Questions on Odin - Round 2
Continuing my thread of answering reader questions, today I'm going to be tackling a rather interesting question from Christopher who asks:
"What are the main differences between how Odin views his worshippers as opposed to how the Christian god views his worshippers?"
That's a difficult question to answer and i'll tell you why. It has nothing to do with the comparison between Yahweh and Odin or Jesus and Odin and everything to do with the nature of a devotee's relationship with his or her God. There are no absolutes there. Each relationship is unique and individual because individuals are involved. It's not possible to say "Odin is always like this with His people" because inevitably there will be exceptions. The Gods aren't going to fit in the narrow boxes of our preconceptions and expectations to make us comfortable.
Also, by Christian God I'm assuming you mean Jesus but you could just as easily be talking about Yahweh/Jehovah. For the purposes of this article, i'll assume you mean Jesus, Who ironically enough shares in some respects similar iconography to Odin though the two Deities couldn't be more different in agendas and approaches.
So, I can answer this question in broad strokes, based on what I have observed and experienced myself, but readers should take note that any Deity can and will ask different -- sometimes very different--things from Their devotees. That being said, unlike Jesus, Odin gave us no precept to 'turn the other cheek.' Odin tends to push His folk to develop a level of independence and emotional continence that stands at odds with the dominant tropes of our culture. Does Jesus do that? Does Yahweh? I don't know. I do know that there is a cold-blooded ruthlessness about Odin, a willingness to sacrifice anyone and anything including Himself to further His agendas that I've experienced with no other Deity including Christ. Odin, even when He is being kind and loving --and He can be kind and loving---is constantly weighing the value of the people He's interacting with. Everything and everyone is a resource and He has calculated the strength and use of His resources to the enth degree.
This makes some of His devotees -usually women--uncomfortable. I've had one or two argue with me occasionally trying to convince me (and themselves) that no, He's really kind for kindness' sake. I just laugh and tell them to go right on thinking that. Odin doesn't give a crap about our moral constructs, our need for emotional validation (save as it serves His purpose as a means to motivate and manipulate), or anything else that we might hold up as a shield to the harsh reality of Him. He cares about usefulness, furthering His agenda, and getting a job done and like a good general, or a chess master, while He may value His people, He is always intimately aware of their usefulness and expendability. There isn't an ounce of sentiment in this God. Be useful or get out of the way.
While i've known Jesus to drive His people, to demand a lot from Them, I've not seen that level of cold calculation in Him. There's more of a sense, at His most detached, of transpersonal compassion. Odin is a warrior Deity, Christ isn't and perhaps it comes down to that. For those of you wanting a taste of Odin's sense of compassion, watch the opening ten minutes of the first episode of "House of Cards." My partner turned me on to the show because the main character is at times extremely Wodinic in behavior. In that opening scene a dog has been hit by a car but isn't dead, and this character (named Francis) finds it still alive. While his aide calls the neighbor to whom the dog belongs, Francis kills the animal quickly and deftly, suffocating it with the words: "I have no patience for useless things." This was preceded by a monologue about the nature of pain: pain that makes one strong, and pain that renders one useless. Compassion to Odin is putting the latter out of everyone's misery.
Odin will often demand that His people learn to squeeze wisdom out of the most painful things that happen in a life. He will expect that we use those things that befall us good and bad to make ourselves stronger, to grow in service, to grow as human beings. I suppose Jesus does that as well but Their methods are very, very different. Odin often asks that His people grow in power so that they may be better tools, more useful to Him. Again, I don't see that same focus with the Christian God. Not belonging to Christ, it's difficult to speak with any authority on what precisely He tends to demand across the board from His devotees. I would say the most glaring difference though between Him and Odin lies in the area of the latter's ruthlessness. Odin demands personal strength and endurance from His devotees as a pre-requisite to the work He may require them to do in the world at large. Christ seems to require a level of self-abnegation (to open one up to His compassion I suspect). They work different, demand different things, as Their natures are different. All Gods after all, are not the same.
If anyone reading this has a strong relationship with Jesus and would like to add their two cents to this, please, I encourage you to chime in.
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