Friday, 28 August 2009

Back to School made me sick.

Remember your first back-to-school shopping trip? Was it a fun experience? You might be shocked to learn that Mom never took me to buy school supplies until I was in grade 8. In the following excerpt from my Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoir, I explain why.

At almost fourteen years of age, I had never been shopping for school supplies. Mom, my sisters, and I went to the city one afternoon to buy what we needed. I felt overwhelmed with the choices of pencils, notebooks, rulers, and other items which I would require now that the B.C. government no longer supplied them for me.

Then an incident happened which caused me grave concerns regarding my future. Mom led us around a wealthy neighbourhood to pass the time until our bus left for home. The sun beat down from a cloudless sky as we strolled along the sweltering sidewalk.

"Can we stop and rest?" I pleaded, "I feel so hot and tired.

"Just keep walking," Mom said. "Look at those lovely houses! Your friend Randy lives in one of these."

As we waited to board the Greyhound bus that evening, a wave of extreme vertigo swept over me. I staggered and tried to catch my balance. The depot began to grow dark. I saw what appeared to be ashes floating in the air. Then I tripped over a suitcase and ended up kneeling on the cement.

"What's the matter, huh! Huh!" Mom badgered as I desperately wished I could lie down. Passengers around me stared and some shouted suggestions. A security guard came over and helped me to my feet.

"We better take him into the office," he said.

"I feel sick," I said as I sat in a swivel chair. A guard fetched a garbage can. I promptly vomited into it. Then I leaned back, trying to make the remaining dizziness go away.

"I guess we'll have to take a cab home," Mom admitted as our bus pulled out of the lane. "May I borrow your phone?" The guard handed Mom the receiver and she dialled a taxi company.

I headed straight for my bed when we arrived home. As I lay listening to the radio, Mom marched into the room.

"Why the hell did you have to pull a stupid stunt like that for?" she blasted. "You cost me nine dollars, you know that?" As she ranted on, my heart sank. It was not my fault I became ill. In addition, I did warn Mom that I felt hot and tired.

Today's North American disabled children are commonly educated in local public schools, at home, or in nearby special schools. Half a century ago, kids such as I were shipped off to distant institutions for months at a stretch. Please visit my page to learn more about this unfortunate page in Canadian history. You're welcome to follow the progress of my next memoir, How I Was Razed (and How I found Authentic Christianity), on Twitter.

Friday, 21 August 2009

"You can't treat people like that, you know."

One of the common topics on The Albert Mohler Program is the reluctance of young adults to grow up and leave home. There are actually twenty-somethings who rely on their parents to do their laundry, feed them, and let them live at home without paying rent. Some do this because of economic reasons but others want to spend their disposable income on fun things like big screen TVs, MP3 players, and cars. As far as I'm aware, parents generally don't mind or they reluctantly put up with this state of affairs.

My adolescent experience was totally opposite to those stay-at-home adult children. After attending Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind, I lived with a family that Mom paid to take care of me. This was because I needed to attend a special school in Edmonton that had counsellors to help me by recording reading assignments and with other sight-intensive tasks. As a result, I had to grow up quickly. In fact, my first landlady's expectations were, in my estimation, unfair. From my upcoming memoir, How I Was Razed (and How I found Authentic Christianity), here is an excerpt about how I was expected to make an adult decision while still being a child.


Sometime during the summer, I complained to Mom about the long journey to school each weekday. "If I could live within walking distance, it would give me more time to do homework and relax," I suggested. When I enrolled for my grade nine classes, Mom had still not found a new boarding room close to the school. This uncertainty caused considerable stress between Mrs. Boyle and I. After three weeks of receiving no definite answer, she confronted me.

"Listen, Bruce, Will you be staying here another month or not?"

"I don't know. I've asked my mom but she hasn't told me anything yet."

"When will you know about what your mom will do?"

"I don't know. I'll ask her when I go home this weekend."

