Light in the Darkness

Yesterday was my first real trip since early August outside Washington County in a vehicle other than a school bus full of teenagers. Diana and I took Caleb for a visit to Salisbury University to see the college and meet the coach there. And on the way home, we stopped at the University of Maryland in College Park where Jesse is a current student.

We often think of the secular university campus as a bastion of leftist ideology – replete with an anti-Christian hedonism that mocks Christ and the Cross. Indeed, the stuff of this material world is on full display, as is the celebration of the multi-cultural gumbo of all ideas and values being equal ideas and values.

But even without searching it out, the students who are the children of the Kingdom of Light may be found taking their stand for truth and righteousness – competing well in the modern agora of ideas. And in this, I marvel at how they shine like lights in the darkness.

At Salisbury, the coach had his Bible on his office desk – as he did when I first met him 13 years ago when Nathan visited. On the campus tour (as on every campus tour at the dozens of schools I’ve endured such over the past 13 years), they took us into the “average college dorm room.” There a young African-American man talked about dorm life; and as he did, I looked over his shoulder on the shelf behind him where he had several Young Life pamphlets, and a Bible on the top level (he told me he is serving as a YL leader at a local high school). University students often write announcements and messages in chalk on sidewalks – and as we entered a particular building, written on the pavement was this: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,” 1 Timothy 2:15. The campus ministry group was meeting in that building on this evening – with signs advertising the gathering.

At the University of Maryland, we stopped to not just see Jesse, but to pick up his audio equipment from an evening show where his academic fraternity was hosting a benefit program for a student with cancer. Jesse was supplying and running the sound technology for the event. It was a variety talent show, and it was a bit … well … “raw” at times. The dances were creative but a bit suggestive at certain junctures, the comedy routines a bit rough with the language, etc. But one girl sang a song a cappella – introducing it as a part of her celebration, not of “the holidays,” but of Christmas and the coming of Jesus. The song was a ballad as sung from the lips of Mary – pondering the holiness within her by carrying and bearing the divine son. Her song indeed stuck out like a bright light in a dark sky.

The Scriptures are full of passages where we are admonished to live in this way. The Beatitudes encourage us to let our light shine before men … and in Ephesians 5:8 Paul says, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.”  And in this Christmas season we celebrate the coming of Christ who is oft spoken of as the light that has penetrated the darkness.

So I have not feared sending my boys into these places – yes, locations abounding with the fruitless deeds of darkness, yet places as well where a strong faith can be forged upon the anvil of friends and associates who together recognize their common faith and the obligation to live – even on the secular campus – as citizens of an Eternal Kingdom. I have become of the opinion that there is far more to fear from certain “Christian institutions” who boast a genuine religious past that is but marginally clung to today, and whose fruit I’ve too often seen as infusing skepticism toward the eventual end of the loss of faith by too many of our youth who have attended such vacuous white-washed sepulchers filled with dead men’s bones.

Memories of Elections Past

I was thinking today of what are my primary memories of election days in the past and of the emotions connected to them. I’m surprised at what most stands out to me year by year, and by how some of the oldest memories are the most vivid.

1960 – I was only five years old. I remember going to the polls with my parents and remember them saying that they did not see any Nixon signs. As I put out our Republican signs today at my assigned location – Williamsport High School – an activity that seems rather worthless to me, I do recall this memory and that people at least hope to see their guy’s sign nearby. My parents were historic Democrats – FDR types – though they became Republican in later years as the Democrat Party increasingly walked away from their historic values. However, my parents also were of a mindset common at that time that they could not vote for a Catholic.

1964 – My parents were not much for Goldwater – he creeped them out! Our voting location in NJ was at a firehouse just up the road and next to the school. The women’s auxiliary put on a fundraising dinner that my parents enjoyed, as it was the whole community coming together for the meal as well as to vote. I remember enjoying this much and being there with school friends.

1968 – This is actually one of my clearest Election Day memories, and some of you who know of my relative distaste for the sport of soccer will be so surprised. I was playing a soccer game on this day against a rival school. And this may take some imagination, but I was actually a very good front-line player and scorer. It was a close game. I had missed several shots and even hit the supports twice. With about 15 seconds left in a scoreless overtime I hit a shot off the crossbeam and it ricocheted back to another forward who easily put it in the goal. The midfield celebration was one who gave me the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat all in one moment. A backfield guy jumped on the pile and as his hand swung around it smacked the side of my head and broke my glasses. (This is before contacts – and I broke glasses in sports about once a month – to the frustration and anger of my parents.) So my memory is of eating dinner at the firehouse with busted glasses and angry parents about that … but happy that Nixon won. They really liked Nixon.

