My name is Aaron J. Smith aka CulturalSavage. I am in my early thirties, a father, husband, a writer, a nerd, a believer, and a dreamer.
Why “CulturalSavage”? What the heck is that about?
I have always wanted to be a surprise of a person, like a punk rock kid who finds exquisite pleasure in Bach, or wizard with a Walkman. It’s not that I think I am some great shock to people, rather I enjoy the idea of rich culture and raw savagery taking shelter in the same person. The idea that a forest dwelling gnome would have a library of mathematics, astronomy, and physics; the picture of a business man enjoying moping a floor; the academic wanting an earthy life of beer and blue color work; the coal miner solving the mysteries of the universe… these pictures capture the duality I feel in my self and the whole, rich, raw, and real life I want to lead. Movies, books, music, beer, wine, comics, sacred texts, computers, lined paper, dirty jokes, enlightenment, sarcasm, and honesty: this my DNA. That is why I started using Cultural Savage. Internet usage turned it into a one word brand, and thus CulturalSavage was birthed.
So, any highlights of your illustrious biography you want people to know about?
So, now I have to try and talk about my self? This is probably one of my most hated things. I suck at talking about me. Well, lets start with the bad and move to the good.
When I was two and a half, my mom died. My dad was a patrol cop. His work was always changing and not conducive for a single parent, so my grandparents raised me. I went to private school, and did well in academics. Social skills, not so much. To put it bluntly, I was a nerd. I was picked on, made fun of, and also had some great friends. Apparently, I was also an imaginative day dreamer. For several school years, I was given a special desk away from the rest of the class so that my race car erasers and pencil people didn’t interrupt the rest of the class. I read fast and got board.
Some time around seventh grade, I got it in my head that cool kids didn’t care about homework or grades, so I decided to hide my excitement at learning and “un-cool” stuff like legos, books, sci-fi, and natural sciences. I became one of the kids with “so much potential if you would just apply yourself.” But at least I had a group of friends… even if I was the kid who cried in the halls at school, got picked on and harassed by the boys in the locker room, and generally hated my school experience. I did learn how to smoke though. bonus!
Tenth grade rolled around, and I found I could make people laugh. In eleventh grade, I found that chicks liked me. Then I began dating. I never really figured out how to do it well, but I gave it a good attempt with many girls. I even had some serious long term relationships after high school. I never officially graduated from high school, but I did speak at my classes graduation. I found I really enjoyed writing essays and speaking in public, even if it made me feel like I was going to puke (which it still does). After high school, I began my long career in the field of customer and food service. I never went to college (couldn’t decide what to attend for), but I have always loved to learn and try to stay engaged in interesting topics.
Around this time, I began volunteering with a local church youth group. I began planning events, crafting lessons, leading small groups, teaching junior high, leading music, and generally trying to spend time teaching kids about Jesus and life. At some point I migrated to dealing with adults. I began to preach more often, lead bible studies, helped design curriculum, led music groups, attempted (and failed) to plant a church, was part of another church plant as the worship pastor. I spent most of my 20’s focusing on church activities and doing things I loved to do: helping people think better about Jesus, the bible, faith, and church.
At some point, I got burned out, cynical, and began to question if the way we do church really makes sense.
It was during this time that I met Sarah. We dated/lived together for a year, the got married. We now have a son (born in 2010). She has been a huge influence/inspiration to my life, faith, and dreams. Our family is such a good thing. My son is so precious (and such a little stink!). For the first time in my life, I feel like I am really wrestling and becoming comfortable with who I am. My identity is something that is beginning to become clear. Through my family, friends, and our little faith community I am beginning to discover dreams of a better Christianity, one that is real, and whole, and full of earth and ordinary holiness.