The Joshuite faith is not Christianity, but is much closer to messianic Judaism. The religion teaches its members to question the world and what a person knows, including the laws of the faith itself. Scholars record dissertations from renowned members of the faith, which discuss the importance and meaning behind passages of the book of Adonai, the book of David, the book of Solomon, and the book of Joshua, discussing symbolism and imagery, and what is meant by specific passages within these books. A Joshuite does not blindly follow the rules and traditions of the faith, but instead tries to understand why these things exist, and what the importance of them are. A Joshuite who blindly follows the faith is a poor Joshuite - one who questions the faith, gains understanding, and follows the tenets with a clear mind and open eyes is a good Joshuite.
Deeds, Not Words
The common Joshuite is someone who is dedicated to the community. He believes that his actions are important - that what he does in life is rewarded in the afterlife. To this end, a Joshuite must act to better his own life and the lives of those around him. This is done through deeds, acting to aid those around him through acts of charity and kindness. A Joshuite will not act in a manner contrary to his faith, but he will act to help anyone - whether they are Joshuite or not - because doing so strengthens the community.
A Joshuite does not preach or attempt to convert others to the faith. A person must, of their own will, decide whether or not they wish to be a part of the religious community, and attempting to preach or convert others is an attempt to usurp free will. Ravana used words to corrupt Adonai's servants, and as such the faith is well aware of how poisonous words can be. Good deeds and a strong faith do more good than any amount of words can. A Joshuite leads by example, showing how serving Adonai has strengthened the soul and brought joy to the faithful.
Worship and sermons are done within a church, which is open to the public at all times. On holy days, the bells of the church ring, inviting everyone to come in and listen to stories from the sacred books, to discuss passages from such books and their meaning, and to pray and sing. After prayer, a meal is provided for those who are hungry, and the community discusses any local concerns and exchange gossip and news. In this way, the church concerns the community has and keeps informed so that it can act appropriately. Attendance is not mandatory - one comes to the church when they wish, whether they are members of the Joshuite faith or not. Those of other faiths are welcomed to attend and observe or take part in the proceedings as they wish.
Until the recent past, the Joshuite faith was monotheistic. Within the last ten to fifteen years this belief has shifted towards monolatrism - the belief that there are multiple divinities, but that the faith only worships one god. This is not the same as henotheism - the worship of one god, but with equal validity of the worship of other gods (which the Arin Faith espouses). The events surrounding the rise and coronation of the new king and queen of Tarantis has helped solidify this shift in the faith, as the Angelic Choir has accepted and allowed the presence of the Arin faith within Siren's Cove and the blessing of the Crown by Arin divinities. This divine acceptance of the presence of a once-rival faith has allowed a shift in the perception of the world, and Joshuite scholars are still in the process of debating and discussing the significance of this event. As it stands, the Joshuite faith believes 'yes, there are other gods, no we shouldn't worship them'.
Adonai is recognized as the one true god of the Joshuites, and the Archangels and the Angelic Choir are the servants of Adonai, acting as His agents. Within Cordona, the reverence of saints - those who have died for the faith and who have been accepted as true servants of Adonai - has grown and taken root. The higher ranks of the faith have accepted this concept, though does not actively promote it, and allow that one who has passed on with the grace of Adonai can return to provide assistance to those who still live. As such, 'saints' are of a position beneath the Angelic Choir, and given respect.
The Sophist Heresy has taken root in R'Tal, and is accepted there by the Queen. Because of the shift in views of the church, the Sophist Heresy has been questioned again, and may be accepted as a core part of the faith in the near future - time will tell. This heresy believes that Joshua had a wife or companion named Sophia, a servant of Shekhina - either the female aspect of Adonai, or Adonai's beloved companion. While some stories within the Joshuite texts state that a woman follower (or companion) of Joshua guided the people west, it is still debated whether this figure actually existed, or whether she is worthy of the devotion that Joshua was given.
