I was born in 1958 in the month of May, just a few months before Pope Pius XII would breath his last. Had my parents been Catholics, I would have been baptized in what every traditional Catholic agrees to be indisputably the Roman Catholic Church. Alas, they were not, and such a privilege passed me by. My parents were (and are) "good people," from a secular human point of view, but they did not raise me or my brother in any religion at all. Religion was something I had to scrounge about for on my own.
My first real concern for topics of a religious nature came about as a result of a paper I wrote for a history class in High School. The paper was entitled "Humanism," and since that was the only religio-philosophical outlook I knew, the paper ended up being little more than a plug for that bankrupt philosophy, or "malosophy," as I prefer to say (to coin a word). However, it did get me started thinking on various questions, such as what would the perfect society be like, how would it be run, what would its economy be, how would it fight its wars?
All of that theorizing hit the dead end when I was faced with the fact that there was no way to create my "perfect civilization" and that people don't just hear great ideas (even if it had been) and say, "What a great idea! Why didn't I think of it? Let's all start living that way." It was the Jehovah's Witnesses who provided a means to create my "perfect civilization," namely a "God" (Jehovah) who was just about to make such a society as I had envisioned become a reality.
It was not the idea of a "God" which I found so objectionable, only the behavior patterns attributed to "God" by all of "God's" followers. The behaviors they attributed to "God" all seemed far more suitable to the schoolyard bully than to any Cosmic being capable of creating the entire Universe and everything in it. I remember once thinking that the end of the world would only come when such a "God's" mother would finally dump out this smelly fishtank of a world and exclaim, "If you don't take proper care of your pets, then you can't have any."
What the Jehovah's Witnesses gave me was an idea of God which did not offend my basically humanistic sensibilities, and yet furthermore a God who would soon bring about a far more sensible world. According to them, all of what had taken place had been nothing other than some kind of experiment in which all of creation could see (not merely be told and expected to believe on authority) what would happen if Satan, who also wanted to be in charge of things, were to get his wish. Now that this great experiment is nearly over, every possible system of government (apart from God's) having been tried and found to be a total failure, it was very soon time to wrap it all up, oust Satan (who has been by that time totally discredited as a competant ruler of the Universe) and let all creation finally get on with life under God's guidance. So therefore the waste and rot my life had been up until then would not have to continue for much longer.
So I joined the Jehovah's Witnesses, much to my parent's dismay, and soon became quite active in it. Their system of belief is entirely logical and self-consistent, rational to the nth degree, and not admitting what we humans are really like, nor what the Bible really teaches, even while claiming to be based on the Bible. I thought I was gaining a way to make my "perfect civilization," but what I really gained was an appreciation for the Bible, and such concepts as God, Creation, Accountability, the End of all things, the Virgin Birth, the Inerrency of Scripture, Jesus and his death for us, Sin, Forgiveness, and Evangelism.
Meanwhile, I graduated from High School in 1976 and started college at the University of California, Santa Barbara, majoring in Philosophy. When I returned in the Fall of 1977, I was already feeling college to be a waste of time, as I had no idea what I was doing there, so after one quarter (as a part-time student while I also had a part-time job), I stopped school and went to work full-time at that job. The Jehovah's Witnesses gave me no encouragement in my scholastic advance, although neither did they forbid it. When I left, that was absolutely fine with them.
God could not leave me there, since I was truly seeking His will, and He was calling to me. Eventually, their utterly rational system, having failed to allow for the irrational side of man, ultimately collapsed on me. As one saying rather common at the time put it, "My Karma ran over my Dogma." Curious, how such things seem to surface just when they are needed, and then soon disappear and are forgotten. Suddenly (November 21, 1979 at 1:45 in the morning) something in me just snapped, and all at once I knew I could never have anything to do with them at all ever again. The process was astonishingly painless, even making me giddy with euphoria.
Having committed intellectual, moral, and spiritual suicide, and having taken leave of my senses, I decided to do everything I could to make sure that I never found my way back to "God" or "Truth," by which I meant the "God" and "Truth" of the Jehovah's Witnesses. I did not seriously expect that anything else true existed out there. Had I not found it so euphoric I think I would have been terrified. For one thing, I obtained and began reading all of the books the Jehovahs' Witnesses most hate and dread, books by Walter Martin, Ted Dencher, William Schnell, the Cetnars, and others who wrote to expose the errors of the Watchtower.
