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Author Topic: Religious Choice  (Read 822 times)

Donal2018

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Religious Choice
« on: January 29, 2019, 08:18:25 pm »
I am a Religious Pluralist and a strong believer in Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Thought, and Religious Choice. That said, I wonder how much of our religious views are chosen by us versus being inherited culturally through social conditioning? I am curious about the tension between beliefs that we are raised with versus those that we choose as adults. Can we ever fully escape how we were raised? Do we really have full freedom of choice? 

I was recently reflecting on my own internal biases. I consider myself a Progressive, politically, and to a lesser degree culturally. But I had to question myself when someone recently assumed I was a Conservative. I was raised Catholic, and I think it has been hard for me to escape the implications of my upbringing. Even when I was a practicing Catholic, I always thought of myself as a more Liberal Catholic, educated mainly by Catholic Nuns and Catholic Lay Women who came out of the Vatican II Era.

So, amongst other Catholics, I tended to be viewed as Liberal. I could see this in contrast to other Catholics I have known who were more explicitly Conservative, like some of my Cousins, for example. Yet it has occurred to me that people who were "outside" of my Catholic Culture might see me as more Conservative than I view myself. This is not how I would choose to be viewed, but is how some others might have perceived me to be.

Anyway, it made me think that while I view myself as a Progressive who asserts Religious Freedom, I might still have something of a "shadow" Conservative streak that I have been trying to overcome for quite sometime. I wonder if anyone has had a similar experience yet was able to "escape" an early upbringing. I wonder how well people have been able to embrace a Religion that they chose versus the one that they were raised with. I expect that this is a common experience for many people. I am hoping maybe to hear stories about how people have been free to choose their own Religious views. I am open to any type of discussion on this, though   

Hariti

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Re: Religious Choice
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2019, 01:07:16 am »
That said, I wonder how much of our religious views are chosen by us versus being inherited culturally through social conditioning?

Well, for me personally, my beliefs were definitely not inherited culturally. I have almost zero common beleifs with the people who raised me, and I'm the only practicing Hindu in my family.

I am curious about the tension between beliefs that we are raised with versus those that we choose as adults.

I don't personally feel any tension. Part of that is probably because Hinduism is very pluralistic and accepts other belief systems as valid, but it's also probably the result of the fact I was a convinced atheist for several years between my birth religion and my current one.

I never switched religions directly, but rather I stopped being religious entirely and then, much later, I began to be religious again within a different tradition than my birth tradition. My years of atheism act as a buffer between my past views and my present ones.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

EclecticWheel

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Re: Religious Choice
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2019, 06:58:08 am »
I am a Religious Pluralist and a strong believer in Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Thought, and Religious Choice. That said, I wonder how much of our religious views are chosen by us versus being inherited culturally through social conditioning? I am curious about the tension between beliefs that we are raised with versus those that we choose as adults. Can we ever fully escape how we were raised? Do we really have full freedom of choice? 

I was recently reflecting on my own internal biases. I consider myself a Progressive, politically, and to a lesser degree culturally. But I had to question myself when someone recently assumed I was a Conservative. I was raised Catholic, and I think it has been hard for me to escape the implications of my upbringing. Even when I was a practicing Catholic, I always thought of myself as a more Liberal Catholic, educated mainly by Catholic Nuns and Catholic Lay Women who came out of the Vatican II Era.

So, amongst other Catholics, I tended to be viewed as Liberal. I could see this in contrast to other Catholics I have known who were more explicitly Conservative, like some of my Cousins, for example. Yet it has occurred to me that people who were "outside" of my Catholic Culture might see me as more Conservative than I view myself. This is not how I would choose to be viewed, but is how some others might have perceived me to be.

