Tuesday, December 27, 2016

We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell

 
Sister Kells - Church of the Electric Life. Art Mostly By: Me

Art Mostly By Me: I used a few lines from old photographs to get the proportions right, then created shape and details from the guide marks. All the photographs were either of me or were public domain.

This is the second part of my Random Theology Generator (Part 1: LINK). As always, I am open to feedback!

Author's Note: I truly love religion, it is the ultimate expression of humanity's need to understand the universe on its most intrinsic level. I will occasionally reference real world religions, both active and inactive, in terms of mythology. I am using the term 'mythology' not as a way of discrediting the truth of the religion or the truth it sought to explain, rather the term is used refer to set of religious explanations and beliefs. To further underscore my intention behind my use of 'mythology', I will leave you with this quote:

After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of 'truth', and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode... - J.R.R. Tolkien

Form of Worship
How the institution(s) of a religion effect the worship by individual(s) varies by the religion itself. Some religions may require direct interaction with a religious institution for 'official' worship to occur, while other religions may not require any interaction at all with the religion's institutions.

  1. Religious Institution Required
  2. Personal Worship Sufficient
  3. Both Personal and Institutional Worship Required
  4. No Worship is Required/Wanted

Religious Institution Required: Worshipers may be required to be at a particular location, or in a specific building, for the worship to be considered 'official'. Worshipers may also be required to take part in certain rituals or religious gatherings as well.

Personal Worship Sufficient: While they may be encouraged to be engaged with the more organized aspects of the religion, the individual is just required to engage in worship as they see fit. How the worship takes form may vary from person to person, or it's form may have guidelines set by holy writ/teachings. Whatever the case may be, only the individual and their activities are needed for worship to be 'official'.

Both Personal and Institutional Worship is Required: Here the worshiper is required to engage with the institutions of the religion as part of their worship, as well as engage in more personal worship as well. This modality of worship usually takes of the form of the worshiper attending regular worship events as well as engaging in prayer and other minor rituals individually.

No Worship Required/Wanted: The religion does not require any form of worship, or the deity does not want to be worshiped. Certain behavior may only be required, or the religion may have other priorities besides the worship of a deity/concept. While worship may not be required, usually is required to do something outside of their normal routine. How often this 'something' must occur is determined using the Time of Worship table.

Member of the Oculus Ex Deus Cult. Art Mostly By: Me

Worshiper Involvement
The level of involvement a worshiper has in a religion's ceremonies and rituals will effect the form they take and the importance of clergy in the religion. You may roll on this table once for all ceremonies and rituals of a religion or roll individually for specific ceremonies/rituals you may have in mind.

  1. Worshiper Observation Only
  2. Worshiper Observation and Involvement
  3. Worshiper Involvement Alone

Worshiper Observation Only: The worshiper is required to observe during rituals/ceremonies, but is not required/wanted to participate. Members of the religion might be required to respond verbally, or required to engage in simple actions (kneeling, standing, or other physical movements) but their presence is not required for the ceremony/ritual to occur.

Worshiper Observation and Involvement: Ceremonies and rituals require the presence and the direct involvement of the religion's members. For the ceremony/ritual to be considered valid both the clergy and the members must be present and engage in certain required actions.

Worshiper Involvement Alone: Here the members of the religion are the prime actors of the ceremony/ritual. If the clergy are involved at all, they are merely there to guide the members and to ensure the ceremony/ritual is carried out correctly.

Time of Worship
For those religions that require some form of worship, the religion usually places a minimum on how often an individual must engage in a form worship or certain behavior to stay in good standing with the religion/deity/reality. The less often the behavior/worship is required, the more involved/complex/time-consuming it is.

