Praise Odin! Iceland is Building Its First Norse Temple in Almost a Thousand Years

Available for weddings, funerals, and baby namings

image via wikimedia commons

Sorry Marvel fans, but when it comes to worshiping Thor, there’s a new (or, rather, a very, very old) game in town.

Iceland is preparing to break ground on a new temple dedicated to Viking deities like Odin, his wife Frigg, and yes, the god of thunder, Thor. This will be the first major temple built for Norse pagan worship since the religion was the dominant one in the region, nearly a millennia ago. But, while this may seem like a resurrection of an ancient religion, no form of worship is entirely immune to the passing of a thousand years. The Guardian spoke with Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, high priest for Ásatrúarfélagið, which serves as an association of Norse deity worshipers, who told them:

“I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet [...] We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.”

So, no expectation that prayers will actually be heard hammer-wielding thunder gods or their malevolent trickster sibling. Instead, The Guardian explains, the temple – located on a hill outside Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik – will host worship around life-cycle events such as weddings, funerals, and namings for some of that county’s 2,400 adherents of the old Norse faith.

While most in Scandinavia may not follow that region’s ancient deities, the lasting cultural impact of their Viking heritage is still quite easy to find. Just this week, Icelandic strongman (and Game Of Thrones’ “The Mountain” actor) Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, shattered a weightlifting record famous for having been set by legendary (that is to say, literally out of a legend) Viking strongman Ormur Stórólfsson, 1,000 years ago.

That Björnsson is so ecstatic (“Victory! Victory!”) is both a testament to his astonishing physical achievement, as well as, I think, an acknowledgement of his place in a long Viking tradition that stretches back a millennium. And soon, those wishing to celebrate that ancient heritage through spirituality, rather than heavy lifting, will have a new house of worship in which to do just that.

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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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