On Modernism

There are many practices we take from our Heathen ancestors. For ceremonial purposes, we recreate their style of dress and many of their mannerisms. There is something else we can take from them.

Our ancestors did the things they did because it was the fashion of the day. They wore the clothes that were the best they could find. They made the best homes they could. The used the finest tools they could lay their hands on. If they were around today they would probably be trying to take advantage of many of our modern resources.

Being modern in the sense of material things does not mean that we have to leave behind our ancestral ways. We can still live the Heathen way, but we can use modern medicines, computers, and cars. Much has been learned since the times of our forebears, and it would be an insult to their struggles to not use the advances gained.

There are many subjects to be covered here in the topic of modernism as applied to Asatru.

Our ancestors valued intelligence as much as they valued physical strength. This is not just wit, but learning as well. You must attempt to be as educated as possible.

In primary and secondary school, our children must work hard to get everything out of it they can. They must take pride in their pursuits. It doesn't hurt if our kids have a reputation for being smarter than other kids.

It's been shown that the reputation that oriental children do better in school is a direct result of the value of education in the eyes of their parents. As parents, we must value the educational pursuits of our children and show that we have pride in their accomplishments. You must exhibit shame at any weaknesses in your own education so that the value is complete.

Education does not end with high school. Whether trade school or college, we must all try to get as much education as possible. We learn things that give us stronger standing in the world. You can study things that give us more knowledge of our faith or you can study the business skills to make us stronger financially. Every bit of education we gain makes us stronger.

This emphasis on education not only makes our children stronger, but helps build the reputation of Asatru in general. I foresee a time when Asatruar will produce colleges the way the Christians do now.
Commerce, Finance, and Economics

Many of our greatest ancestors were involved in trade. They boldly gained power through the acquisition of wealth. They also spread our ways to other places to make the collective "us" stronger. We must follow this example today.

Part of our education must be focused on Commerce, Finance, and Economics. Using these skills, we can at least build the personal wealth we need to stay strong during times of economic hardship. We can also strengthen our community. For the ones who have a particular inclination, they can become captains of industry.

Among those who know of the Asatruar in general, but aren't actually members, we have a poor reputation. They see many of us as long-haired, over weight Viking wannabes who do nothing but talk about swords while cramming down the snacks. We need to fix this. Asatru merchants must hoist their figurative sails and dominate the world again. If we do things right, we will over take the stereotype of the Jews, whom many Christians see as owning everything.

As for selling to the Christians, feel free. As long as you are not selling them something they can readily use to destroy us, take their money. Christian gold is as shiny as anyone else's.
Science and Technology

Many Christians see Math, Science, and Technology as being harmful to religion in general. They view it as an enemy. We do not, and this gives us an advantage.

Our ancestors used the latest technology whenever they could. It made things better and they ran with it. We are smart. We must do the same.

We must learn the Math and Engineering to make the things we need. We must learn medicine so others must turn to us for the Apples of Idunna. These are all things that we must understand.

Science does not threaten our religion. The latest physics to describe the underlying structure of existence sounds an awful lot like our ancestors' description of the Wyrd. Our religion and the nature of things as defined by modern science are almost completely compatible.

Of course, some of our people would still like the old adventures. What could be more adventurous than an exploration of the depths of the oceans or the expanses of space? Besides, there are raw materials to be exploited in those asteroids and we need to get there before anyone else does.

For those of you who are a little more nature oriented, science counts there too. By understanding science, we can take better care of our environment. We can grow more food (at a profit, of course) and protect our animal friends. We can do environmental science and still accept nature as holy.
Community Involvement

Asatruar have always been social. Many parts of the Havamal mention the importance of community. We have to adjust that for our modern world.

You have two communities to care for. One is the Asatru community. These are your fellow Asatruar who share many of your beliefs, though there may be some differences from person to person. You can help with your Asatru community either in person, through a local group or Kindred, or online. The Internet has made our interactions much easier. There are also a fair number of periodicals available, though it may take some looking to find them.

The other community is made up of the people where you live. There is a good chance that many of these people are not Asatru. Some may even be hostile to Asatru and you will have to be careful in your interactions with them. The important thing is that you will be interacting with them, so you had better have it planned out.

The best thing you can do is be a respectable member of your town. This means that non-Asatru people who know you will respect you because you are just that good. If they don't know you, they may just see you as a kook. It is part of your job as an Asatru person to set a good example of behavior in your community.

Some things that can help include volunteering to help. There are many non-religious charities that are worthy of assistance. You can join the cause and do a good job. Remember to make the good works the issue first, not your religion. Once they respect you, you can discuss your religion and they will more accepting. Of course, don't lie about your religion if asked directly.

