Showing posts with label Philosophy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philosophy. Show all posts

Monday, February 7, 2022

How Do You Release All Your Doubts?


"I think you're awesome," a very close friend of mine said. "Why?" I asked. "Because you're so spiritual. I wish I had your faith. You have no doubts at all."

I do not consider myself to be anything special or profound. I'm just a man being himself and doing what he loves and believes in. But at the same time, there are some people in my life who think I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread. And there is certainly something undeniable in what they said, I have always had incredibly strong faith no matter what has happened or hasn't happened in my life. Growing up dirt poor, struggling through my young adult life, having a premature child, enduring years of hardship as a parent; there were many things that would attack the spirit of some other people. But not me. Why is that and how do I release myself from doubt?

For starters, I think my spiritual upbringing plays a part, even though it was an entirely different theology. Several religions, despite their vast disagreements, can at times agree on some human values, or at least not devalue them. I grew up in a religiously conservative community and environment in the South. Enduring faith as a concept in and of itself, was instilled into me. I was taught that belief in deity was vital, and simply childish to only be loyal when something goes your way, and turn your back when something goes wrong. In short, a tremendous sense of honor. 

Is it also possible that someone could be born with inherent faith? I certainly think so. We are born with schema, which enables us to look for Higher Powers in the universe, and so we are always looking for Gods even from the time we are born. For as long as I can remember, I have been in love with the natural world and could always see the powers and minds behind it all. I still retain that mindset and interpretation to this day. I can't disbelieve in the Gods just as I cannot disbelieve in anything else around me. I can't disbelieve in the Sun, Moon, the forests or oceans because they're obviously there.

Finally, I would call it bliss. I've heard people in the Hellenic community say that we do not worship the Gods because we want something in return, but simply because it makes our lives more blissful. I cannot logically deny that the Gods have given me so many blessings and helped me through all of my hardships. Yes, life has had trials, but the Gods are the goodness we can always experience, and that can help us overcome our problems.

How do I release all doubts? I suppose it would boil down to a simple factor. No matter how long they've been in the religion, whenever a fellow Hellenist tells me they are scared or worried, I always say, you still haven't learned to trust the Gods yet, my friend.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Ask and The Gods Will Tell You, Every Time

One of the most common questions asked by atheists and agnostics today is, "If there is God or Gods, why are there so many bad things in the world?" But the thing is, there wouldn't be anywhere near as many if we would listen to the Gods every time. 

In the opening of The Odyssey, Zeus is talking to the other Gods about the tragedy of Agamemnon's wife and her lover, who chose to murder Agamemnon. Zeus says, humans blame us Gods for evil, when it is nothing but their own folly. I even sent my Messenger, Hermes, to warn them, and they would not listen, and now they face destruction. Athena finishes the dialogue by saying, may this be the fate of all like them.

The people who ask the question above often don't realize that they are repeating the same error that was made thousands of years ago, and that Zeus has already answered them. They are still laying blame upon the Gods for evil, instead of their own refusal to listen. The Gods would tell us all good things to do to make our lives and the world a better place, if we would only obey their words instead of our own desires which we often allow to take the place of wisdom. Humans listen to their prejudices, hate, greed and destructive desires more than to good, and the Gods know this. Thus, the evil in the world is the fault of humans, not the Gods, and the result shall be the fate of all likewise.

If a murderer, robber, rapist, and every other criminal would listen to what the Gods say, they would not be a murderer, robber, rapist or any criminal. If we would ask the Gods whether we should cheat our fellowman or be honest by them and listen to the answer, we would eventually never know what a lie or a falsehood is. What's even more revealing is that deep down, we already know the answers, because the Gods put their goodness inside of us and the world. Without asking, governments know they should help the poor instead of gluttonizing the rich. And what of disease and illness? We can solve that, too. But we have vaccines that people refuse to take. We have hospitals and technologies that care more about money than human beings. We have natural remedies, like cannabis, that we have kept illegal for countless years, and is still illegal in many places, despite the fact that it's been proven to be a miracle drug for many patients. The Gods gave and are willing to give us the power and knowledge to end about 99% of Earth's problems.

The Gods are not our babysitters, nor did they come to this world with the intention of attaching strings to us like puppets. It is our duty to make something great of our existence, otherwise there is no purpose to said existence.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Thinking You're A God: Disappointment and Destruction

I've always been a person to never care what others believe, or how they see themselves, as long as they don't bother me. In other words, if they're impacting no life but their own, I couldn't care less; it's their own business and their right. However, that doesn't mean I can't still have an opinion about one belief or another. For example, I have talked about how bankrupt Christianity is quite often, but I still think Christians have the right to practice their religion. Just because I disagree with it, doesn't mean I hold malice or negativity toward the person(s).

One thing I have grown very weary of is people who think they are Gods, or that they are Gods in their own right, and they exist in many communities, but largely, they can be found in Paganism. Now I'm not talking about the belief in Divine favor. There is a difference between saying, "I am blessed by the Gods, or, I am part of the blessed creation of the Gods," and, "I am a God." The former simply acknowledges you as a worthy individual who is part of the cosmos that the Gods create and govern. The latter, however, implies that you are the God themselves, or a God individually, and therefore have the same Divine power and authority.

Not only is this just foolish and arrogant for a mortal to think, it's also dangerous. I think that once humans convince themselves that they are Gods of any sort, they end up also deciding that they are subject to no authority but their own, and can therefore do whatever they want, even to other human beings. I think it lays groundwork for great harm. Think of the story of Phaethon. He was even allegedly born of a God, but was too mortal to control the Sun chariot that he so desired to ride. In short, Phaethon wanted to take the place of the Sun God, and ended up not only dying, but nearly killing every other human around. Humans are not given Divine power for good reason. 

And even if such a person who fancies themselves a God doesn't end up doing harm to others, I gather that eventually, the Gods will give them a good lesson in humility, which is their own choice, but I would still advise against it. Consider the story of Arachne. She was a mortal weaver of amazing talent who considered herself to be even greater than the Gods, namely Athena, who taught her a grave lesson in who a God is, and who a God isn't. Literally, Athena tells us to know who is God and who is not. We must acknowledge this for our own sake. Even if the Gods do not teach us a lesson, we will end up destroying our own selves. Now yes, some of the ancient Heroes eventually became Gods, but that was after their death and their rise to that stage by the favor of the Gods themselves. In short, after their rise to a higher state of enlightenment, and some of those Heroes were already considered to be half-God in the first place due to their Divine parentage.

