The Badass of the Week.

-- Converting to Norse Religion --
Update 22 June 2007 by Amazing Ben

My wife recently went on a job interview at a rural über-religious institution where the leader of the organization asked her point-blank in the middle of the interview what her religious beliefs were.  My wife, being the colorful lady that she is, responded to her fanatically-devout prospective employer's completely inappropriate (and borderline illegal) query by cooly looking him in the eye and stating, "well sir, I don't believe in God."  The dude then decided that the middle of a formal interview would be the appropriate time to lecture a grown woman on the importance of believing in a higher power and why his religion was the best religion EVAR.  She responded to his lengthy rambling incoherent diatribe by telling him something along the lines of, "sorry but I've never seen any evidence to prove to me the existence of a God, and have no desire to be convinced otherwise.  I think we're done here.  I've heard enough."

She didn't get the job.

This got me thinking.  What would I say if someone asked me a similar question?  I don't really have any formal beliefs... mostly just ideas.  Maybe it's time for me to settle into an organized faith so that my life will be more complete.  Maybe that's the key to true happiness.  But which religion should I hand myself over to?  Obviously I want it to be the most badass of all religious, but which one is that?  I decided to do some research.

In Norse Religion even the babes can kick your ass.

The Most Badass Religions

So I went ahead and compiled the definitive list on badass religions.  I've listed every religion in reverse order by badassitude, with the most awesome ones near the bottom.  Also, because I don't want to spend two hours working on this section of the article so I'm only listing the religions I can think of right off the top of my head without looking at Wikipedia or anything like that.  If yours isn't on here, it's probably not even a real religion anyways.  If your IS on here but I have a completely misguided idea of what it's basic tenets are, that's really just because I'm a fucking apathetic dumbass and I didn't feel like looking it up.

Scientology Memo to Tom Cruise:  The reason nobody considers Scientology an actual religion is because none of its acolytes are fanatical enough to go around killing non-believers and heretics.  The slaughter of heathens is a basic fundamental foundation of all religions, and if the best you can do is to ignore people who don't take you seriously you're never going to make it as a real ethos.

Also, you'd think that a religion founded by a science fiction author would be more badass.  I mean maybe if they worshipped disgusting man-eating aliens, genetically altered their DNA to give them superhuman strength and/or built giant cyborg killbots or something awesome like that I could get behind it, but as it is you pretty much lose me at "e-meter" and "vitamins".

Taoism Being a Taoist is like being a Jedi Master without a lightsaber or any of the powers that make Jedi Masters cool.  Basically the Tao is like the Force - it surrounds all living things blah blah blah, but one of the main tenants of Taoism is to just like hang out and let shit happen around you, to shun aggression and attain spiritual harmony through meditation, Feng Shui, and those little trees that Mr. Miyagi was always working on in The Karate Kid.  While this is a pretty chill way of looking at things, it's not exactly one step removed from throwing staplers at peoples' heads or having a God that can turn into a wolf.
Atheism One of the sweet things about having a religion is that your God can always go deux ex machina, swoop in at the best possible time and bail your ass out of tight situations like when you only have one shot at flicking a penny into the Doomsday Device's ignition switch and saving the world or when you really need to cast a Cure Light Wounds on your party's Wizard and heal 1d8 hit points before he falls unconscious and bleeds to death.  If you're an atheist, you're pretty much on your own.  While this can have its advantages (you know you're going to have to do it on your own so you don't rely on a god who may or may not be around to help you), it's always nice to have a chance to get in on some sweet-ass divine intervention, especially if your god does something awesome like breathe fire or bring you sandwiches.
Wicca/Paganism I know these guys are all into like D&D and swinging swords around at renaissance festivals, but it's really hard to consider these hippie nature-freak free-love tree-hugger folks badass.  I mean, I hear all this shit about "the goddesss" and "magick in the air" and oh yeah they can cast spells and bind hands and perform rituals to hex people OMG WTF, but until I see a self-proclaimed witch or warlock bust out at LEAST a Level 5 Fireball I don't have any qualms leaving them near the bottom of this list.
Buddhism I want to put these guys higher solely by virtue of the fact that the goddamned Shaolin Monks are fucking hardcore as hell, but for the most part Buddhism is so passive that it makes the homecoming girls' Powderpuff Touch Football game look like gladiatorial combat between Conan the Barbarian and two dozen bloodthirsty panthers.  Even the monks are in it to attain "spiritual enlightenment" and understanding of the universe, which is a pretty lofty (and perhaps admirable) goal, but if they stood for "kicking asses", "kung fu-ing the fuck out of people", and "flying/stabbing" I think I'd be tempted to move to whatever remote corner of China the temple is located in and begin my training right away.  As it is, the basic tenets of Buddhism more or less completely forbid you from harming any living creature and/or deriving any worldly pleasure from anything other than meditation, two things that can be construed as roadblocks to ultimate badassitude.
Christianity I'm sort of torn on where to put the Christians.  On the one hand they had the Crusades, Baptism By The Sword and the Inquisition - institutions which, while perhaps questionable from an ethical standpoint, were certainly not to be fucked around with.  Also the Christians were so hardcore that they went around and converted something like two-thirds of the globe, they've got the Archangel Michael watching over them, and back in the day the Pope not only had the balls-out Swiss Guards but his own fucking army do with as he pleased.  Unfortunately, most official Christian leaders try to distance themselves from all of that shit by saying that they either weren't around for it (the Protestants) or that the stuff really wasn't that bad and was just blown out of proportion over time (the Catholics).  So they get points off for denying their badass roots. 

