S.F. Danckaert has been quoting some fascinating snippets from a book entitled, "Everyday Life in Byzantium." (see his June 3rd post)
Not that I'm a golden-eyed romantic, but it still seems that Byzantine culture makes our western culture pale in comparison. Our heritage leaves us impoverished in many ways (and not just theological). One of these impoverishments is historical ignorance of many things Eastern (Christian East, that is).
In the June issue of Touchstone (pg54), Preston Jones makes the following statements in a book review:
"...the church saved civilization after the collapse of the Roman Empire..."
Why is that western historians never recognize only the *western half* of the Empire collapsed! Culture, civilization, art, music, politics....all these not only survived in the East in Constantinople but flourished!
Then this sentence from Mr. Jones :
"The implication, of course, is that Christianity by itself cannot create--or up to now has not created--a civilization."
Well, I suppose it depends on your definition of "created." While some might argue that Orthodoxy spread throughout the world by riding on the back of Hellenistic culture, I think a strong case could be made that it was the uniquely Christian culture of Byzantium that created and nurtured 1000 years of civilization.
I would say that creating culture, while not a distinctly spelled out mission, is a inevitable consequence of the spread of Christianity. We *must* create civilization and culture because if we don't, some other group will. Western civilization is replete with examples of what happens to culture (and thus, humanity) when Christians have failed to sufficiently be "in the world."