“I WANT ANSWERS, MISTER!”

One line frequently spoken by Captain james t. Kirk on Star Trek was, “I want answers, mister.” He wasn’t seeking advice, GUESSES, or anecdotes during crises but solid facts. I found out how worthless or even harmful advice can be, as this excerpt from my upcoming How I Was Razed manuscript demonstrates. During the spring of 1978, I was an unskilled labourer looking for work. In hindsight, I should have declined the suggestion from one well-meaning church member.

—————————————————————–

I was lead astray again, this time through my search for employment. “Why don’t you try a work experience program,” Sister E suggested as she, Sister R, and I ate dinner in her kitchen one Wednesday. “I know some people at Victoria Composite High who could steer you in the right direction. Of course, you’ll only be paid a dollar an hour.” When she saw my frown, she continued, “Don’t worry about that though. The experience will be invaluable for you and you won’t lose your Unemployment Insurance payments.” “Well,” I hesitated, “I suppose it’ll work out. It might be the answer to my prayers.” She stood up and said, “All right then, I’ll write down the room number for you and the name of who you are to contact.” I promptly went to the office the next afternoon and filled in the forms. As I had poor vision, the case worker assigned me to the CNIB warehouse. Back in my room, I dutifully filled in my weekly Unemployment Insurance claim card, ticking the “Yes” box after the question about finding work and “No” for the one about searching daily for employment. I saw no line for explanations so I wrote “WORK EXPERIENCE ONLY” at the bottom. I was promptly cut off from my benefits. When I phoned the commission and complained, a U.I. staff person insisted that I was disqualified. “It’s just a work experience program and I’m only getting a dollar an hour,” I explained. “I’m out of money.” “I’m sorry,” the woman said, “but you must be looking for work daily in order to receive your benefits.”

“How can I look for a job? I need this work experience to help me find a job after the month is over.”

“Call the ombudsman. It’s that person’s job to sort out these things.” She gave me the name and number, I called the ombudsman, and the misunderstanding was sorted out after three weeks.

In the meantime, I ran out of cash. “Why don’t you go to Hope Mission for help,” Sister E suggested. “You can get meals there and everything.” I hated the very idea of begging but I had little choice. The service I attended was enjoyable and the sandwiches I ate filled me but I realized that I couldn’t depend solely on them. What would I do for the other two meals? “You can have some of our Jam which we have in storage against the mark of the beast,” Sister R said. “Would you like some?” I agreed and she brought up several jars from the basement in a paper grocery bag. “These should still be edible,” she said. “We need to clear out the older food to make way for the new.” At home, I noticed the hand-written date 1957 on the lid. I was reluctant to eat twenty-one year-old jam but I realized it was all I had. When I did spread it on some bread that the mission provided, the sugar crystals annoyed me but the jam tasted all right. Sister R also gave me some circa 1957 spinach but I refused to eat it, fearing botulism. Additionally, she gave me a few dollars from Thee Church’s benevolent fund the next week after I pointed out how Sister E’s advice had landed me in my predicament.

—————————————————————–

This is one of many vignettes of how a cult church mislead me, how I rebelled against God for almost a decade, and how I eventually learned about biblical Christianity. For more information about my two previous memoirs, When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies), and Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), please visit the www.inscribe.org/BruceAtchison page.

IT WAS FORTY YEARS AGO TODAY THAT THE BEATLES REFUSED TO PLAY.

A recent news story reminded me that it was forty years ago on april 10th when Paul McCartney announced that he was leaving The Beatles. This may seem like unimportant ancient history for most people who never had to suffer condemnation from adults for liking rock music. The fact is that The Beatles played the tunes that my generation wanted to hear. Bach and Beethoven were irrelevant old farts as far as we were concerned. As a result of relentless criticism from my elders, I clung to rock, and especially The Beatles, all the tighter.

In my Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoir, I mentioned this conflict between musical styles throughout the narrative. Our minders insisted we listen to classical compositions but we found our identity in what groups like The Beatles offered. This is why the break up of the band effected me so deeply.

—————————————————————–

Though I was an avid radio listener, some news stories totally bypassed my attention. “Did you hear that new Beatles song called ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’?” I asked Geoffrey as we lingered in the Sunken Garden after school. “That’s not the Beatles; that’s Paul McCartney. Didn’t you hear that the Beatles broke up?” I felt astonished. It was as if the centre of my world suddenly vanished. That song sounded very similar to the Beatles to my ears. Geoffrey assured me that it actually did happen. “What are we going to listen to now?” I moaned. “Don’t be silly,” Geoffrey admonished, “There are other groups we can listen to. The world will go on without them. It’s not the end of the world, you know.” The break up of the Beatles certainly appeared that way to me as I walked back to the dorm. The warm, sunny afternoon lost all of its lustre as I realized that my favourite group was no more.

—————————————————————–

Each Friday, I offer excerpts from my books to let you readers gauge for yourselves if you want to purchase them. Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) offers insights into not only the world of disabled children before they were integrated into society but the public’s reaction to them. Likewise, When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) is more than a cute memoir of my experiences. I put valuable tips in the narrative that can save people a lot of grief and money. Please check out these books at the www.inscribe.org/BruceAtchison page.

NO LONGER WILL I TAKE THE BLAME

A certain person sent me a sick joke in an e-mail recently. It was about a little buck-toothed girl trying to buy a bunny from a pet store to feed to her python. When I objected to receiving such a disgusting forward, this so-called friend claimed in his rambling reply that I wasn’t doing anything to alert the public about snake owners feeding live rabbits to their pets. Instead of an apology, which any thoughtful individual would have given, I was indirectly criticized. I’ve decided that I will no longer take the blame when people falsely attribute it to me.

