Fishing for Compliments

There is much to be admired in Eastern Christianity. To “Westerners” it can be a fresh perspective on familiar theology. However, I cannot help but feel a little bit vilified or “less than” when the majority attitude of both Eastern Christians and Western Christians is that we owe compliments and understanding to the East. I’m all for that, but I never see the favor returned. I hear Westerners admiring the East all the time. Do the East admire anything about the West?

It’s important to understand that it is only recently that Eastern Churches have found the respect from the West that we see today. For a long time our traditions were looked askance at, and even suppressed in some areas. We have often been the “red-headed step children” of the Catholic Church, and thankfully that has changed significantly in recent decades.

As a result of this our Churches are, in many cases, just learning to be proud and vocal about our traditions, and many are still trying to undo decades of Latinizations that distorted our own ways. Sometimes this reclaiming of heritage becomes a zeal against all things Latin, but this is an illness and not a good fruit. It is difficult to heap praise on something that you’re trying to distance yourself from, however, and we have rightly been trying to distance ourselves from the Latinizations that we’ve accumulated. This doesn’t mean there is a rejection of the Latin tradition per se, simply that we’ve got to work on reclaiming our own tradition before we can have a “healthy” relationship with the Latin tradition.

Think of it as someone who is recovering from alcohol dependency. While objectively alcohol may be a neutral, or even good, thing in most circumstances it is not healthy for a recovering drunk to be praising the goods of alcohol. First the person must create distance and work on repairing themselves, and only afterwards can they take a healthy view of alcohol again, and in some cases perhaps even drink socially if it doesn’t risk causing a relapse.

In short don’t take it personally if the East isn’t constantly praising the West; just remember our recent past and know that we have some recovery and spiritual growth to get through.

That said you will find Easterns who do praise the Latin tradition. I myself love the clear and rigorous thinking that the Latin tradition has maintained, and I keep a copy of the Summa Theologiae on my bed-stand. While I don’t personally get much out of the Latin prayer traditions, I do respect that many do and I see the beauty of them. :slight_smile:

Peace and God bless!

There are some things I admire about the West . . . :wink:

But I think the West in North America is undergoing several crises that need to be overcome . . . in a hurry.



I had to chuckle at this a little bit. What Ghosty said I feel is very true. The western Latin church has given herself enough praise throuh the last millenium, I think, to do her for a while. But there is respect to be given to the venerable, and ancient western traditions of the church, which are just as old and just as Christian as our own. Just as there are Eastern Catholics there are Western Orthodox. I don’t necessarily think we need to praise one another, but mutual respect is definitley a requirement.

The sinner,
Most Holy Mother of God save us!

I have always admired the more recent western tradition of active religious.

Queen of Carthage?


Admiration is not something you trade. It’s called forth by admirable qualities. You’re importing some sort of democratic give-and-take into a question where such an attitude doesn’t belong.

Eastern Christianity is, generally, a better representation of classic Christian orthodoxy than Western, so it’s natural that Easterners don’t admire the West as much as Westerners admire the East.

There are historical reasons that accentuate this, of course–Westerners have historically had the upper hand and have often suppressed Eastern practices and spirituality. It will probably take a few centuries before Easterners are ready to admire what is to be admired in Western Christianity.

But I do think we have more to learn from the East than vice versa. That’s just how things are. Not all traditions are equal.

Western theology is largely based on Augustine, who unfortunately was poorly versed in broader Christian theology. He was an eccentric genius, and Western theology has been a bit off-kilter as a result. Not worthless, not heretical, but a bit less balanced.


Eastern Christianity is, generally, a better representation of classic Christian orthodoxy than Western, so it’s natural that Easterners don’t admire the West as much as Westerners admire the East.

Let me just say, as an Eastern Catholic, that I completely disagree with this assessment. I don’t believe that East or West has a clear cut “advantage” in representing classic Christian orthodoxy. Both are developments on old tendencies, and both contain equal elements of ancient teaching and practice.

I also want to second the respect given to active religious. I myself almost entered formation to become a Dominican. I actually wish that the East would develop its own active religious approach, to be honest. :slight_smile:

Peace and God bless!

I agree. I will not contest that.

I’m speaking as an individual, remember. I have never had anything against Eastern spirituality, but I HAVE been told things like, “Well, that’s a very Western perspective” as if the way I was raised to study and worship God was somehow intrinsically perverted??

Thanks for that. I feel that’s an admirable quality that often goes unnoticed in East-West context discussions. Thank you :slight_smile:

Again, please take into context the fact that I’m an individual. Please don’t treat me like I’m the embodiment of “Western faith.” I do realize that, historically, the west has been in positions where they oppressed Eastern ways of thinking, but scolding my attitude instead of trying to lend sympathy is kind of employing a double standard. It’s like blaming a white American who lives today for Southern slavery. As an individual, I have never oppressed Eastern thinking. As an individual, quite the contrary has happened to me. I’m left feeling that my “Western perspective” is “less than” and I cannot be proud of my traditions. As if Jesus doesn’t hear me as clearly.

Thank you :slight_smile:

I respect the west for its vocal stance against abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, euthanasia, murder of the disabled and elderly, physician-assisted suicide, and the rest of the culture of death.

For its outspoken opposition to the death penalty as it is used in the United States and other first world countries.

For the many amazing churches it has throughout the world, which are testaments to the faith that desired to build such beautiful houses of God.

For its emphasis on evangelization, on enculturation, on using modern media, and for the world youth days.

For its charitable efforts around the world for the poor in spirit and in wealth, never asking for credentials but always offering a helping hand.

For its call to give always in love so that secular relativism is not confused with charity.

For its respect for differences of opinion in science, politics, parenting, and other issues of everyday life.

For the beautiful music and art it has inspired.

For the many religious who give their lives to preserving and restoring books, tapestries, paintings, and other irreplaceable pieces of history.

For making the Vatican library collections and virtual tours available online.

For the Catholic Charities and Catholic hospitals who close their doors instead of violating the will of God by complying with harmful laws.

For using its platform to constantly call the world’s leaders to the will of the Lord and to advocate for the downtrodden and voiceless.

For its respect and concern for the environment and the rest of creation.

For its physical and spiritual ministries in jails, rehab centers, homeless shelters, inner city neighborhoods, and other places where people are rolling up their shirt sleeves, not afraid to get dirty as they live their faith.

For its many martyrs.

For its hope for unity.

For their role in many scientific advancements from biology to physics to astronomy, which continue to this day.

I am fond of a number of their saints, too.

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