To be orthodox within a religion means to be traditional. It means that the rituals, forms of worship, doctrine, and creeds can all be traced back (nearly identically) to the original way it was done.
There will, inevitably, be some variation along the way, simply because the act of passing things on to future generations won’t be accurate. Something will be remembered incorrectly, or a substitution will have to be made when something can’t be found (such as a specific ingredient for incense), but the act of worship in an orthodox tradition will feel strangely other to someone coming in from a religious tradition that has emphasized constant growth and improvement in doctrine.
But the beauty of orthodoxy is that even though the tradition stays the same, it can still experience the same growth and improvement in doctrine. In those cases, it means a religious body has deliberately tried to keep ancient ways of worship relevant to their lives.
Orthodox traditions may be slightly out of sync both with other religious factions from the same religion, and also with the world as a whole. They take the act of living their faith to be a very serious thing, and while they may not celebrate all the same religious holidays, the ones they do celebrate will be grand and glorious (or, at times, somber).
There will always be factions straddling that divide as well, between modern and orthodox.
- Does your religion have a faction which clings to an old way of doing things, even if they are viewed as antiquated or strange?
- How does that faction’s religious practice differ from the common way?
- Have there ever been any tensions between factions over different ways to worship?
Leave a comment below if you have any questions! Thanks for stopping by!
Rebekah Loper began creating epic worlds and stories as a child and never stopped. She is the author of The A-Zs of Worldbuilding series, and has a fantasy novella published in Beatitudes and Woes: A Speculative Fiction Anthology.
She lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband, dog, two formerly feral cats, a small flock of feathered dragons (…ok, ok, they’re chickens), and an extensive tea collection. When she is not writing, she can be found battling the elements in an effort to create a productive, permaculture urban homestead.