“Happy Holidays from The Grey Wayfarer” – The Rabyd Skald

Happy Woden’s (Odin’s) Day!!!

Just a short post wishing you all happy holidays. I spent most of my morning with some of my children and grandchildren for Christmas, so this is a short post to let you all know that you are appreciated.  Thanks for reading and have a great holiday season!

Back tomorrow with another fiction post.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Holiday Struggles” – The Rabyd Skald – The Grey and The Wayfarer – Part 25

Happy Frigg and Freya’s Day!

Happy First Day of Yuletide – Mother’s Night – A night sacred to Frigg and Freya so it is fitting that it starts on their day.  Tonight was the celebration of the ancestral mothers.  it is also in some Asatru communities the celebration of the virtue of Industriousness which is a virtue associated with mothers.  To the hard-working mothers out there – Skaal.

Walking The Grey 

I am definitely struggling with the holiday season more than last year and it is because I have so much on my mind about the end of this year and what I am going to try to accomplish next year. It is not so much about missing the meaning behind holidays this year as last year, but more about the year coming to an end and the one pagan tradition that I want to observe at the end of it.  – Oath Night (Dec 31).

There is also a massive amount of uncertainty to my life right now as far as the future and I am getting help with that but it seems for every question I answer in my mind there are many more.   This has caused some sleepless nights and no shortage of anxious thoughts.  I also feel like I am alone a lot and the loneliness is pretty heavy at times.  My wife, family, and freinds are great, but there are always those lone times for me and for some reason they seem infested with walking the Grey.

Blog News:

A little news from the blog front.  I order to have some more time in the coming year to write and engage in a couple other projects I am going to reduce the schedule to one post a day.  There might be a The Rabyd Skald or s special post from time to time, but for the most part, I want the regular pattern of The Pagan Pulpit, Three A Skalds’ Life posts covering the Virtues, Of Wolves and Ravens, Odin’s Eye and Freya’s Chambers.  In short, this blog is going to take on more of the characteristics of a journal and less a platform for my art.  I really need to get going on my writing for publication, reading and another project that I am thinking of launching soon.  This just simplifies things for me so I will have the time to do the rest.

Freya’s Chambers will return next week. This week there is simply too much Grey in my life even for a lighthearted look at sex and sexuality. I will also be finishing the Rogue Wizard and Space Tramp series, but not replacing them. Peace.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Yuletide – The Original 12 Days of ‘Christmas'” – Odin’s Eye

Happy Woden’s (Odin’s) Day.    

Discussion:

I think it is no secret that what is celebrated as Christmas these days was originally a pagan holiday known as Yule. Yule differs from Christmas in that it has twelve days of celebration whereas Christmas centers on Dec. 25th.  In contrast, the twelve days of Yule were all about celebrating the end of the year and the welcoming of spring although it will take some time to fully materialize.  The Winter solstice is the focus of Yuletide along with a lot of drinking.

Considering that in Viking lands, this time of year is basically hunkering down and waiting out the winter.  One did have to keep oneself both alive with stored food and firewood but also entertained and safe from the Wild Hunt.  Yuletide is a twelve-day long party and the Vikings loved to party.

The 12 Days of Yuletide are:

  1. Mothers Night – Dec 20
  2. Night of the Wild Hunt – Dec 21
  3. Manni – Dec 22
  4. Freyr and Nord – Dec 23
  5. Feast of Community – Dec 24
  6. Eir – Dec 25
  7. Thor = Dec 26
  8. Skaldi and Ullr – Dec 27
  9. Odin – Dec 28
  10. Sunna – Dec 29
  11. Valkeries – Dec 30
  12. Oath Night – Dec 31

 

All of these days either have a feast associated with an event or gods/goddesses.  A lot of the traditions we see at Christmas are still associated with Yule – the yule log, mistletoe, decorating trees, etc.

Time to Look Through the Eye:

“To see the truth, change one eye for another”

Meditation:

Year’s End seems to have significance for all of us in a more meditative level.  For me, 2019 has been a ‘meh’ year for the most part.  It has had its high moments but there have also been some downtimes. Mostly though it was just the dull drudgery of existence that I don’t like thinking about as it depresses me, Mostly through meditation I am thinking about what my oath should be for 2020 which I will give on Dec 31st.  It is not wise to make oaths and not complete them.  Even ones given to yourself.