It is understood that the world is a riddle, a complex question presented by Adonai to the faithful. It is the duty of the faithful to try to understand the world and everything within it, and once this riddle is solved, the people will be able to step into the Third Garden and join Adonai. The pursuit of knowledge and understanding is a prayer to Adonai, and one should always attempt to learn and question the world around themselves. A farmer learns how to tend his crops, allowing him to provide food for the community, and must study his methods and techniques - searching for a way to do the most good. Tried and true methods may give way to better techniques, and while one method may provide more crops or greater meat from his herd, it may do damage to the soil or to the herd itself and thus be discarded. His constant drive to do better helps to make him a better farmer, while providing knowledge to other farmers and ensures the community is healthy and strong. A tailor produces clothes for the community, while searching for new techniques and materials to use, providing sturdier clothing which can survive the rigours the world offers. He does not remain satisfied with the traditions handed down to him, but studies them, refines them, and passes on his knowledge and experience to others, ensuring that his customers are comfortable and content with his work. The scholar in the university questions the secrets of magic, unlocking new ways to explore the world around her, using her theoretical knowledge of the different paths of sorcery to help fund the underpinnings which may lie beneath all arts. She questions tradition and iconography, symbolism and rote, trying to find the hidden meaning behind the source of magic. Her methods and explorations help to refine the paths of magic, presenting magicians the world over with more efficient and effective techniques - it was such scholars who folded the Path of the Chorister into Joshuite teachings, finally making one of the most dangerous paths of magic in existence into something much more stable and safe to use. The scientist studies nature, whether it is the movement of the heavens, the properties of stone and crystal, or the characteristics of animals. The scientist examines the physical and metaphysical world, learning how the realms interact with one another, and the underpinnings of reality. She searches for greater understanding of how the world works, and questions the answers she has been given. The scientist brings with her the knowledge of artificing and thaumatech, creating wonders which straddle the borders of magic and science. All knowledge is meant to be explored, so that Adonai's riddle can be solved.
Psychomachia is the word used to represent the contest between Ravana and Joshua for the souls of the faithful. Joshua sacrificed himself rather than allow Ravana to claim the faithful, and Adonai granted him strength in the afterlife to help guide the faithful to the Third Garden. This ‘contest for the soul' pits the seven Virtues that Joshua taught the faithful against the seven sins that Ravana tempts the faithful with. The seven Virtues are listed in Church Arin, and ordered from the most important virtue to the least. Each Virtue also has what is called a Pursuit, a driving goal connected to it that the faithful are expected to follow selflessly.
- Pursuit: Modesty
- The virtue of humility represents selflessness. It is recognized as the ability to show proper respect, and to recognize the achievements of others. To the Joshuite Faith, the virtue of humilitas allows one to give credit where it is due, while remaining humble under such praise themselves.
- This virtue is opposed by the sin of superbia. The sin of pride represents conceit and love of the self. It is recognized as the belief that one is, or has the desire to be, better and more important than all others. It is believed by the faith that this was the sin that caused Ravana to fall from grace. Those who suffer from this sin boast of their exploits, and often claim the exploits of others as their own.
- Pursuit: Charity
- The virtue of kindness represents empathy. It is recognized as the ability to feel compassion and to extend the hand of friendship, as well as the ability to offer sympathy to another without thought of self, and without prejudice. The virtue of humanitas brings a community together.
- This virtue is opposed by the sin of invidia. The sin of envy represents jealousy and the lack of empathy. It is recognized as the inability to feel the suffering of others, and the desire to hurt others for what they possess or the desire to see others brought low. Those who suffer from this sin do not take comfort in the good fortunes of others, but wish to harm others because of it.
- Pursuit: Peace
- The virtue of patience represents moderation. It is recognized as the ability to endure in the face of hardship and to show self control when provoked. This virtue teaches the faithful to forgive the sins of others, and to show mercy when it is due. This virtue is what allows the Church to exist peacefully even when confronted by those not of the faith.
