The Compleat Heretic's Autobiography
This page was last modified on 1 April 2016.
"An autobiography is not the complete record of a life, but an effort to make sense of one."
-- David Horowitz, Radical Son, "Acknowledgments," p. ix
I'm James Matthew Wallace. My family and friends call me "Matt." My old Army buddies, having earned the right, call me "Wally"; they alone are allowed to call me this, and you aren't, not being one of them, not being one of us. My enemies, depending on their sincerity or bigotry, refer to me with a variety of epithets, both gratuitously and deservedly.
I'm one of the few conservative, Republican, traditionalist, Secular Humanist atheists in existence, hence I adopted the cyberidentity and cybernym of "The Compleat Heretic" when I stated this site in 1997. That's "Compleat" as in "highly proficient" and "Heretic" as in "one who dissents from an accepted belief or doctrine." I'm still trying to figure how I got to where I am now, but one thing's for sure: "What a long, strange trip it's been." You're welcome to come along.
I'm a fifty-five-year-old professional student who has earned 217 hours of undergraduate credit at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, on and off since 1983, across three majors (Philosophy, Finance, and English). I completed the requirements for a B.S. in Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate from the Joseph M. Bryan School of Business and Economics in 2006. Though I've been on one of my periodic sabbaticals from UNCG since 2012, I'm working on a second undergraduate degree, a B.A. with a double major in English (concentrations in Literature and Creative Writing) and Philosophy.
Until I left in 2010, I was a Working Class Hero for over eight-and-a-half years as package handler at United Parcel Service's Greensboro hub. And the "Working Class Hero" appellation isn't a college-boy affectation; I was also a third-generation member of Teamsters Local 391, my father and his father before him both having been not only Local 391 members themselves but retired Teamsters as well. As I'm pension-qualified, I can call myself a UPS retiree.
I reckon I'm still trying to figure out who I am and what I am, but then, I always have and always will. As Bob Dylan said, "He not busy being born is busy dying." An Indian Hindu suggested that I was a Karma Yogi, and I have to agree, in so much as a non-Hindu and a Westerner can be such. Over the course of my adult life, at times and often more than once for some aspects, I've been a scholar, a seeker, a worker, an intellectual bum, a soldier, and a partisan political activist. Along the way, I've become a conservative, Republican, traditionalist, Secular Humanist atheist. I'm a free-market capitalist and a moral traditionalist and a "godless heathen." Yes, it seems contradictory, but I make it work; all it takes is a truly open mind.
For the record, my ethical system is analogous to, not derived from, Christianity; any similarity suggests that Christians are wrong merely in their justification: "God." Anyway, atheists are individualistic creatures if nothing else. If it causes you consternation, well you have something in common with the religious conservatives who are baffled by my seemingly anomalous atheism or the atheists who can't understand why I seemingly adhere to "Christian morality." Makes your skin crawl, doesn't it!?
This autobiography serves a dual purpose. First, it provides some insight into who and what I am for those who do not know me. Second, it is an exercise in self-examination so that I might gain a deeper appreciation for who and what I am and the process by which this occurred. Please note: This is hardly a thorough autobiography and is more topical and episodic than chronological. Accordingly, this autobiography is broken into segments to provide something of a coherent framework and to allow ready future expansion. Current segments include The Atheist, The Soldier, and The Republican. "The Atheist" covers my (ir)religious life. "The Soldier" covers my military service. "The Republican" covers my political life. Hopefully, each of us will gain something from this.
- Introduction and Contents
- Being All I Could Be; or, Descent into Madness
How I came to volunteer for the Army
- Becoming a Soldier; or, Learning How to Not Think
Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training: January-April 1986
- Going Home a Soldier
Leave prior to shipping out to Germany: April 1986
- Two Years as a Dead Man on the Cold War's Frontline
Service in Aschaffenburg-am-Main, Germany: May 1986-April 1988
- Wally's Most Excellent PCS Adventure
My all-expenses-paid, cross-country trip courtesy of Uncle Sam: May-June 1988
- Concord, Massachusetts
- Niagara Falls
- South Dakota Badlands and the Black Hills
- Yellowstone National Park
- At Least I'm Not a Californicator
Service at Fort Lewis, Washington: June 1988-December 1989
- Weaning Myself from the Big Green Tit
Transfer to the Reserves and retraining at Ft. Benjamin Harrison, Indiana: January-March 1990
- Well, This Is Another Fine Mess I've Gotten Myself Into
Service as an activated Reservist during the Persian Gulf War: August 1990-May 1991
- I Was a Soldier, and I Did a Soldier's Duty
Why I served
- Military Awards of James Matthew Wallace, Sergeant, U.S. Army, Honorably Discharged
Eight years of my life as bits of colored cloth
- Introduction and Contents
- Becoming a Republican; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying About the Religious Right and Find a Political Home
- Becoming a Republican
Becoming a Republican
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