Competition of Conspiracies: Conflicting Narratives of COVID-19 within the Grassroots Russian Orthodox Milieu

       

Post by Elizaveta Gaufman, Assistant Professor of Russian Discourse and Politics at the University of Groningen, Netherlands, and Dmytro Vovk, Director for the Center of Rule of Law and Religion Studies at Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University, Ukraine

While many Western Christian churches suspended religious ceremonies and turned to online worship in response to COVID-19, Orthodox churches have reacted to the COVID-19 threat ambiguously. Some of them encourage their flocks to take the pandemic seriously and follow anti-pandemic measures imposed by governments. But others see it as a punishment or a challenge from God, and some see it as a conspiracy of the “global financial elite.” Continue reading “Competition of Conspiracies: Conflicting Narratives of COVID-19 within the Grassroots Russian Orthodox Milieu”

An Early Good Friday, at Last: When Too Many Bells Toll in Italy

Andrea Pin is Associate Professor of Comparative Public Law, University of Padua

Covid-19 is posing very serious challenges. Time will tell if Italian society, culture, and faith learn the lesson.

As I explained earlier, the lockdown in Italy has pushed people to find new ways to socialize and practice their faith.  From being the primary means of communication only among millennials, the internet has become a viable solution for people of all ages.  Meanwhile, people chitchat from their balconies. It has become so popular that people routinely stop tele-working, cooking, or watching Netflix, or whatever they were doing, at fixed times to go to their windows and sing together. They may even flash-mob together only to clap and cheer up. The result has been a transgenerational blending of technology with old-fashioned window-to-window conversation.  Media, opinionmakers, politicians, and influencers keep encouraging people to stay home and reassuring them that “#wellbefine” (“#andratuttobene”).

The blend of technological and vintage civic rites that have spontaneously developed are not blasphemous, inappropriate, or wrong.  But they are facing two formidable challenges. Time—and death. Continue reading “An Early Good Friday, at Last: When Too Many Bells Toll in Italy”

An Italian Lent in COVID-19 Lockdown

Andrea Pin is Associate Professor of Comparative Public Law, University of Padua

The spread of COVID-19 in Italy is bringing to the surface various aspects of the country’s popular culture and the role of faith. The rapid contagion that in three weeks has claimed more than 1,000 lives, filled hospitals’ intensive care units, frozen the economy, and forced Italians to stay home, is pushing people to reconsider their priorities and how they pursue them.

For many Italians, staying at home is hard—the stereotype that Italians like socializing turns out to be true. The fear and the experience of deadly diseases are a staple in Italian culture. Paintings of Saint Rocco, the protector from the black plague, are everywhere. Students learn Italian literature of the fourteenth century through reading Boccaccio’s Decameron (a point of reference for Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales), which revolves around the 1348 black plague in Florence. They know of cholera through the late nineteenth-century novel Malavoglia by Giovanni Verga. But what immediately comes to an Italian’s mind over these past few weeks is Alessandro Manzoni’s masterpiece The Betrothed, a mid-nineteenth century novel that depicts the 1630 black plague in Milan. Students study it so thoroughly that they often come to hate it. The COVID-19 epicenter has been Milan and its surroundings, making the emotional connection with The Betrothed particularly strong. Continue reading “An Italian Lent in COVID-19 Lockdown”