Ellen wrote: ↑
Tue Jun 08, 2021 7:59 pm
Thanks for this history lesson NF. I have 2 comments:
1. The Christianity of Byzantium may have been more sincere and practiced than that of Rome, which might explain why it was a strength for one and a weakness for the other. Certainly one can suppose that the depth of belief in a set of ideas will have an influence on whether the ideas have their presumed effect or not. Example) If one society practices democracy in a genuine way it will likely survive longer there than in another society where it has been reduced to lip service only. Only an observant historian living and writing about his own society can tell us the degree of sincerity in the practice of a religion or ideology at a particular time in history, which is now long gone.
Delighted to encounter someone like you who appreciates it, Ellen. I hope that you won't mind if I share some further thoughts?
Worth bearing in mind that Orthodox christianity was the state
religion of the Byzantine Empire which suggests that it was compulsory in all but name. In the case of the western Empire I am not sure whether it was. The Byzantime Empire might have had the tactical advantage in that for around 3 centuries in incorporated within its bounds the Holy Land - which for Christians meant the places where Christ lived his life, died and allegedly resurrected from the dead (not identical to the holy places of the Jews). That would have bestowed an added authority to the Byzantine church. The hold of the Church in the west might have been initially diminished by the fact that it was geograplically (and perhaps spiritually) further removed from the site of Christ's sojourn on Earth.
Of course, Constantinople must have lost that advantage pwemanently in 640AD after the conquering, Islamic Arabs wrested the Empire's Levantine provinces away from it.
Rome, however, rebounded. Beginning with Saint Patrick's conversion of the Irish in the 6th century (the platform from which Great Britain was ultimately converted by Irish missionary monks) Rome became more proactive in missionary efforts to convert Europe's northern, pagan peoples to Christianity and had considerable success in the enterprise. It might seem that not having an imperium of their own to shelter them from the predations of barbarians meant that the bishops of Rome could not have been as smugly satisfied as the Partiarichal archbishops in Constantinople.
I also take note of the fact that it was this same Western church, not the eastern one, that sanctioned the various crusader enterprises to wrest lands and peoples back from Islam: the most recent of these being the reconquista
in Spain and Portugal
I agree that democracy is likely to survive longer in countries where it is "embedded in the soul
" of the general populace than it will in countries where it is like a latter-day impost. Given by how so many Americans have recently lost confidence in their version of democracy (at times I do not blame them) I have rerason to believe that it will survive in Canada for longer than it will in the United States. Likewise, a little longer in the USA than in the Latino republics to the south.
I forsee a similar pattern emerging in Europe. Barring being crushed and ruled by an authoritarian foreign power such as Russia I have reason to believe that the Scandanavian countries will remain democratic for centuries to come while in the case of the Mediterranean countries - who can tell? Italians have absolutely no confidence in their elected governments while Greece had military rule less than half a century ago. . Some of the eastern European countries seem to spiritually lean towards the Russian model of authoritarian government.
As for we Australians: a lot like in Scandanavia. Nothing and no one is going to stop us from enjoying democratic government.