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Oohhh, intrigue. Where is aggy going? It's posted in "Ex-Christian Life," this could be about anything! I don't come on here much, life is what it is, but when I feel like I've learned something, I am intent on sharing it. If it reaches someone, anyone, and makes a positive change in your life, my heart sings. If you don't, you should come back and read it again sometime. I am only starting to type, I have no earthly clue how long it will be, so consider yourself warned. But if I had to summarize it in a twitter hashtag, I think it might be: #yourewrong #yesyou #yepstillyou #yesyoureallyare #alsogototherapy

 

I did an introduction post when I first joined, I still remember it keenly, because I took a great deal of time in choosing it. "I Am Jess, Hear Me Roar" with a smiley. That title represented a few core values of mine. Authentic and personable, in spite of the internet. Fierce. Kindness. I want to be someone whose story is worth knowing. I want to be "all the things." In the past few years, since rejecting faith, I have learned a lot, so much. There are no words for how grateful I am to have shed my faith, and I hope new users see this and find a sincere hope that their journey is only starting. The only way to describe all that I've learned is that I was "born again." Buckle up, reader, you're getting MY GOSPEL. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

 

It's strange to live 20+ years being certain that you are correct. I had inklings far younger than my official deconversion where I wondered how I could be so certain. Cue college (private christian of course), where I decided to pursue the social sciences. The study of people and how we get where we are. I learned about "feral children" who behaved like animals because they were not socialized with humans or were in some sort of negligent environment and were only recognizably human in their appearance. It's easy for us all to write off the first 18 years of your life in a passing statement. But you come out of the womb and your parents teach you their values. You have no real way of escaping that environment, so you learn various coping mechanisms and defense mechanisms in varying degrees of intensity. You learn about personality and how impressionable the brain is and how POWERFUL confirmation bias is. Confirmation bias, to sum up something I could write a lot more about, is seeing what you want to see and filtering out what you don't like. It's why, for example, both sides of the political spectrum are so annoying right now. Because everyone picks what they like and ignores what they don't, it's just what we do. We look for things that align with our reality and ignore things that align with other peoples' reality, if we haven't experienced them.

 

I can't speak for you, but I can speak for me. It's the only person I can speak for. Somewhere along the way, I forgot this very, very simple truth. I can't speak for one other person, but myself. My life and who I am as a person, who I was shaped to be by those around me, my "lessons learned" center around what I have actually gone through. For some reason, we as a species, have gotten all intellectual about things we've just never experienced. "The truth" is somewhere in between two extremes. But what is "truth?" It appears to mean something different to each one of us, why is that? Why do I find one certain thing convincing or another idea ludicrous, only to meet another who comes along and finds my idea ludicrous and theirs "true." Have you ever googled or just read the definition of true/truth before?  Something that is true is defined as "in accordance with fact or reality." Okay. Well what is fact/reality? "a thing that is known or proved to be true" and "the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them." Okay, a little circular. Makes sense why I always believe I am right until I "realize I'm wrong" so that I can "be right again." What does believe mean? "Accept [something] as true." Seriously, google this shit, it's all circular and it all has to do with our own, particular, individual experiences. We throw the word narcissism around like we aren't all narcissists. Maybe you got a tattoo and suddenly everyone who got a tattoo is way doper than before, because you get it now. That happened for me. I died my hair blonde one time, learned about "purple shampoo" and suddenly everyone's blonde hair was way more interesting to me. That's just trivial stuff. But consider it for a moment, your friends are those with whom you have things in common and shared experiences. I'm preaching to the choir, right? You were "right" with your faith until you were wrong. You believed one thing until you believed another. And [someone you love] doesn't get it, because they haven't experienced it yet. The ability to empathize is the next best thing we do, we try to envision what we would do IF we WERE in someone's shoes. But isn't it funny how, when we were christians, we speculated on our atheism/agnosticism, still with our christian lens? You want to know the kicker? I'm still right and wrong about this. I'm right. But I'm assuming things about you that I couldn't possibly know. But you're wrong too. Because I'm right. See how this works?

