs. In one fell swoop, Chaadaev argued that Russia was a historical misfit, alienated from any western European heritage, disdained by its European cousins and debilitated by the Orthodox faith that held Russia back from educational enlightenment with the gravest of consequences. Quickly condemned as a raving lunatic by Tsar Nicholas, Chaadaev decided to make official amends by retracting his charges, yet he failed to issue an overwhelming argument to the contrary. Chaadaev's critique followedby his recantation inspired the key philosophical debates of the 1840s that spread to all branches of intellectual activity, artistic creativity and eventually political activism. Critic Vissarion Belinskii (1811-48) and writer and publisher Alexander Herzen (1812-70) became known as outspoken critics of Russia and proponents of a more European orientation in the manner of Peter the Great, while Ivan Kireevskii (1806-56), Konstantin (1817-60) and Ivan Aksakov (1823-86), and Alexei Khomiakov (1804-60) became champions of the 'Great Slavic Traditions'. The first group and their successors revelled in western-style education and institutions (economic, though not always political), while the latter favoured Orthodox communalism as formulated in the organic sobornost and reverence for strict adherence to religious and historical tradition.17 Despite their apparent inability to come to a common ground, both camps had a deep appreciation for the building blocks of modernisation - education and literacy.
and R. E. Zelnik, 'To the unaccustomed eye: religion and irreligion in the experience of St. Petersburg workers in the 1870s', in Christianity and the Eastern Slavs, 11, Russian culture in modern times, ed. R. P. Hughes and I. Paperno [California Slavic Studies 17] (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 49-82.
17 A. Gleason, European and Muscovite: Ivan Kireevskii and the origins of Slavophilism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972). Sobornost signifies both a spiritual com-munalism and a council of peers, who make decisions for the good of the community. Nineteenth-century philosophers and theologians presented sobornost as a Slavic ideal that eluded the nations and empires of central and western Europe.
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