Mystery:

There is a mystery to my future that hits me at this time of year.  I have less and less connected to my past career and life and that is both wonderfully freeing and at the same time frightening as I don’t really know what I am going to be other than being a writer. The mystery of the future seems more prominent at a year’s end.

Spirituality:

If there is anything that hits me as far as spirituality, it is a sense of community. Introvert though I am, I fully conscious that people affect my life for good or ill and that means working hard to be true to those who have been true to me.  I guess in that sense as well, communion with my fellow man is important as well.

Conclusion:

Yuletide will probably grow more important to me as time goes by.  It does provide a platform to celebrate various holidays with people and that is a good thing.  For me, the reflective moments of the past and future are far more significant.  For me, this year is about Oath Night.  last year I did a very minor and safe oath, I need to take it up a notch this year.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Holy Days” (Asatru – Part 22) – The Pagan Pulpit

Happy Sol’s Day!

Announcements:

We don’t pray here – we figure God, the gods, goddesses, or whatever powers that be (if any) either know already, don’t give a fuck, or are busy with more important matters than our petty stuff. We also kind of assume that they expect us to do stuff that we can do for ourselves and that we will do them ourselves and not be lazy. We also believe in being good friends, so we don’t presume on our friendship with the powers that be by asking them all the time for stuff while giving them nothing in return.

We also don’t take an offering here.  We figure the powers that be probably don’t need it.  Let’s be honest, offerings are not given to the divine powers, they are given to an organization to support it.  Just being honest. God, the gods or whatever never sees a dime, farthing or peso of that money; it all goes to the church, mosque or shrine.

Theme Song: “Diese Kalte Nacht” – FAUN

Lyric Video:

Meditation:

Image may contain: text

Text: 

See the source image

If you want more details about Asatru, I can’t recommend this book enough.

Sermon:

It was a surprise to me how little I had to change things regarding holidays after I dropped my Christianity in the scrap heap and embraced a more pagan view of holidays.  Much of what was pagan, has been absorbed by Christianity. But mostly the holidays reflect the time of the changing seasons.  The circle of life.

In venerating the gods and goddesses, the followers of Asatru are simply giving their proper nods to the gods of each time of the year. Mostly there is the notion of Winter and Summer with the transition times more popularly known as Fall and Spring.  The issue of holidays is not so much one of noting special events although that does happen for heroes like Leif Ericson but rather about noting the change of the season and the unchanging cycle.

These are the Blóts of note and have their celebrations that are mostly festive although there are some somber occasions particularly in remembrance.  But the feeling I get this is more about the celebration of life, honoring the dead and giving devotion to the friends known as the gods.

For me, this was a logical step as I wanted to step away from Christian holidays as I have no desire to be reminded of them.  However, I did need to have reasons to celebrate with family and freinds and this is important from a community standpoint even as an atheist pagan. So the holidays are the Viking ones to me and so Yuletide comes soon.  They give a time of reflection and reminders of the changing times as well.

Parting Thought:

Image may contain: one or more people and text

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Before and After” – The Rabyd Skald – The Grey and The Wayfarer – Part 24

Happy Woden’s (Odin) Day!

This post is a little later than usual because I am doing a little bit of an experiment with it.  In about a half-hour, my therapist and I will be meeting via Skype and we will be hopefully discussing some of my issues so what you are getting with this installment is The Grey and The Wayfarer ‘before and after’.  So the part marked ‘Before’ is what I was thinking before I went into session and the part marked “After” is my thoughts as I reflected on them after the session.  It has really been up and down these last two weeks so I need to talk about that.

Before:

The issues I want to discuss in this session are the main two of my marriage and identity.  In the issue of my marriage, there are some things I need to discuss with my wife and my therapist is going to help me, according to our last session, as to how to approach this discussion as I am a little apprehensive of talking about the specific issues.  It’s weird because this isn’t about sex or intimacy but more about common goals, vision and what are we going to do now. What are we now with our values shifting in different directions and the objective for our lives shifting.