The biggest thing to understand, I think, is that you don't have to be a God. You are a blessed human being, and as such, you have your own distinct abilities and even mortal powers. Each being in and of the Universe has their place, and within that place, they can wield great influence in their own respect. Simply because you're not a God, doesn't mean you're weak.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Gods Give Us Emotion To Make Us Moral

An epiphany was what my wife and I called it last night, during our discussion on the Gods, nature, and emotion. Many times, we humans tend to think of our emotional side as a weakness, as we are the most emotional of all other beings on the planet. It's true that we can sometimes be irrational, but the benefits of our emotional state far outweigh the debts. In the grand picture of things, it's hardly a weakness, but a necessary virtue. Being the most powerful and smartest mortal creatures on the planet, things would be much, much worse if we didn't have emotion. It also allows the Gods to appeal to our moral, ethical and compassionate side far more than if we didn't have it.

Let's start with an example from my own life, so that the reader may better understand this universal truth. I have a very cute cat named Rosie, who we adopted from a local animal shelter a year or so ago. She is a valuable asset to our family at times, but she also has her many problems. The trouble she gets into will sometimes make me incredibly angry to the point that I want to get rid of her, but here's the thing, I can't. No matter how much I want to pick her up and toss her out my door, my emotions create empathy and love, and make me realize that such an action is not only cruel, but very wrong and dishonorable. More so, the Gods are able to appeal that ethical side to me because of the fact that they enabled me with the emotional capacity for empathy and compassion. If I had no emotion, I could do whatever I wanted to other living creatures and indeed the world around me. No matter what the Gods or humans told me, I would be unable to feel or understand it, and that would be a recipe for disaster.

The same goes for other people. The reason we don't abandon our children, spouses or loved ones is because our emotional states will not allow it. Our ability to love and feel keeps us moral and honorable. If we didn't have that capacity, our species would de-evolve into extinction. The Gods gave it to us because it was necessary for our survival and the prosperity of everything around us. And if we encounter someone who fails to show emotion, such as a sociopath, we consider them to be mentally ill, not a natural production.

Realizing this about ourselves is crucial to beginning to understand the genius of the Gods and the intelligence behind our natural existence.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

It's the age old question, still asked by those who believe in the Gods today. Why is my life so hard? Why do these things happen to me? How come a politician who makes a living hurting people gets to live in a mansion while I live in an apartment and have never hurt anyone? I myself have asked these questions many times, but only today have I arrived at a revelation, if you will, about it all.

My wife and I have been together for 10 years this year, and not without more than our share of problems, or at least I think so. We've had things to worry us to death, scare us to death, throw our family for loops, and keep us up at night. There were even times when we thought our family was going to be over. You would not believe some of the immense hardships we have had to face in this life. But what I realized today is that we have prevailed over it all in the end. No matter how hard or hopeless it has been, no matter how much we have cried and wanted to punch the world, we have defeated every enemy against us and triumphed over every injustice thrown against us, civilian or governmental. We have nearly faced it all and won. Every. Single. Time.

I have no answer to the age old question, and I don't know if I ever will. Sometimes, the wisest response is I don't know. But there is one thing that I do know with all certainty. The Gods will bring you through it all. I am telling you with the most sincerity that a human heart and mind can muster, let the Gods lead you into battle and you will never succumb. Even when in the midst of the conflict all may seem lost, wait until the end is said and done.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Are You Truly Socratic? It Can Change Your Life

Socrates taught to think for yourself. But I have found that many of us, even as we grasp that concept, don't do it in the way Socrates did. The mere fact that several of us are persuaded by the opinions of others, or have a crisis of faith at times, proves this. Last month, as I was going through my routine of scouring the used bookstore in Freeport, Illinois for lost ancient Greek treasures to house and preserve in my private library, I had the privilege of stumbling upon a title called "Socrates' Way" by Ronald Gross. It's not an antique publication by any means, as it was published in 2002, but the writer of it has helped even someone as studious as me. In a nutshell, the book teaches the reader how to think like Socrates in a way that will not only change their life, but help them build confidence in their own beliefs and judgement. While Socrates was always committed to learning something new, he held firm to the things he truly believed or found to be accurate. Such was the case during his trial, when he refused to denounce the validity of his mission, or that he had been sent on it by Apollon.

I think too many of us allow others to determine how we think and feel about something, even things we hold deeply dear to our lives and worldviews. In other words, I think people have a bad habit of letting other people think for them. The Oracle of Delphi told people that it was up to them to make their own personal judgement regarding the advice she gave. Even the world's most renowned Oracle did not try to make people follow a particular line of reasoning, and yet her predictions and teachings were still true to their core. A good example of this was the legendary response she gave to Croesus, who inquired about invading Persia at that time. She stated that if he did, he would destroy a great empire. She was right, but it was his own empire that he destroyed, even though he interpreted it to mean the Persian, which came to be known as the Battle of Pteria. She was correct, he just made the wrong judgement for himself. Another was when she told Socrates that he was the wisest of all men. He did not interpret it to mean himself personally, but rather, that the wisest of men, like Socrates, understand that their wisdom is little to nothing. It was up to the receiver to ultimately decide the meaning of her words for their lives, or even to reject it.

