Americans have a naïve view of religion. The religious freedom that is so ingrained in our tradition — and our Constitution — has morphed beyond tolerance to a sort of anthropomorphic acceptance of pretty much anything.
In other words, in order to prove how tolerant we are, we take our basically Judeo-Christian view of what religion and God should be, and assume all other religions share the same goals, have the same values, and are just differing manifestation of the same loving and just God.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, the God of the Bible is unique in the history of the world’s religions. From Baal to Zeus, from Jupiter to Allah and Odin, the gods of paganism are capricious masters, not loving fathers. Control is their goal — when they think of humans at all — not justice or peace.
But saying so is sooooo judgmental!
Marvel Comics master storyteller Stan Lee took the most interesting of the Norse gods, Thor, the God of Thunder, and made him a crusader for truth, justice, and maybe even the American Way… or at least Western values.
But think of it from the view of the Vikings — what could be more capricious and destructive than the god of the weather?
But of course, a self-centered, destructive superhero who loves war and longs to be worshiped would make for a crappy comic book.
On the serious side, though, a misunderstanding of a leading world religion has serious implications for most of the current world conflicts.
Even George W. Bush mouthed the diplomatically convenient canard “Islam means peace.” Yes, and Pravda means “truth.”
A non-rebellious slave is at “peace” with his master, too.
As Nonie Darwish writes in her seminal books Now They Call me Infidel and Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law, the notion of a loving Father God who oversees a brotherhood of men is something she never encountered until she immigrated to the West. It is a Christian concept that Muslims adopt when living in Western cultures in order to fit in, or because they aren’t particularly informed about their religion in the first place (and want to fit in).
Perhaps because the Quran gives lip service to Jesus, or because of its Middle East origins, or because, quite coincidentally, the main ethnic group that follows Islam is also descended from Abraham, many act as though Islam is somehow related to the Judeo/Christian tradition, however distantly.
But Allah is much more like every other pagan deity… no matter how far flung.
Forsmark goes on to talk with Brian Cherry who, under the pen name Brian James, has recently published Ragnarok: The Hammer, Book One in a planned trilogy of novels set in the present day about the Norse prophecies of Apocalypse.
Since the end of any religion is one’s eternal destiny, we started there. Brian told me that Odin and Allah agree on the surest — and quickest — way to heaven. Not through faith in a Savior, but through sanctified violence.
Although I’m sure the original myths borrowed many of Odin’s circumstances directly from the Bible, his personality is much closer to that of Allah. The first thing that comes to mind is that he would have loved suicide bombers.
Those who went to Valhalla didn’t go there based on a belief in a savior, enlightenment or good works. You went to Valhalla based on a good death in battle. Odin would have adored warriors who killed thousands of their enemy by crashing an airliner into a building. Dying during the act would have assured their place in heaven.The Vikings also had their own 9-11, as Cherry explains.
The Vikings were also the world’s first (and arguably most successful) terrorists. They would appear quietly out of nowhere and often someplace that was undefended…a soft target. The attack on the Lindisfame monastery in 793 is not only an act of overt terrorism, but accepted by most as the start of the Viking age. They did what they did in Odin’s name, and they believe with his blessing. That is not much different than Allah smiling on his followers for killing the helpless in his name.Lindisfarne was the home of the famed monk Saint Aiden, a center for evangelization throughout northern Europe, and known for an illustrated copy of the Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John known as the Lindisfarne Gospels. When Thomas Cahill wrote How the Irish Saved Civilization, he had in mind people like the Lindisfarne monks.
To the Vikings, followers of Odin, the Lindisfarne Monastery was as major a symbol of Christianity as the World Trade Center was a symbol of the capitalist West to certain followers of Allah in 2001. And there was little booty to be gained from the raid, which was conducted in as bloody a way as possible and sent shudders through Christendom. The scholar Alcuin wrote, “The heathens poured out the blood of saints around the altar, and trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God, like dung in the streets.”
The followers of Odin did not start their war on Christianity with the attack on Lindisfarne, as Cherry explains.
Odin and Allah both seemed to have a major problem with Christians. Before the Viking age of the Norse started with the attack on the Lindisfame Monastery, the pagan followers of Odin persecuted and purged Norway of Christians. This started in late 772 or early 773 AD. The Quran (as the inspired word of Allah) also shows an intolerance for Christians and Jews.
About this time I can hear someone who had the same history teacher as Barack Obama and Bill Clinton yelling, “Hey! What about the Crusades?”
Look, like Odin, Allah made his first appearance somewhere around the 7th century. Conversion was more by force and violence than by rhetoric. While Obama seems to adopt the Third World position that Islam is the organic and legitimate religion of Arab regions, it’s worth remembering that Alexandria, the great city of Egypt, at one time was a central city of early Christianity.
So, while the Crusades, whatever their wisdom or excesses, took on the mission of “liberating the Holy Land,” to act as though it was some imperialistically religious, unprovoked attack is to pretend [the D-Day invasion at] Normandy was an act of aggression against a peaceful country.
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