The second issue of identity is one of trying to figure out what I am now that I am both an atheist and no longer a pastor.  Part of this is career issues that my job coach is helping me with and I will talk on that at a different time.  This is deeper than that.  More of a foundational question.  My hope is there will be some insight as the last two sessions have been more of me talking and her digesting things and coming to understand my situation.  Hopefully, she has some wisdom, because right now I could use some and I am starting to feel confined and trapped by the situation.  That’s before.  See what happens and then I will write an after and then post both.

After:

Things worked as I think she guided my own thoughts into doing what needs to be done.  I need to really think about a direct course of designing my life as far as what I am going to be while having options.  My primary identity is being a writer, but it is going to be my second one which can be multiple things that will define me as far as other people are concerned for a while.

Also, we talked about Christmas and the family mostly.  I just don’t want it to be drama, but I also have the task of telling people I don’t pray anymore over the meals.  It’s more about celebrating the season of Yuletide and being with the kids and grandkids as much as possible. I am just there to enjoy, not be the spiritual master of ceremonies.

Of course, we talked about my marriage and all I will say about that is that a conversation between us needs to take place soon.  No more there, as no one else needs to know yet what is going on. I just now have it very clear that before the new year my wife and I need to talk about some things. ‘Need’ being the keyword.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Blót and Sumble” (Asatru – Part 21) – The Pagan Pulpit

Happy Sol’s Day!

Announcements:

We don’t pray here – we figure God, the gods, goddesses, or whatever powers that be (if any) either know already, don’t give a fuck, or are busy with more important matters than our petty stuff. We also kind of assume that they expect us to do stuff that we can do for ourselves and that we will do them ourselves and not be lazy. We also believe in being good friends, so we don’t presume on our friendship with the powers that be by asking them all the time for stuff while giving them nothing in return.

We also don’t take an offering here.  We figure the powers that be probably don’t need it.  Let’s be honest, offerings are not given to the divine powers, they are given to an organization to support it.  Just being honest. God, the gods or whatever never sees a dime, farthing or peso of that money; it all goes to the church, mosque or shrine.

Theme Song: MANEGARM – ‘Blot’

An absolutely beautiful song. English translation below.

Sacrifice:

At the hills of the kings
The trees of the gods are standing
An ash tree so proud and strong
A link to the land of the gods
A gate to ancient worlds
Made open with life
A sacrifice made with nine hanged
Whose flesh the ravens prey on
The fields that are here, bear the wounds from the years of famine
Seeds are vanishing in their path
Hear our speech
Bring our sacrifice to your table
A sacrifice to honor you, we give life
We give blood
Give us your crops
Let it the starved earth grow
Give life to the barren north
The fields that are here, bear the wounds from the years of famine
Seeds are vanishing in their path
Hear our songs
Help us to suppress the grime of Sweden
Give us wind in our sails
Cure our broken dreams
Let the tree sprout
Give new life to the root of the tree
Let the ravens eat this sacrifice
Let the ravens eat this sacrifice

https://lyricstranslate.com/en/blot-sacrifice.html

Meditation:

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup, text that says '"THE HARDEST THING TO EXPLAIN IS THE GLARINGLY EVIDENT WHICH EVERYBODY HAS DECIDED NOT TO SEE." - AYN RAND'

Text: 

See the source image

If you want more details about Asatru, I can’t recommend this book enough.

Sermon:

Probably the two most common things that I understand quite well because religions all have them are 1) Festivals and 2) Services. In Asatru, the words are Blót and Sumble but the concept is the same.

Blóts are festivals that involve sacrifice.  There are lots of these that either focuses on a particular deity or centered around a holiday. Blóts vary in style and elements depending on the worshipers much like any religion but there are a few common elements to all of them. 1) Preparation, 2) Focusing, 3) Invocation, 4) Offering, 5) Blessing, 6) Sharing, 7) Completion.  These elements are commonalities and I have seen them in pretty much any type of religion when it comes to the celebration fo holidays.

A sumble is more of a regular meeting for the purposes of meeting together as a group of worshipers. It is far less formal than a Blót although it can be part of a Blót.  Basically put, the master or mistress of ceremonies fills the horn with ale or mead and then announces the focus of that round of the sumble and then either gives the horn to the one taking the role of the Valkerie or just to the next person. The person drinks and then gives it to the next person or speaks with the focus of that round in mind.  This is the time for toasts, boasts, and oaths.  One tradition has the first round being the focus of praise to the gods, the second round is to remember the honored dead and the third to give oaths as an example.

