Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Ásatrú Theology in The Atlantic

Sigal Samuel, Religion Editor at The Atlantic magazine, recently contacted me for a feature she was writing on Ásatrú. For her article on Heathens – practitioners of modern religions built on Norse and other Germanic polytheistic religious traditions – she was particularly interested in “efforts being made to push back against racist appropriations of the faith.”

Ms. Samuel told me that she knew about “A Better Burden: Toward a New Ásatrú Theology,” the paper I gave at Frith Forge, the first international conference on inclusive Ásatrú and Heathenry. She wrote that she was “fascinated by the call to produce a collection of original public theology.”

When she interviewed me for her article, she asked several questions about my personal relationship to Ásatrú, the history and growth of Heathen religions, the theological project proposed in my paper, and the issue of racism – both regarding the extremist fringe of Ásatrú and the appropriation of Heathen symbols by hate groups.

Understandably, Ms. Sigal only quoted brief bits of my long answers. This is standard procedure. Much of what she asked was to gather background information and context on the subject. She also asked me to define some basic terms and to recommend other Ásatrú practitioners she should speak to outside of the United States and Iceland.

As I’ve done in the past after being interviewed, I’m posting my full answers to the questions asked. Ms. Sigal's questions are below in large bold type, and my answers are in the regular font weight and size.

Sigal Samuel, Religion Editor at The Atlantic

I fully expect that other Heathens will disagree with some or all of what I have to say. These are my own answers, and I do not expect anyone else to subscribe to them. There is a great diversity of viewpoints within inclusive Ásatrú and Heathenry, and I celebrate this vibrant range of perspectives.

I am very thankful to Ms. Sigal for researching and writing this article. You can read her feature in The Atlantic by clicking here.

Would you define Heathenry as Norse pre-Christian polytheism? Are the Vikings a “heathen” group? Is Heathen a broader generic term or does it mean specifically a practitioner of Ásatrú?

I would define historical Heathenry as pre-Christian (or pre-Christian-conversion) Germanic polytheism and modern Heathenry as a new religious movement that began in 1972 with the founding of the Ásatrúarfélagið (“Ásatrú Fellowship”) in Iceland. Vikings were raiders of the Nordic world active in both pagan and Christian times. Today, Heathenry refers to the set of new religious movements centered on Germanic polytheism. Practitioners of these religions (including Ásatrú) usually self-identity as Heathens. Both Heathenry and Heathen are capitalized in these usages, to avoid confusion with the common sense of heathen as non-Christian.

Your interest in Ásatrú is both academic and experiential. How did you come to this faith and what do you find most compelling about it today?

I wasn’t raised in a religious household. My parents were both philosophy professors who had long ago been in the monastery and nunnery, respectively. They told me that I could practice any or no religion as an adult, but that I needed to know the mythologies that are at the root of Western culture: Jewish, Christian, Greek, and Roman. As a kid, I really only knew the Norse myths through their pop culture incarnations.

After my father died, I accidentally (or providentially) picked up a copy of Irish poet Padraic Colum’s Children of Odin, the wonderful 1920 retelling of the Norse myths with fantastic illustrations by the Hungarian artist Willy Pogany. Definitely an international mix!

Immediately, I saw my father in Odin. My dad came from a German village in what is now Yugoslavia, rescued his family from anti-German extermination camps as a child, studied religion in a monastery in Austria, did his doctoral work in philosophy in Bonn, and held positions at Yale University, University of Texas, and Loyola University Chicago. He spent his professional life teaching concepts of human rights to generations of students across half a century and never stopped seeking new knowledge and fighting against prejudice.

In the mythology, Odin wanders the world seeking knowledge of the future so that he can work to save the world from the horrors of Ragnarök, the coming “doom of the powers” at the end of the mythic timeline. Everything he learns confirms that he will die and the world will go down in fire and flood. Instead of becoming depressed and fatalistic, he resolutely seeks out more knowledge to fight against the coming darkness. This constant search for knowledge – even when that knowledge is terrifying – and this deep care for future generations is what I felt connected to my father.

