File this one under "too good to be true."
New York city Republican councilman Dan Halloran, who was arrested as part of the bribery scheme to get state senator Malcolm Smith on the mayoral ballot as a Republcan, lives an interesting life away from his duties in the council chamber.
Mr. Halloran is a tribal prince in a pagan sect called Theodism which, as the Daily Mail article explains, has its roots in Germanic mysticism:
According to a New York Times article, Halloran turned to the cultural roots of his mother's Danish heritage after his father died in 1989 at age 52.
Theodish belief means in Old English 'tribal faith.' The polytheistic religion traces its roots to Germanic paganism and the worship of gods and goddesses.
If Halloran is found guilty of the extortion and bribery charges, he may face prison time, but it likely won't be as severe a penalty as the public flogging that he had to endure after committing an undisclosed offense against a probationary servant, also known as 'thrall,' in the religious sect.
As part of his punishment, Halloran was stripped to his waist, strapped to a tree in Watertown, New York, and struck with a belt 11 times, the New York Post reported.
In 1997, Halloran was asked by Garman Lord, one of the founders of the Theodish religion, to join a splinter group within the sect called Winland Rice.
Despite his previous offenses, Halloran asked for and was granted an exemption from a year of servitude as a 'thrall.'
Thralls are auctioned off to members of the group for lucky pennies - coins that are found face up on the ground.
The servants then have to go through a boot camp studying ancient norse poetry, chopping wood and serving mead and beer to high-ranking members.
Halloran's goal was to form his own tribe. To do that, he had to battle another member of the group in a bizarre duel that involved throwing a 7-foot-long spear at one another at 30 paces.
Halloran lost the contest, but the setback did not stop him from making his dream a reality. In 2002, he formed a group officially called New Normannii Reik of Theodish Belief, commonly known as New Normandy, with him at the head of the tribe as First Atheling, or prince.
The territory of Halloran's tribe covers New York City and parts of New Jersey. In a 2011 article, a Village Voice reporter wrote that as a Theodish prince, Halloran led his tribe, which numbered as many as 100 people at one time, in celebration of their gods.
During their religious ceremonies, the pagan worshipers dressed in medieval garb, including capes, would hold 'blot' (sacrifice and feast), 'Symbles' (boast and toast of the gods), and play games often seen in Renaissance fairs.
In 2009, Halloran, a lawyer by trade, became the first pagan to be elected as a city councilman representing the 19 district in Queens.
I've been following politics for 40 years and seen a lot of characters come and go who believed weird things, or acted in a bizarre manner. But Halloran's beliefs and actions top the list. Not only is it bizarre, but kind of pathetic as well. He is obviously seeking something that he doesn't get from mainstream Christianity. And hey! Who wouldn't want to be a prince with their own cult?
I read a few years ago how Army chaplains had begun to minister to pagans of various beliefs, so I suppose it isn't completely off the wall for Halloran to embrace Theodism.
Apparently, his religious beliefs didn't get in the way of his avarice and greed.