Saturday, 5 January 2013

A Pagan's Understanding Of Christianity

Gunnhild's understanding is closer to the mark than that of her contemporaries who regard Christ as just another god:

"She had gathered that they believed there was only one god, who had gotten himself born as a man and walked on earth till he was killed and went back into Heaven. The death was not for knowledge or power like Odin's, but a kind of weregild for some wrongdoing long ago. Those who served this Christ faithfully went to him after they died and lived forever in happiness. However, they remembered the earth. Often they came back and helped folk who offered  to them - much like elves or other Beings...

"...Christians...seemed to do their worship not anywhere and anyhow they liked. Everything was ordered from faraway Romaborg; through men on the spot, called bishops, who thus held sway like lendmen or even jarls. Maybe, with them at his side, a king could bring his own headmen to heel."

(Poul Anderson, Mother Of Kings, New York, 2003, p. 142)

So the idea of monotheism has penetrated but:

the Fall is "...some wrongdoing long ago...";
the Redemption is "...a kind of weregild...";
the Saints are "...like elves...";
there may be sound political reasons for adopting Christianity!

There are also cultural reasons:

"Christendom was so vastly more wide and rich than anything left in the North." (p. 141)

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