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Religious Leader

awnlee jawking

Health warning - this isn't going to contribute to a story.

As usual, a recent meeting of my local Writers' Group started with a writing exercise.

I came up with a sci-fi storylet about freedom fighters rescuing a galactic religious leader from an evil empire. But I couldn't think of a good designation for the religious leader, so I settled on the very lame 'Archpope'. It's bugging me that I still haven't come up with anything better.

Does anyone have any better alternatives, or know of a website where I might find a list of possibilities?

AJ

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

Why not simply refer to him as the Prophet?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


where I might find a list of possibilities?


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Index_of_religious_honorifics_and_titles

The Pope's real original title is a Latin phrase that means something like Head Priest or Chief priest - I think it's Pontis Maximus or similar, but can't quickly find a confirmation.

edit to add - found it - Pontifex Maximus - - thus you could use Pontifex.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Why not simply refer to him as the Prophet?

Prophet would be correct if he started the religion. Patriarch would be better if merely the current holder of a position, and not be so Catholic, but sexist.
Custodian might work.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
REP

@awnlee jawking

I like Ernie's suggestion of Pontifex.

If the religion has been around for a while, Pontifex could be the founder, and you could use a Roman numeral to create a title: such as, Pontifex VII, but he could be addressed as just Pontifex.

Crumbly Writer

I'd go with the simple "Supreme Leader", although "Supreme Doohickey" works just as well.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

Prophet would be correct if he started the religion.


Moses is a prophet in both Judaism and Islam. Noah is a prophet in Islam (don't know if he's one in Judaism). The reason they're prophets is not because they started their religions, but (according to dictionary.com) "a person who speaks for God or a deity, or by divine inspiration" or "a person regarded as, or claiming to be, an inspired teacher or leader" or "a spokesperson of some doctrine, cause, or movement."

I'm not Christian, but I guess this definition is from the Christian Bible:

"one of a class of persons in the early church, next in order after the apostles, recognized as inspired to utter special revelations and predictions. 1 Cor. 12:28."

btw, there are a lot of synonyms for prophet. My favorites are:

oracle, harbinger, seer, augur, and diviner

Replies:   Bondi Beach  Ross at Play  REP
Bondi Beach

@Switch Blayde

oracle, harbinger, seer, augur, and diviner


charlatan, fraud, and huckster would do as well.

bb

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Bondi Beach

charlatan, fraud, and huckster would do as well.

So would delusional, schizophrenic or technically insane.

Replies:   Capt Zapp
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

The reason they're prophets is not because they started their religions

I see a distinction between historical figures referred to as prophets, and those called prophets within their lifetime. I doubt any religious leader would be called a prophet unless they started the religion.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Capt Zapp

@Crumbly Writer

charlatan, fraud, and huckster would do as well.

So would delusional, schizophrenic or technically insane.


Unless they are not. Not that I have met any seers but I think many would use the labels you both have suggested because they do not understand or believe what has been 'predicted'. I am not saying this from a religious standpoint. People always criticize what they do not understand. It's easier to say someone is a crackpot than believe what sounds impossible or preposterous. Just look at scientific breakthroughs in the last 200 years and what people said about the people that came up with the ideas. 'What do you mean there are little creatures that make us sick?' 'Man will never fly.' 'A man on the moon? You're a lunatic!' 'a wireless telephone?' 'A computer you can carry in your pocket?'

REP

@Switch Blayde

I agree. If I recall correctly, the title prophet is a derivative of one who is prophetic.

Replies:   Ross at Play
awnlee jawking

Coming from a scientific background, I have a real problem with the fairy tale and superpower aspects of many religions. Despite that, I tried to make the religious leader a sympathetic character, perhaps a little like the Dalai Lama. And definitely no smiting, miracle cures, prophesising or summary judgements.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

Thanks Ernest.

According to my browser's page search function, neither pope nor pontifex are present on the wikipedia page.

I gave a wry smile when I saw Archimandrite - I'd never heard of the name before I read Iain M Banks.

