Do you think there are questions in faith that we just shouldn't ask… or should we be able to ask questions? My guest in this episode is Jay Aedo and he has written a “what if” story from the Bible… a familiar story with a twist. His book, The Conscious Bible Stories: Cain and Abel, examines the possibility and what it might have looked like if Cain was unable to kill Abel and they work things out and move forward. Listen in as we discuss having open ended conversations with our children and how allowing them to come up with their own conclusions to things really sets them up for success.
Jay Aedo is an international entrepreneur, teacher of practical philosophy and children’s book author. Born and raised in southern California, Jay often felt the weight of the different belief systems his parents, teachers and religious leaders followed. As a writer and community leader, he encourages his young readers to look beyond the antiquated programs of the stories that have repeated for centuries. For the first time in the history of children’s books, an author tells biblical stories from a super-conscious perspective.
• [6:20] Jay shares how his bible story with a twist is meant to represent a new story for humanity as to the potential of what we could be.
• [11:08] “You know, I feel like it's more like these conversations, these open ended conversations where we allow kids to come up with their own conclusions to things really sets them up for success to where they're, they're looking with confidence within themselves to find the answers.”
• [18:15] “I feel it's very healthy to ask, what if? What if this? What if that? Isn't that where our natural curiosity stems from?”
• [23:37] “Because of our self consciousness, and our insecurities, and our self doubt and our fear, we've translated these stories to be more fearful stories as to who we're supposed to be.”
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Dr. Jay Aedo
DJ Stutz 0:13
We think you should know that Imperfect Heroes podcast is a production of Little Hearts Academy USA. Perfect.
You're listening to Episode 63 of Imperfect Heroes - Insights Into Parenting, the perfect podcast for imperfect parents looking to find joy in their experience of raising children in an imperfect world. I'm your host, DJ Stutz. Jay Aedo is an international entrepreneur, is a teacher of practical philosophy and he's a children's book author. Born and raised in Southern California, Jay often felt the weight of the different belief systems, his parents, teachers and religious leaders followed. And as a writer and community leader, he encourages young readers to look beyond the stories that have been repeated for centuries. For the first time in the history of children's books, an author tells biblical stories, from a super conscious perspective, there's so much to learn. So let's get started.
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You know, I love talking about faith and faith traditions. And I believe they are so important to successful parenting and marriages as well as just in life. Are there questions in faith that we just shouldn't ask? Or should we be able to ask questions? Now, Thomas Jefferson back in the day, wrote, question with boldness, even the existence of a god because if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear. So he's saying that God certainly wants us to be committed to Him, through our knowledge through our experiences, through the process of asking questions, and then finding the answers. Rather than just blindly following a pastor, a priest, a bishop, whatever you have, that they're going to just say something and you're like, Yep, I'll do that. Well, my guest in this episode is Jay Aedo. And he has written a what if story from the Bible. And as an educator, I have found the what if or alternative points of view books very useful, they take familiar stories, and put a twist on them. So let's take the three little pigs for example. You can read the three little pigs, but you might also want to throw in the three little wolves and the big bad pig, or the true story of The Three Little Pigs. There's a ton of alternative outcomes, I guess, is the word I'm looking for, that are out there for all kinds of the traditional fairy tales, the common books used to teach values and lessons. Well, Jay Aedo's book, The Conscious Bible Stories, Cain and Abel looks at what if Cain was unable to kill Abel and they are then able to work things out and move forward. What would that have looked like? And that made me think of other questions that we could ask such as like, what if Moses didn't kill the Egyptian overlord and just live his best life of luxury as part of Pharaoh's court? Or what if David looked away when he saw Bathsheba bathing when he was up on the roof of his home? And he never sent her husband off to war? What about Samson? What if he had lived the righteous life that he was meant to live? How would that have worked with bringing down the courts of Babylon? So I think it's interesting. And I think it's good to ask these questions. And my conversation with Jay really made me think, so let's listen to him. Welcome, everyone. And thank you for choosing to spend this time with Imperfect Heroes. I've got an amazing guest today. And he is an author of children's books with a different twist. And his name is Jay Aedo. Jay, why don't you talk to us a little bit about your books and and what they are teaching.
