Returnism

Written by JoshForeman

Returnism is the dominant religion of humans on Talifar   History It could be argued that the roots of Returnism go back to the colonist ship fleet of humans. As with any diverse group, there were differences in opinion concerning the whole notion of leaving Earth for a new home. And as the years went on and new generations came of age the idea of Returning became more prevalent. At some point the logistics of going back became impossible, and so the notion was relegated to crackpots and conspiracy theorists. But the idea gained new ground soon after humans reached Talifar. The first generation of humans native-born on Talifar inherited the idea that they came from another planet, on a spaceship. And some got the impression that it should be possible to fix the spaceship and return. This idea flourished the most in communities that encountered the most hardship, as the idea of a paradisal past that could be returned to appealed to them for obvious reasons.   Several factors contributed to the mythology that would solidify into Returnism as a religion.   First of all, the fact that the spaceships they arrived on could only sustain a small number of people meant that Crashsite became sacred land. This was further reinforced by the fact that people could not settle within hundreds of kilms of Crashsite due to the radiation. This lack of access allowed the popular conception of what Crashsite actually was to evolve into mythical status. This mythological status served those who were allowed to live at Crashsite well. It granted them status, resources and other cultural capital. So while many who live at Crashsite objected to the religious impulse from outside communities, those who led the group and primarily communicated with the outsiders did nothing to stop the process. Because Wardens suppress technological devices and development past a certain point, Outsiders were put at an extreme technological disadvantage compared to the enclave at Crashsite. Because the technology from Earth could not be reproduced on Talifar, the pieces of tech that were left behind were seen as magical relics. While those at Crashsite are much more aware of the nature of these artifacts, those on the outside lack the frame of reference.   Interpretation   Three broad categories of interpretation:   Those who live at Crashsite, the descendants of the scientists who were the primary original inhabitants are structured like a university. Their mission statement has remained the same for thousands of years. “Repair the ship, Return home.” Their opening and closing statement at meetings is “Until we return”. Some generations have interpreted this as a sacred mission, other’s as a logical Plan B that humans should always be working towards. But however seriously they take their mission it’s rarely interpreted as divine in origin, magical or miraculous. The primary mode of interpreting their mandate is through a lens of humanism or utility. In practice this results in keeping a focus on maintaining as much science and history as possible, which attending to the upkeep of a rotting spaceship. As well as a strict policy of keeping Outsiders out. But in order to maintain their mission they have to eat and acquire various resources from the outside world, so trade and political/religions associations are necessary. They generally benefit from being a sacred site for Returnism, and so tread carefully in how they communicate with Outsider Returnism Leadership. Crashsite also has close ties with the Megaloth Empire, as it is the closest and most powerful political entity.   Outsider humans have developed several flavors of Returnism, as they incorporate the beliefs into their existing religious frameworks. So there is Returnims that sounds very Christian, Returnism that sounds very Budhist, Returnism that sounds very Humanist, etc. Though it did not subsume all of those religions completely, (more pure strains of old Earth religions can still be found) Returnism of various flavors is the dominant religion/ideology among humans by far. The largest organization/institutional form of Returnism has a pope-like central authority and tolerates most of the other flavors. This toleration fluctuates throughout time and is prone to the usual whims of personal and national politics. Since Crashsite is off-limits as a holy site suitable for pilgrimage, the capital of Returnism has taken on that role. It is seen as the first place that the repaired spaceship will come to gather the faithful. It is located at the peak of Lodestone Spire in Feggralind.   Rogue Magicians comprise a very small, but important dynamic in the religion. While Crashsite generally discourages those who travel Outside from conveying the idea that they are magical, the temptation to do so is powerful, and so throughout the ages many have succumbed to it. Some use their prestige and ‘magic’ to build cults. Some to secure posh political positions. Some to grow rich. These rogues often throw chaos into the communities they interact with, as they tend to practice and preach a lot of unorthodox things. The Outsider leaders of Returnism never know how to handle them, since a Magician is theoretically closer to the Truth than anyone else, and so any contradictions they preach end up causing a crisis of faith for many.   Institutions   Outsider Returnism has one dominant branch held by most humans on the continent of Akinda. It incorporates elements from many popular old Earth religions, but the emphasis is always on the need for humans to Return to Earth. To this end it de-emphasises doctrine regarding an afterlife, though these are usually tolerated.   The center of Akinda Returnism is led by an elected official in a hierarchy of regional leaders. (Resembling Roman Catholicism) They are The Attentive and are tasked with pope-like duties. Unlike the pope, The Attentive is tasked with updating doctrine and distributing news based on communication with Crashsite. They (and their entourage) are part of a very select group that are allowed to visit Crashsite. They have a regular appointment every 5 years, but are occasionally summoned if there is relevant news or information that the leadership of Crashsite thinks the general populace needs to know. The Attentive also visits Megaloth City at least once a year, as keeping their power there is vital.   Practice   While Returnism has a clear teleology, it’s ontology and epistemology are quite flexible, accommodating a wide range of doctrinal variation. If there is a ‘core’ tenet of the faith, it is about how humans need to work together to support the effort to repair the ship that will take them all Home. This results in many pro-social activities that encourage cooperation and unity, and is the largest force holding the variant sub-species of humans together with a single identity. It’s not powerful enough to erase racism between the variants, but it keeps most of them from claiming a wholly Other identity. To this end many religious rituals, ceremonies and holidays revolve around a theme of unity, and emphasise the bringing together of as many human variants as possible. Smaller communities that lack any of the recognized variants use some kind of a stand-in to represent those missing. This can sometimes be paintings, dolls, or sculptures.   Outsider Missions   Because “magic” tech is easiest to use when speaking and thinking in the old Earth language of English, this archaic language is the universal basic language most humans speak. Often a second language, as the primary language a culture speaks continually evolves. Missionaries, therefore, see the teaching of English as one of their most sacred duties. After all, only those proficient in the language will be allowed to Return. Other missionary duties include adjudicating contested Magic. Since Magicians are so revered, and their relics are so valuable, there is naturally a large industry of fraud and huxters peddling fake stories, artifacts, and performing illusions in an attempt to cash in. In theory, Returnism Missionaries are closest to ground truth (with the exception of Crashsite Ambassadors) on the subject and can tell the difference.   Crashsite Ambassadors   These are like Missionaries, but with exponentially more authority. They live most of their life in Crashsite, but spend several years traveling in order to keep their prestige and support base active. They are generally aligned with Outsider Missionaries in objective, and so are often meeting and coordinating with them. Another duty they may have is that of tracking down and dealing with Rouge Magicians. The manner of resolution varies widely depending on the danger Crashsite perceives the Rogue can do to the organization and their reputation, as well as depending on the particular skills and proclivities of the Ambassador. Generally their goal is to work things out amicably. Similarly, they are always on the hunt for legitimate artifacts that are in the hands of Outsiders. It is a well-propagated idea throughout Talifar that magical artifacts are often more a curse than they are worth, and that those who use them for gain will suffer terrible consequences. This is the basis of much popular media: songs, fairy tales, books, plays, etc.
Type
Religious, Organised Religion

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