AJ

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

the wikipedia page.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope#Supreme_Pontiff

Pontifex Maximus, similar in meaning to Summus Pontifex, is a title commonly found in inscriptions on papal buildings,

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@REP

I never said prophet is only used by those who create religions. I only said "Prophet would be correct if he [a living person] started the religion".
I imagine Mohammad and Joseph Smith were called prophets during their lifetime, but was whoever took over after they died also called a prophet? I doubt it.

Crumbly Writer

@Capt Zapp

Unless they are not. Not that I have met any seers but I think many would use the labels you both have suggested because they do not understand or believe what has been 'predicted'. I am not saying this from a religious standpoint. People always criticize what they do not understand. It's easier to say someone is a crackpot than believe what sounds impossible or preposterous.

In the end, it's history that decides who's a crackpot and who's a profit. After all, the Roman's first declared Christianity a heresy, only to later make it their official religion. But, until history makes that final determination--often after hundreds or thousands of years--it's often difficult to differentiate between who's 'truly religious' and who's merely taking advantage of those predisposed to believe certain things.

For every Mohammad or Christ, there are numerous Branch Dividians! That's not religious persecution as much as it's a recognition of public perceptions.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Pontifex Maximus, similar in meaning to Summus Pontifex, is a title commonly found in inscriptions on papal buildings

And if you can't trust the authority of a building that PayPal built concerning religion, then who can you trust? :-D

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

And if you can't trust the authority of a building that PayPal built concerning religion, then who can you trust?


I'd read about the ancient title for the Pope back in the 1970s, a little before Wikipedia's time. So I'll trust the name being valid.

Bondi Beach

@Capt Zapp

People always criticize what they do not understand. It's easier to say someone is a crackpot than believe what sounds impossible or preposterous. Just look at scientific breakthroughs in the last 200 years and what people said about the people that came up with the ideas.


Perfectly true. Agree entirely. But, to modify your opening line, except when their assertions are not based in science even as-yet-unproven science.

In other words, sometimes someone with a crackpot idea is actually a crackpot. And a successful crackpot makes money on it.

bb

Harold Wilson

@awnlee jawking

Heinlein used the term "Hierarch," I believe. Feel free to make up your own term, also. I remember reading a book (part of a series) where the MC had the title "Fize of the Gabriel Ratchets."

Just sell it. If you're a good writer, that's all you need.

Crumbly Writer

@Harold Wilson

Feel free to make up your own term, also. ... Just sell it. If you're a good writer, that's all you need.

If God himself tells you that you're a Zimphwad, then trust me, you're a Zimphwad. Then again, if you're delusional, then maybe your god (little "g") isn't so good with the English language.

awnlee jawking

@Harold Wilson

Feel free to make up your own term


I'm coming to the conclusion that's the best option. The problem with both 'pope' and 'pontifex' is the implication of Catholicism. I can't seem to find any secular(?) alternatives.

Still, in a 20-30 minute writing exercise, it's difficult to come up with a storyline and invent a new religion.

AJ

Bondi Beach

@awnlee jawking

I'm coming to the conclusion that's the best option. The problem with both 'pope' and 'pontifex' is the implication of Catholicism. I can't seem to find any secular(?) alternatives.


"The Maker"?

bb

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

'pontifex'


it's actually an ancient pagan title the Catholics stole.

awnlee jawking

@Bondi Beach

"The Maker"?


To me that implies the flying spaghetti monster, not its human mouthpiece.

I suppose a secular title might be 'cult leader', but that's a pejorative term and my religious leader was a sympathetic guy - he even prayed for the souls of the evil empire's fallen troops.

AJ

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


To me that implies the flying spaghetti monster, not its human mouthpiece.


Heh. I was thinking it's short for "The Pizza Maker," the head of the New World First Church of Chicago-Style Pizza.

Think of the communion wafers!

Forgot to add: I'm all for His Royal Noodliness, but the name's already taken.

bb

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Still, in a 20-30 minute writing exercise, it's difficult to come up with a storyline and invent a new religion.

