A quote from Rod Dreher’s blog:

A reason that Schindler gets, but many WEIRD Americans don’t: the religious nationalism angle. Russians see Ukraine as the cradle of Russian Orthodoxy. Russia dates its Christianity to the year 988, when Prince Vladimir, the ruler of Kievan Rus, accepted baptism. I cannot think of an analogy from American history, including American religious history, that can convey to American observers the emotional, psychological, and spiritual importance of Ukraine to Russians.

The religious part is bunkum because according to the Russian Orthodox Church, 2% (two) of Russians actually practice the Orthodox faith. Orthodoxy (or Christianity in general) was always a barely tolerated implant, which is why it was shed so gleefully and violently during the 1917 revolution. Post-Soviet countries are deeply irreligious.

However, the point about the deep emotional and psychological importance of Ukraine to Russians is spot-on. It’s an obsessive, intense fixation that goes beyond all reason and any practical considerations. To understand it, think about the liberals’ fixation on Trump. They hate him but they seem to have no identity without him. He’s their organizing principle. They can’t let him go, can’t relinquish their deep emotional attachment to him because without him, they don’t know who they are.

Many of us have had the disconcerting experience of talking to a leftist friend about something innocent and utterly unrelated to Trump when his eyes suddenly glaze over and he starts ranting about Trump. It’s like that with Russians and Ukraine. Happened to me many times.

“Hey, I thought we had at least a few of those frozen pancakes but I’m not finding any. I’m going to go buy some.”

“OK. Wait, though! Do you really think Ukraine benefited from gaining independence in 1991? Do you REALLY believe it?”

Yes, I do but what was it about frozen pancakes that brought on this wave of introspection about the Ukrainian independence?

“Look, the weather is beautiful. Want to go out for a stroll?”

“I don’t know! I keep thinking about how horrible Trump is. How can you go on walks and enjoy life like nothing happened?”

2 thoughts on “Monomaniacal

  1. “The religious part is bunkum because according to the Russian Orthodox Church, 2% (two) of Russians actually practice the Orthodox faith.”
    Can we distinguish between the practice of Russian Orthodoxy as a religion and as a culture? Is it possible that lots of Russians still care about the symbols and the history of Russian Orthodoxy even if they do not believe in its doctrines? For example, Christmas trees in this country are only incidentally about religion. I can imagine the possibility that many Russian atheists still associate the birth of Russian Orthodoxy in Kyiv as central to their identity as Russians. As an ignorant American, I am likely completely off base on this issue so I am asking. I come from a perspective where the line between traditional religion and post-disenchantment nationalism can be quite blurry on the ground.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stalin brought back the tree and the massive celebrations under the name “New Year’s tree.” It’s still New Year’s tree for us.

      It’s so so hard to go back to religion after several generations of atheism. I don’t think it’s even possible to go back collectively. It’s like expecting the ultra progressive NYC creative class to go back to Christianity. But it’s worse because with NYC liberals at least their grandparents or great-grandparents went to church. Or synagogue.

      Liked by 1 person

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