If you have a formal group, such as a kindred, you can get involved as a group. Many states have "Adopt a Highway" programs where a group takes over the care and cleaning of a stretch of road. This helps you take care of a bit of nature. If you can make a profit off the garbage you pick up it is that much better. You may also volunteer to help with your local parks with projects. Many states' Public Television stations hold fundraisers with volunteer groups answering the phones. There is no reason your group can't do this.
Political Involvement

You must also remain politically active. The Christian extremists do it and they would love to bring the weight of government down on non-Christian groups. That would be a bad thing. You can fix it.

First, make sure to read up on the latest happenings. The place where you can have the most impact is at the local level. Attend the meetings. Join committees whenever there is a chance to do so. These things not only help you build the respect of your community, but it also helps you rat out hostile religious forces who may have infiltrated the government for their own ends

Vote in the elections. Find out where the candidates stand on issues important to you and vote accordingly. Always try to use impartial sources of information; many try to distort the truth, either intentionally or unintentionally, and you want accurate information Contact your elected officials and let them know your concerns, especially if they are going a religious direction that makes you uncomfortable.

Run for office. You can do it. If you have earned the respect of your community you have a fair chance of winning. Even if you don't win, you can often change the direction of the issues by pulling things one way or the other.

These are all important activities. Don't forget to impart the importance of these activities to your children. They must also feel that they can be a member of society and are not excluded from the political process. I can really foresee a day when there is an Asatru president in the White House.
Self Defense

Many Asatruar understand the importance of self defense. You never know when you will have to protect yourself or your family. Then, of course, there is only one way into Valhalla.

It is important for every member of the Asatru community to learn at least the basics of self defense. This means every age and gender. Even the disabled must learn to do what they can the best they can. During a time of conflict is the wrong time to think you should have learned.

Unarmed combat is the first thing to learn. It is good exercise and develops self control. More importantly, if attacked there is always the chance you can fight without a weapon. You should avoid violence, but if you can't avoid it, there's only one way to Valhalla.

The sword was the top weapon at one time. We should learn to use them, but must realize that there are limited circumstances where a sword is the best weapon. In a pinch, a stick or pipe can be used with the same techniques as a sword, but again, it is not always optimal.

We must learn about firearms. This means your children too. Do you need to have firearms around all the time? Not really, not unless you want them around. However, firearms are a fact of life and we should all understand what they are and are not. Children must understand that firearms are not magic and they are not a solution to most problems. Trying to keep firearms away from children as though guns have some inherent mystical powers only makes the guns more interesting to the kids. A gun is a mechanical device and must be treated as such.

Once you have developed this ability to defend yourself and your community, there is rarely an occasion where showing off is a good idea. You don't need to flaunt your skills in public. The exceptions are if you are a martial arts instructor trying to drum up business and if you are confronted with someone who is making threats who needs to be discouraged.

If you really want to make more use of your fighting ability, there are two wonderful places to do so. The first is in your local law enforcement. You can go through the academy training and become a cop in your town. This lets you use your fighting skill on occasion all while tending to your community and earning respect.

The second place is in the military. There are plenty of combat positions there where you can get to fight and possibly die in battle. This is more important today because of the repeated reports of Fundamentalist Christians who have infiltrated the United State military. It is important that these enemies of the Constitution are out numbered.

You must try to stay healthy for many reasons. You must first be strong enough that you are not a burden to others. Then you must try to be strong enough to try to help those who need it. It is very important to work at this.

Staying healthy involves proper exercise, proper diet, meditation, not abusing yourself, and working with competent medical practitioners. Much has been learned since the times of our ancestors; let's take advantage of that to stay healthy. That means saving the ceremonial foods and beverage for legitimate ceremonies and not every day fare. The every day fare should be enough to keep us healthy, not to fatten us. The road to the Dead Lands should not shake when we walk it.

It also helps to pray to Idunna.

It is important for the reputation of our religion that we all live healthy, long lives. We must be strong people. When non-Asatru people look on us, they must see us as minor gods.

I enjoy wearing old style shirts. They are very comfortable. They are also about the same cut as many modern pull-over shirts. If I have to go out to deal with the rest of the world, I have a closet full of these modern shirts that are just about as comfortable but don't make people more difficult to work with.

Our ancestors were a fastidious lot. They tended to wear the best clothes they could for what they were doing. Merchants must look successful. Warriors must look fearsome and have protection from enemies. Farmers must have protection from the elements. Function and fashion are both important.

You must take this into consideration when dressing in the modern world. If you need to impress the crap out of the other bikers, by all means, wear the best leathers of the bunch. If, however, you are trying to get money from people (legally) then you have to wear the proper attire for that. In the same way that a fearsome helmet may tell your enemy to fear you, a nice three-piece suit tells other people to trust you with their money.

Keep in mind that different situations call for different modes of dress. You know this and can use it to your advantage. Be mindful of it.