Sunday, November 19, 2006

What if...

Cute cartoon in this morning's paper. Non Sequitur, by Wiley Miller, and it starts off like this:

Danae: "Daddy ... Can I go play with Jeff in his time machine?"

Dad: "Sure, Danae. *snicker* are your travel plans?"

Danae: "Back to the Dark Ages to stop the religious fanaticism that delayed progress in science and technology by 1000 years. We could have had colonies on the moons of Saturn by now!"

Aside from demonstrating the keen grasp of history that we've come to expect from award-winning newspaper editorial cartoonists, Mr. Miller got me thinking. Let's see: to stop the religious fanaticism — by which I assume he means Christian religious fanaticism, as he probably doesn't have a problem with any of those truly great old-time religions like, say, Mithraism, and I doubt he lacks the testicular fortitude to criticize the religious convictions of those kindly and gentle Moslems who invaded Europe off and on from the 7th century through the 15th century, nor those devout and thoughtful Mongolian Buddhists and Taoists who paid Europe such an impressive visit in the 12th and 13th centuries —

Never mind that; just trying to think of everything that would have had to happen in order for the Roman Empire not to fall is making my head hurt, so let's skip directly to the creative challenge. It's the year 2006. Christianity never took root in the Roman Empire — they got more lions, I guess. The Empire never fell, Constantinople was never built, and now those fun-loving folks who invented decimation have had two thousand years of unbroken old-school Roman-style progress.

What do you think is the most fascinating thing about life in this alternate modern world?