Odin the Wanderer by Willy Pogany (1920)

I also saw my Opa in Thor. My German grandfather had gone from being a farmer in the old country to being forced into service as conscripted soldier to being captured and marched across Eastern Europe to a prisoner of war camp in Siberia to living in Austria as a displaced person to working as a bricklayer in Milwaukee. As long as I knew him, he was quick to anger and quick to forgiveness, a lover of children and dancing, and someone who never stopped working to take care of his family – even when his heart was almost completely blocked. Thor can be seen as the idealized self-image of the common man, of the Germanic farmer who particularly venerated the god that brought rain for his crops and defended his lands from destructive forces. I felt like I already knew Thor before I met him in the myths.

That is the feeling that a lot of today’s practitioners of Ásatrú state they have had. Many have said to me some variation of, “I was always Heathen, but I didn’t know it until I read the myths.” For many of us, our coming to this religion was a very different process from that usually described in reports of conversion to the Abrahamic religions. There is a common feeling that this path is something that we were already on as individuals, long before we had ever heard of Ásatrú or Heathenry. Some refer to this process as being “called by the gods.”

For me, Ásatrú enriches life in a myriad of ways. At one level, it’s a poetic gloss on life that adds a deeper (or at least different) level of understanding. As a creative person – a musician and writer – I can understand intellectually that my brain is combining past experiences in new patterns that result in new compositions, improvisations, turns of phrase, and so forth. But this scientific explanation doesn’t get to the heart of the subjective emotional experience of artistic creation. It means more to me to know that Heathens of the long ago time viewed Odin as the god that inspires, the god whose name can mean “inspiration,” and the god who gifts the Mead of Poetry that fills the follower with creativity.

There is a specific feeling of trying to get a guitar solo “right” on a recording, of hitting the record button over and over again, of playing one improvised solo after another, struggling endlessly but producing only disposable nonsense, and then finally having a perfect solo flow out without even trying, only to look up at the clock and notice that six hours have passed with no sensation of the passing of time. The feeling of being outside of time and the sensation of having the perfect solo come from outside of oneself is, for me, the fundamental Odinic experience. Knowing that I share this experience with pagan poets of centuries ago means much more to me at an emotional or spiritual level than what the science of the brain can tell me.

Ásatrú also offers the elements to construct a modern worldview that engages with the world we inhabit. From the Old Icelandic poems, one can develop a morality centered on the value of right action, defined as doing what is beneficial to one’s community. The definition of community itself can range, depending on the situation, from the nuclear family to the entire world, from those who are closest to “all the children of Heimdall.” Many modern Heathens use “we are our deeds” as a mantra, meaning that our actions are of paramount importance. The deeds one has taken in the past determine what one is today and what possibilities are open in the future. In an age when the U.S. president tells outrageous lies and falsely accuses his enemies list of doing exactly what he and his entourage have been doing, I do think the Heathen worldview can offer a corrective.

How many Heathens do you believe there are in the world today? I looked at your 2013 census and wonder if you have a sense of the numbers since then. If the faith is growing – as it certainly is in Iceland – why do you think it’s growing?

Responses to my Worldwide Heathen Census 2013 came from ninety-eight countries and led to an estimate of nearly 40,000 practitioners. The largest density was in Iceland, and the country with the greatest total number was the United States. The sense many of us have is that the numbers have grown greatly in the years since, judging from the constant influx of new people in online discussion groups and in religious organizations. There has also been a major uptick in contact and cooperation between Heathen individuals and groups across the planet.

Click here for results analysis of Worldwide Heathen Census 2013

It would be great if the heavy hitters like the Pew Research Center would help out the efforts of Heathens like myself and others who study and write about the communities. To date, Pew has tended to disappear minority religions into the black boxes of “Unaffiliated” (which could include the relatively large number of Heathens who are lone practitioners), “Other World Religions,” and other such undifferentiated categories. I have yet to meet any Heathen who wouldn’t shudder at the thought of being identified as “New Age,” yet Pew includes “Pagan or Wiccan” under that umbrella. Clearly, there needs to be some retooling of the basic concepts and methodologies of such big-name religious surveys, especially given the fact that journalists tend to unquestioningly repeat their findings as fact.

In part, I think that the numbers of Heathens are growing because there is has been an accelerating fracturing of traditionally dominant religions in the Western world. There still hasn’t been a mass arrest and conviction of pedophile Catholic priests and the upper figures who protected them. Large numbers of white Evangelicals continue to support Donald Trump, no matter how hateful and repugnant he speaks and acts. Part of the appeal of Heathenry may be the absence of the large structures that seem to inevitably lead to corruption and cooperation with powerful forces. In Heathenry, lone practitioners and small local groups tend to be the norm worldwide. Even where there are large organizations, they are more like gatherings of independents and without either top-down hierarchy or enforced doctrine.

