Oswinism

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An 18th century icon depicting Oswin the Saviour, from north Wallasea

Oswinism is a textual religion centred on achieving eternal salvation through the study of Oswin. Oswinites believe that Oswin conveyed God's purpose for the universe while he lived on Earth. The full account of Oswin's journey to salvation is written in qualitative metre in the Verses, the foundational text of Oswinism. Oswinites live by the example of Oswin; in recognition of his life, the pursuit of eternal salvation is called the Journey.

Oswinites are spread across Wallasea, Arterus, and Veridis. Oswinism shaped the development of world philosophy and politics, and is one of the world's major religions, alongside God Worship, Pantheonism, and Providentialism.

Oswin the Saviour

Oswin is thought to have lived during the 9th century AD. He was born in present day northern Prekovy, and lived during the Varnian invasions of Wallasea. His ethnicity is the subject of debate; Wallasean Oswinites believe that he was a native Wallasean, and Arteran Oswinites believe that he was the son of Varnian raiders.

Oswin became a preacher in Wallasea, before being captured by Varnians and brought back to Arterus, with his two closest followers, Radovan and Yaromir.

Oswin and his followers were held as slaves of the Varnian chief Brindejar for seven years. According to the Verses, Oswin performed miracles for Brindejar, including resurrecting Brindejar's son from the dead. He was freed by Brindejar and went south, accompanied Radovan, Yaromir, and two of Brindejar's men whom he converted: Averix the Fantasian, and Gudbrand the Varnian.

As a penalty for his preaching in southern Varnia, Oswin was maimed, and his hands were removed by Chief Geir. He continued performing miracles for many years, despite the loss of his hands. The details of his death and ascension to heaven are unclear; Wallaseans believe that he returned to his native Wallasea while Arterans believe that he died in present day Fanta.

History of Oswinism

Oswin's Journey was transcribed into the Verses by his closest followers: Averix, Gudbrand, Radovan, and Yaromir. After Oswin died, his four followers began the first Oswinite churches in Wallasea and Arterus. They established their churches as autocephalous.

The Wallasean and Arteran churches were not in close contact with one another, owing to the great distance between them. Over the next five hundred years, differences in translation and usage created subtly different accounts of Oswin's Journey between the two continents.

Easier navigation in the 15th century allowed the Oswinite churches to communicate with one another once again. Church leaders realized the degree of doctrinal difference between the continents, and convened the Council of Trogg in 1520 to bring the churches back into communion.

The Council was deeply divisive. The Patriarchate of Ostrava asserted that it was first among equals, owing to Oswin's birth in what had become the Principality of Ostrava. It insisted on changes to Wallasean rites. Reformist groups in Flamaguay used the Council to insist on their preferred doctrine of salvation by faith. Communion was only achieved by expelling the Patriarchate of Ostrava and the Bishopric of Flamaguay, and by excluding from the dogma interpretations of Oswin's life beyond the Verses, which were very different in Arterus and Wallasea. The Apostolic interpretation of the Verses emerged from the Council of Trogg. The Ostravan and Flamaguayan interpretations were crystallized in the Slavonic, and Reformed traditions, respectively.

The divisions created by the Council resulted in war between Apostolic, Slavonic, and Reformed polities in Wallasea, the founding of messianic sects such as the Karlovists, and the founding of ultra-conservative sects such as the Intransigents. Providentialism emerged in Senland during this period, although most Providentialists attribute its emergence to the action of Providence, and not to the tumult within Oswinism.

Beliefs and traditions

All Oswinites share the same essential beliefs: that Oswin was a messenger of God, who came to Earth to share the journey to salvation, and whose life was accurately recorded in the Verses.

Oswinite traditions differ mainly in the structure of their church hierarchy, and in their treatment of events which were not chronicled in the Verses. Even within traditions, churches may emphasize different parts of the Journey depending on their ethos. In general, Wallasean churches also tend to emphasize Oswin's early sermons in Wallasea, while Arteran churches emphasize his preaching in Arterus, as well as the Maiming.

Apostolic Oswinism

Apostolic Oswinism is the largest Oswinite sect, with approximately 400 million adherents in Arterus and Wallasea. Its leaders teach that it is the One, Holy Church founded by Oswin, and that it practises the original Oswinite tradition.

In Apostolic Oswinism there are several patriarchates (called "bishoprics" in Arterus and some parts of Wallasea) that oversee the Church of Oswin in different territories. The patriarch, or bishop, of each territory is elected by a council of the clergy of that church. Apostolic dogma is decided by the unanimous consent of the patriarchs and bishops.

