The American YMCA and Russian Culture: The Preservation and Expansion of Orthodox Christianity, 1900-1940 by Matthew Lee Miller
In The American YMCA and Russian Culture, Matthew Lee Miller explores the impact of the philanthropic activities of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) on Russians during the late imperial and early Soviet periods. The YMCA, the largest American service organization, initiated its intense engagement with Russians in 1900. During the First World War, the Association organized assistance for prisoners of war, and after the emigration of many Russians to central and western Europe, founded the YMCA Press and supported the St. Sergius Theological Academy in Paris. Miller demonstrates that the YMCA contributed to the preservation, expansion, and enrichment of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. It therefore played a major role in preserving an important part of pre-revolutionary Russian culture in Western Europe during the Soviet period until the repatriation of this culture following the collapse of the USSR. The research is based on the YMCA’s archival records, Moscow and Paris archives, and memoirs of both Russian and American participants. This is the first comprehensive discussion of an extraordinary period of interaction between American and Russian cultures. It also presents a rare example of fruitful interconfessional cooperation by Protestant and Orthodox Christians.
Matthew Lee Miller is assistant professor of history at Northwestern College.
Table of Contents
Prologue Chapter I. The YMCA and Russia: A Profile of Good Works Chapter II. The YMCA and Russia: Wrestling with the Issues Chapter III. Confessional Confrontation: Perceptions, Images, and Correctives Chapter IV. Work among Working Russians Chapter V. “Service with Fighting Men”: The Y among Soldiers Chapter VI. The Russian Student Christian Movement at Home Chapter VII. The Russian Student Christian Movement Abroad Chapter VIII. “The Hunger for Books”: Serving a Starving Readership Chapter IX. Teachers and Priests: The St. Sergius Theological Academy Chapter X. Sustaining an Orthodox Commonwealth Epilogue Bibliography Appendix: A Note on Archival Sources
What People are Saying About This
Norman E. Saul
Through meticulous research in little known archives, Matthew Miller explores an important but neglected aspect of Russian-American relations in the early 20th century—the considerable impact of the American YMCA in Russian and Soviet life. He unveils the Y’s surprising success in a country with a protective official religion, Orthodoxy, and in a virtually closed society after the Bolshevik revolution, as well as depicting the dedication of a number of Americans to the Christian cause in Russia while also exploring the broader Western interaction with the dilemmas of the Russian Orthodox Church through war, revolution, and Communist oppression.
Mark A. Noll
This book makes a notable contribution on a surprisingly controversial subject. Through wide-ranging research in English and Russian sources, Matthew Miller shows how important the YMCA was for connecting East and West before the Russian Revolution and then for supporting a vigorous émigré community after that Revolution. Above all, the book argues convincingly that the most important contribution of the YMCA was to strengthening Russian Orthodoxy itself.
Mark R. Elliott
Matthew Miller has written what should be considered the definitive treatment of American YMCA support for the Russian Orthodox Church (1900–1940). In particular, Miller illuminates the creative and critical assistance that an essentially Protestant YMCA contributed to Orthodox culture, first in tsarist Russia, and subsequently among exiles from Lenin's and Stalin's Russia. This welcome volume documents what may have been the most substantive Protestant-Orthodox collaboration ever.
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