It seems that even after more than a decade after the revolutionary changes in the late eighties / early nineties Central European societies are still largely concerned with questions of national identity, relationships to neighbouring peoples etc. On the other hand, the awareness of globalization phenomena has also become present in the form of green and Third World movements, socially conscious grassroots initiatives etc. As a result, the Hungarian society is substantially polarized by issues related to national vs. cosmopolitan identities (and assumably other Central European ones, too). Seeing all this it is fair to ask the question (trying to avoid institutional or geopolitical categories): is their a Central European identity in our countries? What are the ties that render some nations in the region closer to each other and what are those effects that drive peoples apart? How are our relationships, sociological and church dynamics seen by influential Christian intellectuals? It seems that young intellectuals involved in Pax Romana movements are especially interested in such questions and they are also capable of approaching them without being influenced by often-heard commonplaces or burdened by the collective national memory.
Based on this a project group was formed within the Hungarian Pax Romana movement to prepare the organization of a regional international conference with these topics. The first step is to find those active intellectual circles in the region that could be partners in such an initiative. As a starting point the partner organizations of Pax Romana should be mapped, and if they do not exist in the given country contacts should be established to independent Christian intellectual groups. They are expected to exist in or around the university scene of bigger cities. This kind of collaboration would fill a gap in the current activity of the Hungarian Pax Romana. It would be an extra benefit if an ecumenical, inter-religious or inter-ideological feature could be given to this initiative. Some of the proposed topics are listed below and the further elaboration of the topic of the conference is the task of the project group in collaboration with the international partners.
This could be a starting point of a longer-term collaboration and a regional, inter-religious and inter-ethnic activity that is unique in the public life of Central European societies.
The topics suggested at the first discussion:
Central European regions: can they be regarded as stretching over national borders and if not, is this situation expected to be changed by the European integration process? Do political, economic, cultural boundaries coincide? What are the recent experiences with Central European collaborations, how strong is the motivation in certain countries to carry out such collaborative projects?
Typical systems of values in Central European societies and confrontations between them. How are the typical values of consumer society, globalization, Christian-conservativism, nationalism manifested? Where are the most sensitive points of clash between them? Can we draw obvious division lines?
Globalization phenomena vs. regional effects: is their a competition or are they complementary?
Trends towards uniformity vs. differentiation processes in Central European societies.
Eastern and Western cultural influence in Central European societies and churches. Is our region a buffer zone, a cordon sanitaire in any respect? Does our region have a substantial influence on other ones?
Are there similar answers given to the issues of public life in our countries? (Such as migration, social and ethnic tensions, legislation related to abortion/euthanasia etc.)
Is there a Central European identity and if there is what are its main elements?
Relationships between Christianity (or more specifically: church membership) and national identity.
What is the specific mission of Christian intellectuals in the region?
Relationships of our churhces to non-believers. Church image. Can churches of Central Europe fulfil their historical mission? Do they have a better starting point than churches of Western Europe?
Ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue in Central Europe. Influence of non-traditional religions, oriental religions etc.
Relationship between politics, media and churches.
Church financing issues, experiments and models.