THE DAY THE CAT GOT BAPTIZED

ImageThough the elders and members at a certain house church wounded me deeply with their criticisms, I recall some hilarious stories of what happened there. The funniest is when a cat had the surprise of his life one day.

In that basement church was a large baptismal tank. It was about five feet deep by eight feet wide and five feet from front to back. Since the house’s hot water tank couldn’t heat the large volume of water required, the women who owned the house added boiling water from kettles to it. Consequently, the lid was left off the tank.

Their cat used to race around the sanctuary and part of his route was the top of the baptismal tank. He leapt up from the floor one day to the top of the tank, a distance of two feet, only to realize that there was no lid.

Sisters Eileen and Roberta heard the splash and came downstairs to investigate. John, Sister Roberta’s son, grabbed a towel from the laundry room and lowered it into the tank. The sodden cat raced up the towel, across John’s arm, and down his back before running to his favourite moping spot.

When Sister Roberta told me the story years later, I couldn’t stop laughing. Like a Looney Tunes cartoon, I imagined the cat in mid air with his claws spread out wide and a horrified look on his face. I heard other funny church stories that they told me but that one was the best.

I wrote about this church in my How I Was Razed memoir. It’s the testimony of how God lead me from cultism to Christianity. I expect it to be published soon through Virtual Bookworm. Meanwhile, please check out my books at the Bruce Atchison’s books link.

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FUNNY AFTER-CHURCH MOMENTS.

ImageI wrote recently about how hilarious little mistakes or quips can become during formal events such as church meetings and weddings. Humorous things sometimes happened after church too.

One of these happened in the spring of 1978. I had made a candle in the shape of a cake for a friend who helped run the house church. As she lit its wick and placed it in the centre of the table at which we ate lunch, my brother asked, “Who’s birthday is it?” I had a difficult time not roaring with laughter at his question. My disguised candle was obviously more convincing than I intended it to be.

At that same house church, Sister Roberta busily retrieved bread and sausage slices for us from her kitchen. After making sure everybody had something to eat and drink, she declared, “Now I’m going to eat, myself.” I couldn’t resist such a tempting straight line. “You’re going to eat yourself?” I exclaimed in mock astonishment. Everybody roared with laughter at the absurdity of my quip.

One Sunday after church, we had finished lunch and were deep in conversation. Bessie, an occasional at tender, remarked how hearing aids irritated her ear canal. When she mentioned that it was because the instrument was a foreign object, I quipped, “Yeah, made in Japan.” A couple of minutes passed as we rocked with laughter.

After one meeting, I told the congregants gathered around the kitchen table about a trick I played on the cat. Brother Herald, the minister at the house church, admonished, “you shouldn’t pester the cat like that.” I couldn’t resist that straight line either. “How should I pester him?” I quipped. Everybody groaned at that.

Brother Herald got me back once. “I see your big toe is getting better,” he said as he pointed at my feet. When I asked why, he said, “It’s coming out.” I hadn’t noticed that one of my socks had a hole in it and my toe was sticking out.

Then there was the incident of the sighing coffee maker. Each morning, Sister Roberta and Sister Eileen would start the coffee perking before getting ready for work. As they busied themselves, the machine made a sighing noise. Each woman thought the other was sighing until one morning when they were in the same room as the machine. When Sister Roberta told me why it made that sound, I couldn’t stop laughing for at least five minutes. The absurdity of both women thinking the other was sighing seemed deliciously zany.

Since the purpose of my How I Was Razed memoir was to tell how I went from cultism to Christianity, I didn’t include vignettes such as these. Nevertheless, the memoir is worth reading. Check out the Virtual Bookworm site for details.

THE CONTENTIOUS LANDLADY

ImageProverbs 21:19 says, “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a  contentious and an angry woman.” Likewise, Proverbs 27:15 states, “A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a  contentious woman are alike.” I’ve met a fair number of women who fit this description, one of whom was my landlady for six frustrating months.

Back in 1972, I attended a public school in Edmonton that had counselors who helped sight-impaired students with reading assignments and tests. Since my parents lived twenty miles away, Mom rented a room for me. The landlady immediately developed a fixation about my activities. I frequently caught her in the act of tidying up my room and she often entered without knocking.  I once saw her peering at me through my window one evening.

