Background, and Foreground
I was brought up Roman Catholic. The earliest memory I have of anything god-related is the happy little prayer we used to recite before bed:
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the lord my soul to keep
and if I die before I wake
I pray the lord my soul to take
I also remember being congratulated when learning to kneel on the pew.
Even way back I knew Catholicism isn't what I'd consider a good model for a moral, examined life. I clearly remember my mother teaching me that girls are just as good as boys, but not to ask about why churches are exempt from this idea. I was also dumbfounded by confession (I do something wrong, feel bad but don't fix it, tell a priest and say five Hail Mary's? Wow.)
Did you know that if there aren't enough boys around to be alter boys, the church will use girls? Now the thought fills me with horror, but I remember my sister being an alter boy. Once when she was up there, I noticed my mother turning purple next to me. I looked up, and there was my sister and another alter boy crying and shaking with silent laughter as the priest did his magical cannibalistic transubstantion. The two of them were in profile view, facing each other, kneeling, behind and on either side of the priest. Every time he lifted up his arms, the 'holy man' was farting. This image to this day makes me laugh out loud.
So, from a young age, I started to question what I was told, though it was many years later before I was truly free of it. I didn't take notes as I went, so it's hard to reconstruct the timeline.
Now? My deconversion as I storied came about in a one-way vacuum, so I was surprised while lurking exchristian.net forums that there are all types of labels that atheist-type people use. What is 'Strong atheism' and 'Secular Humanism', and does it apply to me? I don't know. I value thinking, I love knowledge and testing out theories & beliefs. I would love to learn about something beyond us that cannot be explained. It would have to be compelling, however, because I strongly suspect there isn't anything out there, and that is perfectly OK.