Alas, I tried that in a series about a figure in a quasi-religious movement who didn't believe in God, spirits or the soul. It made creating a religion difficult. Finally, in the final book, the character is pressed so he comes up with a series of parables which incapsulate his beliefs about how life should be lived. While the parables were only middling, at best, it opened up possibilities I'd never imagined before.

If you want a name for a profit, or messenger of God's word, then why not just use "The Messenger"? It's short, sweet and the meaning and implications are clear. In short, your character isn't setting himself up with a grandiose title, he's simply conveying what he was told, nothing less, nothing more. "The footsoldier of God" isn't bad, but that's usually used for low level disciples who carry out the commands of the church leader, rather than the leader himself.

Replies:   sejintenej
richardshagrin

Adam and Eve's sons were Cain and Able. Cain was a murderer so his name would probably not be appropriate for a religious leader, but perhaps Profitable would be a name for a rich theologian. Prophet Able.

Ernest Bywater

There's a good science fiction story where some scientists set up a fake church to the god Mota (atom backwards) while they sent about establishing a resistance movement within a captured USA.

You could always do something like that, pick a real something you feel applies to the story, and reverse it for the name. Thus, you could have a something like an Epop or E-pop if he's really into an Internet and TV operation, or a Tseirp or t'Seirp etc.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

You could always do something like that, pick a real something you feel applies to the story, and reverse it for the name. Thus, you could have a something like an Epop or E-pop if he's really into an Internet and TV operation, or a Tseirp or t'Seirp etc.

Or keeping with a general SOL motif, possibly a Kid Gib?

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

Tseirp


Although my religious leader would need to be implicated as something more than a priest, I really like the idea and 'Tseirp' is a rather good word.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

Or keeping with a general SOL motif, possibly a Kid Gib?


*** Spoiler ***

In the next week or so I hope to post an antithetical fairy tale, apocalypse and computer health permitting. The first draft is nearly finished, just a couple more scenes to add.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

*** Spoiler ***

Since we're all word smiths and incredible pedantic about usages, that's not a spoiler (a revelation about what happens in a story before readers have a chance to enjoy it), instead it's a teaser, information released that promotes your story while supposedly being for the benefit of everyone.

And yeah, my poor joke aside, "T'seirp" sounds better when read aloud, and for the few who'll take the time to examine the word, provides inside information readers will find intriguing (and a reword for being so pedantic). Also, the apostrophe, while looking foreign, further disguises the meaning.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

that's not a spoiler (a revelation about what happens in a story before readers have a chance to enjoy it


I considered it a spoiler because it gives away the story's main twist.

AJ

Replies:   awnlee jawking
sandpiper

@Ernest Bywater

There's a good science fiction story where some scientists set up a fake church to the god Mota (atom backwards) while they sent about establishing a resistance movement within a captured USA.


That's The Day After Tomorrow, an early Heinlein.

tppm
Updated:

A literal translation of "Pontifax Maximus" would be Greatest Bridge Builder, and the Pope got the title because it had been the title of the high priest of Capitoline Jove or the temple of Jove Pater (Jupiter) on the Capitoline hill.


I imagine Mohammad and Joseph Smith were called prophets during their lifetime, but was whoever took over after they died also called a prophet? I doubt it.


Prophet is the most commonly used title of the current head of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Later Day Saints, whose prophetic seat is in the temple in Salt Lake City.

Although my religious leader would need to be implicated as something more than a priest, I really like the idea and 'Tseirp' is a rather good word.


Tseirp Hgih?

Crumbly Writer

@tppm

A literal translation of "Pontifax Maximus" would be Greatest Bridge Builder, and the Pope got the title because it had been the title of the high priest of Capitoline Jove or the temple of Jove Pater (Jupiter) on the Capitoline hill.

The POPE as a bridge builder? Aside from a few exceptions, such as the current pope, that's quite a stretch--though, if we're talking about the very first Pope, trying to convince Roman citizens how to adjust to Christianity, it might fit--assuming he didn't sacrifice too many nonbelievers to force their hands.