"I need to know now, not next week. You can't treat people like that, you know." As she began a tirade about considering others, I thought, "It isn't my fault that Mom hadn't found me a new place to live yet. I would never mislead anybody, especially Mrs. Boylle, about that." This situation seemed extremely unfair. I had no experience in finding new living quarters, my isolation at Jericho preventing me from learning most social and living skills. Fourteen-year-old children generally know little about adult responsibilities in any case.

"May I call my mom on the phone then?"

"Well alright but don't talk too long. It's long distance and you know how much that costs."

I dialLed Mom's number and briefly described the situation. "Tell her I'm still searching the newspaper for suitable boarding houses," she advised. Mrs. Boylle remained unsatisfied but she had to accept that answer for the time being.


Though I understood my landlady's dilemma, in that she needed to find a new tenant or lose a month's rent, I still fail to comprehend why she didn't call Mom herself. In fact, adults who use children as go-betweens ought not to criticize them when they let them down. It wasn't my fault that Mom hadn't found me a new place. On the other hand, she could have shown me how to do laundry, cook for myself, and understand the process of finding new accommodations. Many of today's twenty-somethings still appear to lack this knowledge.

Friday, 7 August 2009

"the rest of the story."

In my previous blog post, I wrote about an event that changed the direction of my life and eternal destiny, namely surrendering control of both to Christ. As Paul Harvey used to say, here's "the rest of the story."

After leaving Mrs. Blacklock's Vacation Bible School, nobody contacted me or my family about attending church. I didn't even receive a Bible or New Testament to study after I put my faith in Christ. In fact, I had no idea of how important those disciplines were to the development of my faith. Back at Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind that September, I attended the same Anglican church I had gone to since I was first exiled to that institution in Vancouver five years previously. The government allowed me to attend public school in Edmonton the next year but the family who I boarded with never went to church. As a result, I listened to Christian programs on the radio each weekday evening and became enamoured with the teaching of Garner Ted Armstrong. His authoritative style and the things he said seemed so much more intelligent than the usual preaching I heard.

The second family who I boarded with in 1971 introduced me to a most remarkable man. At his house church, This "anointed teacher of God" taught us about humanity's pre-birth existence as space aliens, how the Holy Spirit was actually a force of millions of departed saints, that every other church had only portions of the truth, and that a city of refuge in the Northwest Territories' Nahanni valley awaited vulnerable Christians escaping the soon-coming mark of the beast. Additionally, he allowed the spirits of deceased Christians to inhabit his body and teach advanced members of the congregation arcane secrets. He also prophesied Zaphnathpaaneah's (Joseph's) resurrection and subsequent conquest of Canada, Quebec's imminent secession from Confederation, and part of downtown Edmonton slipping into the river valley. As I had no discernment training, I believed it all.

Throughout the 15 years that I faithfully attended Thee Church, the elders continually condemned me. My passion for CB radio and rock music were despised as evil, my purchases of an open reel deck and stereo were considered wasteful, and the assistant minister often prevented me from "bothering" our minister with questions. Most devastating of all to me, my chronic failure to be healed of my poor sight was considered by the elders to be a sign of hidden sin, a lack of faith, and unconfessed ancestral sins. The non-stop criticisms and hypocrisy of the church leaders caused me to leave in 1987. I turned my back on God for 9 years before coming to my senses. Thanks to a blind friend in America who sent me good Christian radio shows on cassettes, I deprogrammed myself of all the lies I'd been taught and learned the truth about Christianity.

Condensing more than 40 years of my life into a single blog post is difficult. I've had to leave out many important events for the sake of brevity. Telling the full story is why I'm currently working on my next book, How I Was Razed (and How I found Authentic Christianity). Millions of people are lured from Bible-believing congregations by those who promise them secret knowledge and power while preaching things that are manifestly bogus. My hope and prayer is that my testimony can help those people, as well as the ones hurt by cults as I was, to learn the real character of the Heavenly Father. God willing, this book should be in print next year.