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The Political and Religious Views of a Not Quite Normal Citizen of the Greatest Country in the World

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why I’m a Heathen

Well the obvious explanation is that Christianity never worked for me.  It was a combination of factors, really.  Firstly, we were never much of a church going family, due to various issues that will not be related here, so the only regular contact I had with the religion was though CCD.  For those not in the know, this was a class for Catholic children where we were taught, supposedly, about the faith and what we were supposed to do.  We had to take these classes in order to have our First Communion and Confirmation.  It really wasn’t a fun thing for me to do and, as I got older, it was downright annoying, especially when I would ask questions and be told that I just had to believe.  Still, this is what my parents’ wanted so I did it.  I managed to make it all the way to Confirmation (which is a regret I have as a non-believer today) and I never went back.  Secondly, I never liked the fact that anyone, no matter how atrocious a person, could say that they were sorry for what they’d done in their life and be completely forgiven.  “Let’s see here.  Vlad the Impaler.  Well, it looks like you repented on your death bed.  Welcome to Heaven.”  Sorry, that just doesn’t work for me.

Around the later part of High School I decided that I was an atheist.  There just wasn’t some big, bearded father-figure out there worried about this, and only this, planet and had the ability to be everywhere, see everything and control the universe.  Besides, the Holy Trinity being three distinct beings, who can have a conversation, but all the same being is a little too out there for me.  This decision didn’t help me with trying to get my Eagle Scout rank, since one of the tenants of the Scout Law is that a Scout is Reverent.  Through a long drawn out process, the board finally decided that I was reverent enough and gave it to me.

So I get into college and, being an engineering student, I’m not all that free to think of philosophy.  That would probably be why I was required to take a philosophy course.  An entire course centered on ideas that all depended on if God existed.  Needless to say, I was not a fan.  I argued with the professor over just about every item, which resulted in an A in the course, and never took another class like that.  Still, I think it allowed me to look into areas that I wouldn’t have before.  I took a few classes in Roman history and culture, which were quite fascinating, and rediscovered the Hellenistic Gods.  Something still wasn’t right, though, as they were nearly all-powerful beings that didn’t have any kind of consequences.

Being the kind of guy I am, a geek, I briefly flirted with the Jedi way, but that wasn’t a very good fit either.  It was just a little too made-up, if you catch my drift.  However, being that most of the Jedi stuff was online, it caused me to look at other things like that.  Eventually, many years after graduating, I stumbled across Bil Linzie's website and started reading about modern reconstructionists worshiping the Norse Gods.  It was light a flashbulb went off in my head.  This fit.  This made sense.  Not only was I a huge fan of the Thor comic book (like you didn’t already know that) but I had read the Eddas and enjoyed them.  Here was a set of deities that 1) could be killed, either through use of weapons or old age, and 2) weren’t just sitting in their halls but actively fighting to prevent the end of all things.  Call it Ragnarock, Entropy, what-have-you, they were doing their damnedest to stave it off for as long as possible.  Now that’s a group of gods I can get behind.

In conjunction with that, because these Gods are busy doing stuff, they don’t have a chance to have a personal interaction with each and every person in Midgard*, so we have to get by on our own.  However, we can get in their good graces by making sacrifices (essentially giving them gifts), which, in the Norse worldview, means that they need to return the favor.  This Gift Cycle links Mortals and Gods in a mutually beneficial relationship.  I normally only approach the Gods for the big stuff, and leave them alone for normal day-to-day items.  Add this to the fact that a person’s destination in the afterlife is dependent on their life as a whole, and I’m all for it.

Obviously, religious belief isn’t for everyone, and there’s no such thing as a one size fits all religion, but I thought that I would give you, my readers, some insight into why I made the choices I have.  Also, being a polytheist, I know that I don’t have a corner on the Truth, so I’m not going to try and convert anyone, but if any of you have questions about my religion, please feel free to ask.

* Here I’m using Midgard to mean the dimension (or universe) that contains Earth.  Maybe it’s my exposure to the comics, but I’m not one to think that the Cloud Kingdoms exist immediately above us.  Therefore, Asgard, Midgard, Hel, Jotenheim, et al exist each in their own dimension, with certain portals, such as Bifrost, able to bridge the dimensions.  Of course, that make the Midgard Serpent absolutely ginormous, which I don’t like to dwell on too long.

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