For Current Russian Culture Students

History & Culture Discussion Forum, Spring 2012

Добро пожаловать!

For our history and culture sessions this semester, every two weeks a question will be posted here (and sent to you by email) related to a topic that we will cover/discuss during our sessions.  You are asked to respond to the question with a short analysis essay (between  1 – 2 pages, double spaced).  Your essay will be due the Monday following the second week after it is posted, as shown in the assignment schedule below:

Assignment date Discussion date Due date

January 25                                    February 3                                      February 6

February 8                                    February 17                                    February 20

February 22                                 March 2                                             March 5

March 7                                         March 16                                           March 19

March 21                                       March 30                                          April 2

April 4                                            April 13                                             April 16

April 18                                          April 27                                            April 30

May 2                                              May 4                                                May 9

Notice that our last assignment will be done without a discussion date and will be handed in the following Monday – this last essay will be a synthesis of everything we cover.  Write down any questions you may have on the topic and be prepared to share them for our discussion time every other Friday so that you are able to clarify your understanding of the question/topic as well as how you will react to it in your analysis.  You may include other, outside sources in answering a question, if you wish.  In addition, links to important articles and other helpful information will be provided on this page from time to time by your instructor (as well as by email).  Feel free to offer any comments on these postings/links as well in the form of an email to your instructor (or during class).

Неделя 1-ая – 2-ая (Weeks One-two)

Instructor’s Postings:

This website has some good basic information about Russia:

Physical map of снг
Physical map of снг

Countries of the former Soviet Space



Countries of the former Soviet Space

Essay Assignment for weeks 1 & 2

This week we discussed one of the main barriers to long-term positive change in Russia in terms of its political system, model of leadership and worldview:  its failure to make the transition to a more stable democratic system that emphasizes the dignity, rights and ethical treatment of its citizens.  Relate this national condition to the barriers that prevent individual Russians from coming to a knowledge of the truth of God’s gospel. What kind of transformation will be required for members of such a culture to both adopt and apply the truths and ethics of the gospel to their lives? (Please note: This question is meant to get you thinking about this subject and there is no right or wrong answer.)  It might help to keep in mind the nature of collectivism and that true spiritual change is a long-term process.

Неделя 3-ья – 4-ая (Weeks three-four)

Essay Assignment for weeks 3 & 4

This past week we discussed some of the main characteristics of the Marxist/naturalist worldview, such as the idea that man’s knowledge has primacy since, according to Marxism,  it transforms man into a new creature who no longer is “alienated from himself”.  With this preoccupation with knowledge, nations where Marxist naturalism has been dominant tend to see a person’s knowledge as the most important aspect of his/her authority or status: they tend to be very proud of their intellectual accomplishments.  At the same time, Western cross-cultural workers often rely on educational models for their ministry among Russian-speakers and other groups who have been influenced by this mindset.  Comment on this fact.  What, if any, are the potential pitfalls and negative consequences of such a model of ministry among Marxist naturalists? Are there some scriptural truths that you can think of that might shed light on this dilemma?

Неделя 5-ая – 6-ая (Weeks five-six)

Essay Assignment for weeks 5 & 6

Why, in your opinion, did Marxist ideology take hold in Russia?  What cultural factors can you think of that made the Russian people so prone to this thinking?

Неделя 7-ая – 8-ая (Weeks seven-eight)

Instructor’s posting/assignment

Listen to the following podcast – an interview with Kiril Kobryn, the Managing Editor of RFE’s Russian Service. Listen to the distinct differences between the two men and their opinions of the current (and historical) rift in Russian society, with the younger generation rising up in rebellion against the older, power brokers.  What do you detect in this exchange that sets the American off from the Russian he is inteviewing?  Why does Kobryn say that talk of fairness and free elections, true democracy, etc. is boring, when the American is excited about it?  Why does Kobryn feel that this is just a broken record that mirrors what happened in the 70s and 80s with rebellion and then perestroika?  Where is the disconnect between the American view and the Russian?  I want you guys to think about this and we’ll be discussing some of it as part of our time together the next couple of weeks.  Here’s the podcast: