Living With Your Own Truth

Ilze has been my ‘academic life guide’ when I started studying theology. Now, she is a part of the PIXIE blog-writing-family, and it was a great privilege to interview one of the wisest people I know.

Q. Tell our readers a bit about yourself.

A. Usually, or depending on the context, I try to make it brief:  this particular Ilze Jansone is either one of these three: a theologian, a writer or a publicist. Sometimes I put all these three identities together.

Q. Do you think that you are what you do?

A. It is the easiest way to define oneself. But I do not know if there is one specific ‘I’ that could define me. Not so long ago, I was listening to the music with one of my friends, and the others have accused him of listening to the same song repeatedly. He replied: “When I listened to this music yesterday, I was a different person; today I am no longer the same”.

I feel everyday experiences, the people you meet – it all is constantly forming you. In that sense, I could answer you in one sentence – Ilze is a process.

Q. I am going to jump into deeper topics right away. What is your personal relationship with religion and spirituality, and what do these two mean to you?

A. I’ll start with religion because it’s a little easier. I often identify myself as a Christian. However, there are times when I am ashamed to identify myself that way.

Q. Because you are compared to other Christians?

A. Because the Christian church I should belong to sometimes does something that I am ashamed of. I have also said that I am an agnostic[1], as I am not an active Christian – I do not go to church. However, I read the Bible regularly. I largely have faith in God’s guidance in many things – as Jesus have said: “May what you want to happen be done”.

My thinking has certainly been influenced by the history and theology of Christianity, while at the same time, many things in Christianity are unacceptable to me – especially when it comes to church hierarchy. I don’t like that the church is trying to put pressure on charismatic experiences. It seems to me that one of the main tasks of the church is to help a person grow intellectually.

The only thing not coming from Christianity for me is that I am not fond of people. I don’t think highly about people, but I can understand why they are the way they are. Or at least I think I can understand that, and that makes me tolerant. As far as spirituality is concerned, this is a vague term for me.

Q. Yes, I agree this term has become blurry...

A. Yes, and its’ definition depends on the context. I have to admit I don’t like this term. However, I am not dismissing it completely, as it has become clear that we can no longer live without it in the 21st century. Because, perhaps, the great Christian (and many other religions) denominations have exhausted themselves and spirituality remains the only expression of human religiosity.

Q. Do you believe that every person has her/his own truth?

A. (After a relatively long period of silence) Yes, if it is reasoned well.

Q. I have the feeling that we may now be living in an overly tolerant society. So, what does a well-reasoned truth really mean? Scientifically proven?

A. No, well-reasoned truth can be explained as one’s direct experience.

Q. There is a whole movement that believes that the earth is flat.

A. Yes, I know about this movement.

Q. If you were currently facing a person who thinks the earth is flat, would you respect his opinion?

A. I would probably question him or her to find out why he thinks so.

Q. Ok, but would you respect his or her truth in this question?

A. Perhaps I would laugh at him or her. I’m arrogant. I said that every person has a right to have his or her own truth, if it is well argued, but what I did not say is that I have to accept this truth. Nor is there one universal truth upon which we can rely – that is clear. But I agree with you that we live in a society that is too tolerant. At times we are too afraid to say or do something. There are many examples. Example from my life – we are too tolerant of homophobia. Can these people have their own truth? Yes, but fuck off.

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Q. Where is the limit of one’s tolerance?

A. It is my personal boundary. In the flat earth case – that is the limit of my arrogance. It is not important for me to prove that someone is wrong. Another criterion that matters is whether one is happy with their truth. If the person is happy, let him or her live happily. As you may guess, I am thinking about people who live happily in a sect.

Q. Talking about sects - let's say a close person has joined a sect and he or she is really happy there. Do you have rights to try to pull him or her out?

A. My rights are determined by a very narrow thing – which is probably one of the most sacred things we have in humanity – the freedom of the individual. If I see him or her happy but his freedom is restricted, I can try to pull him out. If he starts to take things from home to give them to the sect leader… My three boundaries or red flags are individual freedom, well-being and common sense.

Q. How do you know that his/hers religious/spiritual experience is not authentic?

A. I don’t but I can challenge it.

Q. How do you know that your truth is more true?

A. I do not. The only thing I can do to keep my sanity is to live with my truth. That is why my truth cannot be sloppy. It has to be based on either my experience or my conviction.

.  .  .

[1] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agnostic
“A person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (such as God) is unknown and probably unknowable”.

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