The man and woman wore Thor’s hammers on their necks. Not the silly cube of the movies, but the intricately chased device of Viking images. Matching. Bronze. Because I am a jerk, I said “Mjölnir?”
“Yes,” said they.
“I just said that because it is hard to say.” I replied.
“Yes, the children are having trouble with that in their religious education.” said the woman.
_ _ _
I was floored. Until now, I have never heard of children being raised heathen. This year I have come across maybe five families. I don’t believe anyone has had a religious experience involving the Germanic gods in over a millennium. I just assumed such things to be a proxy for identification with their Germanic ancestry. Such people are not scholars. [I was wrong. I just met an Eddic scholar. He was not a good scholar.] One had Balder tattooed on his right knuckles and Odin on his left. Balder was misspelled. [As a child I had a very good dictionary. I memorized a few different alphabets. To me runes were exactly as cool and exotic as Cyrillic. Not too.]
Years ago I had a long, deep conversation with a woman who identified as Wiccan. She liked the rituals but did not think they worked. She liked the fashions which she identified with the religion. I came away feeling that she enjoyed posing, and thought the imagery was almost as nice as annoying the right people. She felt no need to raise her children as such.
What to think of such people. As a simple man, I think I should believe in the truth. Science, politics, or religion. I try not to believe in lies. When people pushing a probably true thing lie to me, then I become more doubtful.
Perhaps I am more motivated in opposing liars than following the truth. It is easier to spot a lie than a great truth. Alas, the two processes are not the same. I once told a friend that I was sure CO2 would warm the world greatly. I have since learned quite a bit, but primarily I have seen profound lies. An interest in the Maunder Minimum causes doubts, but seeing unadmitted lies makes me not trust at all and suspect I am being manipulated. Years ago signs were put up in Glacier National Park telling visitors that the glaciers would be gone by 2020. Those signs were scrubbed of the date earlier this year. Last winter I feigned anger at the very cold and snowy winter. ‘Al Gore promised us that if we did nothing, by 2012 our children would not know what snow was!’
Odin and Thor partly leave me cold because my mind’s eye can see the religion changing and rejecting parts of itself. [Elsewhere I have commented on the vanished god, Tiu.] If I saw Newtonian mechanics changing so, I wouldn’t trust engineering.
I have great disdain for revisionist historians. Not because we cannot improve our understanding of the truth, but because they don’t seem to believe in truth at all. Howard Zinn said that impartiality was not only impossible, but also undesirable. That’s as blatant a call for propaganda as I have ever heard. Need I state that I consider propaganda to be lies?
When Hillary Rodham was running for president I heard Malcolm Gladwell making an analogy to a female artist who failed to make it into the big British art academy. She barely failed in the 1880’s, and because she failed it took many years for a woman to gain membership. She herself was no longer considered worthy although her art was even better technically as time went on. Gladwell found her work in a storage room. Gladwell rhapsodized about her near photographic realism. Gladwell implied that if we failed to elect Hillary – even were she unworthy – we would set women back greatly.
Gladwell knows better. The reason that woman never made it was that art changed. Photographic realism was pointless once we had better photography. Art was then an emotional response. Precision came to be seen as mere draftsmanship. Was Van Gogh a bad artist because he was a poor draftsman? That was what Gladwell was implying. A very convenient and well thought-out lie. And I no longer trust Malcolm Gladwell.
Thus I despise creationists. Not because I doubt their premise, but because their very arguments are lies and manipulations. That is not how science or logic work. That is how propaganda works.
When one paints a lying world view, I rebel. I care not if it is religion, science, or history. It is hard enough to find truth without intentional errors.