The biggest challenge I'm facing thus far in the new fantasy story I'm developing is the religion. I've been struggling over this for more than a month now, trying to piece together a fake true religion. No wonder I'm confused!
I'm basing my main character's homeland very loosely on Israel in the Old Testament. It is a legalistic country with the religious and governmental aspects irrevocably entwined. It is also pre-Messianic, and the people of Khairdazh have, of course, vastly re-interpreted their prophecies to line up with how they would like to see the future. They are about to declare war on the country next door.
Although I have not duplicated the system to include animal sacrifice as was practiced by the Jews, still I expect that one of my themes for the novel will be Psalm 51:16-17 (or its Khairdazhian equivalent): "You (God) do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (New International Version)
I feel like a tightrope walker, and my physical balance has never been very good, probably because of my poor eyesight. I'm not sure my mental balance is any better. I've received a bit of advice from a couple of pro writers who have already built these kinds of worlds and religious orders. I'm feeding my crit group pieces as they take shape, and I'm evaluating their very valuable responses. I'm reading more in the Old Testament, and I'm praying. Slowly, gingerly, I slide one foot further out onto the tightrope, and try to keep my balance. This aspect is a huge part of the foundation of this new novel, and I don't dare get too far into the other areas of pre-planning until this is solid.
I suppose that's good. Not only was Rome not built in one day, but it's not like I don't have a writing project already on the go. Sigh. Time to stop philosophizing and go for word count on my current novel.