THE SECRET OF THE GIRLS’ Cloak ROOM

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These days, explaining “the birds and the bees” isn’t as difficult as it was when our parents had that talk with us. It’s only natural that children wonder about such things as why boys and girls have separate bathrooms.

In the public school building in my home town, boys and girls had separate cloak rooms as well as bathrooms. Coat hooks and benches ran the length of each area’s wood-paneled walls. Though these rooms had no doors on them, the teachers admonished us to only go into our own room and not to go in the other one.

I accepted this state of affairs for a while but my curiosity soon grew. What, I wondered,  was so special about the girls’ cloak room that they had to have one of their own. There had to be a better reason than, “Just because.”

One afternoon, I couldn’t stand the strain anymore. As soon  as the other students had left the building, I squeezed through the gap that separated the rooms. To my surprise, the girls’ cloak room didn’t look any different than our’s.

“What are you doing in here, Bruce?” I turned to see my teacher, Mrs. Mael,  standing in the doorway. “Are you lost?” she asked with a note of kindness in her voice.

“No,” I sheepishly admitted, “I was just curious about what the girls’ cloak room looked like.”

She laughed as she walked into the room and hugged me. “The reason girls have their own cloak room is that they don’t want boys to see them when they take their coats off.”

“Why don’t they want us to see that?” I couldn’t resist asking.

As she escorted me to the door, she replied, “That’s just the way girls are. You better go home now before your mom worries about you. Don’t ever go into the girls’ cloak room again, all right?”

“Sure,” I agreed as she led me into the boys cloak room and handed me my coat.

I never forgot that teacher’s kindness to me. She didn’t treat me like a nuisance like my first grade one teacher did. Neither did I disobey her regarding the cloak rooms.

This happened before I was sent to a school for the blind in Vancouver, British Columbia. I wrote about how being sent five-hundred miles from home for months at a time  effected me in Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School. It’s available in paperback form from the Bruce Atchison’s books link. My latest book, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is distributed by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

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THE CLANDESTINE TEA PARTY.

ImageWere you allowed to drink tea or coffee as a child? Parents have differing views on that subject. The same is true of school administrators. Though most parents and guardians have valid reasons for restricting caffeinated beverages, the administrators at Jericho Hill for the Deaf and Blind seemed to have no logical reasons for their actions.

From my Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School memoir, here is how a few of us boys bucked the authorities’ arbitrary rules.

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One aspect of human nature is that people gravitate towards the forbidden. An official in the Administration Building decided boys and girls should not drink coffee or tea. Mr. Robbie introduced those beverages to the Dining Hall a year previously. All of us students felt cheated when we heard the news.

One January evening, Geoffrey furtively announced, “I’ve got some tea and cream and sugar in my locker. You guys want some?” We gratefully accepted his generous offer.

Since he had a weak bladder, and needed to be woken each midnight to relieve himself, he promised to wake us after the night nurse was gone and then we would have tea.

At midnight, the night nurse woke Geoffrey as usual. After she was gone, he roused us and we tiptoed to the bathroom with our cups in hand. We ran the taps until they were as hot as they would get and then we filled our cups. Geoffrey shared a tea bag between the four of us in the way we had seen prisoners of war do in movies. Then we crept back to our rooms with our illicit brew. After we savoured our contraband cups of tea, we went back to bed.

Some time later, and with no warning, tea and coffee were permitted in the Dining Hall. To this day, I have no idea why these beverages were first banned and then reinstated once more. As a result, we no longer needed to have our clandestine midnight tea parties.

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If you enjoyed that story, please check out Deliverance from Jericho on the Bruce Atchison’s books link. As for How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity, Amazon and Barnes & Noble distribute the e-book version while Virtual Bookworm stocks the paperback version.

WAS IT REALLY CABLE TV THEFT?

TV between channelsI didn’t think of it at the time but now I realize I was stealing a service that I should have paid for. This sort of behaviour could be expected from a worldly person but I was a born-again Christian at the time. Here’s how I thought I was so clever when I really committed a sin.

When I moved back to the house in which I rented a room during my high school years, I discovered a cable behind the dresser. Out of curiosity, I connected it to my TV. For some reason, the previous tenant had left without canceling his subscription.

