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Religion

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HistoryEdit

Religion is a concept which didn't exist on The Land until LY 100. It has, however, existed in various forms on every world in the Universe. The Universe itself was created by a spirit called God, who also created all sentient life in the Universe. It's difficult, if not impossible, to give a single, all-encompassing definition for what is meant by the word "religion," though essentially it involves the relationship between sentient beings and spirits, particularly God and Lucifer (God's arch-rival). There has been a rivalry between God and Lucifer for a long time, millennia if not longer, since before any world in the Universe was even created. It is said that by the time the Land was created, that rivalry had cooled, mellowed; whereas it started originally as a war, it is now seen more as a game. And in some unknown fashion, every sentient being in the Universe, throughout the past, present, and future, plays some kind of role in that game. To an extent, this involves whom each individual chooses to worship, though there are those who choose neither God nor Lucifer. On some worlds, it is said, there are people who don't even believe in the existence of spirits. This is impossible on the Land, as spirits regularly appear to certain Landians, who are known as spirit-talkers. Another important aspect of religion is the concept of the afterlife, and the question of where people's souls go when they die, Heaven or Hell (for more on this, see spirits and Redemption).

The first two people on the Land were Connor and Brigid, who conversed with God on a fairly regular basis, until their deaths in LY 52. God was a father-figure to them, as well as a friend, though it is traditional to think of them as having worshipped Him in their own way, even if they had no concept of religion (it's most likely an erroneous tradition, but unavoidable). As far as we know, God only mentioned Lucifer to them once, and not by name. He had said that there was an outside force, that worked to corrupt the worlds he had created, with varying levels of success. And the matter was essentially forgotten after it was mentioned in passing. God was the only spirit to visit the Land, and talk with Connor, Brigid, and their children. After they died, God stopped visiting the Land. But in the year 100, a farmer named Brist was visited by Lucifer, the first spirit other than God to appear on the Land. He introduced the concept of religion to Brist, who immediately after Lucifer's departure called upon God. God appeared to him, and confirmed that it would be acceptable to spread the concept of religion, as Lucifer had suggested. After that, Brist would converse with God, Lucifer, and other spirits throughout his life, though he always considered himself a servant of God alone. In 105, Brist met other spirit-talkers, and they began compiling a record of their conversations with spirits, which they collectively called the O'Gas. They also built a church, and did all they could to spread the idea of religion. (The introduction of religion to the Land is considered this world's Fall.)

Over the centuries since then, spirit-talkers have talked to various spirits (seldom God or Lucifer, who appear very rarely since the first generation of spirit-talkers died out) about any number of matters. As with Connor and Brigid's relationship with God, many spirit-talkers consider spirits to be friends, and religion doesn't always enter into it at all. But it has frequently been the case that people have deep concerns, questions about any number of matters which they feel in their very souls, for good or bad. They want to know how to live, whether certain things are right or wrong in God's eyes. From the earliest times of the O'Gas, that collection of writings has included answers provided by spirits to such questions, though the average person can't afford a copy of the O'Gas (which is updated at least once a year, in any event). Even if they go to libraries, there is so much in the O'Gas that they haven't the time to read it all, nor any knowledge of which book of the O'Gas to look to. Spirit-talkers tend to study these spiritual writings more deeply, in addition to talking directly with spirits. So, people go to spirit-talkers for guidance, which the spirit-talkers are happy to provide, if they can. As much as worshipping God (or who they will), religion exists to provide comfort and understanding to the people of any world. (Though on another note, it is also common for spirits to provide Landians with knowledge of other worlds, most notably various off-world entertainments such as music and literature.)

The OrderEdit

In 404, the majority of the world's spirit-talkers came together to organize their religion; the organization that they established became known as The Order. At this point, they developed a hierarchy within the religion, though not all spirit-talkers choose to be an active part of the religion. That is, until this point in time it was never anyone's occupation. In fact, to this day most spirit-talkers receive no compensation for the help they offer to the general public. However, there had been churches ever since 105, which people could go to whenever they felt the need. Now, this is still possible, though not done as often. The Order set We'gindays as the official day of each week for people to gather in churches to talk with one another and with spirit-talkers about religious matters. Some few spirit-talkers have chosen to make a career out of the guidance they offer to the community, and may advance within the hierarchy to the position of vice-bishop or bishop (the spiritual leader of a village). The bishops of every village elect among themselves an Arch-bishop, to be the spiritual leader of the entire world. There is of course no official charge for services provided by any spirit-talkers, but many people like to make donations to the church, if they can. Also, spirit-talkers who have other jobs tend to give whatever they can, beyond their own personal needs, to the church. And there may often be fund-raising events of various kinds. Of course, such funds are needed to build and maintain churches, and pay for various expenses. Officials within each church collect a portion of these funds as payment for their services to the community, though this is rarely enough to sustain anyone below the level of bishop, without some supplemental source of income. Meanwhile, the headquarters of the Arch-bishop (and therefore of the Order itself) is in the village of Monab, and churches from around the Land send whatever they can there, to help support the Arch-bishop, who in turn does whatever he or she can to help sustain the Order's efforts throughout the world. (And every church does what it can in the way of charitable work in their own communities.)

Protestants and IndependentsEdit

During the period between 897 and 903, the Order implemented what is known as The Plan, which was opposed by a faction of spirit-talkers who founded the Protestant Movement in 902. This Movement also included non spirit-talkers who opposed the Plan, which led to a war in 903. After the Protestants were defeated, a new secular world government was established, called the Second Order (because of this, some people began referring to the Order as "The First Order"). The government declared amnesty for all Protestants, and Protestantism was accepted as the world's second organized religion. In many ways they follow the same model as the Order, with a similar hierarchy, and church services on We'gindays. They also provide spiritual guidance to the community. The recognition of the Protestants led to the creation of a third religion, called "Independents," though they are not really organized, in any sense. They simply talk to spirits when they will, and provide guidance to anyone who seeks it, without taking sides in any theological conflict, let alone political ones. (Though even the Order, since the end of the war, has vowed to stay out of politics, in accordance with the law of Separation of Church and State.)

It should also be noted that because all three religious groups technically practice the same religion, it has been suggested that they call themselves "denominations," though that would imply the need for a higher name by which to call the religion to which all denominations belong. One suggestion is "the New Order," with the first Order to be called Orthodoxy. It would continue to be headquartered in Monab, while the Protestants would be headquartered in Plist and the Independents in Sorret. Each denomination would have its own arch-bishop, with a Cardinal to rule over them all. However, as of yet there are very few people in any denomination who like this idea. (They also dislike the name "New Order," because it could cause confusion with "New Order Day" (see Holidays of the Land).

It must be noted, too, that some resemblance, at least in terminology, is borne between both the Order and Protestants, and certain religious organizations of Earth. Such resemblance is... perhaps not entirely coincidental, but it constitutes absolutely no actual connection between the respective religious organizations of Earth and the Land. No cultural appropriation is intended, and any similarity beyond mere terminology is most definitely, entirely coincidental.

See alsoEdit

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