Oaths are a special case because the sumble has certain responsibilities to the oath-taker.  Most notably to challenge the oath if they think it too large or difficult.  The group is responsible to make sure oaths are reasonable. They are also responsible to praise fulfilled oaths and penalize or fine oaths that fail.

I have to say that there are two things that happened this week that are of note in regard to Asatru and religion in general. In my group of former ministers turned atheist/agnostic, we spoke this week on social values of religion and how it can hold families, cultures, and societies together. part of that was the mention of holidays and services. People need some symbols and practices to note their tribe and culture and religion often fills that role. The substitute for me is Norse paganism.

See the source image

The second thing that happened was during work.  Thanksgiving I had to work and it is Black ‘Friday’s start so I was there helping with setting up and on the second half of the day checking receipts as people left the store.  During that whole time, I was wearing my Wolf Hammer (above) as it was Thor’s Day.  I received about five comments on how cool it was and two of those specifically mentioned how they appreciated other religions being represented at this time of year, one mentioning Yuletide. One guy even showed me his hammer tattoed to the top part of his chest. I never met any of these people before in my life, but the connection was there.

This illustrates the power that blóts ad sumbles undoubtedly have to build community and connection.  Something that has been missing from my life. Something I probably need to recover.  I really don’t connect with Christians that well anymore.

Parting Thought:

Image may contain: 1 person, text

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

Crossing Bifrost – Why Norse Mythology?

Happy Saturn’s Day

I became interested in Norse mythology as a teenager.  It was a combination of two factors.

Firstly, I played Dungeon’s and Dragons – 2nd edition.  One of the realms I created as a Dungeon Master at the time was a Norse like realm with the Norse Pantheon in full power.   My character from that realm was what would now be considered a Tempest Priest of Thor named Thane True-Blade.  He had a brother Karic True-Blade who was a devoted follower of Tyr and a fighter.  There was a female thief named Sylvia who was more or less devoted to Loki. You get the idea.

Secondly, there was the Marvel Comic world with Thor the comic book.  No, I haven’t seen the movies.  Reason? Because while the comics and D&D were instrumental in getting me involved in Norse mythology, I soon fell in far greater love with the actual mythology, than how it has been used or inspired other things.

I start each post on The Grey Wayfarer with “Happy Thor’s Day” or “Happy Frigg and Freya’s Day”  This is an example of one of those inspirations.  Our days of the week have four of them that are direct references to Norse gods and goddesses.  It could be argued that Sunday and Monday are as well, but they are also generic references to the Sun and Moon. So we could be dealing with Apollo as much as Sunna/Sol and Luna as much as Mani, depending on which mythology you want to credit. But Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday all have direct reference to Norse mythology.

It is these references along with many others in the western world that draw me to Norse Mythology,  Christianity didn’t erase them all and in fact sometimes embraced them and made them their own.  Our recent celebration to Christmas; for instance, is full of things that are borrowed and plan out stolen from Norse Yuletide.  Those symbols had other meanings but Christianity has taken them and repackaged them for their own use.  I find it however interesting what has survived and why.

Much of western culture and heritage is Norse and no, I don’t find that anything to be ashamed of. In fact, there is a lot to be said for the lessons that Norse Mythology were teaching to its people. Religion shows what cultures value and try to pass on and so studying Norse mythology can help us see what those values were and how they were taught generation after generation.

Unlike the atheist who does not see any value to religion, I don’t take that course.  Religions develop for reasons and not all of them are about manipulation or control.  Part of paganism for me is that there are ‘universal’ truths and principles that religion guards and promotes which benefit society and often at some point they are turned into religion or become part of a religion mostly in an effort to preserve them. Religion for years was also the place where science at a low-level and philosophy was created and preserved and part of that is mythology.  Stories that illustrate those principles and truths. Stories that teach are the stock in trade of mythology and that is not always a bad thing.

There is also the simple fact the Norse Mythology has had tremendous impact on modern culture particularly pop culture involving fantasy writing and movies.  Elves, dwarves, giants, etc. all owe their inspiration to Norse mythology. Comics, movies, art and many other things draw on Norse Mythology.  My writing is definitely influenced by it and has for a long time.  But I am not alone there – Tolkien, CS Lewis, Robert Jordan, and many others join me in that regard.