Anyway, it made me think that while I view myself as a Progressive who asserts Religious Freedom, I might still have something of a "shadow" Conservative streak that I have been trying to overcome for quite sometime. I wonder if anyone has had a similar experience yet was able to "escape" an early upbringing. I wonder how well people have been able to embrace a Religion that they chose versus the one that they were raised with. I expect that this is a common experience for many people. I am hoping maybe to hear stories about how people have been free to choose their own Religious views. I am open to any type of discussion on this, though

We have choices in that we decide between alternatives available to us, but all of those choices are conditioned by our experiences which are in turn shaped by our cultural backgrounds even if we have chosen a religion besides what we grew up with.  The freedom is in the alternatives available to us, but if by freedom you mean that the choices we make must be unconditioned or somehow unrelated to what came before us then there is no such freedom.  But what good would such freedom be anyway?  It would have no direct bearing on our personalities and have no rational relationship to the environments that have shaped who we are.  It is not worth wanting.

I don't have any tensions between the beliefs I inherited as a child and those I inherited as an adult from other sources.  I don't view my current beliefs as any less inherited.  They either came directly from other sources or based on my reasoning and intuitions which are also informed by outside sources and the cultural matrix I live in.  No one lives in a vacuum.

I had quite a bit more freedom in making my own religious decisions as a child, though.  I wasn't raised with much of any religion by my parents.  That influence would come later through my grandparents, and when I was ready to walk away from that before attaining adulthood I had the choice to.  I also grew up in an environment that was very hostile toward my religious choices while nevertheless not restraining my decisions.  There was always a sense in which I chose my religious identity even in the midst of an adverse environment, although as mentioned before, those choices sprang up out of prior conditioning and factors as do all choices.  Everything is interconnected -- our decisions don't spring out of pure isolation, but are related to other things.

No matter how different our present and previous religions may seem by contrast there is some thread of continuity tying who we are now to who we were in the past, so you will never be able to entirely escape your religious upbringing.  That is a part of who you were, and that informs who you are now.

But you haven't actually mentioned what types of conservative traits you are trying to reform.  Conservatism can mean different things in different contexts, and not all forms of conservatism are incompatible with all forms of more liberal thought.  One of the traditions I like that immediately comes to mind is the Liberal Catholic Church.  They staunchly hold onto their liturgical traditions.  They conserve them.  Yet at the same time they are liberal in embracing freedom of thought and spiritual exploration.  I wouldn't rule something out on the basis that it is considered conservative alone which in some situations can be a good thing, but evaluate it on its own merits and context.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

Jainarayan

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Re: Religious Choice
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2019, 10:16:56 am »
Well, for me personally, my beliefs were definitely not inherited culturally. I have almost zero common beleifs with the people who raised me, and I'm the only practicing Hindu in my family.

I don't personally feel any tension. Part of that is probably because Hinduism is very pluralistic and accepts other belief systems as valid, but it's also probably the result of the fact I was a convinced atheist for several years between my birth religion and my current one.

I never switched religions directly, but rather I stopped being religious entirely and then, much later, I began to be religious again within a different tradition than my birth tradition. My years of atheism act as a buffer between my past views and my present ones.

You saved me from typing the same thing. :D

Tl;dr... I chose Hinduism (or more likely it chose me), having been born into an Italian-American Roman Catholic (when necessary) family. No conflict for me.
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

Donal2018

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Re: Religious Choice
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2019, 04:42:06 pm »
But you haven't actually mentioned what types of conservative traits you are trying to reform.  Conservatism can mean different things in different contexts, and not all forms of conservatism are incompatible with all forms of more liberal thought.  One of the traditions I like that immediately comes to mind is the Liberal Catholic Church.  They staunchly hold onto their liturgical traditions.  They conserve them.  Yet at the same time they are liberal in embracing freedom of thought and spiritual exploration.  I wouldn't rule something out on the basis that it is considered conservative alone which in some situations can be a good thing, but evaluate it on its own merits and context.

I would say there is a distinction between what I rationally believe and what was imprinted upon me as a child raised in Catholicism. I was raised to believe that everyone is a sinner, there is a Hell, God will punish the unrepentant, and Christ is the way to salvation. Rationally, I do not believe these things now, but they still exert a strong influence on my psyche. These are elements of what I am trying to reform in myself.

