One of my favorite moments of all time from the CBS tv series “The Big Bang Theory” is when Amy, Penny, and Bernadette find themselves arguing about how Thor’s Hammer works in the comic books. Before we begin I’m well aware of all the dick jokes. I’m going to resist the urge to go there, as doing so would easily sidetrack me from an actual point I’m trying to make. Make them up on your own as we go along if you so desire.
I love this argument. Have since I was a kid. It’s all kinds of stupid fun. I’ve been all over this argument. I used to believe only Thor could pick up the hammer, cuz if anyone else could pick up his hammer then they’d be Thor right? And that’s just silly, but then someone would show me an issue of the comic book that I hadn’t read (cuz to be fair I didn’t pick up Thor comics a lot I just liked arguing about his hammer) in which for whatever reason, someone other than Thor was able to “handle” his hammer. The results were varied, but on rare occasions it does happen.
Over the years a lot of people have played with Thor’s hammer. It always makes sense inside the context of whatever story is being told, but the more writers do this the less special it seems Thor’s magic hammer really is in this context.
So anyway. I started with one “belief” about how that would work, would read something in the comic books about Thor which contradicted that belief, and I’d have to change my mind about that belief to accomodate the source material. I mean, I coulda just wrote a nasty letter to the Marvel Bullpen saying how stupid their comic book was cuz it didn’t measure up to my assumptions about how the physics of magic in a fictional universe. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if I wrote a few of those and they may or may not have ever actually gotten mailed to the Marvel offices in New York. I never got a No-Prize I can assure you of that, whether i ever actually did or not.
Now if you can follow my irrational logic here, ignoring the fact that any actual source material about the norse god Thor woulda been from Norse mythology many centuries ago and not Marvel comics, for the purposes of enjoying Marvel comics and Marvel’s modern adaptation of Thor in particular, an enthusiast assumes the Marvel comics are in fact “canon.” This means that when one is pretending Thor and other Marvel heroes are actually real (suspension of disbelief while reading comics or ..other times we won’t delve into too deeply here) the Marvel comics are where you go to try and settle disputes. Like if you and your friend are in disagreement over how much Thor’s hammer actually weighs, you’d use references to Mjolnir’s weight in various issues of the comic books.
Or you can go to Vsauce 3 and Jake will sorta kinda tell you. However, what if you accepted Jake’s word on the topic but your friend doesn’t? I mean, Jake isn’t “canon.” He’s apocryphal. Getting information from Jake is second hand at best, and what if he got it wrong? If your friend can find references in the comics themselves that contradict Jake from Vsauce, well obviously you’d use the source material over what some other fan about comics said in a more recently made video, right?
I mean the comics come from Marvel Comics. They made up the character of Thor, which admittedly they ‘borrowed’ from Norse mythology but this modern adaptation is legally theirs. They got lawyers and documentation and everything. They’ve been printing issues of Thor for decades, now. The character’s been around since the sixties. He’s one of the original Avengers. If anyone would know how Thor’s hammer is supposed to weigh, or whether or not someone else can hold it, well it would be Marvel. And of course Marvel knows their job really well. They got the best writers and illustrators in the world working for them. And they’d never contradict themselves in their stories, right? Except of course when they do which is ALL THE FREAKING TIME when you think about it.
I used to argue only Thor could wield his hammer. Then I used to argue only ppl who the hammer found worthy could wield it, like Captain America for example cuz he’s so noble, or The Hulk cuz he brings the Ragnarok with him wherever he goes.. but after awhile when it seemed so many people had picked up Thor’s hammer, I just got tired of arguing about it, cuz ultimately their just comic book stories, and the writers have to churn out a new issue every freaking month and who has time to look back at issue 75 to see if what they wanna do in issue 324 is even possible? Does it make sense on the page today? Sure! Let’s run with it. Screw the letter writers. We already got their money.
It’s fun to pretend that a comic book is really a window into an alternate reality in which the good guys always win and the bad guys always lose.. eventually. Sometimes you have to wait until next month to figure out HOW, but it’s always like that. It’s fun to pretend, but then eventually the comic book is over and you close the book and you deal with actual reality where there is no Thor, there is no Mjolnir, and I should think to myself it’s just a comic book I should really just relax.
Whether you believe in a deity or not, I think we can all agree the one depicted by Marvel comics is not really the god of thunder. Even pagans would say the Thor in the comics is just a modernized adaptation of the original Norse mythologies. Maybe some pagans do believe in an actual Thor. That’s their right to do that if they wish. Perhaps they believe in the essence of Norse mythologies, and that there are somehow representations of these entities in the universe or outside the universe, or they exist in some metaphysical way that can’t be measured by modern science. Perhaps the forces of weather that are constantly changing in the atmosphere of Earth maybe THAT’s Thor. Maybe Thor’s breath is in every morning breeze and his wrath is in every lightning storm. It may not be raining now where you are but there’s always a storm brewing somewhere on the planet, probably several at any given time. And wherever a thunder claps and the wind roars, his essence is there, and you can commune with him if you so desire, and maybe you’ll even hear him answer back in the clouds.
Sound crazy to you? Not if you’re a pagan, perhaps. I think it sounds cool, but then I’m a SubGenius. To most anyone who doesn’t believe in Thor as an actual immortal being, the above just sounds like crazy talk.
Well, that’s how we nonbelievers feel about whatever god you DO worship.
And I know you think in your case it’s different, because in your case you have a bible, which is older than a comic book and it was actually written by your god, using human beings like fountain pens to write it all down and you probably haven’t really delved deeply into how the stories in your tanak/nt/quran/whatever started by word of mouth, usually from pagan belief systems, were “modernized” two thousand years ago to accommodate the more upbeat audience of the time who had come to realize polytheism was totally insane but maybe monotheism was still plausible. You probably haven’t looked into the Council of Nicaea or Emperor Constantine and figured out how Abrahamic texts were collated into anthologies determined not by a god but by men, or how Muhammad just blatantly ripped off Judeo-Christian stories and then put his own spin on them which was catered to accommodate his audience more specifically so they’d buy what he was sellin.. well you wouldn’t explore the actual history of the makings of Abrahamic or other holy texts for the same reason most ppl don’t think about how sausage is made while you’re eating it. Cuz you don’t wanna puke your guts out.
I know in your case you think it’s different. Your book is special. It’s not a comic book. Your book is inerrant. It cannot possibly be wrong. Anything in actual reality that contradicts your bible must be wrong. It’s reality that must be wrong, cuz your faith tells you your book must be right.
Stan Lee wanted me to give you your No-Prize. Here you go. Congratulations.