My Personal Testimony


Philosophy begins with the experience of human existence. Seemingly, the best impetus for philosophy comes from the horror of human existence and the victories that come from defeating the horror. The ‘good life’ comes from learning how to avoid the horrors.

I was born on May 15, 1969. From what I can tell, life didn’t start off all that well for me. According to my parents’ divorce papers, I was left to lie in my own human waste often enough to cause any social worker at least some real concern. Of course, my mother cannot be much to blame in this matter since she suffered from retinitis pigmentosa, and has suffered from a host of mental problems all of her life. Her own mother apparently committed suicide on a Christmas Eve, and her father died in an alcoholic stupor some years later.

In fact, I suspect that it was an uprising of my mother’s mental disabilities that crushed the marriage of my parents. For better or worse, I was only a few months old when all of this occurred. As an aside, my father was a disabled World War II veteran and suffered from various emotional and physical disabilities as well.

I know I was born into the Catholic Faith and was baptized as such. Much of my childhood memory up to the age of six or seven is clouded at best and probably not relevant to any conversion that I may now tell you of. About the only thing I remember from this time was the constant whippings by my mother as a form of ‘disclipline.’

What I know for sure is that I did attend Catholic school for first grade and went through the sacramental process offered through one’s First Communion. Although I do remember having severe pneumonia at the time, I was aware of the importance of my First Communion and the idea that Christ could be offered to man and child — so long as they stood willing to confess of their sins and at least make a good faith attempt to come before God in as pure a state as humanity could ever offer.

Religion, for many, is a passive experience brought about by adherence to culture and tradition. Rarely is thought given to the idea that Man is capable of a direct and intimate connection with his Maker.

This said, about the same year as my first communion, I distinctly recall having had a profound conversion experience. Specifically, I remember dreaming, in the grossest of detail, that I had been condemned to hell. The intense flames arose all around me and I could feel the heat as strongly and clearly as I can hear my own voice.

The self awareness of my dire and decrepit human state was overwhelming. I woke up in a profuse sweat and immediately was compelled to bring myself to my knees and pray harder than I had ever prayed even to date. As I prepare this testimony, I still wish that I could find the desire to pray with as much intensity as the child that I once was. Sincere prayer is hard to come by even though answers and blessings from God abound in our existence. As the great revivalist, Charles Finney, suggested, many people don’t remember what they prayed for five minutes later. This may be, in part, why there is such a lack of gratitude amongst humanity’s members. If we actually remembered our prayers, we would be all too aware of the answers that come pouring out of the Divine Grace and Providence of our Maker.

In any event, I remained faithful to my commitment to the Church and was happy to be an altar boy and regularly served at the early morning mass on weekdays before school. Oddly enough, I was even ready and willing to serve at Mass during vacations and other off-times. As I recall, during my years in elementary school, I had formulated the belief that I would become a priest when I grew up. I sincerely had hoped that I would be groomed for St. Michael’s Seminary in Trabuco Canyon, California. However, this never came to fruition because of the many problems that would surface later.

As a pre-adolescent child and aside from a few incidents of extreme violence against me by my mother, I remained fairly free of her mental problems and related iniquities. We survived on welfare income of about $700-800 a month as I recall. My mother, much to her credit, was able to somehow purchase a 900-square-foot or so three-bedroom house in Santa Ana and managed to provide for my brother and me until I was about 13 years old. She had no family here in California. I was lucky enough to have my father. My brother was not so fortunate as to have a father figure in his life during his childhood. However, I was sexually abused by a paternal great-uncle during this time and it took many years to recover from that particular horror.

In any event, I am often taken aback by many of my fellow human beings’ complaints about how they can’t do certain things. Call it a chip on my shoulder, but it does seem odd that a delusional and blind woman could manage to purchase a house by herself, raise two children and somehow manage a household. All the while, we see so many able-bodied humans complaining about what they supposedly can’t do. ‘Can’ and ‘cannot’ are matters of attitude toward life. If Man has free will, it exists only at this level of being able to change our attitude toward what we cannot change.

As indicated below, it seems to me that our purpose in life is to fulfill a God-given destiny and the only thing that matters is our attitude toward meeting the charge of our unique and personal Divine Predestination.

In any event, my brother is three years younger than me. Once I turned about 12 or 13, things became extremely bad. As for myself, I had begun a pattern of drinking during the summer between eighth and ninth grades. I even managed to overdose from alcohol before I reached the ninth grade. Other than a two-week restriction, the overdose incident didn’t get a whole lot of mention and I doubt that my parents ever talked to each other about the event.

My parents maintained a hostile relationship for so long as I can remember. It’s odd that they should have spent so much time berating each other when I was busy boozing it up and enjoying my entry into the world of drugs. I supposed that what happened a decade before between them was much more important than the reality that their 12-year-old son was becoming a drug addict, alcoholic and immorality addict.

