BOSTON: June 30, 2009
The Annual Orthodox Theological Society of America Conference is Held
The Orthodox Theological Society of America (OTSA) was founded in 1966 in order to coordinate the work of St Vladimir’s Seminary in Crestwood, NY, and the Greek Orthodox Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, MA. With time, the Society’s goals expanded, and now it gathers not only those who teach specialized theological disciplines but also general courses on Orthodox spirituality, culture, art, etc. The OTSA is connected mainly to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America and with the Orthodox Church in America. Since most of its participants live in the region of these seminaries, OTSA’s annual conferences are usually held in one of them.
This year’s conference was held in the Greek Seminary on June 4-5. The main lecture was by the world-renowned expert in Liturgics, the Eastern-Rite Catholic Archimandrite Robert Taft. His speech was devoted to the alleged conflict between the symbolism of Blessed Symeon of Thessaloniki, who lived in the 14-15th centuries, and the Liturgical theology of Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann.
There were twelve lectures read over the two days (see http://www.otsamerica.org/pdfs/2009/OTSA-2009-Abstracts.pdf). All of them were connected by the theme of dialog with the past or the present. Antonios Kireopoulos spoke about the dialog between Byzantine Christians and Islam. Daniel P. Buxhoeveden, who teaches paleoneurology at the University of South Carolina discussed the impossibility of dialog with the militant materialism of contemporary science. The topic of dialog was also touched upon by Andrei Psarev of Holy Trinity Seminary in his analysis of the ecclesiology of ROCOR vis-a-vis the Moscow Patriarchate (1927-2007). Evoking lively discussion was enhanced by Nun Vassa (Larin) from Vienna University, who, using Europe as an example, pointed out the ROCOR cannot be viewed as a unique phenomenon (read an interview with Nun Vassa at http://rocorstudies.org/?part=articles&aid=10764.) Psarev noted that the term “ecumenism” is in fact neutral, the meaning of which depends on who uses it.
Questions relating to the interpretation of the 28th Rule of the IV Ecumencial Council by the Constantinople Patriarchate drew lively discussion. The participation of representatives of ROCOR provided the opportunity for everyone present to learn firsthand about the past and present of ROCOR and its history, which the Orthodox world knows little of.
Andre Vadimovich Psarev