Part of being Socratic, and really being Hellenic, is not to have arrogance in your beliefs, but confidence. Even in liberal groups like the Pagan community, you can find people who will tell you that you are doing things wrong with your religion or spirituality. When I was a Neo-Pagan, I had people left and right telling me I was wrong, sometimes calling me a heretic. There are even rare times as a Reconstructionist when I encounter an individual I don't agree with. For example, I have read some Hellenists who don't pray to Greek Heroes outside of Herakles, because they believe it to be a localized custom and not relevant or appropriate for someone outside of that locality. Many years back, I even met a guy who didn't believe that humans can talk to the Gods directly, but that we have to ask lower spirits for intercession, essentially. While these people may be a minority in the community, they still exist. Of course, I disagree with all of their views. One might call be a "PanHellene," because I incorporate ancient Greek spirituality from everywhere in the religion. I pray to all and firmly believe that we can talk directly to any level of Divinity, but if I allowed their opinions to tell me how to think about the Gods and my religion, I'd never feel spiritual or anything like myself. I have enough confidence in my own beliefs and views that I'm never thrown off my course. For the longest time, I allowed myself to be disrupted through a lack of confidence, and eventually, grew sick to death of it. I became tired of letting other people, even those close to me, tell me what to think or how to feel. You'll notice that you feel depressed, enslaved, even hopeless when you allow this to happen, but when you finally become an individual, you feel liberated. There's a reason for that, the reason being that you were always meant to be your own person.

This doesn't just go for religion and spirituality either, but all things that make you an individual. If we allow other people to tell us what to think, or how to feel, we will have a change in our minds and emotions every single day of our lives, because there's always going to be someone with a difference or disagreement. When you let someone put their own mind inside your head, you've lost all.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Why Is "Evil" Controversial In Paganism?

Evil may be a bad word depending on your Pagan or Polytheistic tradition. Many people in the modern Pagan community don't like using it because they don't believe in absolutes or an inherent value, believing that good and bad, positive and negative, are both possible from anyone or anything, while some Reconstructionist religions like mine talk about evil many times in their myths and morals. You don't have to look far at all to find the word in Hellenism. Delphic Maxim 31 explicitly and simply says, "Shun Evil." But many Pagans, I would imagine, do not think that things are as simple as good and evil. 

In many ways, they are correct. Absolute evil means that nothing good can come from it, but any being with free will can choose to do good, and if they can make that choice, then they are not absolutely evil, because they have the capacity for the opposite. However, I can certainly say from experience that there are people and things that prefer to act on their hostile and evil sides, at least toward certain people anyway, and that person may unfortunately end up being yourself. 

I think that we are quick to reject the word evil out of existence simply because we don't actually understand what it means. We're so used to being conditioned by the mainstream to think that evil is a Christian concept of ultimate inherent character, but it's not. Evil is simply the opposite of good, or the absence of good. So therefore, we have to ask, is it possible that someone or something can do the opposite of good, or that a thing cannot possess any good qualities? Most certainly. Someone or something who tries to murder you or destroy your family, isn't good or creating any good. It may cause you to do something that results in good for yourself, but they and their act themselves are not good in any capacity. Or perhaps a more common example, if you have a severe mental disorder, like depression, that drives you to want to commit suicide, it is also something that carries no good, and in fact, is in direct opposition to what a "good" brain or mind would be.

In my view, the only Ultimate Good in the Universe, that has no capability or desire of evil, is the Gods and the Higher Powers, like the Spirits and Heroes. Because the Gods were made from all that is good in the first place, and because they are the most powerful of all things and are never able to be conquered, evil can never consume or impact them in any form. In fact, the Gods exist explicitly in opposition of evil, chaos and disorder. This is why evil or negativity runs away when the Gods and Heroes are invoked successfully. It becomes vanquished immediately. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Life Lesson From A 9 Year Old

My son has a very special story, as many know. But his premature birth isn't really the topic of this discussion as much as his attitude about his life and circumstances. Most people are aware that he was born severely premature with the worst chances of survival and overcame it all; there's no need, at this point, to recount that. What's equally astounding is my son's view on life and how he decides to live each day, and I think the Gods, in part, gave him to us so that he could be an inspiration to the world. 

Many of us complain about more than we should from day to day. We don't like the weather, our jobs, our home life, whatever it may be. We might even let the traffic lights or the jerk tailgating us send our mind and emotions into rage and frustration. The First World, especially, has no lack of complainers. But people like my son, I think, are unique for two reasons. One, if anyone has a legitimate reason to be angry and sad, it's him. Life did not give him an easy start. He has lifelong problems and has been through painful surgery in the past. He also, for the most part, can't talk physically (although he has found other ways of communication), and at this point, we don't know if he'll ever have the typical life that normal people do. Of course, that's not to say he isn't a very smart boy, he is. But he is still special needs.

However, for two, my son is unique because he doesn't complain about it. He doesn't let anything slow him down. He doesn't care that he was born premature or that he has issues. In fact, on the surface, it appears as if he has no problems at all. He still runs in the open, laughs joyously at the sunlight, plays with his toys, and generally enjoys his life every day. He doesn't even demand anything from others except the food and drink he needs. All he wants is the energy to keep living. You won't find my son sitting his room lamenting and pouting over the cards life has dealt him, no. He finds the good wherever it is. He's the freest and happiest person I myself have ever known.

We should all be more like my son, who is brave enough to not let his circumstances define him. Who takes this life every day and makes it a happy one without letting anything stand in the way of that happiness, no matter how big or troublesome. He just loves life, and delights in all the wonderful things around him. Most importantly, he does this by choice. He could decide to not be joyful very easily, but I think that somewhere inside him, he knows life wasn't meant to be dismal.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Epithet Enigma ~ An Ancient and Modern Theology

Epithets are a paradox in Greek religion at times. Some ancients considered them to all be different Gods entirely, while most of us today think of them as different manifestations of the same God. For instance, we today would think that Athena Polias and Athena Nike is Athena Herself in two manifestations, while ancients might have considered Athena Polias and Athena Nike to be individual Gods in their own selves (although I am sure there were also ancients who saw them as the same Deity). 

I myself have always considered the Epithets to obviously be different manifestations and functions of the God that they come from. For one, it just doesn't make any sense to think that there are 50 different Zeus's. How would that even work? If there were indeed 50 different Gods fulfilling similar functions to Zeus, it would make more sense to give them their own personal names or a name that means "like Zeus," instead of Zeus Himself. And secondly, the very definition of an Epithet is that it's an aspect of your whole. It's not something that separates itself from you and becomes its own person. In fact, without your whole self, there wouldn't even be an Epithet in the first place. So in my view, all of the Epithets of Athena, or any God, is the one God manifesting into the different areas over which they have dominion. They're all the same God doing different things, and rest assured, they're the best at what they do.