There is also the fact that  I simply find the Vikings bad ass warriors and a lot of why they did what they did was their mythology.  It is a mythology formed in the harsh realities of the ice, snow and cold of the North.  I understand how these relate all to well having lived in the North of North America all my life.  So I suppose there is a natural resonance with such mythology for me as that mythology of the Norseman provides a common ground. A spiritual connection based on a commonly understood environment, if you will.

My methods of approaching this are much less systematic as those of say Odin’s Eye or Of Wolves and Ravens.  What I think I will find more beneficial is a topical rather than chronological methodology in Crossing Bifrost.  Topic Headings will include, but are not limited to, the following.

The Norse World – Yggdrasil (The World Tree) and Its Realms – Asgard, Midgard, Hel, etc.

Norse Races and Creatures – Elves, Dwarves, Giants, etc.

Norse Gods and Goddesses – Odin, Freya, Thor, Frigg, Loki, etc. This would also include god monsters like Fenrir the Great Wolf and the World Serpent Jörmungandr.

Norse Symbols and Objects – Thor’s Hammer Mjolnir, The Valknut Symbol ,etc.

Norse Culture and History – Probably a little more difficult to define  but topics here might involve how the Norse Mythology influence Viking Culture and History.

Basically I will probably have a sub page under Crossing Bifrost for each of these where appropriate and them probably follow an alphabetical listing on each sub page itself.   The one requirement basically is that it has to relate in some way to Norse Mythology to be posted here.

Hope you enjoy my journey of discover on this subject. If you learn something along the way – well that is good too.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

A Skald’s Life – Foundational Virtues – An Oath not Resolutions

Happy Moon’s Day. It’s the 12th night of Yule.  This is the Night of Oaths. This is the night with the greatest feasting; it is a sacred night that marked the final passing of the Wild Hunt. This is night when oaths for the coming year were made. The custom of caroling has its origins in this night. That and New Years resolutions.  Only with the vikings this was a night of oaths.  Sacred oaths which were considered the most holy on this night. Especially those sworn on Frey’s boar or Thor’s Hammer. 

Journal Entry:

I have never been one for resolutions and as the year draws to a close I still feel the same way as most people who such resolutions are done and often fail. I have found that the best time to resolve to do something is when you are thinking on it and are emotionally motivated and that can happen at any time.

I also already have plans that have been developed with goals, a bucket list and other motivating factors in place where I am trying to achieve certain ‘ends’, so oaths or resolutions don’t really help there.

I also think the best advice about oaths is found in Matthew 5:

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all … But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ 

In short keeping your word in general is far better than making oaths and I heartily agree. But I also see that oaths are needed in certain situations.  Otherwise, motivation can be lacking and so oaths bind us to act. I do then have an oath to take.

My Oath for 2019:

By all that is truly holy, I swear to:

  1. Be loving and act in love toward my wife, family and friends. 
  2. To execute justice when the power to do so is given to me. 
  3. Act wisely in all my endeavors. 

I know this is not specific but I am new to this oath thing so this year it will have to do.  As I go through this year, the oaths I might have to swear on oath night next year will become clearer I think.

Honor:

Honor is the feeling of inner value and worth from which one knows that one is noble of being, and the desire to show respect for this quality when it is found in the world”

Principle – Be positive about my future

I was a good weekend and I am feeling like I am developing a sense of inner value or worth again.  I am also learning to respect those qualities in others.

Courage:

“Courage is the bravery to do what is right always.”

Principle – Act with Courage at the right time.

Bravery is something I find a little easier.  This coming year I am going to need  lot of it as I start something completely new for myself.  I need to take risks and at my age that can be hard to do. I must however engage in actions that would befit someone younger and bolder.

Truth:

“Truth is the willingness to be honest and to say what one knows to be true and right. It is often better to not say anything at all if one cannot be honest.”

Principle – Pursue knowledge, wisdom and truth at all times.

Honest assessment of where I am is needed and honest words.  Time to take the spirit of Oath night and make it something I do all night long.