This lack of rigid and doctrinal belief is greatly attractive to many people around the world today. This is not to say that Ásatrú and Heathenry are religions that are blank slates on which one can just write any old thing. Heathens tend to call this “the religion with homework,” and the average practitioner is often a sort of lay rabbi who obsessively studies ancient texts, primary historical documents, folklore collections, scholarly works, the latest reports of archaeological finds, and so on. The important thing is that people judge these sources for themselves, discuss them with other Heathens near and far, and think deeply about how all of this material relates to modern belief and practice. For those of us who are involved in this work, it is very rewarding in a way quite different from the experience of attending a hierarchical and patriarchal service in a mainstream church.

In your paper, you invite followers to embrace an identity as members of a new religious movement (NRM) that began in 1972. Why identify as an NRM? What are the benefits of seeing Ásatrú as new versus as continuous with an old tradition?

Ásatrú is a new religious movement. We can mark the moment of its creation, when twelve Icelanders gathered at the Hotel Borg in Reykjavík on April 20, 1972 to discuss the founding of what would become the Ásatrúarfélagið (“Ásatrú Fellowship”). The word Ásatrú itself is Modern Icelandic and means “faith/trust/belief in the Æsir,” referring to the main tribe of Old Norse gods. There is no recorded self-identifying term for the religion of the ancient Germanic pagans. After the coming of Christianity, we have sources referring to the “old way” of polytheism, as opposed to the “new way” of Christ. There is no pre-modern text using the term Ásatrú.

Ásatrúarfélagið founder Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson in 1960

Public practice of Heathenry was officially outlawed in Iceland by the year 1000. Christianity was already the public religion in England and on the continent, and all of Scandinavia was formally Christian by the end of the twelfth century. There is much evidence for the continuance of pagan practices and of their blending with Christianity, but the old Germanic polytheism as a functioning public religion was long gone by the time the Icelanders decided to bring it back in modern form. Some of today’s practitioners claim continuity in the form of family traditions, but Ásatrú and Heathenry are really modern revivals, reconstructions, and reimaginings of what the old pagan religions may have been and can now be.

As in many religions, there is always the danger of fundamentalism. Some Heathens do claim that they are able to know the internal mindset of Heathens in ancient times and insist that they can alter their own modern worldview to line up with this model. Personally, I tend to back away from anyone of any faith who declares that we must live in the same manner “as our glorious ancestors did.” Yes, we should study and learn about the past so that our modern practice can be rich and grounded, but we should also avoid embracing the old fundamentalist mindset that leads to Westboro Baptist Church, ISIS, and other hateful groups that long for “the good old days.”

Why the need for a new Ásatrú theology?

We already have Ásatrú and Heathen theologies. I’m simply suggesting that some of us work on widening the focus. Much of what has been published in the last decades has focused on belief and practice. Whether turning to scholarly sources or personal religious experience, most authors have either written about what Heathens believe regarding gods, the soul, the afterlife, and so on, or about how to perform individual and group rituals of various sorts. I fully support the creation of this literature. We need multiple perspectives on these core elements in order to have a living and thriving faith. However, there is also need for something else.

I’ve proposed that those interested in such things should work together to create a new public theology of Ásatrú on the models of Liberation Theology and Womanist Theology. We often say that we are a world-affirming religion, so maybe it’s time that we turn to the world and address the issues that face us today. What do Heathens think about reproductive rights? The role of government? Climate change? Gender identity? There is an endless list of important issues being discussed in the wider world, and I believe Heathens can provide new and unique perspectives on these issues. We will never be included in the greater public discussion if we don’t first step forward and put our ideas on the table.

In no way am I suggesting that there is one Heathen response to these issues. We’re a notoriously argumentative bunch. What I would like to edit and produce myself is a collection of essays by a diverse group of progressive Heathens reflecting on a cross section of important issues today, from a variety of Heathen religions and from a range of locations around the world. If we put our thoughts and work out there, maybe it will encourage other Heathens to speak out, and hopefully it will encourage academics, journalists, and interfaith leaders to contact us about issues other than only the extreme right fringe.

Why the decision to crowdsource an original theology online? Is the collaborative, grassroots approach (as opposed to a top-down approach) reflective of Ásatrú values? Or is it simply that there are no agreed-upon central authority figures for the faith?