This doesn't take me away from being a Hard Polytheist either. I believe there are many Gods in their own independent forms, such as the 12 Olympians. I just believe that each one is their only one. I don't think there's 100 different Athenas, I think there's one Athena and She can manifest into whatever She wants, because the Gods permeate Nature however they choose.

In my own home, I do have shrines to the same Deity but as different manifestations. Alongside my shrine of Apollon next to my library, I have a shrine to Athena in Her Epithet that I call PanAthena, or All Athena, in the sense that it honors everything that She is. But at the end of my hallway, I also have a wall shrine to Athena Parthenos, to honor Athena as the Virgin, the Goddess of Athens, and the Goddess of the Parthenon that gave birth to Western civilization, which is the civilization in which my family and I live and are from. The shrine is also a tribute to the memory of the original Athena Parthenos statue that once stood in the original Parthenon itself. It has since been lost, presumably forever. If I had to take a guess, I would say it was probably either destroyed during the times of Pagan persecution, or it was broken down for its gold and ivory and made into other things by the Common Era Greek State. But the point is that, even with my two different shrines of Athena, I do not consider them to honor two completely different Goddesses. They stand for the same Goddess in many different forms.

I think the Gods use their many Epithets, in part, to better connect with mortals and Earth. We have so many different things that go on in our lives and world, and for Gods who love to take part in the affairs of mortals and the Natural World, they reveal themselves to us in all the ways that we can understand them. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

A Sense of Faithful Fear

If you base your religion on the views of the ancient Greeks, there's no denying that Greeks do fear, as well as love, the Gods, but it's for a good reason and perhaps not in the way you think.

Firstly, any mortal who doesn't have some level of fear for a God, is foolhardy at best. Fear isn't something that is directly taught in Greek religion, it's simply there by nature. You should fear a God for the same reason you'd fear a bolt of lightning, or a raging sea, because they are more powerful than you and can wipe you from life in the blink of an eye. A God is also far wiser than yourself will ever be. Fear is the result of a recognition of superior power. It is the "right" kind of fear because it breeds humility and prudence. Without a good sense of these things, we may find ourselves in more trouble than we can get out of.

Fear does not mean you're not brave, strong or confident, there is simply a fine line between these things and arrogance and stupidity. For example, saving someone from drowning is brave, strong and confident, but swimming with sharks is stupid, and you will eventually become drive thru for a dinosaur. Fear is merely the recognition of your place and limitations, arrogance is a failure to do so. Now some people might ask me, "Didn't the Heroes do things that most people would have considered beyond human limitation?" Yes, they did, but they were sent by the Gods to do something that was possible. They also didn't sink in over their heads. In fact, the Gods routinely provided them with assistance so they wouldn't. Bellerophon couldn't have killed the Chimera without Pegasos (the horse of heaven). A Hero always knows, recognizes, and most importantly, accepts the difference between themselves and the Divine. Being an affront to the Gods is not what it means to be a Hero.

I find that a lack of fear and piety among Pagans can be an issue. I've seen Pagan writers call Gods "scoundrels," and Pagan worshipers call them "assholes." While it may be rare, it is certainly a real case. A mortal picking a fight with a God is idiotic at best. Probably the only reason they haven't punished those people is because of their forgiving nature, or they think there is something mentally wrong with that individual. At any rate, you're never going to gain the favor of a God by insults, arrogance, or impiety. Even if they don't punish you, they'll probably turn away. Would you help someone who insulted you? Probably not, you likely wouldn't even give them the time of day until they shaped up and treated you with proper respect.

The only time fear is wrong is when it's unwarranted. Fear the Gods because you know they can destroy you, but love them because you know they're kind enough not to, and you will find wisdom. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Day The Gods Wiped My Slate Clean

It's an understatement to say that I've had a great many struggles in my life, but on a cold day, it manifested into the internal monster that had been consuming me for a long time.

For what seemed like weeks and months, I pulled myself through an agonizing world that had no spirituality; I couldn't feel anything. I felt that my past errors as well as my own negative thinking about things, had put me in disfavor with the Gods that might take great feats to repair, something that I was terrified I wouldn't be able to do satisfactorily. I suppose we all have the fear of failure, an anxiety that haunts the back of every human mind. But some might say that mine flooded my head completely. I was so scared that I was incredibly far gone. The ancient Greeks call it miasma, and I'd say I was certainly covered in it.

Many times did I beg the Gods in prayer to pardon me of my past and shortcomings, but the pain and dread continued. Then there came the early morning hours of that fateful day, quite possibly around 3 am, I am unsure, but some time in the opening times of the day after midnight. During the previous day, I had fasted until sundown as a sacrifice to the Gods. According to some, fasting itself lifts you out of the physical ailments and into the spiritual world. I was able to narrow the sleeping time frame down using when I went to bed and awoke. In my dream, there was a horrific monster in the form of a shabby and dirty woman chasing after me. Demonic? My own inner anguish manifesting? Both? I don't know, but it was certainly one of the most terrifying dreams of my life.

I fled from her as fast as I could, but she never went away. Then, very suddenly, a group of people, male and female, dressed in normal clothing, came to my aid. The next thing I knew, I was standing on a bridge, looking down into a vast stream, and in that stream my friends stood with the evil woman lying on her back. I said, "Just grab a limb and pull." They ripped the woman apart, and as her skeletal remains washed down stream, I said, "Into the depths of Tartaros, I send you back!" 

The dream ended by the top of her pelvic bone being placed in my hand. As the day went on after the dream, or some might say a nightmare, I felt as if I had recovered from a sickness. I just knew that the Gods had come and wiped everything away, all the things of my past and put it behind them and myself. As if, Never think of it again, begin a new day. Now was the time I could restart. I no longer felt an ounce of negativity, fear, guilt, or a separation from the Gods. My spirituality had been restored. But I couldn't figure out the meaning of the pelvic bone, so I consulted the best oracle I knew to help me interpret the dream, my wife. It turns out that it's a symbol of personal power, and that when it was placed in my hand, the Gods gave me back control over my life. What's more, the bone actually came from the monster. I had been given triumph over it completely.

