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by Lucius Marius Fimbria
This essay was posted to the Nova Roma mailing list in response to a question about the Religio Romana.
...You have arrived only recently, so are perhaps unaware of just how integral religion, the Religio Romana in particular, is to the lives and outlooks of many of our Citizens. We are attempting to revive a culture in which religion was very much a consideration in all of public and a great deal of private life, from the timing of political gatherings to the timing of births. It would not be Roman culture without the Religio; it is only the modern world that has seen the need to separate the doings of man from the involvement of his gods, and I'm not so sure that's been an improvement.
I am not myself a practitioner of the Religio Romana, but I think I can be considered an admirer at least; I know something went out of the world when the Vestal flame was extinguished, and I'm glad to have it back again. My life would lose a lot of its flavor without the Religio at least humming loudly in the background! I find this to be true for most of the people I've had a chance to discuss this with; our Religionists are uncommonly devoted, and even those who do not follow the Religio itself tend to be more devout practitioners of whatever faith they do hold. I have heard many beautiful things expressed on this List by everyone from Asatruar to Shintoists. Something in the air here just seems to encourage a near-constant reflection on sacred things...
There is also a practical benefit to the emphasis on the Religio. It tends to weed out the intolerant and those who cannot find it in their hearts to at least respect, if not partake of, other modes of belief. We are perhaps a great deal smaller because of this, but I think it makes us truer exemplars of the best of Roman civilization — itself a very cosmopolitan and tolerant thing. I'll take quality over quantity anytime!
I do see how an OVERemphasis on religious matters could be harmful to our recruiting efforts...but the same could be said of an overemphasis on domestic life, military affairs (my 'thing'), politics, social structure and/or any other one aspect of this diverse cultural setting. In-your-face anything is a turnoff. I prefer to let my friends who are prospective Citizens know what Nova Roma is about; know that the Religio is a big part of it, although any individual Citizen is free to believe as s/he sees fit; know that there is plenty for anyone to do here in any area of Roman life that appeals to them; and then let them find their own 'centers,' so to speak. I won't push the Religio, but I will let people know it's there and that it's important to us. They may then come to it on their own, in time, if it calls to them. I've always thought that was the best way anyhow!
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