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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Champagne, Cheese Party Mark Irish Priest's Book

Young women in black and white moved quietly about the rooms, hoisting trays of slim glasses of champagne and small glasses of chilled vodka. The guests, including three foreign ambassadors, pondered appetizers of p‰t?, exotic cheeses and black caviar on thin triangles of toast -- accented with lemon zest, and a spot of red pimiento.

The scene last Thursday evening was almost close enough to catch the breezes off the black Volgas speeding to and from the Kremlin.

It was all for an Irish Catholic priest. And his book on Russian philosophy.

"Hopefully, people will get beyond the title," said Philip Andrews, for whom about 40 people, primarily expatriates, gathered at the new Silvers Bar on a pereulok in the shadow of the Hotel National to mark the publication in Moscow, with likely distribution here and in Ireland, of his dauntingly titled book, "Religious Dimensions of Russian Non-Religious Philosophy."

The book, effectively a reprint of his thesis from the Oriental Institute in Rome, postulates that so-called Russian philosophy is actually a graft, or synthesis, of Western ideas. The only indigenous philosophy in Russia, he asserts, evolved from its religious cultures and Orthodox faith.

"The Russian culture can't be separated from its religious experiences over the centuries. They go hand in hand," said Andrews, 29, of Cork.

As is wont to happen in pubs, even the guests proffered a bit of philosophy as the evening wore on:

"There is a great similarity between the Russian and Irish attitudes about life. ... We have similar outlooks," said Ronan Murphy, the Irish ambassador to Russia. "We both like to have a good time. But perhaps that's a bit simplistic."

Andrews is something of a fixture among expatriate circles, despite traveling to Moscow only about once a month since 1994 -- when he was given a small congregation in the city of Samara, located about 1,000 kilometers southeast of Moscow.

"I don't want to say anymore, because it's a bit difficult to talk about philosophy to non-philosophers," Andrews told guests who had assembled for an impromptu speech. "Maybe [we can] talk about business?"