I've a column in today's Canberra Times, 'Norse lessons from across the rainbow bridge'.
I'm looking into the virtues of old Norse literature, and what they say about the relationship between faith and morality. A sample:
Today, atheists are sometimes condemned for their faithlessness - as if religion were a simple cure for violence and vice. But for the Vikings, piety and worship went hand-in-hand with invasion, slaughter, pillage.
The difference between the Norsemen and the Crusaders was simple: the pagans were not hypocrites. Like all fiction, religion records and recommends varied values.
Of course, we moderns can enjoy these tales with suspended disbelief: we need not invest in them, morally or cosmologically. But, like Thor's hammer, they certainly make a striking alternative to the cross.(Illustration: Thor and the World Serpent, by Gjellerup)