Jay Aedo 6:20
Yeah, thanks for having me. DJ honored. Yeah, my books are based on the characters of the Bible. And so for instance, the first book being released is the Cain and Abel story, to where we've heard the story of how it goes of when Cain became so angry and jealous that he killed his brother, Abel. And so this story repeats throughout history, it's an important story that's been told to us. And it leads the reader to believe that we're the descendants of of a man who killed his brother. And so I take a little bit of a different angle on this same story, where when Cain goes to kill Abel, because he's so angry and jealous, Abel sees the attack coming because he's disciplined and composed within himself. He knows who he is, and he knows what he's made of. And so he's able to move out of the way and grab Kane from behind and choke him unconscious. And when Cain regains consciousness, he he's dazed and confused. He asked his brother, what happened? And Abel tells him the truth, he says, You tried to kill me, and I stopped you. Why did you do that? And so because he was confronted with the truth, Cain felt obligated to share his truth, which was, God favored your gift over mine. And I became so jealous and angry that all I could think about was killing you. To which Abel asks, well, what makes you think, God favorite, my gift over yours? And so this is the misunderstanding within Cain. You see, he didn't, he didn't know who God was. And so he didn't want to give his best to someone he didn't know. He wanted to save the best for himself and his family. And when Abel was able to clear up that misunderstanding as to who God was, it's, it's yourself, and everything around you. And when when Cain realizes what he had done, you know, because we have this voice in our head, and, you know, the Bible leads us to believe that this voice is is outside of us, like, like we're looking outside of us for, for answers. But really, this was Kane's opinion of himself. He knew what he had done, he knew he didn't give his best. And he knew that his brother did give his best. And so he was he became jealous, but it was his own opinion of himself. And when Cain realizes what he had done, he, he's, he feels ashamed and begs for his brother's forgiveness. But Abel had already forgiven him, right, which is, which is why he chose to kind of stand and fight for what he believed in, which is the relationship with his brother, as opposed to retaliating with anger. And so they work things out, they talk out each other's misunderstandings, they bond together. And so, you know, for me, it represents a new story for humanity as to the potential of what we could be, you know, if we just decide to talk things out. And then So Cain and Abel, go on to build cities. And then so the story goes as to you know, we become the descendants of two brothers who worked out each other's misunderstandings. And everywhere they went, they share this story of triumph that almost caused a lifetime of confusion and suffering. And so Cain goes down as a as a great role model for us to where he's, he's no longer this, this murderer. He is someone who made a mistake and owned it. And he goes down as a great role model for us because he's able to break the program. If he doesn't just mirror back the anger that's put upon him, he breaks it and he stands and fights for what he believes in. And then so I feel it redefines nobility, you know, no nobility is something kind of defined as a weakness in a sense, but in this case, you know, when when Abel is able to stand and fight for what he believes in his nobility kind of redefines what it means for us and allows us and gives us a sense of permission to stand up and fight for what we believe in. And so I just have like this little imagination twist in my head.
DJ Stutz 10:16
I think it's really interesting to go with that and to think about what might have been, how could things have changed. And so we can relate this to our kids when they come home from school, or from preschool or whatever. And, you know, they're very upset with another friend or, or they really don't like this, they don't get along well at all. And they're constantly complaining. And so to take this story, and then move it into their lives, and ask them, what would it look like? If you two were friends? How do you think that might change things? And start asking them those kinds of questions, it can bring some really interesting conversations with your little guys.
Jay Aedo 11:08
I agree. You know, I feel like it's more like these conversations, these open ended conversations where we allow kids to come up with their own conclusions to things really sets them up for success to where they're, they're looking with confidence within themselves to find the answers. And it's not so much like they're reaching outward, you know, for to feel good about what we say to them. And so, I feel like, it's not so much that I am telling these stories, to rewrite the Bible. Quite the contrary, I like the stories that exist, because they've led us to where we are. And, and so I just feel like, if two kids were were to present all of the stories, not just one side or the other, we would be empowering them to make their own choice as to what they want out of life.
