Picture of the Moment—A personal relationship….

Picture of the Moment

A billboard in San Diego County, surprisingly, or not, out here in the boondocks:

Atheism - A personal relationship with reality

There are five points that I can identify on my journey from religion to atheism, which some say is a religion in and of itself.

The first was a period of seven years attending St. Gertrude’s Catholic Church in Kingsville, Texas, with my wise old grandmother. After church, little groups of people—cliques—would gather and catch up—gossip—on all the news about anyone and anything from the past week. I think I was fortunate that my wise old grandmother was not a member of any of those cliques. I only heard things as we walked from the church to our car. I thought it the height of hypocrisy to be gossiping in the church parking lot after church….

The second was as a freshman at Texas A&M University. I was living Puryear Hall, a ramp-style dorm. Each weekend, a group of us, led by a guy from Nigeria, would visit a different church—Jew, Catholic, Mormon, Lutheran, Methodist, Unitarian, Church of Christ…. No religion was out of bounds. That was when I realized that each of these religions could not each be the true religion….

The third was a couple of years after I graduated from Texas A&M University. I was living in Houston, and the woman I was dating, a senior at Texas A&M, was from Houston. She was a Catholic, so I had no problems saying “Yes” when she asked me if I wanted to go to church with her one weekend when she as home. Her parents lived about ten miles from me but the church was just a couple of blocks away from me, so she offered to pick me up. Mass started at 11:00 a.m., but she didn’t arrive until 11:30. We got to the church in five minutes but she spent ten minutes driving around looking for a parking spot, and when she found one, she backed into it. I asked her why she was backing in since it takes longer to park that way, and she said she could leave faster when church was over. Whatever….

The fourth was when I was dating a woman in College Station, Texas, in 1987. She had a personal relationship with her God, so personal that he was telling her when to call in to work sick, when to take vacation, when to eat, when to come see me. One Saturday she was at my place where I had my home office. Penney and SugarI was working in the living room and she was back in my bedroom on the bed, with my two dogs Penney & Sugar, studying her Bible lesson for the next day. At 11:00 p.m. I decided to take a break. I went to my bedroom and asked her if she wanted to take the dogs for a walk with me. She rolled over, looked at me ever so sweetly, and said, “No. The Lord has not told me to take the dogs for a walk with you.” I broke up with her a couple of days later.

The fifth was a period from April 27, 1993, to February 15, 1994. I arrived in San Diego on April 15, 1993, and spent two weeks orienting myself before deciding to study the world’s great, and not-so-great, religions to determine if there was a religion that was fully accepting of an openly gay man. Only the Metropolitan Community Church came close, but it was based waaaaaaay too much on the traditions and tenets of the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, it didn’t really bring anything new the table, all things considered….

Those 10½ months of intense studying convinced me that I had everything I needed to lead a productive life, to be a viable, contributing member of society. Perhaps I got everything from my upbringing in the Mormon and Catholic churches, but whether or not I did, I do believe I would have learned everything I needed without religion.

Some might say that the people around me, brought up in their own religions, influence me, and that quite likely is true. Thus, as I like to tell people, I have no problems with you practicing your religion if doing so helps prevent you from raping, murdering, and stealing.

For me, at this point in my life, I have a personal relationship with reality and don’t need any religion.

Atheism - A personal relationship with reality

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post


35 thoughts on “Picture of the Moment—A personal relationship….

  1. Pit

    Well, I (still) consider myself a Roman Catholic, but then, maybe I’m not as I don’t believe its the only “true” religion. Which, in turn, means that to my mind there is no true religion anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Pit

        The interesting thing about my religious development: it was religious education [that was compulsory during my time at school in Germany], especially the 9 years at High School, and by a priest [he later became auxiliary bishop] made me kind of a heretic. 😉 It was his teaching about how to read and interpret the Bible that made me a bit of a free thinker. He was a good teacher, though: made us think ourselves. With the – very likely unintended – side effect that I don’t believe in the Roman Catholic Church any more.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          Full Disclosure: My mother used to pull me around by the ears.
          When my wise old grandmother adopted me she put me in the public school, fifth grade. My home room teacher, Miss Jones, had taught my dad and all three of his brothers. She looked at my last name, “Kirk” at the time, and asked me if I was related to John, Charles, Rodney, or Doug. I told her John was my dad and the others were my uncles. She said, “Don’t follow in their footsteps.” I should have told her, “Don’t follow in my mother’s footsteps.”
          We had band, orchestra, and choir after lunch. I was in orchestra. We studied during the hour(s) students were gone to either of those three music class. Lucy Saenz sat behind me and kept hitting my ears with her pencil and shooting rubber bands at them. Yes, they are Dumbo size but that doesn’t given anyone the right to hurt me. Finally, I turned around and hit her so hard I knocked her out of her desk. Miss Jones came and pulled me by the ears. Nope. I put my leg behind hers and knocked her down. Got expelled……….. to Catholic School at St. Gertrude’s Catholic Church.
          Just a couple of days into religious indoctrination school, Sister came along and hit me on the head with her ruler because I was talking. Nope. I turned and knocked her to the floor. Got expelled…………
          Where to now? Well, a young child has to be enrolled in school. No home schooling at that time. So it was back to public school but with a different teacher, about 50 years younger than Miss Short.
          As an aside, I have only hit three women (as if I’m proud of the low number, which should be 0) in my life. The third one was in 1970, and in 1982 she married my best friend from college. I was never so disappointed as when I went to their wedding. That was 1982. They are still married, and we laugh about our high school days now, including that incident.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. acflory

