Student Ecology Society Sponsors Lecture, “The Truth of Nature”
1 September 2013 • On–Campus • St. Herman's Society for Orthodox Ecology
Everlasting King, Thy will for our salvation is full of power.
Thy right arm controls the whole course of human life.
We give Thee thanks for all Thy mercies seen and unseen,
For eternal life and for the heavenly joys of the kingdom which is to be.
Grant mercy to us who sing Thy praise both now and in the time to come:
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age!
Akathist “Glory to God for All Things” Kontakion One (Tone 8)
On September 1, the St. Vladimir’s Seminary community marked the ecclesiastical new year by gathering to offer praise and thanksgiving to God the Creator and to contemplate the many gifts He has bestowed. The "St. Herman’s Society for Orthodox Ecology," the student-led group that sponsored and organized the event, hopes that such a gathering will become an annual tradition.
The evening began with seminary Chancellor/CEO The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield blessing a newly planted paper birch tree on the front lawn. The assembled gathering then proceeded to Three Hierarchs Chapel to sing the Akathist “Glory to God for All Things.” The Akathist, which derives its name from the last earthly words of St. John Chrysostom, invites the worshipper to meditate upon the beauty, variety, and power that God displays in creation. A power outage in the chapel actually enhanced the worship, since the congregation had to depend upon natural light from the windows and candles.
A lecture by Dr. Bruce (Seraphim) Foltz, a professor of Environmental Philosophy at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL, concluded the evening. Professor Foltz, who entitled his talk “The Truth of Nature,” questioned a prevalent belief that the natural world can be described, limited, and ultimately manipulated by human understanding. This “technological truth of nature,” puts humanity in the place of God and presents the natural world as a malleable thing with no real identity beyond that which human beings ascribe to it. It is far better, Dr. Foltz argued, to see nature as a means by which God reveals himself: “ 'The heavens are telling the glory of God,' as the Psalmist says," quoted Dr. Foltz from Psalm 19, “ 'and the firmament proclaims his handiwork'.”
A question-and-answer session followed, in which listeners sought Dr. Foltz’s opinion on topics ranging from the proper attitude towards animals to the theory of nature as proof of God to the paper vs. plastic debate.
By Martha Carlisle, President of the St. Herman's Society and second–year Master of Arts student from Kirkland, WA.