Sophisticated Unbeliever Who Abandons Faith To Indulge In Speculation

Hi, I’m Nathan. As part of the 20SB Blog Swap, I’m posting on Jon’s blog today while he posts over on mine, L’histoire de sa vie. A quick introduction: I’m 22, I’m from Houston but live in NYC, I work in IT and am a Computer Science student, and I recently started listening to a lot more Bluegrass music. I’m also a self-titled Apikoros, as I’ll explain below. The term Apikoros is aptly described in the Daniel Bell quotation above.

I grew up in a typical Texas Jewish home, which meant that the extent of my religion was going to synagogue each Saturday for a couple years before my Bar Mitzvah. After synagogue, we’d often go to a restaurant where I’d have a cheeseburger or some other definitely un-kosher meal. Like most Texas Jews, I didn’t follow any of the commandments that Jews believe are required.

When I got to high school, I wanted something more. I wanted to feel God in my life, and I wanted to fulfill the mitzvot (commandments) that make Judaism special. I began keeping Kosher (no more cheeseburgers) and Shabbat (no more driving around after synagogue) and I began to find meaning in my life as part of the observant Jewish world.

I began learning a lot more – I hadn’t known a lot about my commitments before I made them, but after I made them, I sought to learn. After high school, I spent a year in Israel, studying at the Conservative Yeshiva of Jerusalem. And then I went to college, a student at the joint program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary.

While in Israel, my faith began to shake. I learned about Documentary Hypothesis (the idea that the Bible is not written by God but rather by four men) and I also began to study more philosophy, especially Jewish philosophy. By the time I got to college, the groundwork was laid for my own rebellion.

Eventually I came to the following conclusions: There probably is a god, that is, a higher being that created everything. That god doesn’t interact with our world or even care much about what’s going on – that is, he created the rules, set them into motion, and then stepped back to let the system run itself. Organized religion is both an attempt by mankind to explain the system when no explanation has been found and to control groups of people in a variation of social contract. The god I painted above couldn’t care less if I eat bacon or if Muslims make hajj or if Catholics take communion or about any other caveat of any other organized religion.

Thus, I started to become less religious. While in Israel, I would daven (pray) often, approaching the three times a day required by strict Judaism. When I got to NYC, I started davening only on Shabbat, specifically on Friday night and not Saturday morning. I enjoyed the community though, and maintained my practices regarding the sanctity of Shabbat and Kashrut for communal reasons.

Eventually though, I became a full Apikoros. An Apikoros is an ancient term for a Jew who rejects the authority of rabbinic law. A ‘heretic’ if you will. What is interesting is that like Chaim Potok’s Apikoros in The Chosen, I do believe in God, and yet don’t follow any of the mitzvot.

I’ve thus returned to my roots as a Texas Jew. I go to synagogue when I feel like it, which is very rare, and I often joke that “I pray when I want to, and God listens when he wants to.” Even though I live in a building with many who are still very observant, I spend Saturdays watching Texas football, and I often enjoy un-Kosher food.

And yet I keep learning. I continue my studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary, learning and absorbing more and more about Judaism. I find it fascinating and love to learn about my religion, even as I simultaneously reject it. Thus I am an interesting form of Apikoros – the kind that knows the term and understands what it means, and yet would self-apply it.

“All Israel has a portion of the world to come … [except] who says there is no resurrection of the dead in the Torah, that the Torah isn’t from heaven, and the Apikoros.” – Mishnah Sanhedrin 10:1

The Government Just Saved Us From Flavored Cigarettes


Good thing the federal government just banned the sale of flavored cigarettes. Now less teens will start smoking. It’s a good think we learned our lesson from the last time we had a prohibition.


Are they serious?

Once again the government has successfully created a situation where teens who DO want to smoke flavored tobacco products will have to go about obtaining them in a black market … awesome.

The best part about this whole thing is no one knows what a flavored cigarette is. However, when you read the actual ban you can see the end goal is to stop the selling of any kind of flavored tobacco product … or in other words … any product that puts tobacco in your lungs alongside any kind of flavoring. The problem they are having is in their choice of words but they have made it very clear of their intentions.

But do they really think this will prevent teens from smoking?

What we really need to do is a better job educating and creating better role models. Taking away freedoms is a poor means of education. I personally don’t smoke cigarettes altho I may have found a few uses for flavored cigar leaves.

But it’s not even about that. It’s about education and freedom. What about all the adults who enjoyed these products but will no longer be able to obtain them. They won’t quit, I’ll tell you that much.

What are you thoughts on the matter?

