THE RABBIT WHO INSPIRED A BOOK.

ImageThousands of books have been written about dogs and cats but how many were inspired by pet rabbits? As far as I know, not many were. Because of this shortage of bunny stories, I wrote When A Man Loves a Rabbit )Learning and Living With Bunnies).

Gideon, pictured here hurling socks between his legs, was the first rabbit that I adopted after I heard about keeping bunnies in the house like a cat or dog. He certainly lived up to his name. Like a fur-clad Dennis the Menace, he got into everything he could find.

As the years passed, I learned so much about Gideon’s kind. One of these facts is that bunnies can be litter trained. They have a natural instinct that forbids them from fowling their warrens. Rabbits also like to eat as they do their business. Placing hay in one end of the litter encouraged Gideon to use the plastic, rectangular pan that I bought from a pet store.

Rabbits are quite affectionate as well. Gideon loved to lick my hair when I had it cut short. He also loved to be petted. When he felt exceptionally happy, he made a sort of tooth-grinding noise to show his delight. As I searched for freelance work with my computer on the Internet, Gideon often kept me company. I’d often look down to see him loafing next to my desk or underneath it.

Gideon also loved  to run what my rabbit-loving friends called the Bunny 500. As I worked on the computer in the mornings, he ran back and forth in the hallway. I could tell that he was having a ball because he didn’t look frightened. Sometimes he would jump up in the air and turn around, landing facing the opposite direction. We bunny folks called that a binky. His playfulness always cheered me up.

My fur-clad lad also loved to hurl rolled-up socks between his legs. I would often pile old socks under the desk in my bedroom and Gideon dug them out. Then he’d spread his front paws apart and push the pile away from the desk. This game helped him get his urge to dig out of his system. He also enjoyed shredding newspaper and chewing up cardboard boxes.

Inevitably, Gideon developed cataracts and a prolapsed rectum. The time came when I had to make the painful choice to euthanize my beloved fur sir. February 16th was a sad day for me. I loved Gideon so much and knowing that he was in pain broke my heart. The church friend who took me to the vet’s also buried my fur sir’s body in her yard next to her dog who also had passed away recently.

When a Man Loves a Rabbit is available at the Bruce Atchison’s books page, along with my Deliverance from Jericho memoir. My most recent book, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity, is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

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ATONING FOR MY MISTAKE.

ImageWhen it comes to advice, some folks are full of it. I found out this truth the hard way many times in my life. One of these incidents happened in November of 2006. I visited the Redwater Public Library for a book signing session one afternoon. Aping a certain local author’s selling approach, I handed out bookmarks and told people that rabbits make great house pets. What I neglected to say was that they aren’t the sort of animal for children or house-proud people.

A blond woman took one of my bookmarks but rushed off before I could explain more about bunnies. I shrugged and continued with my pitch as more library patrons came to check out my display.

Three months later, that woman phoned me. “My name’s Theresa,” she began. “I got one of your bookmarks. I have a bunny but I don’t want her anymore. Would you like to have her?”

I thought it over for a few seconds, then replied, “Can’t you look after her yourself?”

“No. If you won’t take her, I’ll give her to the SPCA.”

I agreed to take the bunny, though I felt upset that Theresa bought her from a breeder on a whim. I felt responsible for the rabbit being in a home where she wasn’t wanted so I decided to make amends for my error.

On the ninth of February, Theresa brought over the rabbit. She handed me a cloth bag and said, Here she is.”

I put her in my bathroom, next to the litter box so she could become acclimatized to her new surroundings. Since she was named Sierra, I decided to keep her name.

In retrospect, it was good that I adopted her. Sierra was feisty and destructive. She shredded toilet paper, chewed door posts, and stripped the wallpaper. Even after being spayed, she was a pint-sized troublemaker. Worse yet, she lost her litter box habits a year later and had to be confined to a pen. I put up with her wetting in the wrong places until 2010 when I reluctantly placed her in a wire-bottom cage.

