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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Thoughts for Meditation




January 1st, 2015.  Tradition.  Roasted pork, with Bavarian kraut.  German mashed potatoes.  Root vegetables.  German apple pie for dessert.  German beer to wash all down.  Tradition.  We are nothing but plain vanilla without Tradition.  It comes from our Culture and Heritage.  Practice it, fight for it!  Hail the New Year!!!

Havamal, verse 6 - You should not gloat about how smart you think you are but remain silent.  By remaining silent, you can stay out of trouble.  Page 158, from the One, the Only....THE VIEW - One Man's Living Asatru With Help From The Havamal (Terry Unger, Author).  

We are the sum total of our words, deeds, and personal aspirations.  Not only does a man NOT move off his center without these three but his journey's end is determined by the same.  

When a man is younger, he frequently boasts about his deeds.  But the good man, as he ages, boasts less.  He has gained the security of knowing his deeds are the things that brought him to his current place in the world.  

Havamal, verse 10 - It is important to have a good head on your shoulders.  When among strangers it can keep you from harm and during hard times, it will help you take care of yourself.  Page 159, from the One, The Only....THE VIEW......

People who worry about their future miss the opportunity to make their present a good one.   

When you give your best and get little response, it may be time to change your venue.  These people either do not appreciate truth or your sense of humor.  

Havamal, verse 70 - It is far better to be alive than dead.  While living, you can enjoy your family, your family, your friends, and your wealth.  And, opportunities still present themselves for all sorts of gain.  A dead man enjoys nothing.  Page 166, from the One, the Only....THE VIEW........

We face one grand certainty in life and that is death; waiting for it is foolhardy.  As long as you can breathe, Live!!! 

Some people are like a hot dog without roll or mustard - naked, made of scraps, and damned near tasteless.  

                                                Copyright @2015 Terry Unger

Friday, February 6, 2015

More Religious Diversity - And This One Is Not Going Away





Below are two articles that appeared in this week's news.  Being the lazy sod that I am, I copied and pasted them to this blog post.  I personally want to thank Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post and Kimberly Winston of Religious News Service.  Good Work Terrence and Kimberly!  

Let me add this:  It's not only happening in Iceland.  All across the United States, from New Jersey to California, people are discovering Asatru; they are forming Kindreds and some are building Hofs, a place to hold events.  The same is happening in Europe.  Asatru, the modern term for the following of the old Gods of Northern Europe, is not just a Viking thing; they were the late comers on the historical scene.  It is Proto Germanic/ Germanic in origin and pre-dates Christianity by at least two millennium.  

How thousands of Icelanders suddenly started worshiping the Norse gods again

 February 3  
The story of how Christianity arrived in Iceland, according to Nordic lore, reads like a scene ripped from “Game of Thrones.” A millennium ago, Christianity had just taken over Norway. So the Norwegian king dispatched a mighty warrior missionary named Thangbrand to Iceland to spread the good news. Thangbrand did, along the way spearing dead a great many heathens. Then came a test that would decide whether the icy island would accept Christianity or stay faithful to Thor and the other Norse gods.
Thangbrand had discovered an Icelandic beast impervious to fire. So, hesaid, “we shall light three fires. I shall bless the first one, you heathens shall bless the second one, and the third one shall remain without a blessing. If [he] walks through your fire unharmed but is afraid of my fire, you must accept Christianity.” The beast galloped through the heathen fire — but reared before the Christian one.
That was in the year 1000. And from that day on, according to Icelandic texts translated by the University of Pittsburgh, Iceland was a Christian nation.
But now the old Norse gods have once again emerged from the clouds to claim a people once theirs. For the first time in more than 10 centuries, thousands of Icelanders soon will be able to worship Thor, Odin, Frigg and others at a temple on which construction begins this month. Not since the collapse of the Viking age has anyone overtly worshiped at the altar of a Norse god in Iceland, which banned such displays of reverence at the rise of Christianity.
The degree of religiosity among the church’s denizens, however, is a matter of debate. “I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet,” Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson, a high priest of the Norse god religious church, Asatruarfelagio, told Reuters. “We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.”
That contention explains a shift in Iceland in the past four decades, as a small religious sect devoted to the Norse gods rose from obscurity. According to statistics kept by the Icelandic government, membership in the Asatru Association has exploded by Icelandic standards. Founded in 1972 as a means to preserve ancient ways, the church had a membership below 100 in its first two decades. Today, nearly 2,400 are in its ranks.
While not a large number on the international scale, it is for Iceland, which has a population of around 320,000. The church claims to be the largest non-Christian church in Iceland.
In most corners of the globe, Thor finds a home only in comic books, Hollywood movies and video games. But the rise of Asatru, which has doubled in size in five years, is neither extemporaneous nor inscrutable. According to research published in the Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, the church can thank both ancient economics and modern politics for its fast emergence.
The people of Iceland were never sold on Jesus. “From the time of Iceland’s formal adoption of Christianity as the official state religion in the year 1,000 C.E., Iceland has never been a fanatically Christian country nor particularly orthodox in its Christianity,” wrote scholar Michael Strmiska ofSUNY Orange. “A strong case can be made that the acceptance of Christianity was motivated more by economic and political considerations than authentic Christian fervor. … Good political and economic relations with Christian Europe depended on at least a semblance of Christian conversion, and so this semblance was achieved.”
Indeed, even as Christian governments authored increasingly restrictive measures on non-Christian faiths, the old ways glowed. Even today, when walking the streets of Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik, pedestrians will find many streets named after Norse gods. And “a very large number of Icelandic personal and surnames are formed from ‘Thor,’” wrote Strmiska.
In 1972, an Icelandic poet named Sveinbjorn Beinteinsson tapped into that residual fealty, launching a fresh religious organization that began as a scholarly pursuit, but quickly took on religious overtones. How? First, Beinteinsson and friends assumed the name of “Asatru,” which means “belief or faith in the ancient gods,” wrote Strmiska. But then, an act of nature took on grand significance. And what else would it be but a mighty thunderbolt?
It went down, probably apocryphally, like this: One day in the summer of 1972, as the movement battled with the government to establish its church, a “mighty lighting bolt flashed across the sky, struck a power station in the capital and plunged much of Reykjavik into darkness,” Strmiska found. “Such powerful electrical storms are almost unknown in Iceland…. Several of my Asatru informants rather gleefully interpreted this lightning storm as divine intervention on the part of the thunder-god Thor … [and] the government had a sudden change of heart, and soon decided to grant official recognition to Asatru.”
Several forces below the skies then took over. Leader Beinteinsson died, which brought national coverage to the church and boosted enrollment. Sexual harassment scandals drove away some members of the Lutheran church. A fierce atheism took hold in Iceland, which today has one of thehighest rates of nonbelievers in the world. And finally, a religion involving ancient thunder gods has an undeniable “cool” factor, according to Strmiska.
Many atheists took solace in the traditions of the Norse gods, though they didn’t necessarily believe in them. “I believe in nothing,” one member told Strmiska. The academic wrote: “What he did not ‘believe’ in was the literalreality of the gods or other such beings, accepting them only as metaphors and guiding figures in cautionary tales.”
This is a sentiment parroted by members of the modern church. Its new circular temple, according to Reuters, will be dug 13 feet deep into a hill and peer down upon Iceland’s capital. A dome atop it will allow sunlight to filter inside. “The sun changes with the seasons,” the church’s high priest said. “So we are in a way having the sun paint space for us.”
Terrence McCoy writes on foreign affairs for The Washington Post's Morning Mix. Follow him on Twitter here.


