The Long Road to Pantheism

My personal religious/spiritual journey has taken a lot of wild roads over the years, from Christianity, to atheism, to Unitarian Universalism, back to pure atheism, and then finally to where I am now. It’s been a wild ride for sure, and here’s a look at that.

I’m one of a rare lucky few people who did NOT have religion forced upon me as a kid. Of course my parents let me dabble, but it was never forced on me. My great-grandmother was a Buddhist (owing to her Japanese heritage), my mother nothing in particular and my (adoptive) father a lapsed Southern Baptist but not really serious about it. For the first 12 years of my life (my Roswell days) religion was absolutely not a part of my life. We never went to church, prayed, read holy texts, etc. ever. It just wasn’t a thing for us, and probably for the better for me as I didn’t have any indoctrination to undo later in life.

Moving to Abilene at age 12 changed everything. All of a sudden we were closer to my grandmother (dad’s mom) who is a very devout Southern Baptist. She insisted my younger sister and I go to church with her, which we did and thus I dabbled in that sect of Christianity for awhile. I have to say it didn’t make much sense to me at all, but I went along with the motions of a “profession of faith” and baptism anyway, mainly for the sake of placating my grandmother. I do have to say I found the whole fire-and-brimstone ideology quite frightening, and even somewhat contradictory – how could a loving God do that to any of his supposed children?

Needless to say that phase of my life didn’t last more than a few years, even though I remained believing some of the tenets of Christianity. I just knew I didn’t jive with that particular sect, and that’s when my then middle/high school art teacher brought up an activity at her church (an Episcopal church)  that I might be interested in – English-style bell ringing (or change ringing if you will), of which Abilene had one of only then 38 rings of bells in North America. The concept seemed appealing to me, so when I was able to drive myself I went up there to check the hobby out, but also to the service. I have to say I was hooked on change ringing from the outset, and the services were beautiful with the liturgy, etc. – it was something I hadn’t experienced in the Southern Baptist tradition. I was enamoured. Instead of the fire-and-brimstone focus, the focus on love, charity, the divine just kind of struck a chord with me. A year later, at the age of 17, I was confirmed an Episcopalian.

I would remain a steadfast and devout Episcopalian until my sophomore year of undergrad, deviating only with a short time dabbling with Mormonism on account of a very close friend (which didn’t last long, I should say). I went to a United Methodist affiliated institution for undergrad, so naturally we were required to take classes on religion. The first one I took was intro to Christianity, which was taught in a very non-sectarian, non-pushy way, almost from an outsider’s view – very objective. Studying Christianity from this point of view it made absolutely no logical sense to me, and as such, I began withdrawing from my faith, not entirely sure what I was.

The following year I took a world religions/comparative religion class from the same professor. In studying all the various religions we studied, I have to say none of them made sense to me. As such, I had but one default position to take, the only one that made sense to take at the time – atheism.

This is where I’d remain for the next 12 years of my life. At the beginning I was a very angry atheist too, and while that anger faded over time, it never really faded. During my grad school years I dabbled with Unitarian Universalism as I really missed the social aspect of church and such. It was a place I could be atheist and still feel like I belonged. I would be active in various UU congregations for a couple of years, withdrawing from it upon my return to Abilene and finding the one here was rather disappointing. That combined with a far-left political agenda, I was made to feel like a real outsider. When I left, not only was I an atheist, but I felt totally disconnected, bitter and detached. I was spiritually dead as it were.

And that brings me to recent events. This past March, when I went to visit Laina in San Antonio, she brought up my Sidereal chart and started walking me through it. As skeptical as I was (and especially since Tropical astrology didn’t really speak to me), I couldn’t help but notice uncanny bits of truth in it – it was like reading a book almost, except for the book was me. Of course, I would remain understandably skeptical, but as the months wore on, it would continue to speak to me in an uncanny way. I started believing it, because there was too much there that it seemed to know about me for it to be mere coincidence.

Then comes a July visit to San Antonio. Laina and I were hanging out by the pool at her complex, having drinks, cuddled up with one another and just shooting the shit. When the topic came up, she said something to me that took me by surprise – something along the lines of “and if you believe that, you’re not an atheist anymore.”

