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How did I go to graduate school at PSTU

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How did I go to graduate school at PSTU

I just trusted God, and He helped me get the right ticket …

As part of our anniversary year, we are starting to publish a selection of materials “10 Years of Tradition: Foundation Staff About Us.” The programmer of the Tradition Foundation Igor Onachenko wrote about one of the important events of his life.

“So far I myself can’t believe what happened. I entered postgraduate study at PSTU for correspondence courses! ”I left such a text in my notes on August 31, and today I would like to tell you more about it in order to share the joy with friends.

First, a little background. In the summer of 2018, I graduated from the master's program at the Department of World Philosophy and Theology of the Dahl University of Lugansk, defending a master's thesis on the theme “Orthodox and Protestant Soteriology”. The subject of my research was a comparative analysis of the teachings of John Chrysostom and Martin Luther on justification by faith alone. There was a desire to continue training, but in our department there are no graduate studies in theology.

At the same time, I was experiencing some kind of intellectual crisis: for some reason, the feeling came that I was an uneducated and uncivilized person who in his life had read little books and listened little to real music. In addition, it seemed to me that I did not realize all the talents that, as I assumed, I had. Of course, I have a great position as a programmer on a wonderful portal, a good team, a good cause, but the feeling that I have not done something important has not left me. In addition, there was a desire to serve the Church, and I even began to think about the seminary, but in my circumstances it would hardly have been feasible.

One day the thought came to me that I could try to enter graduate school in philosophy in Lugansk in the same department where I studied. There is a good team of teachers, mostly religious people. And to understand theology really without understanding the history of philosophical thought is probably almost impossible (just remember the reception of some Neoplatonic terms and ideas by Cappadocian fathers). At this thought, I stopped and slowly prepared for admission. I read Victor Leigh’s textbook “History of Western Philosophy” and watched lectures on philosophy on the Kant BFU Youtube channel. In the summer, I suddenly found out that I didn’t get on a budget place, and it’s too late to enter extramural postgraduate study. Here, of course, I was upset. Hands dropped. But one friend suggested enrolling in graduate school at the Orthodox St. Tikhon Humanitarian University (PSTGU).

I did not even think of Moscow. And I doubted that such a study would be possible: the distance was not small. Well, there were concerns whether I could combine studies with my main job. In addition, when you get used to living in such a small provincial town as ours, there is no desire to travel long distances, and you did not want to leave your family. But since I no longer found alternatives, and did not want to wait another year, I decided to take a chance and try to do it.

In the process of preparing for exams, submitting documents to the university and traveling to exams, I was faced with a lot of temptations and problems! Involuntarily I began to think that “I am going against the bullshit” and Heaven itself hints to me that it is better to refrain from these intentions. But deep down in my heart, I felt that I was doing the right thing and I just needed to be patient and overcome obstacles.

As much as was possible for me in my circumstances, I tried to prepare for the exams. Most worried about the exam in philosophy. Again he began to read Legi's History of Western Philosophy. This textbook is good because the author tries to talk simply about complex things, without losing sight of the connection and influence of famous philosophers on Christianity. While studying the material, I made small audio recordings on the recorder for 7-15 minutes and then listened to them. Unfortunately, due to lack of time, I was not able to work out all the issues in this mode.

On the exam I had two questions: “The main ideas and representatives of the late Renaissance (Erasmus of Rotterdam, Montaigne, Giordano Bruno)” and “Freud's Psychoanalysis and the Development of Psychoanalysis in the 20th Century”. Thank God, I worked out the first question well, I managed to prepare a good answer on it, but I talked about Freud only those little remnants that I could extract from my memory, so the answer was weak. In the end, I got 71 points (satisfactory).

I was late for the English exam! According to the plan, my bus from Rostov was supposed to arrive at the bus station an hour before the exam, but was stuck in traffic. Fortunately, the exam included two parts: the first part was the translation of the English text into Russian, an hour was given for this; and the second is a retelling of a small text and a story about his scientific interests. When I arrived for the exam, I had enough time left to do the translation while the others answer. I was given a “5” (91 points), however, they said they put it in advance, since I seem to be able to speak, but I make mistakes in the conversation. This was my highest mark compared to other exams.

I must say, I was very pleased to meet at exams many famous teachers of PSTU, whom I had only seen on Youtube or heard on the radio. For example, George Evgenievich Zakharov, Pyotr Borisovich Mikhailov in a theology exam. For an ordinary person from a provincial town, this is already an event!

And on this exam, by the grace of God, I was lucky again – I got a ticket with the question “Holy Tradition: the history of the concept”, and I was very interested in this topic when I discovered the world of the Holy Fathers. I scored a passing mark, but if I got into another topic like “Catholic ecclesiology in the 20th century”, the result could be sadder.

On the same day, I talked with a potential scientific adviser, and, most likely, my further research will concern Protopresbyter Alexander Shmeman and the Sacrament of Baptism.

My admission to PSTU helped me to finally get to know my colleagues in my native Tradition, whom I had only corresponded with in a corporate chat before as a remote employee. The last evening in Moscow ended well, and I returned home. Thank God, I felt His invisible help throughout the story of the receipt. There is hope that in the future I will be useful at work not only as a programmer, but also as a graduate student in the theological faculty.

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