This is a turbulent moment in the history of our Republic, those of us who are American. And a troubling moment for all who watch from the outside.
Interesting times, as the curse goes.
The good folk at Wikipedia set today, the 27th of October in 312 as the moment when Constantine, later called the Great, purported to have a vision of a cross in the sky and heard the words “With this sign, conquer.”
I’ve commented on this moment in the past. In 2011 I titled my noticing of this date “When Religions Go Bad.” In 2016 I titled it “One Could Say Today is the Day the Devil Took Over Christianity.” And in 2018 I headed it “The Festival of Cutting a Deal With the Devil.”
I guess that shows my feelings on the subject.
It certainly is a good marker for the great turning that would make Christianity as we know it today. Of course the threads that would weave into what we think of as Christian Orthodoxy had long been taking shape. And what would become normative wouldn’t actually take its full form for a bit yet.
But as a marker for something before and something following, it certainly works.
With, as I’ve already confessed with less than satisfactory conclusion, at least to my heart.
The confrontations with Islam only touched the matter around the edges.
Even the Protestant Reformation wouldn’t touch much of the theology that would be set in place with that story of sin and redemption that sits at the heart of Trinitarian theologies. Actually in some ways not a bad story. The problem mostly comes with believing it is a fact on the ground, hard history, and something to be defended with that sword that conquers.
Today science, secularism, and intimations that much of the Christian story are no more likely than the stories of Greek or Roman divinities are probably the first intimations of a religion beginning to fray.
Not that I would put serious money on Christianity having had its run.
But, I do think a new sign has presented. But where it will go, how it will conquer, that’s certainly yet to be written.
Various Fundamentalisms, Christian and otherwise, are certainly on offer. And, people are buying.
But, there’s something else going on, as well.
There are signs and portents.
Hesitant. Unsure. Unclear.
Tumbling into the mystery.
Not knowing as the intimate way.
Seeing through a glass darkly, as the good book tells us. At least in the ever lovely King James Version.
That is it.
Only don’t know.
It is the mother of science.
It is the mother of toleration.
It is the mother of all gods and the mother of our calling out to all gods.
It is the mother of all good.
That’s the sign I notice. That’s the new vision being sung from a hundred different voices, from a hundred different island caves.
And in this next round, this next turning of the wheel, may it be the one that conquers.