The Corner

The Orthodox Church

A reader: “I know it’s been a bad day for Anglicans, but I disagree with

your pessimism about the Orthodox Church. Orthodoxy is designed to resist

social and political change. For almost half a millenia, the Orthodox Church

was subjugated by the Ottoman Empire (see Sir Steven Runciman’s “The Great

Church in Captivity”) and was the only link to Christ for millions of people

over hundreds of years. Orthodox Christians are raised with a siege

mentality; we already believe that we are the last candle in a world of

shadows. There is no tradition of compromise in the Eastern Churches. The

Orthodox faith has resisted Islam and Stalin. My Church is used to fighting

for its life and for my soul. Anglicans and Roman Catholics have just begun

to fight. You’re welcome to join my team, but maybe you should stay and

fight for yours.”

Hmmm. I admit I am not an expert on the history here, and I am open to

correction, but I always thought the Orthodox Church in Russia went along

pretty happily with depotic government–certainly under the Tsars, and even

(though I am thinking of WW2, and perhaps this ought to be discounted) with


As it happens, I shall be spending Labor Day with some Russian Orthodox

friends (I L-O-V-E that long basso profundo thing they do as a grace before

meals!) so I shall ask Father George for clarification. And this year I

shall remember to put the stress on the first syllable of “Matrushka.”

(That way it is the polite form of address for a priest’s wife; the other

way, it is a kind of doll.)


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