We just do everything the best we can.

by abbamoses

Sesshu, Autumn Landscape

When a Western visitor to the East once complimented his host country’s arts, a priest replied, “We don’t have any arts. We just do everything the best we can.”
— Jan Swafford, The Vintage Guide to Classical Music

I love pondering this quote. I don’t think it’s really about east versus west, but about whole societies and broken societies. The Christian societies of Orthodoxy and the west might as easily have said “We don’t have any arts” until the shattering of western society’s wholeness in the renaissance and “enlightenment.”

Orthodox music, hymnography, iconography, architecture — all strive not to serve “the arts,” whatever those are anymore, but to be aspects of worship.