Morning Routine:

  1. Review Nine Noble Virtues (NNV) and Principles
  2. Meditate on the Virtues
  3. Review Goals
  4. Review Bucket List
  5. Full Body Stretch
  6. Breakfast
  7. Supplements and Medicines
  8. Shower and Personal Hygiene
  9. Get Dressed for the Day

Solid.  I only really want to look at the meditation part and get a much more formalized way of doing it.

Bucket List:

  1. Go Back to Budapest, Hungary for a vacation.
  2. Get My Tattoos.
  3. Actually Get Drunk.
  4. Smoke a Joint.
  5. Hike the Northern Lakeshore Trail along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
  6. Write My Novel.
  7. Learn Latin.
  8. Learn Hungarian.
  9. Weightlifting – Bench 225 lbs, Squat 315 lbs, and Deadlift 405 lbs.
  10. Start my own business

Two things have to come off this list in the coming year. Finding out which ones is going to be the excitement of it.

Weightlifting:

Need to find a new gym but my employer keeps messing with my hours.  Finding a new job may be essential to getting back to weightlifting. I need the resources to get back to something I love doing and miss greatly.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

Crossing Bifrost – Introduction

Happy Saturn’s Day. It is the 10th Night of Yuletide.  Today is sacred to Sunna, goddess of the Sun and Light. It is about the celebration of the return of the sun more and more each day until Midsummer. Today we remember the higher virtue of Justice. That is light bringing out the truth, so that we can be just. 

I suppose it is fitting that the day I begin this series is also the day of Yuletide that celebrates the goddess of the sun Sunna or Sol. I have decided to call this regular feature that considers Norse Mythology: “Crossing Bifrost”.  The Bifrost Bridge being the burning rainbow bridge (rainbows being created by light from the sun) that connected Midgard (earth) with Asgard (the realm of the gods) in Norse Mythology. The idea is to travel across this bridge into the world of Norse Mythology and in so doing learn something of value.

With this regular feature in place there is a kind of trifecta of sorts to my thinking each week.  Of Wolves and Ravens considers philosophy and in particular my philosophy.  Odin’s Eye Considers the issues of Spirituality and Religion and in particular my spirituality. Now Crossing Bifrost will be about my thoughts on Norse Mythology and what we can learn as people from those myths.

Religion and mythology are created by men for various reasons.  I would say a couple of these reasons are 1) to teach principles a culture deems important and 2) give examples of those principles in story.  People resonate with stories far faster than lectures.

A word of warning, I am no expert on Norse mythology. Far from it. I actually am doing this series to help my own understanding and knowledge of the subject. I do however have a lot of experience in looking at stories and drawing the moral meaning out of them.  I will probably make some mistakes because of my ignorance. If so, and someone out there knows better than I, feel free to correct me.  I am taking the role of learner with this series and perhaps moral commentator from time to time and not necessarily teacher.

I will of course write this series with a main goal of your entertainment and enjoyment.  Hopefully, we all will learn something each week and more importantly apply something of virtue and value to our lives.  Stories should teach lessons and I feel Norse Mythology does do that. I hope you enjoy it.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

Odin’s Eye – Objections to Christianity – Part 4 – The Justice of the Biblical God – An Unbalanced Scale

Happy Thor’s Day.  This is the 8th Night of Yuletide. this night is sacred to Skadi and Ullr – The goddess Skadi is a giantess associated with skiing, bow hunting, winter, and the mountains.  Ullr is the god of snowshoes, hunting, the bow, and the shield. The idea behind this night is hunting and being outdoors. It is also a day to remember those who provide our meals and sustenance. The Virtue remembered tonight is Truth. 

Introduction:

I am wrapping up my four main theological objections to Christianity with the simple but profound fact that the god of the Bible is very suspect in as far as whether or not he is just and acts with justice. I would go so far to say that the god of the Bible does not follow his own clearly stated guidelines for justice – 1) “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth” and 2) Restitution Included. Namely that the punishment should fit the crime and that restitution when merited should be offered.  This is the standard of justice found in the Torah or Law of Moses. Jesus of Nazareth takes this on in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 pointing out that the principles of justice were still valid and in fact because things should be done for the love of god, they were even more challenging.  God expects Christians to still be just and follow his principles of justice. The issue is: does the god of the Bible follow his own rules.  I would say not.