In May of 2011, I came downstairs to feed Sierra and found her laying on her side. She was unable to move and her back legs quivered when I touched them. She ate a spoonful of pumpkin when I placed it under her nose but she couldn’t get up at all. I placed her on a towel in my bath tub and called the vet. He agreed to pick her up the next day.

The next afternoon, the vet gave me the bad news. He said Sierra had meningitis and he asked if I wanted her put to sleep. I reluctantly agreed, knowing that Sierra wouldn’t have a good quality of life if I tried to keep her in that state.

I now warn potential rabbit owners that these creatures need special care and that homes need to be rabbit-proofed. They aren’t like dogs and cats but they do make great companions for those who are prepared to look after them on their terms.

My When a Man Loves a Rabbit memoir contains helpful tips that I learned while living with house bunnies. It’s available through the Bruce Atchison’s books link.

GREAT WAS MY FAITHFULNESS.

ImageDid you ever feel like the only one who cared about the teachings of your religious institution or organization? In my How I Was Razed memoir, I had the same feeling about a church newsletter. Here’s how what I felt ought to have been popular actually wasn’t.

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“I’m starting a monthly newsletter,” Sister Roberta announced as half a dozen of us congregants ate sandwiches at Sister Eileen’s table one Sunday. “It’ll contain key points from Brother Herald’s talks. Since many of you can’t come on Wednesday nights, you can read the important doctrinal points in the newsletter. It’ll be couched in my own language, of course, but it’ll convey Brother Herald’s message.”

As the other adults made noises of approval, I said, “I’ll take it. Is there a charge for this?”

“Oh no, Bruce,” she assured, “it’s free to all the church membership.”

Sister Roberta compiled, printed, and posted copies to each church family that week. I read the newsletter at work from cover to cover the day it came in the mail. Sister Roberta felt flattered the next Sunday when I complimented her for her splendid work in spreading Brother Herald’s teachings.

Though I read each newsletter from beginning to end, the rest of the congregation soon lost interest in it.

Sister Roberta admitted defeat one Wednesday. “I won’t be producing the newsletter anymore,” she informed me. When I asked why, she stated, “You’re the only one who reads it, Bruce.”

I sighed and frowned. The newsletter was, in my opinion, a good way to reinforce Brother Herald’s deep teachings.    

I sighed again at the bank when I read the last page of the final newsletter and placed it in my briefcase. “Those people are all stupid,” I muttered. “They’ll regret their laziness when Jesus returns.”

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I’m glad now that nobody else bothered with the newsletter. Brother Herald’s teachings were blasphemous, as I discovered decades later. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity aptly demonstrates how off-the-wall his ideas were. Amazon and Barnes & Noble distribute the e-book edition while Virtual Bookworm stocks the paperback version. My previous books can be purchased on the Bruce Atchison’s books page.

RE-MARK-ABLE FRIENDSHIP.

ImageWhy do people spend thousands of dollars on their pets and their veterinary care? Like Judas Iscariot, some folks balk at the very idea of spending that much for what they perceive as an extravagance. What those individuals don’t understand is that the companionship of a beloved pet can’t be measured in monetary terms.

Mark was one such animal. Back in July of 2008, a local woman called me about two bunnies that she rescued from her cousins. They had lost interest in the bunnies and had left them outdoors in tiny cages, enduring the summer heat. I didn’t want any more rabbits at first but I finally adopted the pair.

I was captivated by the sweetness of both rabbits when the woman brought them over. Both were Dutch bunnies but with chocolate brown markings rather than black. One I named Carolyne and the other Mark.

Once the bunnies got to know me, their characters blossomed. Carolyne was outgoing and a licky rabbit while Mark was more laid back. Both animals enjoyed being petted, especially after I had them spayed and neutered. We spent many happy hours together as the months passed by.