  1. Yearly
  2. Monthly
  3. Weekly
  4. Daily
  5. Hourly
  6. No Set Time

Religious Mask. Art Mostly By: Me

Holy Days
Most religions have holy days where certain actions/events occur across across a region that are spurred on by the believers of a particular faith. Usually work does not occur on these days with the members of a religion be freed from many normal responsibilities, and occasionally from societal norms. The English word Holiday has its origins in the Old English word Haligdaeg, which literally means 'holy day'. While special ceremonies and rituals are almost always involved in Holy Days, this table is more concerned with broader actions and behaviors of its members on this day. It is recommended that you roll at least twice on this table for each Holy Day, since most have more than one set of behaviors/actions. While the terminology suggests only a single day, observances can last as long as a year in the case of Jubilee Years with Christianity and Judaism.

  1. Somber / Contemplation
  2. Giving of Gifts
  3. Fasting / Abstaining
  4. Festivals / Feasting
  5. Sacrifices
  6. Certain Societal/Religious Mores Lifted

Somber / Contemplation: The general level of behavior among the religious observers tends to be muted, with little in the way of celebration. Worshipers may be required to meditate on a specific concepts while quietly going about their lives. This type of behavior may only be required for a limited period of time, or throughout the entirety of the Holy Day observance.

Giving of Gifts: Worshipers are required to give gifts during the observance of the Holy Day, as to who the gifts are given to depends on the religion. Some religions may only require gifts to be given to relatives of friends, while others may require gifts to be given to any stranger or certain classes of strangers (children, the infirm, prisoners, etc...). If the observance of a Holy Day lasts longer than a single day, gift giving may be limited to a single day (Christian Advent), during each day of the observance (Jewish Hanukkah), or during specific days of a multiple day observance (Hindu Diwali / Deepavali).

Fasting / Abstaining: Observers are required to fast or abstain from certain behaviors. Fasting can take many forms:

Dry Fasting: Cannot consume food or water.
Water Fasting: May consume water but not food.
Partial Fasting: Depending on the observance and the religion, the individual may be barred from certain foods/drinks or the amount of food/drink may be limited.

The the kind of fasting / abstaining as well as its duration may vary depending on the observance in question. During Lent in the Catholic and Byzantine rites of Christianity, observers are asked to engage in partial fasting as long as it is medically safe for them to do so for the entirety of the observance. While during the month of Ramadan in Islam, observers are asked to engage in Dry Fasting from dawn until dusk as long as it is medically safe for them to do so.

Festivals / Feasting: Observers engage in feasting among small or large groups, and/or festivals involving any number of people. While this type of behavior is not usually required by a religion, it is often encouraged by the religion itself.

Sacrifices: While fasting/abstaining is considered as a form of sacrifice by many religions, here the term Sacrifice is being used to denote the ritualistic destruction of an object of the death of a living being in the name of the religion's prime focus, be it a deity or concept. If these sacrifices are plants or animals, usually, but not always, there is a prohibition against consuming said sacrifices after the ceremony/ritual.

Certain Societal/Religious Mores Lifted: This aspect of Holy Day observances is usually used as a release valve for a group or society to ease tensions within it. A lifting of mores may be conditional (ex: if the individual did not engage in the prohibited behavior), or may be completely open no matter the actions of the individual. The more lifted may be as minor as the consumption of certain foods, or as great as unrestricted promiscuity. Whatever the case may be, the individual who engages in the particular more is rarely, if ever, held responsible for the side effects/results of the behavior in question.

Masks must be worn to preserve sanity during services at the Court of the Pit. Art Mostly By: Me

Holy Day Basis
Just as important as the Holy Day itself is the reason for its celebration. The reason can vary between religions as well as between particular Holy Days in the same religion.

  1. Celebration of a Religious Figure
  2. Celebration of a Particular Event
  3. Borrowed Celebration of Another Religion
  4. Prescribed Time for a Particular Ritual or Activity

Celebration of a Religious Figure: This can the take the form of the celebration of a figure's birth (Hindu – Rama Navami: The birth of Lord Rama) or the celebration of a particular action of a figure (Islam – Eid al-Adha: Honoring the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, as an act of submission to Allah’s command.).

Celebration of a Particular Event: This can take the form of the celebration of a physical event (Judaism – Purim: The saving of the Jews by Mordecai and his cousin and adopted daughter Esther, who had risen to become Queen of Persia, from extermination by Haman the royal vizier to the Persian king), or it can take the form of the celebration of a metaphysical event (Buddhism – Bodhi Day: The celebration of the Siddhartha Buddha attaining Enlightenment).

