This plays right into one of the themes of my campaign: the recovery and restoration of lost religious sites. Awhile ago Roger over at Roles, Rules, and Rolls made a list of real cities that have real dungeons beneath them. As this list indicates an historic reason for the theme of dungeons in fantasy RPGs, there is also an historic reason for my own theme of loss.
I greatly sympathize with Tolkien's concept of the "long defeat," because as an Orthodox Christian I am filled with a profound sense of loss and of how precarious our world really is. Here are just a few examples of things that have been lost:
- The four ancient patriarchates of Eastern Christendom are under occupation by non-Christians and suffer persecution: Constantinople (modern day Istanbul), Antioch (now in Syria), Alexandria (in Egypt) and Jerusalem.
- Many treasures of the ancient church were destroyed during the period of iconoclasm. Countless icons from antiquity were burned and broken when the Emperor Leo III sparked a tumultuous 112-year conflict after deciding that icons were a form of idolatry.
- One of the most influential churches in the history of Christendom — Hagia Sophia in Constantinople — was first made into a mosque and now is merely a museum. It is illegal for Christians to worship there. This fate is shared by countless church buildings across the Middle East.
- Today in Turkey about 0.2% of the population is non-Muslim, meaning that Christians number less than 140,000 (Orthodox Christians hoover around 4000) in a country of 72.5 million. Lest we forget, prior to the 1920s, the number of Christians in Turkey numbered in the millions. Today's tiny population holds on despite mass deportations and a forgotten genocide.
- We also tend to forget that Turkey is one of the birth-places of Christianity. The Apostle Paul, the Apostle Timothy, St. Nicholas (aka Santa Claus), Polycarp, Irenaeus, Basil the Great, John Chrysostom and Gregory the Theologian were all from the region of modern Turkey. The place where believers first were called Christians — Antioch (Antakya) — is in Turkey. Paul's letters to the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Colossians, Timothy and Philemon were written to people living in what is now Turkey. All seven Ecumenical Councils recognized by the Orthodox Church took place in what is now Turkey.