Friday, December 28, 2012

Howlina Continues - Religion

I really didn't get to explore the religion of Howlina and the people there.  I did mention their book, the Veebeelo is their preeminent guide to life, and I mentioned that they structured their church hierarchy along the lines of the first millennium Roman Catholic Church.  And lastly I think I mentioned that during the Enlightenment they became more secular and removed the requirement for public officials to be clergy, but I never mentioned what happened to their church after they took political and military power from the clergy.

I also never mentioned the theology behind their religion and what drives the Veebeelo.

Before the Howlers moved to Howlina and even before they called themselves the Howlers they had the Veebeelo and called themselves the Roulasa.  They had been moving through Eastern Europe and became Christian when a group of Gothic Christians met with the Roulasa in the Sudette Mountains.  The Roulasa people of the Veebeelo refused to say from where they came.  The groups formed a partnership to protect themselves from their neighbors.  Neither group was particularly skilled at war (that being why this particular group of Goths did not stay connected to the others) so they hid in the mountains mostly and avoided others.  They were far from the Empire and from other centers of Christianity so that they did not participate in the dialogs regarding theology with the rest of Christianity.  They were between the Chernyakhov culture of the Ukraine and Wielbark culture in Poland.

The Howlers (after the two groups had settled together in the Polish Sudette Mountains they started calling their combined group the Howlers) had modified Christianity to fit the world-view of the Veebeelo (which both groups had seen the value of).  They completely discounted the Old Testament.  They already had a creation myth and they only values they could see in the Old Testament were the Ten Commandments and as a reference to what Christ was prophesying.  They already had a code to live by and Christ explained that there were only two commandments, so the Ten Commandments were out.  The Two Commandments fit better in their theology anyway.  They kept the Old Testament as an historical record of a pagan people who really didn't understand what they were talking about.  They put no stock in it. 

Originally the Sudette Howlers were formed prior to 325 when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.  They were organized into parishes and dioceses led by priests and bishops respectively.  They were invited to the Council of Nicea in 325 and left it feeling quite a bit out of it because they had developed their own theology by then and it largely did not jive with what the council put out.  They decided to just grin and bear it to the outside world just in an attempt to stay with a supportive group when all else were against them.  They did gather Paulianists (from Paul of Samosata) who did not want to be rebaptized per the Council of Nicea.

Their theology was just as tenuous if not more so than the normal Christian view so it collapsed under the Enlightenment.  Jesus is still enjoyed as a philosopher even by those who don't believe any of the religious implications.  Because Jesus was never seen as divine, it was less dramatic to drop Christianity and take up a much looser, more deistic spirituality.

Priests are people who study religion and dedicate their lives to partner with a parish as their teacher, counselor, advisor.  Prior to the Enlightenment they were organized into the Catholic Hierarchy and also had the role of leader and ruler.  They have since dropped the power roles.

The Church and Churches -
There has never been a tradition of cathedral building, churches as intimate and home-like.  The idea of a building dedicated to worship is odd and the idea of churches in their tradition is as a house where God is married to the people.  There is much more done there than just worship services because we the people are wed to God and have a symbiotic relationship with him.  We are not parasites of God, but partners.  God needs us as much as we need God.

Churches are separate buildings, but they are much more community centers rather than holy places of reverence and worship.  They are places where community meals are held.  They are more like a VFW hall or Salvation Army hall than what we would think of as a church.  Fundraisers, soup kitchens, dances, dinners and general gatherings are held there.  Often in modern layout the church and the city hall or public building are co-located, with a demarcation within the building.  This is similar to when multi-generations of families live together.  A house is expanded so that it is connected, but separate.  The exact layout depends on the constituents' preference and financing.

During the Enlightenment churches were wholly taken over as civic centers or civic / public buildings were added onto churches as additions.  This tradition continued when they moved to Howlina.

The clergy-member of that particular level usually lives in an adjoining house, if not in an attached house.

Pre-Christian Creation Story -
In the beginning God was alone in the darkness and perfect.  God was lonely so he tried to split himself in order to create a mate.  While trying to do this God shattered into uncountable infinitesimal pieces.  The only thing left in the universe were these pieces of God and God's will.  God's will permeated everything and God tried to reassemble the pieces to rebuild himself, but to do it this time as a mated pair.  All these pieces have a bit of Godness in them and so do the intermediate subassemblies.  That's why men and women are separate, why they should get back together as perfectly as possible, and why they should never be separated.  