The Apostolic interpretation of the Journey is concerned only with the parts of Oswin's life recorded in the Verses. It takes no dogmatic position on trans-Oryontic controversies such as Oswin's place of death, and as a result, it is followed by both Wallasean and Arteran churches.

Slavonic Oswinism

Slavonic Oswinism is the largest sect of Oswinism within Prekovy. It teaches salvation through Slavonic dogma, as articulated by the Patriarch of Ostrava.

The Slavonic Church is a unified religious body with a hierarchy of clergy. It is a continuation of the Patriarchate of Ostrava, whose leaders believed it to be "first among equals" of the early Oswinite churches. It split from the Apostolic churches during the Council of Trogg. The Slavonic Church, like the Apostolic, teaches that it is the only heir to the original Church of Oswin.

Reformed Oswinism

Reformists interpret Oswin's message to mean that faith alone leads to salvation. They read the life of Oswin as a pure test of his faith in God, rather than as lessons for conduct leading to salvation.

The Reformed tradition arose in Flamaguay in the late 15th century. It broke from the other Oswinite churches at the Council of Trogg, and developed as a set of separate and decentralized churches. Scholars suggest that the Reformed churches, which were often organized by nobles, may have separated from the Apostolic structure to displace the power of the Bishop of Flamaguay, an influential figure in pre-reform Flamaguay.

Reformed Oswinism is especially popular in Veridis, where it was introduced by Flamaguayan missionaries.

Intransigent Оswinism

A minority belief in every Oswinist country, with the exception of Puerto Blanco, Intransingents follow a deeply conservative form of Reformed Oswinism. The Intransigent interpretation sustains that the holy path must be followed by the entirety of the flock, and that each individual should aspire to live an austere life in which devotion is the central tenet. The Intransigent Church is mainted by a small number of clergy within a centralised hierarchy. Intransigent society seeks to infuse devotion into every aspect of terrestial existence, and places great effort on the unification of social, family, professional, and public life through reverence of Oswin.

Karlovist movement

The Karlovists believe that Oswin returned to Earth in the 15th century, to correct doctrinal errors made by the other Oswinist churches. Most Oswinites regard the Karlovists as heretics, because they interpret Oswin's Journey through a medium other than the Verses.

The Karlovist movement takes its name from the city of Karlovo, where Karlovists believe that Oswin returned in the form of a preacher. The Karlovist Oswin directed his followers to correct doctrinal errors by supporting freedom to preach the Word of Oswin, legal equality between Men and Women, the expropriation of Church property, full participation of the congregation in the celebration of the Holy Ceremonies, and the election of priests by their own parishioners (among others). His directions were written in the Program of Karlovo.

The Karlovists received legal recognition in their native Poláčekia after a number of wars. The Karlovist movement remains popular in modern Poláčekia, where it has been credited as a driving force behind Poláčekian liberalism.

Church of the Restoration of Oswin the Saviour

The Church of the Restoration of Oswin the Saviour was an independent church in southern Zegora, active from the mid-1970s to the mid 1990s. The church was considered by local police forces to be little more than a doomsday cult.

Aesthetic Oswinism

Aesthetic Oswinism does not refer to a specific system of traditions and beliefs within Oswinism, but rather to the practice of continuing to display its symbols and partake in certain of its ceremonies, while otherwise adopting a secular lifestyle. It is a negative term informally applied by clergy and traditionalist Oswinists to those who only retain a seemingly superficial adherence to the faith. Aesthetic Oswinism has been decried by the Grand Confessor of Puerto Blanco as "a plague upon the flock", indicating that modern Flamaguay, in particular, is a "hotbed of spiritual sedition".

Doctrine

Doctrine Apostolic Slavonic Reformed
Organization Autocephalous churches Hierarchy of churches Autonomous churches
Entry to faith Infant baptism Infant baptism Baptism and Eucharist
Sacraments Baptism, Communion, Marriage, Last Rites Baptism, Communion, Marriage Baptism, Eucharist, Penance
Sign of belief Outstretched right palm Outstretched left palm Outstretched right palm
Oswin's death No position Wallasea Wallasea
Oswin's parentage No position Wallaseans Wallaseans
Oswin's death No position Wallasea  ?

Spread

Demographics

Blue: Apostolic. Green: Slavonic. Red: Reformed.

Countries with substantial populations of Apostolic Oswinites:

Countries with substantial populations of Slavonic Oswinites:

Countries with substantial populations of Reformed Oswinites:

Countries with substantial populations of Intrasingent Oswinites:

Relationship with Pantheonism

Oswin is venerated within his own cult in several Pantheonist traditions, and is recognized as a minor deity of healing or as a deliverer of souls to the afterlife. This veneration is not typically considered to be canon Oswinism.