Friday, August 27, 2010

Philosophical Symposium (Aug. 27, 2010)

A half-day Philosophical symposium on Ecology and the role of different religions, especially Christianity, in the preservation of the Nature, was organized at St John’s Regional Seminary, Kondadaba on August 27, 2010. The six papers presented by the students themselves, formed the backbone of the symposium triggering an avalanche of questions and suggestions for immediate action. This academic exercise was well coordinated and organized by the Principal of the College, Fr Wilson Jose.

Intensive research preceded the talks given by the students. The study was further enriched by the valuable insights and suggestions given by Fr Wilson, who oversaw to the last detail of the event. The papers were presented by Brs B. Prasad, G. Karun, D. Anil, P. Chaitanya, T. Kamalesh and Harry Phillips. Each of the presentation was followed by a short duration of interaction and clarification round. The authenticity of Islamic concern for Ecology and the role – or inadequate role – of the Church in resolving ecological crisis were the two most discussed and debated issues. The group discussions held at the end of all the talks were an added opportunity for the students to voice their opinions and come up with concrete suggestions to reverse the ecological countdown at various levels: Nation, State, Church and in the Seminary itself.

The talks presented the views of Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Christianity about Ecology and their outlook towards nature. The special emphasis however was on the role of the Church in responding to the ongoing Ecological crisis. Gripping video presentations centred on the reasons and projects of the UN declaration of this year as the ‘Year of Biodiversity’ made the proceedings very lively and added statistical information to the ongoing philosophical discussions. More than merely being an academic requirement, the Symposium did create an awareness and generate an interest in joining forces with those fighting in order to preserve mother earth and nature.

One of the concrete suggestions that emerged as a result of the talks and discussions was the possibility of using large feasts and public gatherings as a point of distribution of saplings. These saplings could be blessed and then distributed as ‘living relics’ for people to take home and take care as God’s ‘living blessing’ in their homes. This suggestion was offered by Fr Devadas, the spiritual director of the community.

The moderator of the proceedings was Fr Joseph Anithottam, the Parish Priest of Our Lady of Sorrows, Kondadaba. Along with him, and very much involved in animation and offering guidelines, were Fr Prasad (Parish Priest of Mangalapalem) and Fr Francis Stephen (Visiting Professor of Indian Philosophy). Their presence and active involvement certainly enriched the symposium. Fr Wilson, the Principal, was ably assisted in organizing the symposium by the Rainbow group (one of the eight Growth Groups of the house) and Mr Sai Ram, the Librarian.

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