A masterpiece of storytelling, writing, and cinematography, the “Vikings” series enthralled me.
I cannot imagine being able to write a sweeping saga so well. The characters are well-rounded and complex – as human beings are. The society portrayed is very different than what we are familiar with and yet, it is presented in a way that makes sense, through the lens of values and norms of that time rather than the judgment of our present-day perspective. This is an extraordinary accomplishment. On top of that the cinematography, lighting, and soundtrack are artfully done.
And still – I found myself baffled. Why was I so caught up by this series? I have no emotional connection to Vikings or England. I don’t particularly enjoy scenes of violence and blood. The characters, while interesting, are not necessarily likable. So… why did I find this saga so gripping?
Jordan Peterson explains that people don’t have ideas but rather ideas take hold of people. Ideas are bigger than individuals and they form, push and guide people. Stories teach ideas. People connect to certain stories because they hold something of value for the individual enthralled by them. This concept made me pay attention to the unexplained fascination I had with the Vikings saga.
(See? “Made me,” the idea caused me to act)
It took me a while but eventually, I figured it out.
The Vikings series portrays the rise of Christianity and the clash between societies – one that adheres to ancient gods while the other is willing to do anything to promote their new god. The societies struggle to live together but this is impossible. The conflict between ideas and the divide between societies is too large. The new Christian god kills the old gods.
As a Jew, one would think I would identify with the Christians as the rise of their society meant the dissemination of the biblical values that were adopted from my faith. Instead, I found myself identifying with the people whose ancient society and old ways were under threat.
And then I understood – we too are living in a time when “gods” are at war.
My God, the God of the Jews is an ancient God. The God of the bible is a god of rules, definitions, order, and judgment. The rights and obligations of humanity come from God’s Commandments. This means that no human has the right to take away what was granted by God. It also means that if we do not fulfill our obligations, we will have to answer to God.
The new god is called “Progress”. To triumph, “Progress” must vanquish the God of the bible. That is why “Progress” proclaims that the God of the bible does not exist. This means that rights are given by humans and can be taken away – if the human does not fulfill his or her obligations to the god “Progress”.
The god of “Progress” gives no Commandments, aside from demanding obedience to the guidelines of the day. These change from time to time, but all are designed to rip apart the rules and order defined by the God of the bible.
The God of the bible created the universe through the power of words. Through words, order was created and from order, hierarchy: the separation between chaos and order, night and day, the heaven and the earth, animals and humans, man and woman, good and that which is not good.
After every act of creation, God judged and deemed it good.
The god “Progress” claims that words morph according to the agenda of the day. Even his own name is a lie, we hear the word progress and think of improvement, “Progress” has other ideas. In his world, words have no solid meaning; they shift according to the way people feel. One day the word “whiteness” is a description of skin color, the next it is an indication of origin, and then it becomes an accusation of privilege.
“Progress” claims that it is wrong to judge, wrong to define, and separate. The God of the bible created man and woman because both are necessary. “Progress” declares that gender isn’t biology, it’s a feeling. Men and women are exactly the same, and all differences are a sign of the evils of society.
The God of the bible placed people as custodians over animals and nature. “Progress” says that humans are not separate or in charge of animals, humans and animals have the same value and perhaps animals are to be valued more. “Progress” presents thinly-veiled genocidal tendencies, suggesting that the planet would be better off with no humans on it.
“Progress” looks at the humans created by the God of the bible and deems us bad.
The God of the Jews is rational, can have a conversation with humans, and can even be convinced to change His mind. The God of the Jews defined morality and gave humans the ability to choose. If there was no choice there would be no distinction between good and bad, or anything at all. It would all just be whatever we were told.
To vanquish the God of the Jews, “Progress” must destroy everything created by our God.
Undoing the meaning of words isn’t a matter of being flexible in order to prevent hurt feelings, it is a way to undo the fabric of Creation.
Pretending that there is no difference between man and woman isn’t a path to equality, on the contrary, it’s a tactic to divide and conquer, for man to hate woman and woman to be afraid of man. It’s a denial of the spark of the divine in each individual and the rejection of the incredible bond and strength that results when man and woman strive together, in harmony.
The God of the Jews told us that mother and father are sacred and must be honored so that we can live long on the earth. This means that the family is sacred. Family is the institution that provides the stability we need to survive. “Progress” rips apart the hierarchy of family, telling children that they must obey “Progress” and not parents who might be teaching them the old ways.
The God of the Jews determined that stealing and even coveting is wrong. We are not allowed to take what is not ours and even jealous yearning for something we did not earn is forbidden. “Progress” declares that redistribution of wealth and anti-racism is the way to fight disparity.
“Progress” fights hate with new hate. The God of the Jews fights hate by teaching compassion and justice. (Justice is also a word under attack by “Progress”… )
Understanding what is happening in our world today as a modern-day war between gods makes it easier to see a pattern. Seemingly disparate issues are pieces to the same puzzle, individual battles in the same war between the God of the Jews and the new god, “Progress”.
It is no wonder “Progress” hates everything connected to Jews, Jewish values, and the Jewish homeland. The Torah of Israel, the Land of Israel and the Nation of Israel are the vessels that carry and protect the ideas that provided the foundation of what we still call the “free world.” To reign supreme, “Progress” must kill them all, make them devoid of meaning and erase our understanding of these ideas.
In many places, in many ways, “Progress” has already succeeded.
“Progress” has long been eating away the Judeo-Christian ethos that made America unique among nations. I no longer recognize the country I was born in. Now “Progress” is infesting Israel, attempting to poison our roots, to make them wither and die.
The God of the Jews gave the Children of Israel a choice and we agreed to the special job He gave us – to be a Light unto the Nations. If it wasn’t a choice, the title would be meaningless. If it was easy, there would be no need to choose.
Our job has nothing to do with what “Progress” calls “social justice” and everything to do with adhering to the laws given us by the God of the bible, no matter what chaos reigns around us. The God of the Jews created light by separating it from the darkness, creating order from chaos. HE provided Commandments and rules for life that were designed to create order and justice for all societies that chose to adopt those principles. We Jews are separated from all other nations because we were tasked with the role of upholding and modeling these ideas – “being a light” of morality, order, and stability, even when everything else is dark. That is OUR story.
The gods are at war, struggling to determine the future of the world. With each battle “Progress” wins, the darkness and chaos grow. Like the Vikings discovered, the two societies cannot co-exist. One must vanquish the other.
While the gods battle, our light still shines. That means that the war of the gods is not over.
Our choices will tip the balance.