This first column came as a response to a Christian columnist in the QUAD, whom I had been annoyed by numerous times through his attempts at thoughts in the weekly paper.  The column emulates his style and responds to his examples so that I could respond to his column without actually saying that I was doing so.  Interestingly enough, his column toned down significantly after this column was published.  I don’t know why.

 

Change is a vital part of life.  We will all experience events in our lives that will cause us to reevaluate ourselves, whether it manifests itself in dealing with physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual aspects of our lives.  And yes, overall we will stay essentially the same person, holding onto basic character traits and so forth.  It is important to find a way to find better ways of orienting our changes, consciously and intentionally, so that our personal growth will be better understood. 

Many people find themselves in difficult circumstances, crossroads, etc.  Perhaps a long period of apparent emptiness leads a person to search for ways of giving their life meaning and purpose.  According to some people, it is a matter of finding a particular and established path and submitting yourself to it fully.  This surrendering promises a grand transformation, yet I wonder what it is that transforms and why.  The question is this: is the sufficient criterion 1) the fact that a person makes the conscious physical, emotional, and mental effort to reorient their life, or is it 2) the particular path that they reorient it to? It is in fact your effort that will make the difference!

            The fact that a belief-system works for people is important and significant, so stories of Kathy Ireland and C.S. Lewis are inspirational. However, sometimes people get so caught up in the promise of and success of hoped for results that they forget to read the fine print to which they are signing themselves over.  The fact that you convert to something which brings you positive and significant change does not guarantee that the content of that path is valid and/or true.  To truly convert your life takes a tremendous amount of personal effort, and I believe it is disingenuous to attribute that strength to anything external or transcendent.  I believe the true cause of change is effort and awareness of self, not surrendering yourself to something that may or may not even be true.  Instead, try to keep an open dialogue with and observation of people who seem to have achieved successful and positive growth; not necessarily what they believe or communities they belong to but their attitude and perspective in general. 

We do have a responsibility for who we are, what we do, and how we interact with the world and with others.  I ask you to consider that we might not need a savior, but we might need curiosity to ask how to improve ourselves as well as a drive to accomplish any real change in ourselves and in society at large.  Change is inevitable, and we need to actively pursue means to keeping up with it and maximizing our success at positive change.  So, I agree, we need to use our free will (God given or not) to find better ways to improve ourselves.  However, I don’t agree that the answer is to submit your will, but to utilize it ourselves. 

 

This column came after observing a false dichotomy manifested in WCU college life.  Drunken party-goers and those who attended weekly Christian meetings throughout campus, condemning the sinful activities of others on campus.

 

I remember what the first year of college was like.  For me it was 1996 and I was in York, not West Chester—subtle differences.  The four (or five, or six…) years a person spends earning a college degree will help determine what type of person they will become.  What is most important in this time is not limited to how long of a keg stand you can do or even your GPA, but is in fact much more difficult.  This is the time that we transform ourselves into men and women.

            The titles of “man” and “woman” are rarely attained at the college age, and for some they are never reached at all. The distinction between girls and women, guys and men, is not based upon age, but more complex criteria such as emotional maturity, self-awareness, and willingness to criticize oneself and grow due to that criticism.  And while I believe that various groups on and off campus will agree with this assessment, I believe that many people still fall victim to a false choice in college life that can be detrimental to this transformation.

            The vast majority of college students begin there college life by joining the festivities all around the off-campus community, partaking in a number of activities that often include sex, drugs, and…well, perhaps rock n’ roll, but also different forms of audio entertainment.  Many people lose themselves in this atmosphere and ultimately treat themselves or others with disrespect due to alcohol abuse, overactive hormones, and a general lack of respect for people to begin with.  And what can often happen is that disillusionment with this atmosphere can lead you to look for something else with a jaded point of view.

Talk to most members of the many religious communities on campus, and you will hear many stories about people who have escaped a “dark” past to find God and all that a relationship with the “All-mighty” can offer.  Statements such as “I feel fulfilled in a way that I never could have before I found God” are as common as the snacks that they offer you at their meetings.  Who is to say that one could not have found fulfillment outside of religious ideologies if their first attempts are often with those very religious groups?  It seems some people are too quick to attribute change to anyone but himself or herself once again.

