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After reading this article it got me thinking about the question.

My first thought was I don’t need a label for my beliefs.

My second thought was Catholic Taoist Presbyterian Musicologist.

firstcommunion2I was raised a Catholic, went to Holy Rosary Academy for grade school where I recited things in Latin as an alter boy, went to mass frequently, made my first communion and went to confession. Confessing such sins as disobeying my parents and taking candy that was not mine. I did not confess that when we would go to practice being alter boys  in the chapel that we would take some of the unblessed hosts from the side storage room to snack on in class or take some of the incenses and coal to play with at home. We aspiring alter boys would go visit the school priest in his room across from the chapel, we were comfortable approaching him because when he first came to the school a few years earlier from Poland he would sit in our classroom to improve his understanding of the English language. I recall once going to visit him by myself, his door was open but he was not in his room, looking around I noticed an envelope in the waste basket, it caught my attention because of the stamp, it was from Poland, I took it. I guess it wasn’t stealing, it was trash picking, so no confession was necessary. Years later I found out that Father Stan studied under Karol Wojtyła, who became Pope John Paul II which made me wonder if that envelope was from that man. I doubt that I saved the envelope but I’m sure the stamp is tucked away with my childhood coin and stamp collection in the little green safe box hidden away with other treasures.

My interest in eastern religions started in high school where I took a class that explored the world’s religions. These subjects were studied further with classes I took in college, one in particular was Dr. Kendall W. Folkert’s class on Mysticism. It included studies from Hinduism to Catholic mystics such as St Teresa of Ávila. An excellent book was used; “Mysticism, Window On A World View” by Margaret Lewis Furse. Assignments in that class included days of fasting and documenting your awareness of every perception from your senses. Taoism is what I identified most with but found all eastern religions interesting to study. That class actually taught me that there were deeper aspects to the Catholic religion than what I was exposed to in all my years of Catholic training.

I joined the Presbyterian Church when I married my wife Janet who had been a lifelong member. I actually got a lot out of the new member’s class, it prompted further soul searching. The minister, Lloyd Umbarger, gave inspiring sermons, something I never experienced in the Catholic Church. He seemed to relate more to the congregation than any priest I had known or heard. His sermons about “The Road Less Traveled” and “People of the Lie”, books by Dr. M. Scott Peck prompted their reading, I consider them milestones in my personal learning experiences also.

withMikeTimmons44cr2I have always enjoyed musical experiences as far back as I can remember. But as of most recently (the last 12 years) I have discovered the ethereal journey it can take you on. The experience of a talented performing artist’s live show can bring you to tears under the right circumstances, and it can be simply the music, words are not needed. It  gives affirmation that “we’re all in this together” … a favorite quote by an unknown author:

“the truth that can be told through a song is something that people are longing to hear, because it is not the kind of truth we talk about in ordinary conversation. But it is human and it is what we usually keep hidden – secrets, in other words. If a singer is truthful and honest, listeners will recognize themselves in those secrets and they will be moved”

I believe in all of this … and yet I believe in none of this.


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