– Photo by Shannon Coffey

It's Been Awhile

Haven’t posted over here in awhile. I’ve been hard at work with Magicomm and making my own WordPress plugins. I’m starting to get to that point where the monotony of everything is getting kind of depressing. I’ve got enough vacation time to really get out and relax but no time to take a vacation.

In lighter news, my abuelita is coming to visit from Puerto Rico this weekend. We’re all headed down to Brooklyn for a cousin’s wedding. I’m always down for some Spanish food and good dancing. Plus, I think I look pretty damn good in a suit … altho I don’t know if I would like to wear one every day.

Another thing that’s been going good is my trekking. I’ve finally made it a point to get out into nature pretty regularly for some hiking, rock climbing and other nature stuff. I’m trying to get a small group to get up to New Hampshire for a couple nights on the bond cliffs but we’ve been having a hard time committing.

That’s it for now … maybe I’ll post a magic trick I learned a little later.

Blog Swap About Life

Hey everyone!! I’m Heather from EveryyDayy . Some of you may know me, some may not. It’s nice to meet you all! I want to thank Jon for setting up this blog swap, and volunteering to swap with me when my partner bailed.

The past few weeks I have been driving myself a little crazy with my life decisions. Has anyone actually followed through with their “plan”? If so how’d you manage it. I need some pointers because my dreams seem to travel further and further away with every decision I make. I’m having an unusually hard time dealing with this right now. To the point where I am going back onto anti depressants that I’ve been off of for over a year, so that instead of feeling disappointment daily, maybe I’ll just go numb.

4 years ago if you asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I had it all planned out. I was going to go to Design school at Columbia College in Chicago, while attending classes there I’d also be working on my business degree on the side. All while working for an event planning company or design firm. As well as a small little cafe in the city, where I’d learn every aspect of running my own business, and network like crazy. After graduation from Columbia College, I would then go on to work for a prestigious design firm or event planning company full time, work my way up to the top until finally, I was able to open my own company. I didn’t need a man in my life. I was strong enough on my own. Yep. That was my plan.

But instead I decided not to move to Chicago. Why you ask? Well because I was dating, who I thought was the man of my dreams, and I wouldn’t dare leave him especially to move to Chicago. See I dated this guy all through high school, we fought, he cheated on me, I cheated on him, we fought some more, we had sex. That’s about all our relationship was. But I thought that it was love. I went on thinking that for another year and a half after I graduated high school as well. I ended up working on a Public Relations degree at East Carolina University with a minor in business. He lived about 3 hours away and would come to visit quite often. I was okay with all of this. Knowing that it wasn’t what I truly wanted, it continued until my sophomore year in college. I was finally done. Done putting my dreams on hold for someone who didn’t treat me that way I deserved. Done.

I met a guy through a friend (long drawn out story, that I will elaborate on at a later date ) Jay. He started out as just a tutor/friend. Nothing more. Slowly but surely (in a very fast way) I began to fall for him. Why? Because he was perfect. There was nothing about him that I would change. Not a single thing. He was great looking, he was built, he had beautiful teeth (yes major turn-on for me), on top of it all his personality was amazing. For once I felt like a person, and not a toy. He treated me with respect, and let me know that I deserved a lot more then what I was getting from my current relationship. Unfortunately I met him a little too late. A few days later (maybe a week or so) I made the decision to move back to my dad’s house and do online classes for a little while–There was an incident that occurred that I couldn’t deal with as well as I thought, and removing myself from that environment was crucial to my sanity.

December came, exams ended and I packed up all of my things. Loaded them into my brand new Chevy Cobalt and headed to Virginia for 9 months. Several rumors started that I was pregnant and I was going away to have my baby, so no one would know about it. Even one that I was checking into a psych ward (you’ve got to love your enemies–I swear) however none of them where true. The truth was, I couldn’t handle what was going on in my life. I was depressed, exhausted–physically, mentally, emotionally. I had a severe case of mono, and I had to get away from everything for a while.

So I moved to my dad’s up in Culpeper Virginia. I got a gym membership. Started working out like crazy. Almost too much. But I loved it. My dad got me a trainer. Who worked me like you wouldn’t believe. I scored a job at Starbucks in Warrenton (a town over) because all that we had in Culpeper was a Walmart, and the beginning constructions of a Target. Of course we had a few other things. Dairy Queen, where I worked my first job when I was 16, KB Toys, a run down Belk, Fashion Bug, Shoe Show, and other bummy places that should be torn down and completely rebuilt. I loved my job at Starbucks. Everything about it. I still do love it and wish every day that I was still working there.

I moved to my dad’s single. Jay and I where ‘talking’ not dating. We had become best friends in about a months time. Also in that time I somehow fell in love with him. Of course I didn’t tell be because I wasn’t sure I wanted it, what he would say, or if I could handle its consequences. New Years eve came a long and Jay invited to a Carolina Hurricanes game with his family, and then it happened. I was so happy. Happier then I had been in a long time. It was a feeling that I wasn’t really used to.

