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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
                 Wednesday, June 18 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmasterMy summer reading

I mentioned a while back my current reading, the c. 350-page The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann, 1973-1983 covering the decade before his death. I'm in his entries from 1980 now.

Alexander was born in the then-Soviet Union, migrating in childhood with his family by way of Serbia to Paris, where he grew up. Raised in a faithful Orthodox family, he visualized himself as a priest while a boy. Schooled at an academy for Russian immigrants to Paris, he then attended the St. Sergius Institute where he prepared for the priesthood and subsequently became a member of its faculty. After a few years of teaching, he was invited to join the faculty of the fledgling Russian Orthodox Seminary in New York City, St. Vladimir's, in 1952, where he became its dean and made a considerable reputation as a scholar, historian, liturgical theologian (though he was generally critical of theology, even disliking the idea of it or the need for it).

The book is delightful reading; each day's entry is like a short inspirational talk in language full of allusions and word-images. His account of these days pushes many of my hot buttons, as his life was full of things that have long fascinated me. For example, he did a weekly broadcast from New York on Radio Liberty, aimed presumably inside the Soviet bloc. I'm assuming (the Journals give sketchy details, so many questions are suggested but not answered thoroughly) that through that radio broadcast he became well known in Russia during the Stalin or post-Stalin years through the Gorbachev years.

It is obvious from Schmemann's accounts that Nobel Prize winning author (The Gulag Archipelago) and longtime concentration-camp prisoner of the Communists, Alexander Solzhenitzyn, sought Schmemann out as one of his first contacts once he was able to gain his freedom from his Communist captors, inviting him to meet with him at his retreat in the Swiss Alps before moving on to the United States. There's probably no one living in the world today I'd rather have opportunity to experience first-hand than Solzhenitzyn; Schmemann met him numerous times throughout the years covered here, and was his friend and confidant and, even, as a priest, Solzhenitzyn's confessor.

I had no idea when I started relating a few ideas from my current reading that I had so many points to cover. But since much of the ground isn't even yet touched, I'll continue this on Friday.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy


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— Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz

Thought for today

The aging process could be slowed down if it had to work its way through Congress.

— Sent by Trudy Myers

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