Another thing I did was attend every other Church I could find. I was not looking for truth or moral guidance, but Babylon. For me, a statue of Mary most perfectly typified and personified Babylon the Great, the famous Harlot of scripture. When I first walked into Our Lady of Sorrows in Santa Barbara, that was reason enough to love her, but when I saw in there a lifesize statue of her as a pretty young woman calmly and serenly trampling some poor innocent snake under her feet and holding her arms outstretched as if to receive worship (actually to dispense Graces, but I didn't know that then) it was love at first sight. Despite the hideous nature of my appreciation of her, she decided to take me under her care. Being what I was, she could scarcely have ignored me any longer, she had either to hate me or to love me, and hate is not her way. I don't doubt that I was one of her sorest trials however.
Her main message to me then was that suicide was a straight shot to Hell, and good thing too, because it was only a few months later that I would have done it if I had not known that Hell was waiting on the other side of it. I was very concious of being utterly at the mercy of persons or forces who had no real interest in me, but only wanted to use me and then throw me away when I became useless. I had no place to turn, knowing that anyone who might help me would only allow me to keep the favor they gave me as long as I remained beholden to them and their agenda.
As a humanist, I had thought of Jesus as perhaps a good doctor, but not a very ethical or reasonable person. As a Jehovah's Witness I regarded him as the first creation of God, who did die to ransom us from our sins as an exact human (not divine) equivalent of Adam, and who was all the other things the Watchtower Society says of him. As whatever I was next (an idolator?), I saw Jesus as being capable of being nothing but the object of a faggy "love" (actually lust), which as such had little appeal to me since I always thought girls are prettier than boys. But then I saw Him, with the crown of thorns on His head and the wood behind Him and at once knew that He fit none of those molds, so I said to Him (or this apparition), "Who are you, Lord?" He made no answer but just looked at me and I did not kill myself.
Soon after, on the night of April 26, 1980, I presented myself to a local Evangelical Church to "give myself to Jesus." I had learned from the books against the Watchtower Society that there was a different, but still cohesive understanding of who God was and what He is doing contained in Scripture, which I had not seen in my Watchtower days. Although it left much to remain beyond my understanding, I had discovered the fundamental point that any religion I could completely understand was therefore only a man-made religion and as such not a religion coming from a greater source than man. The Watchtower religion had seemed real to me because I could understand it completely, but "Bible Christianity" showed its far greater reality in that I could not understand it completely. I longed for something truly infinite. I had found that the pleasures of evil (and evil itself) are finite creations, being the products of a finite (limited) being.
Then I began regularly attending the Evangelical church, and learning from an extraordinarily wise and insightful pastor, for which I am grateful. Steering clear of divisive topics, he nevertheless found much to say of great value and interest, and much of what he taught holds up extremely well even today, in view of everything I have learned since. I cannot think of a better place for a new Christian to have gone. (Would even the pre-Vatican II Church have impressed me as much? I was in need of far more basic lessons than even their most basic. For example, what authority actually was, which Catholic catechists take for granted, presupposing that the listener already knows) And then one day the pastor left, and thus began a long exile and trek for his congregation.
In 1980, I began gradually returning to college, first with a single class, then two as a part-time student, going back to part-time work, then as a full time student by early 1981. I changed my major to Computer Science, but continued to take some classes in Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Anthropology, and to audit others. I was also frequently seen at the Robert Maynard Hutchins Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, a well-known "think tank" temporarily run by future Congressman Walter Capps and conveniently located on the UCSB campus. I finally graduated in 1984 with a degree in Computer Science, having also done a Senior honors thesis in Parallel Processing.
During that period, after the departure of that pastor, many of my friends in his church began going over to first one, then another more Pentecostal church. The Pentecostal movement intrigued me with its claim to miracles, signs and wonders, so in due course of time I followed these friends over to the one, then the other Pentecostal church. The more time I spent with them, the more I saw that there was very little if anything miraculous there, and an awful lot of drummed-up enthusiasm all caused so as to "make" God do something. Jesus worked all of His miracles out in the open, in the streets, the gates, the countryside, and on the water, and that around faithless and unbelieving crowds, but Pentecostals today can only work in an enclosed room full of wildly screaming, gyrating, swaying and swooning believers, just so that maybe they might get some marginal "miracle" or two. By the time I had graduated, the Pentecostal fire had burned out of me as I began taking refuge in a quiet, conservative Baptist church.
