Monday, August 29, 2016

Visitor to Worth County to Teach Philosophy at Eastern Orthodox Seminary in New York

Dinner guests of Jerry Drake’s Thursday night were Ken Willmarth, a cousin of Mr. Drake’s of California, and Edward Novis, a professor who is headed to Jordanville (NY) where he will teach philosophy at Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary. The seminary was founded in 1948 by people fleeing from Stalin’s rule in Communist Russia. They are a seminary for the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, which abides in canonical unity with the Russian Orthodox Church while remaining semi-autonomous.

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia was formed in response to the Russian Revolution of 1917, in which the Communists came to power. They separated from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1927 when their Metropolitan, Sergius, pledged qualified loyalty to the Bolshevik State. The two restored canonical links in 2007, after the fall of Communism. A third group split off, went underground, and called themselves the Russian True Orthodox Church.

Ken Willmarth’s son works at the seminary in Jordanville and he recommended Mr. Novis for the position. Mr. Novis will teach Introduction to Philosophy as well as Byzantine Philosophy.

Previously, Mr. Novis had helped process donations for a charity in Mexico that operates in Tijuana, located just south of the border near San Diego (CA). They maintain an orphanage for 22 children and build homes for people. Groups of high schoolers from all over the US come to build homes, which can be built in four days despite having to get their own material; the homes are made out of stucco. Tijuana used to be a hotbed of gang violence in the 1990’s; however, the gangs realized the constant shootings and turf wars were bad for business and they spread all over Mexico. Mr. Willmarth said that there were still some places where the violence is bad, such as Modesto (CA), which has one of the highest auto theft rates in the country.

Mr. Novis said that the value of philosophy in education was that most decisions were guided by an implicit underlying philosophy and that it helps people to keep and change world views. He said that his goal was to present all different views so that people could form their own principles. He said that it was not promoted enough, meaning that people do not always see the big picture when they make decisions. “Philosophy helps people see the whole picture.”

Jordanville used to be a major economic hub during the Industrial Revolution, but its economy suffered decline in recent decades along with many other former hubs. Holy Trinity Seminary is on 1,000 acres and was built by a cluster of priests and monks fleeing from Stalin’s Communism. The cathedral initially burned down, but it was rebuilt in better shape than the first time. Although he himself is not Orthodox, Mr. Willmarth said, “I can see the power and dedication in their beliefs when they can build buildings like that.” While Russia was still under Communist rule, the seminary would publish holy books underground and smuggle them back into Russia.

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