Rev. Art's Story

(Via Rev. Art - Minister of Rants)

You, know - I'm sure infants are born agnostic and apolitical - at least until the indoctrination begins in earnest.I was born to a Irish Catholic Republican Mum & and an lapsed Presbyterian Democrat Dad. Consequently, I had to find me own way. I voted for Goldwater in '64, Nixon in '68 and McGovern in '72.

My Dad said I was born with a lead foot, though.

And I was born with callouses on the fingers of my right hand.

I’m a Recovered Catholic.I converted to politics. I watch talking head TV shows on Sunday mornings… Soon after I decided I was an unbeliever I quit the church choir. I still enjoyed the singing – but I kept losing my place in the hymnal. I found myself always reading ahead to see if I agreed with the next verse.

I have no concept of a supernatural being. During my years at Chaminade, the local Catholic High School in Dayton, I was an active participant in the mandatory Religion classes. I asked questions. As time went by the answers from the Marianist priests and brothers only brought up more doubts. I didn't realize it then, but I was grappling with the circular arguments that religionists always fall back upon to convey consistency when attempting to present "proofs" for their many assertions. Meanwhile, I began to read Joseph Lewis in "The Age of Reason" Newsletter. A secular Jew and a populist, Lewis wrote a slew of books which I still have, dealing with everything from Biblical errancy to the concepts of Freethought that underpin our Constitution, to the grand legacy of Thomas Paine, The Father of The Revolution, to the shame of the Franco regime and the barbaric ritual of circumcision.

I made the clean break when I walked out of choir practice in my home church at age 19, in 1961, 'cuz the pastor changed all the music for services to Gregorian Chant. I said, "But, Father, it's difficult to sing. And \nit's not melodic, or pleasant to listen to or to sing!" The priest sneered and barked at me, "You're not here for your own pleasure. You're here to give glory to God!" I responded, "OK, Father - then YOU sing this sh*t!" I dropped the hymnal at his feet and walked out.

Like many young people still putting their feet under their parents' table while attending University of Dayton (another parochial institution) I resisted bringing up my new status as a fledgling unbeliever. I continued to leave the house on Sunday mornings at the time of the High Mass. My parents, who attended an earlier Mass didn't realize that I had left the choir and the church. I spent an hour every Sunday walking and exploring the various streets of the larger neighborhood beyond where our home was located.

Two other tenors left with me that evening. Within a few months the all-male choir had to be integrated with women for the first time because there were no males left to sing the tenor parts.

The pastor, a sullen, prune-faced conservative, who led a crusade to restore "blue laws" (no Sunday sales of anything) in Dayton during the late '50s and early '60s, was promoted to Monsignor. After I had left home, he took note of a letter I had written to the local newspaper denouncing his crusades to impose censorship (Playboy magazine and blue movie bans) as well as his continuing forays into curtailing Sunday shopping. My letter noted that many church folks were opposed to gambling, but they didn't interfere with his lucrative Friday night bingo game. He called my younger brother aside one Sunday when he was serving Mass and harshly declared, "Young Man, your brother is a DEVIL!"

My brother was shaken to his core. He ran home and repeated the incident to my parents who, though moderately religious, had learned to take Monsignor Sherman with a grain of salt. I guess they did their best to reassure the kid brother that the opinions of an aging prude in a clerical collar were no more worthy than his brother's or their own.

My interest in countering the barrage of religious assumptions and references in popular culture in the '60s led me to read Madalyn Murray O'Hair and Bertrand Russell, along with Ayn Rand.

My wife and I have remained married and in love going on 46 years this September of 2007. Our two sons were raised with no religious inculcation. We never go to any church except for weddings & funerals... Yes, we're pretty freakin' happy.

Recommended: Any books by Richard Dawkins or Carl Sagan

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