The Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center is pleased to announce the environment as the topic of the Winter/Spring 2020 Enrichment Evening Lecture Series. In recent years, the idea of environmental theology or “eco-theology” has been developed by many of the major Christian denominations. Perhaps most notably, Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, subtitled, “on care for our common home” presented a Christian vision of “stewardship” over God’s creation. Though the emergence of this eco-theology could feel like a trendy response to the current moment, both Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (known as the “Green Patriarch” for his environmental initiatives) have argued for the deep roots of “creation care” in the Catholic and Orthodox Christian traditions. Indeed, the Book of Genesis not only describes the perfect communion of God and humanity as taking place in the lush Garden of Eden, but offers a vision of Adam and Eve in harmony and humble stewardship with the rest of God’s creation. The Armenian Apostolic Church, with its unique method of interpreting Scripture, highly developed ideas about the transformative effect of Christ’s Incarnation, and beautiful liturgical services including blessings of fields and water, surely has something to offer this ecumenical conversation about environmental theology.
To that end, the Winter/Spring 2020 Series on the Environment hopes to propel the possibility of Armenian environmental theology forward. Several speakers will develop insights from the Armenian theological tradition, including re-reading foundational texts with an eye to the concern with the care for God’s creation. Additionally, speakers from adjacent religious traditions, especially Eastern Orthodoxy, which has a more developed eco-theology, will present on the insights and challenges of the existing conversation. The season of Lent, when Armenians traditionally abstain from animal products, offers the chance to suggest not only speculative theology but the potential of a lived, practical Christian care for God’s creation with an Armenian twist. We hope that you will join us for this journey as we strive to develop an Armenian approach to ecology and the environment. The full schedule for this series will be posted soon.
Dr. Christopher Sheklian, the Director of the Zohrab Information Center, will give the first lecture in this series. Dr. Sheklian will introduce the idea of environmental or eco-theology, presenting some of the insights of adjacent Christian traditions. He will then offer several interventions drawn from Armenian liturgical services and theological texts. With this, he will sketch what a robust “Environmental Theology of the Armenian Church” might look like, offering potential routes for future work on the topic. The Enrichment Evening will take place on Thursday, February 6, 2020, at 7 PM in the Guild Hall of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America at 630 2nd Ave. in New York. As always, all are welcome. A reception will follow.
Dr. Christopher Sheklian is the Director of the Kirkor and Clara Zohrab Information Center at the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) and Adjunct Professor at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. Previously, he was a Manoogian Post-Doctoral Fellow in Armenian Studies at the University of Michigan. He specializes in the study of religious minority rights, with a dissertation focused on the Armenians of Turkey. In addition to his ethnographic projects with Armenians in Turkey and a new project with displaced Armenians who have immigrated to established Armenian diasporan communities, he is pursuing research that puts Armenian theology in conversation with contemporary philsophical debates and language, materiality, and the environment. An active scholar, he continues to present at academic conferences and publish his research.