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The Self as a Center of Narrative Gravity

I love Daniel Dennett’s thought experiments. They make tricky philosophical problems comprehensible. In The Self as a Center of Narrative Gravity he argues something that I’ve been pondering for a while: that the self is a story. He compares the self to a center of gravity which has no physical embodiment. Both are useful fictions.

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  1. David Straight said,

    May 9, 2009 @ 1:25 pm

    I just read your deconversion blog entries and I feel like you entered my brain and sucked out my own thoughts and experiences. I wrote my bishop a cold email a few weeks ago and I would like to say I have’nt looked back but am currently looking forward. I have 7 sibblings and crap hit the fan yesurday. I have been on the phone defending myself over the past two days and I know I am right but my it doesn’t make changing easy. Thank you for your candid thoughts. It has been good for my figuritive soul.

    During third brother’s lecture last night he mentioned a shared experience we had that is faith sustaining for him but confusing for me. We both on the same night had that sleep paralysis experience. I have had it a few other times and it felt evil and natural at the same time. He asked me how I can deny that and thanks to you I can ponder the answer in my heart. I won’t give my family ammunition to use against me.

    I too struggle with the idea that I can be a good person without an external moral compus. My father, who is a convert says he came the dark and dreary world and knows how miserable I will be. But I live in Canada with happy non mormon co-workers who seem to be doing just fine. We will just have to see.

    My only worry is my children who now see me flip-flopping on my teachings to them. I have always had to hold my tongue when they asked about conflicting docterine ( kids can be so discerning) and give the party line. My wife who is on my side with this (she is still a god believer) thinks we need to help them keep attending church but I am sure it will become too awkward. I guess I have to learn how to be a normal family. Last week we went to the Zoo instead of church. That didn’t take much convincing. We will just have to see how that goes.

    I still haven’t talked to my Mom yet. Scary. I am a total momma’s boy. Luckily she lives accross the country so I don’t have to talk face to face. The nonmormon relative issue will be awkward at first I’m sure but everything becomes normal over time.

    Thanks for letting me send this to you. I feel we are kindred spirits or maybe something less hokey. I’m just glad to not be alone in this world. Thanks again for your fantastic writing.

    Dave Straight
    Stony Plain Alberta Canada

  2. Jonathan said,

    May 9, 2009 @ 8:38 pm

    Hey Dave,

    Thanks for dropping me a line. It’s gratifying to hear that I’ve helped in some small way. It felt good when I realized that I wasn’t alone. There are many of us out there. (That’s just one link among many that I could offer.) I am grateful that the internet has made it possible to reach out to each other.

    You’re in for an interesting ride, but with some grace, courage, love, and humility, it is possible live a fulfilling life post-Mormonism.

    Regarding flip-flopping: for free-thinkers, a time like this offers a great opportunity to teach our children that even parents make mistakes and to set an example of swallowing our pride and following the truth as we see it. It will prepare them to think for themselves when people who seem to be authorities try to indoctrinate them.

    It’s funny that you mention telling your mom. Just tonight I was thinking about how my mom has taken it. She and my dad are the only two people that I would like to shield from my deconversion. I hate for them to feel like failures as parents, and I don’t think I will ever convince them that I haven’t gone to the dark side. Why do Jesus’ words come to mind?

    Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.


    It’s not always easy follow the truth as we see it, but I’ve found it to be worth it 100%.

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