Letters from Midgard
Jealous, Fragile, Weak, and Small
It was interesting to watch events in the Middle East over the last couple of months, but not interesting in the sense of unusual or new. It was more interesting in the sense of a perennial reminder of how foolish people can be.
Somebody makes a fourth-rate movie that pretty much nobody has seen. But word gets out in certain quarters. Someone hears from someone else, who hears from someone else, and the world starts going up in smoke. Again. Once again we are told that no one is allowed to show a certain religion, or its god, or its prophet, in a bad light. No movies, no cartoons, no novels. Nothing. Not never, not no how, or people are going to die for it.
No, this is not the only religion that ever responds this way. But it is the case in point. The veiled threats, and the not-so-veiled threats. The requirements placed on everyone that they behave in important regards like Muslims, even if they are not. They talk about respect, but that isn't what that word means. What they mean is fear, and only fear.
Is this how men and women should live?
My gods are not jealous gods. Neither are they fragile or weak. Unlike some gods, they do not need coddling by humans. Don't like my religion? Nobody said you had to. Want to say so right out loud? Go right ahead. And if any religion, maybe yours, or even my own, induces its followers to behave foolishly or foully, you will hear about it from me in whatever form I care to say it. There is a kind of respect involved in that: self respect. It is one of the hallmarks of Heathenry.
If you and your god are happy together, fine. If your god wants you to bow down before him, I might wonder why he wants that, but that is your choice. But if a god needs his people to burn and kill over any show of disagreement, we have a real problem there. I have no respect for such people, or their religion, or their god. I won't even pretend respect. And no amount of burning or killing will ever change that.
Steven Thor Abell is a storyteller and the author of Days in Midgard: A Thousand Years On, a collection of original modern stories based on Heathen myths. As of 2013, he is also Steersman of the High Rede of The Troth.
Abell's column, "Letters from Midgard," is published on occasional Thursdays on the Pagan channel. Subscribe via email or RSS.