Prayers to Zeus, mystical chants, and strange "vettas" worshipping a sacred earth... A multitude of surprises filled the night air in Lillehammer, Norway, as the world tuned to the opening ceremony of the 1994 winter Olympics. Could these marvels be linked to today's revival of pagan spirituality? Dare we question the earth-centered religions that have become models for global unity - the perpetual theme for the Olympic movement?
Sharing the Olympic vision of oneness, the Norwegians have added a complementary theme: the environment. But they seem to be ignoring God's guidelines for a healthy planet. Instead, they, like many other Europeans, are seeking wisdom, power and identity in the old pagan roots of their land.
God had been kind to Norway. Blanketed by soft shimmering snow, Lillehammer and the surrounding mountains couldn't be more beautiful. But the Olympic hymn honored the Greek god of Olympus, not the Maker of Norway's natural splendor. Summoning Zeus' presence, it asked his blessings.
The "artistic portion" of the opening ceremony illustrates the "new" spirituality sweeping through the Western World. A CBS reporter described the event: "We introduce you to the mythical beliefs of the Norwegian people. Popping out of the ground are the Vettas, mythical characters rooted in ancient Nordic folktales..."
Vettas? I grew up in Norway, read the Norse folktales - and never heard of them.
"We know them as gnomes, pixies, trolls..." continued the reporter. "The vettas are an integral part of Norwegian beliefs...They are said to be knowledgeable and wise... and watch constantly over the activities of mankind. That's because these are good vettas as opposed to the evil vettas. They say that if you are good to the vettas and consult [them] before you build your barn, [they] will be good to you. Sounds reasonable."
Sounds like paganism - which is anything but reasonable. It is based on myths rather than truth, fantasy instead of fact, and speculation rather than logic. To pagans around the world, "nature spirits" can appear good or bad. But the Bible calls them demons or deceiving spirits masquerading as angels of light, and they are always bad.
"These Vettas make up the bulk of the Norwegian fairy tales. All the children grow up learning all about them."
That wasn't true two decades ago.
To check, I telephoned two Norwegian Seamen's churches where young Norwegian sailors, fresh from home, come and go. All were familiar with trolls, elves and nisser, but not vettas. "However, that's changing," explained one of the pastors after a day of research. "There's a strong new move to dig up the old Norwegian myths and supernaturals."
This spiritual quest is not unique to Norway. In America, the search for pagan roots is best expressed in the revival of idealized forms of Native American spiritism. But less familiar forms of paganism, along with newer blends, fit as well. In the popular Sierra Club book, The Dream of the Earth, environmental theologian Thomas Berry illustrates the blend of old and new forms of pantheism. He recommends a return to "a more primitive state" and suggests that "a new type of religious orientation... must emerge from our new story of the universe."
One such story - based on universal fertility myths - was being written in Lillehammer for the Olympic audience. A massive "world egg" was emerging from a glowing hole in the center of the arena. Gyrating to the beat of drums, the vettas formed a dense circle around the rising egg. "The message from the vettas," intoned CBS, " [is] that we should take better care of our environment. They're promoting world peace."
Chanting and raising their hands in worship, the vettas bowed to the illumined egg which began to change into a globe. Bathed in blue light, the mystical representation of the earth opened, releasing flocks of dove-shaped helium balloons in a dramatic expression of man's futile hope for peace apart from God.
Some years ago, when the Western world still enjoyed the safety of a Christian culture, we could ignore the pagan elements that have always characterized the Olympic games: the "sacred" flame, the oath to Zeus, the Olympic hymn, the glorification of human achievement... The "Olympic religion" of French baron Pierre de Coubertin, who revived the Greek games in 1896, didn't matter. Nor did the Taoist persuasions of Avery Brundage whose global idealism influenced the Olympics for decades.
But today everything is changing. Mythical beings have emerged from fairytales to become active guides to growing multitudes. Their promise of global unity through earth-centered spirituality threatens every freedom Americans enjoy. Unless we know God, follow His Word, and find multicultural unity in Him alone, America as we know it cannot last - and the world's refugees from the terrors of paganism will have no place to hide.
To equip your family to resist today's movement toward a global spirituality based on the world's earth-centered religions, read A Twist of Faith.
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