Because nobody had explained to me that this sort of harassment was illegal, I didn’t know how to handle it. On a certain Saturday afternoon in November, I felt I might say something I’d regret later if I didn’t leave at once. “I’m going to take a walk,” I announced as I put on my jacket. She continued wiping the kitchen counter as I closed the door behind me.

As I roamed the neighbourhood streets and seethed, I grew cold. Snowflakes tickled my nose as the wind howled in my face. “Lord Jesus,” I prayed as I shivered, “Please make her leave my room when I get back. She’s always barging in on me. In your name I pray this, Jesus, amen.”

When I entered my room, she was still cleaning. “Did you have a nice walk?” she asked as I took my jacket off and hung it in the wardrobe. “Yes,” I lied. It was all I could do to restrain myself from telling her where she could go. That woman continually complained about how messy I left my place and how noisy I was. The truth was that she and her boyfriend regularly argued late at night. I wasn’t as tidy as I should have been but that landlady couldn’t respect my space.

A sympathetic teacher told me about the Landlord Tenant Act a few months later when I poured out my troubles to him. According to the law, landlords and landladies had to give twenty-four hours notice before coming into my rented room.

I mentioned this situation in my new book, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Read more about it at the Virtual Bookworm site. My previous books can be found at the Bruce Atchison’s books link.

I THANK GOD I’M CANADIAN

ImageAmericans seem to think that everybody in the world celebrates Thanksgiving Day when they do. We Canadians observe that day of gratitude to God on the second Monday in October. To us, the fourth Thursday of November is just another working day.

After hearing how Barack Obama ramped up America’s national debt to more than sixteen-trillion dollars, I’m glad I live in Canada. Prime Minister Harper has battled heroically to undo the destructive policies of his predecessors. Though the Liberal Party began the hard work, under the leadership of Paul Martin, to reduce federal spending, the Conservative Party is continuing to exercise fiscal prudence.

I’m also glad our dollar is strong. Thanks to Prime Minister Harper’s wise leadership, and a Conservative Party majority in Parliament, Canada was relatively effected by the housing crash in the U.S. This economic recession, practically a depression, was mainly as a result of the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. The legislation pressured banks to give ethnic minorities loans for mortgages, even if they had a poor credit history. Some bankers saw this as an opportunity for earning a quick buck. This artificially inflated the value of houses in America so that many homes are now worth less than what their owners paid for them.

Though Canada does have problems with illegal immigrants, America is struggling with millions of  economic migrants. The abundance of cheap labour has forced down the wages of trades people and others seeking low-skilled jobs. Furthermore, the school systems of that nation are providing education to children of parents who aren’t citizens. Likewise, I’ve heard of emergency wards being used for the health care needs of illegal aliens.

About the only thing I envy is that Americans have the right to bear arms. Liberals in Canada have made it hard for honest citizens to defend themselves. The wasteful gun registry squandered millions of taxpayer dollars while ignoring the criminal gun smugglers.

At least Prime Minister Harper removed long guns from the registry. Almost all hunters are responsible citizens who take great care of their rifles and hunt responsibly. I hope for the day when the whole thing is abolished and those who commit gun crimes will be punished far more stringently than they are today.

FUNNY CHURCH MOMENTS.

ImageI’ve noticed that the more formal the situation, the funnier mistakes become. For example, babies burp all the time but that isn’t usually a laughing matter. But it was in one situation that I witnessed.

At a church in Edmonton which I attended a dozen or more years ago, the pastor asked a rhetorical question during his sermon. In the silence that followed, a baby belched. “That’s quite the amen,” the minister joked as the congregation roared with laughter. He struggled mightily as he held in a giggle. After a minute, he resumed his sermon.

I used to attend a house church a few decades ago. One of their practices was to let congregants stand in front of the members and give a word from the Lord. I was about to launch into my exhortation when Sister Roberta crept up to me and whispered, “Your zipper is undone.” I blushed as I turned around and zipped it up. Though I spoke what was on my heart, I thought about how I came all the way to the church on the bus with my fly undone.