1972 – As a high school senior, I was totally involved in preparation for the state cross country meet – amazing how some things don’t change over the years. It was a runaway win for Nixon over McGovern, and was not actually that interesting

1976 – As a college senior, I was working the graveyard shift on building security. I was doing my rounds of the building every hour all night and watching the returns on the dorm’s foyer TV in the moments in between. We all mostly believed that Carter was more of an informed Christian than he turned out to be. What a disappointment!

1980 – Now married and living in Dallas and attending seminary, it was my first time to vote away from home. It was the big Reagan Revolution year, and Diana and I waited in long, long lines to vote in a high school in Garland, Texas. By the time we got home, it was all over and being announced, and was rather anti-climatic.

1984 – This was a total Reagan wipeout of Mondale, and I have few memories of it. I was now living back in NJ (and voting at the new firehouse in the same township) and more involved in making a first ministry work and dealing with two little children and a newly built home.

1988 – This begins the first of a series of Republican candidates that I deemed to be certainly better than Democrat alternatives, but not whom I’d particularly prefer. I don’t have that many memories of the Election Day itself … just that it seemed at the time that the Democrats were totally lost and devoid of ideas and viable candidates.

1992 – This was my final NJ election before moving to MD. It was my first memory of having a sad and sickening feeling about the results. I remember Rush Limbaugh putting the best spin on it the next day – declaring himself as the biggest winner, in that he now had four years of show material.

1996 – ah… make that eight years of show material. Now I was in MD. I remember spending a lot of the daytime hours eating lunch in the car and driving somewhere listening to the radio, and hoping against hope that somehow Dole could pull it out. Nope … not an inspiring guy.

2000 – Now I not only have five boys, but one of them had voted for the first time and was experiencing the election as a wee minority conservative at his collegiate stronghold of liberalism. The whole thing was thrown up in the air as the focus shifted to Florida and a discussion of “hanging chads.”

2004 – My primary memory of this election is my anger at Bush for being such a dreadful debater and a fellow who seemed capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory whenever he talked.

2008 – Totally sick and sad feelings like never before! How could the electorate possibly be this ignorant and gullible? I determined that night that I had to become involved somehow. I began to hang around with the Republican Club and the Republican Central Committee people – not even at the time knowing the distinction between them. A year later I was on the Committee to fill an unexpired term and two years later I was elected to the Committee, and then selected by the Committee to be the WCRCC chairman for 2011. And then there was a silly controversy, and I got to talk to the state prosecutor, etc., etc…. and it has been an interesting trip!

2012 – What would I write in this space if I had chosen to do this a day later? It is scary to consider. I don’t like over-dramatization of anything, but to those who say it is silly to call this “the most critical election of our lifetime” … OK … name what other election was more significant.  … Silence.

Another Dog

I am almost terribly ashamed! Almost. But it helps to live in the country and far enough away from any neighbors that we can’t really be seen by them nor from the road. And my landscaper son continues to plant trees. This is good.

You have heard me say and write that I love my dog. I do!  Joules the Jack Russell is way cool! At the end of the day, I like anything that runs fast! No rabbits will ever again infest our property.

A friend of mine who shall go nameless (unless I change my mind in a couple of sentences), who lives in Williamsport on a main street and serves currently on my church board, also owned a Jack Russell. I remember one time some years ago when I was at the Sunoco station at Exit 2 in Williamsport, he walked by with the dog on a leash. Feeling a bit insecure it seemed, he said to me, “You know it takes a real man with lots of personal confidence to be seen walking a little Jack Russell.”  I’ve never felt that way about my JRT – she is so cool and so awesome!

However, I can understand how that feeling could be true of being seen with certain breeds and types of canines … and that is where I’m feeling a bit … ah … insecure. It appears we have a second dog in the house. And like the first one (brought to us unannounced by my daughter-in-law), it has also sort of dropped into our lives. It is a stray dog that we have been unsuccessful in all efforts to find its previous owner.

But here is the problem – in terms of machismo … she is a tiny, fluffy, foofie, little bundle of fur. Weighing about five pounds, she makes Joules looks like a Great Dane standing next to her. It is the kind of dog some rich old woman of high estate would have – that would dress up the dog in frilly coats with pink and yellow bows, etc.

I guess the dog is some sort of Pomeranian, maybe even a mix with a Chihuahua or something like that? Her tail sticks straight in the air and with an overflowing abundance of long hair, it looks like a palm tree over her back. She is quite well-behaved, and fortunately is not really a yappy little thing like so many other runt types of breeds.

