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.



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.


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.


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.


ImageBoarding at  people’s houses can be a lousy way to live. It all depends on who runs them and in which manor they’re run. I seem to have lived in three of the worst, or so it seemed to me at the time.

The first place I boarded at was owned by a single mother and her teenage children. Stephen, the older child,  tended to be morose and cynical while Mary Jane was much like her man-hating mother. The health food they ate had the effect of making me ill. Only when I returned home for the weekend and ate regular food did I feel better. This woman’s son also introduced me to pornography. This caused me moral anxiety since I didn’t want to be involved in anything sinful.

My mother found me a room at a boarding house but the situation wasn’t any better. My room mate posted porn on the walls of the bedroom we shared. When I complained to the landlady, she told him to just post those obscene pictures on his side of the room. He retaliated by hiding smut in my New Testament, the battery compartment of my radio, and anywhere else that he figured would embarrass me.

Mom found me a new couple to live with. Though they were Christians, they introduced me to their cultic house church. I also had to sleep on the couch for the first month since they didn’t have a spare bedroom for me. I later slept on an old door which had been placed on two saw horses. The landlady placed the couch cushions on top and draped blankets over them. I often woke in the middle of the night because my tossing and turning separated the cushions. The couple later rented a different house. I had my own bedroom in the basement but the cushions were placed on the floor.

I wrote about that couple in my new book called How I Was Razed. Check it out on the Virtual Bookworm  page. I have my previous two paperbacks at the Bruce Atchison’s books link.


ImageThough the province of Quebec has had many of its citizens express the desire to separate from Canada, it’s still a part of Confederation. Referendum after referendum have been held, yet the majority of Quebecois realize that staying part of Canada is to their advantage.

Forty years ago, I was a member of a theological cult. Its leader claimed to be a prophet who received direct revelations from God. In my new book, I wrote about him and the outrageous prophesies he made.

One of these was that Quebec would forcefully take itself out of Confederation. According to this lay minister, a war would result and Canada would defeat the army of Quebec. Being new to the Christian faith, I believed this outrageous fairy tale.

Now that I know how to read the Bible for all it’s worth, as Hank Hanegraaff often says, I realize that the self-proclaimed teacher of God was full of it. Here is what Scripture says in Deuteronomy 18:21 and 22, “And if you say in your hearts, How are we to be certain that the word does not come from the Lord? When a prophet makes a statement in the name of the Lord, if what he says does not take place and his words do not come true, then his word is not the word of the Lord: the words of the prophet were said in the pride of his heart, and you are to have no fear of him.” I asked this man when this would occur and he said it would happen in a few years. In fact, he claimed that an army was already being secretly recruited in Quebec.

Forty years on, his statements are at best laughable. Quebecois know which side their bread is buttered. Canada has bent over backwards to accommodate them. A war would only worsen the living conditions of the citizens. Secession through political means would mean the loss of those transfer payments that the province relies upon. Certain politicians say they want to take the province out of Confederation but I believe they are just using public perceptions to keep themselves in power. Looking it logically, Canada is a stronger nation with Quebec and it benefits from being part of the country.

For further information on How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity, visit the Virtual Bookworm website.


ImageFor many children in North America, this is a day when they start eating the Halloween candy that they begged for the previous night. Though parents search the goodies for hidden dangers, such as pins and injected drugs, their children understand that this must be done for their own good.

Before I was sent five-hundred miles from home to a blind school, Mom let me eat as much candy as I liked before I went to bed on Halloween night. That changed radically at Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind. The supervisor of the boys dorm confiscated the candy and doled it out a bit at a time. The smart kids often ate candy as they trick-or-treated so they wouldn’t have to lose it.

We had one supervisor who helped herself to our goodies. Even when we received care packages from home, she withheld and distributed our treats. Of course we knew much of our parents’ largess wasn’t consumed by us.

When I lived in the intermediate dorm, the supervisors decided we were old enough to look after our own candy. That was a wise decision because we had learned the lesson of thrift from our fifty-cent-a-week allowances. Once the money was gone, we couldn’t beg any more until the next Friday. Too bad many adults ignore that economic lesson these days.

I wrote about our post-Halloween feasts, and famines, in Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School). This memoir describes what life was like in Canada’s infamous institution that was later closed down due to ongoing sexual abuse. Read more about the book at the Bruce Atchison’s books link.