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by Eric Bould
The Manichean scripture is called the Book of the Astavedas, and is written in Darmine (the text is extensively annotated in Anglic, however). The Astavedas were holy teachers of the Mimyana sect of Deism during the Long Night. Their essays on the nature of God and the practice of virtue were collected into the book that bares their name (the book itself is considered the last Astaveda, as it is a compilation of the pith and wisdom of the collected whole). A secondary set of scriptures, the Lesser Commentaries, consists of expoundations on the Book, as well as bios of the Astavedas themselves.
The theology of the Church Manichean posits the existance of a single God who is all-loving, and all-knowing but not all-powerful. Having given free will to living creatures, it cannot prevent suffering and evils resulting from that gift. Sapient minds must rise above petty hatreds to ensure the triumph of love and the completion of God's creation. Because of the perils of the Universe, the virtuous soul must cultivate determination and fierce will to oppose evil every waking moment. As a reflection of God's purpose, the sapient mind strives to impose order and harmony. Evil men and the randomness of creation may upset one's work, but the individual earns God's grace by participation in the effort which will one day bring about the Creator's will.
The Church is organized into three levels beyond the laity; Keepers, Rectors, and Deacons. The Deacons are the regular clergy, and have educational as well as spiritual duties. The Rectors are mainly concerned with administration, and run the individual church properties, as well as overseeing the districts. The Keepers function is mainly ritualistic and educational; having passed through the Rectorate, they are expected to be above political and social matters. Only Keepers may read from the Book of the Astavedas in front of the congregation.
The different levels vary by dress as well. The typical garb of the Manichean clergy is a simple brown robe with a high collar. Deacons carry a small wand and wear a rough belt of rope. Rectors carry a wooded staff and wear a set of heavy iron links around their necks. keepers bear and iron keey and a collapsable fan. The most senior Keeper carries a large two-handed sword known as the Sword of Truth.
Most Balduri are reverent of the Church, and are unwilling to tolerate any sort of disrespect to it. Cuffs and whacks are not uncommon to those who would poke fun at it. Some would say that the Balduri are overly sensitive in this matter.