‘What’s The Matter With Orthodox Christian Countries?’

‘What’s The Matter With Orthodox Christian Countries?’ By Rod Dreher.

One thing that Westerners often forget, if they ever knew it in the first place, is that most of the Orthodox Christian world lived under the Islamic yoke for centuries. Byzantium fell in 1453. Greece was not free until the 19th century. Same with the Orthodox Balkans. With the exception of the colonial period, Arab Christians have lived under Islam since the 8th century.

Russia was invaded by the Mongols in the 13th century, and wasn’t really free of them until the 16th century. Russia didn’t go through a Reformation, which had an incomparable effect on pushing Europe into the modern era, nor did Russia partake in the opening to the New World by the age of exploration, and the immense wealth that brought into Europe.

Orthodox countries did not experience the Enlightenment — Peter the Great’s efforts to drag Russia into the Enlightenment were brutal and only partly successful — and they did not experience the Industrial Revolution. Modernity only came to Russia in 1917, with the trauma of the Bolshevik Revolution.

Russia spent the better part of a century under a totalitarian yoke that came very close to destroying the Orthodox Church and the faith, but also eviscerated civil society and the social trust necessary for the rule of law and capitalism to work. Eastern European countries that fell under the Soviet yoke after World War II also saw their religious traditions and the institutions of civil society torn to shreds. A Hungarian friend told me that her country is having trouble adjusting to democracy because it has not yet recovered from the moral devastation wrought by communism: people find it almost impossible to trust each other, because under communism, you could not afford to trust anybody.

hat-tip Stephen Neil