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Arden Raine is an ex-theatrical making sense of life through many lenses.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Second Verse Same as the First

Okay here it comes. Again.
Back in my blogs baby days I posted (The Separation of Fiction and Faith) about the greater pagan community having it's knickers in a wad over the movie "Hansel & Gretel:Witch Hunters".
*Ding! Ding! Round 2: Fight!"*
Oh it's on now. Marvel is about to, or possibly has just, release its new Thor title. And guess what the wielder of Mjolnir has the dreaded XX chromosome.
The comic world was a buzz a bit ago over it because ewww girls have cooties.
But today the pagan contingency of fundamentalism has begun their yapping.
"It's sacrilegious!"
"Is Sif a lesbian now?!"
"No! No! No! Not MY GODS!"(emphasis mine, shrill bleating theirs) seriously Loki tied his ball sac to a goat for a laugh, folks. And that's in our lore!
So here we are back with the nonsensical hand wringing over obvious fiction. Not fictionalized religious mythology, see Noah the movie,  but actual fiction based on a made up comic universe that's been with us for 50 years.
Let's steal a trope from the comic world and tell our tale in flashbacks....
Our tale begins long ago...
Thor's first appearance in Marvel dates back to August 1962 in the #83 issue of "Journey into Mystery"
Our mighty Asgardian began his rein in March 1966 with Thor #126 on the cover he's battling Hercules.  Art by Jack Kirby and Vincent Colletta.
Why #126 you ask? Well because the addition of the Norse God changed the course of the "Journey to Mystery" title.
It ceased being JtM and became Thor.
A bit about why writer/editor Stan Lee chose to add Thor to #83...
"[H]ow do you make someone stronger than the strongest person? It finally came to me: Don't make him human — make him a god. I decided readers were already pretty familiar with the Greek and Roman gods. It might be fun to delve into the old Norse legends... Besides, I pictured Norse gods looking like Vikings of old, with the flowing beards, horned helmets, and battle clubs.  ...Journey into Mystery needed a shot in the arm, so I picked Thor ... to headline the book. After writing an outline depicting the story and the characters I had in mind, I asked my brother, Larry, to write the script because I didn't have time. ...and it was only natural for me to assign the penciling to Jack Kirby..."
That tidbit comes directly from Stan Lee's deposition about the Origins of The Marvel Universe in the Kirby Family vs. Marvel lawsuit. Go look it up.
Do I hear the siren call of the fauxrage?
How dare they use our Gods for such paltry entertainment?!
May I remind you of a few other artistic endevours?
Did Odin smite Neil Gaiman for defamation of character in "American Gods"?
Did Jehovah punish Spielberg for letting Nazis open the Arc?
What of the Stargate franchise?  You mean Ra and company haven't rended the stones of the Great pyramids to ash in their horror over the bastardization of the mythos?
Obviously the answer to all the above queries is a resounding: No.
Because fiction is not religion.
Yes my friends,   art pulls from lots of places. Archetype and mythology are reused and rehashed and re-imaged constantly. Art does this to give perspective on current culture.  It uses the past to create the future.
So unless the art in question specifically mentions that it is religious in nature, and is also touted as "true to the cosmology" of the religious mythos, stop being so incredibly stupid.
Fundamentalism has a tendency to scream foul at anything even remotely seems sacrilegious.
Can we, as humanity,  shed this foul ideology please?
In Marvel's Universe whomever holds Mjolnir wields the power of Thor.
End of story.
A woman has the hammer, and only those worthy of that great power can even lift the darn thing.
Where was the Nordic religious fervor when Thor was turned into a frog?
That's right a frog, in armour, carrying about a wee magic hammer. Is that crickets I hear?
We have a lot of folks under the banner of Paganism. From Atheist Pagans to Hard Polytheists. From all traditions and stripes.
As an Animist and Hard Polytheist who actively worships Norse Gods, I say in the most loving way: shut it. Please.
All our lore was written by people. The Eddas  were penned by a Christian attempting to preserve old stories. We have no infallibility to our mythology.  We have scraps and wisps from olden times that have been bleached and reconstituted like Tang through the cultural cheese cloth of Christianity.  And that's Okay! We make a living religion by living in a religious fashion.
We have no war with fiction.  We don't worship fiction (well unless you're an archetypal pagan or ask hard core atheist pagan.)  Oh there are some folks who have decided to use certain literary worlds as a basis for their practices.
I am looking at you Temple of the Jedi folks. And that's okay too.
Not my cuppa joe. And to me silly. But hey you want to give offerings to Spiderman or wear a colander on your head. I am going to support your tenacity. But though your practices may be 100% truly lived you're not actually worshiping fiction.  You are using an archetypal pattern to humorously or seriously practice faith.
So next time the rumbling of OUTRAGE over some slight or misconception over faith raises its hydra-like head, cut that mother off at the root. Then set that stump on fire. It prevents regeneration and the dreaded double head regrowth.
Defend the right of artists to do the job of holding up culture to the light. Culture gets gangrene without this systematic cleanse.
If you hear stupidity being said about your faith correct that shit by speaking to folks. Know the history of your tradition. Defend other faiths being maligned.
There's an honest discussion to be had over comic publishing use of misogyny, greed, and the bastardization of storytelling to increase revenue at the cost of good art. There's discussion to be had over glass ceilings and lack of cultural voice in comics and all art forms. Let's have that discussion.  Let's talk then about how to make strides towards creating space and marketing money available for projects from artists of all stripes.
Let's see if we, as consumers,  can help back things like the video game "Never Alone" which is a way to keep tribal mythology alive and vibrant for a new generation.
And stop running around waiting for a house to fall on your sister.
Or for a female character in a make believe world, that's printed on pulp, to hit you in the head with a god like clue by four.