FLIP: A Column About Skateboarding
Joel Rice is still coping with the sobering reality that he never became a professional skateboarder. He now writes this column about skateboarding and is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. In addition, his work has appeared in the Believer, ESPN The Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle and The Skateboard Mag.
Ed Templeton, Professional Skateboarder/Atheist.
BY Joel Rice
For our third and final installment exploring evangelical Christianity within the skateboard industry we spoke with Ed Templeton. Though both Christian Hosoi and Ed Templeton are icons within the skateboard industry they are a study in stark contrasts. Whereas Hosoi is all sun-soaked fervor, Templeton’s voice, with its slow and considered monotone, evokes bus stations at 3:00 a.m., lonely freeways underpasses, a television’s white noise.
In the late ’80s—as industry attention turned away from the theatricality of ramps—Templeton helped introduce a new technical vocabulary to contemporary street skating. (He is often credited with inventing the trick known as “the ollie impossible”.) At 37-years-old, he still resides in Huntington Beach and rides skateboards professionally for his company Toy Machine. Additionally Templeton has garnered international recognition as a painter and photographer. (At the time of this interview he had recently returned from Belgium where a gallery had put on a show of his works.)
Q: What do you think of The Uprising?
Ed Templeton: Truthfully, I’m not religious so as an outsider it’s all quite ridiculous. I’m like a recently strengthened atheist. With the recent flood of books that have come out—the Hitchens book and the Dawkins book, the Sam Harris book—I feel like there’s a new awakening of atheism. It shouldn’t be in the closet anymore. I’m trying to be a little more outspoken in some ways. I think [one] of the messages in those books is: We actually need to ridicule some of those beliefs because they’re poisoning the world in a lot of ways.
Q: You have personal connections to many of the cast members on the show. It must give you a unique perspective.
ET: I know Christian fairly well. I also have a long history with Brian Sumner. He came to Huntington Beach as a young English boy and hung out with Geoff Rowley who was pretty much my best friend at that period. I watched him go through his anger, drugs and whatever phase and I am sure he is using it now as his transformative thing.
But do I see it as bad? I guess not necessarily. There’s a lot worse things in the world. I am not one of these people who want to see Christians fail or have a shitty life or something like that.
My belief system is that I believe you can do good things, and reach out to people and have morals and God can have nothing to do with that. We’re innately good. And with education comes even more compassion and more responsibility.
Q: But there is an incredible sincerity to aspects of the show.
ET: For sure. They’re feeling it. I definitely don’t question the sincerity of it at all. Christian obviously had a bunch of bad things happen to him. For them religion is a reminder to be good and not do those things that made them bad. I know for sure that Christian had a transformative experience and the title of that, for him, is Jesus Christ. That’s fine, you know? For him. In my opinion you could name it anything. You know, “I read a Mark Twain book and now my life is great.” Whatever.
It’s a support group. It helps bring people who are Christian privately into public.
Most people would profess a view in some kind of God. Even me. In the past, I would claim some agnostic type-thing. Where I’d say, “I don’t know.” Now I’m tending a little more to say, “I am an atheist I don’t think there is a God.” Now I’m taking a stand. I’m putting my neck out there. It’s also scary or risky for me, to say what I believe. So support groups sort of help.
Q: Maybe you could have a rival television show, about skateboarding atheists skating around and finding other atheists.
ET: Yeah. I’ve been thinking in the future I’d like to illustrate lesser stories of the Bible. The other day I was in a hotel room in Paris, and they had a New Testament in there in English, which surprised me. I cracked it open right to the part where Jesus was being resurrected, or news of him not being in his tomb hit the town. And there’s this part where two disciples run to the gravesite. But I’m reading through and there’s these two lines about one guy running faster than the other guy and beating him there. And I was, like, weird. What a weird tidbit to have in the Bible that one guy beat the other guy there. There’s this weird pettiness of one disciple beating the other guy to Jesus’s tomb. That would be sort of a funny story to illustrate.
SUGGESTED READSFLIP: A Column About Skateboarding: Column 3: An Interview with Christian Hosoi, Professional Skateboarder/Pastor
by Joel Rice (7/29/2009)
FLIP: A Column About Skateboarding: Column 1: Skateboarder: An Interview with Writer Bret Anthony Johnston
by Joel Rice (1/14/2009)
FLIP: A Column About Skateboarding: Column 2: Afghanistan’s First Skateboard School: An Interview with Founders Oliver Percovich and Sharna Nolan
by Joel Rice (6/5/2009)
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