I returned to school in August of 2007 and I changed my major to the one I thought I wanted to do more then PR, Interior Design. My passion in life is art, and design. All sorts. Not just decorating. Actually designing. My high school actually offered Interior Desgin classes which of course I took along with 5 semesters of art, including independent study. I figured it would be a breeze. It wouldn’t be hard, because of course I love interior design, so what would be so bad. Right? Yea, well apparently I thought wrong. I started falling behind in classes and not being able to catch up. I was sleeping through them, and there was nothing I could do. I was in such a deep depression that even Jay couldn’t help me. I ended up completely withdrawing from the University on Medical. For my severe depression.This time was different. My dad came down from Virginia to move me back to my mom’s house in Apex, North Carolina.

I found a job at a marketing firm that turned into a huge scam. I was conned out of my last 3 paychecks (over $1400) that I still haven’t seen yet. After that, I got my job back at Old Navy for the holidays. My car broke down Christmas eve, and I couldn’t make it to work because I didn’t have a ride (the day after Christmas) my general manager thought I was lying, when my car was sitting (broken down) in the Old Navy parking lot and fired me. A few weeks later I started working for a lady named Stephanie in Holly Springs, North Carolina as a live-in Nanny. Holly Springs is only about 2 1/2 minutes away from my house, but she insisted that I live in her attic that way I could be on call 24/7. Which I was. Even on my days off I was still on call, and would be called. I watched 2 boys. One was 2 1/2 the other was 6. I was with the 2 1/2 year old all the time. It got to the point where he was calling me Momma Header. Her demands became very unreasonable and I left. On fairly bad terms. Though I felt a million times better when I did. I was not only caring for her 2 boys, but her as well. I made her bed, did her laundry, cooked her dinner, etc. It was a little too much for too little pay.

Shortly after I left I got a job at Walgreens. I moved into my apartment with Jay and here I am. In Greenville North Carolina. I worked at BB&T for several months but January came and I was let go for a bogus reason. Now I am an assistant property manager at a student community about 3 blocks from campus. I love it there, but having encounters with students who are graduating in 2 weeks, every day, knowing that I am supposed to be getting my graduation plans together as well is very hard. It’s a constant reminder of something that i’ve failed at. However this position is fairly close to what I want to do, and it is definitely a great learning experience.

Where the hell did my plan go? I have no idea what I want to do with my life anymore. I’d love to still go to design school. Finish my business degree, and open a studio. In the past 6 months I have managed to gain 65 lbs. No exageration whatsoever. I dread waking up in the morning and going into work. My clothes don’t fit. My hair never does what I want it to do. My makeup is always bad, and I’m pail. Yet I get out of bed every morning, and I make it through my day. Because though times are pretty crappy, that’s what you do. You bite your lip and deal with it.



Photo by Napalm filled tires

Last night, on the way home from the bar, my friend asked me something I never expected to here him say. “Do you believe in God”. My first reaction was to laugh which caught him off guard because he thought I was a “Jesus Freak” because of my history with bible studies, Christian camps, youth groups, etc. So he asked why and I proceeded to make a few quick points.

Well, my main point is it just seems very ridiculous when you think about it. As far as disproving common ideas about Christianity, I’ll leave that to Religulous by Bill Maher.

But seriously, does it not seem logical that we would make up gods to explain the things we didn’t understand. The only valid argument I see is what C.S. Lewis called “natural law”. Our inner realization of right and wrong. I personally credit it to our history of learning how we need to act to survive … but if you wanna say its a little voice in your head then that’s all good.

So I’ve always just not cared and not believed but it wasn’t until Bill Maher’s Religulous that I began to see how much religion is hurting civilization. So many hate crimes, wars and well … just really stupid things are being done in the name of religions.

But I’ve also been there. Ive defended my Christian faith. I refused to except logic on account of not wanting to upset “my lord and savior”. I believed certain things because I was told I had to our I was basically going to hell. At the time I couldn’t even think of questioning god because of all the friends I would lose. So I know that’s really how it is.

It just sucks a little don’t it.

If it weren’t for all the bad things happening in the name of religions I could except the good things it is doing. Like giving people hope to get through their lives.

But I am ok with not knowing. I enjoy being free of conscious restrictions. Logic and reason can change your life.

Thought this was funny. As I was making the banner I stumbled across a link to an old website of mine. This is a flash intro for my old website I had back in 2003. Bring Me To Life

Christmas Follow Up

Photo by *Sally M*

Back to another 2.5 day work week and I have no idea what’s going on for this weekend. I feel like the more I work the more my friends kind of drift off and do their own thing. I’m not one to take it personally … its just kinda depressing.