I wouldn’t characterize what I’m trying to do as online crowdsourcing. I presented a paper at Frith Forge, the first international conference of inclusive Heathenry. It was attended by leaders and members of a large number of religious organizations that are all dedicated to a positive and welcoming Heathenry. It would have made little sense to give my paper at the meetings of organizations to which I belong that focus on the academic study of religion, on reporting about religion, or on the study of historical Scandinavia. This was specifically an in-person address to members of the wider Heathen communities that invited them to participate in a Heathen theological project and to pass the invitation on to their colleagues.

Poster for the Frith Forge conference held in Germany in October 2017

My paper has now been posted at The Norse Mythology Blog and will be published in other places where Heathens will see it, such as the Idunna journal of the Troth, the international Heathen organization based in the United States. Shortly after I posted the paper on my website, I received messages from several people interested in discussing paper proposals. It will be a lot of work, but I do hope that we will be able to produce a solid collection that reflects a diversity of perspectives on a variety of topics. One of my models is A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency, which has a fantastic and inspiring range of worldviews, methodologies, and modes of writing. My goal is to create a work that has a similar depth of responses within it.

Does this method raise any concerns about religious “authenticity” for you or others?

Claims of religious authenticity within Heathenry tend to focus on either scholarly sourcing or unverified (or unverifiable) personal gnosis (UPG). There is a sense that being able to footnote one’s theological assertions with references to the work of secular scholars somehow authenticates one’s personal beliefs. There is another idea –sometimes in conflict, sometimes in tandem with the first – that testifying to individual experience of the numinous gives an authentic sheen to what is being said. In the first case, the claim is tied to the work of some academic author, usually a professor in Scandinavian Studies. In the second case, the tie is to a personal experience of divinity – a message from a particular god or a visionary moment of revelation.

Both of these things are valuable in a living religion. I believe that it’s important for those working on a new Ásatrú theology to be comfortable both citing mainstream work by non-Heathen scholars and discussing what William James called “the varieties of religious experience.” There should be a fruitful ground where academic scholarship can exist in dialogue with personal and communal experience of the divine, in whatever form it takes.

The idea of institutionally approved authenticity really isn’t an issue here. There are no Grand Poobahs of the Heathen religions, even if some have unsuccessfully tried to position themselves as such. We have no Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Even organizations like the Ásatrúarfélagið and the Troth who train clergy don’t enforce doctrine. To the contrary, they encourage clergy and members alike to read widely and discuss both what they study and what they experience. There simply isn’t a top-down dissemination of religious doctrine, and a great variety of approaches to belief and practice can be found around the world.

Have you received any responses yet in reply to your call for anthology submissions?

Yes, several! And this is before it’s been published anywhere but my own website.

You call for followers to create a new Ásatrú theology. I’m wondering how strongly you feel about “rescuing” old Ásatrú symbols/theology from Heathens on the extreme-right fringe and white nationalists. You write that you don’t want to be reactionary and let them set parameters. But do you feel it’s your job to directly engage with them in some way?

The theology I’ve read from the extreme right fringe of Heathenry is not anything I’m interested in “rescuing.” Stephen A. McNallen, founder and former charismatic leader of the overtly racist Asatru Folk Assembly, now a participant in and vocal supporter of the alt-right, goes places in his 2015 book Asatru: A Native European Spirituality where I have no desire to follow. He repeatedly asserts that Heathenry has a teleology (strike one) in which the white person (strike two) becomes a demigod (strike three) and may be “cast backward in time” to appear to their twenty-first century self as a deity. Even without the strikeout of the first propositions, the last bit lines up far too closely with the theology of Ancient Aliens and Marvel Comics for my taste. I’m perfectly happy to let him and the authors in his circle – the “radical traditionalists” and others – write what they write without feeling that I need to “rescue” any elements of their ethnocentric theology.

The illustration used by The Atlantic for Sigal Samuel's article on Ásatrú

You ask if I feel the need to directly engage with the racist fringe of Heathenry. I believe that the inclusive mainstream of Heathenry has a responsibility to denounce hate speech and hate groups at the extreme edge of the Heathen religions. We do, repeatedly. Academics and journalists tend to only contact us in reference to this one issue. Every time, we give the same response that Muslims have given to scholars and media since September 11, 2001: the radical right does not represent the rest of us, and we strongly denounce their speech and acts. What’s the result of these years of statements? More inquiries asking about racist Heathenry from writers and online threats against us and our families from the hateful.