            What I urge is for people to make a truly earnest attempt—every day—to find the balance between partying, studying, religion, (philosophy!), etc without resorting to the fallacy that you have a choice between the party crowd and the religious crowd.  The partygoers are right to celebrate and the religious are correct to search for understanding.  Many activities in college life including alcohol, sex, spiritual/psychological awareness, etc can all be rewarding and worthwhile parts of your life.  The fallacy is in believing that one or some of these aspects are important in necessary exclusion of the others.  The key is to recognize the dangers while appreciating the rewards of each. 

In terms of the party crowd, the potential dangers are health-based.  In terms of the religious communities—the “non-denominational Christians being the most prominent—the danger lies in simplifying the complexities of life by submitting your will to a religious ideology.  Both extremes are merely giving up, and can stunt, if not destroy, your ability to attain real significant personal maturity and growth into a man or woman.  Simply accepting any ideology—secular or religious—thus shutting off much of your critical abilities may very well help comfort your anxieties by giving you a support group of like-minded people, but it can stifle your ability to learn how to deal with problems in life as well.  So, before you submit yourself to a college life full of partying or “walking with God,” take a step back and allow yourself to try to find a balance without those social and psychological crutches and distractions from the real work of growing up. 

 

This column was my least favorite. It was an attempt to address an ethical point in a way that the average reader could understand. 

 

Love is a word that is overused and under appreciated by most people.  And while it seems that the majority of us are looking for love, if they do not claim to have already found it, I believe that few of us have really thought about what this strange concept is all about. 

The ancient Greeks had more than one word for what we call love.  Eros—the origin of our word “erotic”—is the love between two people, and is generally expressed through affection.  Philos is a “brotherly” or friendly kind of love, thus “Philadelphia,” the “city of brotherly love.”  The third Greek word for love, agape, is more complicated to define succinctly.  This is the Greek word used most of the time in the New Testament and has thus been called “Christian Love,” although it was a Greek concept first.  People have defined agape as “total love” and the term is often associated with powerful imagery of selfless undying love towards something or someone. 

Keeping this in mind, I would like to address a problem that I see in our common usage of “love.”  Often, it is considered an emotion—that is, it is a physiological and/or psychological state that includes symptoms such as increased heart rate, feelings of desire, joy, etc.  If this is the case, then it might be that love can be reduced to chemistry and psychological factors.  The existence of pheromones has been documented, so it would not be hard to imagine that love, thus defined, could be merely physiological.  “NO!” many of you may be thinking (hopefully not screaming out loud), “Love is so much more…spiritual…” Granted, the feelings of love can seem spiritual, but my question is this; when does the “feeling” of love stop being physiological and begin to be spiritual?  And if spirituality can be a physiological “feeling” then what would this imply about the view that the soul or spirit is somehow more than or separate from the body?  This question is particularly significant if one tries to view the body as somehow disgraced or inherently sinful, as dualistic views of body/soul tend to imply. 

These questions are important, but what I really want to address for the remainder of this column is whether love is an emotion at all.  I do not doubt that the experience of love includes emotional states, but I wonder if love is more of a state of being, or more precisely, an action.  Since what we do determines what we are, when we act lovingly, we manifest love.   If asked by someone “do you love me,” I may respond by saying “I don’t know, you tell me.”  I can only state my opinion about my emotional states towards a person, and I can attempt to love someone.  It is the opinion of the other person that is significant in determining if I love her (or him, if one’s orientation is towards men).  So, when I say that I am looking for love, I say that I am looking for someone that I would like to love. 

More generally, I believe that this attitude should not be limited towards “romantic” relationships, but should be practiced in all relationships.  That is not to say that there is no place for strife, disagreement, or argument, only that when such activities are carried out, they are done in such a way that you act towards another person while respecting that they are a free being like you are, and deserve the same respect that you believe that you deserve.  This is essentially the “Golden Rule” that people from Jesus to Immanuel Kant have asked of us, and that I continue to ask of you.  Thus, I believe, love is essentially an ethical concept, and not an emotional one per se.  It is this principle, love, that I believe is most significant about many religious ideologies that we should pay attention to, and not the problematic metaphysical and theological concepts.  And while I will not try to simplify the matter by saying that “God is love,” I would argue that love should be the basis for social interactions, which is really what this game called life is all about. 

 

This next one was mostly an advertisement for the Philosophy Club at WCU, of which I am the Vice-President. It was followed by contact information which has been omitted here.

 

            What is philosophy?  Tough question.  While etymologically it means ‘love of wisdom,’ philosophy has taken many meanings in its history.  In Plato’s Symposium, philosophy is described in terms of striving for wisdom, saying that it is not something to be attained but perpetually sought.  More recently, thinkers have conceived of philosophy as the attempt to clarify language and ideas within fields of study.  For example, while it is the scientist who does research, it is the philosopher who decides what it means. 

