- Religion is serious business. A lot of people are willing to kill and die for their faith.
- The Church is the foundation of the entire society, except in Doloreaux lands. It sanctifies the right of the nobility, property and morality. In a way, the Church IS society. There is very little “community” between a noble, a citizen of Triskellian, a farmer and a slave, except through faith as conducted by the Church.
- In a way, all are equal before the Light, in a way, they are not. The Church believes that everyone is assigned their proper station in life by divine fiat. The Church sanctifies nobility and those who reject nobility reject the Church. The Church fully endorses serfdom and slavery. But in the eyes of the Light ITSELF, everyone is judged on their own merits. Thus, a noble can go to hell after death and a slave enter paradise, which means that the slave was morally superior to the noble, and yet it was still decreed by the Light itself that the better person was a slave.
- The Church is not against a person bettering their station, if it happens through legitimate authority.
- The Church is highly skeptical of magic and utterly hostile to black magic and necromancy. There is no understanding possible with those who practice the latter. They must be purged by any means necessary.
- A major difference between the world of IronClaw and ours: The Church can literally prove its supernatural power. Everyone either has seen a miracle or knows someone who has. This makes faith even more intense…but also more subject to expectations. For instance, if a Church member cannot solve a supernatural power, it can shake people’s faith much more.
The Church and Nobility
- The Church sanctions nobility. Going against the concept of nobility is going against the Church. Likewise, the Church expects support from the nobility.
- The Church is in conflict with nobility, because according to Church ideology, nobility has its power because the Church has delegated it. The nobility feels that it has its right directly from the Light (those that believe in the Light, of course). In short, who is senior partner?
- The Church is also in conflict with the nobility because it opposes nobility and kings going beyond their station. The secular rulers constantly seek new sorts of power and revenue in a changing society, and the Church often opposes that…but is often bought, one way or another.
- The Church is in conflict with the nobility because it sometimes speaks up for the commoners. Theoretically the Church favours commoner welfare…but NOT commoner emancipation.
- The Church is opposed to much of the warrior ethic of the nobility. It approves when the nobility fights enemies of the faith, of course, or when it upholds the social order (fighting bandits, rebels and so forth), but it disapproves of fighting for its own sake. For that reason, the Church refuses to bury people killed during tournaments, at least officially, as many members of the higher Church are nobles and actually sympathize with the warrior ethic.
- Many high-ranking Church members come from noble families. Each noble House tries to stock as many of their own people in high-ranking Church position, especially in their own lands. The Church resists this to a degree, but still its upper echelons are influenced by the nobility and its ethics.
- Some high-ranking Church members live fully like nobles.
- Low-ranking Church members are regarded as a sort of honorary gentry, even if their ranks are formally lower, as they are members of an exalted group.
The Church and Commoners
- The Church is, to most commoners, THE solace of a hard life. It is a major part of what makes existence bearable and meaningful. Most people will feel attacked personally by attacks on the Church.
- The Church is regarded with a good deal of awe and fear, as people know that it has supernatural powers and can damn you. Lutarans and other faiths still have a bit of this awe, as they acknowledge the Church’s power…even if they do not like it.
- Many commoners also acknowledge corruption in the Church. They see that members of the Church often live in luxury while preaching poverty. They see that the Church favours nobility. For some commoners, this has grown to resentment. But even this resentment is combined with fear and awe.
- Some radical Church members preach a new society based on equality and incite commoners against the current social order. These end up defrocked, but can lead their own sects.
- People with ranks in the Church are far socially superior to commoners and while they may be kind and generous, they are expected to uphold that.
The Church and the Supernatural
- The Church regards itself as the sole repository of spiritual truth. All other religions are evil deceptions by false or malevolent spiritual powers.
- There is no such thing as tolerance in the modern sense. A modern-day Christian may say about another religion or Christian sect that they respect the honest opinions of good people, even if they do not agree with them. THIS IS PATENTLY FALSE ACCORDING TO THE IRONCLAW CHURCH. If you are not of the Church, you are wrong and you are damned. Some Church-people would convert the heathens with kindness and example, but to a modern person, it would be a condescending compassion.
