The 11th Sherman Lecture Series is bringing Russia to the University of North Carolina Wilmington with its "A Sacred Space: The Spiritual Life of Atheism," with Wesley Univeristy assistant professor Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 in UNCW's Burney Center. The lecture is free to the public. Smolkin-Rothrock, assistant professor of Russian History at Wesley University, Connecticut, will tell the story of how the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia introduced a tension between scientific atheism and traditional religions. But even with several campaigns of secularization, the Communist Party still did not completely "overcome" religion. As Smolkin-Rothrock argues, religious believers continued to preoccupy the leadership until the Soviet Union's collapse. According to a UNCW press release: "For Communists, the propagation of scientific atheism was not simply about the destruction of churches and the persecution of clergy; it was also about the creation of a Soviet "sacred space," filled with a distinct atheist cosmology. Communism, moreover, sought to create not just an enchanted public culture, a "political" religion, but also compelling private beliefs and rites that, by giving order and meaning to individual life, bound citizens to the state."
- Amanda Greene