Thursday, February 21, 2008

"Does the West Have an Orthodox Problem?"

This provocative question - along with the equally provocative and stunning photo - is posed on the blog of the journal Foreign Policy. The scene is Kosovo; the protesters are Serbian Orthodox Christians reacting to the United Nations' recent decision to support an emerging Islamic nation at the expense of an historically Christian one.

Quoting a recent cover story, the writer notes:

"The culture of the Orthodox Church differs sharply from the Western post-Enlightenment ethos, which emphasizes secularism, capitalism, and the primacy of the individual. It still maintains residual fears about the West that parallel in many ways current Muslim insecurities: fears of Western missionary proselytism, a tendency to perceive religion as a key vehicle for the protection and preservation of their own communities and culture, and a suspicion of the 'corrupted' and imperial character of the West. Indeed, in an Orthodox Christian Middle East, Moscow would enjoy special influence, even today, as the last major center of Eastern Orthodoxy. The Orthodox world would have remained a key geopolitical arena of East-West rivalry in the Cold War. Samuel Huntington, after all, included the Orthodox Christian world among several civilizations embroiled in a cultural clash with the West."

An increasingly-religious Russia is backing their Serbian Orthodox brethren, while an increasingly-secular Western Europe, along with the religiously-quixotic United States, is backing the Albanian Muslims.

Somehow, I can't imagine relations between the US and Orthodox Christianity improving in the near future, given that the next president is either going to be a Democrat Liberal Protestant without meaningful foreign policy experience or a Republican former-Episcopalian who has repeatedly taken a hawkish line towards Russia.

Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.