The Open Halls Project was born from a discussion between my husband and myself, in our kitchen on a cold, January day, in 2010. He a soldier and I his spouse, as open Heathens, had been subjected to yet another round of ostracism for our beliefs from Christians in our community and we’d reached the ‘What if?’ section of our conversation.
‘What if there were more Heathens here?’
‘What if there were some way for military Heathens to find local Heathens in their new communities when they PCS (change duty stations)?’
‘What if there was a way to maybe get some recognition and support for Heathens in the military?’
Then we looked at how we could try to make things happen. For the next few weeks, we worked our behinds off setting up the project. Our simple ethos became ‘Just get **** done and make sure to keep sight of the bigger picture.’
To date, we’ve either set up or facilitated:
- An extensive database of contacts made up of both military Heathens and the civilians that support them.
- Contacts between military Heathens and civilians.
- A list of clergy members prepared to work with military Heathens and the unique needs and circumstances that military Heathens might find themselves in.
- A penfriend scheme.
- A care package scheme.
A Heathen business by the name of White Hart Forge has also been wonderful in their setting up of their Mjollnir Project and working with us to get hand-forged hammers out to Heathen military members down range for free.
In future, we’d like to see:
- The inclusion of the terms ‘Heathen’ and/or ‘Asatru on the US Army list of religious preferences.
- The birth of the first Heathen DFG (Distinctive Faith Group) within the army.
- It is our hope that if we can create enough of a precedent for US military Heathens, that the family of the next military Heathen to fall, doesn’t have as much of a battle as Roberta Stewart did with the VA to get the proper symbol placed on her fallen servicemember’s gravemarker.
We have been absolutely blown away by the kindness and generosity that members of the Heathen community have shown in helping us to try and realize these goals and the lengths that some are prepared to go to to support those in our communities that, regardless of what we may or may not personally believe about the wars we’re involved in, sacrifice so much.
However, with this ethos of ‘just getting **** done and keeping sight of the bigger picture’, there come ethical quandaries. Just how much do we compromise in order to get these things done, without ruining our reputations in our community? How do we still stand for our values?
We now find ourselves in this situation with the involvement/publicity that KC Hulsman has given us through her blog at Patheos and the resulting publicity gained over at About.com and the Wild Hunt. As Heathens, we are our deeds and there’s no question that KC Hulsman’s deeds in this case have been good and helpful. We are thankful for the help she has given us. However, as Heathens, who we associate with and how compatible their values are with ours, is also important, especially in the eyes of our communities. As Heathens, this judgment from our own community is pretty much the only judgment that counts. Trust can be eroded, names can be sullied and at the end of the day, we at the Open Halls Project may be left in a situation where we wouldn’t be able to work effectively because of that eroded trust and bad wordfame. It is both a part of our personal ethics and the thew of the community with which we associate the closest, that K C Hulsman, through her link to Galina Krasskova (a person she seems to consider to be her sister), is not someone with whom we would wish to be associated. This is a position we made clear in the past during the presentation we did on Ravencast.
We do not wish to get into the usual arguments about Ms Krasskova’s activities here. Our discomfort with being linked with her (even in seemingly tenuous ways such as via Ms Hulsman), comes from reading materials produced by Ms Krasskova herself. To put it simply, we have, what are for us, serious ethical issues with some of the things that she advocates. Others may disagree with this and see nothing wrong. However at the end of the day, we can only speak and act in accordance with our own hearts and minds on this matter.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and we hope for your continued support in the future.
The Open Halls Project