The State and Idolatry

I thought that Andrew’s quote about dying for the phone company was amusing. The part about it being a “repository for sacred values” also got me thinking. National or ethnic identity (and that has been our basis for states in the past 150 years or so) is often a sort of religion. I think you know what I’m talking about, all the special reverence for flags or other special totems, the hagiographic accounts of the lives of key national figures. The idea of a civic religion is still alive and well – it just goes by other names these days.

Now many countries – from Serbia to the United States – have managed to fuse their national identity with the defence of Christianity thus allowing them to feel that the celebration of their country’s (providential) existence is an act harmonious with Christianity. Whether that is acutally the case is doubtful, the bible encourages obeying those in charge (which is often just pragmatic advice) but it is not where you get the whole dulci et decorum est pro patria mori thing though.

Let me put this another way: None of our ethnic or national groupings are any more important than those of the Scythians, the Visigoths, the Picts, the Carthaginians, the Hittites or all the other groups that have long dissolved into other gene pools. Why should there be a Canada? Or a United States? Or any other country?