Friday, December 05, 2008

Nobody Expects the Byzantine Empire

Who knew there was still nostalgia for the Byzantine Empire?

I came across the video below last night while searching for a clip from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

The profile of the person who put up this video, who goes by the name of Orthodox Dog, reads thusly:

I'm: Serb and Russian, Ultra Orthodox Christian, Slavic nationalist, White patriot, not fucking nazi!!!

Orthodox Dog evidently looks forward to a revived Byzantine Empire via a union of the Orthodox Christian countries of Russia, Greece and Serbia that will recover Istanbul, if the end of the video is any indication.

A number of commenters to the video also write of their lament for the fall of Constantinople as if May 29, 1453 was only yesterday. One of them bitterly decries the Hungarian engineer who designed the cannon used by the Ottomans to batter Constantinople's walls, asserting that if the "traitor" Hungarian had not done so, then the Turks never would have taken the city.

These people really need to chill out. Like all empires, the Eastern Romans, or Byzantines as they are more popularly known, had their time and then faded away. The Byzantines were living on borrowed time for the last five decades or so of their existence, and would have fallen fifty years earlier if the Ottomans did not have to end their siege of Constantinople to deal with Tamerlane. The Byzantines owe their decline and fall as much to their own internal disputes as they do to the sack of 1204 by Latin Crusaders sidelined from their journey to retake Jerusalem or to a Hungarian cannoneer offering his skills to the highest bidder.

But I couldn't help but overlook one really delicious piece of irony. Does Orthodox Dog realize that his beloved Serbs themselves, particularly during the reign of their mid-14th century ruler Stefan Dušan, played an important role in the decline of the Byzantine Empire and the ability of the Ottoman Turks to get a foothold in Europe? A few choice excerpts from the Wikipedia article linked to above:

In the first years of his reign, Dušan started to fight against the Byzantine Empire (1334), and warfare continued with interruptions of various duration until his death in 1355.

Dušan exploited the civil war in the Byzantine Empire between regent Anna of Savoy for the minor Emperor John V Palaiologos and his father's general John Kantakouzenos.

There has been speculation that Dušan's ultimate goal was no less than to conquer Constantinople and replace the declining Byzantine Empire with a united Orthodox Greco-Serbian Empire under his control.

Faced with Dušan's aggression, the Byzantines sought allies in the Turks whom they brought into Europe for the first time.

Yeah, what this world really needs is the revival of a Greek Orthodox theocratic empire. Heck, let's restore the Carthaginian Empire too while we're at it!


Rhology said...

Whoa that's freaky.
Not that I would mind seeing Hagia Sophia be an Orthodox Church again. Or better yet, a Christian one.

And of course, this is not nearly as freaky as jihadis.

Tommykey said...

What a surprise!

What I wouldn't mind seeing is the Kaaba in Mecca being turned into a museum.

"Gee dad, people really believed this shit?"

Rhology said...

There are times when I wouldn't mind seeing it reduced to a field of glass.
Not all the time, though. Museum is good for those days.
And yes, my kid would be asking the same thing. "Papá, how is it possible that they claimed to believe in the Bible b/c their god sent it down from Heaven, yet they made fun of it every chance they got?"
"Muslims are just like atheists, ma petite. They can't live consistently with their belief system."

Tommykey said...

"Muslims are just like atheists, ma petite. They can't live consistently with their belief system."

Are you trying to bait me there? :-)

Does everyone really live consistently with their belief system? I should say no. But by having standards, we have a means of correcting ourselves when we deviate or stray from them. Isn't that why Christians just absolutely love repentant sinners?

You can consider this to be my stock answer. As an aside, the theist I refer to in the post is not you, but someone else.

Peace, brutha.


Rhology said...

Baiting? Me?!?!?!? Maybe a little. ;-)

I actually do seriously think I live consistently with my stated belief system, just FYI.
Yes, I do sin and break the commands I'm supposed to live by, but that's expected in my system as well (read Romans 7 sometime). OTOH, there are no objective standards to start with, on atheism. But at the same time, atheists often act like they have objective standards of morality when they make moral value judgments, and they act like they have objective standards of epistemology when they call things "rational" and "irrational". And it's more than worth it to point those things out.

Appreciate the link. Perhaps I'll interact with it sometime in a post of my own. If I do, I'll leave a comment to let you know.


Rhology said...

Wow, are you sure that wasn't me? That theist sounds just like me!

Props to him, anyway.

Tommykey said...

Wow, are you sure that wasn't me? That theist sounds just like me!

He went by the name of Jason.

Tommykey said...

OTOH, there are no objective standards to start with, on atheism.

Of course there aren't, because atheism is not a belief system. It's like asking for moral arguments based on astrology.

As I wrote in my post that I linked to, in the absence of a belief in a god that tells us what is right or wrong, how do we go about constructing an ethical system to live by?

Some atheists, for example, are in favor of the death penalty. Some are against. If someone tells me he or she is an atheist, I don't automatically know what his or her stance is. Likewise, if you identify yourself as a Christian, I can't know in advance what your stance on the death penalty is. Some Christians will say that the taking of all life is wrong, while others might tell me that it is permissible to put a mass murderer to death because it is a just sentence for the crimes he has committed, and besides, if you don't execute him, he might kill more people.

I write this not knowing your personal stance on the death penalty, nor am I even trying to initiate a debate about it, but rather simply to illustrate that tacking a label onto somebody does not tell you everything you need to know about that person.

Tommykey said...

Baiting? Me?!?!?!? Maybe a little. ;-)

It must be boring not to have Jolly Nihilist putting up some new posts, eh?

Rhology said...

Atheism is certainly a belief system, with different expressions.
But when I refer to "atheism" in this context, I just mean "any worldview that is atheistic", and the argument applies to all of them.
About the death penalty, yes, I agree with what you are saying. Just b/c someone takes a label doesn't mean they're always 100% consistent with that label, sometimes b/c they're inconsistent thinkers, sometimes b/c the label is not sufficiently complex. That's the problem (and blessing) of summary labels.
For example, I call myself a Reformed Babdist, but I'm not totally Reformed, so there you go. And it's a conscientious divergence; when I'm faced with inconsistency, I try to eradicate it.

Yeah, the JN is a lot of fun. I'm going to re-engage one of his most recent posts, about the Flying Sp Monster, pretty soon, when I get a little time and a little more motivation. I want to have it up before February, when Dick Dawk comes to my town. But I'm getting by with other commenters. ;-)

Tommykey said...

For example, I call myself a Reformed Babdist

Sorry, but I got a good chuckle from that for a sec.

"I was like, 'wtf is a Babdist?'", then I realized you meant Baptist.

Tommykey said...

I want to have it up before February, when Dick Dawk comes to my town.

Whatever you do, just don't mention the South Park episode!

Jeff said...

My only thought: "Damn, I have GOT to find out where that music is from."

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you that this logic is anything but. The higher percentage of our community is a drain on the system so how could this equation come up with anything but more potential drain?
And I am not pro-abortion! I am not necessarily anti-either. It's complicated:)

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