I decided to tell this story for two main reasons. Firstly, to dispel the myths and individuals who want to portray the Gods as cruel, uncaring, and having little interest in the prosperity of humans. They are absolutely fascinated by us and want to see us at our best. The Gods knew how badly I was hurting and they didn't want to see me go through it anymore. Second, the Gods wiping away my past shows their immense love for humans because, one, they cared enough about my turmoil to free me from it, and second, even as they were wiping it all away, they knew future mistakes made by me would likely follow, because no human is perfect. Yet, they still chose to be with me now and in the times to come. They didn't see me as a problem but as a potential.

You're never in too deep, that's the lesson I would tell others about my experience. Additionally, the Gods are always there, they always adore you, and they always want to help you. You may lose connection because you turn away, but you'll never lose it because they turn away.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The True Meaning of Socratic Restraint

Today we are often under the misinterpretation that Socrates was a man of abstinence, and that's not technically true. We know that he enjoyed drinking, was married, and had the hots for Alcibaides. While some Christians and Muslims would like to use him as the ancient poster boy for anti-humanism, Socrates was not a man who hated his humanity. Quite the contrary, he loved being human and dedicated his life to learning how to live the most. His humanity was not something he rejected. Rather, he tried to regulate and conquer it. But what does that mean, exactly? 

The ancient Greeks were well aware of man's sensual side, but that if kept unchecked, it would consume. Think of the last time you were very sexually aroused. Were you thinking about anything else other than the pleasure? Quite likely, you weren't. Even today, people do things without thinking of the consequences, because all they're concerned with is the satisfaction of a given action. Someone cheats on their spouse without ever considering their partner, the partner of their lover, or the damage it could cause to both their families, because the pleasure has overtaken their minds. People eat and drink uncontrollably without wondering how their bodies will be a few decades later, if it is still alive at all, because their minds are only focused on the enjoyment of the substance. People are consumed by greed, determined to make as much money as possible, and never think about who or what they might have to harm in order to do that, because the sensual longing for more and more wealth literally creates a Midas Touch.

Socrates believed that such an inability or inadequacy would render someone unable to tell the difference between right and wrong, virtuous and non-virtuous. When your mind only has room for one thing, nothing else can be thought on or acknowledged. So Socrates wanted to become a man who could enjoy life, but without losing the ability to think in the process, without being unable to weigh virtue. It was not that he thought pleasure had no place, it was the fact that he considered virtue to be more important. Pleasure was not inherently destructive, our inability to reason was.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Plato's Cave Is Not An Atheist Revelation, It's A Longing For The Gods

The Analogy of Plato's Cave has fascinated many different kinds of people and groups, and continues to influence our imaginations and philosophies to this day. Everyone seems to draw their own interpretation based on whatever area of interest they want to insert into the opening. Atheists in particular enjoy using it as an argument against theism, suggesting that the shadows on the walls are illusions of Gods made by men for the sake of holding people in control, and that to break out into the light of the day is to become atheistic. This has grown to be a dominant interpretation, or at least one used among the most often. However, this is not the case at all. 

In our examination, we must first begin with the clear fact that Plato was no atheist, and neither was Socrates. And secondly, that they also clearly believed in the Greek Gods. Not only were they theists, but polytheists. This makes Plato's Cave a little more revealing because caves were sometimes considered precincts of Gods themselves; starting points of holy and sacred places of worship and wisdom. People who went into these caves did not go there to be chained or shown illusions, but rather, to connect with the Gods.

When Plato talks about the shadows and illusions of the cave being all that men are shown, what he's saying is that there is only so much that the human mind can perceive about life and this world, that it's not possible for humans to know everything. Our capacity is limited in many respects. However, to come out into the light, or into the Sun which was considered a God that touched all things and descends from the realm of the Divine, is to be able to see more through the wisdom and guidance of the Higher Powers of the world, aka the Gods. Plato's Cave is actually something which suggests that, without the Gods, without the guidance of the Higher Powers above, man is bound to nothing more than what his own eyes can see, which is sometimes shadows at best. Humans are extremely bound to a limited perception, and it is by the light of the Gods that we see more. 

Plato and Socrates were men who not only understood man's lack of knowledge when relying entirely on himself, but also, as Socrates put it, I know that I know nothing. The Cave is a reflection of this unknowing that man still possesses in many ways to this very day. We come out of the darkness and into the light through the Gods who know all things, and it is this natural light from above that allows us to not only be free of our chains, but to actually see where we are going. It gives direction to our lives, and therefore meaning and purpose. The biggest problem, which is also elaborated on in the Cave, is that there are some in the Cave who are content with the ignorance and don't want to move, even becoming hostile toward those who try to set them free. The reason for this is because, even today, in many subjects, men are content with what they want to believe and how they want to see the world. This is especially revealed in things like politics, where millions of people will support their candidate no matter what they do, or what surrounds them. The facts are irrelevant, and therefore, they are content with the images they are shown. They simply don't want their worldview to be upset, as is the case with some of the Cave inhabitants. This isn't a slap at spirituality, it's simply an acknowledgement of the sloth and confirmation bias of the human mind. We would often rather be comfortable in our beliefs, than working for the truth.

To come out of the darkness and into the light of the Gods, is to gain the capacity for philosophy, personal examination, free thought, and a liberated life. The Gods wish for no one to be chained. They gave us a mind so we could think and live. To be a philosopher is to love wisdom, and as Plato said, "Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the Gods." To love wisdom is to seek truth, and as Plato also said, "Truth is the beginning of every good to the Gods, and of every good to man."

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, May 18, 2018

When The Gods Hear You, You Know It

Moving is highly stressful, not to mention all of the financial dealings you have to go through. But, here I am again, about to move an hour and a half away from my present home to the region of Rockton and South Beloit, Illinois. Since my wife and I have been together, we have moved every year since 2009 up until 2015, when we settled in Elizabeth, IL up to this present date. Why are we moving again, you might ask? Well, human migration really hasn't changed that much since the old days. We used to move where the herds went. Now, we move where the jobs are, such as in my case. I have really enjoyed Elizabeth and the surrounding region, but when it comes down to it, there are just no prosperous jobs here. So my wife landed one out to the east of the state. There's also far more opportunity in our new area for the temple that I run. The hardest part, however, is that you know that moving a house is Tartaros on Earth; no one in the right mind wants to, or enjoys it. The last time, I moved the entire apartment alone, with nothing more than a hand truck and a moving van. Perhaps after I die, I will be the Hero of Movers, or the Patron of Toilsome Endeavors, or something like that.

