Tuesday, 31 December 2013

ONE-HUNDRED PERCENT WRONG ONE-HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE TIME

As 2013 ends, keep in mind that predictions of the end of the world have been wrong all the time. Tons of books have been written and sold about how this or that event marked the beginning of the end, yet we're still here. So why do people keep predicting doomsday? It makes them money, that's why.

Remember back in January of 1974 when the Children of God cult predicted that a comet would destroy the United States? Kohoutek was supposed to be bright and close to the earth, yet it actually looked very faint. I didn't hear about how many people took it seriously but I'm sure some did leave America.

Remember Y2K? Many people were duped into buying a year's supply of dehydrated food because society was supposed to collapse when the computers crashed. Apart from minor glitches, nothing happened.

I certainly remember the false prophecy of a man who calls himself Brother Stair. He predicted, wrongly of course, that fifty percent of Americans would be dead in 2003. Again, I don't know how many folks took him seriously. I certainly didn't.

Jack Van Impe made a lot of money in the past with his sensational prophecies. One of his videos was entitled "2001 Countdown to Eternity." I'm glad that a friend gave me a VHS copy rather than me having to purchase that over-hyped baloney.

Then there was the Mayan calendar fiasco last year. Many false prophets claimed that since it ran out on December twenty-first, the world would end in flames. However, it cycled back to the beginning again.

Whichever way you celebrate the new year, you can relax in the knowledge that the world won't end because some preachers claim it will next year. They were wrong before and they'll be wrong again.

Nobody knows when Christ will return. He'll come when he comes. As long as you belong to him, you'll be safe when he does arrive to make a new heaven and a new earth.

I wrote extensively about a house church minister and his bogus prophecies in my newly-published memoir, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

SCIENTOLOGY: A MANUFACTURED RELIGION

Have you ever wondered what Scientology was about? Doubtless many of us have been approached by well-dressed people offering us "free" personality tests. The procedure seems all right at first but it leads to bondage.

I was nearly sucked into the bogus beliefs of Scientology in 1987. A friend thought that the pseudo-science of Dianetics would cure me of my depression. It didn't do so. In fact, I found the bulky book by L. Ron. Hubbard to be so tedious that I only read a few pages.

Some folks might argue that I was biased by my bad experience of this false belief system. A woman named Tory Magoo was part of that cult. She suffered horrific persecution when she left the group, as you can hear in her YouTube videos.

More to the point, Lawrence Wright's Going Clear book exposes Scientology for what it truly is. Though I haven't read this book, I'd like to get a Kindle copy soon. From what I heard from Tory, I can well understand why this group pressures members who start asking questions.

Cults have many things in common. One factor is that they seek to control their members. The elders at the house church I belonged to certainly tried to stop me from partaking in supposedly satanic activities such as listening to rock music and talking on the CB radio. My long hair and bell-bottom jeans also offended them.

Another thing cults do is offer some form of empowerment and "secret knowledge" to their new members. That bate appeals to the fleshly nature of people. Once they're hooked, the ugly side of cultic bondage comes out.

Acceptance is another need which cults prey upon. At first, the members are all smiles and hugs. Once the victim is well and truly trapped, the leaders pressure them to devote their lives to the group.

Though I wasn't forced to donate to the cult I was in, I became so captivated by its teacher that I gave the church large donations and many hours of my time. Rarely was I commended for this by the elders. In the end, it was their perennial criticism that drove me out of their congregation.

I wrote extensively about that house church in my newly-published memoir, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

WAS CHRIST Conceived OUT OF WEDLOCK?

One question rarely entertained by Christians is whether or not Jesus could have been conceived out of wedlock. According to John 8:41, the Pharisees appeared to think so. This is what it says. "'All of you do the deeds of your father.' Then said they to him, 'We be not conceived of fornication; we have one Father, even God.'" But can we consider Christ to have been conceived out of wedlock? After all, Mary's husband, Joseph, wasn't yet married to her.

According to Hank Hanegraaff of The Bible Answer Man, the Son of God wasn't conceived out of wedlock. The Holy Spirit came over Mary and created what would become Jesus' body. Therefore it was a supernatural act and had no taint of sin.

I also believe that since God gave humanity the restrictions against sex outside of marriage to protect us, what the third member of the Trinity caused was outside those parameters.

Perhaps the lack of discussion on this point is due to  the topic of children conceived outside of marriage. It has been taboo for many centuries. The poor children were blamed for their "unfortunate" births as well as their mothers for becoming pregnant. Fortunately for us all, people are changing their attitude toward these victims of rape or their parent's sin.

My half-sister, Jentien, is a good example. She was the product of a rape and since my mom wasn't married at the time, she gave up her daughter for adoption. Through the providence of God, she was adopted by a minister and raised with his family as one of them. Even so, society frowned upon people such as her until recently.

However, a few people still consider these children to be wicked. Such critical people should remember the birth of Christ and the ugly rumors which circulated about it.

From my reading of the Bible, I believe that no child is illegitimate. Every human is a body-soul unity. God allows some to be conceived out of wedlock but he still loves them. In fact, he uses situations in their lives to call them to repentance. Jesus died on the cross for all who would surrender to him. He didn't qualify it by excluding any group of people.

The trouble with legalism is that it appeals to our fleshly nature. I was a victim of it and I also participated in this sin in the past. I wrote about how a toxic church misled me and how the Lord straightened me out in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers distribute this wonderful testimony of the Lord's marvelous leading.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

HOW TO RUIN A PERFECTLY GOOD CHRISTMAS

Having survived some ghastly experiences, I feel I have a grasp on what went wrong during Christmas. It's perfectionism that ruins this once-holy day.

The makers of commercials have been successful at raising our expectations on what they call "the perfect Christmas." The toys must be manufactured by Mattel or Fisher-Price. The cell phone has got to be an iPod 5. Nobody, if you read between the lines, gives something cheesy like clothing except if it's in the latest style.

Adults are likewise effected by the holiday hype. Every commercial promotes the idea of family and friends getting together around the dinner table. The turkey absolutely must be a Butterball. And of course the holiday pastry must be from Pillsbury.

Everybody has to be insanely happy too. No arguments or violence should ever happen during the holidays, according to the unstated rule.

Stores hype the holidays by putting up decorations early, sometimes before Halloween. Tacky Christmas carols Blair from the public address systems in a constant attempt to give shoppers that "Christmas feeling." After all, the holiday season is the biggest sales event of the year so they want to milk it for all it's worth.

Santa Clause is everywhere during November and especially December. Stores use him to coax children to beg for lots of toys which they just happen to have in stock.

Worse yet, parents use the threat of no presents to keep their children in line. The lie about Santa eventually unravels , starting the process of cynicism in their minds.

