The aim of life for each Christian is to gain the Kingdom of Heaven in the future eternal life. For someone this narrow way of acquisition goes through daily execution of secular job, so that studying Gospel and praying are saved for leisure time only. The possibility of being in touch with God’s Word constantly is given only to a few of us. First of all, I mean the clergy, theologians, some philosophers, and other experts, who managed to turn the Subject of their love, interest and reflections into the subject of their research. Both groups of searching and reflecting brethren and sisters in Christ are in urgent need of dialogue, a special space for exchanging ideas, and professional and spiritual support of each other. In Ukraine, such space is offered by the Kyiv Summer Theological University (KSTU), which gathered its students in a hospitable “Ark” at the parish of hegumen Filaret’s (Iegorov) in Lishnia village, now for the seventh time. This year the organizers – the European Humanities Research Centre & “Dukh i Litera” Research and Publishing Association  of the University of ‘Kyiv-Mohyla Academy’ and St. Clement's Centre: communion and dialogue of cultures– not only designed the two-week studying program for adults, but also created a children's program, which included lessons on Christian ethics, fine and applied art, theatre classes, and liturgical singing. Thanks to this innovation, everyone felt a warm family atmosphere.

 

 

 In Lyshnia, each day began with a common prayer. After that students had 3 classes before dinner, 2 seminars afterwards, and, finally, a movie-lecture before going to bed. From discussing traveling and pilgrimage in classical literature with Irina Bagration-Muhraneli from Moscow we could proceed smoothly to a conversation about the new-martyrs of the 20th  century with father Georgiy (Mitrophanov) from St.-Petersburg, to finish with a comparative analysis of Descartes and Pascal offered by the prominent Ukrainian philosopher Oleh Khoma. 
Kharkiv school was represented by Alexander Filonenko, who gave a series of lectures titled The Eucharistic Anthropology, and Ihor Solomadin, who suggested seminars on Bakhtin and Bibler. Several lectures were given by the philosophers Viktor Malakhov and Andriy Baumeister. Ukrainian theologian Yury Chernomorets spoke about modern Orthodox theology. Those are only few themes from the list of topics, which had led to the most serious discussions in the studying rooms, at the dining tables, and beside the camp fire at night.
 
Communication and the Dialogue of Cultures
 
It happened once that we asked Andriy Baumeister to give an additional lecture, and he replied: “Instead of a lecture, I would like to organize a seminar, in order to give each participant of the University a possibility to express interesting ideas, because I noticed that all of them are extraordinary and well-prepared people. They have something to say. I give hundreds of lectures each year in different universities, but this Summer University is a chance of real communication, which would be unwise to miss”.  Communication is a keyword in the “Ark”: Eucharistic and intellectual; with lecturers, student colleagues, or children. Thanks to this aspect, the University differs from serious academic conferences like Assumption and or Pokrov Readings.
“Most of all in the “Ark” I like a combination of geniality, openness, nice people with the high rate of professionalism. Usually, we participate either in professional meetings, which don’t touch us emotionally, or just parties, which give pleasure to our heart, but no food for our thought. In Lyshnia, those things are united and strengthened with a spiritual basement, - says Irina Leonidovna Bahration-Mukhraneli.
The second key idea of the University is the dialogue of cultures: Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant; Ukrainian, Georgian and Russian. This year one of the most interesting visitors of KSTU was father Didier Berthet, the Head of the Catholic Theological Seminary in Paris. Father Didier speaks Russian fluently; he gave lectures on Pascal, he played the barock flute, he sang airs in different languages and taught his students to dance a minuet in the forest glade, while the whole group was having a barbecue. During his seminar on theology of the Christian marriage students were discussing problems of contemporary families in Ukraine and France, looking for effective ways of solving them. And the most important thing is that among those, who participated in discussion, were Western and Eastern priests together with the young laymen. Renewal of the dialogue between shepherds and the herd is one of the main aims of KSTU.
 
The Intelligentsia as the New Martyrs of the 21st century
 
The participants of the program were also involved into the interethnic dialogue with the help of the seminars and evening movie-lectures presented by father Georgiy (Mitrofanov). The choice of the topic of the new martyrs of the 20th century was not a random one: the lack of the  critical re-comprehension of our recent communistic and atheistic past hampers the opportunity to spot the problems and overcome them.
“An absence of reference for new martyrs of the 20th century testifies not only to our historical unconsciousness, but also to our spiritual disorientation. Realizing that to a considerable extent their death is our fault can stimulate our spiritual transformation”, - adds father Georgiy. Talking about today’s problems of Russian village and Russian church, father Georgiy offered his Ukrainian listeners to reflect upon their own history, and their problems, mostly similar to Russian ones.
The theme of the fate and role of the intelligentsia in the 20th and 21st centuries passed like a red string through all lectures and discussions. In the lecture dedicated to centenary anniversary of “The Milestones” collection (“Vekhi”), Viktor Malakhov admitted: “Nowadays, there exists a kind of image of the contemporary man, who aims to success in a certain business and therefore, doesn’t pay attention to things, which are not directly related to his career purposes. Meanwhile, the intellectual has an absolutely different attitude to life. He is a part of the force capable of going upstream. It’s often said that philosophy should answer the inquiries of time. But there can be other purposes, because thinking about mankind doesn’t always mean assenting to time, in which we live. That’s why the role of the intelligentsia in today’s world, although very difficult and low-rated, is absolutely irreplaceable”.
The Seventh Kyiv Summer Theological University is also a kind of milestone in the history of modern Ukrainian theology. The organizer of this University and the head of “Dukh i Litera” (Spirit and Letter) Research and Publishing Association Constantin Sigov admits that seven years of the University’s existence prove that there is a real need in it: More or less, we clearly realize that a gap between secular and religious cultures causes harm to both of them. Some forms of our education seem to be like food without salt because we are always a bit hypocritical in our attitude to the founders of our universities. It is so in case of Oxford, Sorbonne, and Bologna. It’s not a secret that earlier Oxford’s professors were part of clergy; they were devoted to the ethos of corporation and connected with the religious form of science and studying. Kyiv-Mohyla Aacademy the same roots”. Kyiv Summer Theological University tries to change the situation at the highest level, which is possible during the several summer weeks. But someone who visited the “Ark” and Lyshnia at least once, forever gains confidence in the rightness of that narrow way that he chose because while walking upstream, we just become “unwise” for this world, but not superfluous and not lonely in it.
 
A studentofKyivSummer Theological University-2009
Yulia Morozyuk  (and a student of National University of ‘Kyiv-Mohyla Academy’)

 

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