Kevin Myers: An adherence to its own laws is not what kept the Holy See going, so much as certainty that . . . its duty must be done
When China emerged from the great civil war of 220-280, and the Western Chin dynasty ruled all, the chancellor brought word to the emperor, Wu Ti, of a new power in the heathen lands to the west.
Though barbaric -- as it must be, consisting of round-eyes who knew nothing of the world, or paper or gunpowder or the compass -- this power was nonetheless strangely compelling.
It combined great intellect with an extraordinary sense of moral certainty. Its devotees were prepared to die for their beliefs, which included -- and you will laugh at this, O Serene and Celestial Highness -- a belief in one god, though this divinity is divided into three in a way that none of our scholars can understand.