Then there's the whole "turn the other cheek" thing, which is more or less the motto these days among everybody except for the super asshole über-conservative bible-thumpers, who are too busy being douchebags and protesting anything even remotely related to science, progress or technology to perform any feats of towering awesomeness anyways.  I would also argue that there's something inherently less badass about a religion based around a guy who's primary claim to fame was that he was executed by the government.  Sure he rose from the dead, but I mean it's not like he then went out and lived for revenge or something.  I'd like to think that if I got a second chance at life I'd avenge my own death Optimus Prime-style.

Islam The standard every-day Muslims can thank Radical Islam for dropping them a couple spots on this list, because before they got into cowardly civilian-murdering bullshit like terrorism and suicide bombing the Muslims were fucking balls-out badasses.  They had guys like Kalid and Ali riding around all over the Middle East conquering everything they could see and busting more butts than a poorly-constructed bus stop bench.  They had Caliphates, Sultans and harems, all of which are badass, plus they were world-reknowned scientists and astronomers.  And say what you want about the badassitude of an army of armor-clad sword-swinging Crusaders, but in the end the Muslims and dudes like Saladin fucked their shit up and sent them scurrying back to Constantinople with their tails between their legs.  Then they conquered Constantinople.
Judaism You might not think that the Jews would be placed so high considering that up until around the time of the Six-Day War the Jewish peoples were dicked around by pretty much every nation on the face of the Earth, but if you've ever checked out the Bible you know that fucking Old Testament God is fucking HARSH.  He does not fuck around when it comes to turning your ass into a pillar of salt or sending the flaming sword of the goddamned Angel of Death right up your ass or some shit.  He drowns the entire Egyptian army in a huge flood, he lays waste to entire cities just for refusing to recognize him, and he was the dude responsible for helping Samson waste like ten million Philistines using only a donkey brain and his raging boner.
Hinduism Hinduism has its own warrior caste, which right away puts it high in the running for most badass religion ever.  It also helps that their two major religious texts, the Mahabarta and the Ramayana revolve around giant wars where heroes run around kicking the asses of monsters, anthropomorphic monkeys and rival warriors.  The real clincher for Hinduism however is that the Hindu god Krishna has perhaps one of the greatest lines of any figure in any religious text ever written:

"I am become death, the destroyer of worlds, engaged to destroy all beings in the world; of these heroic soldiers presently situated in the opposing army, even without you none will be spared."

Basically the situation is that the king doesn't want to kick ass in a war and Krishna is telling him, "suck it up because everybody's gotta die sometime", which is a fucking badass tenet to base your religion around.

Egyptian Religion Egyptian mythology was totally sweet for two main reasons:  Mummification and Crazy Animal Head Gods.
Greek Religion When it comes to badassery it's tough to beat Greek Religion, and I'm not talking about the Eastern Orthodox Church.  I'm talking about fucking Zeus frying jerks with lighting bolts, Ares and Athena leading massive armies of hardcore Spartan hoplite motherfuckers into combat, Aphrodite making hot chicks fall in love with you for no reason and badass heroes like Odysseus and Hercules traveling the globe doing battle with all kinds of fucked-up monsters and demons and shit.  Everything about Greek myth screams badass, from Hera being the official Goddess of Screwing People Over to the fact that they have a God of Wine devoted solely to getting wasted and slipping roofies into girls' drinks at frat parties and orgies and shit.
Norse Religion The most badass of all religions because it's centered around eating meat off the bone, breaking beer mugs on your head and destroying the universe by stabbing demi-gods in the fucking eye with your spear. 

See below.

Norse religion is pretty much just like this all the time.
And by "this", of course I mean "awesome".

Why Norse Religion Rocks

Basically Norse Religion is all about kicking asses and dying valorously in combat by bleeding to death on the battlefield after some jerk cut your arms off and stole your favorite hat.  Anything else is for chumps.  I mean how can you talk shit about a religion that has three gods of war.  Three.  Even the Goddess of Love, Fertility and Beauty is also the fucking Goddess of War.  There's so much emphasis on dying a horrible bloody death that all murderers, cheaters, liars, and men who died of old age and/or illness get sent to Hel, a magical mysterious place where you spend all day wading around in a waist-deep river of blood while snakes spit poison in your eyes and people who you never met before run up and kick you in the ballsack.  If you die in battle however, you get the honor of going off to a sweet afterlife where there's less ball-kicking and more drinking and singing, which is probably a better way to spend eternity.

