The decline and fall of the Roman Empire
Like Hamas in today's Palestine or Evangelical super-churches in US suburbs, the 3rd-century Roman Church provided adherents with the human services they sorely needed, and which the State could no longer provide.Well said. The piece is a meditation on borders and identity. One reason for the huge crowds at JPII's funeral is the ease of movement across national borders in Europe, and the common currency also eased border crossing. Will the next papal funeral be attended by people identifying themselves first as Catholics, Europeans, or Italians, and what will that mean for the world?
Thus did Romans become Christians. The Dark Ages followed.
He also points out that
Far to the south, in the country of Nigeria, riots pitting Christians against Muslims have overtaken tribal strife as the most common axis of intra-state conflict.
At what point will global religions - sharing the world with multinational corporations, NGOs, and non-state-sponsored terrorist groups - pose a more attractive lure than the State as the primary identity-source for individuals?
I'd argue that the Internet, by creating tightly linked communities across large geographical distances has ushered in a new level of identity. I read science bloggers and progressive/liberal bloggers regardless of where they live or what they look like. Are most of them white guys from the US? Probably, but Majikthise isn't (always). Evolving Thoughts is from Australia, but I share more with him than I do with Jerry Johnston, just down the road. It will be interesting to see how these non-geographical links affect the geographical and ethnic ties of nationality. If nationalism breaks down, will it be replaced by even greater strife?
Update: At Majikthise, but by a guest blogger.