Friday, June 29, 2012

Eastern Christianity: modern and contemporary trends in theological and political thought.

On Wednesday 27th of June a one day conference, organised by the Centre for Eastern Christianity, took place at Heythrop College, University of London, entitled: "Eastern Christianity: modern and contemporary trends in theological and political thought". The conference looked at modern and contemporary trends in theological and political thought in Eastern Christianity including Greek Orthodox reflections on the Economy; Anglican Relations with Orthodox Christianity and Palestinian Christian Liberation theology; Catholic-Orthodox relations and Eastern Christian thought in the Middle East.
This conference pointed out the struggle that the Church has in finding a political response towards modern society. Current European identity is marked by the relations between East and West, as stated by Anthony O'Mahony. Ecumenical encounter is of course a political issue, which has a great affect in modern Europe.

A striking and interesting quote was given by Richard Sudworth, who spoke mainly about Archbishop Rowan Williams, explaining how "Rowan Williams is an Orthodox in an Anglican form", which was expressed by Canon Donald Allchin. Dimitris Berdikakis explained the Orthodox Church's response towards the Greek financial crisis. He pointed out how modern Greece has changed to a protectorate, being a testing ground in order to demolish democracy, making it a post-democratic state. Spiritual crisis is related to the current economic crisis, not only in Greece but worldwide. The speaker, despite pointing out the great help that the Church of Greece has given to Greek citizens by distributing 250.000 meals a day, he believes that the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece should be critical to issues which affect society, giving thus a theological explanation of the crisis. Gerasimos Makris from Panteion University, Athens, is a Greek Evangelical, giving an Evangelical perception of the current crisis. He pointed out how Greek society has no trust towards its government. He sees a clash of civilisations, since Angela Merkel is believed to be a Protestant, hence this creates problems for Greek Evangelicals. However, he did highlight the problems which the capitalist system has created.
The political aspect of Church relations was later also shown through talks given on the Orthodox Church and the Palestinian - Christian identity, Olivier Clement (a French Russian Orthodox), the Russian Orthodox Church and Islam and the Georgian Church. It is important to invest in these dialogues, relations and conferences, because only due to the existence of these can we achieve a future union.

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