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Archive for Saturday, February 2, 2002

Oxford University scholar to address Orthodox Christianity

February 2, 2002

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Bishop Kallistos Ware, an internationally known scholar and lecturer on Eastern Christian spirituality, will give two talks about aspects of the Orthodox church Monday at Kansas University.

Ware the Spalding Lecturer in Eastern Orthodox studies at Oxford University in England is author of "The Orthodox Church," which some scholars consider to be the best introduction to Orthodox Christianity.

"It's as useful for people who are Orthodox as it is for people who are not and want to know what Orthodox Christianity is. I teach Russian intellectual history, and you can't teach that without his book," said Maria Carlson, director of KU's Center for Russian and East European Studies.

Ware will speak at noon Monday at Ecumenical Christian Ministries, 1204 Oread Ave., on "God and the Earth: Ancient Christian Thought and the Environment."

The free lecture is sponsored by the KU Greens, ECM and the St. Laurence Orthodox Christian Fellowship. A vegetarian lunch will be provided.

Ware also will speak at 7 p.m. Monday in the Big 12 Room of the Kansas Union. Those remarks will focus on "The Way of the Pilgrim: 2,000 Years of Hesychasm and Mystical Power in the Christian East." This speech is also free.

Hesychasm is a kind of asceticism, or austere lifestyle, viewed as one of the paths to God in the Orthodox church.

"Bishop Ware is internationally recognized as a leading authority on the practices of mystical prayer in the Christian East," said the Rev. John Mack, KU chaplain of the St. Laurence Fellowship. "He is actually a monk from the island of Patmos in Greece, the monastery of St. John the Theologian.

"He is not just an academician he also speaks from the context of living what he's talking about. He has the authenticity of his own religious experience."

For Carlson, Ware's scholarly contributions are clear.

"To me, the bishop is the author of a book ('The Orthodox Church') that I've always assigned and will continue to assign to my students because it's an excellent work," she said. "Anyone who studies Russia and parts of Eastern Europe has to know about Eastern Orthodoxy.

"It plays the same role in the Slavic world that Catholicism and post-Reformation religions play in Europe. It's basic."

Ware will help his audience gain an understanding of a mystical form of Christianity that really doesn't exist in the West, Mack said.

"What will come out of his (7 p.m.) lecture is the importance of setting aside times of quiet when we can think and, those of us who are inclined, can communicate with God," he said.

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