Letters from Heaven: Popular Religion in Russia and Ukraine

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Overview

Letters from Heaven features an international group of scholars investigating the place and function of 'popular' religion in Eastern Slavic cultures. The contributors examine popular religious practices in Russia and Ukraine from the middle ages to the present, considering the cultural contexts of death rituals, miracles, sin and virtue, cults of the saints, and icons. The collection not only fills a void in religious scholarship, but also responds to current theoretical challenges.

Reflecting critically on the heuristic value of popular religion and on the concept of popular culture in general, Letters from Heaven is characterized by a shift of focus from churches, institutions, and theological discourse to the religious practices themselves and their interconnections with the culture, mentality, and social structures of the societies in question. An important contribution to the fields of religion and Eastern Slavic studies, this volume challenges readers to rethink old pieties and to reconsider the function of religion.

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Editorial Reviews

Catherine Wanner
‘The book offers a rich and detailed potarit of informal religious life and how beliefs became manifest in practice particularly in provincial and rural areas. This volume will be of interest to historians, anthropologists, folklorists, and anyone interested in religious practice in the East Slavic regions.’
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802091482
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
  • Publication date: 12/30/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

John-Paul Himka is a professor in the Department of History and Classics at the University of Alberta.

Andriy Zayarnyuk is Academic Director of the Institute for Urban History of East-Central Europe, Harald Binder's Foundation, Lviv.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Andriy Zayarnyuk and John-Paul Himka

Death Ritual among Russian and Ukrainian Peasants: Linkages between the Living and the Dead
Christine D. Worobec

Folk Orthodoxy: Popular Religion in Contemporary Ukraine
Natalie Kononenko

The Miracle as Sign and Proof: 'Miraculous Semiotics' in the Medieval and Early Modern Ukrainian Mentality
Roman Holyk

Sexuality and Gender in Early Modern Russian Orthodoxy: Sin and Virtue in Cultural Context
Valerie A. Kivelson

The Christian Sources of the Cult of St Paraskeva
Eve Levin

Popular Religion in the Time of Peter the Great
Paul Bushkovitch

Letters from Heaven: An Encounter between the 'National Movement' and 'Popular Culture'
Andriy Zayarnyuk

For the Beauty of God's House: Notes on Icon Vestments and Decorations in the Ruthenian Church
Sophia Senyk

'Social' Elements in Ukrainian Icons of the Last Judgment through the Eighteenth Century
John-Paul Himka

Between 'Popular' and 'Official': Akafisty Hymns and Marian Icons in Late Imperial Russia
Vera Shevzov

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