When I visited the Cathedral of the Icon of Kazan in St. Petersburg, Russia, a crowd was lined up waiting for a closer look at the storied image of Our Lady of Kazan, one of the most revered icons in Russia. After watching the scene for a while, I decided that two kinds of people were in line. Some were tourists, there for a quick look at the icon.
A Moscow district court has convicted and fined the director and the curator of a Russian museum on charges of inciting religious hatred. The court ruled that a 2003 art exhibit, “Caution! Religion,” was insulting to the Russian Orthodox Church and “blasphemous,” according to U.S. news reports.
Mel Gibson’sThe Passion of the Christ movie about the death of Jesus earned $17 million over the Easter weekend, making it the eighth-highest grossing film of all time. Gibson’s self-financed blockbuster had earned $354.9 million since it debuted on Feburary 25, Ash Wednesday.
Almost every American seminary student knows H. Richard Niebuhr’s typology of five ways of relating Christ and culture. I have often used Niebuhr’s book Christ and Culture in the classroom. Presenting these ideas to students at the Russia United Methodist Seminary, however, was a new experience.
One of the objectives of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent pro-Western diplomacy is to reduce instability along Russia’s southern borders. In the troubled area to the north of Afghanistan are five predominantly Muslim countries—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.