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Gods again

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  • Manny Olds
    We have been talking about conveying several different general types of information in the Intermediate course on the gods. (I am going to just say gods
    Message 1 of 7 , Dec 5, 2002
      We have been talking about conveying several different general types of
      information in the Intermediate course on the gods. (I am going to just
      say "gods" instead of "gods/goddesses" to save my fingers.) In my notes, I
      have:

      Nature of the gods
      Nature and history of the pantheon
      Sources of information on the gods
      Why are the gods interested in us?
      Different ways people interact with the gods

      Try to think back to when you were feeling Intermediate. What would you
      like someone to have told you about each of these then?

      Manny Olds
    • tsdoughty@aol.com
      Try to think back to when you were feeling Intermediate. What would you like someone to have told you about each of these then? ... Pointers to articles on
      Message 2 of 7 , Dec 5, 2002
        Try to think back to when you were feeling Intermediate. What would you
        like someone to have told you about each of these then?


        >>Nature of the gods

        Pointers to articles on modern heathen religious thought (are there any??
        Serious theological discussion seems pretty rare compared to the established
        religions.) Or, any serious general pagan writing would be helpful, even if
        non-heathen. IMO, we need to frankly address the face that, once we get
        beyond our own canon of Lore, which is very vague regarding theology, we have
        much in common with and could learn a lot from other polytheists, especially
        on such topics as, "Just what is a 'god' anyway?"

        >>Why are the gods interested in us?

        Same comments as above. This is one type of theological question which many
        of us are asking; who out there is trying to provide thoughtful answers? We
        all know that it's for each heathen to decide these things for him/herself,
        yadda yadda, but every great religion has produced writers and philosophers
        whose work has advanced religious thought. We're way behind. Compiling a
        list of the best sources, even if non-heathen, would help people form their
        own conclusions.

        >>Different ways people interact with the gods

        This one can be heathen-specific and goes beyond blots. How about various
        personal observances; appropriate types of offerings; typical frequency of
        offerings or observances; how to talk to gods (i.e. aloud or silent prayers,
        what tone to adopt for greates effect); what type of things to ask for & how
        often to ask (the 'ol gift-for-a-gift dilemma); creative visualization and
        journey work; runic meditation.

        Then, How to evaluate a spiritual experience (or, "Please Pass the
        Saltshaker").

        Tim


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Arlie Stephens
        ... It s good to see some thoughts about this course. ... What I found, personally, was that once I d got the basic info., I could learn a lot of
        Message 3 of 7 , Dec 6, 2002
          On Thu, Dec 05, 2002 at 02:06:14PM -0500, Manny Olds wrote:
          >
          > We have been talking about conveying several different general types of
          > information in the Intermediate course on the gods. (I am going to just
          > say "gods" instead of "gods/goddesses" to save my fingers.) In my notes, I
          > have:

          It's good to see some thoughts about this course.

          > Nature of the gods
          > Nature and history of the pantheon
          > Sources of information on the gods
          > Why are the gods interested in us?
          > Different ways people interact with the gods
          >
          > Try to think back to when you were feeling Intermediate. What would you
          > like someone to have told you about each of these then?

          What I found, personally, was that once I'd got the basic info., I could
          learn a lot of facts/knowledge from the lore, but did very badly in developing
          the theological understanding Tim talks about in his response.

          I'm still, personally, struggling with understanding the purpose/value of
          relationships with gods. (i.e. I don't have a good answer to "why blot?"
          let alone "why respond to gods seeming to be trying to 'call' one?".)

          I think I've bored a number of people thinking/talking/writing about such
          things. (I'll have an essay on this general topic in the next _Cup of Wonder_.)
          Perhaps my writing would be more useful if I had answers, instead of questions
          and observations about things that don't seem to work for me. (Of course,
          if I had satisfactory personal answers, I probably wouldn't feel so driven
          to keep exploring the subject.)

