A SUDDEN ATTACK OF SCHOOL.

ImageOn a late summer afternoon in 1962, I paced the length of the landing on the cement steps to my family’s house. Through the screen on the door, I heard Mom and Dad asking each other where this or that was as they prepared to take me to some place called school. I grumbled to myself, having been forced to wait many times before while they searched for forgotten items. “Come on, let’s go,” I hollered through the screen.

“just wait on the steps,” Mom hollered back. “We just have to find a few things.”

After what seemed like hours, my parents and I squeezed into our Volkswagen and drove to an L-shaped yellow building with a big field around it. My parents led me across a gravel parking lot and up the wooden steps into the school. As I looked about me at the desks and blackboards of the grade one room, my parents were involved in a long conversation with my teacher. I don’t remember what they said but they must have grappled with the problem of my poor vision. Fifty years ago, most people assumed that sight-impaired children couldn’t be educated in public school. Mom and Dad must have had to do a hurculean job of convincing the teacher that I could learn things.

After another period of tedious waiting, my parents and I left for home.

I didn’t take well to school. Having enjoyed the freedom of my  formative years, this sudden change in my routine angered me. Consequently, I resisted this unwelcomed change.

My sister, Diane, was a year younger than I. She longed to go with me to school while I loathed it. Though I felt flattered that she wished to be with me instead of enjoying her day filled with play, I wished I could stay with her. Diane cried and whined as I grumbled about kids throwing rocks at me and teachers resenting my presence in their classroom. Mom tried to explain how important learning would be when I was a man but I ignored her words.

Since the teachers had little faith in my ability, they let me play with plasticine and draw pictures. That suited me just fine. I liked drawing and making shapes with the plasticine. As a result of my attitude and the uncertanty of the teachers, I failed grade one and had to take it again next September.

I felt glad that Diane could walk with me to school the next autumn. My attitude had also changed regarding learning. In fact, the teacher once showed me off to her friend, the grade two teacher, when I was able to recite the alphabet. I couldn’t understand why both adults made such a fuss over such a little thing. My new-found interest in learning helped me pass that June.

As I wrote in my Deliverance from Jericho memoir, I nearly had to repeat grade one a third time. The teacher of that class figured I was a new pupil and therefore had to go to her class. My steadfast refusal saved me from that fate. She let me go with a warning that I’d be punished if I lied to her.

For more information aboutDeliverance from Jericho, please visit the Bruce Atchison’s books link on my Blogspot page.s

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FORTY YEARS OF BACHELORHOOD.

ImageAs of August 28, 2012, I’ve been a bachelor for forty years. This was a big step for me since I had lived in boarding houses for the previous two years. This was because I attended a school with counselors tasked with helping visually-impaired students integrate into the public system.

On that summer afternoon in 1972, my mom accompanied me on the Greyhound bus from Fort Saskatchewan. When we arrived at the bus terminal in Edmonton, she called a taxi and gave the driver the address of the house I’d be living in.

As the cab came to a stop a while later, I liked the look of the tree-lined street and the large house that would be my residence. The landlady showed Mom and me a front parlor that had been converted into a suite. As I put my suitcases down in my new room, Mom paid the landlady the rent and damage deposit. After admonishing me about not making too much noise and cooking proper meals, she left.

I felt somewhat afraid of these new responsibilities as I unpacked my clothes. Mom’s constant fear about my wellbeing caused me to doubt my abilities. I wondered if I would lose this opportunity of freedom if I proved to be incapable of caring for myself. I vowed not to let that happen.

I decided to make some rice for supper. As I poured a cupfull into the pot, it didn’t seem like enough. I poured another cupfull in and turned on the burner. To  my surprise, I ended up with far more rice than I could eat. Having already eaten some peas and wieners, I felt too full to eat what I had cooked.

I listened to my shortwave radio during the evening, remembering not to turn up the volume too high. Then I got ready for bed before eleven so that I would be properly awake the next day.

As I lay in bed, I heard yelling coming from the landlady’s suite. It went on past the deadline for noise as I tossed and turned. Finally the landlady and her drunken husband stopped arguing at about midnight and I was able to sleep.

Being on my own suited me well. I never felt the need for my meals to be cooked, though I did rely on Mom to do my laundry for another four years. I didn’t suffer malnutrition as Mom feared. In fact, I enjoyed buying what I wanted to eat and eating when I felt like. It gave me a sense of self worth like nothing I had experienced before.

Looking back on those years, I realized how Mom’s fears held me back. Doing laundry wasn’t a complicated matter as Mom indicated. Sweeping the floor and wiping the counters became easy for me as I spent time on my own. The way she treated me, one would assume I was a little boy, not a young man about to turn sixteen. None of the disasters she worried about befell me.

God willing, I’ll be looking after myself for many years to come. I enjoy my solitude and being free to do whatever I want whenever I want to. The Lord may indeed send me a special lady someday who wouldn’t treat me like an incontinent  child. Only time will tell.