The whole drug thing began shortly after becoming a high school freshman. One of the guys in the neighborhood introduced me to “Al,” who worked at the local Jack-in-the-Box. Al introduced me to pot for my first time and I can’t remember it being all that great in and of itself. I think that the violation of my parents’ ostensible trust and my moral upbringing was much more of a high than the drug itself. That said, I ended up dropping out of high school by the time I reached the halfway point in my first year. My attendance, even up to that point, was sporadic at best. I did join in the Academic Decathlon Team, water polo team and swim team, though. That was about the only appearance of normalcy at that time. Oddly, I still have yet to take a formal class in English, Math or History.

By the time spring semester of my freshman year rolled around, I was already tattooed. I paid my girlfriend’s brother a joint for a tattoo of a skull over a cross. By this time, I had already had sex with his 12 or 13-year-old sister and I had managed to get myself well into a strong pattern of drug and alcohol abuse. I would later have a tattoo artist add flames to the skull and cross to further demonstrate my hatred for all that represented my Christian upbringing.

I can only imagine that my youthful hatred for Christianity arose from the fact that many of my mother’s acute episodes with mental illness revolved around religious themes. She would regularly engage in sickly violence, swear, and commit crimes in the name of God and justify her own abuse of my brother and me by claiming that God told her to ‘beat’ us as an act of love. As her mental illness took on even darker tones, she would literally attempt to cast out evil spirits from various household items including the washing machine and my father’s car. Her claimed stigmata was no less disturbing with the blood, screaming, and ‘spiritual’ experiences.

As a child, one can well imagine that the surfacing of a mother’s severe mental problems is not an easy burden to carry. My brother was too young to understand what was going on and probably too innocent to understand the harm that was being caused to the family. It therefore became my responsibility to call 911 and to have my mother committed to a mental facility on more than one occasion.

I can assure you that it is no easy task to call the police and emergency services knowing that they will come out with a gurney and forcefully strap your mother down before your own eyes. You cannot even imagine the fear that was struck in myself and in my brother’s eyes as this all went down time and again.

While the police and others left my brother and me to the care of neighbors or others on occasion, we both eventually ended up being placed in what was known as the Orangewood home for abused children. Can’t say I lasted long. I chose to escape and ended up at a friend’s house. My brother, abandoned by me and the system, ended up in a foster home and eventually was returned to my mother somehow.

It is probably noteworthy to this story that I was arrested some three or four times between the ages of 14 and 16. The charges ranged from possession of narcotics, grand theft, burglary, trespass and other various violations of law. I ended up serving only about two or three months in juvenile hall. In terms of the burglary, I should probably mention that it was my own father that I robbed. Indeed, I encouraged my friends to rob him as well. Needless to say, moral aptitude was not an adolescent specialty of mine.

In terms of my drug use, I regularly used cocaine, marijuana, LSD, and crystal methedrine. I also partook of PCP, mescaline, belladonna, and other drugs as they would be offered through the course of my youth. I even shot up once. I didn’t particularly like the experience of shooting up only because the high came much too quickly. I always enjoyed the feeling of having the high ‘come on.’ Otherwise, I suppose I could have easily ended up strung out on heroin.

During this time, I enjoyed going to punk shows, hanging out with friends and their drugged out parents, I sported a bleached white mohawk haircut, lived with bikers and meth dealers, got into many fights and just generally looked for trouble wherever we might find each other. I even managed to get shot at during this time and had narrowly escaped a severe jail sentence after being involved in a big drug bust in Santa Ana (while being told to freeze while I was reaching for a gun). Many of my friends ended up on jail, prison, and the victims of addiction. This was normal in our minds.

On other battle fronts, a friend’s mom died of a heroin overdose and a good friend of mine died of the same cause at age 16 or 17. As an ultimate demonstration of my depravity at the time, I even had the moral audacity to literally urinate on another human while they were passed out by a toilet. The human being was my girlfriend at the time. My friend Steve and I took great pleasure in the degradation of her humanity. She later forgave us.

In terms of spiritual events, I attempted to attend church two or three times during this intense period of strife. Once, I thought I was saved at a church in Costa Mesa. Didn’t last long as to the immediate emotions, but the effects were eternal. At another time, I attempted to attend a Catholic service in Garden Grove, but some person passed out in the entryway and the church members were concerned about getting her out of the way so services could begin on time. I suppose praying for one’s soul and health is secondary to punctuality in certain minds of the time. For me, this was but one more turn-off to the whole of Christianity. In fact, this little event managed to keep me away from any church until I was in my mid-twenties.

Once I turned almost 16, I was placed at the Wallace Community Day School in Santa Ana. This was a school designed for children like myself who simply couldn’t handle the normalcy of a regular high school. Here we were allowed to work at our own pace. I excelled in this setting and decided that I would take the California High School Proficiency Exam. I took the test at about age 16 and began attending Santa Ana College later. I received decent grades in most of my classes. Even so, I continued in my self-created courses in drug addiction and alcoholism.

I did well as a philosophy major and had plenty of opportunity to think about theology, ethics and philosophy in general. I was particularly caught up in the debate about determinism. If God knew everything, then it had to be that I had, so to speak, a sticker on my back that says “heaven” or “hell” and I just can’t see it — but, God can see the label and wills it so.

