Where I came from
I was raised by parents who came from different religious backgrounds (Mormon and Jewish), but both of my parents were second-generation nonbelievers when I was growing up. I am so grateful that I was raised without religion, without the idea that there is only one right way to view the world. However I was attracted to the ideas of spirituality and religion (I had that luxury, as neither was forced on me). For several years during my teens and twenties I considered myself a pagan, but could never quite buy into the concept of actual gods or goddesses. I do still fancy the idea that we are all connected in more ways than we can see or know, and often wonder if the cosmos itself may be intelligent.
Here’s what I DO believe: I believe in the innate decency of human beings, without the threat of hellfire. I aim for a life of reason, ethics, tolerance, and cooperation (I sometimes fall short!) So I could be considered a Secular Humanist.
I also believe that I know very little about the universe in which we live. I doubt very much that my little monkey brain would even be capable of beholding the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, and the idea that such answers should be readily available in this book or that one strikes me as unlikely and simplistic. So I also fall into the Agnostic category.
Finally, although I’m willing to admit that I don’t know for sure if there’s a god or not, I can tell you with certainty that I do not believe in any god. Even the most basic study of human history reveals our tendency to make up stories to fill in the gaps in our knowledge. And as the only animal (presumably) with the awareness of our own mortality, we certainly have a solid motivation to wish for eternal life. But I myself do not believe in gods. Which makes me an Atheist.
Where I’m at
I became a minister of the Universal Life Church in 2002. I stumbled upon a ULC website and couldn’t resist the blinking button proclaiming “Ordain Me Now!” I clicked, printed out my “Minister’s Credentials,” and proceeded to tell all my friends that I was now CLERGY. I thought it was pretty funny, actually. Within a week, one of those friends actually referred me to a woman she knew who was getting married and hadn’t found an officiant. I assured the couple that they really didn’t want me, since I had no idea what I was doing. But they liked what my friend had to say about me and we hit it off on the phone. We met, designed a ceremony, and I performed their wedding.
Before I started marrying people, I didn’t even know I LIKED weddings. But from that very first ceremony, I was hooked. I realized that what had always attracted me to spirituality and religion during my youth was the ritual, not the god part. I believe that ritual is a human need, and that creating ceremony together feeds a deep human yearning. Even as agnostics/atheists/humanists, we can celebrate and honor each other with ritual and tradition. So finding this opportunity to do ceremony with people – to be involved in their lives in this intimate and heartfelt way – was tremendously gratifying and fun.
In 2008 I discovered a website describing Spiritual Humanism, which fuses ritual with the principles of connection with other human beings and scientific inquiry…right up my alley! I now marry couples as a Spiritual Humanist Ordained Clergy Person (OCP).
I also am ordained as a minister of the First Church of Atheism, as well as the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Be sure to let me know which ordination you’d like me to invoke when I sign your marriage license.
Where I’m going
Most of the people who found me through my old website described themselves as “spiritual, but not really religious.” And I also worked with the occasional couple who wanted some kind of prayer or scriptural reading incorporated into their ceremony. What mattered to me was helping each couple achieve their personal vision based on their own beliefs, not mine. Yet over the years, I found it harder to say “cosmos” in my head when I said “god” out loud, and ultimately I realized that I could be more authentic and do my best work by focusing on those couples who share my own (lack of) belief.
If you’re one of those couples and have any other questions about who I am and what I do, or if you’d like to set up a consultation, please email me.