I’ve written about this and other experiences in my Deliverance from Jericho memoir. Check out the Bruce Atchison’s books page for details about it and my previous book, When a Man Loves a Rabbit.

HOW I WAS SET UP

ImageWhy did I join a cult church and attend it for more than fifteen years? In fact, why would anybody believe that a tiny congregation, meeting in the basement of a house, would have the best understanding of God’s truth as well as featuring a self-anointed preacher. Wouldn’t the strangeness of him letting spirits inhabit his body and teach put off anybody with even a little understanding of Christianity? Why didn’t I notice how many scriptures he took out of context, even after I bought a Bible and read it all the way through?

Many people visited that church briefly and left, usually without explanation. What did they detect during their short time there that I missed? certainly the belief that new revelations, hidden from the mainline churches for two thousand years, should have alerted me that something wasn’t right.

To properly understand why I fell for the founder’s subterfuge, I must explain the direction of my spiritual path from the time I gave my life to Christ back in August of 1969 until I was invited two years later to what I thought would be an ordinary Wednesday night meeting.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:14, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” As nobody from the Vacation Bible School followed up with me by a visit or phone call, I too was tossed about by every wind of doctrine.

Not only did I not understand the importance of regular fellowship with believers but certain Christians had been far from Christ-like toward me. A year before my conversion, the teacher sent me home from the local Lutheran Vacation Bible School class for not looking up First Kings something or other. I felt unjustly punished. Being almost blind, how could I read the microscopic print in the Bible he handed me. I had no magnifying glass back then. Consequently, I stayed home during the rest of that summer.

As I wrote in my previous memoir, Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), I attended Saint Helen’s Anglican Church again that September. Everybody in the institution had no choice but to attend the Sunday service of their parent’s faith. I felt it was a waste of time. Anglicans didn’t teach the gospel as the vacation Bible school did. Their concept of the Christian life was that we should be nice to each other and do good works so we could go to heaven. Additionally, my mom was nominally a Lutheran but the school had no volunteer drivers from that denomination.

As a result of these negative church experiences, the radio became my source of discipleship in the summer of 1970. Eventually, I discovered The World Tomorrow. This was a program hosted by a man named Garner Ted Armstrong. What impressed me most was that it wasn’t the usual Bible-thumping sort of show. He spoke authoritatively about Bible prophecy and how it supposedly related to today’s news events. As I tuned in each evening, I became hooked by the promise of knowing what would happen in the near future.

In my upcoming <How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoir, I wrote about my introduction to a house church and the blasphemous doctrines they taught. I hope to have the book published this year. My previous paperbacks are available at the Bruce Atchison’s books link.

THE DAY I LOST TRUST IN GOD

.ImageHave you ever wondered why God lets bad things happen? This is a question that philosophers and clergy have wrestled with for millennia. I also have had my doubts about the Lord’s protection. In one instance back in 1983, he taught me a lesson through allowing somebody to break into my suite.

I attended an Amway rally which was held on August 27. In addition to motivational speeches, The Nylons performed their a cappella renditions of various popular tunes.

I dressed in my suit and tie for that occasion. Then I called a taxi because I missed the bus. As I got into the cab, I noticed somebody sitting on the front steps of the house.

As I walked to the steps which lead down to my suite that evening, I noticed something red under the bush by my kitchen window. It was the bowl where my spider plant sat. I found the pot and put it back in the bowl. Then I noticed that the window was not in it’s frame but a bit beside it. That’s when I realized that somebody broke into my house.

After searching my suite, I called the police and told them that only money and some jewellery, including a diamond ring which Mom gave me, were stolen. When an officer knocked on my door, I showed him where I had hidden my money and where the jewellery had been stolen from. After dusting for fingerprints and photographing the scene he left.

The upstairs tenants felt affronted when I told them that I wondered if it was an inside job. Things had gone missing from the laundry room closet where I stored my products. One of those things was an old battery-powered antique radio. The back window to the laundry room had been broken in March and I found it had been removed a few times before. According to the tenants, a teenage friend of their’s had done it.

When I insisted on pursuing the case, one tenant cornered me and insisted I drop the charges. I felt humiliated as I reluctantly agreed.

The police officer gave me a booklet about personal safety and protecting property before he left. One suggestion was to mark all my things with some sort of identification number.

I diligently marked up all my records and album covers. Then I borrowed an engraving pen from the police station and marked up my electronic devices such as radios and tape recorders.

I also made a recording, telling about the events which lead up to the break-in. I knew that cases dragged on for a long time so I wanted to get all the facts straight before I forgot them.

I know now the real reason Why God allowed this break-in. I had the wrong idea about who he was and what he expects from us. He isn’t like a magic wand and his son’s name isn’t some sort of talisman. Like a father, he sometimes lets us do things our way to show us how wrong we were. I’m glad I know him much better through the mistakes I’ve made.

I also post excerpts of my books on my Bruce Atchison’s books page. My paperbacks can also be purchased from that page.

THE WONDERFUL WATER PARK.