- The closest thing to an exception to this would be the Church in Doloreaux lands. They have a tendency to regard Lutarans as a bit rustic and backwards, but not as damnable.
- White magic is regarded as the power of S’Allumer made manifest. It is not regarded as something a wizard could potentially do without S’Allumer. In short, it is not really seen as magic.
- Black magic and necromancy must be fought uncompromisingly. While there can be some dialogue with other faiths, black magic must be ruthlessly wiped out. All things, except practice of black magic itself, are acceptable for this purpose. It is the duty of all faithful to assist in this.
- Other magic is tolerated, but not liked. It is known that wizards are often heretics. You could compare it to the historical Catholic Church’s view of science and pagan philosophy – often disliked, but sometimes approached with a mixture of fear and curiosity. Though unlike the historical Catholic Church, the IronClaw Church would never encourage the study of other magics.
- S’Allumer is the uncreated and eternal Light. S’Allumer literally means “that which illuminates itself.” This is a reference to S’Allumer being the only thing in the world that is not contingent on something else. All other things are created by other things, which are ultimately created by S’Allumer.
- All are equal before S’Allumer. But S’Allumer has ordained a stratified society, so people are not equal in the created world.
- To S’Allumer, all things are possible. Merely by willing it, S’Allumer can do everything.
- The ways of S’Allumer are mysterious. S’Allumer has no gender and no shape. It is symbolically represented by bright light, a fire or the Sun, but it is neither of these things.
- S’Allumer’s will is made manifest through the Church or divine miracles. Some very holy people claim to hear S’Allumer’s voice to them…or perhaps they are just mad?
- The Church is the primary way for S’Allumer to do its works in society. Ordained priests do not just have a job, but are special recipients of S’Allumer’s grace. This grace is what enables priests to perform the sacraments and forgive sins.
- There is no salvation outside S’Allumer. Everyone who does not follow S’Allumer is lost to darkness. Today, you have to be a member of the Church to be saved, though before the Church, individual people are saved by following the Light.
- The question of the sinful priest: Everyone agrees that some priests are grave sinners and will be damned to the darkness. But are the sacraments of a sinful priest still valid? Official Church doctrine says yes, as the sacraments are really given by S’Allumer, by means of the priest. A very few defrocked priests disagree with this, saying that this is an excuse given by the Church to make people worry less about its own corruption. Some theologians remain in the Church while arguing that extreme sins, such as practice of black magic, would block out S’Allumer’s grace. Most commoners don’t really think about the question, but would on some level agree that the sacraments of an extremely sinful priest would be invalid.
- The nature of sin and the soul: All souls can reflect the eternal Light, but ONLY S’Allumer shines on its own power. Sin stains the soul and blocks out the reflection. As the stain of sin grows ever larger, the Light may be blocked entirely. Forgiveness, as administered by the Church through penance, wipes the stain of sin away. A few souls reflect the Light especially brightly. Those are the saints.
- Damnation and Salvation: Upon death, a soul must stand before the Light. If pure enough before S’Allumer, a soul may ascend to salvation and stay in the presence of the perfect bliss of the Light forever. If not, it will sink as far away from S’Allumer as possible into near-complete darkness. There, the distant light of S’Allumer will allow it just a glimpse of the eternal bliss of those who are saved, forever to wallow in its own loneliness and self-pity. While this damnation is often imagined by the general populace as accompanied by torture, Church doctrine holds that it is not. It is “merely” an eternity away from the Light.
- On the origin of evil: Before the Church, S’Allumer created lesser spirits of the Light to acts as intermediaries and guides. Some of these spirits grew proud and felt that they should rule over mortals. Some grew jealous at the love that S’Allumer bestowed on the mortals. The brightest spirit of Light led them in rebellion against S’Allumer and were banished. The brightest spirit of Light, its name now lost forever, became the darkness itself and the lesser ones the demons. Out of jealousy for those who still enjoyed S’Allumer’s love, the demons invented sin, so that mortals could stain themselves into joining them in the darkness.