Borrowed Celebration from Another Religion: Either the timing of the celebration, rituals, and/or reason for the celebration was borrowed from another religion. The reason for the borrowing is usually a way to ease the conversion of a people, people are often more attached to a celebration than its reason/basis. Though the celebration could have also been borrowed from the parent-religion, in the case of a separate religion branching off from another.

Prescribed Time for a Particular Ritual/Activity: With this form, the basis comes from the need to engage in a certain ritual or activity. For agrarian religions this might be the planting/harvesting time, or for a metaphysically relevant act (Judaism – Yom Kippur: The day in which Jews atone for their sins against HaShem/G_D).

Form of Clergy
The term Clergy, while normally used in reference to priests, is not restricted to the priesthood in the academic sense. Many religions have a strong monastic tradition, with some religions, such as certain forms of Buddhism, only has a monastic tradition without a priesthood.

  1. Priesthood Only
  2. Monasticism Only
  3. Priesthood and Monasticism
  4. No Formal Clergy

Priesthood Only: The religion only has a priesthood. This does not mean that the religion is without a priestly hierarchy, such as that found in the Catholic rite: Priest, Monsignor, Bishop, Cardinal, and Pope.

Monasticism Only: The religion only has a monastic tradition, without a formal priesthood. Just as with the priesthood, a hierarchy with individual titles can exist in this form of clergy, but all fulfill the position of monk/nun.

Priesthood and Monasticism: The religion possesses a priestly and monastic tradition. In this form of clergy setup, the priesthood and monasticism tend to have their own hierarchies, and operate separately from one another.

No Formal Clergy: The religion does not have any formal clergy, meaning that the members of the religion are also those who oversee all of the religious practices/ceremonies/rituals. The ritualism of religions with this setup tends to be simpler than religions with the previous setups, since they need to be overseen with little formal training. (Skip Clergy Membership)

In the Cult of the Insensate all clergy members must remove their sensory organs. Art Mostly By: Me

Clergy Membership
Who may become a member of the official clergy varies between religions, and membership requirements can even change over time in the same religion.

  1. Limited to a Single Sex
  2. Open to Any Sex
  3. Relinquishment of Sexual Identity

Limited to a Single Sex: Religions with this setup only allow a specific sex to become a member of the clergy. This form of limitation tends to fall along the lines of the identified sex/gender of the deity or concept being revered (e.g. men only for male deities and women only for female deities.).

Open to Any Sex: Religions with this setup allow any sex to join the clergy. In the case of a religion with monasticism and a priesthood, membership may be limited to one clerical form but not the other.

Relinquishment of Sexual Identity: This rare form of limitation requires the individual to give up all aspects of their sexual identity. The religion may only require the removal of outward identifiers (ex: style of clothing, hairstyle, waste excretion habits, etc...) or the removal can be more drastic, such as castration. In worlds with sufficient magic, an individual's physicality can be made truly androgynous, or their memories could be altered so they cannot accurately remember their original sex.

Clergy Hierarchy
As with any organization, the questions of authority and hierarchy must be addressed in order to understand the extent and the form the organization may take. These concerns are no less relevant in the case of a religion.

  1. Strict Hierarchy w/ Single Head
  2. Strict Hierarchy w/ Ruling Council
  3. Loose Hierarchy w/ Single Advising Authority
  4. Loose Hierarchy w/ Advising Council

Strict Hierarchy w/ Single Head: Religions with this form of hierarchy have a clearly defined hierarchy the requires obedience from its lower levels to its higher levels. At the top of the hierarchy is a single head whose authority is complete within the confines of the religion's laws/rules.

Strict Hierarchy w/ Ruling Council: Religions with this form of hierarchy have a clearly defined hierarchy the requires obedience from its lower levels to its higher levels. At the top of the hierarchy is a group of clergy members who possess equal authority. Any major decision/act must be agreed upon by at least a simple majority, though complete agreement may be required, in order for anything to occur.

