On Religious Dogma
Posted on February 24, 2013
While I have been thinking of some other material for this site and blog, in order to get it rolling, I wanted to clear up a point that happened last week:
One of the groups Facebook that I am apart of had a moderator talking about the idea of a national Heathen organization which would focus on -as I understood it- an emphasis on religious law and liturgical continuity. This group would, as well, be instituted to provide a “face” for reconstructive Heathenry in order to fight the legal and social battles that would crop up due to prejudice and discrimination in society. Never mind that Heathenry is already one of the most rigidly defined reconstructionist faiths in terms of dogma and accepted theology, this individual thought that there were still entirely too many vagaries between groups which lead to squabbling.
However a few of us “independents”, that is, those affiliated with the Heathen traditions but not a part of the larger community brought up the subjects of Rökkatrú and Jötnatrú, Loki-worship and the people who hold affiliation with the etins of the Northern Tradition. A quick recap may need to suffice: in most mainstream Heathenry groups, Loki and the giants are reviled as enemies of the gods and are scorned, if not outright spoken against. Independent practitioners have been drawn, claimed, and begun working with this race of entities, yet are generally outcast from the society at large as destructive personalities. That is, if they’re not directly threatened against, or called wyrd-poisoners or niðings. At certain times, I have even seen the public call of their deaths by the more zealous members of that community, simply for their faith. How Christian.
(Never mind that the term niðing is probably one of the worst words that you can call someone, as it equates them with an honorless murdering dog, despite these people otherwise holding an upstanding lifestyle.)
Then rose the problem, for in fighting for inclusion for these people, I was called such. Because in the course of my comments to the moderator over what the purposes of this organization would be, a mouthpiece for Heathenry’s traditional hatred against these worshipers reared their heads. And suffice to say, we butted heads. Words were exchanged. My views were called worthless. I was equated with murderers, simply because I do not tow the orthodox Heathen line. That my words and deeds were useless, as I was obviously not Heathen and had no value to the community. That I should “show what little wit I had and be quiet.”
The humorous thing about this is that I am not a worshiper of Rökkatrú or Jötnatrú. I do not fain the giants or hold allegiance to them. I’m interested in some of their personalities, yes. I feel they represent cultures that are earlier stages in human development, and speak to the darker, more wild side of the world. I appreciate their contribution to the world, its creation and inevitable destruction.
To reiterate: I am NOT a follower of these entities. But I have several friends and colleagues who are. People that are law-abiding citizens that pay their taxes, and try to live their lives according to the honor that they have, and the wyrd that they find themselves with.
The biggest antagonism arises from the fact that I do not hold a black-and-white view of these beings. This is a later inclusion in the lore from an admittedly Christianized man who inserted his dualistic notions. Snorri Sturluson wasn’t some secret Pagan longing for the better days before Christianity. He was a Christian with a fascination in his people’s mythology, but attempted to pigeonhole it into his world view. They are individualistic, each with their own goal and biases, and are not just faceless members of the shifting morass of chaos and wanton brutality.
Never mind the fact that the Gods themselves intermixed and intermingled with the Giants. That they married them, that they set them upon their councils, that they bred with them and crossed their bloodlines. Never mind that they utilized them in the creation of the world, and broke treaties with them as it behooved their own desires. To hold these beings, and to hold their modern-day followers, in the same status as oath-breakers and murderers simply for having beliefs is the worst sort of religious dogmatism. To claim whole, unfailing, moral authority over another human based on religious preference is an aberration to traditional polytheism. It is fanaticism and fundamentalism to call for the deaths of another human being in the name of their faith. It is hate-speech, and it is against the law of both Gods and man.
It imparts a dogmatic rigidity on a cultural belief, for the culture that gave rise to Heathenry was always more about mythology than it was about theology.
It is hubris, the worst kind of hubris, to judge the Gods, and these beings, with our petty human morals. To think that we know better than the Gods? That we know their desires, their emotions, and their feelings? Truly, the arrogance of modern day humanity knows no limits. These groups saw fit to deal with the giants peaceably, and to go to war with them as it was required. Who are we to claim to know the true minds of the Gods themselves? We claim to be able to judge the reasons for their actions?
If anything, just ask yourselves: Why do you hold these people against you with such rigid hatred? What right do you have to dictate the fundamental truths that a person may hold? What authority does that give you? The All-Father saw fit to bed giantess after giantess and to sire half-giant children, to hold frith and brotherhood with a fire-haired child of the giants. Are you smarter than Odin Oneeye, who sacrificed to drink from the Well and gained the knowledge of the world?
I would rather stand outside a community that propagates the desire for the death of people that I know are good and just at heart. I would keep my wyrd free of that filth. I stand against the rigid orthodoxy which would enable this kind of fanaticism. We do not know better than the Gods, no matter our arrogance.
Our words are our deeds. Choose yours wisely, for they reflect your own honor, and the honor of your people.