So, I guess she’ll end up going places with me at times like Joules does … that is, if I can work up my confidence to be seen publically with such a fur-ball.

The thing still does not have a name. Any ideas?  Foofie and cutesy names not allowed!

The Rotary Club Dictionary Project

By most any standard, I’m a pretty lousy Rotarian – having my irons in too many fires to ever see this service club make it to the front burner of my life. I’m the Rotary Club equivalent of the church person who attends once a month and expects a fine sermon from the senior pastor and an entertaining worship service!

But a Rotary Club project that I am fond of and always participate with is the Dictionary Project – where we give the 1400 students in Washington County Schools a dictionary of their own to possess and use. We break into teams and cover the schools with a little presentation.

The past several years I have really enjoyed going to Conococheague Elementary School on the National Pike west of Hagerstown. This year I was with Curt Dudda and Rev. Kevin Munroe of Zion Reformed.

I am impressed every year at every place I have gone at how attentive the children are and how well-organized and orderly are the classes. The kids really are simply a lot of fun to meet! I do the part of the program on “how to use your new dictionary.”

Salubrious Salsa

After a couple of “speed rounds” of finding common words, I talk about the primary usage of a dictionary to give us word definitions – describing as well that some words have various meanings. Since my favorite word “salubrious” is not in this elementary dictionary, the word I use to illustrate definitions is “salsa” (which as I’m sure you all know is more than just a spicy dip or sauce!). The last several years there has been a child in the class who also knew it to mean a style of dance or music. And then I always surprise one of my partners by asking him to demonstrate the dance!

Is it -ant or -ent?

I have never been a great speller, and I feel that one of the great advances in civilization not far removed from Gutenberg is the computer spell check. Yet there are times when I still use a dictionary to figure out how to spell something. Somewhere in my attention deficit disorder-afflicted educational career, I completely missed whatever spelling rules govern –ent and –ant endings. So, I put the words “pendant” and “pendent” on the board and asked the kids to choose which was correct. It was an even split of hands raised. So … to the dictionaries! I was praying that a girl would find it first … and one did, because I had a pink soccer ball pendant/pendent from my family’s Potomac Bead Company ownership to hang around her neck! She was mighty pleased indeed!!  Oh… which is correct?… you don’t know? LOOK IT UP!

The bookmarks!

Corrected by a 3rd Grader

A final moment was to also give each student a bookmark courtesy of Hagerstown Community College – which said on it “see you at HCC in 2022.”  And I mentioned as they were being distributed that the college slogan is “stay near, go far.”  But one of the little girls corrected me and said, “No it is ‘stay CLOSE, go far!’”  She is correct!  And, what does that illustrate?  (… beyond my ignorance? … and beyond that a good slogan goes a long way?)  It is an illustration of how a dictionary may be used to find synonyms (and I just had to look up how to spell that word!)!

The little girl on the left is wearing her pendant she won!

Talking to and Hearing from God

My 3-year-old granddaughter Bella – who is unusually verbal for her age – was recently asked by someone what she likes to do. Her answer was, “I like to talk to God. You can talk to him anywhere. He can hear you but he doesn’t talk back very loud.”

After a chuckle at the humor of such a little one saying something like this, I’m guessing that a lot of people quietly agree with the entire statement. Yes, it is true that God may be talked to at any place and any time. And I don’t think many folks really doubt that God hears them. It is the final part of it that is difficult – how does God talk back? And yes, it often does not seem to be very loud or clearly definitive.

How do we hear from God? Where do we find his guidance and his will? Of course we need to be praying and seeking his direction.

Certainly God uses our circumstances and life events to speak to us. There are times where even extraordinary events upon the pathways of life may open or close doors and thus provide guidance to us.

As well, there is what we often call “the witness of Spirit” – that inner sense of either peace or discomfort surrounding decisions and opportunities that grant some measure of leading.

But the primary method of God’s guidance is through Christ and his Word – the Scriptures. It says in Hebrews chapter1 that “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.”  That would indeed be a way cool thing to hear from God through prophets and miraculous voices. But God’s truth has been revealed in the person of Christ, and of course all that we know of Christ is contained in the perfect written record of the Scriptures.

So to know God’s direction – to hear his voice a bit louder – one has to know the Bible. And that is the focus that we have at TSF – in our sermons and classes and small groups of all sorts. If you are not a part of these opportunities, now is the best time of year to jump in.

Boy Stories

Each of my five boys has a story or two from their childhood that gets repeated over and over by family members above all others.