That is also what led someone to think I was a Conservative. I explained this background to an acquaintance and they took it to mean that I believed in these things. I had to correct them that I did not believe in them as an adult, but was rather imprinted with these ideas as a kid. Anyway, they felt that this idea of a punishing God is a more conservative idea, and a more progressive idea is of a loving, forgiving God. I do not know if I agree with that simplification, but that was this other person's view.

Anyway, I find that I am saddled psychologically with so-called Catholic Guilt. Some say that Catholics feel guilty for things that they are not guilty of. So, rationally I reject this idea of universal sin and guilt, but psychologically it has been difficult to shake. The religion I choose rises above this, but I still occasionally feel dragged down by the things that I was taught to believe in during my youth. This is the tension between my upbringing versus the things that I choose to believe now.

EclecticWheel

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Re: Religious Choice
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2019, 08:27:58 pm »
I would say there is a distinction between what I rationally believe and what was imprinted upon me as a child raised in Catholicism. I was raised to believe that everyone is a sinner, there is a Hell, God will punish the unrepentant, and Christ is the way to salvation. Rationally, I do not believe these things now, but they still exert a strong influence on my psyche. These are elements of what I am trying to reform in myself.

That is also what led someone to think I was a Conservative. I explained this background to an acquaintance and they took it to mean that I believed in these things. I had to correct them that I did not believe in them as an adult, but was rather imprinted with these ideas as a kid. Anyway, they felt that this idea of a punishing God is a more conservative idea, and a more progressive idea is of a loving, forgiving God. I do not know if I agree with that simplification, but that was this other person's view.

Anyway, I find that I am saddled psychologically with so-called Catholic Guilt. Some say that Catholics feel guilty for things that they are not guilty of. So, rationally I reject this idea of universal sin and guilt, but psychologically it has been difficult to shake. The religion I choose rises above this, but I still occasionally feel dragged down by the things that I was taught to believe in during my youth. This is the tension between my upbringing versus the things that I choose to believe now.

I am not sure exactly how to label those beliefs.  But have you considered therapy?  I am currently in therapy for my experiences with Catholicism among other problems.  At the time I converted I was suffering from religious obsession and didn't know what was going on or what I was getting myself involved in.  I know others who had better experiences with that culture and religion, but it was horrible for me as a gay person who also has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder fixated on religious matters, rituals, and rules.

Many people who leave my childhood tradition also suffer from the guilt and fear you describe even years or decades later.  Fortunately I didn't have that problem.  Maybe that has something to do with the fact that I wasn't raised in it, and my exposure was shorter.

It sounds like your issue has to do with emotions that haven't caught up with your intellectual beliefs, so I don't know how much this would help, but perhaps you could go over the reasons you no longer believe what you once did.  A popular author among my circle of friends is Bart Ehrman.  He also has lectures on youtube that are quite enjoyable.  I don't always agree with every word he puts out, but in general I think he is a good historian and provides further reason that I do not adhere to traditional interpretations of doctrine myself, though my spirituality is still very much Christian in other respects.

You might also explore alternative Christian and self-identified Christian theologies even though you are no longer a Christian.  There are many approaches among the Christian religions.  (These days I find it easier to conceptualize of Christianity as consisting of multiple religions.)  I'm sure you're aware of it to some degree, but it may put you at ease to explore different Christian approaches for a while simply to reinforce the notion that there is not just one way of looking at Jesus or salvation or many other matters.  I especially love exploring liberal and self-identified esoteric approaches.

