I have held against Orthodoxy its collaboration with any number of evil governments. Because of my Baptist friends in Romania, and the executions of them the Orthodox priests arranged within my lifetime, I have an especial anger; but the pattern has been the same in Russia, in the Balkans. It was not always just infiltration by government agents, forced upon them.
Kaplan's book has given me a new spin on this, and there is much to consider. The Romanian intellectuals he spoke with offered a similar theme about the relation of Orthodoxy to the culture. They divide the Protestant and Catholic West from the Orthodox East more thoroughly than we are used to doing here. They see the underlying culture of Romania as less European, more tied to Asia and the Near East. Kaplan gives numerous examples of cultural tells and political approaches meeting with Romanian officials. Transylvania they consider a middle ground. Romanians want to be Westerners, especially Americans. They point to their Latinate language as evidence of their Westernness.
I have stories on that myself, but a section of the book says it better.
Kaplan quotes Horea-Roman Patapievici
"The task for Romania is to acquire a public style based on impersonal rules, otherwise business and policies will be full of intrigue, and I am afraid our Eastern Orthodox traditon is not helpful in this regard. Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia, Russia, Greece - all the Orthodox nations of Europe - are characterized by weak institutions. That is because Orthodoxy is flexible and contemplative, based more on the oral traditions of peasants than on texts. Unlike Polish Catholicism, it never challenged the state. Orthodoxy is separated from, yet tolerant of, the world as it is: fascist, Communist, or democratic, because it has created an alternate world of its own based on the peasant village. In this way, Orthodoxy reconciles our ancient heritage with modern glitz."Intersting, and a pattern I think not limited to the Orthodox. It may be a general rule that people have more enmity toward a local competitor who can be seen, who competes for goods, land, and status from the next village, than toward the faraway oppressor. Only when war is active, and the soldiers of the oppressor become visible, is the anger directed toward them.
Indeed, Teoctist, the last leader of a major institution to profess undying loyalty to Ceaucescu, only days before his execution, was still the Orthodox Patriarch in 1998. The church here was continuing its oppression of Greek Catholic Uniates - Orthodox Christians who went over to the pope several hundred years ago. (Historically, Orthodox churches have enjoyed better relations with Moslems than with Western Christians, seeing the latter as a greater threat.)
(Note, BTW, the inclusion of Greece as an essentially non-Western country. Romanians resent that Truman rescued Greece but not Romania after WWII. They believed they were more suited for union with the West. Interesting question, in light of recent events.)
Which is chicken and which is egg? Does the contemplative, otherworldly emphasis of Orthodoxy allow the state to become oppressive unopposed, or is the flexibility a result of living under oppressive regimes?