The parochial are endlessly shocked by history.
If you were in the Church of Holy Wisdom a few years ago, saying prayers, when it was a museum, then you know, just a bit, about the complexities of history. You were, barely, legal. You could pray, but many around you thought you should not be allowed to pray.
This great church is now a mosque, again, and that is hard for global Christians. Very few Americans will grasp the pain from this reality, this genuine torment: our interests in America as Americans are staggeringly parochial, so we miss the horror.
This is most true of our academic class that buys a coffee in Athens and feels cosmopolitan. They urge a global view which consists of the vision from international faculty lounges: the last colonial havens.
We know this because real issues that roil hearts outside academic bubbles hardly move them.
A great Christian church has become a mosque: the pain of 1453 is renewed. Meanwhile Americans natter about our own weird ideas, boundaries, and spin up products to sell on either side of divisions that make no sense in Syria or Mongolia.
Somebody will sell the most swag in America, but the Church in Armenia, Turkey, China will keep suffering. Meanwhile, Americans will keep asking irrelevant questions, answered long ago in global Christendom, that move product in the USA.
“Can’t a mother be a father?”
“Isn’t priesthood just a job?”
“Why Levi? Couldn’t other tribes kill lambs just as well?”
Those from nations with declining faith, ideas already having failed, lecture those with growing churches. The parochial Americans go on writing about things the rest of the world hardly considers, but those same North Americans force everyone to consider their views.
It would be funny if it were not deadly.
Meanwhile, as no one is looking, the great cathedrals in the West are turned into pubs or condos. The biggest issue in Christendom is not whatever problem of the moment some American sect is having in America. Christendom is vast.
If your faith is shocked by a cathedral, unable to grasp traditional cultures: get a new school or a bigger expression of Christendom. For the love of the good God, do not move from one parochial American vision on the right to one on the left. Avoid all the parochial visions!
Our Russian fellows had millions of martyrs to Communism, not one being faked or exaggerated to sell a ticket to a movie in America. Centuries of children being kidnapped to serve the Sultan and bow to the Caliph leave the Greeks unmoved by American historical revisionism, left or right. The Church of the Holy Wisdom, kept in safety for all time by the Mother of God is greater than internecine American squabbles.
Just a few years ago, the icons of Hagia Sophia were being renewed, the history could be told, and we could pray. The Patriarch, a few miles away, held firm against centuries of attempts to undermine his office. When Americans went there, we were there to learn, not to be a Western tool to undermine his office with our own parochial concerns. We prayed, did what we had power to do, learned what we could, and moved forward. Thank God we left our American issues behind us.
Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Aksum, Moscow, Oxford: nobody but a fool would think that Christendom was bounded by the Potomac.
If that is an insight to you, or to your students, repent.
I was there in the Church of the Holy Wisdom with American students prepared by reading great texts to see a global faith and nobody was tempted to rebuke the Patriarch, in danger of martyrdom, with some American bumper sticker about our particular issue of the day in the States. These student-scholars rejected moral colonialism that would torture the Ecumenical Patriarch with our own barbarian natter. Instead, we were ready to pray. We know the Pope in Rome and the Patriarch in Constantinople exist.
The sane, those who live in reality, joined the Orthodox Christian world of Kenya, Uganda, China, Ethiopia, Turkey, Greece, Romania, Japan in worship. We prayed to put a stop to immoral and theological colonialism. We asked for a bigger God. We looked globally and repented locally:
Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on us sinners.