After a year, both rabbits developed cheek abscesses. The local vet never prescribed any antibiotics for them since the liquid he extracted from the abscesses was clear. He assumed it was saliva. Since I have a hard time finding rides, I felt reluctant to travel to a distant vet for better treatment of my bunnies. I wish I had found somebody reliable.

Carolyn died of bloat in August of 2009 but Mark lived on. His abscesses got worse and the local vet finally removed a large, foul-smelling swelling from his chin in January of 2012. Because of that man’s callous treatment of my bunnies over the years, I searched for a rabbit-savvy vet and somebody to drive me there. I finally got Mark to a good clinic an hour’s drive away. After all sorts of tests and an X-ray, the vet determined that Mark had bad teeth as well as a thymoma or lymphoma on his lungs. He also had a bad abscess which was drained that afternoon. Marks teeth were burred as well since the tooth pain prevented him from eating hay properly. It cost me more than $900.00 but at least I had a proper idea of what was wrong with my fur-clad lad.

After another vet appointment in November, in which I paid $300.00, the vet gave me the bad news that Mark’s problem was hopeless. The infection went into his jaw bone and antibiotic beads would only prolong his life temporarily. I’m on a disability pension so paying thousands more for treatments was out of the question. The clinic gave me some Metacam for Mark’s pain and Chloramphenicol to fight the infection. By the beginning of this month, I saw that Mark was feeling miserable because the medicines ran out.

A neighbour drove me to a clinic, about 45 minutes away, on January 18th. It was a hard decision to make but I decided that my Dutch dude would be better off out of his misery. Instead of handing Mark’s body to me in a black trash bag, as the local vet had done with euthanized  bunnies in the past, the clinic staff covered him with the towel in the carrier. Ten days later, they sent me a signed sympathy card.

I’ll never forget Mark. He loved canned pumpkin and went wild when he knew it was coming. Check out my www.youtube.com/ve6xtc channel to see him and some of my other bunnies. By the way, I wrote about my adventures with my long-eared friends in When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies). Check it out at my Bruce Atchison’s books page.

I’ve recently written How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Amazon and Barnes & Noble stock the e-book version while Virtual Bookworm stocks the paperback edition.

HOW I MISSED A MUSICAL MILESTONE.

ImageMost people never receive an honour such as having their composition broadcast across the former Soviet Union. Today is a bitter-sweet anniversary for me. In 1991, one of my electronic music pieces was played on a radio network in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

I felt so excited the day I received the letter from Sergey Tutov, host of a radio show called Tangerine Wave. He informed me that January 31 would be the day that my music would be played on his show.

As soon as I arrived home from work, I turned the dial of my shortwave receiver. In those days, the CIS hadn’t yet begun to switch to FM for their relay stations. Though reception was good, I missed the broadcast. Either I mixed up the time or the date.

A few weeks later, I received the playlist of the show on which my composition had been played. I felt proud of this accomplishment but chagrinned that I couldn’t record it for myself.

Six years later, I had the privilege of traveling to Moscow and being a guest on Sergey’s show. A friend of his made a tape of it and it’s one of my treasured possessions today. I no longer compose electronic music but I still fondly remember the triumphs and friendships I made during those years.

I mentioned my music in my debut memoir, When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living with Bunnies. It and my memoir of being in a school for the blind are available at the Bruce Atchison’s books link. My recently published testimony, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is distributed through Amazon and Barnes & Noble in e-book form. Virtual Bookworm stocks the paperback version.

THE JOB DESCRIPTION OF A CHRISTIAN.

How I Was Razed final front cover, smallI attracted the ire of a few atheists last month when I wrote about the small, vocal minority who protest any public display of the Christmas story. In the comments I received, some folks assumed that all believers were bent on shoving Christianity down the throats of everybody else. The truth is that not all Christians feel they have to “take back the country for Christ.”

