Sunday, October 26, 2014

Religious Ranks and Titles

Continuing from our post on Ranks and Titles

So what do we call priests and priestesses? Honestly, this is one of the harder things for us to work on. Having been raised in Judeo-Christian homes in Judeo-Christian neighborhoods - multi-divinity religions don’t always make sense to us. But here are the basics, as well as an example of the fringes:

Anyone who has been officially trained to offer religious services is going to be referred to as a priest or priestess. While they are most commonly called “the Priest John” or “the Priestess Mary”, some religions will also refer to them as Reverend or Reverend Mother. Reverend Father is typically saved for men in religious service that specifically pertains to children, such as a priest or monk who runs an orphanage.

The priest or priestess who runs a small church, such as one in a small town or village, is typically referred to as the pastor. If the church offers one service on holy days (typically because every member of the congregation fits in the church building at the same time), then the person in charge is typically a pastor. This is especially true if the church has more than one priest - the top guy is the pastor. This is a non-sexed title. Women are also referred to as Pastor. When talking to or about them, again, they are Pastor John or Pastor Mary. This can be different than the person who has pastoral duties. The person who is assigned to take care of the members of the congregation and their concerns has the pastoral duties. You could have a Pastor who handles the administration of the church, runs the church services, and gives the sermons, while a lesser priest handles the pastoral duties. The title and duties are not always linked. Pastoral duties are typically handled by the most compassionate priest(ess), but sometimes by the most charismatic.

The pastor of a large church - one with many services in the same day or many priests or priestesses - is called Bishop or Bishopess. It is rare that a Bishop would be assigned pastoral duties, as they are typically running the business of the church. Both Pastors and Bishops are typically (all religions are a little different) chosen by the members of the church community or by representatives of the church community. This means that they can be hired from other places and brought in or promoted from the lesser priest(ess).

Monks are those who have devoted themselves to the religion but have not been formally trained for the religion’s ceremonies and mysteries. This does not mean they are uneducated, just not educated in the ceremonies of the church. Female monks are most commonly called nuns. Monks are most often called Brother John, while nuns are referred to as Sister Mary. While there are cloistered monks and nuns (those who shut themselves away from the world), the vast majority of these folks spend their religious lives devoted to one of the aspects of their religion’s teachings. For example - the god of life may have monks and nuns who act as doctors, while the god of war will have soldiers who do little more than train all day. Monasteries and convents can be run by priests, bishops or Mother Superiors or Brother Superiors. (Again, the use of “father” is uncommon.)

Bishops, Bishopesses, Mother Superiors, and Brother Superiors are all most commonly referred to as “Most Reverent” as opposed to the more common priests simply being Reverend. Monks and nuns are typically celibate (unmarried), though most priests, pastors and bishops are allowed to marry. Priest and therefore Pastor and Bishop are occupations one typically pursues their entire life, but nuns and monks more commonly will leave the order at some point.

Religions are nothing if not unique, so these generalities cannot possibly cover all the religions of all the gods. Some other titles that are seen include: Deacons of Shade (executioners in the service of the goddess of death); the Churchmen of St. Vullauce (a quasi-religious order who raise funds to help the poor); and the Heirs of the Divine Stallion (horse breeders who are keeping intact a line of horses bred from a divine horse given by the god of horses and horsemen). These are called Deacons, Churchmen and Heirs.

Last one - Among the Dethebs of Hughijen’s deserts, they have sayrmin. They have priests as well, but the sayrmin are a cross between priests and spiritualists. The sayrmin themselves will typically bargain away their service and their souls for power, and then spend their lives assisting others in doing the same. Of course, most of these men are fraudsters and con artists, but there are some who are the real deal. They organize adoration for the divine, and in return receive power or favors. Some consider them to be witch doctors, but that isn’t the best classification. Each serves a different god/spirit or set of spirits, so they can vary greatly as well.

I hope this gives you some good ideas to expand on!

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