Years of God
Thank you runsforcelery
Once again thanks for illuminating all of us regarding some of your previously-undocumented thoughts behind the story of Safehold.
I have not yet absorbed all the points (or even most of the points if I am to be honest about it) in your post but must admit to being very surprised by your stating that the calendar year zero was NOT the day of Creation but rather was the time Alexandria enclave was demolished.
All the conversations your characters have had so far have strongly implied to me that the start of it all was the Date of Creation and therefore it was (to me at least) a reasonable assumption that the number of "Year of God" represented S-years after that date.
After all, how could the years between the Date of Creation and the destruction of the Alexandra enclave be called - - - "the years BEFORE God ??"
There are two dating considerations in play here. Safeholdians know the exact date and time of the Day of Creation, but the period between that and the first day of the first Year of God is considered (in their theology) much as the period between the creation of the Garden of Eden and Man's expulson from it are considered in Jewish and Christin theology. That time is part of a Golden Age, when the world was fresh and pure, there was no stain upon it, and Man had a "right relationship" with God and the archangels. Then came Shan-wei's Revolt, which is dated as beginning (not ending) with the Alexandria Strike. Remember, Langhorne struck Alexandria (according to The Book of Chihiro) only after Shan-wei had revolted and initiated hostilities by trying to seize "all creation" for her own.
The Revolt lasted longer after Commodore Pei's decapitation strike against Langhorne than you may now realize, and while The Book of Chihiro makes it clear that "Langhorne" won in the end, at least a portion of the struggle against "Shan-wei" was actually a succession fight between the members of the command crew who survived Pei Kau-yung's vest-pocket nuke. There was, in other words, a longer interval between the Alexandria strike and the end of the fighting than you may have realized. (And, for that matter, while I may or may not choose to bring this point forward in the books, not all of the inhabitants of all of the other enclaves fully accepted that Shan-wei had "turned to evil." There was fighting between the "merely mortal" inhabitants of Safehold during this time period, as well. Some people have asked where the "Plaza of Martyrs" in Zion comes from; well, the answer is that the "martyrs" in question were angels, archangels, and mortals who died "fighting against Shan-wei.")
At any rate, the Church of God Awaiting actually became the Church of God Awaiting following Shan-wei's Revolt. Prior to that time there was no need to "wait," since Man and God were living together in that Golden Age when mortals had direct access to the Divine through the intermediaries of the archangels. Now, the Church of God Awaiting was always going to become the Church of God Awaiting once the archangels had "returned to the presence of God," but that wasn't supposed to happen as soon as it happened, and the context would have been quite different.
By the same token, however, given that Langhorne had won the battle against Shan-wei, the world had remained God's. As such, the official calendar of the Church of God Awaiting is enumerated into "Years of God" in order to commemorate and reaffirm both that victory and the fact that, despite the existence of evil within it as a legacy of Shan-wei's foul ambition, the world not only remains God's but is "awaiting" its return to that Golden Age direct relationship with God.
If you want to, you can think of the years between the Day of Creation and Year of God One as the "Years Before the Fall," rather as Christians traditionally have dated the years B.C. ("Before Christ") and A.D. ("Anno Domini," which just coincidentally, I'm sure [G], translates as "Year of God). I haven't previously had any reason to use the "Before the Fall" dating convention, but it's always been there in the back of my mind.