            For others, philosophy is a way of life.  A good example would be the work of the French thinker Pierre Hadot, who emphasizes the ancient idea that philosophy helps us find better and more fulfilling ways to live in the world.  Philosophy can offer many different ways of looking at the world from different points of view.  By striving for understanding and for a better understanding of the relevant factors in any issue or aspect of life, we can gain a better perspective on how to live, what to do, and possibly what to believe. 

It has been my attempt, thus far this semester, to present what I believe to be a philosophical point of view to a few aspects of life.  I believe that the tools that philosophical thinking can provide us with are essential for self-improvement and understanding of the world.  Anyone who has read my previous articles is most likely aware that my point of view is critical of religious ideologies. This is mostly because I feel that what religion provides most people—community, a comforting belief structure, sense of meaning and purpose, the “warm fuzzy” feeling, to mention a few—are either available outside of this religious structure or are merely psychological crutches for the often crippling feelings of fear, insecurity, pain, and confusion derived from an apparently chaotic and meaningless world. 

We should all keep in mind that when we are young as well as when we experience painful life experiences, we are more prone to suggestion and emotional responses.  This makes us more vulnerable to accepting simple ideologies, easy answers, etc.  There are more questions out there than answers, and the more you learn the more you’ll become aware that you are getting no closer to answers.  The comforting feeling of some believed “truth” is a psychological and emotional crutch that can be detrimental to the search for wisdom—like I said last week, it keeps us from the real work of growing up.  If you think it is hard to live thinking that you have the truth given to you by “God,” how hard do you think it might be knowing that you don’t?  Well, honestly, I don’t think it is very hard, it just takes more psychological and emotional strength.  That is not to say that wisdom cannot be attained through religious paths, only that religion is unnecessary and often a hindrance; simple answers for simple people.

 

This column was an attempt to clarify my thoughts on a commonly misunderstood issue.  It continues my public debate with the many religious organizations on campus.

 

            Everyone is an agnostic.  ‘Agnostic’ simply means to be without knowledge.  And since this term is generally used in context of one’s theistic orientation, being an agnostic simply means that you don’t know whether God exists or not.  Faith does not overcome this lack of certain knowledge because faith only deals with what one chooses to accept as true outside of evidence one way or the other.  And while people will cite personal experiences of God as proof for the theistic belief, I would argue that while I cannot dispute the experience, I could question the actual nature of that experience (as I believe the person who had the experience should as well) and wonder if it might have an alternative explanation.  At the same time, the fact that traditional conceptions of god do not satisfy philosophical and scientific pursuits for many people is not to say that no god exists either.  There is no conclusive proof either way.

            Despite the lack of conclusive evidence, there are facts that can act as rational reasons for believing one way or the other, and this is where the titles of “atheist” and “theist” come into play.  ‘Atheist’ means being without God while ‘theist’ implies being with God, but I think it is appropriate to say that these terms deal with the dimension of belief as opposed to knowledge.  The dimensions of belief and knowledge are thus separated, and it is possible to say that I am an agnostic-atheist, or that someone else is an agnostic-theist.  That is to say that I don’t know whether a God exists, but I don’t believe one exists.  At the same time, I would not be necessarily opposed to every conception of God or gods. 

            It is important to also draw a distinction between what is called positive and negative atheism.  Positive atheism is the belief that there are no gods of any kind, while negative atheists hold no opinion on the matter, usually finding it either uninteresting or unnecessary.  There are also those few irrele-theists       who hold that it does not even matter if God exists or not, usually citing ethical and consequential reasons for God’s existence being irrelevant for our concerns.  And, while making distinctions, it is important to realize that there is generally a difference, among theists, between monotheism; belief in one God, polytheism; belief in many gods, much like the ancient Greeks and Romans, henotheism; the belief that there are many gods, but one is supreme over the others (much like some scholars have argued the early Hebrews were with YHWH: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”), and Deism: the belief that God created the world then had no further part in it.  In addition to all of these are the pantheists and panentheists, who argue, respectively, that the universe is God, and that the universe is within God—the latter making God both transcendent and immanent. 

