I guess the beginning is the best place for starting – I was born in Southern California and adopted by loving parents and raised in the Roman Catholic Church. When I was five, my parents divorced rather amicably, and within a couple of years, I had a couple of stepparents and a stepsister to go with my half sister. The priest at our church sent someone to let my mom know (in front of me) that really, since she couldn’t receive communion anymore (the essence of excommunication) there wasn’t much sense in her continuing to show up for mass. She could come for confession and send her tithes with the boy so I could get a proper Catholic upbringing, of course. I did make it as far as First Communion, but had a talk with the priest at the dinner afterward, and that conversation was the end of my faith. The path we took to get there is a bit foggy all these years later, but I think I was sort of thrashing about wildly with stabs at the problem of evil and slashes at Yaweh’s despicable treatment of Job. I do remember clearly, though, that the one that really hit home was when I asked him if god loved us and forgave us, what was Revelation all about. The look on his face was unmistakable. It was doubt. Deep personal cognitive dissonance playing out on the face is fairly easily identified, even by an eight year old. His answers were half-hearted and half-assed, and that was really all it took. Within a few days, I started self-identifying as an agnostic, and within a month or two I told my mom that even if she dropped me off, I wasn’t staying in the church for mass or going to catechism because I didn’t believe it.
It was some time before I really paid much attention to this stuff. I was a science and band nerd in Junior High and High School. I went to an Episcopalian Church youth group with a good friend, but it was mainly to hang out. Eventually I met a girl in the group, and we found better things to do with our Saturdays. I tested out of school early and went to junior college. I was mainly there for film and photography, but I ended up taking philosophy, religious studies, and psychology classes as well. This is when the question became more pressing for me. Religious studies was mainly about bible studies at my school to the point that my Comparative Religions instructor once proclaimed that, “When you leave the West for the East, religiously, you leave rationality behind.” I know, how wonderfully jingoistic of him. One thing he did say that he got right set me on a path I would follow for many years. He said that same day that prior to the Vedas in the East and the Tanakh in the West, just about everybody on the planet was doing the same type of things.
So, cue my 11-year foray into Wiccan and Neo-Pagan traditions. I studied hard and seriously and learned a lot about the beliefs and religious practices and rites of a bunch of the old religions: Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Sumerian, Celtic… you name it, and I read some stuff on it. I started teaching after about 3 years, and started my own group within my tradition after about 6. I did a bunch of Handfasting and similar ceremonies, for same- and opposite-sex couples alike, and loved doing them. I also officiated Wiccanings and Requiems (funerals) on occasion. I always taught from a perspective of agnosticism, telling students that the deities we were studying were metaphors in my mind and that the techniques we tried to master were mainly about focusing on a question, self-hypnosis, positive affirmations, and meditation. In effect, I was a Pantheist-Pagan.
As the woman who is now my wife and I started to get more involved, and as work became more demanding, I eventually drifted away from my religious community. A short time after that, I read Dawkins’ The God Delusion, and it really changed my perspective. I still could have identified as a pantheist had I been aware of the definition, but what the book showed me is that my specific pantheism was really atheism. I had spent years sort of processing my bitterness against the Roman Catholic Church and had worked through that, but suddenly I was energized again, and started getting involved with the atheism/freethought movement. I read a ton of books by the Four Horsemen and others, I debated apologists and argued with theists on Google+ Hangouts (video chat), Facebook, Web Forums, and even Amazon book reviews. Along the way, I’ve become a skeptic, a podcast addict, a podcaster, and occasional public debater/speaker. I’ve been involved with Atheists United and other local and national atheist and Humanist groups.
Now I find myself rather passionate about human rights, and the edge of that in my part of the world right now is LGBT rights and treatment. The ability to be involved with these expressions of love that have been restricted and repressed for so many years is really heartwarming to me. I have had so many friends and family throughout my life in the LGBT community, the whole issue is very personal to me and very important. I am straight, married, and have two beautiful children, but I stand in support of equal rights and treatment for all whenever I can. You’ll see that on this site without a doubt.
So, here I am, warts and all. I’m a bit of an asshole, but I try to make up for it by being unfunny and relatively uninformed. I’m not even sure exactly what subjects I’ll be blogging about on this site as of this writing, but I hope some of it is enjoyable (or if not, at least stimulating) enough to bring you back.