Christianity Modified to Fit the Veebelo -
The Virgin Mary's soulmate was St. Joseph, and God made Joseph's soul have a child with Mary, though she never "knew" him.  This was seen as the perfect mating, The Mating as described in the Veebeelo, the one everyone else aspires to.  Jesus wasn't God, he was married to God.  The Holy Spirit is not God the Mother, but God the child of Jesus and God the Mother.

Christ "wed" God to act as an example.  He suffered and died to show how strong the pair bonding is, and to show that it is eternal.  The Christ-God wedding made Christ godesque as a significant part of the pair.

The idea of Jesus becoming God is similar to Adoptionists teachings (Paul of Samosata especially who was deposed in 269 from being Bishop of Antioch).

The key aspect of their philosophy is partnerships, symbiotic partnerships.  Christ would have been only half a man if he had not been married.  Had God been Jesus' father then it would have been incest which they don't like.  They also always recognized that God has no gender and that God is neither wife nor husband to Jesus, but his soulmate beyond any physical pairing.

The situation is complicated and difficult, because how can many people be married to one God.  And one must remember that this is not God the Mother or Jesus the Man that people are married to, but God the Holy Spirit.  The spirit of the community is married to the Spirit of God, we are not each married to God individually or even by household.

They are NOT Gnostic.  They are Stoics though not Cynics because they do not reject sex, power and wealth.

Baptism -
Howlers have always practiced Home Baptism, with everyone in a home being baptized together. Essentially the home is baptized.  When children grow and marry they create a new home and that home is baptized as well, even though the children had already been baptized in a sense as members of their parents' home.  It was through baptism that Jesus was married to God the Mother and their union, their partnership is a divine thing.  Christ is the marriage of Jesus and God.

Burial and Death -
Death was traditionally seen as a joining with God and everyone who had gone on to be joined with Him, but also as a dis-joining with the married partner.  Those who are not so religious today see it particularly as a dis-joining of the old relationship and a new bond.  The new bond is much more difficult to maintain because it is between the living partner; and the memory and legacy of the deceased partner.  It is the responsibility of the living partner to maintain that link, that partnership.

An elaborate funerary ceremony is held to bond the two together in a new pairing called Second Wedding.  The body is cremated and spread in the home garden to become one with the living partner in body as well as spirit.  The area that is enriched by the deceased is planted and harvested only for the members of the home.  Often this is a veleeya tree.  Also several memorials are created for the deceased including addition to the church registry, a stone in the church, a stone in the home, obituaries, books, songs, trees and annual memorial services held on the death day until the second partner dies.  

The living partner often brands themselves with their partner's initials.  They may alternately or additionally sew or embroider the initials of the deceased onto their clothing.  Often in modern society patches are purchased and/or the initials are tattooed.  Whether the initials are worn (or branded or tattooed) visible or concealed is up to the living partner.  Most often a young parent will feel that they must get remarried for the children.  They will wear the initials of their first partner against their skin or concealed.  

Marriage -
As discussed earlier marriage is a partnership of the very highest order.  A person is not a whole person by themselves.  It is only through marriage and forming a home that a person becomes part of a whole.  First marriages are often later in life (late 20s, early 30s) because people work hard to find the perfect mate and want to do this after they have stabilized their own personalities.  Their is always a big ceremony for the marriage and the whole thing takes at least a week.  During the ceremony all the aspects tested according to the Veebeelo are reenacted, but mostly in public.  Sex is held in private in this ceremony, but it is part of the ceremony (and often repeated each of the nights).  There is a particular position that is reserved for the wedding night.  The couple decides which one it is based on what is their favorite.  The ceremonial positions are the least favorite of the couple, and they may even restrict themselves to the very least favorite only during this week.

If a widower finds that they must get remarried for the children, family and home the second marriage is possible, but it is not considered a first order level marriage.  Because this type of marriage is mostly for the children and is considered a wedding between the new partner and the home (or between two homes) more than between two individual partners.  These marriages are most often between two widowers because a single person will want a single partner for themselves.

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