Loose Hierarchy w/ Single Advising Authority: Religions with this form of hierarchy only possess a single rank of clergy, or the ranks are merely honorifics without any real authority. Obedience from the lower ranks to the higher ranks is not required, though the lower ranks/younger clergy may be required to seek out the advice of higher ranks/older clergy before making important decisions. While there is usually no 'top' to this hierarchy structure, there is an individual who is considered to be the most wise/well-informed. This individual is usually sought out to settle disputes or offer advice concerning major issues/decisions. No one is required to follow through on this individual's advice, but they may be required to at least listen to what the individual has to say before acting.

Loose Hierarchy w/ Advising Council: Religions with this form of hierarchy only possess a single rank of clergy, or the ranks are merely honorifics without any real authority. Obedience from the lower ranks to the higher ranks is not required, though the lower ranks/younger clergy may be required to seek out the advice of higher ranks/older clergy before making important decisions. While there is usually no 'top' to this hierarchy structure, there is a group of individuals who are considered to be very wise/well-informed. This council is usually sought out to settle disputes or offer advice concerning major issues/decisions. No one is required to follow through on their advice, but they may be required to at least listen to what the council has to say before acting. 

Insensate Cult Clergy remove their hands and replace them with enchanted stone prosthetics. Art Mostly By: Me
 
Clergy Authority
Throughout history, clergy members have held varying levels of authority over members of their religion as well citizens of a particular region. How clergy present themselves in private and public can depend largely on the level of authority they possess.

  1. No Authority / Disregarded
  2. Minor Social / Cultural Authority
  3. Major Social / Cultural Authority
  4. Minor Governmental / Legal Authority
  5. Major Governmental / Legal Authority
  6. Social / Cultural Servants

No Authority / Disregarded: The clergy are without any form of authority and could be largely disregarded. This option would work best for religions that are tolerated, but not accepted, by a culture. This differs from option #6 (Social / Cultural Servants) in that there are no expectations of service from them.

Minor Social / Cultural Authority: The clergy are given a general level of respect by both members of the religion as well as non-member citizens of the church/temple's region. They may even be differed to when making certain decisions. However, their approval or disapproval does not have a significant impact on an individual while outside the religion's environs.

Major Social / Cultural Authority: The clergy are given high degree of respect by both members of the religion as well as non-member citizens of the church/temple's region. They are often differed to when making most major decisions. Their approval or disapproval has a significant impact on an individual's life in both their religious and secular lives. Their testimony/word may be considered of more value than that of the average citizen.

Minor Governmental / Legal Authority: The clergy are given a degree of legal authority over not just the members of their temple/church, but anyone in their region. They can levy fines, or minor punishments against citizens, possibly even being allowed to arrest individuals. However, they are not judges, and cannot hand down extend periods of incarceration or even death. Injuring a clergy member with this level of authority almost always carries a heavier penalty than injuring a normal citizen. Their testimony/word will be considered of more value than that of the average citizen.

Major Governmental / Legal Authority: The clergy are given a great degree of legal authority over not just the members of their temple/church, but anyone in their region. They could possess the ability to arrest individuals, levy fines, have individuals imprisoned for extended periods of time, act as judges, or even put people to death. Any injury done to them will carry a much heavier penalty than injuring a normal citizen. Their very word could be all the evidence needed to find an individual guilty of a crime during a trial.

Social / Cultural Servant: The clergy are expected to provide some sort of service to not only their church/temple, but to a community at large. If they are found to be shirking their responsibilities to the community, they could be subject to legal penalties. The clergy are only given certain responsibilities without any real authority. Other levels of clerical authority may possess certain responsibilities, but they also possess some level of authority over others.

Religion's Level of Prosperity
A religion's level of monetary prosperity can greatly effect its ability to enact its will on the world at large. Throughout history highly organized religions have been able to hire its own armies to become a political power, or bribe government officials to rule in the religion's favor.

