Secularisation in Knootoss
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Tanah Burung Independence
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"The disenchantment of the world"In the past, religion in Knootoss was quite clearly structured. Most people belonged to Christianity and attended the Roman Catholic Church or one of the Protestant churches. But since the second half of the 20th century this condition has changed considerably: the churches lost their central position and their membership went down, new religions were introduced to the country and all kinds of religious movements sprung up. This phenomenon is often described by the term "secularisation" It has also been called “the disenchantment of the world” as life and thought were removed from religious and metaphysical control. There are many beautiful and huge churches and cathedrals left in the Dutch Democratic Republic, but those not yet converted to art galleries or supermarkets remain almost empty on Sundays, not to mention the other days of the week.
Whereas in the past people ascribed many events to divine interventions and interpreted history in religious terms, nowadays Knootians feel they themselves can steer developments in the world, thanks to technological and industrial progress. This is perhaps best exemplified in the Knootian saying that “"What man has joined, nature is powerless to put asunder.”
This new understanding has diminished the role of the churches and their leaders. The role of religion has greatly changed and is still changing. Churches form a minority and belonging to a church is a personal choice. From the bishops and pastors, people expect inspirational guidance rather than directives. Too often the Catholic Church for example has been, and still is, insensitive to the aspirations of its members. This has created many conflicts. Women in particular are dissatisfied with the role they are allowed to play in the church. This process has also caused less trust in authority and hierarchy, with a greater stress on individual freedom and a critical attitude towards church and society.
Religion in Knootoss is in a period of transition. For some it is a frightening experience that the old church institutions are dying. Others consider it to be a period of serious challenge: a period in which believers try to find new ways in a society which has radically changed and in which the church has lost its powerful position.
History of religion in Knootoss
Christianity is not the original religion of Knootoss. Up till the 7th and 8th century the several tribes practiced their own Germanic religion. But through the influence of missionaries Christianity was introduced in the tradition of the Holy See. In the course of some centuries Christianity settled and became institutionalized. Of central importance during the Middle Ages was the difficult process of integration of the Christian faith into the existing Dutch culture. The traditional religions kept their influence on the ordinary people, alongside Christianity. But the Church as an institution was not able to tolerate opposition or dissent. Only in the late Middle Ages, Christianity turned out to be superior over the traditional religions. This "triumph" was marked by the large scale Witch-hunts (15th-17th century) in which members of traditional beliefs (especially women) were eliminated.
During the 16th century many reform- and protest-movements (Reformation/Protestants) touched Knootoss. Protestants started their own congregations and worship (in the vernacular instead of Latin). Believers themselves ruled the congregations. Church officers (ministers, elders and deacons) were democratically elected by the people. It was the influence of Calvin that was formative for the protestant church in Knootoss.
During the war of independence against the Catholic Emperor of Lavenrunz political liberty became identified with the Protestant cause. The Catholics, concentrated in the south, found themselves at the losing end. Catholics were excluded from many public offices and were only permitted worship under strict conditions. As a consequence Catholics in Knootoss developed a close-knit community, even a ghetto mentality.
The 17th century was a period of consolidation for the Knootian Dutch Reformed Church. It developed into being the privileged church and the church of the establishment. Other churches were not accepted but more or less tolerated. By the 18th century the winds of liberalism and rationalism began to blow through the Reformed Church, and lasted for a long period, especially through the influence and importance of the establishment (middle and upper class) in this church.
The churches faced a serious challenge during the time of the industrial revolution. The church had to take a stand in the many social conflicts in this period. Again the churches often supported the upper class of society. The result was that many of the working class turned against the churches.
At the same time movements within the churches emerged which reacted against the influence of the state upon the church and the growing domination of liberal theology. (See: Nineteenth century Knootoss ) In 1843 and 1886 two groups broke off from the Knootian Reformed. Their aim was to restore the church's original orthodox character and the authority of the reformed confessions. Since this period the Reformed tradition has been exposed to several split-off's, mainly caused by theological differences.
