Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World


Written by: on January 15, 2015

Ka-Pow … that was the sound of my brain as I read “Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism” by Benedict Anderson. Each time I caught myself in the reading zone, biting off another chunk of Anderson’s thinking to try to digest, I felt as if I had to leave the current altitude I was thinking and living at and quickly climb from that 30,000ft perspective to a 100,000 foot perspective, looking at the trend of humanity and our organization as one and/or many societies. The stage for this mind bending was set on the backcover of the book by the thought, if imagined communities were created and spread . . . “how did territorialization of religious faiths, the decline of antique kingship, the interaction between capitalism and print, the development of secular languages of state, and changing conceptions of time and space contribute?” It is my belief that this sudden rise in altitude and scope and sequence of thought is what caused the Ka-Pow in my brain!


I would say as I read Imagined Communities, there are three mentionable (with many more unmentionable) thoughts of questioning that have come to my consciousness. First, I am really wondering about Anderson’s statement, “The reality is quite plain: the ‘end of the era of nationalism,’ so long prophesied, is not remotely in sight. Indeed, nation-ness is the most universally legitimate value in the political life of our time.”[1] While Anderson has a couple qualifiers in this statement, I feel it is his persuasion that nationalism is the end all be all of a prevailing social organization. I would have to say the world we are living in today is shifting so revolutionarily because of social media, I am not sure the result of all the change that is taking place results in a national identity. Global, social access to any one, anywhere or possibly everyone, everywhere radically changes what “political life” looks like. Yes, maybe the key components of “nationalism” exist with in the new framework that emerges, but I believe the geographical, or even “place” shift is so significant that the ideology of nationalism will not stand as it sounds like some others have “prophesied.”

Secondly, the disconcerting evolution or connectedness of nationalism, imperialism, patriotism, and racism is a conundrum that will exist if politics are the center of humanities organization. Anderson writes, “I bring up these perhaps simpleminded observations primarily because in Western Europe the eighteenth century marks not only the dawn of the age of nationalism but the dusk of religious modes of thought.”[2] My issue with this claim is the permanence implied to the “dusk of religious thought.” If politics are the only governor on our social structure and organization that Anderson’s nationalism seems to imply, how does a nationalism that leads to imperialism, that leads to patriotism (all very good things so far) not lead to a racism (suddenly a bad thing emerges). If the ideology of nationalism is the hinge pin of human and people group relationship, it seems the framework would be lacking a way to navigate an ultimate racism that would, to me, seem like a natural by product of such a world. It would be my bend that the “religious modes of thought” that dusk has set in on would have to re-dawn at some point for social order to evolve beyond a political basis and hence avoid the intentional or accidental breeding of racism.

Lastly, in my mind are the thoughts of “city-ness” and “holiness.” I get nation-ness and Anderson’s thought on the passing of religious thought as a primary influence in our historical social order and grid evolution, but I wonder how city-ness and the emerging, heightened religious-ness surfacing through globalization, urbanization and the affects of social media are shaping tomorrow? By city-ness I am just referring the global rise of city-identity and some future-casting,. I heard as recently as last night in a presentation on urbanization, that global cities of the world will soon be the new identity providers and boundary providers in our world. And on the religious-ness, I wonder if the growing and re-consolidating of humanity in cities along with the social connectedness created by the social media, isn’t creating a heightened need, cry, thirst, or search for a reconciliation component to a society of such cultural diversity in such high density that only religious belief systems attempt and begin to address.

So maybe now the Ka-Pow makes sense? Even as I write these thoughts they seem slippery but there is something definitely there that my mind is trying to get a grab. Maybe it is the level of conceptual thinking Anderson creates from his exegesis (although there seemed to be a strong bit of persuasion and promotion), but there is something definitely to this subject of nationalism and our social structuring and ordering as humanity advances that needs our deep reflection, thoughts, and conversation.

[1] Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Orgin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso, 2006. p. 3.

[2] Ibid., p. 10

About the Author

Phillip Struckmeyer

9 responses to “Ka-Pow!”

  1. Jon Spellman says:

    So Phil, there are several things in your post that caught my attention but I’ll limit my comments to two. First though, let me say, great, insightful post! You’ve gleaned some stuff from this book at a very high level of thought that I would have missed on my own.

