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Living Faithfully in an Unjust WorldCompassionate Care in Russia$
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Melissa L. Caldwell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520285835

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520285835.001.0001

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Living a Life of Service

Living a Life of Service

(p.123) 5 Living a Life of Service
Living Faithfully in an Unjust World

Melissa L. Caldwell

University of California Press

This chapter analyzes Russian cultural values and practices of service, with particular emphasis on the role of religiously inspired service in support of state goals of equality and justice. Over the past several centuries, Russia’s religiously affiliated assistance groups have consistently focused on redressing inequalities, whether those are social, cultural, economic, or political. Working both in cooperation with official projects and governmental bodies and in opposition to regional and federal policies, religious communities have addressed issues and operated in arenas that have in turn complicated and expanded what counts as worship, service, action, and even the intended beneficiaries of their work. As the examples documented here show, through activities of civic service and engagement, religious communities and their followers have challenged distinctions between religious and secular and cultivated new ethics of voluntarism and political activism.

Keywords:   Russia, service, voluntarism, activism, civic religion

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