The Second Annual Holy Trinity Seminary Colloquium
The second annual Holy Trinity Seminary Colloquium took place on Friday, October 3, and Saturday, October 4, 2003 in Jordanville, NY. This year's conference, whose theme was "Aleksei Khomiakov: Poet, Philosopher, and Theologian," drew several top scholars in the field of the eminent Slavophile's thought and over fifty registered participants.
On Friday, October 3, the Colloquium was opened with the singing of a prayer and welcoming remarks from His Eminence, Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and Rector of Holy Trinity Seminary. Following the Metropolitan's remarks, the Reverend Deacon Vladimir Tsurikov, Assistant Dean of the Seminary and the initiator and organizer of the annual colloquia, offered brief opening remarks and introduced the first speaker, the Very Reverend Archimandrite Luke (Murianka), Acting Dean of the Seminary, who delivered the keynote address, "Khomiakov's Piety: The Inspiration Behind His Pen." In his moving talk, Fr. Luke emphasized the centrality of Khomiakov's deep faith and ecclesial piety in the formation of his thought. As Fr. Luke wrote, "I submit that it was precisely Khomiakov's faith and his zealous piety that stand as source and inspiration for his thought and creative output."
Following his talk, all participants were invited to a meal prepared specially for the conferees. Later in the evening, after Small Compline was served in the monastery cathedral, Valeria Nollan, Associate Professor of Russian in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Rhodes College, author of several books, and trained amateur pianist, treated participants in the Colloquium to a recital of four piano preludes by Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff. Following her recital, the Holy Trinity Monastery/Seminary Choir, under the direction of the Reverend Hieromonk Roman (Krassovsky), performed a selection of traditional Russian Church music.
On Saturday, October 4, following an early breakfast, the first session of the Colloquium was begun, in which particular focus was paid to Khomiakov as a man of letters. The first speaker, Viacheslav A. Koshelev of Novgorod State University, was unable to attend due to an inability to procure a visa. His paper, "Pushkin and Khomiakov on Peter the Great," read by Deacon Vladimir Tsurikov, made the intriguing suggestion that informal arguments between Pushkin and Khomiakov at Karamazin's salon served an the impetus for the formation of the Slavophiles. As Koshelev concluded, "Ten bright Russians assembled, chatted - and what consequences!"
The second presentation, "On the Poetry of Khomiakov," was given by Vadim V. Liapunov, Associate Professor of Indiana University, who is well-known as a specialist in the poetry of the Pushkin age as well as a leading expert on Bakhtin. Professor Liapunov offered a close reading of two of Khomiakov's most remarkable poems: "Late in the night the lamp was burning." and "To My Children." The morning ended with a talk by Dr. Natalia Kazakova, Adjunct Professor of Russian at Long Island University, entitled "V.V. Rozanov and A. S. Khomiakov," in which she examined the development of Rozanov from devout Slavophile to out-spoken opponent of Khomiakov's thought.
Following lunch, the theme of session two and three focused more on Khomiakov as theologian and philosopher. The first speaker of session two was Paul Valliere, the McGregor Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Religion at Butler University and the author of Change and Tradition in Russian Civilization and most recently of Modern Russian Theology - Bukharev, Soloviev, Bulgakov - Orthodox Theology in a New Key. Professor Valliere, in his talk "The Modernity of Khomiakov," argued that Khomiakov was a modern, not a traditional thinker, however rooted he was in traditional Orthodox theology. Dr. Valliere did much to distinguish the enduring from the ephemeral in Khomiakov's thought, showing where Khomiakov's thought is abiding and where determined by his times, seeing the former especially in his sense of ethics and mission. The second session was rounded out by a challenging but engrossing talk by Sergei S. Horuzhy, Professor of Mathematical Physics and Professor of Philosophy at the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, UNESCO Professor of Comparative Studies of Religious Traditions, and author of many books and articles in the area of religious studies. Dr. Horuzhy's talk, "Khomiakov's Theology of Conciliarity and the PalamiteTheology of Personality: Are They Different," argued that we can find in the development of Khomiakov's thought a move from the idea of organic being to that of personal being, emphasizing the centrality of a "theology of personhood."
The third session began after a short break with an engaging talk by Richard Mammana, author of dozens of articles and book reviews, entitled "Not a Harmony of Discords: Ecclesiology in the Correspondence of Aleksei Khomiakov and William Palmer, 1844-1854." Mr. Mammana offered a vivid portrait of Khomiakov's correspondent, William Palmer, gave a thorough introduction to their correspondence from 1844 to 1854, paying special attention to questions of the doctrine of the Church, and then drew some important conclusions about this important, early, and very interesting exchange between two men of unquestionable significance for relations between the Orthodox and Anglican traditions. Richard Tempest, Associate Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, gave the final formal talk, entitled "Gagarin and Khomiakov," in which he painted a fascinating portrait of the often pugnacious relationship between these two thinkers. As Dr. Tempest pointed out, the two received nearly parallel upbringings but their lives later diverged sharp, Khomiakov becoming a knight of Orthodoxy while Gagarin became a Roman Catholic and Jesuit. Professor Tempest offered an especially intriguing clue to their relationship around the time of Gagarin's conversion based on a cryptic note in one of Khomiakov's works.
The many themes of the seven talks were brought together in masterful fashion by the discussant, Dr. Robert Bird, Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago. Professor Bird helped the conferees draw the many sides of Khomiakov's thought into a unified whole, drawing out discussion, comments, and questions from all those gathered. Particularly well-received was Professor Bird's comment that Khomiakov played in the world of Russian Orthodox theological reflection a role similar to that of Pushkin in the realm of Russian literature by providing a new and fresh narrative language.
Particular thanks are due to Metropolitan Laurus, for his blessing to host the conference; to Archimandrite Luke, for his active support of the project; to all the speakers and conferees; to Hieromonk Roman with the Holy Trinity Seminary Choir and Dr. Valeria Nollan for their musical contributions; to Elizabeth Szlek for preparing, along with her sister, wonderful meals; to the translators of the papers, Fr. Joachim Provatakis, Fr. Serge (Nedelsky), and Dr. Priscilla Hunt; and to Hierodeacon Cyprian, the seminarians Alexei Pjawka and Pavel Borisov and the first and second year seminarians, all of whom did so much behind the scenes. Thanks above all are due to Deacon Vladimir Tsurikov, Assistant Dean of the Seminary, for organizing these conferences.
Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary is particularly pleased to announce that the proceedings of last year's conference, dedicated to Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, have been printed as the first volume in the series "Readings in Russian Religious Culture," edited by Vladimir Tsurikov for the Variable Press (2003). The volume includes a foreword by Robert L. Nichols, papers by Robert Bird, Vadim V. Liapunov, Archbishop Mark (Arndt) of Berlin, A. I. Yakovlyev, and Gregory L. Freeze, as well as two sermons of Metropolitan Philaret edited by A. A. Petrov and an afterword by Nadieszda Kizenko (to view the cover and the contents pages please click here). The papers from this year's Khomiakov Colloquium will appear in print within the very near future as a second volume in the series.
We all look forward with eager anticipation to the next Holy Trinity Seminary Colloquium!