DJ Stutz 11:59
I really liked that, you know, there's something called executive functioning, that educators use this term, a lot. And we work, gosh, really, from the day they're born. We're giving children the skills of executive functioning. And one of the pieces of that is being able to look at where you are and the decisions that you make, and be able to understand how those decisions affect other people. And who are the people that these decisions are going to make? Sometimes we're making decisions that might just affect our mom and dad, or maybe a brother or sister. Other times, it's a little bigger, you know, for disruptive in a classroom, or if we are unkind to a child who really needs that kindness, but asking what would happen if and moving with that? So what age groups do you think your book would be best used for?
Jay Aedo 13:08
That's a good question. You know, at what age were we told these stories when we were kids? You know, I feel like these stories are more for parents, and they can kind of choose for themselves when they want to tell these stories to their kids, you know, that at reading level when they're able to kind of comprehend simple ideas as to the responsibility that we have as human beings, essentially, I don't know, from age from toddler to nine or 10, or 11. I don't know.
DJ Stutz 13:35
Yeah. What do you think? Well, I think the concepts are something that probably a four year old could start looking at. But if you start before that, and so a three year old, you're reading it to the child, big bonus. But as you're reading and asking the child questions, they're going to start using those executive functioning skills I just referred to, and then could probably bring that in to their life and their wonderings. And so I think, yeah, going up now, I don't know, the language that it's written in academically where it is, but I love books that are meant for parents to read to their children, so that you're making that connection, you're building that relationship. But you're also I'd love books that are made for younger kids, but may not be at their reading level. They need an adult to read to them. So now you're building on that relationship with your kids. You're making positive connections with reading because that's what I do with mommy and daddy. And then the parent is able to maybe stop and pause and ask what do you think about out this. And so those books that are written in that manner, are covering just a whole host of opportunities and learnings and relationships. And that's what I'm seeing with your book, am I far off?
Jay Aedo 15:18
No, thank you for seeing that I really appreciate it i That's, that's something that I'm aiming toward for sure. Just the idea of that bond with a parent and a child to where there's a lot of things going on. And what you said that, you know, you're showing them their executive positions in life, you're, you're showing them that this storytelling from a young age, and that empowers them within themselves to take it upon themselves, where they can tell stories to, and I just feel like at a young age, this is just like a such a uplifting foundation from where to take off from.
DJ Stutz 15:50
I agree. And there's some precedents with this. I haven't heard of it with biblical stories before. And so that kind of caught my attention, because it's something very new and exciting. But as a teacher, I know, there are tons of books with different variations of the gingerbread man, right. And there's the gingerbread girl and the gingerbread cowboy. And all of these different things are the three little pigs. And so there's some from the wolf's point of view, there are some with different things that happened within the story. So there are people who've taken a lot of these classics, as we would call them, and then change them up what is right. And so I really like bringing that question. That's something that I, as a teacher would often ask our kids, what if what if you stepped on the ant? What if a bird was so big, it could fly you to another place? What if you know and you bring up all these different things? And it made me think of some of the other biblical stories that are kind of fun? And that I hear people talking about often? What if you've never took a bite of the fruit? Right? What if Moses hadn't claimed credit for the water to water the children of Israel? And so then he was able to go into the Promised Land he wasn't left behind? What if David, this might be more for teenagers? What if David had made a different choice with Bathsheba and there's so many stories in the Bible that you could do this little? What if happened? What if people had stayed true to what they knew and understood and true to God's commands and things that he offers his children instead of turning their back on him? So what are your thoughts? And what are some plants? Maybe that you have?