For me, the worst Christmas was 1963. When I cried because I only got a mouth organ while I received plenty of toys the year before, Mom admitted that she and Dad were really the ones who gave me the gifts. The thought of my parents lying to me wounded my soul deeply. The "magic" of the holiday died for me that Christmas Eve.

I mentioned that incident in my Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School memoir. I also wrote about the side-splitting mischief I got into at that institution.  Looking back on those days, it's no wonder that I'm single. :-)

I recently published a new memoir called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

DEALING WITH THE CHRISTMAS BLUES

According to many folks, the holiday season should be the most joyous time of year. But for those who came from broken families or who lost a loved one at this time of year, all the frivolity sets their teeth on edge. "Don't worry - be happy," is no help at all. Neither are the other platitudes people spout off whenever they encounter a wounded individual.

Therefore, some churches, such as South Main Baptist in Houston, Texas, recognize that this time of year is painful for an increasing number of people. This is a welcome change, in my opinion, because not everybody comes from a happy and intact family. With divorce increasing and all the turmoil it causes, children are the ones to suffer most. Saying useless things like "cheer up" just doesn't help.

What many broken people need is what June Hunt from Hope for the Heart teaches. The reason so many folks feel such a tremendous burden is because they're hanging on to their hurts. If they could find somebody who would take them away and recognize that God is the one who repays wickedness, those folks would eventually feel much better. When a person becomes a believer in Christ, the hurts of the past can be handed over to Jesus to bear. After all, God is in a much better position to perfectly punish wrongdoers and to heal wounded hearts.

I'm living proof that this works. Over the years, I've been able to deal with the injustices in my past by handing them, the pain I felt, and my assumed right to prosecute them to the Lord. I still have some residual pain but nothing compared to what I once suffered. I'm grateful to June Hunt for her marvelous biblical counsel.

I wrote extensively about how this gracious lady helped me in my newly-published memoir, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

THE CLIMATE IS ALWAYS CHANGING

I'm astonished at governments and individuals who continue to believe in climate change. Every big storm that comes along is touted as proof that the earth is in peril. The media even get into the act by claiming this or that natural disaster is the worst in history.

The truth is that the climate is always changing. Geology shows this quite clearly. My home in Alberta is located in an area which was once tropical. Dinosaur bones have been dug up for decades in the south end of the province. Coal beds show how lush the vegetation once was.

There was another time when a mile-thick layer of ice covered the continent. During that age, carbon dioxide levels were much higher than today. If this gas, needed by plants for growth, causes a greenhouse effect, why didn't the ice melt?

Even in my short lifetime, I've known of dramatic swings in conditions. In 1958, my mom photographed me sitting on a sled amid melting patches of snow. In December of 1965, I saw that very little snow had fallen in our yard while it had been deeper in previous years. I well remember December of 1976 when the news reported that places in Alaska were warmer than those in Florida. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, people predicted that the next year would be a worse one for storms. It was actually a calm hurricane season.

Moreover, scientists at the International Panel on Climate Change fudged their figures to make the data fit their computer model. Michael Mann became infamous with his "hockey stick" graph. He used tree ring data for dates before 1960 but monitoring stations for the years afterward. In light of the revelations of their forgery, how can we believe their dire predictions?

One well-balanced source of climate information is The Cornwall Alliance. They show how the planet can be managed so that its beauty is preserved while letting humanity flourish. The modern environment movement is oriented toward keeping people from using resources while handing governments more power to regulate the stuffing out of businesses. This approach only brings misery to the masses, especially the poorest of the poor.

I have mentioned my desire to reduce my energy consumption, and the problems doing so caused me, in my When a Man Loves a Rabbit book. It, and my second paperback, is available through the Bruce Atchison's books page.

How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is for sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishersnce

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

THE GIVING RACE

Do you ever feel weary from having to give gifts to all and sundry at this time of year? Christmas has become a season of gift buying, card posting, and feeding the relatives. When charities jangle their collection plates under our noses, we toss in a few coins to sooth our conscience and then carry on partying.

Like millions around the world, I became caught up in the shopping madness. Not only did I give my siblings and mother gifts but I bought each member of a charismatic house church a present. This caused me great hardship, particularly when I went to high school and when I was unemployed in December of 1980.

After I left the church in 1987, I still gave gifts to family and friends. As the years passed, I became increasingly tired of the yearly shopping ritual. Giving inexpensive presents to people and receiving the same seemed crazy. Having thought it over, I dropped out of the Christmas rat race in 1992.

When I resumed my walk with the Lord in 1996, I decided to refrain from giving my rich friends gifts. Instead, I donated to various charities such as The Salvation Army and Hope Mission. Christ taught that when we invite people to a  dinner, we should call the poor to it instead of our comparatively well-off friends. The poor can't pay us back but God will consider our charity as treasure in heaven. Reasoning along that line in regard to Christmas, I gave to the poor. Christ also said that helping the unfortunate was like helping him.  Giving to the destitute makes much more sense in light of his teaching than buying trashy gifts for my friends who can buy those items for themselves.

I wrote extensively about that house church in my newly-published memoir, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

WASTED YEARS NEVER GO TO WASTE

"I wish I'd never wasted so many years in a cult." Many former members, myself included, mourn the time lost to pseudo churches and movements which end up controlling us. Thanks to the Lord's providence, these supposedly lost years aren't wasted as we had assumed.

Forty-two years ago, I became captivated with the doctrines of a cultic house church leader. His teachings about aliens, teleportation, the pre-Adamic world, and other unbiblical doctrines appealed to my need to feel significant. Consequently, I didn't think the church was strange or blasphemous, even when Brother Herald (not his real name) said that God became deformed by a nuclear war in heaven. Blinded by pride, my belonging to an "advanced" church seemed like the will of Christ.

As the years passed, I became increasingly frustrated. No matter how much I worked up my faith, my eyes never became healed from my poor vision. Worse yet, elders criticized me for lacking faith, having ancestral sins, lusting for sight, and having unconfessed sin. This perennial criticism built up in me a root of bitterness, another fault which the leaders chided me for. One day, I had heard enough. The elderly woman in whose home the church met criticized me from the pulpit. I stormed out of there and turned my back on God for nine years.

When I came to my senses, I realized that God wasn't at fault. It was the wicked elders of that errant house church who created in me unrealistic expectations. In Fact, I learned from Bible passages such as Exodus 4:11 and John 9:3 that my poor vision wasn't the fault of my parents or myself but that the works of God should be manifest in me. This realization gave me immense joy since I wasn't being punished for supposedly lacking faith.

As I grew in the knowledge of God and his Word, I noticed that I knew my scriptures much better than the average Christian. All those times of Bible reading, misguided as I was by heretical teaching, had planted God's Word in my mind.