Replies:   sejintenej
awnlee jawking

@awnlee jawking

Continuing the subject of writing against SOL norms, I'm enjoying aroslav's 'Not This Time'. Obviously it's not going to score as highly as 'Living Next Door to Heaven' but I personally rate it a better story. Thanks for sharing, aroslav.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@tppm

Tseirp


Just realised we've been beaten to the punch. TechnicDragon uses stirpe in the very enjoyable Sex Magus series.

AJ

sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer

If you want a name for a profit, or messenger of God's word, then why not just use "The Messenger"? It's short, sweet and the meaning and implications are clear. In short, your character isn't setting himself up with a grandiose title, he's simply conveying what he was told, nothing less, nothing more. "The footsoldier of God" isn't bad

Far better to use a one or two syllable word - easier to say, easier to remember

sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer

The POPE as a bridge builder? Aside from a few exceptions, such as the current pope, that's quite a stretch--though, if we're talking about the very first Pope, trying to convince Roman citizens how to adjust to Christianity, it might fit--assuming he didn't sacrifice too many nonbelievers to force their hands.

Innocent III (what a false name) appointed the bishop to speak for him. Faced with finding 400 Christians in a city of 30,000 he ordered, on behalf of the Pope "Kill them all, God will know his own".

Replies:   Dominions Son
Harold Wilson
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

I thought Fize of the Gabriel Ratchets was pretty lame, until his alien bodyguards started saluting and saying, 'Yes, Fize!'

Longer titles sound more ancient and hierarchical, while shorter titles can be more badass.

Ernest Bywater

Once saw a cheap satirical porn flick where the bad guy was the religious leader of a group and his preferred title was Holiness, but they linked it with the name of the group he was in charge of. Thus he was constantly getting acknowledgements of "Yes, your Arse Holiness." Twas funny for a 1970s flick.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@sejintenej


Innocent III (what a false name) appointed the bishop to speak for him. Faced with finding 400 Christians in a city of 30,000 he ordered, on behalf of the Pope "Kill them all, God will know his own".


Catholics, not Christians. That crusade was against the Cathars, who were nominally Christian, but considered heretics by the Catholic church, not Jews or Muslims.

Also, while in a letter to the Pope, Amalric claimed that 20,000 were killed, the towns population at the time is estimated at less than 15,000.

The phrase "Kill them all, God will know his own", or any variant there of was likely never actually said.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_at_B%C3%A9ziers

Not_a_ID

@Ross at Play

I doubt any religious leader would be called a prophet unless they started the religion.


The Mormons will disagree with you on this, as they adhere to the biblical usage, and believe revelation is still possible in the modern day.

Although they have an "authority"(relevance) filter they can run things through. While your Bishop may get a revelation about you within his capacity as Bishop. Your next door neighbor shouldn't(unless he happens to be said Bishop), for example. Also such events are normally exceedingly rare, so if it is happening multiple times a year, something is up.

Of course, the really fun thing is they actually do have a "trust, but verify" out process for such things too. So, if you don't get some kind of spiritual affirmation of your own, you're either not righteous enough, or the other guy is taking you for a ride. There is a reason why Mormons have several hundred splinter-sects of their own already.

So basically for them, anyone can potentially be prophetic, but the scope of their "prophecies" would be limited(due to authority constraints). Likewise, due to said constraints, there is only one PROPHET with full authority. Although they usually call him "President" with emphasis on the "preside" part of word, as he is considered "The Presiding (Spiritual) Authority."

MadMcAl

Depending on the type of religion and the pomp they use you can try Pontifex Maximus, or if you want it a bit more exotic, Hierophant (literally translated means something like presenter of the holy and in usage roughly chief priest), or Archon (means ruler, but sounds nice).
If you want it more humble, you could try eldest (interestingly priest can be translated to elder) or teacher.
Otherwise, you can find some help here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priest#Ancient_priests_and_priestesses

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