  1. Highly Prosperous
  2. Moderate Prosperity
  3. Low Prosperity
  4. Variable Prosperity

Highly Prosperous: The religion is capable of wielding considerable power in the secular world. They may be able to hire mercenary armies, or provide financial support to governments that are friendly towards the religion itself. A religion with considerable amounts of capital may also be patrons of the arts, possessing some of the finest art collections in the world. Their churches/temples tend to be grand constructions, often involving the work of the most talented artisans in the world. Highly prosperous religions also tend to run the risk of corruption at the tops levels of its authority structure. Their church/temple services tend to have high attendance rates, and are frequented by rich/influential people.

Moderate Prosperity: Religions with this level of prosperity tend to be influential wherever their temples/churches may be. While they may have a considerable amount of capital, they are unable to ensure that they always get what they want. Even with this level of prosperity, they can be sure that they receive at least some form of protection from governments despite not always getting what they want. Their temples are never in disrepair, but they will lack grandeur that highly prosperous temples might possess. Their church/temple services will always have attendees, but perhaps not as many as other temples of the area have. These services will usually have at least one rich/influential person frequenting them.

Low Prosperity: Religions with this level of prosperity possess little if any influence over the communities they are based in. Their religious services either have low attendance rates, or are only attended by the poorest of the region. Their temples will either be simple constructions, or once fine constructions that have fallen into considerable disrepair. The only protection these churches can hope for is that provided by its members, as it lacks the capital to hire guards or bribe officials.

Variable Prosperity: Religions with this level of prosperity may possess any quality from the previous categories. More than likely, this religion has a decentralized means of gaining capital, so that a temple/church in one area might be highly prosperous while another in a different area could be close to destitute. It is recommended that you roll on this table for each area the religion's temples/churches are to determine their level of prosperity separately. A religions with this level of prosperity tend to be on the rise from previously low levels of prosperity, or is waning in power and influence. 

Mother Bloom, a cult leader. Art Mostly By: Me

Religious Tolerance / Interaction
How a religion views and relates to other religions will determine its members' behavior when out in the world at large. A more open religion's members may be more willing to accept and discuss different metaphysical concepts, while a more closed off religion's members might be more argumentative or unwilling to accept differing metaphysical views.

  1. A Member of a Religion Group
  2. Accepts Other Religions
  3. Tolerates Other Religions
  4. Intellectual / Doctrinal Conflict w/ Other Religions
  5. Passive Hostility w/ Other Religions
  6. Active Hostility w/ Other Religions

Member of a Religion Group: This religion is devoted to the worship/veneration of a deity/concept that is a single part of a larger pantheon/conceptual-group. While they may recognize the existence and authority of other deities/concepts, they are focus on a single being/concept. If the worshiped/venerated deity/concept is not part of a pantheon/conceptual-group, this religion might be either syncratic or practices religious inclusivism.

Syncratic Religions: Have integrated a number of different beliefs into a central ideological structure. The modality of worship will remain largely fixed, but different names and concepts will distinguish it greatly from the roots of the modality. In essence it is a soup with a definable stock, but with numerous ingredients added to it.

Inclusive Religions: These religions state that all, or most, religions are the same religion but with different terminology and points of view. They recognize that certain beliefs may be functional for a particular people in a region, and use this as an explanation for varying ethical and moral values. They will hold that other gods are their gods with different names, or that there is an ever expanding universal pantheon, with each area having its own regional pantheon. Whatever the case may be, other religious concepts and practices largely remain intact, and are not 'mixed' into a per-existing set of beliefs. The Romans usually, but not always, used this modality.

Accepts Other Religions: This religious modality uses what is called Religious Pluralism. Usually this modality takes on one or more of the following views:

  • One's religion is not the sole and exclusive source of truth, and thus the acknowledgment that at least some truths and true values exist in other religions.
  • The acceptance of the concept that two or more religions with mutually exclusive truth claims are equally valid.
  • The belief that the exclusive claims of different religions turn out, upon closer examination, to be variations of universal truths that have been taught since time immemorial.

Whatever the case may be, religions with this modality tend to be the least problematic in cultures with multiple religions present within them.