I thought about that on the trip home, long and hard. It was like “OK, whatever” but I didn’t know as though I wasn’t anymore yet, until she re-iterated it again a few days later. The more I thought about it, the more I realized she was right – I wasn’t. Of course that doesn’t mean a personal god exists, and I still don’t believe that (and neither does she). The notion of a personal god still doesn’t make the remotest amount of sense to me. However, in noting we are one with the universe, another form of spirituality started to fall into place for me – Pantheism, the belief that we are all a manifestation of the divine.

I couldn’t deny it any longer – I was, and am, a Pantheist. It’s so much more fulfilling than Christianity ever was for me, and definitely more fulfilling than atheism. As I begin to learn the ways of the universe and feel in tune with it, this becomes something that not only makes logical sense to me, but spiritual sense. Too many recent life events have taken place to dismiss as pure chance, but still impossible to chalk up to the handiwork of a personal god (which, if you look at the religions that have one, those are mostly religions of hate).

So that’s where I’m at now. Having leanred so much more about myself, that rings so true, but also much more to come. Though I still don’t refer to “god” personally (I personally prefer to say “the universe works in mysterious ways”), I feel in tune with the universe, an infinitesimal poart of it mind you. If a historical Jesus existed (a matter of debate), I think it’s safe to say he was ahead of his time. He knew he was god (or, as I prefer, a manifestation of the divine universe), as we all are. Of course, the whole virgin birth thing and resurrection 3 days later is hokey, but we know how stories get embellished over the years, especially when that whole thing didn’t come about until decades after it supposedly took place.

Hence my journey until now. I’ve still got more to learn, not only about astrology but of course the universe. I’m gradually learning its ways though, and will more as time goes on, with my impending move, to starting my business a little later on. The secrets of the universe will be paramount to making my business succeed, from finding the right business partner(s) to making smart business decisions. Above all, I finally feel like I’ve found something that brings me inner peace instead of the turmoil that I was left with for the first 32 years of my life. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Peace be with you all.

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A Unique Challenge to the Anti-Abortion Position

Warning: Political content ahead.


Here we go, the annual bullshit “March for Life” thing. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING makes me madder than religious idiots thinking they have the time and place to impose their religious beliefs on the rest of us. That includes on the topic of abortion. It seems the best any of the anti-abortion camp can come up with is to thump the Bible (read also: Qur’an, Torah, etc.). Well, as an atheist, obviously that doesn’t convince me in any way.

Alas, I’m sure you’ve heard the common defenses for a pro-choice political position. I’ll not go into those here because they usually fall on deaf ears. Instead, I am going to present a unique challenge to the anti-abortion position that many might not have heard about in order to get the gears turning.

The challenge is what South African philosopher Dr. David Benatar calls the “pro-death” view in his 2006 publication Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence. The pro-death argument for abortion comes from combining the common view of fetal moral status (specifically that of pre-sentient fetuses) along with his arguments in favor of antinatalism (the view that it is bad to be born). When you combine these two views, it generates the pro-death argument that would naturally suggest that it would be preferable to abort all pregnancies in the early stages of gestation.

So there we have it, a “pro-death” view of abortion, which is directly counter to the pro-life position. Now, both of these are philosophical/religious and not political views in and of themselves (I, for one, know a lot of people who are pro-life philosophically but pro-choice politically).

That said, let’s take the anti-abortion position, which is the term I prefer for the political stance. Now, let’s say we have a political lobby group that, consistent with the pro-death philosophical view of abortion, lobbies for a political anti-birth position. That is,  a policy where even those who hold a philosophical pro-life view would be forced to abort against their wishes. Let’s also say this were to become law in some states/countries.

Maybe if faced with the scenario above, those who are legally anti-abortion would see the value of the legal pro-choice position.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

It’s a Horrible Life

Disclaimer: The following is a rant based on my own philosophical views and is not intended to cause offense to anyone for whatever life or reproductive choices you all might have made, nor is it a reflection on how I actually live. 


So this past weekend the local Paramount Theater screened the Christmas classic film It’s a Wonderful Life. I have nightmares about being forced to watch that movie every year as a kid. It’s probably the worst movie ever made – horrendous acting, a ridiculous storyline, fictional beings (angels/god), and out-of-body experiences.

Anyway, none of that even touches my main gripe with the movie. My biggest gripe? The title itself. Life and wonderful do not belong in the same sentence together. Life is anything but wonderful – pain, suffering, disease, illness, heat, cold, hunger, thirst, pissing, shitting, finances, grief, heartbreak, jobs, war and the list goes on and fucking on. Wonderful? What a fucking joke.

