Faith, Nation, and Structure: The Diachronic Durability of Orthodox Churches in the Balkans
Those in charge of Orthodox Christian Churches have remained lashed to the national identities they nurtured, and have attempted to revive the sense that nationalism is modern and progressive—but also an essential piece of sacred time. The latter concept involves the direct perception of individual presence at, participation with, and experience of the seminal miracles, events, and state of mind produced by contact between the person in question, sacral personages of a faith, and God. The constructed, iconic past associated with sacred time in a nationalist framework is more than “theology” and anything but an anachronistic experience. Religious and nationalist entrepreneurs synchronize their visions of sacred times to harness the imaginations of the faithful and overcome local resistance to nationalism. The Orthodox Churches of the Balkans have both faith and nationalism in their tool kits and over centuries have used them to survive religious, social, economic, and political challenges—even as they have squabbled with each other.