Day 27 has come and gone, and with it, the arrival of a painful stomach bug. Argh! Anyways, we’ve crossed the 32k words mark. Obviously, I doubt I’ll make it to the 50k mark, but that’s never been what NaNoWriMo has been to me. It’s about getting as much done as possible! Plus, my goal of blogging every day has been (mostly!) successful. Today’s blog post is about Christianity in the Steam Empire Chronicles. Click beyond the line to see my thoughts!
Christianity in the Steam Empire Chronicles is a tricky business. A minority religion, it has spread throughout the Empire, closely tied to the merchant communities in far-flung cities along major trade routes. While the concentration of Christianity is obviously stronger in the east, there are significant Christian communities in Italia, Africa, and the coast of Hispania. Some reports even place Christian communities in Caesaria, where they have found a welcome home amongst the tough colonist settlements.
After the prosecution and death of Jesus Christ, the religion took root in the eastern provinces, particularly Syria, Judea, and Aegyptus. By this time, the Imperial Senate and the House of Caesar noticed the rise of Christian power across the empire, and minor revolts would often break out between competing religious groups in communities. The Senate managed to talk Emperor Decius out of a full-fledged, Imperial-sanctioned persecution. Instead, they invited the leaders of the nascent religion to Rome, along with the head priests of the city’s Greco-Roman pantheon.
After promises of safe-conduct were established, and secured by all involved, the religious leaders met. The conversations were loud, boisterous and contentious even. Fortunately for all involved, the Praetorian guards were quick to remind all those present at the need for…civility.
At the end of the week-long conference, Emperor Decius, with the gentle nudging of the Senate eyeing additional revenue streams, made a grand pronouncement. The establishment of two Pontifica Maxima – one for the Christian religion, and one for the Pantheon of the Old Gods. These people would be directly responsible to the Emperor, who was considered the final arbitrator of religious discussion in the empire.
Oh, and they’d pay their fair share in taxes too, especially on land and territory. The emperor (and the senate) was fairly pleased at this. The religious leaders were not so pleased. Until the Christians were reminded that, without Imperial sanction, they would be turned out of every town, every city, and refused component of Roman citizenship, regardless of family or wealth. But the Emperor was equal in his use of Imperial power – the priests were reminded that the Emperor could decide to tax every single tribute, every temple, and every countryside villa.
Both sides hemmed and hawed, but finally surrendered. The final decision Decius left to them. Each group would be able to choose the Ponticus Maximus… for the other side. This led to some truly spectacular discussions. Hours later, the two finalists were sworn in as the new Pontifica Maxima of the Imperial Roman Empire.
This peculiar, but mutually supportive dual-religion structure has helped to stave off religious warfare in the empire. Each side wishes to raise up someone who is moderate and less-propagandizing, whilst also securing the best possible leader for their own side.
Christians are still regarded with suspicion in many parts of the Empire due to their ‘hidden’ and ‘strange’ rituals that occur inside their churches and hidden religious pilgrimage sites. Unlike the temple sacrifices and ceremonies that occur in public for the Old Gods, those of the Christian god concern people, especially in the northern and western parts of the empire, where the Christian communities are small and insular.
Hopefully that gives you some clues about how the Christian population and structure of the religion in the Steam Empire Chronicles came to be. (As a reminder, this, and everything like it, is a work of fiction, so be nice!) If you’ve got any questions or other things you think could be added to flesh out this background, let me know! Remember that Steel Praetorian, is on sale on December 1st, which is only four days away! You can grab your copy for pre-order now!