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Sin in a non-Abrahamic context?

I've been reading through a "kid friendly" version of the Eddas, and aside from some atrocious Anglicization of some names, there's one thing that keeps sticking out to me. The author uses the word "sin" to describe behavior of the gods (specifically Loki). I hate to give up on the whole book because of it, but it's a pretty big thing. There's no sin in Heathenry, at least not in the Abrahamic sense of the word. There is no concept of penance or forgiveness. The entire idea is really rather repulsive.

This leaves me trying to decide the best way to explain it if I do read the book with the kid. What's being described are grievous insults and crimes, ultimately the ones leading to Loki being outcast and his children bound. How do I put that into 6 yr old terms?


Asked by NotPanicking at 10:48 AM on Aug. 23, 2009 in Religion & Beliefs

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Answers (2)
  • Generally speaking what was historically considered what we now call a "sin" is a breech in the social contract under which the society lived. In ancient times harming someone who was a guest in your home was the worst "sin" a person could commit for many regions, for example, since it made their way of life too dificult if they had to constantly worry about being attacked by their hosts. There was a sense of it angering the gods in most cases, so I suppose that is why it is translated as "sin". Perhaps the way to interpret "sin" for children, in a non-abrahmic way is to replace it with a word like "offense," "violation," or the more old-fashioned "trespass" when reading it to your children. It could be explained simply as breaking the rules, as Sabrina mentioned.

    Answer by nysa00 at 12:26 PM on Aug. 23, 2009

  • I thnk the easiest way to look at it would be to say it's just meaning to do something that is displeasing or "against the rules". I know that doesn't quite cover it either, because it's not like that. But I'm thinking that would be the best way to explain it to a child until they are older. I'm sure by 6 your child understands the idea of rules and why we shouldn't break them. Like mommy and daddy don't want you to break the rules by running in the road... And the Gods don't want you to break the rules by "_________" (fill in) I think that would be a good way to explain it to a child. As they grow you can explain that sin is a christian invention and different type of belief, but at this point, I would just go with it...

    Answer by SabrinaMBowen at 11:10 AM on Aug. 23, 2009