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Thread: Is the Heathen Worldview Dogmatic? Does Heathenry Have a Doctrine?

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    Is the Heathen Worldview Dogmatic? Does Heathenry Have a Doctrine?

    I've a question for the Heathen members. I've followed a debate where Heathenism and Christianity came up. The Heathens said Christianity is a dogmatic religion, as opposed to Heathenry. We've the Ten Commandments and the word of God. But doesn't Heathenty have a doctrine itself, the Nine noble Virtues (a kind of Heathen Ten Commandments)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Siebenbürgerin View Post
    But doesn't Heathenty have a doctrine itself, the Nine noble Virtues (a kind of Heathen Ten Commandments)?
    Yes, it does in the world of some people — but it's not genuinly heathen; it's made up by "heathens" today who take a lot from Christianity and dress it up to look like heathenry. These people were probably Christian believers before they converted, so to speak, and have a hard time leaving many concepts behind. But there was no such thing in the heathen times.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Siebenbürgerin
    But doesn't Heathenty have a doctrine itself, the Nine noble Virtues (a kind of Heathen Ten Commandments)?
    The virtues resemble a quite different concept, they are positive guidelines, not commandments.
    The ten Commandments are negative prohibitions (dont have other gods, dont kill, dont do...) or indeed commandments (you shall...).

    The virtues dont become a doctrine though, if they are used as such I would agree with ÆinvargR, that this is just a replacement of former christian doctrine or from whatever religion the people in question came.

    I would connect the word doctrine with religion, organised, institutionalised religion, but I wouldnt use the term for a belief system like heathenism (any pagan belief for that matter). They are built entirely different.

    And the virtues are mainly for the daily life and the societal interaction, not for the religious purpose, while the Commandments unfold around the doctrine, not really the belief itself. So both concepts work on very different levels and with very different goals and ideas behind.

    The virtues were never written explicitely or collected like the Commandments, they are indeed a 'new' collection, taken from the lore, in which they are present all the time, as underlying principle if you want, but they dont resemble anything like the Commandments.

    Although I dont agree with every detail (this is from the Asatru Assembly I think), this collection might give an idea what they are about:

    COURAGE.........We face life's struggles with courage. Without courage as was in olden times, nothing else can be achieved for the future. Old Man said:

    16. The sluggard believes he shall live forever, If the fight he faces not; But age shall not grant him the gift of peace, Though spears may spare his life.

    48. The lives of the brave and noble are best, Sorrows they seldom feed; But the coward fear of all things feels, And not gladly the niggard gives.

    TRUTH..........We do not follow blindly our faith but dare question all things. This is unlike many blind following religions today that follow parrot fashion the beliefs of their religious hierarchy. In earnests truth is a willingness to listen, to be honest and always speak or act with what one knows to be true.

    HONOUR.....We must be honourable both in actions and our deeds as to what we are by our example. Should we fail or fall short in our deeds, it is not through a lack of honour for trying to do what is right by us and our gods.

    FIDELITY.....We stand loyal to our faith and our values. Loyalty is the basis for all enduring human activity, and we hold it in the highest esteem.

    HOSPITALITY........We are all willing to share what one has with our kindred, especially travelling guests and this is a vital part of our way of life. We do not disrespect other folk's faith either as long as they honour ours in return

    DISCIPLINE.............We maintain and hold to the discipline necessary to fulfill our purpose. We stand willing to exercise the self-control and steadfastness necessary in these difficult times.

    INDUSTRIOUSNESS.....We believe in keeping busy and taking an active approach to life. We make things happen and are ready always to take necessary risks, watching and wondering what happened we leave to others.

    SELF-RELIANCE.......... We depend on our own strength and character to achieve our goals. We seek only the freedom where possible within the laws of the land necessary to achieve our goals or aims whatever it may be.

    PERSEVERANCE...........We hold to our path until its completion and are not ashamed to be strong. The cult of the anti-hero will find no support in us, and the gods we follow are not for the weak. This is no religion for quitters or cowards.

    78. Cattle die, and kinsmen die, And so once dies one's self; One thing now that never dies, The fame of a dead man's deeds.
    (numbered paragraphs are from Hávamál)
    Ein Leben ist nichts, deine Sprosse sind alles
    Aller Sturm nimmt nichts, weil dein Wurzelgriff zu stark ist
    und endet meine Frist, weiss ich dass du noch da bist
    Gefürchtet von der Zeit, mein Baum, mein Stamm in Ewigkeit

    my signature

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    Quote Originally Posted by Siebenbürgerin View Post
    I've a question for the Heathen members. I've followed a debate where Heathenism and Christianity came up. The Heathens said Christianity is a dogmatic religion, as opposed to Heathenry. We've the Ten Commandments and the word of God. But doesn't Heathenty have a doctrine itself, the Nine noble Virtues (a kind of Heathen Ten Commandments)?
    I would say the main difference to be that unlike with Christianity, where religion seems to be seperate from everyday existence, the sort of morality, including the virtues, mentioned are seen as simply part of how you live your life. I would say it is not dogmatic like Christianity. Our beliefs do not revolve around doctrine.

