What Does Eric Scott Really Believe?

Eric Scott’s recent essay on KtB, “Valhal-Mart,” keeps arousing controversy. First, it was his alleged insensitivity to how Hollywood treats Christianity. Now, his own pagan religious beliefs are under attack. Buddha-killer Alex Rose takes an especially serious swipe, in lower case:

this guy is a phony.  however engaging his story or compelling the subject of spirituality and commerce—a synthesis that is hardly without historical precedent—it is taken for granted that the author believes what he claims to believe.  in fact, i would argue that there is no chance he actually believes (choose any sense of the word you like) in norse mythology, much less actively worships Thor. i mean, come on. unless he is insane, and i don’t think he is, he is more like a Trekkie, one of those insufferable fanboys that dress up as their favorite characters and attend conventions with other dorks and act out little swordfights, than an earnest believer. (which is not to say that believers aren’t capable of equal tomfoolery, or worse.) in any case, this is an important distinction, and one that tends to get short shrift in religious discourse: the difference between truly ‘believing’ and merely ‘suspending disbelief.’ so i think somebody ought to point this out on your site, whether it’s me or some anonymous reader submitting a critical response.

To which Eric responds:

I can only thank the writer for taking the time to send it in, and to ask whether or not the writer has read “Hrafspa.” If I still appear to be a phony afterwards, then I suppose I will have to accept that.

The other letter we’ll consider for now comes from Liz K in Cornwall, England.

Yes, nice article, seldom-heard view on topical pop culture topic. But: did Eric Scott ever read the Marvel Thor, this rather long-running title, as a kid?! Did it ever inspire him to think pagan thoughts, or just inspire his imagination, or that of his friends?? Some pagans do see some good in formats like comics.. even though they do tend to “modernize” the gods; but isn’t that a necessary thing??

Personally, I’d say that I prefer the Marvel versions of Thor—and definitely Loki—to the DC Comics ones, for example, or to any in either the comics or the novels of that overall bore, Neil Gaiman. (I believe I prefer Marvel’s approach to epic heroes, and villains, generally.)

As a matter of fact, I was quite moved by parts of Rob Rodi’s “Loki”, though I wasn’t expecting to be. I’m a Lokean. As a matter of fact also, though I no longer read comics much these days—who needs to when you’ve got Wikipedia—I have noted that Marvel are one of the few adaptors, for children, adults, or both, which does not..

She then appends:

<Alexandrian tradition of Wicca; the differences between Wicca and Asatru being a major bone of contention I understand for many Asatru: especially the “volkish” ones!

Okay, here’s what Eric says in response:

I did, in fact, grow up on Marvel Comics, and read The Mighty Thor up until my general disillusionment with comics a few years ago. (I also love Neil Gaiman, for what it’s worth.) I absolutely see the value in those comics and I would never claim that they should go away on account of my religious practices—indeed, I’m sure part of why I was drawn to Thor in particular is because of the comics! I can’t say how I feel about the movie itself, of course, since I haven’t seen it. The doubts I expressed in the essay were more regarding the toy line, which doesn’t bear much of a resemblence to even the movie, much less the myth. In particular, it’s just a bizarre thing to see a big plastic toy made of the very icon of your religion, the thing you wear around your neck every day. A story about a character inspired by a god is one thing, and doesn’t bother me too much. assuming the writing’s okay; finding my holy symbol made into a toy was much more offputting. (Though I want to point out that the emotion in the piece was meant to be confusion, not anger. I don’t want to burn the action figure aisle or anything.)

Her question about the Wicca/Asatru thing is one I expected would come up sooner or later. My answer will probably get me into trouble. The simple fact is that I was raised Wiccan and consider myself both Wiccan and Asatru, and I see absolutely no reason to draw a sharp distinction between the two. I am particularly non-folkish, at least when it comes to excluding people outside “the folk;” I can, however, understand why people would be attracted to the gods their ancestors worshipped, and I don’t have any real problem with that.

I think most pagan sects are too eager to claim they are the new one true way. To use a quote I found in Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger books, “I wish that I could be as sure of anything as some people are of everything.” I find life is far too ambiguous to be certain of anything.