            Thus, the issue is not a simple a matter of whether you believe in God or not.  Further, even if you do believe in God, that does not limit you to the traditional monotheist conceptions nor to any one book that claims any special relationship to any conception of God.  Believing in some God or gods is one thing.  Believing in the myths, theologies, and moralities associated with some particular conception is quite another step.  Thus, I am not necessarily opposed to any God, but I am opposed to many particular conceptions and their accompanying ideologies.  I am an agnostic who does not believe in any particular conception of God or gods.  If I claimed to know that there is not a God, then I would be on the same thin ice as someone who claims that they know that there is a God.  This question will be forever open to the living, and perhaps to the dead as well—yet this should not mean that we ought to give up and believe in or reject divinity.  I leave you with this thought: if you are convinced that God exists, what convinces you that you know how God exists?

 

My second-least favorite column was an attempt to make a point that I did not articulate well.  Oh well, at least it refers to a document in this site.

 

             All we have to use as a measure for truth is our perception of things, a perception that relies on our ability to distinguish between distorted phenomena.  A fundamental part of the perceptive process involves comparing objects to other objects.  That is, we relate new phenomena to ideas already known or assumed or in relation to other surrounding objects.

            When we think of something as being good, we can only conceive of it as “good” by having some idea of “evil” (or, as with St. Augustine, a lack of good).  Imagine holding an ice cube.  The feeling of “coldness” has no meaning yet unless you compare it with something else you have felt.  Can you conceive of warmness? Yes, you can conceive of warmness as being the feeling of your hand or the rest of your body.  In other words you comprehend the coldness of ice in relation to your own warmness. 

            Now think of a God that loves, forgives, and is righteous.  That seems pretty good, doesn’t it? Not yet, it can only seem good in relation to something else.  Before you thought of that concept for the first time, good might not have made as much sense (if it did, you might have had some other ideal of good in mind, for which this argument is still relevant). What is evil?  Well, you can now look at yourself, and say “I am not good like this God, so I must be evil,” or at least a sinner, that is being imperfect in comparison with this idea of God.  What you have done is conceived of a concept of good and made it the basis for considering other things as either like it or not.  In more philosophical terms, you have conceived of an ideal quality in which all objects either share in or not. 

The Christian faith tends to view human nature as sinful and in need of God’s good help in order to be redeemed and to grow in God’s goodness.  But let’s go back to the conception of God above—loving, forgiving, and righteous—and ask yourself what was the standard that you were comparing other things to.  Was it God or was it the attributes that you associated with God?  If it is God, then you have to ask how you know God to have these attributes, for there are numerous parts of the so-called “God’s word” that depict a non-loving and non-forgiving God.  (And yes, I know, we cannot know God’s justification or plan, as well as other cop-outs for not thinking this through).  Another possibility is that it is not God, but the attributes that you used as the basis for considering something good or evil, at which point God might be an exemplar for this standard, but by no means is God necessary.  (Cf. Plato’s Euthyphro)

            Yes, we are imperfect beings who err.  However, by holding up a perfect example, like Jesus of Nazareth, as an ideal to follow is problematic.  By understanding your “evilness” or “sinfulness” in comparison with the “goodness” of something else, whether it be God, the principle of Utility, etc, you are creating a conception based upon the part of our brain that needs to understand the qualities of one thing (say, ourselves) with the qualities of another (say, God).  More than that, you are assuming not only that we have a human nature, but also that it is sinful.  If our knowledge is limited, then we cannot know that God exists nor that God has the attributes that we think.  Further, we cannot know that the ideal of God would be the only source of the attributes we revere, such as love, forgiveness, etc.  Further, we could not know whether those attributes are good in the first place, as we would not know what good is.  And if you believe it because God says it, you still have not answered how you know God said it and not some people with a theological or philosophical agenda.  For more on my thoughts on ethics and goodness, go here: http://www.oocities.com/shaunphilly/relativism.html.  I don’t care so much that you agree, only that you are thinking.  

 

This column is one of my favorites.  My essential point is that life should be a constant meditation, a perpetual philosophical thought, if I may. 

 

Attention! How often do you think about what you are doing?  I am willing to bet that many of you do not have a great amount of focus on what you are doing or your surroundings from moment-to-moment.  I understand; it is difficult to concentrate with cell-phones, television, and other manifestations of fast-paced consumer-culture seemingly as pervasive as oxygen.  It is difficult to keep a steady focused thought while billboards fly past you on the highway and advertisements manipulate your interests via various media (who out there remembers the internet before AOL?).  And besides, what good is it to pay attention when the world has gone to hell and people are not very interesting anyway, right?  If you think that, keep reading.