Now my passion is to proclaim the truth to other lost lambs who fell for the same sort of lies I once did. I wrote How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity to show that there is hope for recovery from the damage cultists do. It's available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Others have had the victorious experience of being led to the truth. One stirring story is told by Jan Groenveld. Visit Cult Awareness and Information Library to hear a thirty-five minute audio recording of Jan's testimony.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

OPEN THOSE DOORS AND BREAK THOSE BARRIERS

Today is the day that the United Nations set aside to honour disabled persons around the world. Though I have little respect for the U.N., this declaration is worth noting. I do have some vested interest in this since I have partial sight. Even so, people with disabilities need to be recognized as having intrinsic worth.

Through the millennia of human experience, the blind, lame, deaf, and other afflicted persons have been discriminated against. Even in some cultures today, disabled folks are thought to be suffering some sort of curse. The ninth chapter of Saint John's gospel dramatically shows the bias commonly held by people throughout history. When Christ's disciples asked him whether a blind man or his parents sinned, he replied that neither  of them had. Rather, it was that the work of God could be made manifest in the man so that he was born without sight.

I know first hand how certain religious people have treated those with a disability. Throughout my attendance at a charismatic house church, elders chided me for having hidden sin, a lust for sight, lack of faith to be healed, and ancestral sin that blocked God from healing my eyes. Those heartless people lacked understanding of God and his purposes.

One notable Christian with a disability was Fanny Crosby. She Not only wrote more than eight-thousand hymns and songs but she lost her vision at six weeks old. Furthermore, she believed her sightless condition was a blessing from God, not a curse as some folks would assume.

I could cite many other examples of how the Lord worked through the disabilities of people. Because of societal attitudes, we disabled folks have had to struggle to acquire the status which able-bodied citizens take for granted. Even in the workplace, we have to work harder just to keep abreast with our "normal" counterparts. Legislation against discrimination doesn't always help us either. Employers often have erroneous ideas of our capabilities. One of my blind friends was initially blocked from working in a sheltered workshop because its manager thought he couldn't find his way to the rest room.

I wrote extensively about my treatment at that house church in my newly-published memoir, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

Friday, 29 November 2013

ON OWNING ONE'S OWN BELIEFS

One of the big problems churches in the west suffer from is the defection of teenagers from the faith. This is understandable to anybody who takes the time to think through the decisions which their children make. It all boils down to owning one's own beliefs.

Since churches tend to teach doctrines without apologetics, the "why" questions of teens go unanswered. "Because" isn't a sufficient reason, especially when students head to college or university. These unprepared young men and women are thrust into a hostile environment without the defenses to withstand the onslaught of atheism.

I believe I was fortunate to have come from a nominally Christian family and being taught the gospel at a vacation Bible School when I was twelve. Because of these circumstances, I owned my own beliefs rather than just accepting what my parents said. Because I witnessed about my faith to my fellow high school students, I often received taunts from them.

While I ate lunch at the cafeteria, a group of boys at my table began poking fun at me and my beliefs. As they mocked, I kept eating. Even when one boy tossed bits of his Styrofoam cup onto my chocolate pudding, I meekly picked them off.

Another "Jesus freak" came over to my table and sat down next to me. He encouraged me to keep the faith while the mocking boys ate in silence. As my Christian brother and I talked, I felt reassured that I did the right thing. Though this sort of persecution seems light compared to what believers in third world countries suffer, it still was hard for a teenager like myself to bear. Once the other Christian and I sat together, the mockers realized our bond of solidarity.

This is why Christian parents must help their kids to know why Christianity is true. Teenagers need logical answers, not trite sayings. Matters like why there is evil in this world need good answers. Otherwise high school and college students will adopt the pseudo-logic of the naturalists who believe energy and matter are all that exists.

My passion for Christianity is manifestly obvious in How I Was Razed. Read more about my journey from cultism to true Christianity on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

MY "AUTOBAHN" TO CREATIVITY

Which musical group had the most profound effect on you? For me, it was the German electronic music group Kraftwerk. Their early works inspired me to make my own electronic music.

A local radio announcer named Len Thuesen played the side-long version of "Autobahn<" in the spring of 1975. I immediately fell in love with the band's analogue synthesizer masterpiece. Sadly, the music store I visited had sold all their copies of Autobahn.

Two years later, I happened upon Kraftwerk's albums at the music store. I purchased Radio Activity as well as Ralf and Florian. A couple of months later, I purchased Trans-Europe Express and instantly fell in love with the new musical direction the band presented. I continued buying Kraftwerk albums until I had them all.

Listening to the first two Kraftwerk albums, I felt amazed by the simplicity of their sound. Since there were no drum machines in the early seventies, Ralf and Florian made their own. You can see it in action on a video clip from the BBC's Tomorrow's World TV program. I believed that if they could make their own music without tons of synthesizer keyboards, so could I.

My early experimental sounds were very crude. All I had was an old guitar, a 10-In-One Electronic Project kit, and an old chord organ. I also used radio interference from my TV and a fluorescent flashlight in some pieces.

In December of 1984, I happened upon an electronic program broadcast from CJSR, Edmonton's university radio station. This was the music I'd been yearning for. When Marcel Dion, the host, asked for home recordings of electronic and experimental music, I gathered my tunes on a cassette and hand-delivered it to the station. Marcel was particularly impressed by a tune called "That Feeling You Get When You Stand in a Forest and Feel Time".

Thanks to Marcel's encouragement, I purchased a second-hand synthesizer and a few Casio electronic keyboards. He also loaned me his four-track cassette recorder so I could create more tunes. One piece from that period was "Echoes of Childhood".

I bought my own four-track open reel deck a year later and eventually recorded fifteen albums of music.

Recently, I made videos for many of my pieces. You can hear and see them on my YouTube channel.

As for my mentors, view Kraftwerk's page at Kraftwerk.com.

I mentioned my electronic music compositions in my When a Man Loves a Rabbit debut memoir. It and my Deliverance from Jericho paperback are on the Bruce Atchison's books link.

How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is distributed through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Friday, 22 November 2013

HISTORY THROUGH CHILDREN'S EYES

I'm sure that many seniors remember where they were and what they were doing when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. For younger people such as myself, I didn't realize the seriousness of the tragedy at the time.

I don't remember the actual news bulletin of Kennedy's death but I do remember being upset that the cartoons were canceled. Both CTV and CBC aired the telecast of his funeral. Having just turned seven, cartoons seemed much more important than some man's funeral.

Another funeral that annoyed me was that of Winston Churchill. I was at Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind at the time of his death. Our supervisor made us sit and watch the entire ceremony, something I found extremely boring. How glad I was when we were allowed to go and play.

Being preoccupied with surviving at Jericho, I didn't notice the Vietnam war intensify or the Detroit riots. Not until Gordon Lightfoot's "Black Day in July" song came on the radio the next year did I finally pay attention to the news. By then war footage from Vietnam and peace demonstrations became a daily feature of the news.

When Martin Luther King Junior and Robert Kennedy were murdered in April of 1968, I felt worried about all the global turmoil. It felt like the end of the world. By God's grace, we're still here but the memories of those days remain.

