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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

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I think you're right to highlight the East-West religious divide. This goes back to nearly the roots of Christianity and perhaps is as fundamental as the difference between the Latin speaking western empire and the Greek speaking east. The Great Schism was perhaps as much a formality as anything. Someone highlighted this alienness of the East to our eyes by noting that while Catholics and Protestants disagree on answers, they share the same questions, whereas in the East Orthodox Christianity has an entirely different set of questions.

It's worth noting that the West seems to have taken more seriously the Hellenstic leg of its inheritance. Western Culture really is based on Jerusalem and Athens. The eastern sphere seems far less shaped by their Greek inheritance. The Western Church long wrestled with reconciling Christianity with Aristotelian philosophy (see: Thomas Aquinas). The Eastern Church has said more or less, "That stuff is irrelevant to us." Surprisingly, it was the more rationalist influenced West that produced the Renaissance, science, etc.

In part perhaps this is because the East was under more or less continuous threat of invasion (ultimately successfully perhaps) by the Parthians and then the Arab Muslim invaders. This helped do in the Greek intellectual legacy. If the Battle of Tours had gone differently, the West may have followed a similar path.

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