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Religion

"The dead indeed remain with us, watchful and undeparted. Their whispers wait behind my eyes, and my soul swims in their substance. Truly, I know, they dwell not in paradise but in stone, and that as the years gnaw them they become witless and insane. Yet in us, they find purpose. Our Circle binds past and future, and directs the course of society through the potency of its departed members. Can you say then that there are no Ancestors, and that they do not aid us? We, who are masters, know the truth of Pylon and soul, but that does not render the masks and myths of religion false thereby. Nay, rather such devices do but adjust the truth to a level where the humble may receive it."

---, Gislebertus Denayi, Orations 57.14

 

 

 

The Denayi Republic maintains an official state cult as part of its governmental apparatus, but also tolerates thousands of unofficial religions of enormous diversity of doctrine and belief. This is not to say that the Republic is a liberal nation espousing unconditional religious tolerance. The Circle actively suppresses Religions whose teachings or organization are deemed too subversive, often with surprising ruthlessness. And the State cult itself tries to permeate the governing elements of provincial society. The father one travels in the chain of authority in the Republic, the stronger the pressure to conform to the requirements of the state cult in addition to, or in place of, all other religious affiliations.

The Denayi state cult is a form of ancestor worship. Its rituals seek to placate the dead, and to honor them for the assistance they give to the state. The religion is orthopraxic rather than orthodox in its outlook, and has little in the way of official theology. All of the stateís dead are assumed to help the republic, but the spirits of sacrificial victims are considered more potent. The minor gods and saints who were once human vie for attention with other mythological figures, often pre-Denayi Gods, all of whom actively promote human endeavors. The Circle themselves are considered to be living Ancestors, and supernatural favor to aid in their decisions. The state cult has, over the millennia, absorbed many local religions and practices, and ritual practice varies from shrine to shrine, but those of Denayi itself, and especially of Denayi city have precedence and prestige over other forms of worship.

The Circle prefers to absorb and acculturate other religions rather than displace them outright. The state cult has influenced other religious practice, and the government actively encourages those elements of local religions that most closely resemble Denayi ancestor worship.

Conversely, the Republic discourages hostile theologies. Monotheism in particular, with its accompanying denial of other deities, often meets with censure, as do strongly hierarchical churches which might organize against the state. Circle policy dictates that Governors should try to modify these religions whenever possible, often by pressuring a religionís theologians and leaders towards syncretism. Governors can also legally emancipate local shrines (especially those that honor saints, walis and the like) from their mother churches, and shepherd them towards incorporation into the Denayi state cult. Provincial government can also annex and disband the administrative apparatus of troublesome organizations, retaining only those elements deemed compatible with state interests. If religions so targeted resist these changes, this is itself proof of their untrustworthiness.

As a last resort the Circle or the Governor may order that a particularly subversive religion be eradicated wholesale. The Denayi state is not a fine instrument, and such suppression is usually carried out by the army or the Uukaptai, with considerable loss of property and life.

Thus, from the center of the state Cult on Denayi, one finds increasingly divergent religious practice as one travels father away from the main trade routes and father down the social scale. In any given city, for example, there might be one shrine for the High Nobility and Uukaptai whose Denayi priests perform the same liturgy as in the capitol, a second that serves the local army and which acknowledges local gods as Denayi ancestors, a third that acknowledges the divinity of local mythological figures yet invokes their blessing on the state, several more of purely local religions, and any number of shrines dedicated to local gods, Denayi ancestors or both.

The farther up the social scale you travel, the more likely a person is to frequent the first types institutions, and the less likely they are to frequent the latter. Those in purely local authority retain considerable freedom of religion, but those who serve the Republic find nominal adherence to the state cult a practical necessity.

While the Denayi cult offers the comfort of sincere religious belief to many, most of those at the very top of the social and educational pyramid consider it little more than an engine of social control. A pragmatic atheism characterizes much of the Higher nobility, the Circle, and the Uukaptai. Such persons participate in the forms of religious ritual because they know it strengthens the state, but they not believe. Instead they feel in their hearts that the "Ancestors" merely form a convenient cover for the purely mechanistic power of the Circle and the Pylon over human souls. Others of those "in the know" argue that the Pylon and the mechanistic laws that govern its operation are only the visible signs of the invisible will of the Ancestors, and that the crude energies captured in stone and released do not constitute the whole of the spirit world, or of the entities therein. Their more practical peers may deride them for such faith, but the "Believers'" faction of the Republic wields  considerable influence even in a government dominated by the "Atheists."

 

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