St Olav II: A Template for our War Against Paganism

Last year I came across the life and story of Saint-King Olav II of Norway.  His life gripped me in many ways, for many of my intellectual struggles and concerns about my own life and where I am looking into Orthodoxy coincided around St Olav’s life (and legacy).    Several points about Olav before I elaborate on his and our war against paganism:

  1. He demonstrates that many Northern European countries, even until the time of the Schism, were quite Orthodox.
  2. Even though they were Orthodox, they were distinctively Western cultures and countries.
  3. Thus, Germanic and Scandinavian Orthodoxy was a specifically incarnational Orthodoxy, an Orthodoxy that took root in society’s most basic levels.
  4. Thus, those of us from Northern European stock have precedents, sometimes unknown to us, in Western Orthodoxy.
Olav died in battle defending Christian Norway against those who would return it to Paganism.  While America is not Christian (and even by the most vague standards, it’s debatable if she ever were), America, too, faces an onslaught of paganism.    And perhaps even more than Olav’s Norway, this paganism has governmental and institutional authority.
“God is not separate from the Earth,”
Which means “God = Earth = Earth is God.”
Lest I am misunderstanding him, the pagan groups responded,
“We are Neo-Pagans — implying an eclectic reconstruction of ancient Nature religions, and combining archetypes of many cultures with other mystic and spiritual disciplines — and our beliefs and values are no different from those you describe as your own. Your book, Earth in Balance, is heralded by our People as a manifesto for all we hold dear…Know that there are half million NeoPagans out here who support you, and who voted for you, and who will rally to the aid of your policies for the salvation of the Earth and the reunification of the Great Family”

This was spoken almost fifteen years ago.  No doubt the impetus is stronger.  Let’s ponder St Olav’s last words before leaving,
“Fram, Fram, Kristmen, Korsmen, Kongsmen.”  Forward, Forward, Christ-Men, Cross-Men, King’s-Men
May we, too, have a similar end.

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Author: Ephraim's Arrow

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, charismatic gifts

6 thoughts on “St Olav II: A Template for our War Against Paganism”

  1. Ah, here’s a snippet:

    “This leads us to Weapons in icons, such as lances, shields and swords. In the first few centuries of the Church, two types of martyr gained particular devotion among Christians: virgin-martyrs and soldier-martyrs. The latter group were typically soldiers in the pagan Roman Empire who converted to Christianity and were murdered because of it. Often their conversion meant they renounced their military lives which makes their appearance in icons garbed in full armour seem strange, almost contradictory. However, if we think about St Xenia’s walking stick “transfigured” into a crosier in icons of her then things become clearer. These martyr-soldiers (and they usually hold crosses too, in remembrance of their sacrifice) have through their confession of faith become “soldiers for Christ”. As our intercessors in Heaven it is comforting, I believe, to know that there are saints warring against the “principalities of darkness” on our behalf. It is therefore natural to show those already courageous soldiers who renounced earthly weapons to even more courageously embrace death now adorned with the armour of God (Eph. 6:11-18).”

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  2. That link you provided to the St. Olav Church is one of the more interesting non-canonical Orthodox churches I have seen on the web. Their interpretation of history, especially regarding St. Raphael and St. Tikhon’s vision for American Orthodoxy, is unique unto themselves.

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      1. The site they use, netministries, is a favorite template/hosting service for vagante groups. No idea why.

        Anyway, I didn’t think you took them seriously, but they took a potshot at St. Raphael, who — through his missionary work founding the church in Beaumont, Texas, which in turn founded my church — is at least indirectly responsible for my becoming a communicant in the Orthodox church. I have a soft spot for the saint, whose relics I have venerated.

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  3. As an addendum to my previous post, St. Raphael died BEFORE St. Tikhon’s martyrdom, so there’s that aside from the fact that the single-parish Nordic Orthodox Whatever Communion uses the same Western Rite liturgy that the archdiocese that eventually descended from St. Raphael’s “ethnic” work has approved for their WRO missions.

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