          --
          Arlie

          (Arlie Stephens arlie@...)
        • Arlie Stephens
          ... I think heathenry desperately needs a real theology, but that most modern heathens don t miss it; people who stick in heathenry mostly aren t the type to
          Message 4 of 7 , Dec 6, 2002
            On Thu, Dec 05, 2002 at 04:09:24PM -0500, tsdoughty@... wrote:
            >
            > >>Nature of the gods
            >
            > Pointers to articles on modern heathen religious thought (are there any??
            > Serious theological discussion seems pretty rare compared to the established
            > religions.) Or, any serious general pagan writing would be helpful, even if
            > non-heathen. IMO, we need to frankly address the face that, once we get
            > beyond our own canon of Lore, which is very vague regarding theology, we
            > have much in common with and could learn a lot from other polytheists,
            > especially on such topics as, "Just what is a 'god' anyway?"

            I think heathenry desperately needs a real theology, but that most modern
            heathens don't miss it; people who stick in heathenry mostly aren't the type
            to care about such things. Now that could be an ecological niche for heathenry
            ... a religion for the less thoughtful ... except the gods seem to me to
            keep trying to call people who won't be happy with such a religion.

            Err ... my phrasing above may imply that I think we need some official dogma
            about these questions that all heathens would then be expected to believe.
            Perhaps I should have said that what heathenry needs is a lot more theological
            thought and writing.

            I'm not sure how much we can borrow from other religions ... and I've been
            reading up a storm on these topics, out of personal need, and long ago
            branching out of what little heathen material I could find. Their stuff
            is like an ill fitting suit of clothes ... more or less ill fitting depending
            on source and topic, but still ill fitting. (E.g. the African disaporic
            religions are quite polytheist ... but the relationship with gods they
            _presume_ as normal would upset most heathens, and likely most of our gods.)

            I'm not sure, however, whether Asatru-U can properly address these questions,
            beyond gathering collections of people's ideas and experience. We're in the
            teaching business here, not the theological business. Some of us may do
            theology individually, outside of Asatru-U, but Asatru-U should perhaps
            be treating this aspect of our interests and writings very much at arm's
            length.

            --
            Arlie

            (Arlie Stephens arlie@...)
          • Arlie Stephens
            ... We might want to add the obverse question Why do people interact with gods? Basically, what s in it for me ... and what s _not_ in it , but phrased less
            Message 5 of 7 , Dec 6, 2002
              On Thu, Dec 05, 2002 at 02:06:14PM -0500, Manny Olds wrote:
              >
              > We have been talking about conveying several different general types of
              > information in the Intermediate course on the gods. (I am going to just
              > say "gods" instead of "gods/goddesses" to save my fingers.) In my notes, I
              > have:
              >
              > Nature of the gods
              > Nature and history of the pantheon
              > Sources of information on the gods
              > Why are the gods interested in us?

              We might want to add the obverse question "Why do people interact with gods?"
              Basically, "what's in it for me ... and what's _not_ in it", but phrased less
              crassly. I personally had a lot of expectations in this area that were not
              fulfilled; in some cases, the gods did more than expected, and in many cases
              rather less. Those expectations seem in reterospect to have been formed by
              a combination of popular Christianity and statements from the fuzzier
              neo-Pagans/neo-shamans, along with a bit of what I'll call fantasy novel
              reality.

              > Different ways people interact with the gods
              >
              > Try to think back to when you were feeling Intermediate. What would you
              > like someone to have told you about each of these then?

              --
              Arlie

              (Arlie Stephens arlie@...)
            • tsdoughty@aol.com
              ... I ll agree that this is perhaps not the best place to discuss it, although I don t think it s being discussed anywhere else, due to lack of interest, as
              Message 6 of 7 , Dec 6, 2002
                Arlie writes:

                > I think heathenry desperately needs a real theology, but that most modern
                > heathens don't miss it; people who stick in heathenry mostly aren't the
                > type
                > to care about such things.....
                > Perhaps I should have said that what heathenry needs is a lot more
                > theological
                > thought and writing. .....
                > I'm not sure, however, whether Asatru-U can properly address these
                > questions,
                > beyond gathering collections of people's ideas and experience. We're in the
                > teaching business here, not the theological business.
                >

                I'll agree that this is perhaps not the best place to discuss it, although I
                don't think it's being discussed anywhere else, due to lack of interest, as
                you say. Your last point about gathering collections of people's ideas and
                experience is accurate, and to my mind is really what theological thought is
                anyway, at least the germination stage of it. Theological arguments don't
                have to be accepted as dogma. They are accorded value based upon factors
                such as the writer's reputation, the clarity and force of the arguments
                themselves, concurrence with accepted lore and thought, the amount of effort
                and reflection invested by the writer, etc. But ideally there should be a
                lot available for people to sift through, judge and ponder. I hope that
                eventually there will be.

