Last night Lime and I were talking about religion and I mentioned the famous In Hoc Signo Vinces story about Constantine. For those who don’t know it, and are too lazy to follow the link, it’s how Christianity (Catholicism specifically) went from being a persecuted minor cult hiding in the catacombs and sewers, to the official state religion of the Roman Empire.
(Interestingly, the Edict of Milan seems to pull the same trick as American conceptions of religious freedom: mentioning only Christianity, and mentioning it over and over again.)
What was fascinating in our discussion, anyway, was her opinion that this event (the making of Christianity into the state religion of the Roman Empire) was terrible, and a mistake. Regardless of our other differing views, we agreed on that. I’ve thought about writing a book in which Constantine lost that battle and Christianity didn’t rise to prominence in the Empire, a kind of alternate-history exploring what else the Church might have become instead of an all-too-fallible, all-too-human institution.
All this came to mind when I ran across this ridiculous story. Anyway, when he said, “Do this in memory of me,” I don’t think he meant for people understand it quite so pedantically.