Alas, none of us realize how terrible our lives really are. As South African philosopher David Benatar (PhD, Cape Town) argued in the books Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence and The Human Predicament: A Candid Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions, very few people realize how horrible their lives really are. We just live under a state of an irrational optimism bias – a Pollyanna principle as it were. Nobody is immune to it. Not even me.

So, we all know the story – George Bailey (James Stewart) infamously wishes that he had never been born to his “guardian angel” (what a bullshit notion) who then shows him an alternate reality in which he had never been born and the results of those around him, which the then (very erroneously and under duress) begs for his life back.

Nah, Mr. Bailey was right the first time – he WOULD have been better off never existing. But so would have everyone else around him. His actor would have been better off never existing, as would every last one of us. At the end of the day, the fact that we exist is a BAD thing.

As for why this is, there are a number of arguments but Dr. Benatar’s are no doubt the strongest. I already presented one of his arguments above. His other argument is much stronger and does not even take into account the relative pleasure-to-pain balance of one’s life. Rather, his argument (namely that of the asymmetry) generates that any amount of pain, however small or insignficant, invalidates any upside to existence. Whereas:

  1. The presence of pain is bad, and
  2. The presence of pleasure is good;
  3. The absence of pain is good even if there exists nobody to benefit from that good, but
  4. The absence of pleasure is not bad unless there already exists someone for which such an absence would be a deprivation.

So what does this mean? It means any amount of pain, however small or insignifant, outweighs even the greatest amount of pleasure. Put another way, “And all the love and all the love in the world won’t stop the rain from falling – waste seeping underground.”

Now, this is not to say we should all commit mass suicide. This is where Mr. Bailey might have been slightly misguided, namely in thinking that suicide was the best solution. There are many things one must take into account when thinking about suicide – the means, how it will affect those around them, etc. However, the only reason for these implications are because such a person already exists. These implications become null and void if the entity contemplating suicide had never existed. Nonetheless, I remain steadfast in my view that we all have the absolute and indisputable right to commit suicide if we see fit and that the government/state does not have any right to try to prevent someone from committing suicide. We didn’t ask to be born, therefore we have the right to reverse that action at any time, with or without reason.

So was Mr. Bailey correct in wishing he had never been born? In my view absolutely. Further, had he never been born, would those around him have been negatively impaced? In my view, no because they wouldn’t have known any different. Alas, further compounding that issue is all those others were also harmed by being brought into existence, and had they never been they’d have never suffered such unpleasantries.

So what about me. Do *I* wish I had never been born? Absolutely, without question the answer to that question is an emphatic “yes.” I 100% wish I had never been born. Further, even if some guardian angel were to appear to me and show me an alternate timeline in which I had never existed, I would not change my mind. I would still wish to never have been born at which point I imagine I would cease to exist in any form.

Do I wish to commit suicide? At the present time no, but there might come a time when I do. Now that I’ve already been forced into existence without my consent (no thanks to my biological parents), it could be argued that it would be bad to deprive myself of future pleasures, because as I already exist then the absence of pleasure would be a deprivation and thus bad. There’s also the issue of hurting what few people actually do give a shit about me, for even though would have been better never to have existed and our existences are all harms to us, they might be a benefit to some around us. Nobody, not even a crusty, bitchy antinatalist such as myself is immune to grief. That much should have been made obvious in my post a week ago today.

Anyway, I couldn’t let a showing of that movie go without some sharp critcism of not only the movie itself but also the message behind it. There ain’t nothing “wonderful” about life. Though some lives are better than others, no life is good enough to count as (non-comparatively) good. That much is obvious to anyone who steps back and looks at the evidence from an objective lens.

It’s a horrible life indeed.


Addendum: I had no idea my chosen title for this blog post is actually the title of a parody film of the aforementioned worst movie ever made. This might be worth checking out.

New(ish) Ink!!!

How fitting to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with an Irish themed tattoo right?

Well how’s this?

I’ve been wanting to dress up my semicolon tattoo for some time now and this was the idea I came up with to do so.

The Celtic knot is a nod to my adopted heritage and my pipe band life as well as to my earth-centered spiritual beliefs. The semicolon, though a beautiful symbol of my own battle with depression and suicidal ideation, has a Christian element that doesn’t jive with me. This makes it my own in a way.

Very happy with how it turned out. Once again, Jade rocked it out for me. She’s awesome and has been since day 1.

A great way to start the day and a great early birthday gift (tomorrow).

What do you think?