I wrote about how I became aware of world events in Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School. It, and my debut paperback are available through the Bruce Atchison's books link.

I have a new book out called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Read more about this wonderful testimony of God's love at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

BEWARE OF FAKE PAYPAL SITES

Periodically, unethical people send out e-mail messages to us in an attempt to gather our information and to misuse it. This is called phishing. Most companies ignore this misconduct but one has taken the pro-active step of tracking down these miscreants.

If you receive a message from somebody claiming to be PayPal, be very careful. Here is part of a PayPal team response to a spoof e-mail which I forwarded to them:

     Paypal Will Never:

     • Send an email to: “Undisclosed Recipients”  or more than one email
        address
     • Ask you to download a form or file to resolve an issue
     • Ask in an email to verify an account using Personal Information such
        as Name, Date of Birth, Driver's License, or Address
     • Ask in an email to verify an account using Bank Account Information
        such as Bank Name, Routing Number, or Bank Account PIN Number
     • Ask in an email to verify an account using Credit Card Information
        such as Credit Card Number or Type, Expiration Date, ATM PIN Number, or
        CVV2 Security Code
     • Ask for your full credit card number without displaying the type of
        card and the last two digits
     • Ask you for your full bank account number without displaying your bank
        name, type of account (Checking/Savings) and the last two digits
     • Ask you for your security question answers without displaying each
        security question you created
     • Ask you to ship an item, pay a shipping fee, send a Western Union
        Money Transfer, or provide a tracking number before the payment received
        is available in your transaction history

Whenever you receive a message claiming that there's some sort of problem with your account, always visit PayPal's site and type in your details there. Otherwise you could have your credit card maxed out and your bank account drained.

If you've already fallen for one of these scammers and their bogus e-mail warnings or you feel somebody has hacked into your account, log into PayPal's site in a new browser window  and click on the "Security and Protection" link. Then click "Identify a Problem" link. Then click on "I think someone may be using my account without permission." Next, click "Unauthorized Account Activity."

Additionally, you can help PayPal track down these cyber thieves by forwarding suspicious e-mails to spoof@paypal.com. Don't delete any attached files since those help the PayPal team to track down the originator of the phishing attempt. By doing this, you reduce the number of phoney e-mails going out and save naive computer users the heartbreak of being ripped off.

I wrote about scams which i fell for in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity.  Read more about God's providential guidance in my life at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers. My previous paperbacks are on the Bruce Atchison's books link.

Friday, 15 November 2013

I MISSED THE BUS BUT FOUND A HOME

Have you ever had something go wrong but it worked out well in the end? I certainly have. One of the best  of these providential occurrences happened in November of 1984.

After attending a shortwave listeners club meeting at a friend's home, I waited at the bus stop. The last one passed that point at eleven so when it hadn't arrived after a half hour, I grew concerned.

I walked back to my friend's place and when he answered the door, I sheepishly admitted that I missed the bus. He and his wife let me sleep on the couch and gave me breakfast the next morning.

Because I hadn't packed a lunch, I ate at the cafeteria. Across from me sat an older woman who I had met on occasions at work. When I mentioned that I was looking for a new place to live since my apartment neighbours were too noisy, she said she had a suite in her house for rent. I wrote down the address and asked if I could see the place on Sunday afternoon. She agreed

To my surprise, she wanted to rent the main floor of her home to me. The price was reasonable and so was the location. I could catch a bus in front of my house and be at work in ten minutes. The suite also had two bedrooms. I pictured my radio equipment in the smaller one as I wrote the cheque for the first month's rent and the damage deposit.

I lived happily at that suite for three years before the landlady sold the house. Had I waited on the other side of the street that night, I would have brought my lunch and eaten it at my desk. Only the Lord knows where I would have lived had it not been for that providential mistake that I made.

I wrote many more examples of God's providence in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Learn more about this amazing testimony of the Lord's wondrous leading at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

SOMETIMES, A BROTHER JUST NEEDS CHEERRING UP

Have you ever done a good deed without realizing it at the time? I've had the blessing of being a blessing to somebody else quite a few times. One of those "divine appointments" happened on a Greyhound bus traveling from North Battleford, Saskatchewan to Edmonton, Alberta.

I had been visiting my sister whose husband worked in North Battleford. As I settled in my seat on that gloomy November day, a young man sat down next to me. Though I would have rather listened to my radio, we made small talk as the bus headed west.

"If you were to die tonight, where would you go?" he asked. Being a Christian myself, I recognized his question and what he had in mind in asking it.

He smiled when I told him that I was a believer. Throughout the rest of that five-hour trip, we spoke of how we came to Christ and where we attended church. We became so wrapped up in our conversation that the hours flew by.

As the bus entered the outskirts of Edmonton, my new friend said, "I feel so much better now that we talked. I was in a car accident so I had to take the Greyhound back home. Talking with you really cheered me up."

I felt astonished that I helped this dear brother in Christ. People throughout my life gave me the distinct impression that I wasn't much good at doing anything. I'm sure the Lord led me and this man to sit beside each other for the very purpose of building us up spiritually.

I wrote about the many times when church people discouraged me in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity/i>. Read how God led me out of that toxic church at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Friday, 8 November 2013

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO TACT?

Has this ever happened to you? Somebody starts talking about their pets and you tell them about your rabbit, guinea pig, or other type of creature other than a dog or cat. Instead of accepting the fact that you like this or that animal as a pet, the person you're speaking to starts talking about recipes. Even when you let that person know that your pig, hen, or goat is a pet, the fool tries to justify her or his tactlessness.

Because I have a rabbit living in my kitchen, boorish individuals feel it necessary to talk about how delicious they are. I try to be as polite as possible when I tell them that my Deborah is a beloved pet but some folks just don't get it. When I mention that dogs and cats are delicacies in some Asian countries, my point still doesn't get across.

I believe I was fortunate to grow up in an age before tactfulness went out of style. My mother, teachers, and supervisors at Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind taught me that if I couldn't say something nice, I shouldn't say anything at all. They also showed me how The Golden Rule works both ways. Perhaps I'm wrong but it seems that people have forgotten this important lesson.

Because of this, I mourn with people whose dog died, even though I'm not a "dog person." I'm not a "bird person" either but I sympathize when somebody's budgie passes on. Some people have rats for pets while others have snakes, yet I don't make stupid remarks. It's their choice, just as it's my choice to have a house rabbit.

I also tire of the dead rabbit stories people feel they must tell me. Did I ask them for a run-down on how their dog killed the bunny? Why can't they say, "That's nice," or something similar? Instead, they tactlessly blurt what they ought to know would hurt the feelings of a rabbit-loving person such as myself.