In my Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoir, I chronicled many instances when other people foisted the blame for their mistakes on me. Here is one egregious example from April of 1969 when I arrived in Vancouver from Edmonton after Easter vacation. I was only eleven years old, had no experience in travelling alone, and had poor sight, yet responsible adults acted as if I was the one who messed up.

—————————————————————–

When I stepped down from the train, no one from Jericho met me. Not knowing what else to do, I stood on the platform for approximately a half hour. When my legs grew tired, I lugged my suitcases inside the station. “Maybe someone will come along and find me here,” I thought as I sat on a raised concrete platform with my luggage.

After an hour or two, a railway official spotted me. “What are you doing – just sitting there like that?” he demanded.

“I’m waiting for somebody from Jericho Hill School to pick me up.”

“Well, you can’t wait around here forever. Can’t you call a cab or something? I’ve got work to do. I’m not your dad, you know.”

“Couldn’t you call the school for me? I don’t have the number and I don’t have any money left. I can’t see well, you know,” I added. He sighed and walked into an office to find the school’s number in the telephone directory.

Some time later, a man from the Administration Office arrived and drove me to the dorm. “You caused us a lot of problems you know,” he grumped. “We expected you to come tomorrow. Now my schedule is all messed up because of you.” My face fell even lower as I realized he blamed me for his inconvenience and the bureaucratic bungling which caused it.

—————————————————————–

Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like for me and my schoolmates in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. This 196-page paperback, containing 6 black and white photos, sells for $20.00 through the PayPal-equipped  http://www.inscribe.org/BruceAtchison website. My When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) book is also available on the site and sells for $10.00.

IS THERE A STUPIDITY CONTEST ON?

Each spring, hundreds of thousands of parents buy their children a baby bunny for Easter. Within a few months, the novelty wears off and most of these innocent rabbits end up in animal shelters. Others are heartlessly tossed out to fend for themselves in parks or wilderness areas. Parents, who end up caring for their kids’ bunnies, have no clue about the anguish they cause these domesticated creatures. Most dumped rabbits die of diseases or predation. Those who manage to survive the hard winter breed explosively until land owners have to call in an exterminator. Tragically, a large number of bunnies die from mistreatment or neglect. Far too many acquaintances have callously told me, “We had a bunny once but it died.” If they’re that blase about the death of a pet, I shudder to think what sort of friend they would be to a person like me.

In this age of the internet, there is absolutely no excuse for not knowing about rabbit care. Websites abound with practical information. Media outlets run stories each Easter about the inadvisability of buying a bunny for children. Book stores stock all sorts of “how to” manuals. Unfortunately, people figure they know how to care for a rabbit, probably based on watching Bugs Bunny cartoons and hearsay. How absolutely stupid! Rabbits are prey animals with fragile bones. Children play too roughly with them. Bunnies can even break their own backs if they are picked up incorrectly. These animals need space to run and play too. Keeping them in tiny cages, as I once did, is cruel and reprehensible. From living with house rabbits, I’ve learned that they love company but on their own terms. If people must get a pet for their kids, get a dog.

No matter what the prize is for being the world’s stupidest person, it’s not worth the price paid by innocent bunnies sold by unscrupulous breeders. Visit www.rabbit.org first before considering having bunnies as pets. Be prepared to have the animal neutered or spayed. Learn how to litter train them and how to rabbit-proof their living space. Rabbits live for as long as 10 years, not the short time that popular opinion says. They experience the same emotions as other pets and they need just as much care. For more information about my When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) memoir, please visit my www.inscribe.org/BruceAtchison page. Don’t make the same stupid mistakes I did for years but learn from my experiences.

What is my purpose for this page?

Welcome to my new blog. The reason I set this one up is to present excerpts from my two memoirs, When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) and Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School). When my third and final memoir, How I Was Razed, is published, I’ll post excerpts from it as well. I hope to give you not only interesting posts to read but an understanding of the valuable and practical lessons contained in my books.

When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) chronicles eight years of my life with house rabbits. Far from being dull and witless fur balls, these creatures are astonishingly intelligent, have mischievous personalities, and are affectionate, defying every stereotype. The main character, a Himalayan named Gideon, was the first real house rabbit I had. The bunnies I previously owned were little more than furry amusements which I kept in cramped cages. Gideon taught me many things about his species as well as confirming the amazing claims made by my friends on the alt.pets.rabbits newsgroup and the PetBunny e-mail list. For additional information on house rabbit care, visit the http://www.rabbit.org House Rabbit Society site.

Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) tells the story of the years I spent at that government-run institution in Vancouver, British Columbia during the sixties. Having previously attended local public school for two years, being sent five hundred miles from home for months at a stretch was a terrible shock. Even so, I made the best of it. Though this memoir contains some heart-breaking recollections, I also related incidents of mischief that my schoolmates and I caused as well as describing the activities of our daily lives. Thankfully, today’s disabled children are integrated into the public system instead of being automatically exiled to distant institutions.

How I Was Razed is an account of my involvement in a cult church for more than fifteen years, my rejection of God for almost a decade because he didn’t heal my eyes, and how I eventually discovered the liberating truth about genuine Christianity. More than just a story of a naive convert being mislead, my book lists many excellent apologetics resources. These include radio programs, online ministries, and books by astute authors. If all goes well and I find a reliable publisher, this memoir should be in print by the end of the year or early the next.

For more information about me and my writing, please visit my http://www.inscribe.org/BruceAtchison Inscribe Writers Group page. I had it designed so that anybody could navigate it. Another benefit is that there are no ads or Flash animations cluttering it up.