By Jonas Gabrielson

Architecture, Music and Sacrements of the Church.

Thoughts on the article Churches.

Alternative Church Architecture

In Churches with Hinayana beliefs, the reader's dais in the center of the church might have a larger importance. To symbolize the Doctrine of Directed Light (the belief that only clergy and nobles recieve grace, and have to reflect it down to their flock/people), the top of the church features a mirror that will direct the sunlight directly down onto the reader's dais. This would of course only be turned on when the priest himself takes the stand -- during the sermon, rather than during the reading of the Gospels. The priest's ceremonial garb will then include reflective surfaces (possibly in some Second Republic mirroring fabric), which will cause the sun's beam of light to scatter and reflect down upon the assembled.

In such churces, the reader's dais will never be taken over by the local nobility for their exlusive use. If necessary, the dais will be built in two levels, where the lower level is for the nobles, and the higher for the clergy performing the rites. In some churches built during the Republic, the dais may even have antigrav-plates installed.

Connected with this idea, but not exclusive to Hinayana churches, is the idea of mirrors being handed out to the faithful when they walk into the church. The mirror may even form the covers of the psalm-book. Though at first used only for practical purposes (avoiding strained necks from gazing at the decorations of the inner ceiling, the way mirrors are sometimes handed out at some museums today for the same reason), it would later take on more ritual uses -- reflecting light from the Orb or the opening in the ceiling up into the face or onto the heart (beacuse you shouldn't stare directly into the sun), or perhaps for watching the interactive holograms in the ceiling playing out the gospels or the sermon as they are told (only in progressive churches, or maybe an old use now banned (though the hardware is still there in some churches)).

Just a word or two about the jumpweb pattern. In the FS Reulebook, it states that churches always have a line of large candles representing the suns of the Empire standing against the walls. The candles and their holders are ornamental, featuring scenes scenes from the gospels that took place on those planets, their names, and maybe some landscape scenes, maps or even system planetary orbits. The candle representing Holy Terra is always the largest. While the actual jumpweb pattern might be indecipherable, it might be more doable if you also use the candles (of course, the won't tell you jumpcodes, but it's a start). While the candles of lost worlds have been destroyed, lost, sold or stolen in many cases, some churches still have a complete set dating from the day they were constructed -- the candles of lost worlds have just been placed in storage-rooms in the vaults.

The jumpweb pattern is not completely visible at all times, because it is covered in parts by benches. The pattern normally starts with Holy Terra in the absolute center of the church (on the reader's dais), and then the other systems begin beneath the dais, on the floor proper. Because there is some free space between the dais and the benches, some ten to twenty stars can always be "walked" easily, as well as the few stars that appear in the aisles between benches. Of course, if you're devoted it's always possible to walk the entire path -- it's just not comfortable. Walking the entire web is otherwise done on some important dates, like Epiphany and Mortus -- the floor will then be cleared of bences to reveal the entire web. On Epiphany, the priest will follow the path of the Prophet, from Yathrib to the Vau border, as he reads the Gospels. On Mortus, when the Prophet's death sanctified the jumproads, the priest will walk across the entire web, saying prayers for each road and sun. At such simes, it is not unusual for the present Illuminated to be given a world-candle each, and stand on the web to represent that world, sometimes helping the priest to read or pray. To place the right candle at the right place, the candles and theis places on the floor are often numbered or otherwise coded.

Music in the church

What kind of music is played in Illuminated churches? Naturally, the Chorali would have a lot to say here, and they would probably be for a capella singing, though not necessarily in the form of gregorian monks chanting. The styles would be varied from planet to planet, of course -- somewhere there's bound to be some gospel singing still left.

Because there is no real place for a choir down on the floor, the church choir would be placed in gallerys halfway up on the walls, one over each ambo. This would be symbolic of a "heavenly choir", and the members of the choir would either be dressed all in white or in some luminous fabric to accentuate this. Placing a fourth of the choir over each ambo will give an opportunity to create nice echo and surround effects.

Of course, since the choir is made up from the parishioners, it will only perform on holidays and special occasions. On smaller services, either solo singing or instrumental music will be used. Again, what instruments are used would be very much up to the local culture.

Sorry if this seems a little sparse, but I just came up with this and haven't had a lot of time to think it over.

The Eighth Sacrament

Caedmon asked for an eighth sacrament, and this is my idea. The number eight is holy only because of its association with the number of disciples, and therefore it seems logical that the sacraments, like the virtues and the walls of the church, are associated to the different disciples. This is my suggestions:

A. Illumination -- Paulus the Traveller
B. Confession -- Hombor the Beggar
C. Funeral Rites and Prayer for the Dead -- Maya the Scorned Woman
D. Marriage and Bonding -- Amalthea the Healer
E. Ordination -- Horace the Learned Man
F. Consecration -- Mantius the Warrior
G. Communion -- Lextius the Knight

This is how I reasoned: a) Paulus is the patron saint of children and Questing, so baptism seemed the logical choice; b) Hombor is Confession because of his repentance during the Miracle of the Voice (?); c) Maya, while coupled to Justice, is in my mind also linked to mourning, so funerals are for her; d) Amalthea, as a sort of mother goddess, would be in charge of marriage; e) Horace is in charge of ordination because of the knowledge and Wisdom it demands; f) Mantius is part of the consecration because of the connotation with a "rite of passage"; g) Lextius is Communion because as a noble he is a link between the Pancreator and his community.

So, who's left? Why, our favourite overlooked saint, Ven Lohji the Ur-Obun (just the epithet shows how much the church disregards her -- it would be like calling Maya "the Negro" -- I'm guessing she's called something else in more liberal churches, like "the Priestess", "the Diplomat" or somesuch). It seems quite logical that she's associated with an eighth sacrament that is conveniently forgotten by most priests, or even deemed vaguely heretical. So this is my suggestion:


The Prophet is mentioned meditating in many passages in the Omega Gospels, and most of his more advanced meditation techniques he learned from Ven Lohji. For him, meditation was a form of Questing -- a Questing of the inner soul, if you will, but also a means of learning the Discipline of the Body and the Mind. The sacrament of Meditation was accepted by one of the first Church Synods, but later forgotten because of the dogmatic climate. The reasons for this were several: first, the meditation upon the riddles of the universe was too close to the Saatari of Bintaru, a practice later associated with Sathraism; second, it seemed to propagate the Doctrine of the Inherent Flame; third, it was too bothersome to organize among the laity, and most ordinary people couldn't care less about meditating once a day for an hour, because they didn't know or wanted to know how to do it.

The meditation practice resurfaced during the seconf republic, when psychics were "in", and the search for a greater meaning was "hip". The church, grateful for every morsel of belief in the increasingly secular Republic, organized meditation services and taught classes in the Prophet's form of meditation. Special rosaries were developed that would pose a different theological question or mantra every time it was used, thus helping in the meditation. Meditation rugs with sewn-in psychedelic patterns that shifted as you looked on them were also sold.

Of course, this was a fad, but the rosaries and praying mats would linger on. In some parts of the Empire, the Meditation sacrament became a daily prayer, not unlike the daily prayers of Islam. In other parts, it became a siesta, or just died out. However, in Theurgy schools, Meditation is still practiced rigorously, since it gives the Theurge the Focus and Discipline needed to use the miracles of the Pancreator. In later times, Meditation has had a small upswing, what with the Escatonics being accepted into the fold.