Monday, February 28, 2005


I've just finished Runciman's "The Great Church in Captivity" and the final paragraph was perhaps the most unexpected, concise, and poignantly accurate summary of a book (and, in many ways, of Orthodoxy). Here goes:

The history of the Orthodox Patriarchate during the long captivity of the Great Church is lacking in heroic bravado. Its leaders were men who found it wise to avoid publicity and outward splendour and grand gestures. If they often indulged in intrigue and often in corruption, such is the inevitable fate of second-class citizens under a government in which intrigue and corruption flourish. The grand achievement of the Patriarchate was that in spite of humiliation and poverty and disdain the Church endured and endures as a great spiritual force. The Candlestick had been darkened and obscured, as the Englishman Peter Heylyn, who disliked the Greeks, noted in the early seventeenth century, but God had not taken it away. The light still burns, and burns brighter. The Gates of Hell have not prevailed.


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