You’ll find divine inspiration in the damnedest places, if you’ll forgive the mild pun there. Some countless years ago I found it in my parent’s living room, in the form of the tail end of the movie, “Kingdom of Heaven”. It had been portrayed as a movie being aboute the crusades and the rightiousness of Christanity, though research has revealed it might not have been so clear cut. I may have to come back to this movie and watch it in it’s entirety, as it seems to have an underlying dialogue that discuss faith and religion as a whole.
In either case, one line spoken by Bloom near the very end of the film forever changed how I view the divine. Finding a video of the quote has proven impossible, as it’s hard to put in “Kingdom of Heaven” into a Google search without hitting a sea of proselytizing. The general setup, however, is easy enough to recall; Orland Bloom’s character (Balian) and another are surveying their recently slain. They are attempting to hold Jerusalem within the political hands of Christendom, and it is proving to be quite costly. Hundreds lay day, preparing for a funeral pyre. The second man turns to Balian and says that the funeral pyre will condemn the souls of the men before them; a Christian burial rite had not been performed, and committing to the men to the pyre without it would doom the souls of all those on the battlefield. Dead crusaders are just about as hygienic as you would expect however, so not burning their bodies would condemn the living.
Balian looks around the scene, thinks for a moment, and responds with: “If we do not burn these bodies, we will all be dead of disease in three days. God will understand, my lord. And if he doesn’t, then he is not God and we need not worry.”
Now that should be more of a revelation for Catholicism and Christianity than it should be for me; the idea that a perfect God can operate on His/Her/Its own terms, rather than exclusively through what is expressed in a selectively interpreted religious text written by human men who are flawed, isn’t really a big deal to anything within the non-Abrahamic spectrum. To be honest, most of us seem to find the idea of perfect God/Goddess somewhat confusing, especially once you read the myths that any particular religion has surrounding it. Still, I was somewhat taken aback by this line. I have considered it countless time since I’ve heard it, and I’d say that it was fundamental to shaping the way by which I regard the world.
In a single moment, I realized that most religious arguments were just something I didn’t need to engage in; none of us do, truth be told. No matter what the terms of a theistic argument are, regardless of the stakes of that argument, there is something critical we may be missing. If the Gods are the Gods, than it’s their place to decide what does or does not offend them. They have the capacity to either direct their faithful to sort things out or or they’ll do it themselves. Look at the lore surrounding any divine being. Does Odin strike you as an entity who really needs you to speak on His behalf because, gosh darnit, He sure would hate to impose!
Yeah, me neither. He strikes me more as the sort of being that will strike you over the head, repeatedly, until shit gets done. Maybe even a little big after shit gets done, just for good measure.
When I think of Loki, I don’t feel that I am considering an entity that gives a lemon scented fuck about whether someone venerates him or not. While it irritates me that there is a vast number of American Heathens who present him as Norse Satan in a religion that doesn’t need such a role filled, I also have faith that he will go where he is going to go. It doesn’t matter if you acknowledge Him whilst drinking from a bull’s horn filled with fermented honey or not; Loki is Loki, and believing in Him means believing His existence is greater than any condemnation that Midgard can produce.
I have gotten a little bit of praise for being even tempered in my discourse, and it mostly comes back to this; you can’t insult me by attacking my beliefs. The only thing you can malign is the respect I have for you and your opinion, as my faith can’t be damaged by the pettiness, ignorance, and/or hubris of others. When you try to take down my religion, you are only displaying that you worry for your own.
After all, if you truly believe what you believe? Why does anything I say mean anything to you at all? If you think Loki is Norse Satan? Pft, why do you care about a single word that comes out of my mouth or is typed by my hand? Stating what I believe does not mean I am attacking what you believe. If you think it does, that says far more about you than it does about me.
This is how faith works for me; I use my mind just as much as my heart. I have love and respect for these forces I venerate, yet I view my opinions of them through an intellectual lens as well as an emotional one The Gods I worship are strong, capable, and powerful; if they need me to tell someone where they can stick it, I have full faith that I’ll get the memo. If they don’t care, however, I have no reason to care either.
This must be true, I feel, or they are not Gods…in which case, I would have nothing to worry about anyway.