Summer is a time of fun and relaxation for many of us. Families go on vacation to get away from the daily routine. Children frequent swimming pools and play grounds, making the most of their free time. Those folks who must work all summer often visit local attractions in their off hours.

Being a single man, I still needed a break from the usual grind from time to time. Though I’d visited West Edmonton Mall and saw the dolphins, I’d never tried the water park. On one of my Friday Afternoons off, I rode the busses, bathing suit and towel in hand, to find out what everybody raved about. It was more fun than I expected.

I first tried the wave pool, a swimming pool with an artificial wave generator. I liked that plus the pool was like a beach, gradually getting deeper.

Next, I rode a sort of wheelless go cart thing which slid down rollers and splashed into a pool. That was quite fun too.

Then I tried the water slides. I didn’t like them as much as the ones at Kelowna but they were still enjoyable.

Afternoons spent like that were good psychologically since I felt increasingly frustrated at work. The admission to the water park seemed inexpensive compared to the pleasure I had.

I related my frustrations with work and my spiritual life in my upcoming How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoir. I hope to have it in print and e-book form in a few months. Meanwhile, you can check out my books at the Bruce Atchison’s books link.

NEVER PAY YOUR DEBTS WITH OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY.

ImageIf more people practiced this principle, this world would be a much happier place. Of course it isn’t always so. Far too many trusting and sincere individuals have been bilked out of their money by unscrupulous con artists and dodgy business people. Many never receive their money back either.

In my case, I nearly lost a lot of money in the summer of 1988. A fellow amateur radio operator named Hart began his own radio dealership. I had recently received my tax refund and thought I should treat myself to a top-of-the-line station.

I chose the transceiver from an Icom catalogue and visited Hart’s store on my Friday afternoon off work. I handed him two thousand dollars in cash so that it would make the sale less of a problem for him. Hart said he didn’t have the model I wanted in stock but that he’d order it for me.

I felt elated as I walked along the sunlit street to the bus stop. I would soon own a decent transceiver instead of the pathetic model that the CNIB loaned to me.

Weeks passed as I grew steadily more impatient. Whenever I called Hart, he said, “I put your order in and I’m waiting for Icom to ship it. Just be patient. These things take time.”

By late September, a number of hams became suspicious. They too had received the same answer. We decided in the first week of October to file a case in Small Claims Court. The ombudsman discovered that Hart had been paying off his own debts with our money instead of ordering merchandise.

Hart promptly refunded our purchases but nobody spoke to him afterwards. He went out of business and I heard a rumour that he moved away to somewhere in British Columbia.

If Hart dealt honestly with his customers, he would have had enough repeat business to keep his store open. Had he been prudent, he never would have had debt problems in the first place. Because he sought a quick way out of his indebtedness, he lost the respect of the entire amateur radio community in Edmonton.

I’ve written more about my love of radio and electronics in my previous memoirs as well as one which I hope to publish soon. You can read about both of them on the Bruce Atchison’s books page.

HOW TO IMPRESS A LANDLORD

.Renting out apartments and houses can be a nightmare. As in other areas of life, a few nasty renters spoil it for everybody else.

Though I wasn’t a perfect tenant, I strove to be quiet and to look after the places that I rented. In fact, one future landlord felt impressed at my consideration of neighbouring tenants when he visited my apartment. This is how it happened.

“I found a place that you could rent,” Mom said to me on the phone one July afternoon. “It’s the main floor of a house.” I eagerly jotted down the phone number and address. Having prayed for fifteen months that I could find a quiet place to live, I hoped that God would finally grant me my request.

Marshall, the landlord, met me at the house one afternoon. “This place seems not too bad,” I said as we walked into the second bedroom, “but is the downstairs neighbour quiet?”

“Sure. He’s an older gentleman and he doesn’t play loud music.”

“What about the neighbours? Do they have dogs?”

“As far as I know, they’re quiet. Nobody’s complained to me.”

“Great. I’ll sign the contract then.” As I wrote my name, I silently prayed that I wasn’t making another mistake.

“Do you have a cheque to pay the damage deposit and first month’s rent?” he asked.

“I forgot to bring it. Could we meet again here and I can give you the money?”

“How about if I give you a ride to your place and you could cut me a cheque there?”

“Sure. Thanks a lot for the offer. I have to take the busses since I can’t see to drive a car.”

At my apartment, he and I sat at my kitchen table as I filled out the cheque. “What’s that speaker unit doing on the table?” he pointed into the living room.

“That’s so I can hear my music without disturbing the neighbours underneath me. After all, God put my ears on the sides of my head and not my ankles.”

“Good. I’m glad to know that. I think you’ll be a good tenant.”

Pleased with his complement, I silently thanked God for letting Mom find the new place in the paper. As with the previous moves, I eagerly counted the days as I packed.

I wrote about my long search for a quiet place to live in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. I hope to have this memoir published by the end of the year. Please check out my previous paperbacks on the Bruce Atchison’s Books link.