Jay Aedo 18:03
Yeah, I mean, I love the the wood is, you know, I think when I was a kid, I wasn't really allowed to ask what if it was more like, No, you don't question that question the stories, but I feel it's very healthy to ask, what if? What if this? What if that? Isn't that where our natural curiosity stems from? These are the questions that we have, we should feel safe to be able to ask whatever we want. And that's definitely something that I feel kids should feel that they should absolutely feel completely safe to ask what if, without fear of consequence, my next book coming out is the Adam and Eve, where, you know, we're laughing when I was saying that about Eve. No, I love it, you know, because these are the questions that we have, you know, and so that's how I write these stories is just like from that curious child, what if mentality. And so like that the Adam and Eve story, when God confronts Adam, about having eaten the forbidden fruit, he immediately rejects responsibility. And he, he says, not me, it was the woman, you know. So it's like subconsciously training us to not take responsibility for ourselves. And that story is repeated throughout history. And then the same on the other side to where Eve, hides, she hides and kind of does it secretly where she eats the forbidden fruit on her own kind of hiding from Adam. But what if, when this idea came to Eve, what if she came to Adam and says, Hey, I'm, I'm thinking about eating from the forbidden fruit? Do you want to eat some with me? You know, and and so it kind of, again, the dialogue like hey, this is what's in my heart. Like, what do you think an Adam's like? I mean, it seems dangerous, doesn't it? Like we could lose everything? And Eve is more playful? She's like, Well, not if we stay together, not if we hold hands and never let go. And then so They make a choice to go in it and eat the forbidden fruit together, knowing that they can go that they can lose potentially everything. And so they go into the unknown. And that kind of shows us you know, like, in our lives in our story, we often make choices where we don't know where it's going. But we just have this feeling like this is what needs to be done. Like, I can't just go back, now that I have this information, I have to move forward. Otherwise, I'll always remember, always regret. And if you hear the stories of older people, they have regret, of things that they didn't do. And so it kind of leads the reader to believe that it's okay to have this dialogue, especially with your partner with whom you love and kind of takes risks together as long as everything is out in the open. And then when they wake up, when Adam and Eve wake up to the realization of what had happened is, they realize their potential, they realize they have great potential, they realize that there's nothing else like them, they're conscious beings, and nothing else around them is like them. They are the only ones piecing things together, they're the only ones making things easier for themselves on purpose consciously. And so it kind of sets us up for a different story as to where we come from.
DJ Stutz 21:20
Yeah, one of the things that, I don't know, that's one of the questions that I've had in growing up with the Adam and Eve story is that if they were never intended to eat of that fruit, why was it there in the first place? Yeah. You know? And so that's a question I've always kind of messed with in my head. So you talked a little bit about being a kid and growing up, talk to us about your maybe what was your first experiences with faith and with stories and, and talk to us a little bit, maybe about your path? Sure.
Jay Aedo 22:01
I mean, I grew up in a Christian household. And so the stories are a mainframe in my life. And it got to the point where I was in my mid 20s. And I was just in a, in a not a great place, I was questioning everything, just feeling anxious and depressed, and not feeling confident about my career choices. And so I started just changing things within myself, I started reading different books, and kind of separating myself from my upbringing and my original beliefs. And, you know, I'm somebody who's, who's very thoughtful. And so I, I tend to think things through, I don't have many hobbies, it's like one of my hobbies is to just think. And so one of the things that I realized during meditation and thinking is, it just seems like we're repeating stories. And that's really all we have, like, the stories of where we come from, and what our religion is and who our government is, and where our parents come from, like, these stories are just repeated, you know, and they're, like the game of telephone, like, when you whisper into your friend's ear, and it goes in a circle, by the time it gets back to you, it's completely different. And so I feel like, that's what's been going on generationally, like, we've been doing our best to repeat these stories. But obviously, over such a long period of time, things get lost in translation. And so I feel like a lot of these stories stemmed from a really good place. And because of our self consciousness, and our insecurities, and our self doubt and our fear, we've translated these stories to be more fearful stories as to who we're supposed to be. And so it's just seemed to me at one point where, hey, we just seems like we've been picking up and running off with these stories, and nobody's really stopping to think things through as to where they're going. And so that's something that I do is like, I see where things are going. And if we keep going in this direction, it's not going to end well. So notice within myself, I can change this in my personal life. I don't have to try to change the world, I can make the changes within myself. And I've done that for such a period of time for about eight years now to where I realize that the world starts adapting to me. If I start acting out these new beliefs, I start gravitating toward people who believe similar things, or at the very least open to sharing their different beliefs. And so because of my practice and putting things in, in a practice, I've been able to see it tangibly manifest in my life to where these changes are actual and tangible and practical to put into Play, like play things out in a different way. And I feel like that's one of the things we're here to do is to play, you know, that's like the child's natural. Curiosity is a playful essence. And I feel if we're able, as adults to act this out, allow the kids to take the lead and kind of follow them in that sense to where we would be in a better place. And a much lighter reality, as opposed to things seem to be pretty heavy and dense. If you're just watching the news all the time.