Some American Heathens think that we should be engaging with white nationalists in the prisons and white supremacists on the Heathen fringe. The idea is that we should offer them a better way, that we should welcome them in and seek to change their hearts while encouraging them to walk a righteous path. I’m not a missionary, and I don’t believe in Christian forgiveness. I believe that we are our deeds and that evil deeds must be set right. If someone was a practicing member of a racist and anti-Semitic hate group for twenty-five years, it’s not enough to go to prison. Incarceration is something forced upon the individual by secular authority. Let that person work to make good for their hate by spending the next quarter-century volunteering for the Southern Poverty Law Center and the NAACP. Then, and only then, we can start a discussion about raising a horn to the gods together. I know that many of my fellows strongly disagree with me on this. Such is the diversity of Heathen belief.

My personal idea of inclusion doesn’t extend to including Nazis, neo or otherwise, in my circle of family and friends, in my professional world, or in my religious life. Others may have more tolerance. On this issue, I have none.

Is your call for a new theology actually a way of reacting to heathens on the extreme-right fringe and to white nationalists? Is part of your goal to make Ásatrú theology racism-proof? To what extent do you think that’s possible?

No, I am explicitly calling for a new public theology of Ásatrú that expresses Heathen perspectives on a wide variety of issues in the world today. As I said earlier, there is nothing in racist writing with which I am interested in engaging, other than to denounce it as hate speech that has no place in modern society.

I’m reacting more to experiences in academia, journalism, and the interfaith world with those in leadership roles who will only mention any form of Heathenry in the context of white supremacy. When professors at major divinity schools allow graduate students in Heathenry to only write on the racist elements, when peer reviewers insist that coverage of racist leaders must be central in any work on American Heathenry, when journalists only interview Heathens when they want to write the umpteenth piece on “How a Thor-Worshipping Religion Turned Racist,” when leaders of interfaith organizations bar Heathens from participating because they once read something racist on a random Heathen blog, those of us in the inclusive mainstream need to stand up and say that not only are we absolutely not sympathetic to the racist element, but that there is a huge and untapped world of our religious beliefs and practices that are being completely and willfully erased.

Those of us in the mainstream of Heathenry are more than what we are not. No one comes upon Heathenry and says, “Oh! I’ll join this so that I can be a non-Nazi.” They become practicing Heathens because there are deep and meaningful religious, spiritual, moral, cultural, and communal elements that speak to them on a profound level.

I am deeply disgusted by those who participate in hate groups while waving the Heathen flag, but there is no way “to make Asatru theology racism-proof.” There are racists and bigots in all religions. All religions. I have zero tolerance for that evil in my life. How many religious leaders of any tradition in America today would ban a member of their congregation for promoting alt-right views, for marching with Richard Spencer, or for insisting that members of the LGBTQ+ community are mentally ill? I and many other Heathen leaders have done and continue to do so. I challenge clergy of other faiths to live up to their own ideals. As always, we are our deeds.

How did the racist interpretation of Heathenry begin? Is it a total perversion of true Ásatrú values and foundational texts, or is there some basis for the view of white ethnic superiority in the original myths?

If someone wants to go spelunking for mythological justifications of ethnic superiority, they’ll hit pay dirt in the texts of almost any religious tradition. Mythology is full of tales of in-groups versus out-groups, of the threatening Other who comes from the outside to threaten the community and take away women/cattle/horses/wealth/etc. Accordingly, we have fundamentalist, sexist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, and otherwise hateful branches of multiple religious traditions.

If the only religious people who voted for Donald Trump had been racist Heathens, he wouldn’t be president today. The appeal of hateful rhetoric that scapegoats minorities and other “outsiders” cuts across denominational lines. Clearly, plenty of people of much larger faiths were completely comfortable with his statements and promises. Read the brilliant essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic about “The First White President.” Racism is a cancer deep in the heart of the United States of America.

The embrace of violence cuts across religious lines.

Medievalists and scholars of Scandinavian Studies have spilled a lot of ink recently pushing back against white supremacist assertions about a supposed “purely white” Northern Europe of the long ago time. History is much more multicultural than the pseudo-intellectuals of the alt-right would have you believe.

