by Gunther Hrafngrim
Enemy - an evocative term. Webster describes an enemy as one who is antagonistic to another; esp.: one seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent . I have heard more than one Asatruar refer to "Christians" in such a way, but is it right to hold this view? The purpose of this essay is to evaluate the state of relations between these two religions, and propose a possible alternative.
At a recent regional gathering, I saw T-shirts with clever anti-Christian slogans ("My Gods were ruling the Earth while yours were still in diapers!"), and a folksinger played songs like "Just another zombie for Jesus" at center stage. Funny stuff, and we all laughed. But I caught myself thinking, if my Christian friends and relatives were here, would I be proud of this? Many folk in the Asatru community today refer to Christians as Xians, Kristjans, or christians, as a way of showing their disapproval, enmity, or derision of this religious path.
In a way, it's very natural for former Christians who have become heathen to deride the religious majority. Certainly, 20 years ago when I made my break with Christianity, I felt driven to scoff at my former compatriots. I have noticed, however, that as I grow more secure in my religious beliefs, I grow more tolerant of others. I have, in a sense, been 'around the block' a time or two - and I know how hard it is to strike out on your own religiously. We American heathens live in a country overwhelmingly Christian. Every day I am bombarded with both overt and subtle Christian messages, and occasionally this makes me truly angry. Heathen children have it even worse, because Christian kids are just as intolerant as their parents - and a whole lot more cruel.
The culture we live in will remain Christian for a very long time, a fact that is unattractive to the heathens I know. For the foreseeable future, our employers, neighbors, families, and friends will be mostly Christian. The folk we invite to our Hof's for the first time will likely be Christians as well - they may leave as heathens, but they were probably raised Christian.
All this is uncomfortable, but it is a fact. The question is - How will we carry ourselves in this environment? As I see it, we have several options: We could be abrasive and attack the Christian religion; We could hide; or we could learn to live with our Christian neighbors. As my father in law always says "You catch more bees with honey than vinegar." Most of us know folk who have decided to throw their religious diversity in the face of Christian folk, I have been one myself. In my experience, this attitude only serves to highlight differences, and make those very threatening indeed, and hiding does nothing to further our religion.
I presume that my fellow Asatruar feel as I do - that Asatru is the best religion for the growth and benefit of all mankind. If we really feel that way, does it not behoove us to act as if it were so? Will not the voice of our actions speak volumes about the rightness of our path? When folk know us well enough to ask about our religion, let us speak from a position of good will and status in the community. Let us be helpers in the community, volunteers working for the betterment of mankind. Let them find us as leaders, workers, statesmen (or women), and yes - clergy. When asked about your religion - emphasize the similarities. In a gentle way, bring to mind all the Heathen practices that are the backbone of our culture. Emphasize that fact that almost all the fun things we did as Christian kids were, in fact, heathen in derivation. Casually mention that the underpinnings for our calendar and legal system are derived from Heathen practices. In this way, we will show the inherent validity of our way. In addition, we can show those interested in joining us the security of knowing that an Asatru lifestyle is not one in which one gives up all the good things we grew up with - like Eoster eggs and Yuletide gifts. Rather, in Asatru we have salvaged the good of our ancient heritage, and added new dimensions of wonder by bringing our elder traditions alive.
Live the Truth, and the Truth will Live!
The Kindred of Ravenswood
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