In the course of the 20th century many changes have occurred within the churches. The defeat in Tanah Burung (See: Tanah Burung Independence ) and the end of Colonialism shook the Christians awake from their complacency and made them understand that isolation was not possible. This "national trauma" also stirred other societal developents and modernisation.
The Catholic bishops were quick to understand people's need to think for themselves, with similar developments taking place in Protestant churches. In the sixties, several bishops encouraged the idea of a church based on authority from within rather than imposed from without. This liberalization was resisted by Rome. Suddenly Knootian Catholics found themselves world famous for their progressiveness.
In the seventies the appointments of conservative bishops antagonised the Catholics greatly, creating a rift within the Catholic community. 'Discussion groups' were formed in almost every community, debating all kinds of issues, including the Resurrection and the papacy itself. This prompted accusations of heresy from more conservative nations, and several high-profile Catholic thinkers were called to the Vatican to account for their writings and teachings. The Catholic Church in Knootoss rebelled, almost in state of schism, with many having come to regard the Vatican and the papacy with suspicion. While many remained nominally Catholic, they had come to reject many of the Church's traditional teachings on issues such as contraception and homosexuality.
A papal visit to Knootoss in 1985 was marked by low crowd turnouts, small-scale rioting and the creation of a group which wanted to show the 'other face' of the Roman Catholic Church. Although the papal visit was planned down to the most minute detail, a member of the movement ruffled some feathers with a controversial speech she gave in the presence of the Pope where she asked him: Are we dealing in a credible way with the liberating message of the gospel if a raised finger is preached rather than an outstretched hand; if no room but exclusion is offered to unmarried couples, divorced people, homosexuals, married priests and women? The pope did not respond substantively to the points she raised, but did thank her for her frankness.
Despite the Papal visit and a special Synod there was to be no return to the 'good old days'. Like the rest of society, Catholics now insisted on participation and discussion. They wanted to play their part in church affairs and base their understanding of faith no longer on church authorities, but on personal conviction and conscience. Many Catholics left the church or refused to go to Mass on Sundays. Today, the participation of remaining Catholics in the life of the church is high. Laypeople are generally well-educated and knowledgeable in their profession so they feel at par with the priests and put their rightful claim on shared responsibility.
Despite a process of (re)unification between the Protestant churches which has led to the Nederlands Hervormde Kerk Knootoss (NHKK) there is still a great variety of churches which are shoots from the stem of the Reformation.
The Humanistic tradition in Knootoss is a mixture of different aspects, forms and contents. Secular Humanism in Knootoss is morally and politically directed towards a more “humane” society, which is not meant in a way to discriminate against non-humans but the term predates the politically correct terminology for “sentients”. Instead it refers to a society where freedom, justice, tolerance and respect for the dignity for the sentient person take a central position. God's will, his existence or his revelation, as well as religious practices are judged to be purely human in origin.
The Humanistic Society (Humanistisch Verbond) was erected in Knootoss in 1946. This was an effort to be on an equal footing with the churches and religious bodies. The Humanists followed the patterns of meetings and social involvements as set up by the churches. On the Sunday mornings: songs and lectures. They organised youth work and leisure activities; visited the sick and the old, etc. Their social concern was and is is based on universally accepted human values but without the religious dimension. Although many Knootians feel at home with the humanistic way of thinking, only a few feel inclined to formally join the humanist movement, which charges substantial membership fees.
The first encounters with the Elvish faith was during the war against Lavenrunz when mysterious elves presented William of Knootcap with the Light of the West. Serious elvish immigration however started in the 19th century when people like Galadriël Tárálóm nos Círdan entered a resurgent Knootoss. Immigration continued in waves, usually by refugees from nations hostile to non-humans. The Republic was a bastion of tolerance, and the Elvish community flourished and their Faith was freely practiced.
Today there is a a large and vocal Elvish minority of about 13,4 percent of the population. (81,7% is human, predominantly Dutch) and most elves still follow their spiritual traditions.