Though I am an academic Orientalist who loves the Christian east and has dedicated his entire scholarly life to the study of its traditions with the express aim of understanding them sympathetically and fostering and preserving them, I am not one of those romantics who considers the east--for heaven only knows what imagined reasons--to possess some sort of traditional superiority, a deeper spirituality, a more ancient and traditional monasticism, a more faithfully apostolic liturgy.
Eastern Christianity finds itself in a profound crisis from which it has not yet found the means to extricate itself, and even more preoccupying is the refusal of so many to recognize this situation, or their attempts to distract attention from it by lashing out, with a chauvinistic xenophobia altogether too traditional in Russian and Balkan history, against enemies, real or imagined, who
are presumed culpable for whatever is wrong. Eastern Christianity has not yet learned to face modernity, a lesson learned in the west only with great pain and many failures. [Which Taft goes on to list.]
Far from being a bastion of immovable tradition,
preserving intact the liturgy of apostolic times, the east was the main source of change, responsible for practically every single liturgical innovation from Jesus until the Islamic conquests, which stifled this remarkable creativity.
Mind you, the article isn't the least bit hostile toward Orthodox or Byzantine Christianity; quite the reverse. We have known scholars whose chosen speciality was a subject or author whom they detested, and whom they devoted their lives to undermining; taft isn't like that. He says he loves the East, and he clearly means it. But he loves it as it is, not as he imagines it might be. And isn't that how we all want to be loved?