Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cliffs Notes

Within my personal experience, the purchase and use of Cliffs Notes by many was a way to avoid reading the assigned book.  The Cliffs Notes offering on say Of Mice and Men (and many more) sets up the high points and characters but is a tad thin on details.  And as in the old saying, "the devils in the details."  Those who relied on Cliffs Notes had a hard time with the final exam; they lacked the knowing of the details to answer things like - why did this character do this, and how did this happen?  All because those folks decided to take a short-cut.  

Our times are filled with Cliffs Notes like opportunities.  But, these so-called "opportunities" lack the details needed for not just completion but also success.  It's like someone telling you that the view from Pike's Peak can be yours (all the while telling you the beauty of it all) but not letting you know that it's a bitch on your automobile to get to the top (there is no short-cut to the top of Pike's Peak)  Can you get to the top?  Absolutely.  But would the the journey be better if you know about the pitfalls along the way and therefore can prepare for them?  

Thoughtful people will agree but there are those who enjoy the thrill of a blown radiator.  Which one do you want to be?  Do you want the details or are you just interested in the highlights?

Havamal verse 8 - A man who has profited well by his self-reliance and industriousness is held in high regard by other men.  A man's reputation cannot depend on help from others; that help can be a long time in coming, if it comes at all.  

Havamal verse 38 - Never go far without your wits and your tools.  You never know when you will need them.  

Havamal verse 74 - When a man is well prepared, he can handle any change.  But, he must remain vigilant; some changes happen quickly and are more daring than others.  

The above Havamal verses are taken from ... The View - One Man's Living Asatru With Help From The Havamal and The View - Act II, written by Terry Unger.   

                                                 Copyright @2016 Terry Unger

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Problem With Faith

Faith, loosely defined as a belief in something you cannot see, hear, feel, let alone smell or taste has driven men to create fantastic works of art.  It also drove men (educated men, not itinerant goat herders) to drive two jet planes into the Twin Towers (9/11/2001).  Men  of science, strongly rooted in their faith have tried to align science, the cosmos, and their religious beliefs while others within the same profession have used smoke and mirrors to try and disprove not just the former's line of thought but also to trash real scientific fact:  the Earth is only about 6,000 years old, men and dinosaurs lived peacefully together, etc.  According to these folks, proven science is wrong but the "facts" presented in their holy book, the word of their god, is the only "truth" humans need to know.  Proven science is factual; it can be proven over and over again.  The problem with faith then, is that it creates belief in something that cannot be proven.  This tandem of faith/belief is heady stuff.

So tell me, where exactly is "heaven?"  Do we all get 72 virgins or is that reward just for Muslims?  Why would a loving god create a special place of fiery eternal torment just for people who do not want his "love?"  Reasonable persons ask these questions and more, silently or out loud.  The problem is that these "things" cannot be proven. When questions such as these are asked, rabbis, priests, pastors, and imams usually point to passages in their holy books and followup with the admonition, "you must have faith."  This is how and where faith begets belief.

The three monotheistic religions rely heavily on their orthodoxy to prop up their faith/belief tandems; do not expect to find any form of orthopraxy close to the surface of their doctrine and dogma (in this post orthodoxy is referred to as the conforming to and following of the proper, established doctrine, dogma, and ritual while orthopraxy refers to correct behavior and action over faith and ritual).  But there is this thing called Asatru.

The word "Asatru," from the Icelandic language, means "faith in the old (Germanic) gods."  Asatru is the modern form of the pre-Christian Germanic religion and is best expressed within a re-constructionist context.  This means that Asatru is being "put back together" based on what we know as fact.  These facts are in their own way scientific - they are taken from anthropology, archaeology, and written sources; UPG's and MUS have no real place in a true re-constructionist context  (UPG - unverified personal gnosis......MUS - Made up stuff).  And Asatru is orthopraxic.

Modern practitioners of Asatru base their life around right action; belief in a far away heaven is of no concern but dying with your good name intact is.  Asatru is world and life accepting, therefore life and personal wealth honestly gained are good things, not things to be rejected as they so often are within monotheism, in favor of something that cannot be proven (salvation doctrine - a "promise" of heaven).  Within modern Asatru, as in the old, there is no room for blind faith, just the facts.  And, as long as Asatru remains re-constructionist and orthopraxic, there will not be a problem with "faith."

                                                    Copyright @2016 Terry Unger

Monday, April 4, 2016

Into the Deep

Recently, a mime on social media talked about being born in the 1950's; how we that were had the opportunity to see and hear all the good bands, over the decades witnessing many things good and bad, and finally have the bragging rights to living in two millennium.  But does this mean after all of that we should quit?  I think not.  You may be getting up there in age but are far from broken.  Here are some personal examples.  

Once I thought that I knew all there was to know about planting vegetables and fruit trees; I was wrong - a change in soil and climate demanded different methods.  So, seeking knowledge of the "how to" was needed.  After the application of this new knowledge experience was gained and success was in my hands.  

There was a time when I was foolish enough to think that I knew all there was to know about love.  Then I looked deeply into the unconditional eyes of our dog.  I discovered that I knew little.  All the books in the world can not help us in this regard.  Diving deep inside of myself I discovered that humans have much to learn about many things.  Dog is God just spelled backwards.  

The point here is that all need to never be satisfied with what they currently know.  We need to dive into the deep of knowledge.  It is there.  Waiting.  The literature of the Germanic/Norse can give us inspiration.  

The High God Odin/Wodan constantly seeks knowledge for himself and then to share with the other Gods and men.  For this God, knowledge is so great a possession that he, according to the Eddas, sacrifices his one eye to have just a bit more.  He also sacrificed Himself to Himself for even more.  Obviously, Odin/Wodan is not some itinerant Palestinian preacher.  

The examples of Odin/Wodan seeking knowledge is one that we should emulate.  It does not require pulling out one's eye or hanging one's self.  It requires the understanding that age should never become a barrier or a stop sign to learning.  The accumulation of knowledge, learning, bears no time stamp.  Also, it requires that you share this learning with your family and your people.  Not sharing with your family and folk is the equal of brewing mead, wine, or beer and keeping it all to yourself.  Go on, dive into the deep!  

                                                  Copyright @2016 Terry Unger       

Unity of a Forgotten Kind

The world and all it contains, both seen and unseen stands with mankind in a state of consubstantiation.  Our ancestors understood this as...