Soon after graduation, I began my current career as a computer engineer at Vandenberg Air Force Base. I then attended a small independent church which was mostly Evangelical, lightly Pentecostal, and where the pastor was solidly established in the Bible, and also knowledgeable in the early Church Fathers. After about a year, the pastor of this church decided to "graduate" to the missionary field, and once again it was a congregation in exile and without leadership. They were not affiliated with any denomination and so had some difficulty finding a new pastor, and the ones they found were no better than being without a pastor.
It was then that my attention began to be turned to Catholicism. No one else I knew of seemed to have a truly Christian sexual morality, except the Catholics (and so far, Novus Ordo types as well, but I knew nothing then of the distinction). With extreme difficulty I had to break off an engagement to a girl I dearly loved because her morality was contemporary Protestant, and she wanted to use a contraceptive. That, plus the fact that Jesus called the bread at Communion His Body (not merely a symbol or metaphor, etc.), and an increasing appreciation for Mary caused me to enquire at what I thought was the Catholic Church. Fortunately, the local Novus Ordo parish still had an arch-conservative Pastor who had been permanently installed back in 1955, and who had maintained a substantially Catholic atmosphere there despite his having gone over to the fake new liturgical "forms."
The elderly Novus Ordo (but still Catholic-at-heart) Priest, Msgr. Andrew McGrath retired and went back to Ireland shortly before I completed my training, but the new incoming Pastor, Msgr. John Rawden, was also staunchly conservative, and finished my training. Despite my having been baptized two times before (Once by the Jehovah's Witnesses on July 1, 1978, and again by the Evangelicals on June 18, 1980), Msgr. Rawden scrupulously insisted on giving me a conditional Baptism on May 3, 1986, which given his staunchly conservative and "old school" approach, explicit teaching on Baptism (which he gave me during his part of my training), and his admission (later on when I became aware of these issues and asked him) that his intention was "to do what the Church does," leaves no room to doubt that I have a valid Baptism. He also confirmed me that day with the same intention, and while there is room to doubt the validity of Novus Ordo Confirmations in general, by all evidences I can see this one seems to have took. However, if someone can show that it could not have taken, I would gladly do it again, this time with a traditional Catholic bishop.
I promptly began making myself useful serving in the choir as accompanist, youth group, anti-abortion marches, Confirmation class, and later on joining the Legion of Mary and the Knights of Columbus. I definitely leaned towards the Conservative side and against the Liberal side. Had I known of traditional Catholicism I would have promptly joined it instead, but this seemed as close to it as I could get. The first "Latin Mass" I ever saw was a Latin Novus Ordo, said by Msgr. Rawden in 1987 to commemorate the 75th Anniversery of the (once Catholic, now Novus Ordo) Parish, La Purisima Concepcion. I had already picked up the fact that the Mass had been previously said in Latin, and was quite anxious to see such a thing.
It was in 1991 that I encountered my first traditional Catholic correspondent. She had been a nun (Sister Mary Cecilia) teaching Kindergarten for the traditional Catholic school under Shuckardt, but she since left that group at the urging of Home Aloner/Conclavist Ken Mock and became a Home Aloner herself. While I could never buy the Home-Aloner contention that there is no Catholic Church left (other than some very few scattered lay believers), she did manage to point me to a number of very good books on Catholic Theology, published mostly by TAN books, which at last gave me the solid grounding I have longed for. She also told me where to at least get a look at what the Tridentine Mass looked like, namely her ex-congregation up at Mount Saint Michael's in Spokane.
In August of 1992, I went up to Mount Saint Michael's in Spokane and saw my very first traditional Latin Tridentine Mass. A year later I went again and saw another such Mass, and then also visited the SSPX Priory in Post Falls, saw a couple Tridentine Masses there (partaking of a traditionally consecrated Eucharist for the first time), and learned where the SSPX could be found closer to my home (still three hours driving away). Over time, I took in any traditional Latin Mass I could find, averaging almost one per month, and spending considerable time reading every traditional Catholic book and periodical I could find. I really had no personal life then, my job and this reading being all that I did for seven years.
This voluminous reading also included a tremendous amount of prayer and meditation on what I was reading and finally learning about the Catholic Faith, and about the current efforts to preserve tradition. In September of 1996, after several previous efforts had failed, I finally began work on my book about traditional Catholicism today, entitled The Resurrection of the Roman Catholic Church, and finished it in the middle of 1998. I also then met and married () my beautiful and devout traditional Catholic bride, Juliet, on July 25, 1998, in a beautiful traditional Catholic ceremony. We are hoping for children soon, and normally attend Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Santa Clarita (Fr. Dominic Radecki, CMRI), but visit traditional Catholic Parishes from throughout the traditional Catholic spectrum.
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