DJ Stutz 25:35
Yeah, yeah, that can get me I have to put limits on it. I want to know what's going on. But I have to put limits. So who would be your target? Are you looking at more Christian people who already have those Christian Judeo Christian values? Or are you targeting people who are living beliefs outside of that realm? Who are you looking at?
Jay Aedo 26:02
I mean, I'm looking for people who know of these stories, and are open to hearing a different version of them without feeling like they're offended or anything like that, because it's not my intent to offend anyone's beliefs. So it's just like, my target audience is more like, conscious mothers and fathers who know of these stories, and see where I'm coming from, as far as the playful side of what I'm doing and where I'm trying to take the direction of the stories. It's really just anybody who doesn't get offended by something different.
DJ Stutz 26:43
Yeah, that's it. That's all super interesting and playful. In a way There's a scripture men are that they might have joy. And I feel like we have children who take the lead in that quite often, and are able to find joy in the most simple things. And then there's the other scripture, a little child shall lead them. Right. And so I don't know, I think those things come together. So nice. Lee, and boy, you've got an opportunity for just a ton of different stories to go to with the wood F, right.
Jay Aedo 27:24
Yeah, you can take it anywhere, really? For sure. For sure. Yeah,
DJ Stutz 27:27
absolutely. But I love the way that it enables families to kind of think we are the masters of our soul, right? How are we going to change our story? To the what if? What if I didn't get mad so easily? Because someone disagrees with me? What if I didn't yell at my kids so often, and found a way to communicate with them more effectively? What if I didn't hold a grudge against my brother or my parents or whatever. And once you get into thinking, man, there's about a billion rabbit holes, you could go down. But if you get in the habit of thinking in this way, well, what if things were different? What would I be like? What would my role be in that story? Because we're all living our stories. We are all living history. And what we do and the choices we make are going to make a difference in the lives of people we may not even know, right? Absolutely.
Jay Aedo 28:43
Yeah, one of the things I like to say is like, I'm tired of history, you know, it's like his story, like, whose story is it? Let's focus on our story. Like it's ours to tell.
DJ Stutz 28:53
Yeah, in fact, I was talking with a historian a little bit ago, and she said that one of the things that we really could do better at teaching our kids is that you are history. And 50 100 or more years from now, people are going to look back and what are they going to see of the society but then their shoe and you are that history? And I find that with my family history. There's a lady she was the first white female born west of there's a Jordan river that's in Utah because it feeds to the Salt Lake. And she's really touched my life with how she was so concerned about children and so are we living our lives in a way that we can maybe touch someone with our story with our history down the road? And I love that thought.
Jay Aedo 29:57
I love that thought too.
DJ Stutz 29:59
Yeah, Yeah. So if people want to get more information where they can find the book and where they can keep up with new books that are coming out, where are they going to go?
Jay Aedo 30:09
You go to conscious Bible stories.com. You can also find us on Instagram at conscious Bible stories. We're on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, conscious by the stories.