I've also had some tactless comments made about my poor vision. One local senior citizen even had the nerve to suggest that my life wasn't worth living. Though that belief once was accepted as normal, it still hurt. Sight-impaired people lead productive and happy lives in spite of their lack of sight. My hope is that as people get to know me, they'll realize that blindness or poor vision isn't a living death.

I wrote about my love of Rabbits in When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living With Bunnies. It chronicles the amazing discoveries I made while living with house rabbits and the wonderful times we had.

I also wrote about my struggles of being institutionalized, beginning at seven years of age, in Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School. In a matter-of-fact way, I describe what life was like there and how I felt about being five-hundred miles from home for months at a stretch.


My first two books are on the Bruce Atchison's books page. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Barnes & Noble,    and Virtual Bookworm Publishers in e-book and paperback form

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

HOW I GOT A BANG OUT OF FIRECRACKERS

Are you old enough to remember when children could buy firecrackers at any store which sold them? It isn't like that in many counties and countries today. Some bylaws forbid the lighting of firecrackers or even the sale of them.

I fondly remember how one of the good supervisors at Jericho Hill School for the deaf and Blind showed us how a firecracker could make a tin can jump off the ground. One evening, he led a group of us boys down to the breezeway of our dorm and placed a lit firecracker on the cement, then he quickly placed a can over it. We all gasped and then cheered when the tin leapt a few feet before clattering on the concrete.

The next Friday evening, we each bought  ourselves strings of tiny firecrackers. A five-inch string of them only cost a dime back then. Some boys lit the fuse and let the entire string of firecrackers go off behind the classrooms during recess the next Monday morning. I felt disappointed when my string of tiny explosives finished after such a short time. I only received fifty cents per week allowance so lighting the whole string at once seemed such a waste.

Then I got the idea of untying the little red crackers and lighting them one by one. That made my supply of them last much longer. Lighting the fuse which connected them and seeing it fizzle was fun to watch as well.

Remembering our supervisor's can demonstration, I decided to put firecrackers in bullet shells that a friend had given me. The distance those projectiles flew after I lit the fuse astonished and delighted me. Naturally I was careful not to point them at anybody.

As with all laws and bylaws, the prohibition of lighting firecrackers came about because of people being stupid with them. I was careful not to aim my bullet shells at others and to light them outdoors. I had learned through hard experiences about how toys could be confiscated by supervisors for whatever reasons they deemed necessary. The fun of all us boys had been ruined many times by one thoughtless act.

I wrote about my years at the blind school in Deliverance from Jericho. It, and my debut paperback are available through the Bruce Atchison's books page.

I have a new book out called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Friday, 1 November 2013

BEEZER TURNS THIRTEEN, PROVING RABBITS LIVE LONG

Last month, I heard the wonderful news that Judith Barnette's bunny had reached the venerable age of thirteen. Whenever I hear of a rabbit crossing the ten-year-old line, I rejoice. It proves that bunnies aren't short-lived creatures as many uninformed folks think.

The reason that the majority of people believe rabbits only live for a few years is that they don't know how to take care of them properly. The first mistake novice bunny owners make is to put their pets in backyard cages. Exposed to the elements and insects, these poor creatures often have next to no shelter as a wild rabbit would. The confined space allows their muscles to atrophy. Diets of alfalfa pellets also make them obese. Worst of all, rabbits can die from fright, even if a predator can't get at them. Since people aren't around those poor bunnies, they don't notice the subtle signs of illness or distress. No wonder the public believes rabbits live short lives.

When rabbits are allowed to live indoors and are given space to run, an amazing transformation takes place. Once shy and timid creatures become playful and affectionate companions. Rabbit lives are also extended by giving them good grass hay and greens such as romaine lettuce.

Additionally, bunnies love to chew and shred paper. A box with openings cut into it, along with an old phone book without the covers, becomes a fun playground for these long-eared companions. Bunnies love playing with toys too. My Deborah loves to slam down an iced tea lid and move it about. She also does that when she thinks she should be fed. Watching a rabbit playing is one adorable sight which the backyard cage crowd misses out on.

Rabbits require veterinary care just as cats and dogs. Exotic vets are the best ones to take bunnies to since they're more likely to know about rabbit diseases. Wellness checks are also a good idea since these prey animals hide their symptoms so as not to attract predators.

I've had many rabbits live long lives. Neutrino lived for ten years. Gideon lived for seven and a half until I had to have him put down. Deborah is seven and a half but is still healthy. Had I left these bunnies in the backyard in a smelly old hutch, they would have lived short and miserable existences. Because I let them live with me and I treated them like beloved companions, they lived long, happy lives.

Some of my friends have had their bunnies live longer than mine. For example, Sheila Frappier's Tango is eleven. Other folks on the rabbit lists I subscribe to also have senior rabbits above ten years old. In fact, I've rarely heard of rabbits passing away before they entered their second year unless they weren't taken care of properly during their formative months.

I wrote all about my long-eared friends in When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living with Bunnies. It and Deliverance from Jericho are on the Bruce Atchison's books link

I have a new book out called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Read more about how God brought me out of bondage at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

HOW TO TRAP NAIVE CHRISTIANS

C.S. Lewis once wrote a fictional book of letters from one demon to another called The Screwtape Letters. The senior demon gave the junior devil instructions on how to deceive non-believers and shipwreck the faith of those who became Christians. If Jack, as he liked to be called, had the time and inclination, he might have also written a parody on how to trap Christians.

Every type of device for catching creatures needs some sort of bate to lure the unsuspecting animal to it.  Food that the creature likes is placed inside the gadget so that moving the treat will hold whatever disturbed it. Fish hooks are a sort of trap as well because the barbs dig into the creature's mouth. Likewise, live traps prevent the animal from escaping. Whichever method is used, the end result is the same.

Cults operate on much the same principle as animal traps. Instead of delicious food, they offer acceptance for the lonely and "advanced knowledge" for seekers of truth. At first, the new members don't realize the peril they're in. The organization gives them what they crave without letting on that the leaders have evil intension's for them.

Then the time comes to lay down the rules and regulations which new recruits are expected to obey without question. By this time, the follower is more than willing to comply. After all, the "exalted leader" or "anointed teacher" knows much more about the spiritual disciplines than the novices.

The trapped believers eventually run into problems with one or another of the cult's dogmas. Such people are taken aside and lectured by elders in the group. If the underlings comply, the elders keep an eye on what those people do until they feel sure that all rebelliousness is gone from their minds.

The trouble really starts when the disillusioned followers persist in questioning doctrines or the actions of the leader and his elders. Such people are taken into meeting rooms and the elders use psychological force to gain the compliance of the unruly members. If the unwanted behaviour persists, the rebels are punished in some way.

The last weapon cults have is disfellowship. The members have become so dependent upon the closed circle of the cult that the outside world looks terrifying. Only the strong-minded or extremely disaffected individuals break away and start a new life in the real world.