    Amazing journey, Russel and I know exactly what you mean by the bitch sessions after church on Sunday. I grew up a Catholic and attended Catholic primary and secondary schools. Oddly enough, I was exposed to the Mormon faith in my teens as my parents rented a flat out to Mormon missionaries for about 2 years. I was already questioning the whole idea of god and, like you, I realised that they couldn’t ALL be right about what god was or was not.
    One thing that did stick from my Catholic upbringing was the idea of empathy…’do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. That really struck a chord and I’ve tried to live my life kindly ever since.
    Do we need a god to be good, kind, caring people? I don’t think so but as an atheist I’m not about to hit anyone on the head if they do need a focus like that. -shrug-
    Great post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ivors20

    Such an interesting story Ray, and your journey has definitely been a varied one. And like you, I’m definitely not religious. and I’m definitely a realist about life, and still manage to live an honest life, and still full of compassion and empathy for my family and the community, and I still feel heartfelt pain, and I’m still able to cry heaps when I’m personally hurt…..
    “How many rivers of tears must we cry,
    Before all the deepest wells run dry.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Baydreamer

    Thanks for sharing your story, and I can understand how you feel. I was raised going to church, and have gone all my life. I do have faith in God, but that’s not to say it doesn’t wobble or that I don’t question things. I think it’s my choice to have faith in something bigger because the world we live in seems to get crazier and more violent each decade. Something calming to hold onto, I suppose.
    With that being said, my husband and I currently have one foot in the door of our church and one foot out for a reason you mentioned. Cliques are abundant, and ironically, some people just aren’t friendly (Christian acting). It was good for our kids when they were young, great youth group, mission trips for Katrina relief, etc. But, things have changed, so we’re hovering.
    I believe though that there is a difference between organized religion and having faith. I say that because I can have faith without going to church. People make up churches, and people err. When it gets to the point that I don’t find God at church, well then that’s a red flag. Does this make sense?
    It’s a personal thing for everyone, and I’ve never been one to push my beliefs on others; in fact, I’m extremely turned off if others push theirs onto me.
    By the way, the girlfriend you had in 1987 was something else. 🙂 Sorry for the long comment; your post resonated with me. Enjoy your weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. truthspew

    I was, to put it indelicately a Catholic the moment Dad came if you enjoy the Monty Python version. Anyhow my first 12 years of education were in Catholic schools.

    Now I knew by the third year something was fishy about religion in general. But I was only 8, and my maternal great grandfather – the engineer – he taught me about how electrons worked and how to solder things together to get a current to pass or not. I had a great basis in the real world – the quantum world technically.

    But I couldn’t put my finger on it. Fast forward to when I’m 15 years old – we studied the Bible for religion class that year. And we learned of copy error, translation error and editorializing by scribes – in other words the words on the page may not be the actual words.

    Plus the school I was at was known as a college preparatory school. So they taught us critical thinking skills. And then laughably told us we couldn’t apply those to religion and faith. Yeah right.

    And thus began my disbelief, atheism or whatever you’d like to call it. It culminated in the car with my father one day – and I forget how we got on the subject but he said to me “Well, you never believed in God. ” I looked at him and said “Yes, that’s right. “


  6. europasicewolf

    Always good to have a personal relationship with reality 🙂 That’s why I do believe in God 🙂 Not religion. The personal relationship with God. That’s much better….infinitely so…and so much less complicated and pleasingly simple and direct. Personal! Reality! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. fforhire

    I strongly agree with your observations and i can say that we have similar point of view about religion. I currently do not condider myself as member of any religion but i do believe in God. I cannot bring myself into believing otherwise…. i somehow gives meaning to my existence…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      I understand that completely. I’m one of those, though, who doesn’t need a meaning to my existence per se. I just want to be a good person and help others as best I can. As my wise old grandmother always told me when I would complain about not having the latest clothes for the start of school each year: “There are people in the world worse off than you!”



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