The way it works is that after everybody is done bashing each other's skulls in battle the god Odin comes and takes half of the dead off to Valhalla, while the goddess Freyja takes the other half to her hall Sessrumnir.  Once you get to Valhalla the shit really starts getting awesome.  The routine goes like this - you wake up in the morning, go put on all of your battle gear and go out into this huge field where every warrior in Valhalla has a huge insane fight to the death.  I imagine this sort of going down like a drunken game of Rune: Viking Warlord with a bunch of giant ripped barbarians running around chucking disembodied heads at each other and beating people to death with their own arms.  At the end of the day, after almost everyone is dead and their body parts are strewn across the battlefield, they all get magically resurrected and return to Valhalla to talk about the battle, get wasted off their asses on mead and ale, hook up with babes, sing war chants and fall asleep.  It's sort of like sleep-away baseball camp with battle axes or like a viking re-enactment where you actually get to murder other human beings.  However, this is serious fucking business in Valhalla though because all of this shit is just practice for the super Omega battle at the end of the world - Ragnarok.

Basically at Ragnarok all these insane humongous fucked-up demons, giant wolves, dragons, fire giants, and all the pissed-off people who got chucked into Hel rise up and decide they're sick of getting poison spit at them and want to start whipping asses.  They're led by a dude named Loki, who was once one of the gods but betrayed them many years ago.  Since the badass Norse Gods don't fuck around re: revenge, Odin killed Loki's son and used his entrails to bind Loki to a magical rock for all eternity.  Then he got a huge ass snake head and positioned it over Loki's head so it would drip acid into his face like a neverending money shot from Hell.  At the end of the world, he's understandably pretty pissed about this unfortunate turn of events and is looking for some sweet delicious revenge.  So all these crazy-ass monsters go up against all of the gods and all of the warriors from Valhalla and Sessrumnir, and the battle basically destroys the entire world.

You've got to love a religion that has it's central doctrine based around getting you pumped up to help destroy the world by killing ten foot tall wolves and magical dragons, hacking the legs off of divine beings and stabbing giants in the ass. 

Sure, the Rainbow Bridge is a little fruity,
but that's just how it goes sometimes.

How to Prepare Yourself to Convert

The first step in your journey to conversion is to buy an awesome metal horned viking helmet and then wear it while reading everything ever written by Egil Skallagrimsson and shouting random profanities at your computer screen and pounding a huge mug of Miller High Life on your desk so hard that it breaks a piece of it off.

The next step to becoming a full-on hardcore devotee motherfucker is to go out and buy some gear.  I recommend a suit of chain mail, a spear, a short sword and a battle axe, but I suppose it's all up to personal taste.  I would go with the spear for the range advantage and the battle axe because that's pretty much the calling card of a hardcore viking motherfucker.  You should also name one of your weapons something crazy but make sure it ends in -nir, so like "Thompsonir" or something along those lines.

Once you've got the gear, you need to work on your berserking, because you don't get to Valhalla simply by getting your head chopped off in combat - you need to prove yourself as a competent warrior and not just some douchebag with a sword if you ever want to get an omelette at Odin's breakfast table.  The way to get berserk is to sit still and think about something that really pisses you off, like people who talk on their cell phones really loudly when they're out at a restaurant or people who take forever at the post office.  Then you need to take all that pissed off energy, run outside of your house and try to cut down a tree with a butter knife.  If you still can't make yourself so pissed that you're strong enough to perform this feat of manly manliness, it might help to purchase some Phencyclidine (see PCP) or horse steroids from a neighborhood street pharmacist and use those to accelerate your abilities.  You should also try to get on some sort of workout regimen.  If you want to be as cut as me I recommend doing at LEAST five push-ups EVERY SINGLE DAY!  I know it's going to be tough, but nobody said being a badass was easy work!

Once you think you're bad enough to start earning your way into Valhalla you need to start going on raids.  It helps to have some friends who would be willing to help you out here, but it's not necessary.  Basically what you need to do is find a river or a lake or something and build a Viking Longship.  If you don't know how to do that, just go to a local pool supply store and buy one of those donut-shaped inner tubes that are painted to look like truck tires.  Slap on your chainmail over your bathing suit and drift across the lake.  If you're doing this inside your housing community, you should eventually wind up in one of your neighbors' backyards.  Quickly hop out of the inner tube, run through their backyard and raid their outdoor fridge for all the beer you can carry before heading back to the inner tube and sailing away.  If they don't have an fridge out there just like kick over a lawn gnome or poke a hole in their screen with your spear or something.  If anyone tries to stop you, brain them with your axe and set their house on fire.  The cops will never believe the dude's story when he tells them his home was burned down by Vikings!

I hope this guide was helpful, and if you followed my steps exactly you're well on your way to a successful career in pillaging and should be crossing the Rainbow Bridge to Asgard in no time.  Just watch out for the occasional shotgun-owning homeowner because they'll be more than willing to prematurely send you to Valhalla, and not even Odin himself will be able to put your face together after that.

Viking burials are awesome.
They put you on your ship, set it on fire, and push it into the sea.
This is the main advantage to using a longship instead of an inner tube.


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