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    The difference Asatru presents guidlines for the thinking individuals. A person can freely question and debate these things and still be Asatruar. Likewise situations vary. In Christianity the Dogma is not questionable. You blindly obey. Though you can question things in Asatru, if you were allowed to do whatever you want it really wouldn't be much of a way of life. You have to be within a reasonable range of these core principles. You should share the same fundamental philosophy of life and partake in the same or similar rituals and customs.

    For example I may say honesty is a virtue of Asatru. For Christians this would mean that a lie is a sin and to repent and obey blindlly. In Asatru we might recognize a situation where one needs to be dishonest (return a lie for a lie). Thus your own judgement is used when carrying out the virtues. Yet this doesn't mean that someone who is obviously a dishonest person can be accepted by other Asatruar as geniune. There's a blurry line there but I think its obvious to yourself and to others when you aren't truly Asatruar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Siebenbürgerin View Post
    We've the Ten Commandments and the word of God. But doesn't Heathenty have a doctrine itself, the Nine noble Virtues (a kind of Heathen Ten Commandments)?
    The greatest difference in concept between the two is that heathenism is built more on advices for everyday life in order to achieve individual improvement while christianity is based mostly on commandments in order to control the masses. Here comes that the ideal heathen does not need any commandments but the ones he/she commands to him/herself and this implies huge responsibility for the individual, of course this doesn't mean that heathens are like rebel hippies who disregard family, folk, tribe or traditional values because these are the most important elements that embrace all heathens together.
    :Überschöpfung:



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    True 'heathenry' is passed on beliefs, stories, practices and traditions of the spiritual sort based on your clan & kin, your group and your ethnic inheritance. So yes & no, it can or may not be, there is no black & white answer, each sect and each variant interpretation of each sect can be different based on the practice of your own line. It is very individualised, it can be "clannish" and each segment can be so dogmatic to it's own practice, depending on how it is adhered to or how it is accepted. but heathenry is a collection of shades of different inherited lines of a folk religion. There is no one doctrine, but that doesn't make your heathenry more diverse in itself or more liberal: it can be extremely conservative since there being no general "heathen" religion doesn't mean that your line, inherited your own from your kin, interpreted your own and in to your own group and felt in your own heart that it has to be yours because it is the spirituality descended from your own blood and therefore must be your folk religion, can be very dogmatic.

    There is not a black & white answer to this: yes & no... nothing is in the conventional sense the way we see modern religion as a set of mechanistic practices following some pre-prescribed formulation.... folk-religion can have this, but the general side of it is a spectrum in it's entirety, and true in very specific traits to the individual group down from several levels of loose association (ethnicities, nations, immediate families, and parts of said families to individuals)

    It is a thing that is about inheritance, and can be understood as any form of inheritance can be understood, it slowly morphs and is understood differently as it is carried along, but attempted to be held true to, by each generation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hrodnand View Post
    The greatest difference in concept between the two is that heathenism is built more on advices for everyday life in order to achieve individual improvement while christianity is based mostly on commandments in order to control the masses.
    See the Havamal for more details. Hehe.

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    St. Augustine wrote "Love God and do what you will." Yet no one would dream of interpreting this as a call to break the law. If we love the creator gods then we would not break their rules. In fact, all cultures, even savage ones, had a doctrine (teaching) or law and sense of justice. The constant suggestion that there was no law or teaching makes no sense to me. It seems rather that people have a dislike for Christianity. They never really understood Christian doctrine but become pagans so as to be anti-christian.

    A doctrine is by no means limited to a moral doctrine. To say that the myths have no symbolic meaning and thus no teaching principles also makes no sense. Many dictionaries list as synonyms of doctrine: tenet, dogma, theory, precept, belief, so I don't understand how you can negate this and still claim to follow a path. To reject doctrine is to be atheist or agnostic and to have no use for rites or texts. One could say that this attitude is self-righteous.

    Ultimately, it must be pointed out that all traditions speak of a paradise which is beyond good and evil and beyond all distinctions, above the law. As in Rig Veda II.27, “Looking within, beholding good and evil [which is] near to the Kings is even the thing most distant”; “upholding that which moves and that which moves not”; “neither the right nor left do I distinguish, neither the east nor the west”; “He goes to war mastering both the mansions: to him both portions of the world are gracious,” of which Coomaraswamy gives an alternate translation, “in all these conflicts, both sides are right.”

    The law is only for those who have forgotten but still applies to all beings, where destiny means acting in accordance with one's nature.
    Last edited by exit; Saturday, June 20th, 2009 at 04:27 PM. Reason: added quotes

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    Heathenry doesn't have a doctrine.
    It has some main principles it's built on,
    like folkishness.
    How to explain... Heathenry gives you advice and guidance how to live your life.
    A Heathen doesn't live under threat or fear.
    The concept of sin is foreign to us.
    Heathens are free thinking people and free spirits.
    A good Heathen tries to live his life full of the noble virtues,
    but it's because it's his decision,
    he wants to,
    not because he fears ending up in hell.
    One of the paragraphs velvet posted above describes it better than I could:
    We do not follow blindly our faith but dare question all things. This is unlike many blind following religions today that follow parrot fashion the beliefs of their religious hierarchy. In earnests truth is a willingness to listen, to behonest and always speak or act with what one knows to be true.

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