Unlearning – practicing knowing nothing

The Principle

In order to let go of old thought patterns and belief, we must practice disassociating the meanings we associate with people, places, and things.

The Practice

One way to define a world view is that it is a collection of meanings that we associate with certain people, places, and things – it’s how we understand and interpret their roles and importance in our lives.

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Unlearning – letting go of ideas we’ve tightly held

The Principle

Letting go of ideas that we’ve held tightly, out of fear or habit, is painful but necessary in leaving faith.

The Practice

Try this experiment. Close a fist and hold it as tight as you can for two minutes. Every time you feel yourself letting up, squeeze harder.

Now, slowly open your hand. Does it hurt? That is how your soul and mind feel when you’ve held onto ideas tightly for many years, being afraid to let go of them.

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Unlearning – the need to emtpy the glass first

Photo Credit: rlcasey

The Principle

When exiting a strongly manipulative world view or system, we must take some radical steps to clean up the mess before rebuilding.

Before we can take in new ideas (truths), we must clear out the old ideas previously perceived as truth – adding new ideas to the old is like adding clean water to a cup half filled with dirty water – all you end up with is slightly less dirty water.

The Practice

If you are leaving or losing faith, you are already beginning to disengage from ideas you previously thought true. However, that does not mean that everything you previously believed is false. The trouble is, it is often hard to know which ideas have merit and which don’t – they are all woven together like an inextricable fabric. Or to use our current metaphor, the clean water is mixed with dirty. So what can we do to responsibly hasten the process of releasing our old ideas?

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How to annotate a non-fiction book

AnnotationI have read and annotated my books for a long time, but I have always subconsciously been unhappy with the system I developed. So I’ve done some research, and come up with the following system. Feel free to comment on your own system.

1. Running Page Headers

One of the things I love about the Table of Contents of some old books is that they include detailed descriptive section headers, and those section headers often adorn the top of the pages. Some bibles use this same method to help you scan pages for specific content (Figure  1 below).

This same method can help you return to a book you notated months or years ago and find the content you are looking for.

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Self-love is not selfish

The Principle

Self-love is not always selfish. Healthy self-care is responsible stewardship, not selfish indulgence.

The Practice

In religious circles, it is often verboten to spend any time in self care, self exploration, self restoration, or self appreciation. “Focus on God, not yourself,” is the mantra, but that is a half truth.

Human beings are both broken AND beautiful, both sinful AND made in the image of God. When exiting a toxic system that has exclusively focused on the sinful, broken image of mankind, we often have trouble even examining ourselves, let alone loving ourselves. But there are some things we can do to remedy the thinking that holds us captive to self-loathing or personal stagnation.

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Resources for Self-Publishing Authors

Here’s my growing list of resources for us self-publishers.

Last Update: 01.26.12

Top Self-Publishing Services

Self-Publishing Advice



Ongoing Information

The End of Diplomacy

The Principle

If an omniscient God really exists, then he will not be fooled by my pretending to believe. It is better to stop fooling myself and live honestly regarding what is going on in my heart.

The Practice

You may not be able to talk about your doubts or questions with those closest to you, but that doesn’t mean that you have to keep pretending. Just stop faking it. Stop pretending to be happy with your religious or ideological practices, stop going to meetings, and stop hating yourself!

Start journaling your true thoughts and feelings. If you can find a mature,  understanding confidant, talk to them – have coffee or meals together.

And start reading books by people who’ve gone through what you’re experiencing. You are not alone in this journey. Warning! Many books by former ideologues are very biased against where they came from, and are filled with unhelpful and wrong perspectives.

Try to find books by people who are somewhat respectful of their former position, even if they disagree with it. You can start with my post Books on Leaving Faith.

The Impact

The impact on you should be immediate relief. No more fakery. You may not have ‘come out’ to your friends and family yet, but at least now you can be at home with yourself as you allow yourself to go on this journey towards integrity. Congratulations!  You can do it!

Your friends and family may notice a change. It may be wise to avoid direct confrontations, discussions, or arguments about what you are thinking. For now, just put them off by telling them that you are “doing some internal work, just thinking about where you are going in life, and don’t want to talk about it right now.” That’ll do.

Pensees 03 – T.S. Eliot on Despair

NOTE: This post is part of a series.

OK, I admit it, I AM going to blog through Pascal’s Pensees. Here’s another interesting quote by T.S. Eliot from the Introduction to Pensees:

His despair, his disillusion, are, however, no illustration of personal weakness; they are perfectly objective, because they are essential moments in the progress of the intellectual soul; and for the type of Pascal they are the analogue of the drought, the dark night, which is an essential stage in the progress of the Christian mystic. A similar despair, when it is arrived at by a diseased character or an impure soul, may issue in the most disastrous consequences though with the most superb manifestations; and thus we get Gulliver’s Travels; but in Pascal we find no such distortion; his despair is in itself more terrible than Swift’s, because our heart tells us that it corresponds exactly to the facts and cannot be dismissed as mental disease; but it was also a despair which was a necessary prelude to, and element in, the joy of faith.

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Pensees 02 – T.S. Eliot on Christian v. secular logic

NOTE: This post is part of a series.

Though I am not blogging through Pascal’s Pensees, maybe I should! Here’s another interesting quote by T.S. Eliot from the Introduction to Pensees:

The Christian thinker–and I mean the man who is trying consciously and conscientiously to explain to himself the sequence which culminated in faith, rather than the public apologist–proceeds by rejection and elimination. He finds the world to be so and so; he finds its character inexplicable by any non-religious theory; among religions he finds Christianity, and Catholic Christianity, to account most satisfactorily for the world and especially for the moral world within; and thus, by what Newman calls “powerful and concurrent” reasons, he finds himself inexorably committed to the dogma of the Incarnation….

To the unbeliever, this method seems disingenuous and perverse; for the unbeliever is, as a rule, not so greatly troubled to explain the world to himself, nor so greatly distressed by its disorder; nor is he generally concerned (in modern terms) to “preserve values….The unbeliever starts from the other end, and as likely as not with the question: Is a case of human parthenogenesis credible?

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Pensees 01 – T. S. Eliot on Skepticism

 NOTE: This post is part of a series.

“For every man who thinks and lives by thought must have his own skepticism, that which stops at the question, that which ends in denial, or that which leads to faith and which is somehow integrated into the faith which transcends it.” ~ T.S. Eliot from the Introduction to Pacal’s Pensees. Interesting, his description of three outcomes. You could look at this as a process towards faith, or as three separate outcomes. For example:

  • Question > Doubt > Faith


  • Question (agnostic)
  • Question > Doubt (atheist)
  • Question > Faith (believer)

The worst outcome, of course, might be to stop at the question and stay agnostic. Then again, maybe the questions are unanswerable!