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The Journey

By JonTheFro ~

It all started at the end of my freshman year of high school. I started to notice a depreciated value of community at church. Back then I was as much as a bigot as much of my extended family and the sort of people I was surrounded with. And people hated me for it. I was rude to my biology teacher- it's something I'm actually annoyed at myself for, even after all these years. The year after that I began questioning the status quo, by the means of science, and truly exploring what evolution was, how it worked, and how it could be applied in an all-encompassing way that religion had for the entire duration of my life up to that point. By senior year I’d become what some would call a Creation-Evolutionist, which worked well for my political positions in high school. I refuted atheism as being brash and difficult to latch onto simply out of the fear of the unknown.

But everything changed when the fire nation attacked. Or something of that magnitude- the polarity shifted within my once conservative bible belting sheltered family, and my Mom saw through the cracks. For reasons which I now fully understand and take to heart, she decided to call it quits with my Father, who, to put it bluntly, can be a close-minded asshole at his worst and at best a simple musician with the same childlike passion that just isn't seen much from within my rather cynical generation. For reasons I don’t wish to delve into, I moved out to Utah after senior year and arrived amidst the biggest culture shock I’ve ever experienced.

Utah is somewhat of an oddity, with firm roots in the crass gun-toting republicanism and ineptly dubbed “Family Values”. Family Values which at their best turn children into proselytizing Mormon drones and childbearing slaves, clogging every orifice of the populous with an astoundingly large herds of children. I could delve more into the creation of Mormon clans, but I digress, as that’s optionally an entire rant on it’s own.

In the wake of my first year in college, I needed to fill a history slot, so I opted for Middle Eastern history rather than the regurgitated American History I’d taken a whopping six times since fourth grade. Alongside that I took Jazz band, where I met quite a few interesting fellows. Middle Eastern history allowed my humble introduction to Islam. Islam is rather accepting on the surface, with people that don’t pass judgment- until you start talking about the Palestinian border. Or their mosques. Or the fact that when Christians seized power in Spain, they built a church on top of an active mosque. Mid-way through the year I was walking up and down the campus and a random stranger approached me. Apparently he was a Hindu monk. He said I looked intelligent, said Oppenheimer (my favorite scientist ever) read it, gave me the Bhagavad Gita, and as I scanned the cover, disappeared into thin air. Yes, it’s as weird as it sounds. Freakin’ teleporting monks. As I mentioned before, I met some people in Jazz band. I met a fellow named Che, who was one of the few I accept into my social circle. Those who are open enough to at least discuss the issues, and the science that always seems to come into question from mainstream religions.

The semester after that I took yet another Middle Eastern history course (easiest teacher ever- he seriously only gave us 3 assignments a semester), which allowed me to assemble a decent model of what I thought about Islam. It had some good practices- the lack of judgment passing appealed to me. But I slowly began to notice a lot of Muslims had little tolerance for each other- just on the separation between Shi’ism and Sunni there was an apparent subtext of dissension. That spiked my frivolous interest, but we often couldn’t discuss much about the aforementioned issues, as there were both Palestinians and Jews from Israel in the class. You’d be right to say that situation was practically nuclear all the time. Definitely an interesting dynamic from an objective standpoint, though.

After that I took a third semester of college where I didn’t really have much going on in the sense that I had before- this led to my inevitable switch to the film career path, which is the best decision I’ve ever made. Film- a medium of expression I’d never fully comprehended- has become a very real thing for me, and I’m enjoying every last second of it. It’s also helped me meet interesting characters of every flavor. I’m glad to have met every one of you (you know who you guys are) and really letting my mind think about things that were important to me, things that annoy me, and things that just make better sense to me. Through a combination of reading way too much on the internet and discussion (and Crash Course/Sci Show, thanks for those, Devin), I was re-grounded in my fundamental belief of the sciences. The LHC, the discovery of what may just be the Higgs Boson particle, proving Einstein’s model right, my wishing we still had a space exploration budget, reevaluating what it meant for something to be a “theory” again. They all came together like an amalgamation yesterday, and with the flick of a switch, my brain made a declaration. A declaration against intolerance, ignorance, and pushing views down everyone else’s throats. A sense of nonconformity boiling to the point of a hot intensity I’d not seen in myself in years. To put it in layman's terms, an epiphany, in the truest sense of the Greek definition of the word. The shocking revelation, that I am in fact…

An atheist.