Those who do not understand how very consistent the Orthodox Church is in spite of the Orthodox embrace of paradox fail to see that even if we Orthodox have no juridical, dogmatic theology, as the West understands these things, nevertheless we have a very complete theology in our own way. This theology is our liturgical tradition. It is non-negotiable, even though it is “poetic” rather than “Germanic,” so to speak.

The reason that the West fails to understand that a poetic, liturgical tradition is as real and binding as written dogma is because the average Western person does not take poetry as seriously as he takes math, science, and law. To the Western person, reality must be “scientifically” described, explained, and quantified to be understood, to be “official.” This is why the West think of us as “weak,” theologically. They equate mystery with indecisiveness and poetry with imprecision. But Orthodox apophatic silence and appreciation of the mystery of God and acknowledgement of paradox is the “weakness” of the still, small voice of God Who is inaccessible to all.

We Orthodox regard the scientific West as blind. We regard the West as blind not only to religion but blind to the actual truth of the way things really are. In fact, from the Orthodox point of view, it is the mechanistic, mathematical, “scientific” view that is personally held, subjective, irrational faith. To us love, poetry, mystery, and iconic beauty more accurately describe the fulness of reality than math and science do.

It is our very different way of understanding reality and of seeing and being that we Orthodox must learn and relearn and impart to others. Moreover, we Orthodox who live in the Western, materialistic desert of non-being need to understand the unique ability of the Orthodox Tradition to teach us to discern the inner, hidden beauty and meaning in the world around us.

– Shaeffer, Letters to Father Aristotle, Letter IV