    You said: “My issue with this claim is the permanence implied to the ‘dusk of religious thought.'” then further: “It would be my bend that the “religious modes of thought” that dusk has set in on would have to re-dawn at some point for social order to evolve beyond a political basis and hence avoid the intentional or accidental breeding of racism.” I think I’m hearing you say that should a nation-group move to such a place as to progress beyond the need for religious thought patterns, it would ultimately deteriorate into a place where only a re-emergence of religious thought patterns could successfully preserve it from the ultimate implosion that comes from a society with no religion. Is that kind of what you’re saying? If so, BRILLIANT! If not, IT’S MY IDEA, LEAVE IT ALONE! Ha!

    Secondly, you swerved into the idea of social media as a shaper of social identity in a couple of sections. I just wanted to jump on that and affirm that in my opinion, global social media is presently reshaping what it means to identify with a society, be it a nation, a fraternity, a club, a family, a gaming group, you name it, social media and the interconnectedness afforded by the internet is radically, and quickly, changing people’s views of societal identity I believe.

    Great work man!


  2. Nick Martineau says:


    I connected to the same thought on Anderson’s, “dusk of religious modes” in my post and I appreciated the depth and clarity you shared. That really helped me articulate some of my own thoughts.

    I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on city-ness. Does someone from Boston resonate with being an American more then being from Boston? As cities grow so will city-identity. That’s a really strong thought and lasting implications. Thanks!

  3. Phillip Struckmeyer says:

    Jon, Yep. That is what I am trying to say about nationalism and religious/spiritual faith. Personally I have lived my life as an American Christian. I thought and acted like my national identity was synonymous with my faith identity. Dying for my country seemed like dying for my faith. I think I liked thinking that:). And actually, if I am honest, my overall identity was much more connected to my national identity than my faith. But now as my faith grows deeper and our national identity shifts I believe I would conclude the two are not the same in my head and that makes me rethink EVERYTHING.

    • Jon Spellman says:

      Phil, I am considering the whole “shifting of our national identity” statement. Do you think it may be that as our nationalism has moved away from the Judeo-Christian ethic, us Christians are less comfortable identifying primarily as “American?” As a Christian, as long as “America” is a synonymous statement, I’m good!

  4. Dave Young says:

    Phillip, I might be totally off base, I might have a twisted view of this book but I read it as Anderson was also a prophet whom accepted the rise of nationalism but subtly eroded it as a valued evolution. So if I go to your paragraph that starts “Secondly, the disconcerting evolution or connectedness of nationalism, imperialism, patriotism, and racism is a conundrum that will exist if politics are the center of humanities organization.” You go on to call him out on the illogic of nationalism, imperialism, and patriotism being good things then Anderson flips it, because those things lead to racism. So what if ‘Anderson’ really thought all those things were bad for humanity. Yes even patriotism because it’s only for an “imagined community”! Just a thought I might be totally off on this.

  5. Brian Yost says:

    Anderson’s pronouncement on the “dusk of religion” also caught my attention. Anderson seems to be looking more at the change that took place after the Reformation in which churches became more nationalized in the West rather than automatically falling under the central church in Rome. In this sense, there may have been a “dusk” setting in as one era came to close and another emerged, but the centrality of religion defining a nation did not draw to a close. Even communist nations like the USSR and China maintain a centrality of religion. They have taken the route of atheism as a national stance, but massive efforts have been undertaken to persuade the populace to adhere to the official stance on religion. It has been believed that a deviation from the official statement on religion would be a threat to the nation.

  6. Travis Biglow says:

    Ka Paw- lol. Relatedness is always important in community and any disconnect is always a problem. Finding community and being connected will always be a challenge for all communities. With the emerging power of the internet and social media i think we are being blessed to connect with like minded and like hearted people and we dont have to be in any specific country! That is the 21st Century and we live in it!

    • Phillip Struckmeyer says:

      Travis, I think if “nationalism” is what Anderson is talking about, geography is becoming irrelevant. I haven’t yet looked but I am not sure with Anderson’s definition that a “nation” has to be geographically together. If “gamers” around the world unite and find some mechanism of “power” could gaming be a “nation” as Anderson is describing??? Good thoughts man.

  7. Mary Pandiani says:

    First off, love the visual (I see a cartoon image) and the sound of Ka-Pow – in many ways for me, much of what we read does that to my brain. How much can we take?! 🙂
    Your phrase “to re-dawn at some point for social order to evolve beyond a political basis and hence avoid the intentional or accidental breeding of racism” strikes me as something to put more thought into as an entire thesis. As you state about urbanization and the identity that comes from it, there are new places to discover how we connect to one another. Could it not be that the church takes that “re-dawning” seriously to create a social order that acknowledges the spiritual beings that we are, regardless of someone believes in Christ?

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