Search This Blog

Nov 1, 2022

Minority report

Last week, I had an opportunity to interact with a very small minority within a minority, within another minority. Estonia is a small European country of 1.3 million. Within it, a mostly secular country, there is 20% minority of Eastern Orthodox Christians. Within it, there is a minority of Estonian-speaking people, both ethnically Russian and Estonian. Within that group, there is a group that holds anti-Putin, and pro-European values. That’s who I visited and had a chance to interact with.

The minority point of view is always rich, and always more interesting than that of a majority. It is rich with contradictions, of unsettles identities, rich in alternative memories. A minority always understand the majority better than vice versa; and it understands itself much better. It is easy to blend in, to dissolve in the big sea, but it is hard to hold on to your identity, and even harder to pass it on to your children. This makes for a more complex, more multilayered culture. IN many cases, minority youth have better levels of adaptability, richer repertoire of relational skills.

St. John’s school in Tallinn is quite amazing. A brand-new building in Nordic design traditions, with a very cool chapel built into it. The kids chatter in Estonian, but after about 4th grade will switch to English with guests. An amazing Indian chef cooks home meals, and relaxed, free atmosphere. These are all the signs of a liberal school. And yet is also a religious school. The link between religion and social conservatism is very not universal. Cultural landscape is always more complex than one might imagine. I also enjoyed talking to several theologians at the conference. They are not normally the crowd I hang out with. But I was taught by my adviser Lyudmila Novikova to seek new ideas always outside of my own field. For example, I was reminded that the Patristic literature examined most of thing to know about the human condition. They used different conceptual apparatus but talked about the same things. It would be fun to do a second translation – not just from Greek to English, but also from the language of theology to the language of contemporary secular scholarship. I did a few bits of it in the past, writing about what icons mean today, and how the concept of sin is applicable to the Trump movement and other varieties of populism. But that is for another project.

No comments:

Post a Comment