July 25, 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury to deliver Schmemann Lecture and receive honorary doctorate at St. Vladimir’s Seminary

[SVS Communications / Yonkers, NY] On Saturday afternoon, January 30, 2010, The Most Rev. and Rt. Honorable Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury and senior bishop of the worldwide Anglican communion, will deliver the annual Father Alexander Schmemann Memorial Lecture at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. The archbishop will speak on the topic “Theology and the Contemplative Calling: The Image of Humility in the Philokalia.”

St. Vladimir’s Seminary will also confer upon the archbishop a Doctorate of Divinity honoris causa, in recognition of his contribution to the academic study of Eastern Orthodox theology and spirituality. The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, dean of St. Vladimir’s, was examined for his own doctoral degree at Oxford University by the archbishop, then a professor of theology there.

“Many Orthodox Christians may be unaware of Rowan William’s research and contribution to the field of Orthodox theology,” said Father John. “But he was a pioneer in this field, with outstanding breadth and depth. The subject of his own doctoral thesis, for instance, was the work of the great Orthodox theologian Vladimir Lossky, the first academic study of the emigre theologians. He has also written beautifully on the icons of the Theotokos and the Transfiguration, and, most recently, has published a highly regarded volume titled Dostoevsky: Language, Faith and Fiction. In recognition of his outstanding work and contribution to the study of Eastern Christianity, we are very pleased that he has accepted to deliver the 2010 annual Schmemann lecture.”

The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, chancellor and CEO of the seminary, likewise noted the import of the archbishop’s upcoming visit to the campus. “The archbishop is a patron of The Fellowship of Ss. Alban and Sergius, a society of Eastern and Western Christians that held a major conference on our campus in 2008,” said Father Chad. “And we welcome his presence as a person who supports the continued dialogue of the society’s members.”

The lecture is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. and is free to the public. It will be podcast by Ancient Faith Radio http://ancientfaith.com.

The Seminary is located at 575 Scarsdale Road, in Yonkers, NY. Please visit http://www.svots.edu/ or call the seminary events coordinator at 914-961-8313 ext. 351 for further information. -END-

Contact: Deborah Belonick, Advancement Information Officer
St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary
914-961-8313 ext 363 / 914-961-4507 FAX deborah@svots.edu http://www.svots.edu/

Comments

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    Christopher says:

    IMO, this is evidence of the distance between academic theology and culture and the real life of the parish’s and Orthodox Christians ‘in the world’, so to speak. Here is a man who is the “spiritual leader” of a denomination that has all but given up Christianity in any recognizable form – yet he lectures and receives recognition from the a leading Orthodox seminary. Such clubby and chummy relationships are understandable on an secular academic level, but irrelevant to both traditional Episcopalians and Orthodox looking for clarity and relevance from academic professionals. Orthodox has traditionally withheld the title “theologian” except in very special cases – perhaps this is why…

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    This information about Rowan Williams’ past is disturbing:

    Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams Compares Homosexuality to Marriage
    http://healtheland.wordpress.com/2008/10/01/archbishop-of-canterbury-rowan-williams-compares-homosexuality-to-marriage/

    The spotlight is back on Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams today after letters emerged in which the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion says gay relationships could “reflect the love of God” in a way comparable to marriage, according to media reports. Williams allegedly affirmed his liberal position on homosexuality in a leaked exchange of letters between 2000 and 2001 with Deborah Pitt, an evangelical living in his former archdiocese in south Wales.

    According to media reports, Williams asserts in the letters his belief that parts of the Bible relating to homosexuality were addressed “to heterosexuals looking for sexual variety in their experience” rather than gay people in a relationship.

    “I concluded that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might therefore reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness,” one letter was quoted as saying.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    God forgive me, but I find it difficult to imagine that anyone who actually understood the topics Mr. Williams has written on could continue to be Anglican or take many of the public positions he has taken.

    The kind of ol’ boy fraternization in which nothing is really taken too seriously except the idea of rationality always leads to the diminuation of genuine faith. Rationality becomes the idol before which we worship. All is permitted in thought after all: one of the reasons I suspect that more than a few of the Fathers proclaim imagination as quite dangerous.

    Further it tends to restrict faith to the professional few who are ‘trained professionals’. All the rest of us have to do is be the paying audience for their ever so marvellous creations, studies and manifestos.

