Lev Tolstoy, one of Russia's greatest authors and peace advocates, passed away one century ago. A four-time Nobel nominee, Tolstoy was known through his literature and activism as a proponent of nonviolence and communalism; a critic of militarism and hierarchy; and is regarded by some as the father of Christian anarchism. He was also an inspiration and guide for a young Gandhi, with whom he corresponded regularly and shared a common commitment to actually living the Way of the Sermon on the Mount.
Tolstoy's life work has recently been commemorated in a variety of mediums, including the acclaimed film, The Last Train Station. His remarkable contributions to literature and society were also celebrated on Sept. 22 at the University of the Fraser Valley Tolstoy Symposium. The day was initiated by Professor Ron Dart (see photo with Tolstoy) and facilitated by Scott Fast (both serving in UFV's philosophy and political science dept).
Both the topics and presenters gave the presentation great breadth:
1. Veteran UFV instructor Alan Cameron presented first on 'War/Peace in the Writings of Tolstoy'.
2. Ron Dart lectured on 'Tolstoy, the Nobel Peace Prize and Gandhi,'
3. Doukhobor Village Museum curator and historian Larry Ewashen spoke on 'Tolstoy and the Doukhobors'.
4. In the afternoon, Father Michael of Holy Nativity Orthodox shared on 'Tolstoy and the Russian Orthodox Tradition'.
5. Abbotsford author Brad Jersak spoke on 'Tolstoy and the Mennonites'.
6. Finally, Larissa Horne, a visiting history instructor from St. Petersburg State University completed the day with her talk on 'Tolstoy and the Russian Peace Tradition'.
Also notable were those who attended. They represented an excellent cross-section of both the university and the broader community--multi-cultural, inter-faith, and a great range of ages. For example, the talk on 'Tolstoy and the Mennonites' was enriched by the presence of CBC prof Erv Klassen, a direct descendent of Jacob Hoeppner, the first German Mennonite settler into Russia under Catherine II. There were also seniors present who had personally lived in these very settlements (the Chortitza area) to which Tolstoy looked with admiration.
Attendees and presenters alike found the day very informative and a wonderful introduction to the many facets of Lev Tolstoy's life and work. For other upcoming UFV news and events, click here.