But anyways, the one person who would hang out with me Sat night was my good ol friend George. It was an interesting night. Saw some girl I recognized and took a stab at remembering her name … I was way off. At least I tried.

Then there was a fight back inside the bar, which led outside the bar, which apparently kept going because we walked by the kids fighting again on our walk home. Fighting = Immature. Sorry I hate it.

So 20SB Secret Santa came and went. Apparently I’m a crappy Santa but oh well I tried. I ended up ordering something off of Amazon so I could get the most bang for my buck. The problem however is that Amazon’s estimated shipping times are about 6 days off so far. I’ll give it a few more days but I kinda feel bad. Kinda.

The present I received in turn was freakin awesome. It was THE Chuck Norris quote book. I’ve personally never been a big fan of Mr. Norris or that website but that book had me and my friends rolling. So Thank You whoever you are for that special little bit of Christmas awesome.

So now it’s back to work for a couple days and another long weekend. I can’t wait even tho I have no idea what I’m doing yet. Regardless I hope everyone else has a Happy New Year.

PS (Watching Religulous on Christmas eve was awesome)

Christmas Awesome

Photo By My Dad

There was a lot of Christmas Awesome that happened this past weekend. I am also looking forward to much more Christmas Awesome in the near future. I hadn’t really gotten into the holidays at all yet but a snow storm and some Christmas shopping changed that in a snap.

First off I wanna give snaps to my Jeep. You’ve provided much entertainment throughout this snowy event and I thank you greatly. Snaps should also go out to my Jeeps partner in crime, the snow. Thank you snow for piling up everywhere and allowing me to plow through you.

Second I would like to thank my step brother for not being a royal pain in the ass when I took him Christmas shopping. You were actually a lot of fun to hang out with. Sorry I couldn’t take you to the strip club afterwards, you’re only 14.

Third I would like to think the 2 random old men I gave rides to at 2 AM when they were stuck at that pizza place in town. No need to thank me, you left 20 dollars behind.

I would like to add that it’s not cool to fight when Christmas is like 3 days away. That said, my roommate and his gf win the douchiest douchebags of the week award (don’t worry guys, Willy Lopez usually wins this one every week).

Next item on the agenda would be the Christmas Awesome that happened at the bar Saturday night. One of my friends left earlier because of stomach issues. The following conversation took place about 30 minutes after he left via text message:

Friend: Yo wtf i just took a massive shit behind Walgreen’s.
Me: I love you
Friend: No like no joke it was horrible lol go by and look lol
Me: I dont really want to
Friend: Well for me you should but you prob walked to bar so its k but its horrible like a homicide scene
Me: lol next time

So in closing. Jeep wins. Looking forward to an awesome Christmas.

From Stockbridge to Boston

Photo by peggydavis66

I decided to take a last minute trip out to UMass for the weekend to participate in my fraternities initiation rituals. I started documenting the better half of the night but ended up passing out around 4AM. I used to pull all nighters all the time … not anymore I guess.

My favorite part of the trip was the morning drive. First of all you have to understand I felt like crap; Dog Fish Head 90 minute IPAs were the poison that ultimately did me in. So we finish up the festivities around 7AM and I have my car packed an on the road by 8AM. Then we pass our first road signs “Entering Stockbridge” and “Boston 132 Miles”. It was the first snow of the season and the words of James Taylor had me sitting there glowing.

It sound very childish and corny but “Sweet Baby James” is a song with a lot of history for my sister and I growing up. It was the only thing that could stop my sisters crying when she would get upset about the divorce.

But it was perfect. The Berkshires looked dreamlike with 10 miles behind me … 133 to go.

Motivate Me With Pictures

Photo by mediaboytodd

I constantly want to feel like I am moving forward with something. I hate feeling like I could be doing the same thing for the rest of my life. So far I’ve been really good about keeping things mixed up but now I am starting to feel stuck again.

How long can I stay at one company before getting tired of the repetition. Is this the real test or should I forget it and keeping moving forward. Well, so far I’ve just made it a point to always have work to do on the side as well as constantly try and move up in the company. Once that comes to a standstill I will re-evaluate again.

But for right now … I’ve always wanted to learn how to design. I’d say I’m pretty good at picking out things I don’t like about stuff. It’s the being good at knowing what looks good that I am no good at. So I decided a little while ago I was going to create title images for all of my posts. At first this was just a random thought and know I want to fully pursue it. I will not post on this blog unless the post has some sort of header image.

Hopefully I will just get better over time all the while learning more and more about adobe creative suite. It’s funny the things I will do to motivate myself.