DJ Stutz 30:20
Fantastic. And we'll have all of that information in the show notes as well. So if you don't have your pen and paper at the ready, don't worry, it's in the show notes. Let me ask you one final question. Before we go. How would you define a successful parent,
Jay Aedo 30:39
I would say that's for the parent to define for themselves. Oftentimes, I feel like not just parents, but people in general, we're oftentimes too hard on ourselves, or we sell ourselves short, we don't give ourselves enough credit. And so I feel like if most parents want the best for their kids, most parents want their kids to have a better life than they did. And I feel if you have that thought, you're a successful parent. And according depending on your beliefs, where you're coming from, and where you're going, the success rate is really up to you to define for yourself. That's how I feel.
DJ Stutz 31:16
That's really a good thought. I think that we can often get, as with your stories, we can often get caught up with the my kin girl turned out to be a doctor that is saving lives, or did they make some mistakes and land in jail? Does that define who I am as a parent? And so I really liked your thought there. That was great. Well, Jay, thanks for spending this time with us. And let me tell you, people, if you know the store, all the difficulties we had trying to get this together. It's just yeah, a comedy of errors. And thank you so much for sticking with us then being patient and helping us get a different train of thought, a different outlook on some very familiar stories.
Jay Aedo 32:11
My pleasure, DJ, I'm very honored for you to have me on and I'm more than happy to go through much more than we went through to get here. So I'm looking forward to doing it again.
DJ Stutz 32:20
Thank you so much. And we'll talk to you later. I think allowing children to ask questions about faith, and values, helps them understand and internalize these things much better. And I don't have to change the world, I can make changes in myself, by acting on my beliefs, and what I draw from others with similar or very different beliefs. Now we can imagine a different path for Cain, one that leads him to God and a better life. But we have control of the own path that we choose to take. And so we can go the route that Cain actually did choose. But we have control of the path that we choose to take. So we can look back on these Bible stories. And as what if Cain and Abel did work those things out? What would have changed, not only in their lives in the lives of their families, but what would have changed in the family of mankind? And what can we do today, to make those changes in our life, so that we're making the best decisions possible? And can we change the history of ourselves, of our families, or maybe even the history of mankind? Who knows? Well, if you're interested in finding Jay, all of the contact information is down there in the show notes. And, you know, I want you to be able to keep up on all things Imperfect Heroes podcast, and Little Hearts Academy. And so you can just sign up for my newsletter at the website, which is www.LittleHeartsAcademyusa.com. Or you can just click on the link in the show notes. It's free, and you're going to know what's coming up on the podcast. The next time our group coaching the Cicerone Society is going to open will be in November. So you'll get little reminders and little things like that. We totally protect your information, do not sell it. And we don't inundate you with a bunch of emails that you get tired of looking at. So remember to join me every Tuesday night for my Facebook Live event. And the new podcast comes out on Mondays. We know that and so you have all day Monday, all day Tuesday to listen in and then then you can join me on the live and ask questions, share stories, and what are your thoughts about the episode. And so it's a lot of fun. You can find me on Facebook at the Imperfect Heroes podcast page at 7pm. Mountain Time. And I've already started it for the month of September. But all month of September, I am going to be testing on doing some Instagram lives on Wednesdays. And we might try some different times to see what kind of participation we get what works best for people. And so you'll want to follow the page on Instagram, which is the Imperfect Heroes podcast page. And what's fun about September is you're going to have two opportunities for that month to learn more and participate free of charge. So next week, I'm going to have Rebecca Campbell, and she is a sleep specialist. And if you're struggling with getting your kid to bed and getting the sleep that they require to grow and develop properly, and you get into sleep, to get all the rest that you need to be able to manage work, home, kids, all the stuff that we manage, you are going to want to listen because she really does have all the answers. And so until next time, let's find joy in parenting.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Jay Aedo is an international entrepreneur, teacher of practical philosophy and children’s book author. Born and raised in southern California, Jay often felt the weight of the different belief systems his parents, teachers and religious leaders followed.
As a writer and community leader, he encourages his young readers to look beyond the antiquated programs of the stories that have repeated for centuries. For the first time in the history of children’s books, an author tells biblical stories from a super-conscious perspective.