            Despite these difficulties, I believe that the ability to pay close attention can be very advantageous.  Stuart Hampshire puts it this way: “A man becomes more and more a free and responsible agent the more he at all times knows what he is doing.”  Or, the more attention you are able to pay throughout your days, the more socially, culturally, and psychologically aware you can become, giving you greater freedom.  Why is this? Well, the more informed you are about your environment (including yourself), the better informed your decisions will be.  The more informed your decisions, the easier you can avoid manipulation from outside and gain control over your actions—your freedom.  Freedom is a power, one that we all have to some degree.  By mastering attention, you can become aware of certain realities that help you conceive of new possibilities, ideas, and decisions.  Yet, the cliché—with great power comes great responsibility—is particularly relevant here.  The more attention you are able to master, the higher the degree of freedom you attain, giving you as a consequence more responsibilities. 

Keeping this in mind, I have a challenge for you (the difficulty of which will depend upon your current level of mental discipline).  Tomorrow, or whatever day you choose, your mission is to pay more attention to the world around you.  Pay attention to everything from minute details such as how people walk, talk, gesture, etc, to how people’s general attitudes, backgrounds, and relative knowledge effect what they believe and do (also keep this in mind for yourself!).  The particulars of what you should do I cannot give you, because there is too much complexity in the world—particularly social activity—and what you watch depends on what there is to watch.  Over time, however, you should notice that the more attention you pay to your surroundings, the more you can learn about the intricacies of the world and our relations with it as well as between ourselves.  And, in time, you’ll begin to recognize these patterns with greater ease.  This may seem like an obvious observation, but what may not be obvious is the value of actually doing it.  At first, you might not notice anything significant at all and think that I am just messing with you, but this challenge is more than a one-day activity.  It is more of a way of living—a method of being—than it is something to be learned and stored in memory for later use.

After you begin to get a handle of this certain level of awareness, you’ll notice something interesting; people are probably more complex and interesting than you previously thought.  But what is particularly significant is that you will begin to be able to recognize who else is also paying more attention than others.  In many cases, those who are paying more attention tend to be more interesting.  (This is not always true, as those often very oblivious eccentrics out there are often the most interesting—to me at least).  Besides, oblivious people, while often amusing, are less interesting—at least to me.  I offer this challenge because I believe that discipline and attention can help you achieve clearer thinking as well as better social and academic success.  Soon enough, you might even begin to appreciate philosophy more…I never said my challenge was without personal motive, did I? 

 

This one explains itself.  I got a few compliments on this column, two from professors.

 

A couple of weeks ago a fellow QUAD columnist wrote a piece celebrating sex.  Last week, a “community member,” in a letter to the editor, pointed out the health dangers of sex followed by a Biblical passage.  Come now, quoting the Bible to a non-Christian is about as effective as quoting the Koran to a non-Moslem.

I agree with my fellow columnist on this issue; sex is great exercise and great way to learn about yourself and your partner(s) (I don’t want to exclude those polyamorous lovers out there).  To respond to our “community member,” while I concede that sex is something not to be taken so lightly that we overlook the dangers of STDs, it is not something to feel guilty or ashamed about.  His quote from Romans was a shameful example of why Christianity is often a source of unethical manipulative guilt.  Implying that my fellow columnist can look forward to hell would not fit my definition of WWJD. 

            Being very promiscuous can be damaging physically and emotionally—I emphasize the word “can” because this depends on the emotional states of those involved as well as how safe they are.  On the other hand, viewing sex as either evil or only acceptable within the confines of marriage can also be harmful—again, it depends on the individual’s maturity and awareness.  Sex is not in itself good nor bad, it is the way one approaches the subject that has positive or negative consequences. 

            Sexual urges cannot (and should not) simply be ignored; they are part of us.  It is how we act on these urges that becomes significant.  One way to act is to channel sexual energies into a more “romantic” or emotional basis, which will often tend towards long term and very emotionally (and often spiritually) meaningful relationships.  Others will manifest these energies in a more spontaneous manner and tend towards short-term relationships, finding like-minded people as sex-partners for hours (hopefully not just minutes!), days, or months.  What can become dangerous is when you try to either repress those sexual energies until they resurface with harmful consequences or you become so careless that you open yourself to emotional or medical harm.  I am advocating neither “free love” nor abstinence.  So long as sex is consensual among responsible adults we really only have to be concerned with STDs and pregnancy; that’s why we have condoms. 