Some time ago, I was lounging in my car at the park in Stockton, Illinois, thinking about all my stresses, worries and fears. Sometimes, life becomes too hard to deal with on our own, and that's when the Gods are there. My wife told me in the past, "Sometimes, you have to just give it up to the Gods." I tilted my head back, closed my eyes, and began to pray to Athene for strength, and Hermes for success in the move. When the Gods hear you, you know it, because a smothering blanket of peace and love came over me, complete calmness and delight. My troubles troubled me no more. I knew things were going to be ok one way or another, there was nothing to fear. There is nothing that can hold rule over me so long as the Gods are by my side.

The peace simply came in knowing that they heard me. Absolutely nothing had happened yet in regards to the move. We had not even found a new home. But I knew the Gods heard my words, a simple common man, and that alone was enough. Their power and presence is beyond amazing. There are no words which a human mouth or hand can use to describe it. The best I can say is that, when you're in the presence of the Gods, goodness is all that exists there.

In the Goodness of the Gods.
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Daily Joys & Wonders of Hellenic Polytheism


When you live as an ancient Greek, you find an inherent flow of the Greek spirit through you before you even realize it. For example, today I purchased a new book on the way of ancient Greek life, which stated that the enjoyment of life and the acknowledgement of how delightful the world is, constitutes the hallmark of the Greek spirit. This is what I have felt and told people in philosophy for the longest time, but had never read it in actual context until now. When Greek lives within you, it's like all that is Greek also comes with it. You don't have to always willfully put it there. The Gods reach down and mold you into the identity of their people.

I have said in the past that Hellenism has made me religiously the happiest I have ever been in my life, and this is true. A large part of that reality is the simple fact that I experience so much joy, wonder and intrigue on a daily basis with the Gods, Spirits, Heroes, and the stories, myths and customs of ancient Greece.

My first pleasure is that I wake up each day knowing that I am part of a vibrant, growing and supportive community. When I first began joining the national group Hellenion, I attended a libation rite to Hermes through their online broadcast. It was one of the most spiritually uplifting times of my life; to be there with people who felt like brothers and sisters, who believed in the same Gods as me, as we worshiped together in union and friendship.

Of course, the real and ultimate beauty is the Gods and the spirituality of the religion. I love waking up to the beautiful sunshine, knowing that my day begins and ends with Gods all around me. The morning begins with Eos, Helios and Hemera, the latter two throughout the entire day. During which time I can pray to, worship and honor so many wonderful Gods relevant to everything, from Zeus in the sky, Artemis over the forests, hills, wildlife, and animals, Aphrodite in love, Poseidon of the seas and rivers, Athena for my strength and protection, Apollon for healing, light and inspiration, Hera for Motherly guidance and nurturing, Hermes on my travels and publishing endeavors, Demeter for my great foods and beautiful fields, Dionysos for life and joy itself, Hephaitsos for creativity and invention, Ares for success in the battles of life, I could go on and on even beyond the Olympians. When night draws close, I am in the presence of wonderful Gods like Nyx and Selene. There is never a time when the Gods are not there.

As such, I love building beautiful worship spaces, sanctuaries and temples to the Gods, as I have many of such structures at my home. At the Shrine of The Dodekatheon, incense burns throughout the day to all of the Gods, focusing on the 12 Olympians. Below it rests a shrine to the Heroes and on the last level an altar to the dead and ancestors. I also have an outside sanctuary to my town and region's Patron Goddess, Artemis.

I also love the fact that there are so many wonderful Heroes and Heroines in our religion we can pray to and interact with, some of which are my Patron Heroes, namely Theseus. As with the Gods, the Heroes can encompass a wide range of epithets. Unfortunately, there's no ancient list, so we have to use fact-based reasoning behind it. For example, in His story, we know that Theseus traveled on foot across the Greek landscape to Athens, and along the way, put an end to criminals and monsters. Therefore, when I go out during the day, I may invoke Theseus the Traveler to see me safely there and back, especially if I am walking somewhere. So when I take my evening walks, I pray something like, Theseus the Traveler, bless and watch me on my journey tonight. Another example might be Antigone. We know She died for Her choice to do what She thought was right, despite being ordered to do what was wrong. So in tough decisions of right and wrong, I may call on Antigone of Honor. My prayer may state something along the lines of, Antigone of Honor, help me to do what's right, instead of what's desired.

As a devout Hellene, you'll also notice that ancient Greece is always on your mind, and flows through your whole body and life. I can open, for example, Plato or Homer for the answer to literally anything I am going through or want advice on. These sources of philosophy, myth and religion alone are 2,400 pages long. And keep in mind, these men are only 2 sources for the religion and worldview. I never run out of things to learn from or stories to experience.

I'll never give it up. I have only one regret; that I didn't find Hellenism sooner.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Does Religion Make You More Moral? It Appears So

Lots of people think one does not need religion or spirituality to be moral, but in my own personal life, I can attest to the fact that I am indeed more moral than I would be without Hellenism.

Of course, morality is not always universal. Each person may have their own definition, but every human being has a certain set of values and ethics, no matter what their religious beliefs or lack thereof may be. Even the most faithless person on Earth has morals. They may say, "I think it's wrong to be prejudice" or, "I think it's a virtue to keep your word to people." Those are morals. However, being religious gives us the potential to have many more morals and ethics that we might otherwise not have without it.

Religion or spirituality sets us up to be conscious of the fact that everything we do, and sometimes everything we don't do, has consequences, whether for the good or bad. Whereas if you think there are no consequences, you're more likely to do whatever you think will have no matter on anything. Some people even think that it's only immoral if you get caught, otherwise no one will ever know and it will make no difference. But we, on the other hand, believe the Gods know, that the universe and our own energy knows, and will repay or respond accordingly. For example, when Justice Scalia died, even though I didn't like his politics, I did not speak ill of him. In Hellenism, it's frowned upon to talk bad about dead people or to challenge someone who is not present to defend themselves. This is immoral for good reason, because those who are not here cannot respond to the attacks or defamation. It's a cowardly act and simply low class to spit on someone's grave, even in a metaphorical sense. But there were people who said that it didn't matter because they weren't religious, and they could publicly call him whatever they wanted. I think most of us would consider respect for the dead to be a moral, or to at least not desecrate their grave. Therefore, I had more morality and perhaps honor than my non-religious counterparts.

