"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Omnium Gatherum: On the Centenary of the Russian Revolution

This weekend one of my favourite academic conferences is being held at Miami University in Ohio: the Association for the Study of Eastern Christian History and Culture (ASEC). I have been going since the fall of 2009, when it was at Ohio State in Columbus and a much smaller affair led by the inimitable Jenn Spock of Eastern Kentucky University. I have watched the conference grow since then.

Unlike other conferences, which are often overwhelming in size (as, e.g., the AAR certainly is), ASEC remains a place where you can have a real exchange of ideas in a substantial fashion, and not merely pontificate or grandstand, but actually learn from each other. Papers tend to be works-nearing-completion (rather than condensed versions of some magnum opus you've just published), and presenters therefore tend to be more open to suggestions from other scholars in the audience. I fully expect that to be the case again this year at Miami University.

Miami University is where Scott Kenworthy teaches. Scott is the author of a wonderful, fascinating work The Heart of Russia: Trinity-Sergius, Monasticism, and Society after 1825. If you have any interest in Russian history, Russian Orthodoxy and monasticism, and what the 1917 revolution did to the Church there, then this richly referenced book is for you.

This year's conference, whose details you may find here, is packed with fascinating topics. We meet in the shadow of several significant anniversaries, chief of which is of course the centenary of the Russian Revolution (to say nothing of the advent in 1517 of certain Lutheran theses). Many of the papers focus on the revolution, including a keynote lecture from Vera Shevzov, author of, inter alia, Russian Orthodoxy on the Eve of Revolution.

As you can see from the above-linked program, there are familiar and new names presenting this year. I look forward to hearing from all of them, and may try to live-blog some of the presentations.

Among the former are some whose works have been reviewed on here over the years, including Amy Slagle's groundbreaking work The Eastern Church in the Spiritual Marketplace: American Conversions to Orthodox Christianity.

Paul Valliere is a senior scholar who has been widely respected for his work on modern Russian theology as seen in his best-known work, Modern Russian Theology: Bukharev, Soloviev, Bulgakov: Orthodox Theology in a New Key.

More recently, he has authored a suggestive book, Conciliarism: A History of Decision-Making in the Church. And more recently still, he has authored the preface to God as Love: The Concept and Spiritual Aspects of Agape in Modern Russian Religious Thought, written by Johannes M. Oravecz and published by Eerdmans.

Finally, I'm looking forward to seeing and getting caught up with Christopher Johnson, author of The Globalization of Hesychasm and the Jesus Prayer: Contesting Contemplation.

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