I recommend reading Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition, by Richard Smoley.  Perhaps if you can reinforce the notion that there are multiple defensible interpretations of the Christian mysteries you can shake the psychological baggage.  But I still recommend therapy along with these practices as I am not a professional.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

EclecticWheel

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Re: Religious Choice
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2019, 08:37:14 pm »
I am not sure exactly how to label those beliefs.  But have you considered therapy?  I am currently in therapy for my experiences with Catholicism among other problems.  At the time I converted I was suffering from religious obsession and didn't know what was going on or what I was getting myself involved in.  I know others who had better experiences with that culture and religion, but it was horrible for me as a gay person who also has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder fixated on religious matters, rituals, and rules.

Many people who leave my childhood tradition also suffer from the guilt and fear you describe even years or decades later.  Fortunately I didn't have that problem.  Maybe that has something to do with the fact that I wasn't raised in it, and my exposure was shorter.

It sounds like your issue has to do with emotions that haven't caught up with your intellectual beliefs, so I don't know how much this would help, but perhaps you could go over the reasons you no longer believe what you once did.  A popular author among my circle of friends is Bart Ehrman.  He also has lectures on youtube that are quite enjoyable.  I don't always agree with every word he puts out, but in general I think he is a good historian and provides further reason that I do not adhere to traditional interpretations of doctrine myself, though my spirituality is still very much Christian in other respects.

You might also explore alternative Christian and self-identified Christian theologies even though you are no longer a Christian.  There are many approaches among the Christian religions.  (These days I find it easier to conceptualize of Christianity as consisting of multiple religions.)  I'm sure you're aware of it to some degree, but it may put you at ease to explore different Christian approaches for a while simply to reinforce the notion that there is not just one way of looking at Jesus or salvation or many other matters.  I especially love exploring liberal and self-identified esoteric approaches.

I recommend reading Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition, by Richard Smoley.  Perhaps if you can reinforce the notion that there are multiple defensible interpretations of the Christian mysteries you can shake the psychological baggage.  But I still recommend therapy along with these practices as I am not a professional.

I wanted to come back and add that the book I recommended includes a very different view of the Fall than what is usually presented in Catholicism.  For better or worse you likely have some Christian archetypes and symbols imprinted on your psyche.  If you can identify which ones might be behind the guilt, and I'm assuming the Fall would be one of them, I'm thinking that finding a way to re-interpret those symbols could help you even if they're not the main symbols you now work with in your current spirituality.  I was very much impressed with the interpretation of the Fall given in that book.

Another esoteric take on the Fall can be found in the following youtube link.  This video also goes into some of the history about the goddess Asherah and serpent symbolism.  The lecturer has come to the conclusion that the Fall is not really about original sin:

My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

Donal2018

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Re: Religious Choice
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2019, 09:04:10 pm »
I am not sure exactly how to label those beliefs.  But have you considered therapy?  I am currently in therapy for my experiences with Catholicism among other problems.  At the time I converted I was suffering from religious obsession and didn't know what was going on or what I was getting myself involved in.  I know others who had better experiences with that culture and religion, but it was horrible for me as a gay person who also has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder fixated on religious matters, rituals, and rules.

Many people who leave my childhood tradition also suffer from the guilt and fear you describe even years or decades later.  Fortunately I didn't have that problem.  Maybe that has something to do with the fact that I wasn't raised in it, and my exposure was shorter.

It sounds like your issue has to do with emotions that haven't caught up with your intellectual beliefs, so I don't know how much this would help, but perhaps you could go over the reasons you no longer believe what you once did.  A popular author among my circle of friends is Bart Ehrman.  He also has lectures on youtube that are quite enjoyable.  I don't always agree with every word he puts out, but in general I think he is a good historian and provides further reason that I do not adhere to traditional interpretations of doctrine myself, though my spirituality is still very much Christian in other respects.

You might also explore alternative Christian and self-identified Christian theologies even though you are no longer a Christian.  There are many approaches among the Christian religions.  (These days I find it easier to conceptualize of Christianity as consisting of multiple religions.)  I'm sure you're aware of it to some degree, but it may put you at ease to explore different Christian approaches for a while simply to reinforce the notion that there is not just one way of looking at Jesus or salvation or many other matters.  I especially love exploring liberal and self-identified esoteric approaches.