Spring Tattoo Preview

With my 31st birthday about six weeks out I’ve been starting to do preparations for my spring tattoo. For the past two years in a row I got my spring tattoo on my birthday but as my birthday falls on a Sunday this year and my artist doesn’t work on Sunday we’ll be doing it on St. Patrick’s Day which is the day right before (I was 9 hours and 40-ish minutes too late to be a St. Patrick’s Day baby).

So with that, what do I have in store for my spring tattoo? Not an entirely new tattoo but just adding onto an existing one. My semicolon, though meaningful, is quite a boring standalone tattoo. That combined with the heavily Christian conservative aspect of Project Semicolon (which I was oblivious to before I got the tattoo) and I’ve been wanting to do something different with it for awhile. I thought about doing a total cover-up but then I decided I would just modify it a bit with another symbol that is somewhat religious in nature but that is more suited to me.

That’s when I got the idea to weave some Celtic Knot through it. Celtic Knot goes back to the days of Druidism and Paganism when the Scots, the Irish, etc. were very one with nature. Though I identify more as an atheist, being stewards of our world combined with my (adopted, admittedly) Scottish heritage and that I think is so me.

I bounced some ideas off of the young-but-talented Jade (my artist for life, I swear) and she came up with this design:

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As the semicolon is a little off to the side of the wrist instead of smack center, that leaves enough room to take up some space around it in this way. The dark blue semicolon will remain the focal point but surrounded by the Celtic Knot which will be colored in with Eternal Mint Green (a lovely soft color that I already have in my Pisces tattoo) as to create an additional visual element and impart some of the symbolism of the Celtic Knot. I figured this would retain the “carry on” message of the semicolon while overshadowing its Christian roots with a faith much more closely aligned with my own religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

So what do you think? Good variation? Do you have a semicolon tattoo that’s a variation in your own way? I’m curious to see how some have remixed it.

A Spiritual Moment at Octoberfest

I promised you when I did my SLS post this post was coming up; well here you go.

As I was back in Abilene last weekend (I still go back every now and then – pretty much all my friends and family live there and it’s not too far from Dallas) I of course dropped into my favorite local hangout there (Vagabond Pizza – if you’re ever in Abilene you have got to check that place out!) where I met this totally awesome couple. We shot the shit for awhile and mentioned we were both heading over to a local brewery afterward (a new place called Sockdolager – again if you’re in Abilene check them out) for Octoberfest.

While at Vagabond they both asked me what exactly it was that I did and I shared a bit about my work with them, which was interesting to say the least, but what happened next was truly amazing. The lady (who I’ll call K) noticed my semicolon tattoo and asked me about it. Not very often is it people ask me about any of my tattoos, much less the one that got me into tattoo culture to begin with, so I asked her how long she had and how long I had to tell her my story.

As she didn’t have long, I told her the condensed version of my story and how close I came to committing suicide and how if I wouldn’t have had this opportunity presented to me when I did, I probably wouldn’t be alive today, because nobody would give me the time of day to show what I could do despite my disability. Getting my foot in the door at my current company (even if it was because I had connections) is what really set me on the road to recovery, even if I didn’t realize it at the outset. I then went on to tell her about my eventual goal.

As I told my story K started tearing up and she hugged me and said “I needed to hear this today.” I kind of took it with a grain of salt at the outset but I knew I would follow them to  Octoberfest so I would get to see them again in a bit and she could tell me more.

Not surprisingly, shortly thereafter I caught up with them at Octoberfest and we picked up right where we left off. She and her husband were there as expected and we spent much of the night talking with each other as they introduced me to some of their friends and we wound up telling each other more about ourselves. As it turns out K is a financial advisor and she mentioned that she thought she could help me achieve my dreams sooner rather than later – well alright then, finally someone who actually does believe in me.

As the night wore on so did we (getting drunker by the minute), It was a beautiful night indeed – absolutely perfect ambient temperature with a gentle, peaceful rain. As the alcohol started taking hold K started divulging some of her own deep insecurities, many of which I related to straight away. We started talking about those insecurities, wound up on the topic of music (I was wearing my TFF and Hall & Oates souvenir shirt so we made our way onto the topic). She mentioned she loved the song “Mad World” and in her drunkenness asked me to sing it to her.