    I am deeply disappointed in the actions of St. Vlads in inviting Mr. Williams.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    And the lecture will be podcast by Ancient Faith Radio …

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    Fr Gregory says:

    For better or worse (mostly worse), in the academic community the standard of success is neither truth nor financial profit but prestige. In this case, an Oxford professor who espouses moral positions contrary to both natural law and the Gospel holds a higher rank than, say, a monastic or a lay missionary. All of this is to say that Michael is right when he say (#3) that this is a gathering of the old boy’s club.

    What complicates this (and forgive me for waxing sociological) is that a similar emphasis on social status is also often operative in religious communities, and this includes the Orthodox Church. To be sure how we signal status is different–sitting arrangements, clothing, and jewelry come to mind–but the underlying social dynamics between the religious and academic communities are largely the same. We value prestige, the good opinion of others. Within limits this isn’t bad, even as a desire for financial profit isn’t bad. But untempered the latter is simply greed, the former vainglory and both are sins.

    I look forward the the Archbishop’s presentation.

    In Christ,

    +FrG

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      Christopher says:

      What complicates this (and forgive me for waxing sociological) is that a similar emphasis on social status is also often operative in religious communities, and this includes the Orthodox Church.

      I think this is understated – I would say “especially in the Orthodox Church”. My experience has been that these forces have been stronger than any of my previous protestant churches. My speculation is that small size and outsized immigrant influence magnify these forces…

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        Fr Gregory says:

        Christopher, your speculation on the impact of size and immigrant influence has merit. Having never been Protestant, I can’t speak to what happens in their congregations. But I haven’t there to be significant differences on the matter between Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Nor have I found “convert” clergy and laity any more immune to the “prestige disease” than their “cradle” counterparts. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that there seems to be no difference on the matter between theological or social liberals and their conservatives opposite numbers.

        Strictly speaking, the prestige disease (i.e., vainglory) is part of what Christ comes to save us from

        In Christ,

        +FrG

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          George Michalopulos says:

          I think that the further a clergyman, bishop, and congregation get from the East Coast, the more immune they are to becoming academic bigwig groupies. That’s why if there is hope for this country, it’s going to be in the Red States (altough I’m sure best and the brightest will do their best to destroy this part of the country as well).

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    It is ‘understandable’ that the worldly people are worldly, but a seminary is not just an ordinary “academic community”. It is a place were young men are being formed/educated to become our guides to the kingdom. What they should value is not prestige but the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

    The “Oxford professor who espouses moral positions contrary to both natural law and the Gospel” is not a good role model. I go by what Michel said:” I am deeply disappointed in the actions of St. Vlads in inviting Mr. Williams”

    The topic “Theology and the Contemplative Calling: The Image of Humility in the Philokalia” is something that I would be very interested in. The bad part is that mixing good things (Philokalia – ” a collection of texts written between the fourth and fifteenth centuries by spiritual masters of the Eastern Orthodox hesychast tradition”) and bad personal influences has the potential to make everything stinky, even dangerous.

    So, I don’t look forward the the Archbishop’s presentation.

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Fr. Seraphim Rose wrote frequently that it was more important to have the mind of the Fathers than to know the Fathers. I’m am virtually certain that Mr. Williams does not have the mind of the Fathers nor, apparently, do those we have put in charge of the education of our priests. Since I don’t either, it would be really nice to have folks who are really working on the spiritual formation of our priests and not just their education.

      Fr. Chad continues to bewilder me. I know him a little. I was present at the reception of his Salina, KS Episcopal congregation into the Church (the final straw was the ordination of women). Surely he knows better, but the majority of his catechesis has been of the OJT (on the job training) type.

      Fr John Behr in his book, The Mystery of Christ, seems to say that academic theology is dangerous and ultimately non-salvific (unless I am simply reading my own bias into his words).

      Lord have mercy on us.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Fr Seraphim’s search for Truth was very long, intense and honest. The Scripture says “ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” and indeed, he found it abundantly. He found a miracle worker St John Maximovich.

        Indeed “it would be really nice to have folks who are really working on the spiritual formation of our priests and not just their education”. Perhaps it does not work this way. One has to search to find a spiritual master, to have desire to find one. Without this desire you can have one next to you and not notice him.

        As for the “OJT (on the job training) type” services and innovations in the Church, it appears to me that the words (prophecies) of St. Anatoly of Optina are coming increasingly true:
        http://www.stvladimirs.ca/library/instructions-anatoly-optina.html

        My child, know that in the last days hard times will come, as the Apostle says, behold due to poverty in piety, in churches the heresies and schisms will appear”, and as the Holy Fathers foretold, than on the thrones of hierarchs and in monasteries, there will be no men tested and experienced in the spiritual life. Wherefore, heresies will
        spread everywhere and deceive many. The enemy of the human kind will act skillfully, if possible, leading the chosen ones to heresy.