Faith:

From a standpoint of my own faith, the biblical god’s justice, and in particular the doctrine of Hell, has always been a problem.  My standard answer throughout my days as a pastor to others that asked was that the justice of god was a mystery.  That someday, we would know it all and see that this god was just to send people to hell.  Even if they were people who we loved and who this god claimed to love. But it was more than that as some of the stories of god executing justice were a little lacking in justice.  Job’s trial is a good example where God allows the Devil to kill all of Job’s children and servants save a few and does it simply to test Job to see if he will remain faithful.  The Biblical god’s answer of – “I am god, that’s why.” is a little lacking in reasoning for a supreme being for one and the whole situation is lacking in compassion not just for Job but for all the people slain for another.  They all lived and died simply to satisfy a bet between the Devil and the almighty is a little much to reconcile with the idea of God is love.  Stuff like this definitely tests your faith and it should.

Religion:

The thing is most religious responses to the justice of God dilemma either cite ‘mystery’ (read – I don’t have a  good answer, so I am going to punt) or our ignorance.  Simply put they both attempt to give a god a different standard of justice than we follow.  How convenient, but also telling that we cannot even use the standard of justice of ‘eye for eye’ with the biblical god. The very standard that this god gives, he does not follow.

The fact that I used to come up with this double standard for god myself bothered me for years when I realized that is what I was doing.  A standard of justice is only viable if it is evenly applied to all.  It should be logical and consistent enough that it CAN be applied to all without exception. We have learned not to tolerate double standards between those that lead and those that follow so why here?  Why does this god of the Bible get a free pass for being hypocritical?

Religion does its damnedest to keep us from seeing this, and it does it by trying to make God so high his different standard of justice is justified.  It sounds like a ruling religious class seeking to justify why they can impose rules on others that they don’t have to follow themselves.  After all, they are ‘men of god’ and so as Cardinal Richelieu points out in the Three Musketeers movie in 1993 – “The Cardinal is not subject to the laws of men”.  Easy to justify if you create a different standard of justice for your god and you then say you are subject to that standard, not the standard of men.

Theology:

But the Biblical God fails theologically and it comes out best in the doctrine of Hell and final judgment.  Everything we will do is in a short temporal time of existence but everything about the final judgment of the god of the Bible is eternal.  In short, this god is going to punish us in an eternal and permanent way for our behavior in temporal and non-permanent existence.  This includes annihilation and eternal punishment views.  The only thing that might save Christianity here as far as theology is actually the idea of purgatory where the punishment is redemptive and non-permanent.  But even here there is a postulate that punishment can last centuries compared to the shortness of life.

So being burned like the rich man is said to be burned is somehow eye for eye and tooth for tooth?  In that story, the rich man is burned not because he defied god but because he had a good life and Lazarus was rewarded because he had suffered in life.  Go look at the story (Luke 16) yourself, this is the rationale that is given.  So because a guy had it good he is punished with burning fire?  How is this eye for eye? Justice would have been to have the two trade places for a second life, not that he is burned for a long period of time.

There is little justice in this story, just a god who on the one hand in the Old Testament tells people who prosperity is a sign of God’s blessing and then turning around and saying though that if you do become prosperous, the biblical god is going to burn you as punishment for it.  In a full analysis of the biblical account not only are there many accounts where god’s justice is a little suspect but where he violates the very rules he sets forward because he gets jealous or angry. Like the other mythologies, the biblical god is very human and reflects probably more of the attitude of the author of that particular passage than the almighty that actually might exist.

Spirituality:

See the source image

For me personally, I come back to the quote I have used before.  If the god or gods are just then they will judge us based on the virtues we lived by.  If they are not just, then they do not deserve to be served.  If there are no gods then, we should live in such a way as to be fondly remembered. I worry less about an afterlife; because regardless, it is this life I must live either way.  I choose to live based on virtue because, in the end, it is all I really have.  My own personal responsibility for the life I live is mine alone. Cue Robert Heinlein.

See the source image

Conclusion:

I will revisit these objections in the future with other thoughts.  Odin’s Eye will continue to be a discussion point on faith, religion, spirituality, and theology. I will continue to use it to find a path to knowledge and wisdom. What you may see in the future is me actually deal with more specific Biblical passages and why they are problematic.  There will also be the continued discussions of deism, humanism, and paganism.  I probably will have a more detailed plan next Odin’s Eye.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!