At tor.com, a post by Ruthanna Emrys: Five Books About Invented Religions
Delve deep enough into linguistics, and eventually you’ll want to try constructed languages, with new vocabularies and grammars that illustrate the principles and limitations of those that occur naturally. Spend enough late nights arguing theology, and you start wanting to make up your own. My first-ever business card was for the half-joking Discount Deities: custom pantheon creation and appropriately biased origin myths….
Okay, so, which five books is she thinking of?
1. Stranger in a Strange Land — I have had no inclination to re-read this at any time in the past 30 years. I suspect it would not have worn well.
2. Cat’s Cradle (Vonnegut) — Nothing by Vonnegut ever worked for me.
3. Steerswoman (Kirstein) — Ah! This is an interesting choice. I would not have thought of this one AT ALL. Why is it on this list?
The Steerswomen may be thoroughly secular humanist, but they certainly seem like a monastic order, and treat their work and their vows as sacred.
Well, well, I don’t know. They seem too secular to me to look much like a monastic order. Yet the precepts by which the Steerswomen live do seem rather like religious precepts, like the thing about never telling a lie and never providing answers to anyone who lies to them. Maybe this is a better choice than I thought at first.
Other books on this list:
4. The Five Gods series (Bujold) — I was waiting to pounce if those weren’t on this list. But not to worry, here they are. One of the best fictional religions out there.
5. Parable of the Sower (Butler) — SAA; I also had this one in mind.
Well, now it’s hard to add more titles to this list. Emrys got the two that leaped immediately to the top of my list. Yet I’m sure there must be others.
Okay, how about:
6. The Bene Gesserit in Dune. If the Steerswomen count, then surely the Bene Gesserit must.
7. How about the healers in Dreamsnake (McIntyre)? Don’t they sort of treat their calling as a religion, especially their handling of the little dreamsnakes?
8. A Thousand Nights (Johnston) — the shrines to the little gods made by praying to recently deceased people, that whole thing feels like a real cultural tradition. Of course praying to a living person and making her into a living god was the pivotal item for the whole plot. Very neat.
9. The Killing Moon / The Shadowed Sun (Jemisin) — the religious aspects to the worldbuilding felt deep and more or less real in this duology.
10. What am I missing? There must be a hundred others, right?