Tolerates Other Religions: Religions with this modality believe that they exclusively possess the Truth about metaphysical reality. However, either due to a religious prohibition against major conflict or a general wish for peace, they do not actively pursue the destruction/nullification/dispersal of other religions. If asked directly about their beliefs, they will state them, however, they will not seek out platforms to denounce other religions.

Intellectual / Rhetorical Conflict w/ Other Religions: Religions with this modality will actively seek to convert people away from any other religion. They will also denounce other religions as being 'false' or 'evil' if given the platform. Religions with this modality will still dissuade and denounce acts of violence against other religions, seeing conversion and argument as the only just tools in their endeavor. 

Passive Hostility w/ Other Religions: Religions with this modality will actively speak out and denounce other religions, using conversion and rhetoric as their tools of battle. However, religions with this modality will also be hesitant to speak out against those who engage in violent action on its behalf. Officially the religion will engage in non-violent conflict, while unofficially allowing its members to use violence against other religions.  

Active Hostility w/ Other Religions: Religions with this modality actively promote violence against other religions as a means of removing said religions from the world. It's clergy will clearly endorse violence, and with even act violently themselves. Such a religion will see itself being at war with all other religions, and will use any means necessary to win.

Holy Teachings / Holy Text
Most religions have some form of teachings or requirements that it passes on to its members. These teachings may be specific, such as dietary restrictions, or general, such as 'be good'. As varied as religions are throughout the world, so are their approaches to their teachings and texts.

  1. Set Text / Teachings
  2. Continuous Expansion
  3. Periodic Expansion
  4. Periodic Reduction
  5. Continuous Reduction
  6. No Official / Specific Teachings

Set Text / Teachings: The religion has a set text or group of teachings that does not change despite the passage of time or situational changes. Such an approach often requires scholars or religious authorities to scour the set text/teachings as a whole to make decisions about subjects/situations that are not explicitly covered in the teachings/text itself. This approach can have the unintended consequence of leading to schisms within the religion when an agreement cannot be reached about a particular subject/situation that was not covered in the texts/teachings.

Continuous Expansion: The holy text or teachings are constantly being expanded upon to adapt to time and changes in the world. Rules are continuously altered to fit new situations, however, they are never removed or disregarded. Responsibilities placed upon members are never removed, but they may be altered, or new responsibilities may be added. Whatever the case may be, it is a never ending process as the world changes with time and situation.

Periodic Expansion: The holy text or teachings may be changed or added to when a major event occurs, or when the world has changed to a point that certain teachings or beliefs are no longer functional in their current state. This form of expansion usually requires a convocation of the religion's authority figures, with the final changes taking months if not years to reach. These changes will then take an extended period of time to implement, since the religion is largely unused to change. While such religions will not outright deny change, they will attempt to avoid it for as long as possible. As with Continuous Expansion, teachings and texts are never removed, but they may be added to or altered.

Periodic Reduction: Here, the holy text or teachings are periodically pared down for any number of reasons. With this requirements, laws, and rules may be removed or the set of beliefs may be simplified. Religions using Periodic Reduction may be going through some form of reformation, or may reduce its set of beliefs and rules as a society/culture advances. While such religions will not outright deny these reductions, they will attempt to avoid it for as long as possible. As with Continuous Reduction teachings and texts are being removed, not added to or altered.

Continuous Reduction: With this form of reduction, texts and teachings are continuously being removed as they no longer apply, or are no longer functional to the situations the religion and its members are experiencing. Little fanfare is made about such reductions, and are a common occurrence within the religion itself. The religion will never add to or expand upon a teaching, rather it will remove or simplify them. Theoretically, such a religion may one day purposely render itself obsolete or irrelevant.

No Official / Specific Teachings: Here the religion will either leave all decisions to its members' judgment, or it will only present general teachings and allow each member to interpret them as they see fit. Such religions tend to lack a clearly defined hierarchy and membership, however, this is not always the case.