For the first three months of 1976, I enjoyed the clear reception of local and American TV channels. Gone were the ghosts and distortions I endured from the three local English language stations. I had my pick of so many wonderful channels as well. My conscience quieted down as I patted myself on the back for being so clever.

The cable company staff weren’t fooling on the first of April. I switched on the TV and found nothing but snow on all channels. I felt sad, though I suspected that would happen. For the next few years, I made do with the local stations.

Then I made another discovery in the next apartment that I moved to. Cable signals leaked out of my upstairs neighbour’s set. By adjusting the antenna, I could receive them fairly well. Once again, I felt that I was being clever when I received the cable channels without having to pay for them. I took advantage of the neighbour’s faulty connection until I moved out of that place eighteen months later.

I now realize that I was guilty of doing to others what I didn’t want done to myself. If somebody used something I paid for or that I had for sale but didn’t repay me, I would have been very upset. Yet that’s what I did to the cable company. Just because they were a big business that supplied half of Edmonton with snow-free reception didn’t give me the right to steal their service. I now am very careful not to download anything I’m not prepared to eventually pay for. In fact, I plan to buy a few software programs soon because they work so well for me. Truly, the labourers are worthy of their hire.

I wrote about similar moral dilemmas in my new book, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Amazon and Barnes & Noble distribute the e-book version of it while Virtual Bookworm stocks the paperback. My two previous books are available at the Bruce Atchison’s books link.

MY ATTRACTION TO MAGNETS.

magnet1Don’t you just hate it when store clerks ask stupid questions? Unless you’re trying to buy items like a rope and a book on how to hang yourself, cashiers shouldn’t need to know why you want to buy the merchandise you’ve placed in your shopping basket.

In 1976, , I found a selection of magnets at a hardware store. I selected as many as I could afford and placed them on the cashier’s counter.

“Why on earth do you want to buy these?” he asked, as if a nineteen-year-old man had no business buying such things.

I searched my mind for an answer he’d accept and finally explained, “I like magnets. They’re cool. These ones are real strong too.”

“These aren’t toys, you know,” he lectured. These are for industrial use. Why don’t you run along and buy something more sensible?”

After insisting that I wanted the magnets and showing him that I had the money to buy them, he reluctantly rang up the sale. I seethed inside as I shuffled out of the door. Being treated like a nuisance had always made me angry and this incident made me feel doubly so. It wasn’t any of his business what i wanted those magnets for. I wasn’t going to build a bomb or something similarly dangerous.

If I could find that clerk today, I’d tell him a thing or three about how those magnets, which I still have, help me. One is now part of my security system. It holds the door-opening detector in place. The six rectangular magnets are useful for holding notes to the fridge door. Ordinary fridge magnets are too weak to hold more than one slip of paper each. I haven’t found a use for the two cylindrical magnets but I might find it someday. The magnets that the clerk thought would be a waste of money for me have served me well during these forty-one years and will continue to do so for as long as I have them.

I wrote about similar situations of being misjudged in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Amazon and Barnes & Noble distribute the e-book version while Virtual Bookworm stocks the paperbacks. I also have two previous books. Check them out at the Bruce Atchison’s books link.

MAKING UP FOR LOST YEARS.

ImageIt seems to me that children suffer the most when parents quarrel. As the arguments rage or violence erupts, kids are helpless to prevent the fights. That’s what my siblings and I faced on a regular basis as we grew up.

Once I became a man, I began to understand my parents as two flawed individuals. I also realized that Mom could no longer keep me away from my dad. As I visited him and his common law wife, Shirley, I pieced together a port rate  of the man Dad really was.

During Christmas of 1983, Dad asked for my forgiveness for being away from home so much. I gladly forgave him, understanding that my parents were mere flawed human beings. I could see how Mom’s nagging about Dad’s drinking and smoking drove him away. I also understood that Dad’s behaviour caused  Mom to nag all the more.

I was at Dad’s place on January 7, 1985, his 60th birthday. This was a milestone since none of his brothers lived that long. I felt glad to witness this celebration, having missed so much of his life as a child. Dad also realized that he missed seeing us grow up. Both of us made up for lost time as we had long conversations at Shirley’s home.

