Category Archives: Denominations

THE CHURCH AND THE DEATH OF NATIONS

Consider the various signs of the blurring of national lines:

Commercially:
Corporations not only quickly move their operations to wherever it is cheapest without regard to its effect on the home nation but they also establish off shore headquarters to avoid taxes.

Both the Rich and the Poor ignore boundaries:
Recently there was an article about wealthy people in the USA who had established offshore accounts to avoid taxes in the country in which they gained their wealth.

Many nations are experiencing the challenge of immigration because poor people do not value national boundaries over their economic survival.

Nations Ignore Boundaries:
Many nations are entering into Free Trade pacts that remove national boundaries from protectionist regulations. The European Union is even experimenting with a common currency.

Information Exchange:
People establish communities through the internet and share information and make plans without regard to national boundaries. The Tinman Square student rebellion was fed by the use of faxes that fed the demonstrators information that they could not secure within their own country. Terrorists exchange information over the internet and form alliances that facilitate their actions. Survivalists in this country form common cause with others across miles and boundaries to further their perceived cause.

Culture:
Culturally there is a vast sharing of media, especially music that transcends the national boundaries and even the language boundaries. Movies are shared over the internet and break down cultural traditions.

Military:
Militarily there is a movement that has emerged that we refer to as terrorists who have democratized war. There is no longer the necessity of having a vast military establishment in order to oppose a country’s power. When we were attacked on 9/11, the problem was that because we were locked into a nation mindset, we chose a response by attacking another nation. The problem was that the terrorists didn’t belong to a government or a single nation. Our efforts backfired in creating a school for terrorism while denying the USA an obvious target to respond to.

Religion:
Religiously, some Episcopal churches, when they were disenchanted with the direction of the denomination, came under the oversight of a Bishop in Africa and assumed a position in the world wide Anglican community that was not defined by geography.

The Response:
While it is unlikely that the skeleton of national boundaries will disappear anytime soon, there are obvious signs that both people and institutions are loosening their sense of loyalty to the idea of nations as an entity that claims their loyalty.The reaction to this development is to either implode or explode. Those who implode will withdraw into a form of tribalism. Witness, for example, the desire of the Kurds for their own nation. In this country, you experience various forms of tribalism as a way of asserting identity.Those who explode, burst beyond the boundaries of nations according to their needs and their greed.The challenge for churches, who already bear a faith that at its core transcends national boundaries, is how should they shape their response to this new reality. Locally we experience the challenge as our own members become neighbors with and even intermarry with people of other faiths. Do we rethink the exclusivist tendency of our religions and seek a new way of relating to other faiths that neither reduces our distinctive doctrines nor erupts in violence. Internationally we experience that challenge when people of the same community of faith who reside in other countries experience harm because of the action of nations. Do we simply withdraw in quietude or do we challenge that which harms our neighbor.

In the Medieval period, when we were going through another seismic change with the formation of nations, we experienced the challenge of Islam with violent results from both sides. Again we face the challenge of Islam. Is there a way that we can respond that offers an alternative to the violence that we are experiencing?