As for what you call “foundational texts,” we don’t have them in the same way as most other religious traditions. Germanic society in pagan times was not a literary culture. Runes were used for writing, but they tended to be carved into wood and stone for relatively short inscriptions. The writing of long texts with ink came northwards with the spread of Christianity. Aside from the runic material that survives, we don’t really have anything written by Heathen hands. Instead, we have pagan poetry written down by Christians centuries after conversion. We have sagas that are really works of historical fiction composed by Christian Icelanders about their forefathers, and their portrayal of Heathen belief and practice is in no way the expression of a living religion by its own practitioners.

Even within the poems that survive, there is no clear and systematic statement of Heathen values. Hávamál (“Sayings of the High One”), the major poem spoken by the god Odin, offers advice and gnomic wisdom but is not in any way comparable to anything like the rules laid down in the Hebrew Bible. Today’s Heathens spend a lot of time reading the poems and sagas. They read contemporary accounts of the Germanic tribes by Romans, Christians, and Muslims. The read modern scholarly works and sift through reports of archaeological finds. They talk to other Heathens and read new works by Heathen authors. The worldviews and value systems of modern Heathens exist in dialogue with all of these but are not inscribed on ancient stone tablets.

Those who use Heathen symbols and texts to promote ideologies of hate select from the same smorgasbord of materials that the rest of us do. Like the extremists of other religions, they pick and choose the bits of poetry and prose that they can read as supporting their hateful views, then they make these readings central to their ideology.

The first lines of the Odin poem Hávamál are
Within the gates ere a man shall go,
Full warily let him watch,
Full long let him look about him;
For little he knows where a foe may lurk,
And sit in the seats within.
I’ve seen this cited by one hate group as giving divine mandate to white nationalism. From their obsessive perspective, in which everything in life is about whiteness and racial holy war, this shows that Odin is warning them to be wary of immigrants, people of color, “race traitors,” or whatever boogymen they most fear at the moment.

Is there some dark racist secret hidden within the medieval poetry of Iceland? Of course not. This sort of hermeneutical game can be played with nearly any text, and those who seek validation for hateful views will always manage to find some passage they can interpret in a way that justifies their bigotry.

It’s odd to me that professional scholars and journalists continue to repeatedly ask this question of whether Norse mythology is inherently racist – the same journalists who would be never dream of contacting a rabbi or imam to ask whether the Torah or Qur’an are textbooks for extremism. Of course, this is the result of a circular system in which the only aspect of Heathenry covered is the racist fringe. When a writer new to the subject searches the web or academic databases, they find articles about the extremists. This shapes their own approach to the subject, and yet another piece on the topic is published. Circle of life. One of my goals with this new theology project is to make materials available for scholars, journalists, and interfaith leaders that cover the many aspects of these religions that they have resolutely ignored.

I was interested in the parallel you drew with Liberation Theologians. As another potential point of comparison: I recently interviewed an imam in France who said he and others are working on a “preventive theology” – a version of Islam that’s meant to be, if not terrorist-proof, at least resistant to being coopted by fundamentalists. Do you see your effort as being at all similar?

I am not aware of this particular imam’s work. If that really is the goal, I’m curious how this would be done and why it would be done. Extremists don’t read works of liberal theology in their tradition and then edit them to fit their own hateful ideologies. They turn to the ancient holy texts and to works by later authors with worldviews similar to their own. I doubt the members of the KKK read Pope Francis on climate change and then say, “Aha! We can edit this to be about black people destroying the world!” That’s simply not how promulgation of hate works.

I once wrote an article that went through the texts issued by the Asatru Free Assembly and showed, in a very straightforward manner, how they have promoted racist views over many years. This did not result in Norse mythology or Ásatrú theology being somehow made proof to use by extremists. It resulted in podcasts, blog posts, and Facebook posts being written calling me all sorts of infantile names and making threats against me. The idea that we can engage with leaders and members of hate groups in some sort of intellectual and theological dialogue simply doesn’t work in reality.

I’m interested in building a theology that engages with multiple issues facing those living today that will have serious repercussions for future generations. This has been done by theologians of many other traditions, both in the so-called “world religions” and in the smaller minority faiths. I think that Heathens of positive intent need to take a place at the table of international dialogue with other people of faith who bring their unique perspectives to bear on the problems that we all face.

1 comment:

Doug Lange said...

Dude. This is 2 parts Love Letter to Heathenry and 1 part Mic Drop on hate. Keep'em coming.

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