I went through most of these stages at a house church I once attended. As a warning to others, I wrote my newly-published memoir called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

Friday, 25 October 2013

PUTTING THE FIZZ IN PHYSICS

Were you labeled a "nerd" or "geek" when you went to school? I certainly fit the description. Not only did I wear thick glasses but I loved science. Chemistry class was one of my favourites. In fact, I gained five extra points on my grade by staying after school and experimenting with electrolytic cells. At the prompting of my science teacher, I even wrote a paper on how every chemical change had an electrical change accompanying it.

In 1972, I received a chemistry set for my birthday. I had hours of fun experimenting with the chemicals and test tubes. I even made a few independent discoveries, most notable being what happens when copper sulphate is mixed with ammonium carbonate.

Even in my adult years, I enjoyed any sort of program that dealt with science. I listened avidly to radio shows on the subject and watched whenever a TV program highlighted some new discovery.

Even at my government job, I shared my passion with others in the office. Most folks didn't want to know about my discoveries but my supervisor's supervisor, Barry,  shared a funny story with me.

When he was a boy, one of his friends brought out a lump of potassium from the science room. As his friends stood outside the building and watched, He took out his pocket knife to scrape a sliver of the highly-flammable metal off. Being kept in kerosene, the lump was extremely slippery.

Instead of a shaving, the entire lump slipped out of the boy's hands and dropped into a mud puddle. The potassium reacted so violently with the oxygen in the water that it danced across the surface of the puddle. The leftover hydrogen also ignited, surrounding the lump in blue and orange flames.

After a minute, the potassium completely oxidized. The puddle now resembled spilled milk. Barry never told me what happened afterward but I feel sure none of the kids involved told the science teacher where the lump went.

During one science class, I saw what happens when potassium hits the water. The teacher began his demonstration by turning out the lights and drawing the blinds. Then he carefully cut a piece of the metal off from the rest and dropped the tiny chunk into a sink filled half way to the top with water. The potassium fizzled and popped as it skittered around the sink.

Then I did something foolish. I leaned over the sink to get a better look. A fragment of the metal shot upward and hit my right cheek. The teacher immediately rushed me over to the "eye wash" station and cleaned off the burn.

I wrote of my love for science in Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind school. Click on the book's link, on the right hand side of this page, for more info.

I also wrote about my love of science in my newly-published memoir, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

DID I WASTE MORE THAN FIFTEEN YEARS?

I've blogged often about my time at a cultic house church and how I learned many blasphemous doctrines. But were those years really wasted? After considerable thought, I believe they weren't lost after all. Here's why I think so.

Pastor Steve Wells at South Main Baptist Church preached on 1 Philippians 1:12 a few Sundays ago which reads, "Now it is my purpose to make clear to you, brothers, that the cause of the good news has been helped by my experiences;" Though the apostle Paul was in prison, those circumstances actually helped spread the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

As I listened to Pastor Steve preach, I realized that I have actually benefited from being in that misguided congregation.  During those years, I had taken a correspondence Bible study course and read my King James Version from cover to cover. Though I learned wrong doctrines, I became familiar with Bible books and where they were located. I even memorized some verses, though I did so to prove Brother Herald's warped theology to others.

When I turned my back on God for nine years and studied evolution, I gained a better understanding of the theory. It seemed fairer to me than Christianity because nobody could be faulted for genetic defects. The cult members believed that ancestral sin was transmitted from parents to children instead of everybody being responsible for their own transgressions. Now I know that the opposite is true.

When I repented of my prodigal behaviour toward God's love for me, I eagerly relearned the essential doctrines of the faith. Though years passed while I slowly learned how wrong Brother Herald was, I realized that many other naive believers were in the same condition I once was.

In 2008, I decided to write a memoir of my time at the house church and how the heavenly Father led me out of its spiritual grip. I set to work in March of that year and completed the manuscript four years later. During that time, I researched various cults as well as how they deceive eager truth seekers. I also took great pains to make sure I wasn't writing anything that was blasphemous or misleading. Additionally, I double-checked what I wrote to see if it squared with what I remember teaching others and what I staunchly believed in back then. I also listened to various Christian radio shows to learn the extent of evolution's consequences. By the final edit, I knew I could stand behind my book's contents.

I wrote extensively about that house church and listed its doctrines in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

Friday, 18 October 2013

WHAT'S NOISE TO YOU IS MUSIC TO MY EARS

Remember shortwave radio? Without wires, satellites, or Internet service providers, people have been able to listen to distant stations half way around the globe. To me, there's something wondrous about being able to hear voices and music from distant lands while sitting in my home. The fading and distortion just adds to the feeling of pulling in stations. During crises, such as the terrorist attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, I was able to hear events as they unfolded.

Being a lover of electronic sounds, I've often listened in wonder to the point-to-point stations between the shortwave broadcast bands. The tonal qualities and strangeness of the signals only made them more appealing to me.

I'm not alone in my fascination with these mysterious signals. Shortwave listeners have probed the ether for clues to the purpose and location of these transmissions. For a report on this hobby, listen to NPR's "All Things Considered" radio feature, "Music By The Numbers". You can also hear another report called NPR's "Lost and Found Sound" radio feature, "The Shortwave Numbers stations". Once you get past the commercial, the program gets quite interesting.

Musicians have also noticed the tonal qualities of shortwave utility stations, as listeners call them. Avant Garde composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen led the way but eventually rock groups mixed these signals into their music.

One of the most famous uses of these signals was "Reception" by Paul McCartney and Wings. It was the beginning track on his 1979 LP Back To The Egg.

Another good example is "Radio Waves" by OMD. Using a shortwave radio with a scanning feature, the duo recorded the signals as the receiver scanned a specified frequency range. Then they recorded their instruments and vocals along with the radio recording.

Lesser-known musicians also followed suit. Listen to "World Service" by Anthony Moore and the way he used distant signals to augment the feeling of being in one of Africa's war-torn countries.

"Animal Waves" by Can is another example of shortwave signals being use to create a mood of distance and exoticness. This track from one of Germany's more adventurous bands appeared on their Saw Delight album in 1977.

Sound collages have also been made using shortwave signals as well as program snippets. Here's one called "Time Zones" by Negativeland Particularly humorous is the Radio Moscow clip and the announcer's reference to the "Commy" people.

Though "Radioland" by Kraftwerk only contains synthetic shortwave sounds, I believe it still qualifies as it's an ode to shortwave radio activity. It conveys the concept of scanning the dial quite well, in my opinion.

I also have used these mesmerizing signals in my own electronic music compositions. One of them is called "A Short Wave To Shortwave" by Bruce Atchison. A better example is "Passing Messages" I used a numbers station and shortwave utility signals to create the mood of hearing a clandestine broadcast.