                Tim


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • UlfgrimR
                Dear Arlie and Tim, Heathenry definately lacks in the theological and philosophical department, but Heathenry has also had alot of setbacks and the
                Message 7 of 7 , Dec 6, 2002
                  Dear Arlie and Tim,

                  Heathenry definately lacks in the theological and
                  philosophical department, but Heathenry has also had
                  alot of setbacks and the 'reawakening' is still quite
                  young. I think a more appropriate question is not yet
                  'what do people think?', but rather, 'why will they
                  not talk about?' Even further, 'what if they don't
                  think about these issues?' I personally do not see
                  Asatru as a religion for the less thoughtful. In our
                  mythology and our heroic tales, our Gods and heroes
                  are not meek in mind and strong in arm. If anything,
                  they might even be mightier in mind than in arms. It
                  should also be remembered that most people will have
                  had a Christian background. As such, the majority of
                  them have probably just lived day to day, not thought
                  much about any real theology and believed faith in
                  Christ was enough. When they convert to a new
                  religion, it is highly unlikely that those lazy habits
                  from Christianity will just vanish. This is an issue
                  that while is important to us in our circles, is a
                  rampant problem in all religions lately. Life is
                  hectic and with problems ranging from late car
                  payments, to bad HMO's, to visiting a volitle relative
                  on Sunday...not many people are going to have the
                  passion to study or seek to understand the deeper
                  mechanics of a religion. There is also the problem
                  that many people nowadays just don't want to think.
                  They have become so inundated by the commercial
                  society, and by popular sentiment and hedonistic
                  attitudes that philosophy of any kind(let alone
                  theology or ethics) never even has a chance because it
                  takes time, training, patience, and a hardened will
                  that can be still for more than a 30-second
                  commercial. Perhaps, there are no reasons, and it is
                  just pure dumb chance. Of course, we must remember
                  though, even with more thinkers and
                  philosophers...depending on influence, likeability,
                  clarity of ideas, etc., that doesn't mean that an
                  agreed apon idea is right. It just means it is
                  popular. What is needed is the right people, to think
                  the right things, at the right times. Of course there
                  is no way to really know what is right though. Even
                  with some of the amazing experiences I have had, I
                  cannot empirically say the Gods *really* exist. I can
                  empirically say that unusual circumstances in my life
                  led me to believe in Gods, and led me to believe
                  certain things about their nature, but I still cannot
                  prove it or even attempt to prove it. How do I know
                  it isn't explainable by some as of yet unknown
                  relations between brainwaves, electrical currents, and
                  atomic particles reacting on the material universe in
                  a manner subservient to the mind's desires? The brain
                  can make us do some amazing things. It isn't a far
                  leap from being burned and not having any injury to
                  manipulating clouds to form runes in the sky. I too
                  would like to see more thought in Asatru. I am a
                  philosophy major and am making a career out of
                  'thinking', so I have a personal vested interest in
                  wishing to see thought applied more to 'why do we
                  worship' rather than 'how do we worship'. However, in
                  the end, it is up to the masses to decide what will be
                  the dominant mode of religious expression and
                  experience. So perhaps the *real* question is not
                  'why won't people think?', but rather, 'what can be
                  done to seduce people into thinking?'.

                  In the Eye of Odhinn,
                  ~UlfgrimR~


                  =====

                  "The unexamined life is not worth living." -Socrates

                  "The Norse ideal was a man of open, generous disposition, a man imbued with qualities of compassion and kindness, not ruthless but firm and fair, even-tempered but capable of passion, physically accomplished and strong in a fight, but not a bully. Such was the ideal man of honour." -Magnusson

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