So, what are Christians supposed to do? Jesus said in Matthew 28: 19 and 20, “Go then, and make disciples of all the nations, giving them baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to keep all the rules which I have given you: and see, I am ever with you, even to the end of the world.” He made no mention of bringing back inconsequential regulations such as school prayer or keeping the Ten Commandments prominently displayed in court houses. The Christian’s responsibility is to proclaim Christ as the risen saviour and Lord, not to start a theocracy.

Some people might ask, “What about opposing abortion?” Many passages in Scripture tell us that children are precious to God. He foreknew the prophets before they were even born. The Bible also admonishes believers to defend the poor and orphans. Justice is an attribute of God and he won’t let any injustice go unpunished forever.

“But what should we do about the government?” many might ask. Romans 12:1 to 7 states, “Let everyone put himself under the authority of the higher powers, because there is no power which is not of God, and all powers are ordered by God. For which reason everyone who puts himself against the authority puts himself against the order of God: and those who are against it will get punishment for themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear to the good work but to the evil. If you would have no fear of the authority, do good and you will have praise; For he is the servant of God to you for good. But if you do evil, have fear; for the sword is not in his hand for nothing: he is God’s servant, making God’s punishment come on the evil-doer. So put yourselves under the authority, not for fear of wrath, but because you have the knowledge of what is right. For the same reason, make payment of taxes; because the authority is God’s servant, to take care of such things at all times. Give to all what is their right: taxes to him whose they are, payment to him whose right it is, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour is to be given.”

The only time civil disobedience is required of Christians is when the government tells them to do something contrary to the scriptures or prevents them from obeying God. As in Acts 4:19 and 20 when Peter and John answered the temple rulers after they warned them not to preach about Jesus’ resurrection, “But Peter and John in answer said to them, ‘It is for you to say if it is right in the eyes of God to give attention to you more than to God: For it is not possible for us to keep from saying what we have seen and have knowledge of.'”

I could write much more about this subject but the post would turn into a book. If Christians love the Lord with all their hearts, strength, and mind as well as loving their neighbours as they do themselves, they won’t need to worry about secondary issues. Most believers try their best to follow Christ’s example. Only a few ruin it for the many by shrilly protesting against legislation that has no eternal value.

In How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity, I became involved with many movements that I regret being part of now. Amazon and Barnes & Noble distribute this inspiring testimony of God’s patience while Virtual Bookworm stocks the paperback version. My previous books are available at the Bruce Atchison’s books link.

WHAT IS A HOUSE CHURCH?

ImageWhenever I mentioned that I was once a member of a house church, people often ask what that is. This question often takes me by surprise since I’m so familiar with the term. For those who haven’t heard of such a congregation, here is a basic explanation of what one is.

A house church is a small  group of believers that meets in somebody’s home rather than at a designated church building. Many start off as Bible studies. The concept is based on the first-century Christians who met in the homes of fellow believers. Since they were barred from the synagogues, this was the only option for them.

As these congregations grew and spread across the Roman empire, they began building designated worship places. The acceptance of Christianity by the Romans made church building easier, negating the need for house churches.

When established denominations began to be rejected by teenagers in the Jesus People movement during the late sixties, house churches gained a new popularity. The ideal was to get back to the way worship was conducted by the early Christians.

In the case of the house church I was involved with for more than fifteen years, the lay minister formed it because he didn’t agree with the elders of the Pentecostal church he attended. Brother Herald, as I called him in my book, formed his own church in the basement of a friend’s home in 1952. In 1970, there was a church split. One congregant figured that he was the prophet like unto Moses mentioned in the Bible. Many of the members followed him, leaving only a few left to carry on. I joined that remnant in November of 1971.

How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity describes my indoctrination in Brother Herald’s peculiar beliefs and how the Lord led me to a proper knowledge of himself as well as the Bible. Amazon and Barnes & Noble distribute the e-book version while Virtual Bookworm distributes the paperback. My previous two books are available at the Bruce Atchison’s Books link.