- This virtue is opposed by the sin of ira. The sin of wrath represents hatred and anger. It is recognized as the denial of truth, where one lies to themselves to justify their hatred and anger. Wrath is the sin of self-deception and impatience. Those who suffer from this sin walk the path of revenge, needing to inflict harm upon others, rather than accept the rule of law and the path of justice.
- Pursuit: Ethics
- The virtue of diligence represents care in what one does, and caution in doing it. It is recognized as the ability to place one's heart into all that one does, and to experience life. This virtue represents not only a good work ethic, where one enjoys the feeling of accomplishment, but also an awareness of the benefits of what one does, and thus all tasks are done well, with the utmost care and attention to detail.
- This virtue is opposed by the sin of adia. The sin of sloth represents spiritual ennui. It is recognized as apathy, where one does not care about what they do, and takes no joy in what they accomplish. Those who suffer from this sin do not finish their work, nor do they take care to ensure that it is done well, thus risking harm to those around them. They linger at the edges of the community, giving nothing to it.
- Pursuit: Will
- The virtue of liberality represents generosity and the ability to give of oneself without thought of reward. It is recognized as the virtue of nobility, where one's thoughts and actions are for the community, rather than for the individual themselves. The faithful sometimes call this ‘charity', but it is different from humanitas, as this virtue does not require one to feel the suffering of others to give of themselves.
- This virtue is opposed by the sin of avaritia. The sin of greed represents treachery, betrayal, and disloyalty. It is the desire for personal gain, whether or not it is deserved. Those suffering from this sin take for themselves, and give nothing to others. This is the sin often associated with theft and the sin of invidia, as the individual may seek to profit from the betrayal of others they may be envious of.
- Pursuit: Giving
- The virtue of abstinence represents moderation and self-control. It is recognized as the awareness of one's surroundings, and restraint from wastefulness. The community takes only what is needed, rather than taking what they want. This virtue teaches the faithful to practice discipline against the temptations of excess.
- This virtue is opposed by the sin of gula. The sin of gluttony represents thoughtless excess, not of just food and drink, but mindless consumption for its own sake. Those suffering from this sin lavish themselves with worldly goods, and do not think of the needs of others. They exist to fulfil their own appetites and cravings, and leave devastation in their wake.
- Pursuit: Courage and Knowledge
- The virtue of chastity represents both courage and morality. It is recognized as the ability to face temptation and derision while still remaining resolute in one's ideals. An important aspect of this virtue is discipline – the perfection of the body and of the mind by retaining spiritual purity. It is because of this virtue that the faithful put such great emphasis on the education of the people, and put equal weight on both athletic and academic pursuits.
- This virtue is opposed by the sin of luxuria. The sin of lust represents distraction through the pleasures and distractions of the flesh at the expense of work and dedication. Those suffering from this sin resist anything which may be difficult or tedious, instead looking for instant gratification. Rather than striving for knowledge, or perfection, or an ideal, the sin of lust tempts the individual to give in indulgence, at the expense of moral and spiritual purity.
The Joshuite faith is found in Northern and central Kith Kanaan, and is not heard of in the south. Below are the regions of importance for the faith.
- Ajani Plains: The Joshuite faith has nearly no presence among the Ajani. The region is under control of the Lion, and while there are Joshuites - and churches in some trade cities, like Springdale - the vast majority of the population are nomadic and follow the local faith.
- Anansie: Anansie is home to the Taw'Hid, a branch of the Joshuite faith. Anansie vanished before the coming of Joshua, and as such rely on the books of Adonai and David. The two branches are tolerant and accepting of one another, but it is understood that Anansie is not Joshuite, and is firmly under Taw'Hid control.
