20 July 2007

On Faith

I was chatting with a friend about the aforementioned video--which led to a conversation about faith and religiosity and what makes a "real" believer.

I made the point that a lot of Christians do speak out against charlatans like Benny Hinn, but nobody listens to them because it's apparently easier to laugh at the silly Christians as a whole than to say "not everyone is that way".

That should sound very familiar to us heathens, by the way--remember it the next time you see a Nazi with a valknut tattooed on his face plastered all over CNN.

Melly was telling me about how she went to a Catholic service when she was 12, and was creeped out by the ritualistic chanting and mass praying and so forth--it all smacked of brainwashing to her. I told her about how, when I was a born-again, I was quite neurotic because I was never able to give in to the mass hysteria--a whole church full of people would fall down shaking or speaking in strange tongues, and all I could do was stand there and wonder why I wasn't being "slain in the spirit". Did Yahweh forsake me?

The answer, of course, is no--I simply am one of the few people that is highly resistant to mass suggestion and hysteria. Were Benny Hinn to blow on me, I'd just stand there and tell him "Dude, Altoids--look into them."

But the whole thing gave me a neurosis. I used to kneel in my room at night and beg Jesus to save me, crying that I didn't want to go to Hell and begging for an answer about what I was doing wrong--the answer, of course, was that I wasn't doing anything wrong. I was simply immune to fakery. That, and Yahweh in all his three forms wasn't my god to begin with--so of course he wasn't going to talk to me. Sure, he'd listen--but the response was pretty much "my dear, I have all the sympathy in the world for you but you're really barking up the wrong tree."

One common thread throughout my spiritual life is that the trappings of religion never appealed to me overmuch. Pouring out an offering to one of the Aesir or Vanir (or to the spirits of the land or ancestors or what have you) has never been a super-formal thing to me. I'm just sharing a drink or dinner with them--which is what an offering is.

"Thor, I brewed this fine Imperial Stout, and I'd like you to have the first drink."

That's such a beautiful thing, an offering like that. Such an uncomplicated and wonderful thing...and something that I think a lot of people lose sight of. Ritual is nice, sure--it helps to focus the mind. But I think that some lose sight of the why when they get caught up in the what.


Getting back to "faith versus religiosity". To me, faith is life and life is faith. They're inseparable. I try to do the right thing, always. I try to live by the virtues that many heathens hold dear: industry, loyalty, honor, truth, hospitality, discipline, perseverance, courage, and self-reliance. Sure, I'm not perfect--but I fully and freely admit that. I don't pretend to be better than I am or try to be something that I'm not. I am who I am: somebody who's trying to live a life that her descendants (in this case, my nephew) will be proud to look back on and be inspired by.

And hopefully making a little luck for the little bugger doesn't hurt, either.

I don't need church for that. I don't need a hof or formal blots or anything for that--they have their place and their time, and I like being involved with them whenever I can, but I don't see them as requirements to be heathen.

I just wish more people would understand this.

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