Of course, that was kind of on the spot and I’m self-conscious about my own singing voice to begin with (even though everyone reassures me it’s just fine) but after a second of thought I came to the conclusion “what the hell?” (I was pretty well intoxicated myself so my inhibitions were greatly reduced by this point – I might not have agreed to otherwise). We took each other’s hands, I gently cleared my throat and started making my way through the lyrics of the song. As I made my way through the song, at times she joined with me in a harmony almost, especially in the chorus parts.

As I finished the song she asked me, to the tune of the song, to keep singing to her. I wound up singing the entire song start to finish a 2nd time at her insistence. By that point, I didn’t really care and I gladly obliged. The reason? “Mad World” is one of those songs that, if you love it, it’s because you feel it deep into your core. It’s my favorite TFF song (and my overall favorite song) for that very reason. As I sang the song to her that night, I could tell how deeply she felt those lyrics. Wow, maybe I’m not the only one after all.

I left that night feeling as I had touched the hearts of two amazing people, just as they had touched mine. I’m not one for belief in god or angels, but it seems as though every now and then I come across someone who is on the same playing field as me – those who have been through the ringer, been through bad times and although in a better place, might not be completely satisfied with life. I felt like I had connected with both of these people on a deeper level than just meeting each other. I felt like I connected to them on the same level of conscience. Those are the few I have the deepest connections with. Pantheism asserts God is in all of us and we are all a part of a greater consciousness, and this greater consciousness is God. Experiences like this gradually shift me away from pure atheism and maybe more toward Pantheism. These were people I’d just met a few short hours ago, but it was as though I’d known them my whole life.

When I get down on myself and think there’s no way out of a seemingly dire situation, something like this almost always happens. Somehow K made it through seemingly dark times (she told me bits and pieces of it, but I’m sure there’s so much more to the story) and it reminded me that I can too. After all, if she hadn’t, she’d have never resonated with the lyrics of “Mad World” the way she seemed to.

I’m sure K and her husband and myself will cross paths again sometime. I really hope we do. They are amazing people, and meeting them just reminded me that you never know whose lives you might touch by just being there. If they’re reading this, I hope they realize they touched my heart as much as I seem to have touched theirs, and it’s bits like that which keep me going, even through the hard times.

I’ll get to where I want to be. So will K. Her husband seems to already be there (good for him). There is a light at the end of the tunnel, so long as we continue to push through that tunnel and don’t get off the train.

May peace be with you all this day, in the name of whatever deity you personally worship. Amen.

Hurricane Harvey – A Reposted Facebook Rant

Before we get into my reposted rant, let me express my sincerest condolences to those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Abilene and Dallas/Ft. Worth are both far enough inland that I was not adversely impacted by the storm but my company has several branches in coastal cities that were and I have several bell ringing friends in Houston who were also devastated so I’m feeling the impact in my heart nonetheless.

That said, I’m going to repost a brief political rant over the storm here, not because I necessarily like to post those here but because this needs to be said. I do try to remain as politically neutral on my blog as possible, though sometimes it’s impossible. There are some takeaways from Harvey that everyone needs to wake up to. Hopefully after a major disaster like this maybe some people will wake up and smell the coffee.

Rant below:


The thing about science is that it is true and it doesn’t give a fuck about your worthless, uneducated opinion. Climate change is very real. Hurricane Harvey is living proof. Pretty much every other hurricane would have dissipated by now. Harvey is still a tropical storm and one not too far below a category 1 hurricane. 

I say this as a slightly right of center libertarian. I ain’t no bleeding heart, liberal tree hugging hippie snowflake. I just acknowledge science. The movie The Day After Tomorrow is coming true right before our eyes and the scientifically illiterate Bible thumpers in this country can’t see it. In their delusional state of confirmation bias they see it as the “end times” and nothing else. 

Even despite my antinatalist beliefs and believing that existence is inherently harmful, the reality is life will continue to exist on this planet for billions more years. We need to take care of our planet so those life forms after us can have the least bad existences possible. 

Put your Bibles down and learn some science. That’s all there is to say here. 


This rant can also be read on my Facebook page (link in the “contact me” section of this blog) and by all means comment both here and there. The bottom line is we cannot continue ignoring this problem and we need to address it head on. Go paperless, trade in those gas guzzlers, switch to LED light bulbs, do whatever you feasibly can. Every little bit helps.

We need to be better stewards of our planet than we are now. That’s all there is to say. If the destruction of Hurricane Harvey doesn’t wake you up to that, well, you’re pretty much hopeless.

You can read more at this link: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/28/climate/how-hurricane-harvey-became-so-destructive.html.