More important to my concerns, if all is predetermined, I can’t be responsible for all of the horrible things I’ve done in life since it was, in theory, already known that I would do them. Under this analysis, accountability and mercy make absolutely no sense.

Nevertheless, its more than 20 years later and I still haven’t got all the answers to the ‘question of determinism.’ What I do know is that the pain of sin can be forgiven and that the forgiveness is available to any ready, willing, and asking person who comes to our Maker with a contrite heart and a desire to change. Nevertheless, glimpses of what appears to be truth are but a nanosecond flash in the darkest caverns of my intellect.  Yet at the same time, the Ultimate Truth reveals itself everyday through my family, profession, and interaction with others.

Before completing my studies at the college, I finally stopped smoking pot. It made me feel stupid and out of control so I gave it up ‘cold-turkey’ one day. I may have revisited pot once or twice thereafter. However, I still enjoyed speed and cocaine for a short while thereafter. I quit these substances cold-turkey one day as well. I can see no self-caused reason for my sudden inclinations to quit drugs. Divine Mercy and Intervention are the only possible explanations for my decision to turn away from drugs.

While in college, I also met the person that would become my first wife. My experiences with her have been of the more moving in my life in terms of raw force acting against and framing my sense of morality. Of particular note was the fact that she had an abortion without telling me (before we married) and then later lied about being on birth control after we got married. That particular lie ended up in a second abortion. I haven’t yet fully realized the reasons for my blind allegiance to the causes of such acts.

Oddly enough, I did drive her to and from the abortion clinic the second time. I had decided in my mind that mercy dictated that I overlook the harm that she was causing me in favor of insuring that she was at least safe. Whether or not my apparent mercy was a demonstration of my own lack of self worth or esteem, I suppose, is an open question. I now know that my futile attempts at human mercy and compassion pale before God’s ultimate understanding and mercy in my own life. Such are the beginnings of a philosophy on life and a continuing Testimony.

I am happily married to my beautiful wife Stefanie and have been since 1996. God has blessed us with two daughters and two sons, Hannah, Abigail, Thomas and Timothy. Through them, I have been able to experience the highest that humanly existence has to offer. God has opened a completely new world to me through my family and my wife’s love for me.

I have served the community as an attorney since 1994, began sitting as a part-time judge for the Riverside County Superior Court in 2004, and have worked on a number of very high profile cases affecting our culture (First Amendment, Tenth Amendment, addressing the issue of same-sex marriage, defending the Pledge of Allegiance, fighting the removal of Christian history from public life). The cases given to me to fight have been presented on CNN, KTLA, Fox News, ABC, NBC, The O’Reilly Factor, and hundreds of other media outlets across the entire world.

In sum, the sanctity of our humanity is best realized when we acknowledge that we are not, nor were our parents, or theirs before, self-caused. Our humanity and its value derive from the fact that we were born into the dignity that we call humanity. We were born into the image of a Being much greater than ourselves, thereby allowing us to enjoy our existence and to strive for greatness of spirit. Human dignity does not come from a revolt against our inherent human characteristics. True liberty comes from the acceptance of who we are as we were created. True liberty comes from knowing that we have been designed to complete our God-given destiny. Only by completing our purpose do we give glory unto our Maker.

Denials of our biological and cultural humanity are not implicit in the concept of ordered liberty nor are they reflective of the deep and rich history of our nation. The founders of our nation, including William Penn, Abigail Adams, James Madison, and the others, adopted the position that we are to accept the lot given to us and that no man prevent us from fulfilling our destiny. Again, this is a destiny not chosen by us, but by our Creator.

Those who would suggest that we deny our birth-given sanctity tear away at the very foundations of our nation and even the loosest sense of freedom. The foundations of our nation and community rest, in large part, on the notion that diversity and the marketplace of ideas are best served by self acknowledgment, not self-denial.

Liberty of the Spirit and mind comes directly from the acceptance of that which we do not choose. It is not our choice that we were born male or female, poor or rich, into a certain culture, into a certain age, or that we were born in a certain geographical area. Liberty can be found in the simple acknowledgment that these things matter not to our inherent dignity. Indeed, freedom is not found in forcing another to accept our personal revolts against who we are. Being thrust by birth into a culture not of our own making is not a crutch, but a rich and robust collage of opportunities that came before us and constitutes the fundamental building blocks necessary to the fulfillment of who we were and are at birth.

Indeed, the desperate search for meaning in life and the realization that we are not self-created are mutually exclusive states of mind.

This work is dedicated to the Glory of God, my wife and children, my parents, my brother, my philosophy students of the past years, to Father Jordan, Steve Bleecker, Bernie Luna, Aaron Trujillo, Jim Christian, Robert Putman, Ike Riddle, Jeff Davis, Larry Mendenhall, Terry Mosely, Daniel Guirriere, Paul Tang, and all others who have motivated me to think about my humanity and purpose.

In Lumine Tuo videbimus lumen.


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