I've mentioned shortwave radio in all three of my memoirs. The first two are available through this page. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is featured on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

LAY MINISTER CLAIMED EARTH HAD AN INVISIBLE TWIN

I certainly learned many bizarre doctrines while at an aberrant house church. In fact, I wrote down as many as I could remember in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. One of Brother Herald's craziest ideas escaped my attention until the book was published. Here's what he said at one Wednesday meeting.

As Sister Roberta, her daughter, and I listened attentively to Brother Herald's message about aliens, he startled us with a "revelation" of our world's hidden twin planet. "These space people who watch the sons of God on earth do so from an invisible world that orbits between the earth and the moon," he announced. "The reason people can't see it is because the planet is protected by a field which bends light around it so that nobody down here can see it."

After a dramatic pause, he continued, "Scientists have detected an unexplained wobble in the earth's rotation. This is due to the hidden world's gravitational pull on our planet."

Brother Herald went on to explain that the light-bending field would be turned off during the great tribulation mentioned in Revelation. "From the point of view of people on earth, the sun will appear to turn black and the moon will turn the colour of blood," he explained. "The reason the moon will become the colour of blood is because of this hidden world's atmosphere. It's the same effect that happens during a lunar eclipse."

After the closing prayer, I asked, "Can I go to that world someday? I sure would love to visit it."

"You may visit it, Bruce, but only in the spirit. I'll arrange for you to be able to travel there. You're spirit will leave your body and a good spirit will take your  place while you travel to that planet."

For weeks afterward, I wondered if I had visited that world or not. I couldn't remember doing so but, as Brother herald warned, the aliens could have erased my memory of the visit.

Forty years later, I still feel astonished that I could have believed such errant nonsense. Empirical science alone should have shown me that another body added to the earth-moon system would have created huge tides far greater than what we experience. Unless those imaginary space people could have hidden all traces of their presence, it would have been noticed by people long ago.

Being a naive Christian, I had no idea of what a cult was or that I was actually in one. The church considered Brother Herald's pseudo-revelations to be on par with the Bible and nobody had the right to question them. Thanks to good apologetics teachers, I now know  how to discern truth from lies.

In addition to showing how badly deceived I had been, I provide tips in my testimony regarding how to understand scripture. You can find more information about How I Was Razed at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Friday, 11 October 2013

THE WEALTH OF NATIONS REMAINS RELEVANT


Telephone banking, debit cards, PayPal: these forms of monetary transactions have been around for only a decade or so. Yet the underlying time-honoured principles of economics continue to work in the same way. Somebody pays with part of the reward for their labour for a product or service provided by someone else. That person is in turn paid for their work.

A book called The Wealth of Nations was written by a man named Adam Smith in 1773. It described the way commerce worked and how the balance of wealth benefited a nation's people. Smith also demonstrated through his examples how capitalism is the most efficient system for raising the masses out of poverty.

Beginning from primitive people bartering what they had in excess for what they lacked, Smith showed how humanity became progressively specialized. Folks used to have to make everything they owned, including tools. Eventually, those who were better at one craft focused exclusively on that and traded their wares for the goods of other specialized craftspeople. Today, folks have become so specialized that they would be hard pressed to harvest a crop without machinery or build themselves a house, let alone making every implement they needed by hand.

I see this fact plainly in my own life. I write fairly well and I'm becoming skilled in storytelling. But don't ask me to repair a car, fly a plane, or remove a brain tumor. I can bang nails into boards but I'm no carpenter. Likewise, the best I can do in regard to being an electrician is attaching ready-made plugs to electrical cords.

Additionally, Smith noted the power of self interest. People won't work for no reward but they'll give their best when the incentive to do so is held out to them. Whether it's volunteers at a charity or a rock star on stage, the passion of their activities drives them to continue on in spite of difficulties. Negative incentive also keeps employees labouring, though they might feel like they're only "working for the man." Even so, positive incentives such as fulfillment, fame, and royalty payments are more likely to produce good results than negative pressure.

Two-hundred-and-forty years have passed since the publication of The Wealth of Nations, yet Smith's observations continue to ring true. Socialism promises great things but it operates through confiscating wealth from its producers and giving to those who crave it. In fact higher taxation and regulation of industries dampens their output. This is why free enterprise and governments favourable to it tend to encourage economic growth whereas socialism stifles it.

Having self-published three books and sold many freelance articles, I know first hand about economic incentive. When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living With bunnies sold relatively well since I knew people who loved their house rabbits. Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School sold poorly because most of the enquiries regarding it were from blind folks who couldn't read the paperback. I learned from that experience that knowing one's readership is crucial to increased sales. Details on these books are available through the links on the right hand side of this page.

How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity, my most recent book, is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

WHY IS DISCIPLESHIP IMPORTANT?

Christians consider proclaiming the gospel to be a vital part of their faith, and rightly so. Yet there is another aspect that must be addressed, namely discipleship. One of the last things Christ said in Matthew 28:20b was, "Teaching them (disciples) to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.... " Therefore, making disciples is just as important as proclaiming the good news of salvation.

What a pity that so many new believers are left to seek spiritual nourishment from whichever source presents it. From the research I've done and my own experience, I discovered that cults attract mainly seekers of truth. Hardened atheists and devotees to various religions have no use for cults as they are secure in their own beliefs. New Christians, as I was in the early seventies, have no discernment skills so they fall for any lie that masquerades as truth.

In my case, I had given my life to Christ at a vacation Bible school held in the basement of my sister's friend's mother's home. I went there expecting the usual stories and treats that I'd had at the Lutheran church. But Mrs. Blacklock taught something I'd never heard before. She said that everybody was headed for hell but those who accepted Jesus into their hearts and asked forgiveness of their sins would be saved from that terrible fate. I pondered this new teaching for five days, then decided to surrender myself to the Lord.

I don't blame Mrs. Blacklock for not personally inviting me to her church but I wish she had. As far as I know, nobody came to my family's home to invite Diane and I. Mom doesn't remember either. When I was sent back to Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind in September, I returned to the same Anglican church I had attended for the previous five years.

I became spiritually hungry during the summer of 1970 but nobody had told me why church attendance was important. Consequently, I sought spiritual nourishment from radio preachers. Most of them spoke of basic things which I had already learned but one voice stood out among the rest. When I heard The World Tomorrow, I became captivated with Garner Ted Armstrong's persuasive doctrines and analysis of world news events. This was so different from the "Jesus loves me" preaching I'd heard that I faithfully followed his program.

Then a friend invited me to his house church in November of 1971. Far from the usual Bible study topics, the lay minister spoke of the same sort of things Armstrong preached. I became so captivated by Brother Herald that I joined what I thought of as Thee Church.

As I attended the Wednesday evening meetings, I soaked up everything Brother Herald taught as if it was gospel. Here was somebody who refused to paddle around in the shallow end of the scriptural pool. My desire to know more about God was satiated by his biblical interpretations and I saw no danger in what I learned.