A crown of candles, one of many religious implements found in the Infinite City. Art Mostly By: Me

Authority of Teachings
The authority behind a religion's teachings can be just as important as the teachings themselves. One religion might hold its teachings to be suggestions for leading a good life, while another might hold that its teachings a require obedience in order for a person to be 'good' or receive the ideal afterlife. Certain texts and teachings might be considered of absolute authority, while other might be considered suggestions and advice. If a religion has multiple texts or sets of teachings, you may wish to roll on this chart for each one.

  1. No Authority
  2. Partial / Situational Authority
  3. Complete Authority

No Authority: Here the teachings are considered suggestions, and do not require an individual to follow them. Such religions do not punish its members for not following them, or do not believe that they will be punished in this life or the next.

Partial / Situational Authority: Teachings with this authority may require the individual to follow them while in certain settings or during certain situations (ex: while in public, while in church/temple, etc...). At all other times, the individual is free to use their judgment as they see fit. This type of authority may require the individual to at least attempt to follow the teachings, only straying if such teachings are not bringing about a sought after goal.

Complete Authority: This form of authority requires that the individual follow the rules and teachings of a the religion completely. Any action that does not coincide with the teachings or rules is deemed wrong / sinful.

Holy Text / Holy Teaching Source
An aspect of a text's or teaching's authority is its source. Certain texts and teachings might be considered of absolute authority, while other might be considered suggestions and advice. If a religion has multiple texts or sets of teachings, you may wish to roll on this chart for each one.

  1. Divine Dictation
  2. Synthesis of Divine and Mortal Sources
  3. Mortal Sources
  4. No Source

Divine Dictation: Here the text or teaching was handed down directly from the religion's source of authority. In the case of a religion that does not worship/venerate a deity, its founder may have experienced a form of Enlightenment which allowed them to completely understand the universe as it is. Whatever the case may be, mortal experience plays no part in what is taught to, or expected of, the individual.

Synthesis of Divine and Mortal Sources: Here the texts and teachings are created by both mortal and divine/universal sources. While the divine/universal may still hand down teachings and expectations, they are tempered by, or make reference to, mortal experience. This approach allows for, or grants excuses/forgiveness to, mortal struggles while still having a divine/universal mandate.

Mortal Sources: All teachings and texts are given by, or are about, mortals without any form of divine/universal mandate. The deity/universe may not be in contact with mortals at all, or such contact is too vague/confusing to allow for any definitive teaching/point of view. These mortal sources tend to be seen as sages who have interacted with the divine/universal and are giving their best interpretation as to the meaning of such interactions.

No Source: This is a very rare belief concerning the source of a teaching or text. This form of 'source' holds that the text or teaching has always existed and is by no means the byproduct of, or created by, an specific source be it a deity or the universe itself. This outlook can be found in the Mimamsa school of Hindu Philosophy, whose doctrine held that the Vedas were Eternal and Uncreated. 

Temple of the Maimed Sage. Art Mostly By: Me
 
Membership
Who may join a religion will effect both how the religion is perceived by the world, and what actions it is capable or willing to undertake. Depending on the type of membership a religion possesses, an individual may or may not be able to convert into a religion.

  1. No Membership / Universal Membership
  2. Open
  3. Closed (Hereditary)
  4. Closed (Invitation)

No Membership / Universal Membership: Here, anyone may fully participate in the religion and its practices. An individual may require special training in order to become a member or the clergy, but no initiation rituals are required in order for a person to engage in any of the religion's aspects open to the laity.

Open: Here, anyone may become part of the religion, however, certain aspects or rituals are only open to 'full members'. To convert, an individual may have to receive some form of instruction and/or partake in an initiation ritual in order to become a full member. After the initiation, the individual may engage in any of the religion's aspects open to the laity.

Closed (Hereditary): The religion may allow outsiders to participate in certain aspects of it, but one must be born into the religion in order to be considered a 'full member'. No initiation ritual exists to allow for an outsider to become part of the religious community.

Closed (Invitation): This form of membership allows for outsiders to convert, much like Open Membership. However, an individual may only be allowed to convert upon invitation of a member of the religion, the required status/authority of this member varies depending on the religion. Upon invitation, as well as some form of instruction and/or initiation ritual, the outsider is then allowed to fully participate in any aspect open to the laity.