Saturday, 3 August 2013


I have been watching this much-publicised (hyped) series on Lovefilm, and it does raise some interesting challenges - not least on the subject of a recent blog about sacrifice, because where someone was prepared to sacrifice in that context, it usually meant a slit throat. I should point out that the series is not for the faint-hearted - there is blood and guts, and nudity, all of which is, I should point out, in context, because it was a bloody and earth way of living.

One of the challenges was distinguishing the lead in Vikings - Ragnar - from the lead in Sons of Anarchy - Jax. They look remarkably similar, an behave remarkably similar too. More of this later.

What really strikes me, and is one of the underlying themes, is the exploration of faith or religion or belief. Without giving too much away, there is a constant exploration of the importance of the belief systems of the Vikings (Norse mythological system) and the British (Christian). These clashed, because there was a fundamental paradigm difference between them. The thing that I found interesting was that this was largely presented from the Norse perspective, not the more usual Christian one - that is, the starting point was the Norse belief, which the Christian belief system was then introduced to.

The really interesting thing was that the Norse belief system had a completely different attitude to life and death - especially death. Human sacrifice was a part of their system, and death in battle was an honourable death, the way that they wanted to die. At home in bed was the death of a failure. In truth, the Vikings did not fear death, because they actually believed the things they said, and that death and arrival in Valhalla was something to be sought, longed for.

Of course, the Christian belief adds to this the importance of living here on earth to the betterment of others. Life here is also important, but maybe the Vikings acceptance of death as a positive is something to be learnt from. Now I am not suggesting that human sacrifice is something to re-introduce, but, in one episode, the acceptance of sacrificing your life for others was clearly shown, and this was not seen as a negative, but as a great achievement.

The similarity between Ragnar and Jax was, to me, a way of bringing this up to date, a similarity that enabled the ideas to be also thought of in a modern context. Jax is the leader of a group who live by their own rules, who are prepared to kill and die, and who understand the gritty reality that death happens, and sometimes ensuring that someone else dies is the best way of protecting your own. I wouldn't suggest or promote SAMCRO as the ideal model for Christians, but the sense of identifying that other people are important, and fighting for them at all cost, is maybe something to accept.

The thing is, the Norse theology and the SAMCRO "theology" are both consistent and valid. Maybe not complete, but they are perspectives that are worth drawing from, understanding what is important - really important - and putting that at the top of the priorities list. They also serve, I think, to show that when you examine a different theological (or philosophical) perspective, you can see the downsides. It is much harder to see this with the perspective that you embrace, but Christianity also has its downsides. In truth, it is not entirely compatible with, say, a middle-class, western, capitalist philosophy.

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