I can see where this ties in with your previous post. As we are pretty much the same age (I noted earlier where you were only 1 year older than my sister - my OLDEST sister), I can see where the Church would have been a real horror show for you. My mother use to threaten us with Catholic school if we were not good. Needless to say, that kept us in line (so no, I never went until College, and then it was only chasing a skirt, not because I wanted to go to a Catholic one).
So when you say "RCC Baggage", I can fully sympathize with you. The Church we grew up in no longer exists. If it did, I may be a an atheist as well. It was full of smoke and mirrors and thou shalts and thou shalt nots. They finally got their head screwed on correctly, so after wandering the faith wilderness for many years (trying different ones, even considering Judaism), I came back, sat down and had a very long debate with a priest. And came back (side note that means nothing - the priest later left the priesthood and got married).
We are probably too old to change now (but no one told John Wayne that). So I have no interest in converting you or convincing you. While politically I am more in line with the Christian Right, religiously I am far from them (but I am no more closer to the religious left either). So I will only tell you that I regret you never had a chance to get rid of the RCC baggage. Some find solace in such a rigidity and orderliness. Others (like you and I, I suspect) want things to make sense and never stop questioning. And the old church could never have been for us.
I guess you are like me in another way. How can "our God" abandon so many that never knew him? That is a toughie, and one that I had to wrestle with for a long time. It was that priest that helped me. IN essence, while we have different religions, in the end, "our" God is just our view of God. We have no way of knowing that he is not Vishnu, or the god of any other religion (except Buddhism since they acknowledge no god). It is not "ours" versus "theirs", but of the teachings of the supreme being. Hindus follow the same basic beliefs that Christian do. They just have different window dressing.
So, eliminating the pagan gods and the mythological gods, all religions that persevere seem to have one common central over riding theme to them. Treating your fellow man as humanely as you want to be treated. That tells me 2 things.
1. Either man is a terrible creature that cannot naturally be nice.
2. God decided to give that dictum as his main contribution to his children so that greatness could be achieved.
Anyway, that is the long way I came back to the Church. Oh, I do debate with priests and still do not take what they say as Gospel (I still disagree with them on the concept of Free Will and Omniscience).
Ok, now on to the last item of yours.