An embarrassing incident happened to my sister once During a sermon at a Lutheran church. I thought at first that I heard an airplane. Then I realized that it sounded to “thin” to be an aircraft. As I turned my head to find the sound, I realized it was Diane’s stomach growling. She had neglected to eat breakfast before we left for church. As the reverend droned on, I held my lips together to hold in the guffaw that desperately tried to escape. As I leaned forward in the pew to hide my face, a few snorts escaped from my nostrils. I managed to get myself under control after a few minutes but the damage, for my sister at least, was done. Diane complained bitterly about the incident afterward and swore never to go to church without eating breakfast again.

Weddings aren’t immune to hilarious goofs either. Jay, one of the house church members, answered the questions confidently and made no mistakes until the minister mentioned  the word “troth.” Poor Jay became confused and asked what that meant. The whole congregation burst out laughing as he blushed.

I just published a memoir of my time in that house church called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Read more about this testimony of God’s amazing grace at the Virtual Bookworm site.

THE PLUNGE OF 1976.

ImageThis is one date that will always remain in my memory. On November 15, 1976, Rene Levesque led his Party Quebecois to power. Because it espoused separating Quebec from the rest of the nation, the Canadian dollar immediately plunged in value. Nervous investors worried that Quebec would soon secede from the rest of Canada and they’d lose their money.

As I wrote on November fifth, that prophecy didn’t come to pass. Neither have most of the doom and gloom warnings actually came to pass. The dollar did remain below the U.S. greenback until 2008 but enterprising businesses profited from the lower value. Tourism boomed as Americans realized that their bucks went a lot further here. Canada’s products were also cheaper. Canadians who purchased from U.S. firms suffered, particularly when the dollar was worth only sixty-two cents American, but that’s the way trade works.

Canada’s dollar is now about the same value as its America counterpart. All the dire predictions made in the past seem absurd in light of current conditions. It seems to me that the best plan is to hope for the best but pre pair for the worst.

I wrote about many other wacky prophecies made by a self-proclaimed prophet in my How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoir. Check the Virtual Bookworm site for details about this paperback and e-book. My previous books can be found at the Bruce Atchison’s books link.

THE FURTHEST RADIO SIGNAL I EVER TUNED IN

ImageI’ve had a fascination with distant radio signals all my life. Since the time I saw programs from stations located two thousand miles away on TV when I was five years old, my obsession with these transmissions has never left me.

While others were content to tune in local radio and TV stations, I often searched for weaker signals. The first time I heard WWL from New Orleans, Louisiana, I naively told my friends. None of them were the least bit impressed. I thought it was wonderful that I heard it all the way up in Edmonton, Alberta.

Mom wasn’t impressed either when I sat mesmerized in front of our TV as station after station faded in and out. “Why do you want to watch those flickering pictures when we have two perfectly good local stations?” she complained. I didn’t have the words to express the wonder of long distance reception back then. She wouldn’t have understood if I did.

I discovered shortwave through the school’s classroom radio. I spent many recesses tuning in Radio Japan, The Voice of America, Radio Moscow, and other broadcasters while the other kids played soccer. Only one teacher understood why I loved receiving such distant programs. He emigrated from Hong Kong, a place more familiar with other cultures.

CB and amateur radio kept me searching for distant voices for decades. I fondly remember when a man in Massachusetts, another in Alabama, and myself in Edmonton talked for an hour one morning as if we were neighbours. The feeling I had couldn’t be explained to non-radio folks.

One of the highlights of my radio hobby was when I exchanged call signs with a cosmonaut aboard the Mir space station. Hundreds of ham operators were trying to get through to him so it was quite an accomplishment for me to acknowledge his receipt of my signal.

But that was nothing compared to the extraterrestrial signals I received on, of all things, my CB radio. As I listened one morning, I heard the sound of something like waves breaking on a beach. My CB friends and I didn’t know what to make of it. It didn’t sound like any sort of interference we ever heard before. Neither was it intentional jamming by some local CB operator since we heard it at the same signal level. I learned later that Jupiter emits radio waves that sound like the washing of water on a beach.

I wrote about my radio hobby in my new book, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Check it out on the Virtual Bookworm  page. Also visit the Bruce Atchison’s books link to find out about my previous memoirs.