I recommend reading Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition, by Richard Smoley.  Perhaps if you can reinforce the notion that there are multiple defensible interpretations of the Christian mysteries you can shake the psychological baggage.  But I still recommend therapy along with these practices as I am not a professional.

Thanks for the thoughtful response, EclecticWheel. I am in Therapy and have been for most of my adult life. I have a life-long diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and have a bunch of PTSD symptoms. I have also worked in Peer Support and have a lot of experience dealing with people in and out of the Psych World. So, yes, I can and do work on some of these issues in Therapy. It is good advice, though. I do work on separating out legit spiritual issues from psych issues, which can sometimes get mixed together in unhelpful ways.

I would point out that I am "sort-of" Christian. A Fundamentalist certainly would not label me as a Christian, but I label myself one (sort-of). My ideas on the subject are eclectic. I am a Pluralist who throws a lot of odds and ends into my Paganism. Christ has a place in that mix for me.

I am very interested in the time period when Northern Europeans (Celts, Scandinavians, etc.) converted to Christianity. Some just added Christ as "the White God" to their pantheons, and that is sort of where I am at. The Goddess Brigid became identified as a Saint, etc, also, and it appeals to me to think of her in both these ways, not incompatible. So a mix of Paganisms with some Christian elements. A polytheism that includes Christ.

So, some might also call me a "Christopagan", but I might use the term "Christian Pagan" or a "Pagan who honors Christ, amongst others", for my particular take on it. My paganisms tend to focus around Celtic myths (Irish, Welsh primarily). I draw some inspiration from Celtic Christianity, use the Carmina Gadelica in prayer and other practices, but am also drawn to Celtic Recon and Neo-Druidism. So, an Eclectic Celtic Spiritual Practice with a place for Christ, amongst others.

Yes, you are also right that my emotions have not caught up to my intellectual beliefs. Good insight. I am still processing this stuff even in my Middle Age. I don't think anyone is ever fully free of the context of how they were raised. It is also good advice to investigate other variations of Christianity. The woman who thought I was a Conservative was into (Catholic) Liberation Theology, which is sort of a combination of Catholicism, Social Justice, and a form of Marxist. I myself am an anti-Marxist, but I am also a Progressive who believes in democracy, social justice, and free enterprise (as opposed to Corporate Oligopoly and Radical Capitalism, which is what we have in North America).

Anyway, yes, I will look into alternative versions of Christianity as you suggest. I will look up Bart Ehrman and the "Inner Christianity" book by Smoley. Thanks again for the response.

Donal2018

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Re: Religious Choice
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2019, 09:16:45 pm »
I wanted to come back and add that the book I recommended includes a very different view of the Fall than what is usually presented in Catholicism.  For better or worse you likely have some Christian archetypes and symbols imprinted on your psyche.  If you can identify which ones might be behind the guilt, and I'm assuming the Fall would be one of them, I'm thinking that finding a way to re-interpret those symbols could help you even if they're not the main symbols you now work with in your current spirituality.  I was very much impressed with the interpretation of the Fall given in that book.

Another esoteric take on the Fall can be found in the following youtube link.  This video also goes into some of the history about the goddess Asherah and serpent symbolism.  The lecturer has come to the conclusion that the Fall is not really about original sin:



Yes, thanks for this also. My personal gnosis involves a lot about Lucifer and his rebellion. I am especially influenced by "Paradise Lost' by Milton. There was also a view amongst some folks that the Tuatha De Danann (the Irish Pantheon) are "half-fallen angels", sort of between the Heavenly Host and Lucifer's Fallen Angels. This idea has been a big influence on me as well. A lot of my spiritual work is about reconciling Paganism with some of these Judeo-Christian ideas. I am fascinated with how some Pagans incorporated Christian ideas into their own Nature- and Pagan-based world-views. I think that you get something that is neither fully "Pagan" or "Christian". So, thanks again for this discussion and the links.