- Aregon: The north has posed a problem to the Joshuite faith. The Tarantis Guilds has attempted to expand in the north and 'civilize' the 'barbarians' there. While the Guild says it acts in the name of the faith, the church itself is not behind this expansion. The best it can do is send clergy to the north to try to undo the damage the Guilds have caused, and attempt to keep peace and limit suffering as much as possible. As it is, the southern clans have accepted the Joshuite faith as 'present', and there have been some who have legitimately joined the faith, but for the most part the north is still a place where the most primal aspects of the Arin faith hold sway. It is unlikely this may ever change in the near future.
- Carcassonne: There is no Joshuite presence in Carcassonne. Since the attack on the Empress by the Tarantis Guilds in 1032, no Joshuite is safe entering the Carcosa Woods. The power of the Empress finds any who are loyal to the faith and destroys them if they pass through the Woods, even under the protection of the green knights.
- Cordona: The nation-state of Cordona is nominally Joshuite. Here, the belief and reverence of saints has come into fashion, and the struggle between the nobles who revere demons and dark powers conflicts with the Joshuite faith who wish to abolish the subjugation of the people and ensure infernal forces do not gain control of the nation once more.
- D'Remes: The 'nation' of D'Remes is in no way Joshuite. The faerie courts and the seat of Raveena is a place that no Joshuite can ever hope to hold sway.
- Domremy: The nation of Domremy, on the mainland, is Joshuite, but follows a very puritanical branch of the faith that brings concern to even the most pious of Kith Kanaan. This branch does not accept sorcery, magic, or the supernatural, and believes in hard work - the arts are frivolous and a distraction from the contemplation of Adonai's will, and the sciences are considered nearly heretical. This strict branch of the faith is not accepted in Kith Kanaan, and contact with this fringe aspect of the faith is done very carefully.
- Drachen: Once under strong Joshuite control, the coming of the Dove Queen and the Shadow King has upended the balance of power here. The Joshuite faith is present and accepted in the nation, and has done well with the recent ties to Tarantis through the Tarantian Queen. There is some interplay between the Arin and Joshuite faiths in this region, as religion and politics go hand in hand within the Drachen Courts, but the presence of the Shadow King and the Templars prevents the use of faith as a political weapon.
- Nahuatl: Far to the west, across the ocean, the Joshuite faith is slowly growing and evolving. The process is slow, having been started by Jacob, son of Douglas - a fallen knight of the faith who hopes to some day bring the light of Adonai to the people living under the rule of the vampire gods who exist here.
- Northern Wilds: The Grandmother of the North, Jaga Baba, prevents the growth of the Joshuite faith in the Wilds. She accepts no competition to her rule.
- R'Tal: The nation of R'Tal is accepted as a Joshuite nation, under the rule of Queen Bridlehorn. The Sophist Heresy has deep roots in this nation, and are under the Queen's protection, allowing the Joshuite faith to meet with it's sister faith, fostering some understanding between the two branches.
- Rath Sliabh Dorca: Under the rule of the May Queen, Rath is not a Joshuite nation. Strong ties exist between Rath and Carcassonne, and there are elements of Arin worship in the region. While members of the Joshuite faith do pass through this region without incident, any attempt to bring influence into the region is rebuffed by the bards.
- Roan Isles: While worship of Kij is prominent in the Roan Isles to the far south, there is an accepted Joshuite presence as well.
- Shire Lands: The Shire had a strong Joshuite presence until the turn of the century, when a magical ritual gone awry gutted the faith. Since then, the Shire has been under strong Arin control. In 1030, many of the faithful left the Shire Lands, feeling a call to Tarantis, placing the nation almost completely under Arin control. There are still some Joshuites within the Shire, but they are a severe minority.
- Tarantis: The Joshuite faith is strongest in Tarantis, and even with the rebirth of the royal line, the Joshuite faith is dominant here. The Joshuite faith controls nearly every university and college in the city, advancing the nation in science and magic. There is no real competition here - the vast majority of the population are Joshuite.
- Wold: The nation on the far side of the Northern Wilds has the rare Joshuite clergyman visit, but the nation does not have a strong Joshuite presence.