Ok, so it’s time for me to start indulging in my love for other religions. Ever since I can remember I’ve always been fascinated with religions and mythology. In reality, Christianity was always very boring to me, way too structured and monotonous. It lacked that bit of oompf if you get me (reading Revelation now… I was wrong). It wasn’t until I met Jesus that it all changed for me, I wonder if that’s why so many people disconnect with the Church, they just haven’t met Jesus? Anyway, I loved anything and everything spiritual, ancient and different. Egypt and Greek mythology always got me going and more recently I’ve developed a love for Norse mythology as well. To add, I’ve read Buddhist works, Hinduism, Catholic, Islamic, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon and most of the time I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of a lot of these different faiths and worldviews and there’s still so many more to get my head around! So, I’ve decided to write a series on world religions, different faiths, mythologies and spirituality to sate my desire to know about them more. Hopefully, this can give my readers some insight into how we can better understand them and perhaps even reach out to them. Just a little side note all these mythologies and religions I write about, people are involved with today. While not overly popular there are legitimate pagans in parts of the world that worship Odin and Thor and other long forgotten gods and ways.
So let’s start with my latest interest, Norse Mythology.
While I was away at Hideaway Bay I read one of the best books I’ve had the pleasure of reading all year “Norse Mythology” by Neil Gaiman. It was like every fantasy novel I’ve ever read wrapped up into one book. If there was ever an origin to the fantasy novels we have today I thought to myself Norse mythology is it. All the characters we know and love are there. Odin, Thor, Loki, and Frigg. Some I didn’t know as well Balder, Freyr and Freyja, Kvasir, Sif and so many others. It was an epic tale of creation, temptation, love, the afterlife, great battles, and the end of the world (Ragnarok). Every page was exciting as the last, I smashed through the book in a day and a half, I couldn’t put it down. When I did finish it, it left me wanting more, I needed to know more about Norse mythology. Something that jumped out at me almost immediately was some of the similarities Norse mythology has with the Bible (not all that surprising). Take Odin for example… he is the All-Father, extremely wise. Odin hung on a tree for nine days as a sacrifice unto himself, then he had a spear thrust through his side. Odin breathed life into the first male and female (Ask and Embla). Odin rules from upon his throne in Valhalla (the Norse’s version of Heaven). Amazing! You’d have to be as blind as Odin himself to not see some common themes there.
However, there was some huge differences as well of course. For an extremely wise god, Odin lacked compassion at times, made mistakes and even lacked foresight often wondering if he made the right decisions time and time again. For Odin, hanging on a tree wasn’t for anything selfless but in order to gain wisdom (as was the plucking out of his eye). Compare this to Yahweh in the Scriptures and you begin to see some stark differences.
Where Odin is very wise and knowledgeable, Yahweh has perfect knowledge of all things past, present and future (Isaiah 46:10), including the hearts of mankind (Psalm 44:21). When Ask and Embla were created (by Odin Vili and Ve) humanity was sort of left to its own devices. Yahweh, however, time and time again enters into human history chiefly in the person of Christ (John 1), loves them deeply (John 3:16) and carries them to a final hope of a new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1-4). This is why it all matters. Despite all the epicness of Norse mythology, despite how wise Odin is, how powerful Thor can be with his hammer Moljinr (he like… one-shots everything), these gods cannot save (Odin and Thor actually end up dying) because they are as flawed and as sinful as the rest of us. They’re broken, shattered, and desperately clawing for hope as Ragnarok (the end of days), the world serpent (Jörmungandr), and Fenrir the wolf (he swallows the sun and kills Odin) draws near to them. At their best, they’re relatable because they’re like us in so many ways (there’s a lot of drama, family right?). At their worst (which is often their best), they’re vain shadows (idols) of a holier and more wonderful God who saves the world from its brokenness and sin.