 

It's "tale as old as time," "in the beginning," etc. Wise people before us learned something and tried to save others from making that mistake. It's why "those who don't read history are doomed to repeat it," which is not just a reference to a nation's history, it can be personal history too. There's a reason we value wisdom, the quality of being wise [having or showing experience]. We value learning, "to gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in (something) by study, experience, or being taught." It's why there is a distinct difference between knowledge and speculation. I will stop adding the google definitions at this point, feel free to check, but it's all still pretty circular. It revolves around our own "in the beginning." It's why the parable of the sower and the seed, from the bible, is relatable and poignant. Because all of us (an assumption based on my experience) can take that parable and replace "seed" with a personal experience. We have all faced acceptance, rejection and something in between. Isn't that always how it is? The in-between? It's yin and yang, if you will, order and chaos. "This and that," "here and there" "Beginning and end," "right and wrong," "heaven and hell," "birth and death," "black and white," I could go on. Which is why you're wrong. And it's why I'm wrong. But it's also why I'm right. 

 

I'm "born again," the "scales have fallen from my eyes," (ah how it makes sense now) because life feels like it has only just started for me now. Where to start? It's all about lessons learned. I have learned that there is so much more to life than a formula for "success." You can think freely and you can DO anything until you die, although the two are correlated lol. :) I have learned that the bible has a lot of lessons to teach if you view it with the lens of metaphor. In the beginning, I was a little zygote comprised of two people's DNA. Hey look, a little trinity. Creation. As I grew up, I walked with my "creators," they taught me what I needed to know or so I thought. Their values left wounds on me, tiny fracturings of an innocent spirit who knew no evil. That sin of adam, if you will, is doomed to continue if I am not saved. I will only pass down my parents' issues to my children if I don't deal with them now. And I have. Hey look, fruit of the spirit! I have shed the notion that my children or friends are to be corrected and shaped in the way I believe they should go. I'm not saying my children won't have discipline, but it will be for the sake of them living a full life, wherever that may lead them, not perfection. I have shed pessimism to a degree, in favor of realizing that another's "truth" can teach me something even if I don't agree with everything. I have shed insecurity to a degree by realizing that the galaxy is beautiful because of ALL the stars that are there. If you are the only star, you might burn other people. I have shed the idea of being a victim to my surroundings, I have been dealt a hand of cards and I will win the game even if I lose this hand. Life is metaphor. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (*clap-clap*), are the fruit of a person who deals with the way they are tearing others down or being negative. Their sin. And if you want to be redeemed from that, you need to die to that sin, and choose life. This life. It can be heaven or hell, it can be light or dark, it can be good or evil. Or in between. Cue the zombies.

 

They told me not to eat that forbidden apple, but I did.

 

Both Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy are credited with this quote: "A man does what he must, in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures, and that is the basis of all human morality." So now what, everything is relative? Not necessarily, life has so much meaning if you choose to make it mean something. If experience lends wisdom and a new perspective, than it logically follows that you would approach life with a newfound hunger for new perspective. Take with you a sense of appreciation and regard for an entire life someone else has lived of which you know nothing. They are wrong. So are you. So go, open your eyes, take in a deep breath of the freshest air and realize how free you are to go and learn new things until you die, with no regrets, having thrown yourself into a life of making it count.

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Good stuff Jess.

 

The questions you raise about truth and knowledge are very important,  in my opinion. These are things I spend a lot of time thinking about. Epistemology is tricky, but I also think a lot of people tend to overcomplicate it unnecessarily. I'm not currently a huge fan of correspondence theories of truth, although I'm not exactly settled on this issue. If the circularity is of concern to you,  know that there are other ways of looking at this issue. The coherence theory of truth is one example, but there are others as well. I'm not sure any of these are perfect, but I do find some to be preferable to others.

 

You've come a long way, and you've helped alot off people here,  myself included. Thanks for that.

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Hey Jess - I remember your first intro post so well. One of the standout ones over the 3 years I've been here.

 

I loved that you were one of the few people here that I feel I could have a serious discussion about opposing (Opposing? Maybe, just points of disagreement) views without resorting to reddit standards of conversation.

 

You rightly point out many parallels and metaphors between religions and ideas, and our lives.

 

Like D I haven't settled on a concrete idea of truth and I'm still working though personal epistemological issues. Sadly no where near enough people take the time to reflect on themselves as you have. It's a credit to you and I echo Disillusioned's closing remarks.

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