If Dad was alive today, he would be eighty-five years old. Since he gave his life to Christ before passing away at a nursing home back in 1987, I look forward to meeting him again when I die or Jesus returns.

I wrote about my parents and the uneasy atmosphere of our home in Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind school. Though I often feared for my life during their fights, I wanted to stay at home instead of that soul-destroying school for the blind. Please visit the Bruce Atchison’s books link for details.

RESOLVING THE OLD EARTH VERSES YOUNG EARTH CONTROVERCY

ImageWhich do you believe? Is the earth only six-thousand years old or more than four-billion years old? For much of my life, I believed the former. Now I’ve found compelling reasons to believe in the latter.

Doctor William Dembski published a book called The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World. Its main theme is the reconciliation of empirical science and the Bible. But how can this be since the book of nature shows us an old universe whereas the book of scripture depicts an apparently young cosmos? Dembski wrote that the first chapter of Genesis shows not a chronological sequence but a hierarchy of creation. That explains the reason why light was present for the first three days but the sun and moon were made on the fourth. Furthermore, there’s a symmetrical relationship between the first and fourth days in Genesis as well as the second to the fifth and third to the sixth.

Another conundrum is how disease and predation could have happened before the exile of Adam and Eve from Eden. Dembski explained in his book that Adam’s sin defiled both the past and future of creation. This retroactive causation seems far fetched but it relates to what the apostle Paul wrote in First  Corinthians 15:45 KJV). “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” Though the chapter is about the resurrection of the dead, it relates to the first Adam’s sin and the last Adam’s redemption of humans along with the universe.

Then there’s the matter of star light. Supernova 1987A exploded some one-hundred-and-sixty-million years ago, a logical impossibility if the universe is only six-thousand years old. Since God wouldn’t lie to us by making things appear ancient, we must believe that the light of the stars is telling us the truth.

I had great difficulty believing this radical proposal at first. Fortunately, Hank Hanegraaff (The Bible Answer Man) made it quite clear that he was not advocating for evolution but empirical observations. Now I understand that since Christ’s sacrifice on the cross saved people in the past and future, so Adam’s transgression caused the curse of sin to corrupt the world before God made him as well as afterward.

If you wish to hear the thought-provoking two-program interview that Hank Hanegraaff conducted, here are the links to both of them.

http://www.equip.org/audio/hank-hanegraaff-with-special-guest-william-dembski-part-1/

http://www.equip.org/audio/hank-hanegraaff-with-special-guest-william-dembski-part-2/

I wrote about my own experience with evolution in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Amazon and Barnes & Noble distribute the e-book versions of it while Virtual Bookworm stocks the paperback version. My previous memoirs are on the left side of the Blogspot page.

THE PECULIAR CUSTOM OF THE WATCHNIGHT SERVICE

ImageWhat is a watchnight service? According to Wikipedia, it’s a late night service in various Protestant churches in which people repent of their failures to live a Christian life and anticipate the new year. I had never heard of this custom until I attended a house church in 1971.

In total, I attended fifteen of these services. They usually began at nine o’clock on New Year’s Eve. We began by singing some hymns before receiving communion. Various members exhorted us from Scripture until about ten-fifteen. We had a fifteen-minute coffee break before Sister Roberta rang the hand bell, calling us back to the sanctuary in the basement.

The highlight of the evening, for the first nine watchnight services I attended, was the sermon from Brother Herald. He occasionally prophesied during those evenings. That was what I looked forward to since I felt excited at the prospect of knowing the future.

At the end of the service, we prayed for God’s protection during the coming year. Then Sister Roberta would dismiss us.

Some people would linger upstairs in Sister Eileen’s kitchen but most attendees left immediately. Sister Roberta or Sister Eileen drove me home once the others had departed.

Though the minister taught blasphemous doctrines and his prophecies didn’t come to pass, I enjoyed the fellowship we shared on that occasion. I now know that there is no magical division between one year and another. New Year’s Eve isn’t a special time for me anymore. Even so, I think about the year gone by and what I hope to accomplish in the new year.

I wrote about watchnight services in my How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoir. Amazon and Barnes & Noble stock the e-book version while Virtual Bookworm distributes the paperback version. Please also check out my previous memoirs at the Bruce Atchison’s books link.