A CBS Documentary about Fr. Alexander Schmemann

A CBS Documentary about Fr. Alexander Schmemann


Several years ago, Orthodox peoples in America were happy to see coverage of our faith on broadcast television when CBS aired a documentary about life on Mt. Athos.

Although such mainstream coverage is rare, it is not entirely without precedent.

Decades earlier, Fr. Alexander Schmemann, the long-time dean of St. Vladimir’s Seminary and a major voice in 20th century Orthodox Christianity, used to appear on a CBS program called “For Our Times.”

Shortly after Fr. Schmemann’s death, the show aired a documentary about his life and influence, “a recollection of the man and a tribute to his memory.”

CBS News correspondent Douglas Edwards begins the broadcast by saying: “Fr Alexander Schmemann was a friend of this broadcast and frequent participant. He was an articulate, scholarly, and personable witness for Orthodox Christianity, and an effective contributor to the ecumenical movement, to East-West relations, and to the Christian-Jewish dialogue. He saw with a fresh perspective what was radically new in his ancient tradition and what was already stale and outmoded in much popular novelty.”

Narrated by a young, white-cassock-wearing Fr. Thomas Hopko, and featuring footage of Fr. Alexander, as well as interviews with church leaders such as His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos of America, the documentary is a window not only into the life of Fr. Schmemann but also into an earlier era of American Orthodox life — indeed, into American life in general: it would be hard to imagine a major broadcast network devoting time to such matters today.

Check out the video, embedded above, and let us know your thoughts or memories.

Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network.  You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+.

About author

Seraphim Danckaert

Seraphim Danckaert is Director of Mission Advancement at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary. He holds an M.Div. from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and is a Ph.D. candidate in theology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.