I realize now that Thee Church was a cult and that Brother Herald set himself up as God's mouthpiece. Had I been mentored in apologetics, I would have spotted Brother Herald for the blasphemer he was.

This is why I wrote How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. People need to know the truth so they can spot a counterfeit gospel immediately. Read more about this testimony of God's providential guidance at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Friday, 4 October 2013

OUR PRIVILEGED PLANET

What makes our planet special? According to some scientists, we orbit an unremarkable star in an average galaxy in a vast universe. What makes earth special is that it's perfectly suited for life.

Even a quick look at the other planets in our solar system shows that we live in the best orbit. Venus and Mercury are too close to the sun and the other worlds are too far away. Venus also has a thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide which creates a green house effect. This planet is actually hotter than airless Mercury.

Mars, though it might have had water and a thicker atmosphere at one time is now a barren planet with almost no air. Likewise, the outer planets are unsuitable because of their distance from the sun and lack of oxygen.

Additionally, earth's moon is large enough to create tides which stir up the oceans but not enough to flood the land. During an eclipse, it covers the disk of the sun but allows us to see our star's atmosphere. If the moon was closer or larger, we wouldn't be able to see the sun's corona, Too small or far away and the eclipse would be too bright to study.

Our star is the right size as well. Too big and the earth would eventually stop rotating. One side would be endlessly facing the blazing sun while the other side would freeze.

Earth also has a spinning liquid iron core which generates a protective magnetic field. Charged particles from the sun are deflected around the planet by these magnetic field lines, thereby preserving life. Smaller planets such as Mars have no liquid iron cores. Radioactive particles bombard its surface, though the thin atmosphere does attenuate them somewhat.

Our place in the Milky Way is likewise the optimal one for astronomy. Too close to the centre and nearby stars would make it difficult to see other stars. The excess radiation would also prove deadly to life. If earth was inside a spiral arm of the galaxy, we wouldn't be able to tell which stars belonged to it and which were outside. Being between the spiral arms allows us to see the universe better. If Earth was at the edge of the galaxy, it would lack the heavier elements required for life.

Additionally, the laws of physics demonstrate how finely tuned the universe is to support life. If any of the parameters were changed, such as gravity being a bit stronger, intelligent life couldn't exist. Arguing that there are multiple universes and this one got lucky just pushes the problem down the road. The laws which allow for our universe are so finely tuned that even a slight shift wouldn't allow stars to form.

Some scientists speculate that other planets might have life on them. While it might be possible, we have no evidence of it. We appear to be the only ones in the universe and our planet shows apparent evidence of being made for us.

More evidence of our favoured position in the universe can be seen on the video The Privileged Planet produced by Illustra Media. This DVD shows that there is a purpose to this universe and our place in it.

I also wrote about how I rejected evolution in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

MEMORABLE COOKING DISASTERS

Those of us who cook or bake our own food have often learned the hard way about what not to do. I'm no exception. Often these accidents happen due to carelessness or assumptions.

Forty-one years ago, I began cooking my own dinners. I decided one evening to make rice. When I poured some into the pot, It didn't look sufficient for my supper so I added more. Being new to cooking, I didn't realize that rice would fluff up. I ended up with enough for two or three meals. I also made the same mistake with macaroni.

Those weren't the only disappointments I was in for. Baking potatoes in the oven took longer than I anticipated. Nobody told me it would take at least an hour. I grew increasingly impatient as darkness fell but the potato remained stubbornly tough. I had the same problem with boiled potatoes. Now I boil the spuds first, then cook the vegetables and meat later so that everything is ready at the same time.

I'll never forget the great banana loaf disaster of 1975. Having taken a cooking class in high school, I felt confident that I could bake at home. My first problem was that the gas stove had no temperature gage on the oven control. I had to guess at how hot I should heat that antique range.

The next mistake I made was adding one banana rather than a cup of banana in the mix. The result looked like a rectangular meteor. I manage to eat the uncharred part but it was extremely dry.

I've also made mistakes through absent-mindedness. One lunchtime, I poured the batter into the waffle iron before it was warmed up. It stuck fast in the iron and refused to come out in one piece. I managed to scrape off the mess but by then it was stone cold.

I also learned the hard way that "non stick" doesn't mean that the pan will stay that way after a few uses. The fried eggs I hoped to have for supper stuck to the Teflon, causing me to scrape it off with a plastic spatula.

One habit I still need to work on is to turn off stove burners after I'm finished. One evening, I absent-mindedly set a three-ring binder on one burner. I hadn't noticed that the electric element was on low until the smell of melting vinyl filled the kitchen. It also set off the smoke detector. Removing the melted mess under the element took a long while as well.

In my forty-one years of being a bachelor, I've melted the bottoms of aluminum kettles, forgot potatoes on the stove until they started burning, and had innumerable pots of soup boil over. I'm grateful that nobody witnessed these disasters.

I mentioned many non-food mistakes I made throughout my life in When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living With Bunnies, Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School, and my newly-published memoir, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoirs. Please check the latter book out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Friday, 27 September 2013

IT WAS WHAT WAS EATING ME, NOT WHAT I ATE

People have been conscienciously seeking to eat a well-balanced diet for decades, as well they should. Consuming roughage-laden grain products and vegetables helps digestion and intestinal motility. Cooking unprocessed food also provides more vitamines and minerals than packaged food does. But even the best diets can be counteracted by what's eating you.

In the autumn of 1981, I began having cramps. The pain became so bad that I was given sick leave from work during the month of September. After seeing my general practicioner, I went to a specialist. I underwent a variety of tests, including a barium X-ray and a colonoscopy. The doctor said one test showed  a positive indication of a parasite of some sort or other in my stool and gave me medicine for it.

The symptoms gradually subsided and I was able to return to work in October. The question still remained in my mind about why I suffered the cramps in the first place. As happens with illnesses, I heard no shortage of unsolicited advice. Friends From Crohn's disease to a lack of roughage, everybody had their own opinion about what was wrong with me.

The elders at the house church I attended at the time were particularly criticle in their judgements about my cramps. Sister Roberta ceised upon the opportunity by firing question after question at me about what I had been eating. Others sitting around the table after Sunday service also gave their dietary pronouncements.

Since I'd been eating whole grain bread and brown rice, Sister Roberta assumed that I must have a demon afflicting me. People gathered around me to  lay their hands on me. As they jabbered in tongues, Sister Roberta rebuked the demon and commanded it to come out. Afterward, when I felt no different, she admonished me to keep my faith up.

At an appointment in December with my specialist, he told me that I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome. A fair number of people suffer from that malady, according to him.

Though my doctor didn't say so, I believe my cramps were brought on by the stress of my job added to the stress of trying to work up my faith to be healed of my poor sight. I haven't had any serious problems since leaving the church and being put on disability by the government in 1995.

I wrote extensively about that house church in my newly-published memoir, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.