        Therefore, my son, when you see in the Church mocking of the Divine act, teaching of the Fathers, and God-established order, know that the heretics have already appeared, even though for some time they might hide their evil intentions, or will unnoticeably deform the divine faith, to better succeed by deceiving and tricking the
        inexperienced .

        They will persecute not only the pastors, but also the servants of God, for the devil who is directing the heresy cannot bear living in Divine order. Like wolfs in sheep skin, they will be recognized by their vainglorious nature, love for lust, and lust for power – those will be betrayers causing hatred and malice everywhere; and therefore the Lord said that one will recognize them by their fruits. The true servants of God are – meek, brother loving and obedient to the Church(order,traditions..).

        Indeed, we must say, “Lord have mercy on us!”
        and:

        Fear the Lord, my son!, don’t lose the received wreath, not to be rejected by Christ into the utter darkness and eternal suffering.

        Bravely stand in faith, and if needed joyfully endure persecutions and other troubles, for than the Lord will stand by you…and holy Martyrs and Confessors with joyfully watch at your struggle.

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    Chrys says:

    I suspect that SVS may be confused about the nature of their purpose and mission. Following in the footsteps of the “eminent” seminaries and divinity schools around them, it appears that they may be trying to straddle two opposed goals: academic prestige (which, in this world, requires a lot of political conformity) or priestly formation. The first has lots of perks and status, you get invited to all the best colloquia and it makes fund raising A LOT easier. The second is certainly a more humble path, a more – er – narrow path. And they don’t invite genuine spiritual fathers to too many soirees. Of course, the academic confabs don’t change too many lives either (unless it is to advance one’s career). It’s the choice between a really shiny whitewashed tomb and the empty tomb of the resurrection.
    Better they should take the cross and leave the world to its perishing crowns.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    I’m torn on this one. Although I agree in the main that this is a type of mostly unfortunate academic glory-seeking, it says much for the academic standards of SVS that Williams would go there rather than Holy Cross. After all, a strong case can certainly be made that the GOA/Phanar is far more desperate for such attention-getting events than all other jurisdictions combined. Certainly their Gaia-drift is more in tune with the spirit of the times than the other jurisdictions.

    The only reason why Williams didn’t go to HC thatI can think of it seems to me because it is more academically inconsequential in the higher education scope of things. And it’s possible that there may be some behind-the-scenese stuff going on between +Jonah and Canterbury so we shouldn’t automatically dismiss this as just another case of political correctness/liberalism. I’m thinking along the lines of a positive escalation from the recent Nashotah House colloquium. Possibly (thinking aloud here) having both primates speak face-to-face and coming up with some type of entente where Anglican parishes will be allowed to join the OCA in a more face-saving way. Maybe they want to foreclose the possibility of +Jonah and/or +Kirill doing to them what the Pope did (which btw, I applaud His Holiness for doing). I dunno, I could be wrong. Probably am.

    Either way, I’d just as soon as this be the last type of such a lecture. Enough of the liberals. They no longer bring anything of intellectual merit –or spiritual–to the table. To all those traditional Christians who are in the lamestream barely-Christic denominations, I say: get on board or get out of the way.

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      Christopher says:

      Either way, I’d just as soon as this be the last type of such a lecture. Enough of the liberals. They no longer bring anything of intellectual merit –or spiritual–to the table. To all those traditional Christians who are in the lamestream barely-Christic denominations, I say: get on board or get out of the way.

      Now you just being sectarian…;)

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Christopher, my criticism was not so much as against Williams but the liberal drift in our major academic institutions. I remember reading a book of enconia to the late, great Jaroslav Pelikan a couple of years ago. He was a great scholar, perhaps the greatest of the 20th century. And the lectures in his honor were from very intelligent, accomplished academics. But I wanted to hurl every time one of them mentioned the Koran or quoted from it. Why? To show how multi-culti they all were? Why stop there? Why not quote from The Book of Mormon? Or the Bhagavad Gita?

    Academic brilliance is a wonderful thing to have, we should demand nothing less from the professors in our academies, but holiness if more important still. I remember reading several years ago about a conversation between a highly-educated Jesuit and a simple layman. The Jesuit talked about his degrees and such. He was a very worldly man. The layman was not impressed, he responded by saying “perhaps you should have prayed more and studied less.”

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Recognized academic brilliance in this day and age comes only at the price of sacrificing one’s integrity on the altar of egalitarianism and other secular ideologies. If you don’t you are considered ignorant, backward and/or crazy.

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