I am not completely straddling the fence here; given religious influences, our culture has more of a problem with sexual repression (which, ironically, pushes sex into the limelight as an easy distraction).  It is not my intention to describe the long-term effects of sexual repression (you can read Freud for that, if he is still relevant).  However, viewing sexual energy or lust as a sin or as an evil creates a cycle in many people wherein they allow guilt to dominate them when urges surface.  If you merely change your attitude about the matter, you will be able to recognize that there is nothing to be guilty about (so long as you have not forced any sexual act upon anybody or disrespected anyone in any other sexual way).  We all have sexual urges (some more than others, I think) and we should not repress them but find ways to respectfully, safely, and healthily express them. 

It is what we do with our urges that can be viewed as good or bad.  If it is your decision to wait until marriage—or at least a long-term relationship—for reasons of health, emotion, or spirituality, that is fine.  If you decide that you are going to be sexually active with either one person or multiple people now that’s also ok, so long as you keep in mind safety, respect, and true interpersonal appreciation.  That is, don’t look at your sexual partner(s) as merely objects.  If you stop viewing sex as wrong, you are free to act sexually when, where, and with whom you think it appropriate.  Just don’t let yourself be bogged down by guilt or pressured into something you may not be ready for, and you’ll be ok.  Enjoy.

 

This was the last column I wrote this semester (fall ’02).  I was busy with term papers and didn’t have time to think of a topic to write about, so I wrote about myself.  This gives a little more detail about my background for my readers.

 

I began to realize recently that when a person writes a weekly column, there is much that remains hidden about them.  I’m not sure what you, the reader, can make of me from what you have read of my thoughts thus far this semester.  Some may think I’m just some angry agnostic-atheist who feels some need to trash religion due to some negative experience, or maybe some others think I’m just some know-it-all who thinks I know how people should think and live.  So, what I have decided to do this week was to tell you a little bit about myself.  I don’t do this out of vanity, but simply to let you know the person behind the columns you read. 

            I grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and attended a school downtown for 13 years before going to college.  The school is a private Quaker school in the middle of downtown Philadelphia called ‘Friends Select School.’ It was at this school that my interest in religious studies began to form.  The Quaker tradition is a derivative of Christianity, but Quakers today come from many backgrounds that include Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.  Thus, from a young age I was introduced to various religious outlooks and not surrounded by any one tradition, allowing me to look at each tradition with intimate exposure and some objectivity.  The motto of my high school was, and still is, “The Whole of Life,” and I am a proponent of making sure that we open ourselves to multiple aspects of life, whether they are sexual, intellectual, social, or religious.  It is this point of view that I have tried to convey to you, the WCU reader.

However, to be fair, the education I received was not without bias.  The Quaker school tradition in the Philadelphia area (there is actually one close to here, called ‘Westtown Friends’) is known for emphasizing non-violence, progressiveness in education, cooperation, environmental awareness, etc.  In essence, my background is very liberal in terms of politics, religion, etc.  I’m sure that this is obvious.

I did my undergraduate work at York College of PA, a relatively small liberal arts school in York, PA.  While there I had trouble being satisfied with any of the programs they offered.  Thus, I decided to take advantage of their “design your own major” program, and was the first to graduate with a self-designed major from York College of PA.  I entitled the degree “Religious Anthropology” and focused my studies on the history and philosophy of religion (particularly Christianity), philosophy, and anthropology.  It was during these years that I continued to struggle with my perspective on various religions and came to the conclusion that I was not a believer in any of them, and that I reject any transcendent or “divine” reality.  I still uphold many shared ethical concerns of religious traditions, but I do not feel that one needs Divinity of any kind to be ethical. 

My background is thus less common than the average Joe, and has given me a slightly different perspective on things.  Even today, many of my close friends are the ones I had from high school, friends that I still spend time with to this day.  I think that the reason for that is that coming from such a different environment makes it slightly more difficult to relate to people who have the more common experiences of public and/or Catholic school, where different worldviews are emphasized than what I experienced.

After I graduated (while still engaged—shortly later we split up) I decided to not go to graduate school immediately and worked for a while.  I did everything from work for a newspaper to selling vacuum cleaners, but was ultimately dissatisfied with being away from school. So I applied to West Chester (and some other schools) and chose to attend classes here, where I continue to educate myself and continue with this thing called life.  I only hope that my different point of view is of some interest and value to you the reader.  Don’t be shy if you see me around campus.

 

I’ll put more up after next semester.

 

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