He was quite friendly:
Could you talk to BBC national radio live at 8.50pm this evening, on Skype or the telephone?
We're fascinated by the news of a modern shrine to Thor, Odin and Frigg being built in Iceland, and we'd be delighted to get your take on the gods involved, and on Norse paganism in the 21st century.I later found out that Mr. Lawson had attempted to contact the Ásatrúarfélagið through their Facebook page. He wrote to me when he didn't receive a reply as broadcast time neared. Sometimes, the one who gets on air is simply the one who answers messages first. Such is the nature of journalism.
|Photo from the Ásatrúarfélagið website|
I'm a bit wary of the mainstream media's reporting on minority faiths since the broadcast of Public Radio International's problematic coverage of Ásatrú (“Æsir Faith,” the modern iteration of Old Norse religion). I've also had conversations with CNN's religion blog editor in which he was openly disrespectful and dismissive of the religious tradition. Unfortunately, this seems to be a common attitude among journalists in the English-speaking world.
So, I asked Mr. Lawson what sort of questions I would be answering on the air. He replied:
questions will be simple…I then received a phone call from a BBC producer who told me that the interview would be broadcast live on the BBC 5 program “Up All Night.” She asked me the same questions as Mr. Lawson had sent, listened to my brief answers, and told me to be ready for the call at airtime.
along the lines of
what's this temple
which gods are being worshipped
what's behind the growth of modern norse paganism
it's a general news programme -- so pretty basic, 'beginners start here' stuff
|Dotun Abedayo, presenter of BBC 5's "Up All Night"|
Dotun Adebayo, the show's presenter, appears to have missed the memo. At the top of the show, he described the upcoming segment:
Do they know it's not fantasy – or maybe it is? Iceland builds its first temple to the Norse gods since the Vikings.Over the course of the interview, Mr. Abedayo seemed determined to paint Ásatrú as a religion based on fantasy and violence. I attempted to answer his misrepresentations and falsehoods as best I could. You can decide for yourself if he treated this minority religious tradition with disrespect, and whether I successfully answered his assertions.
As always, I make no claim to represent Ásatrú, the Ásatrúarfélagið, or any other Heathen besides myself. I'm merely standing up for what I believe in – and for fair and balanced media coverage that treats small religions with the same respect that it gives large ones. I hope that this is something we can all agree on.
Listen to the complete interview by clicking the ► button in the player below.
For more information on Ásatrú, check out the articles in The Norse Mythology Blog Archive by clicking here.