(RNS) Thor, Odin and Freya are getting some new digs. A new temple is underway in Iceland, the first to honor these three Norse gods since the Vikings plowed the seas 1,000 years ago.
A Norse mythology image from the 18th century Icelandic manuscript "SÁM 66", now in the care of the Árni Magnússon Institute in Iceland.
A Norse mythology image from the 18th century Icelandic manuscript “SÁM 66,” now in the care of the Árni Magnússon Institute in Iceland.Photo courtesy of Wikimedia, Public Domain

 This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.
The construction of the new temple on a hill overlooking the capital city of Reykjavik was first reported by Reuters. It reflects a growing interest in Viking religion both in Iceland and beyond.
“I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet,” Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson, a high priest of Asatru, as the worship of Norse gods is called, told Reuters.
“We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.”
Icelandic followers of Asatru — or Asatruars — reached 2,400 out of a population of 330,000 last year, government statistics show. The new temple will be used for weddings, funerals and naming ceremonies — a big deal to the Vikings of yore and today. But don’t look for any animal sacrifices; contemporary Vikings make symbolic sacrifices instead and focus on values of hospitality, honesty, self-reliance and honor.
Belief in the Norse gods died out in Iceland and much of Europe about 1,000 years ago when Christianity swept through. But Asatru saw a revitalization in the early 1970s, when young people brought a renewed interest to many earth-based religions. It was recognized as a formal religion in Iceland in 1973.
There are now “kindreds” — communities of Asatru worshippers — in places the Vikings never saw, including Australia, New Zealand and at least 21 U.S. states, including Arizona, Mississippi and Idaho.
Stephen McNallen is considered by many to have fostered Asatru’s rebirth in the U.S. He is a founder of the Asatru Folk Assembly, one of several Asatru organizations in America, and he estimates there are as many as 20,000 U.S. practitioners.
People are drawn to Asatru for multiple reasons, he said.
“Some of it, I think, springs from a need to have spiritual autonomy in a world that is excessively complex and is inhibitive of individual freedom and expression,” he said in a phone interview from his home in the Sierra foothills of California. “Many people are looking for continuity beyond this little space and time. Another reason is some people feel the desire to get back to their ancestral roots.”
That last bit has caused some trouble for Asatru practitioners in the past. The Nazis borrowed some aspects of Asatru to justify their pursuit of a “pure Aryan race.” And today, some white supremacist groups claim Norse beliefs.
McNallen, however, said true Asatru has nothing to with racism.
“Like all native religions, Asatru is positive, it is life-affirming and it has no negative connotations towards any other groups,” he said.
There is no U.S. equivalent to the new Viking temple Iceland has planned, which will be very different from an actual place of Viking worship. Such a place would have been a long, rectangular wooden hall. The new temple will be circular and topped with a dome.
McNallen likes the design and sees it as something of a bridge between the worshippers of the past and present.
“What they have sounds very innovative,” he said. “It takes some people, especially the younger folks, a while to realize we are not Vikings. We are the spiritual descendants of Vikings and we have to have answers for real people in the 21st century. We can’t live in the past.”
KRE/MG END WINSTON






Our Visit to Sutton Hoo

When walking the grounds, you can feel the specialness of this place.  It is quiet, save the wind rustling through the trees.  The ages...