There have been times in my life when I have had the opportunity and the ability to do something wrong, even to break the law, and get away with it. But I never did because of the Gods and the morals of my religion. I knew it would be an offense to Olympus or a dishonor upon me, and I could not face the Gods or myself that way. My religion has kept me on a path of goodness and virtue in every way.

I'd say that those of us who are religious and spiritual recognize that we have a grander purpose and place in life and the universe, and that the two have meaning far beyond mere flesh and bone. Therefore, we become more conscious of how we behave and the virtue we strive to achieve therein.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

Friday, July 14, 2017

If The Gods Care, Why Is My Life So Hard?

Why do bad things happen to me if there are Gods who care?

It's one of the oldest questions in the book, even asked by some Hellenists today who are having a difficult time with life. I by no means pretend to have the answers to life and the universe. Sometimes, the wisest thing you can say is, "I don't know." But in my own life, I have had no shortage of bad or seemingly bad experiences and tough times throughout all of my years on this Earth.

I was born into poverty, physically and mentally abused growing up, bullied in school, failed grades, lost several close relationships, lost jobs, worked ones I despised, lost my vehicles, had a son born severely premature, and ended up losing everything I had ever known living in North Carolina all together when my home was taken from my family and I left the state to pursue a better life. For years, I also suffered from severe depression and anxiety disorder. Only recently have I found medication and therapy that have quelled the issues. So do not take me for someone who has had a good life and is trying to tell others in bad situations that life's not so bad. I'm not the born-billionaire telling the trailer park that they can make it if they try. Believe me, I have had no easy life. Quite likely, I understand what you're going through. 

But I also still sincerely believe in and love the Gods. No matter how hard things have gotten, I have never cursed or turned on them. Ever. And what I've noticed is that things progressively improved for me because I am always inviting in the blessed presence of the Gods. We don't worship the Gods because they need or demand it. We don't do it to satisfy them. They can get along perfectly fine without us. We connect with the Gods to bring bliss into our lives. The more we do things to take ourselves out of the presence of the Gods, the worse things get. I know this also from personal experience. As I have said before, I used to be an extremely negative and angry person, and bad things kept happening to me left and right, because that negativity and hate was keeping me out of the presence of the Gods who are always positive and joyous.

When looking at our lives, I think the first question we have to ask ourselves is, What is bad? Often, what we may perceive as bad or a struggle is actually working out for a greater good. It can be impossible to see at times, but it may indeed be the case. When I left North Carolina, for years I thought I had made the worst mistake of my life. And indeed, I asked the Gods, Why did you let this happen to me? But now, the reality of my family's situation has been made clear. If we had remained where we were, my son and our family would have greatly suffered financially and in the educational system. North Carolina jobs don't pay as well, there's basically no protection for workers and minorities, and healthcare access can be a stand-up comedy. The educational system also wouldn't have worked as well with my son's special needs. Living in Illinois has brought us a great deal of help and opportunity that we would have otherwise probably not had. So while my situation for many years seemed like a terrible disaster, it was actually for the best that we went through that journey.

Speaking of journeys brings me to my next discussion on the matter, purpose. Aristotle said that nature does nothing without need, and the Gods control nature. Therefore, we can also say that the Gods do nothing without need. In giving us life, they gave it for a reason. In our struggles as well as our triumphs, we find meaning, purpose and wisdom in life. If the Gods just gave us every single thing and didn't allow us to actually strive and experience, there would be no purpose to human life, and thus, we ourselves would have no purpose. The things we experience in life are part of that journey and that purpose. It's like when we go through schooling. Some classes are easy, others are very hard, but they all teach us what we need to know, and we are the better for it. My experiences in life have helped me understand what it means to be poor, to feel empathy for people who are abused and mistreated, to seize opportunity, and to be grateful for the things I have instead of squandering them. Had I grown up rich and privileged, there's no way I could have possibly understood those struggles or the people who go through them. It has actually made me wiser and more humane.

As humans, we are very reactive creatures, and we're so quick to categorize things into joy and sorrow, success and failure, or good and bad. Because it's so easy for us to seek the extremes of something. And we are so quick to assume that the Gods don't care about us even at the slightest sign of trouble. I don't believe any evil comes from the Gods. Democritus said that the Gods give all good things. They are the ultimate good in the universe, the order against the chaos, and in some cases, that battle still rages today. That's why we invoke the Gods in our times of need, because we understand that any evil or harm that is happening to us, isn't coming from them. Deep down, we know that, and we know we have seen them answer us in the past. I certainly have. My son is alive today because the Gods cared. Otherwise, we wouldn't pray to them for rescue, and the more we bring that ultimate goodness into our lives, I can say from experience, the better chance we have of life getting better. 

Pray to them every day, and delight in all the beautiful things around you that they have given. When you learn to look, you will see the love of the Gods. You will see it in the bright sunshine on your face, the fresh breeze in the air, the soft grass beneath your feet, the beautiful smell of the flowers, the shimmering fields and towering forests, the peaceful flow of the passing streams and rivers, the children playing happily, and the friends and family who dearly love you. This part of life can be hard, but the Gods are not against you. If they were, you wouldn't be here. And if you choose to live a life where you hate the Gods, or where you serve them one day and spit on their statues the second something doesn't go your way, you're never going to experience their full goodness in your life. And if you choose to always look at the bad side of things instead of finding good and the inherent purpose of all that comes to you, you'll never be happy or successful.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Interpretations or Common Sense - Which Rules Morality?

Recently, I talked about how I have adopted the Tenets of Solon as my guiding values in life, and I said that I don't see how anyone (using common sense) could go wrong by following them. Now some might argue that some of the Tenets are unintentionally flawed, because, for example, to "Do Good" could mean a vast array of things to different people, as everyone has their own interpretation of what is good. After all, even Hitler thought he was "doing good works" and "what was right." No one ever sees themselves as the bad guy. That leaves an uncertainty, the question of whether or not someone can follow the Tenets and actually be doing evil or wrongful deeds.

