Thursday, June 25, 2009

Religion

The last of the three color coded maps is religion. This is by far the most diverse of the maps, with eight different kinds of regions, and three icons for likely various miscellaneous categories. To be honest, this is probably where White lets his imagination run away him the most. On some level, it's hard to imagine Scientology and Buddhism overpowering the regions, which do have primarily Christian populaces. Perhaps the history of how these religions came to power would have explained that, and have been pretty fascinating. When you think about, religion can take some amazing turns in just a century or two.


The majority of these religions are Christian influenced here and there. What I noticed, looking through the image archives, is that White had more of the borders that dot the pages. Not a hard and fast connection, but it seems to me that many of the borders correlate with a religion, and different pages that fall under that denomination, which might explain why some of them were done late, as White may have been decidng which border o associate things with.

Most of the country worships via the Non-Denominational Church. At least half, taking a guess. It's, rather ironically, that last vestige the United States that exists throughout the country. The last flicker of federalism. Any relation to the Roman Empire is probably very much intentional. Most of it is essentially Christianity distilled to its basic elements. How much of the myth of America plays into is unsure, but perhaps previous figures like Lincoln (the one who fought to keep the union together) might be bestowed with Sainthood. The individual district headquarters are located in former state capitals, and the location of state capitals have like had an effect on the church itself. In the Northeast, capitals are much closer to each other which means the realms might copy structure of the Church. it would also be likely the structure has the structure of Catholics and the outlook of Episcopalians. The kingdoms of the South and Heartland have more or less had to grin and bear it, since they have their own problems to worry about, and only need priests for occasional blessings. However, maybe for the evangelicals, enough is enough.

Covering a large tract of land are the New Israelites. The popular religion among the cowboy tribes, the name may let people forget that it's still a very Christian religion. It's in fact, and old school one, that may have been quite popular with fundamentalists and evangelicals. What's interesting to note, if one compares all three maps, is there are areas where the nation is primarily feudal, but the New Israelite religion dominates. In a lot of ways, this makes perfect sense in Texas. The state capital of Austin was just too far out west to bother with, and Texas as a rule wouldn't want a federalist church with a Yankee flavor. The death penalty state would probably find a lot to like in New Israelite justice. Also, along the Midwest we see kingdoms that worship New Israelite. These are probably a flux of culture wars--herdsmen that eventually settle down and organized, but haven't completely dropped their frontier ways. In these places, large wooden castles and encampments probably have simple shrines and chapels to denote their worship, but the bureaucracy has been kept strictly out.

Along the Gulf coast, we see Voodoo taking hold. The real Voodoo is historically a mix between Catholicism and many African religions. Practiced mainly on the island, the Haitan immigrants to New Orleans and Southern Florida is not quite as prominent, but a few hundred years could certain smother of fan that flame. In fact, the thing about the religion map is...does it indicate a religion is the only one practiced there, is in the majority, or is a small distinction that separates it from the rest of the continent. In any case, assuming Voodoo becomes the central power in New Orleans and Southern Florida, it's interesting to ponder what the structure looks like. A lot of women have been prominent in the history of Voodoo, and it is practiced in the Secretarial States. Throughout the world, there's been a bit of a fear over the religious leaders supplanting the secular ones. This could easily be amended in countries where the Queen serves as the High Priestess. To make sure that ambition and politics don't play too large a role in it (Say, a nubile young dancer coming onto the King), potential Priest Queens are selected at birth, and groomed for her dual title.

Further West we have Mormonism, the last of the religions theoretically tied to Christianity. The members of the Church of Latter Day Saints finally has what they wanted--isolation from the outside world, and a nation to do as they see fit. Missions have been long part of the Church's history, but it's probably not see easy in this era. Chances are spreading the message and seeking to convert has become more dangerous-and in turn much more violent. As the armies are usually at the fringes of the world, the job of being Missionaries usually falls to them.

It's hard to denote what exactly "New Age" is. It's not any organized religion by any stretch of the imagination, and you probably couldn't get two people in the same commune to agree. It certainly seems like an odd pairing with the rigid structure of a Hydraulic Empire. If I had to guess, it involves a mixture of Navajo, Hopi and Egyptian beliefs, with a strong emphasis on the environment, and morphed into centuries of rituals and dogma. Note that the former state of Colorado is a triangle of Mormonism, New Israelite and New Age.

Taking over California is Scientology, the controversial cult that I won't get into too much in fear of having this blog taken down, but it's curious this managed to explode so much. In some ways it feels like a parody of California culture by having a Hollywood cult control the entire state. There is one thing to keep in mind though, is that the small empire that dominates the south is called "The Free Zone", which is the branch of Scientology that has rejected the "pay as you go elements". Whether that sect has taken over or been co-opted by the religion is anyone's guess. It seems almost strange that a faith with so many sci-fi trappings could fit in the modern world. But hey, lasers become magic, aliens become demons. However, the star-based backdrop probably makes astronomy very, very important to the faith. Just like the Egyptian Kings are the descendants of Gods, so do the rulers of California descend from the stars, and return there upon their death. I also wonder if the rich tapestry of the motion picture world itself has become part of the backdrop, with Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Darth Vader and many others become Gods, Heroes and Monsters of Scientology mythology.

The Buddhists have taken over the Northwest. Now, Washington and Oregon do have a sizable Asian minority, (and influence), and they're amongst the least churchgoing regions in the country, but I do wonder if this is enough to fan the flames into a movement. And they almost seem a little too belligerent to take the teachings of Buddha to heart. So I wonder if this is something that has transformed more than even Christianity under the Non-Denominational church. Also, as I mentioned above, I pointed out New Age beliefs have as much a foothold in that region as they do in the southwest, so I theorize American Buddhism maybe be warped have a lot in common with New Age--particularly the sacrosanct nature of the environment. High priests revere and consecrate the trees and brooks. To rupture nature is to disrupt the balance. While the a lot of the nation may not be fanatic about it, out here pollution an waste may be as big an offense as eating pork on the plains. If not much moreso. Therefore, Buddhisms consider it their duty to preserve nature, no matter what. People are a different matter entirely...

And finally, we have Catholicism. White mentions much of Europe has returned to it, and the Vatican may serve the same role it did in the Dark Ages, and the Non-Denominational Church does in America. It's the glue that holds things together, and maybe abuses it a bit. There' probably not much to write here. While I've said that a lot about a faith can change in a thousand years, I think when the religion is already 1500 years old, there's probably not much more to tinker around with. Technically, it's not within U.S. borders, mainly remaining with Quebec and Mexico. Or...here's what I wonder. The Non_Denominational influence is a gold color, while Catholicism is bright yellow. Does this generally signify that where you find one, you may find the other? It might help a theory I have that, on the population map, the small icon bordering Lake Ontario between Toronto's metro area and Quebec is shared by the two regions. Actually, it might be interesting to ponder what Quebecois Catholicism looks like, with not much communication with the Vatican, and the state having long concentrated on being secular.

There's probably much more to explain here, although any tribes seen in the white spaces are probably totem-worshippers in general.

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