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During junior high and high school I began a great deal of questioning of my inherited religious beliefs. The religion I had inherited claimed that evolution was a lie and that only those who believed in Jesus would go to heaven. From what I was learning about the world through science and the humanities the choice was easy. Religion was a joke and a bad one at that. Even though I continued to attend church services with my parents, its dogma I had long dismissed.
In Catholic high school I found a new way of doing religion. It was interesting, and actually a great deal more intellectual than what I inherited, but still was based on superstition. I appreciated the sisters and the brothers at my Catholic school but took most delight in the nonreligious teachers. I was impressed that the authorities of church let them say what they said. It gave me renewed appreciation that the church allowed its heretics to teach.
During my senior year, the hostage crisis in Iran hit. I turned 18 and we 18 year olds were the first to register for the Selective Service since Vietnam. We all felt we were going to be fighting Iran. As it turned out, that battle was delayed.
Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, the year I graduated high school. He was absolutely the worst president since Grant. He, like the biblical Esau, traded our independence, decency, and democracy for the pottage of foreign oil calling it "Morning in America." It was the beginning of our nightmare that has yet to conclude.
After graduating high school I attended
There was hardly any room in our curriculum for humanities courses, yet I found a space to take a course on the History of the New Testament. It was so refreshing. I learned the difference between an historical statement and a theological statement. Example:
- Jesus died on a cross. (a statement that can be evaluated by historical method)
- Jesus died for your sins. (a statement that can be evaluated by theological method)
- Jesus rose from the dead. (you make the call. I think it is a theological statement)
I also took a course on introduction to English literature. The professor, Michael Sexton, was fascinating. In this course he introduced us to depth psychology and I realized that religious texts (including the Bible) were imaginative literature based on archetypes of the human psyche. Religion as I learned it, made little sense. I decided to leave God behind.
I also realized that I loved the humanities and history as well as science. During my second year of college I switched my major to English, much to the dismay of my parents. I took another fascinating course on the Bible as Literature also from professor Sexton and was introduced to the work of John Dominic Crossan before he became famous with the Jesus Seminar. Yet I missed calculus and physics and took more courses in those fields. Finally, it dawned on me that I was wasting my parents' money, and even after a B+ average, (I did a miss a few courses due to partying) I decided to quit college after my sophomore year.
Not knowing what to do, I decided to hitchhike. In the summer of 1982, my parents were gone (my mother to
So I took my brother out for a wild night at the local Whitehall taverns and wrote him a maudlin note for him to read after I had left. I didn't want him to talk me out of it. The next morning, I packed an old army dufflebag and walked the five miles to Interstate 90 and stuck out my thumb, headed east. I decided to go which ever way the wind would blow. I thought I would go to
I had a number of adventures, but the most interesting from a religious point of view, was that I was picked up in
As it turned out, being the mama's boy I am, I hitchhiked to
It wasn't long after I was home, after listening to some radio dj in Butte say that he had the best job in the world playing tunes all day, that I decided to enroll in the Yellowstone School of Broadcasting in
More on that next time....