Donal2018

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Re: Religious Choice
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2019, 09:24:55 pm »
Yes, thanks for this also. My personal gnosis involves a lot about Lucifer and his rebellion. I am especially influenced by "Paradise Lost' by Milton. There was also a view amongst some folks that the Tuatha De Danann (the Irish Pantheon) are "half-fallen angels", sort of between the Heavenly Host and Lucifer's Fallen Angels. This idea has been a big influence on me as well. A lot of my spiritual work is about reconciling Paganism with some of these Judeo-Christian ideas. I am fascinated with how some Pagans incorporated Christian ideas into their own Nature- and Pagan-based world-views. I think that you get something that is neither fully "Pagan" or "Christian". So, thanks again for this discussion and the links.

I mistook your reference to "the Fall" as the Fall of Lucifer from Heaven. That is not accurate on my part, as the Fall is rather the Adam and Eve "Eden Story". Sorry for my momentary confusion.

Donal2018

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Re: Religious Choice
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2019, 11:34:23 pm »
I never switched religions directly, but rather I stopped being religious entirely and then, much later, I began to be religious again within a different tradition than my birth tradition. My years of atheism act as a buffer between my past views and my present ones.

I find that interesting that Atheism functioned as sort of a buffer zone or maybe "clearing out" period, perhaps preparing for what might come later. I was never explicitly Atheist myself, but I went through a very strong and protracted period of being a Secularist and having a hard Scientific outlook. This was in my early College Years when I was studying Biology, Business, and Chemistry, so all of that sort of fit together in a piece.

The Secularism helped me view ALL Religions through an Arts and Sciences perspective, which helped me form my later views on Religious Pluralism. It kept me from being too parochial. I also practiced Zen Meditation at that time as part of being a practitioner of traditional Japanese Karate, but for me that was a philosophy and a practical practice, not a religion. Bushido also played a part of it as an ethos and a cultural aspect.

[edits for readability]

arete

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Re: Religious Choice
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2019, 12:37:30 pm »
I wonder how much of our religious views are chosen by us versus being inherited culturally through social conditioning? I am curious about the tension between beliefs that we are raised with versus those that we choose as adults. Can we ever fully escape how we were raised? Do we really have full freedom of choice?
We have full freedom of choice. it would be ugly if we didn't choose our religion.

when I was a kid, I was taught christianity. It didn't fit so I left. When  I approached paganism, the first question I asked the pagans was if the gods punish like the christian god. they answered me ''no'' and that's it.  :)

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Re: Religious Choice
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2019, 09:47:38 am »
I am a Religious Pluralist and a strong believer in Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Thought, and Religious Choice. That said, I wonder how much of our religious views are chosen by us versus being inherited culturally through social conditioning? I am curious about the tension between beliefs that we are raised with versus those that we choose as adults. Can we ever fully escape how we were raised? Do we really have full freedom of choice? 

Growing up I assumed my parents were atheists as was I. I did not take any interest in religion until college even though I was engaging in witchcraft prior to that. My political and social views were already established by then. My religion ended up bending to them. Until I started church and saw that wasn't how it worked and I left Christianity. My Heathen views are much more compatible with my other views. I think much of who we are comes from how and who raises us whether we conform to be like them or reject them and go our own way. But even then someone, somewhere guides us to our views. Nothing new under the sun as they say.

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* Cauldron Staff

Host:
Sunflower

Message Board Staff
Board Coordinator:
Darkhawk

Assistant Board Coordinator:
Aster Breo

Senior Staff:
Aisling, Jenett, Sefiru

Staff:
Allaya, Chatelaine, EclecticWheel, HarpingHawke, Kylara, PerditaPickle, rocquelaire

Discord Chat Staff
Chat Coordinator:
Morag

Cauldron Council:
Bob, Catja, Emma-Eldritch, Fausta, Jubes, Kelly, LyricFox, Phouka, Sperran, Star, Steve, Tana

Site Administrator:
Randall