Friday, June 23, 2017

Religion in Fantasy #1: Introduction

Everyone thinks that they know religion. I've haven't yet met anyone off the street who doesn't think of themselves as expert as the most knowledgeable expert. We live in a culture steeped in religion, so its natural to feel like an expert. I honor your experience, yet I hope to take you beyond that into something new.

I'll use the analogy of connoisseurs and chefs. The connoisseur is an expert of food and its qualities, learning to appreciate the experience in a deep manner. Even with so much expertise, you would never confuse a connoisseur with a chef. A chef's job is to gather ingredients, arrange menus, and present to the connoisseur food worth paying for, a quality culinary experience for the money. Although a connoisseur may appreciate what the chef does, he does not confuse himself for a chef. And although the chef may possess many skills that belong to the connoisseur, his skills must be far broader and deeper because he must navigate a far more complex set of decisions.

In the same way, as a religion creator, you will be the chef, creating religions for others to experience. You will be judged not by your intentions, but by your results. You will use your accumulated knowledge and skills to create something that the reader will pay for, and if you've done your job right, rave about and come back for more.

There is one truth that both religion and cooking share: nobody knows everything, and even the simple things often take considerable knowledge and skill to appreciate, if not master.

To begin this discussion, here's a brain dump of possible topics. This list should give your something to think about even if you read nothing else in this series.

I don't promise to hit this list in any particular order.
  • Religion in General
  • Noteworthy Eras of Religion
    • Hunter-Gatherers
    • Tuber Culture
    • Grain Culture
    • Mystery Religions
    • The Great Prophets
  • Gods
    • Gods of All Shapes and Sizes
    • What is a God?
    • How to Make a Pantheon
    • Pantheons Not Getting Along
    • Single Nature and Dual Nature Gods
    • Gods - Theoretical or Literal?
    • Gods of X and Y
    • Telling Gods Apart
    • Fun Gods and Not So Fun Gods
    • Godlike Beings
    • What are the functional limits of godhood?
    • If gods are real, does that make truth real?
    • Relative morality and divine relationships
    • Gods and civilization
    • Titans, demons, devils, and all sorts of other immortals
  • Divine Places
    • Heaven
    • The Place of Judgement
    • The Underworld
    • Farther Away than Far
  • Fundamental relationship to divine
    • Patron
    • Placation/fear
    • Doom
    • Estrangement
    • Unfamiliarity
  • The Procession of Time
    • Linear Time
    • Cyclical Time
    • Holy Days
    • Cycle of the Year
    • Birth and Rebirth
    • Adulthood
    • Going Gray
    • What Happens When?
    • Equinox and Solstice and other Yearly Events
    • Unusual Events, Signs, and Omens
    • Looking Into the Future
  • Worship by
    • Prayer
    • Dance
    • Song
    • Sacrifice (even Humans)
    • Ritual and Ceremony
    • Event
    • Structures
    • Location
    • Times and dates
    • Memorial
    • By Classes
    • By Gender
    • Public vs Private worship
    • What is this worship thing anyway?
    • Idols, statues, and imagery
    • Myths, legends, and stories
    • Symbols
    • History, religion changing over time
    • Holy things
    • Language
    • Differences by location and cult
    • Written word
    • Spoken Word
    • Taboos
    • Life Events
  • Priests as 
    • Imitators of the divine
    • Officials of the divine
    • Bureaucrats
  • Buildings
    • Temples and high priests
    • The Economics of Temples
    • Shrines
    • House Shrines
    • Holy Ground
    • Cemetery
    • Church
    • Synagogue
    • Monastery
    • Chapel
    • Cave
    • The Wilderness
  • Religious Professionals
    • Priest
    • Prophet
    • Miracle Worker
    • Shaman
    • Monk
    • Oracle
    • Wise Person
    • Seeker
    • Craftsman
    • Esoteric
    • Huckster
    • The Ordinary Woman
    • The Ordinary Man
  • Tropes
    • The religion is lying to you
    • Deeper Truth
    • Decay of the Leadership
    • Passing on the Tradition
    • The Last
    • Shouting in the Square: The Madman
    • The Crusader
    • The Seeker
    • Exclamation points, by Crom!
    • Evil Priests
    • Evil Eunuchs
    • The Wise Old Man in the Wilderness
    • Losing and Regaining Faith
    • Offending the Gods
    • The Gods Play Games with Men
    • Caught Between the Gods
    • Unwillingly Called
  • Life Events
    • Birth
    • Marriage
    • Naming
    • Death
    • Maturity
    • Revelation
    • Childhood
    • Youth
    • Maturity
    • Old Age
  • Magic
    • Divination
    • Revelation
    • Summoning
    • Divine Favor
    • Prayer
    • Healing
    • Scripture
    • Transformation
    • Resurrection
    • Demons and Devils
    • Possession and Channeling
    • Ancestors
    • Fortune
    • Divine Parentage
  • Everything Else