But the great thing about the human mind and soul is that we know when something is right and when it's not. Chances are, if something is wrong, we will say and do all we can to justify it. We could actually end up spending more time trying to convince ourselves of our righteousness than actually doing the act itself. Either that, or we'll just ignore the question all together. In other words, all people know right from wrong, it's just that some people care more about their own ambitions and agendas. Someone who murders another, for example, knows it's wrong. They just care more about their own goals and their own means to an end. Deep down, we all know what is good and evil, ethical and unethical. We know the wicked from the wellness. The problem is that some people make the wrong choice by making friends with evil and immorality for whatever reason. Evil in the name of good is still evil, but sadly, that's not a universal agreement among humanity.

The only real reason we like to think that morality is universally relative is because we don't want to hold ourselves accountable for our wrongs. It's true that morality is indeed relative in certain cases. Some people might consider me to be immoral because of my lifestyle, but that's their own personal opinion and not a truth. However, when it comes to the broad range of things, morality is not relative. Unless they're severely mentally ill, everyone knows full well that it's wrong to kill, lie, steal, sleep with someone's spouse or significant other without the consent of their partner, and cheat and swindle others to name a few. So why do people still do these things in great number when they know it's wrong? Because, as I said, they care more about what they want to accomplish. It's all about their agenda, their wealth, their pleasure, and their success. 

If you look inside yourself, you'll see the light the Gods put there.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris. 


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How Do I Love Myself?

Many people ask this question unsuccessfully, pondering to themselves how they can love who they are instead of living in a state of self-loathing. And I think a lot of people confuse an attempt to love themselves with an attempt to love everything around them, or everything that is part of their life.

I don't know if we're necessarily meant to love ourselves because everyone has things about them that they dislike. The idea that you should try to love something that you, in fact, don't love, is absurd. Besides, having an over abundance of self-love results in arrogance eventually. Having a head that's too big can and does bring out the worst in a person. What we're meant to do is a system of weights and measures.

From the years 2009 to 2012, my entire life completely changed. My grandmother lost her beautiful home in Thomasville, North Carolina, a house I had grown up in during my teenage and young adult years and come to love as my true place of belonging. I also ended up leaving my home state and immediate family entirely and moving half way across the country. The choice now is simply that I can either choose to dwell on something that will never be again, or I can look at what has happened in my life as a result of the tragedy or the change. In other words, can I place parts of my life on a scale and either balance them out or make good things outweigh the bad? And if so, can I love those things instead of hating the others? When it comes to my life personally, one thing I certainly dislike is the fact that I spent so many years wasting time instead of making a future for myself. A lot of pain and dead ends have resulted. But the choice is to either hate myself for all that, or focus on the life I have now and what I am doing in present time to indeed obtain a better life. And, most importantly, am I grateful that the opportunity still exists and will I now take it as far as I can?

The reason so many people have no sense of self-love or self-satisfaction, is because they base their self-worth on all the things they don't like about themselves, and/or on the opinions of others concerning them. We may not be meant to love ourselves as much as we're meant to love the lovable things about our lives. Many things can't be loved, but love can be found in many things.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Learning From The Greek Gods: Ares

Today, I received a beautiful new statue of Ares for my family's shrine that I very much love and treasure as I love and treasure Ares, and I think that He is one of the most misunderstood Gods of the Greek pantheon. He appears nowhere on the calendar of Attica, at least none that I have seen. Even Greeks themselves seem to have been wary of Him, probably because of the bloodletting and destruction that war brought, especially in those days when you had to use common weapons and kill someone face to face. War was a dread and a horrific sight. He still, though, occupies a throne on Olympos, which shows that the Greek Gods were not merely put into their places by the Greek mind. Ares was an Olympian by fact, regardless of how much the Greeks liked Him. However, I do think He's largely looked at in the wrong way, which is why I want to discuss Him in this next part of my series on learning from the Greek Gods.

Ares is the God of War and that's about it. He encompasses the physical fighting and strife between armies and mortals and all that is associated with it. But when we think about all that war itself encompasses, and how it has a place in our lives as human beings from time to time, in many forms, we can understand the great importance of Ares and how He plays an influential and decisive role in the universe and the lives of those within. Things are not always completely cut and dry. Sometimes, something is not inherently good or bad. There are times when war can be a good thing. Our own nation, where we are free to worship the Gods free of persecution, and live our lives as Hellenists, was created by war. We had to fight off the British before we could build the United States, and over the years, other enemies have tried to take our freedom as well. We have often waged war to bring about a greater good, which is a free and safe people. War, therefore, can bring good things when war is necessary. We even fight among ourselves as individuals, when we have to wage a battle against someone else to protect ourselves, family or properties. We may desire peace, but that doesn't mean that others will. War is not something we invented. It is part of the human structure of life because it is sometimes necessary for self-preservation.

There are also what I call "metaphorical wars" that we, as humans, wage all the time. These are not fought physically, but are carried out through verbal and other non-physically combative means. For example, sometimes we debate serious issues with other people that we are passionate about, and we feel the need to win that argument for a good, and like Ares, we can sometimes become furious and wrathful in these arguments. We are verbally warring against someone when we do that. And that could encompass Athene as well, but Ares does not have to be excluded. Fighting for what we believe can take on many forms of war, not just physical assaults. If there ever comes a time when mankind no longer wages physical war, Ares will remain important and influential for these reasons.

And lastly, when we are waging our necessary and good wars, we must also remember the part of war that Ares encompasses. He destroys the enemy. He does not show mercy and He does not play around. He comes to annihilate the enemy and claim the victory completely. When we need to save our nation, or protect ourselves and families in one form or another, we should be prepared to go the length necessary that the law will allow to ensure our freedom, safety and preservation. Sometimes, the enemy does not deserve mercy, and it is necessary to make sure they can't make good on future aggression. From Ares, we learn the value of fighting with all of our might for what is dear and valuable, and accepting nothing but the surrender of the enemy of those good things.

In the Goodness of the Dodekatheon,
Chris.

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