For our fourth son, Jesse, it is the time he was about seven or eight years old – celebrating his August birthday. He was opening some presents and displaying a very snarky and totally unappreciative attitude about the whole process. So, to fix it, we took his presents away and did not give them back to him until Christmas! He’s been a thankful child ever since!

However, that story is in jeopardy of being replaced by another that happened here today.  Jesse may be about the most intense and disciplined person I’ve ever known. He is currently on pace to read about 120 books this year; he turns in written assignments to professors a week or two in advance; and he will pack for a trip about four day before departure!

McKeldin Library at UMD

Well, today he called home from the library at the University of Maryland at College Park – where he transferred just this semester to matriculate into the Smith School of Business. Apparently he was studying in a corner of the library, when after a time of encroaching darkness realized upon investigation that the library had actually closed two hours previously! So he called the campus police to come extricate him by unlocking the doors! I don’t think that happened to me at college.

So, what are the other boy stories?  Here is a sampling from each:

Nathan: His little girl Bella is taking after him with a fascination with listening to recorded Bible stories at bedtime. It is amazing what Nathan learned and recalled from this very young, pre-school-age ritual. One night after having gone to bed, he came to the top of the steps and yelled, “Daddy, back in Bible times, people had arms, right?”  And I said, “Yes, of course, why would you ask that?”  And he replied, “Because here on my Bible story tape about the Israelites escaping from Pharaoh, they said to Moses, ‘How can we fight the Egyptians, we have no arms!’”

Benjamin: Most of Benjamin’s stories involve the pilfering of forbidden foods – always containing sugar. All the boys did this to some extent, but none quite like Ben. One of their targets was stealing frozen mini-marshmallows from the chest freezer in the basement. On a particular occasion, Diana found a bag of thawed-out chicken parts that had been accidently not put back inside when a theft occurred. She gathered all the boys (only 3 at that time), and demanded to know who’d dun it! Everyone professed innocence. But Ben blew his own cover – while touching the bag and saying, “That’s funny, they felt like bones yesterday!”

Aaron: As the third oldest, he was at times the innocent bystander of conflict between the two older brothers. I know, I know – picturing the Aaron we know today as the quiet bystander of ANYTHING is difficult to believe. One night at the dinner table, there was a conflict between Nathan and Benjamin that caused me to go off on both of them rather severely … or at least such that, when I was finished, a total hush fell over the dinner table. Suddenly, Aaron simply said in a quiet, matter of fact way, “I’m always a good boy!”  Diana and I totally lost it!

Caleb: When he was quite young we were visited by some of our Texas family. We took a day to visit Washington and see the sights there. We were walking through Arlington – where Caleb ran ahead of the rest of us and jumped up and sat on a post. As we got close to him, he said with a slight grin, “I’m stuck, I can’t get down.”  His shorts had bunched up under him, and he could not move in any direction. I really did think he was kidding, and so I just told him to stop fooling around and jump down. At that point, he broke into a flood of tears, “I really am stuck here; I can’t move!!” Since you see his 6’2” presence around church, you know that I did not leave him there!  Actually, just a few weeks ago when in Philly on the way home from the Jersey shore, Caleb re-enacted the situation on a post in front of Independence Hall… and here is the picture:

It Just Ain’t the Same!

This past week we travelled for a couple of days to the Jersey Shore. I guess these two nights in Wildwood comprise our summer vacation for this year.

Wildwood was a second home for me as a kid. Most summers we would spend two weeks there. We stayed in the home of an older Swedish couple that my parents had somehow met from years of going to this community and searching rental places. We all became almost like family to the Johnsons. But about the time I was getting out of college and getting married, this couple had passed away and we no longer gathered at the same home. There have been a couple of extended family gatherings in North Wildwood over the past 35 years, but my memories are mostly frozen in the mid 60s to mid 70s.

So in this summer of reconnecting a bit with my past – known and unknown (but now discovered a bit) – I wanted to spend a couple of days biking around Wildwood to all the places I frequented 40-50 years ago.

My summer home in Wildwood for many years

It just ain’t the same.

Wildwood has really gone downhill over the years. We stayed at a 4-star motel. Hmmm…. These star ratings must be rather arbitrary. I think we’ve somewhere and sometime stayed at a worse place … I think … though I can’t remember where. And I think we’ve probably paid more somewhere … I think … though I can’t remember where or when. I kept saying to Diana, “Think of this as a missionary trip into a foreign culture!”  She couldn’t seem to connect to the humor in that suggestion!

I had heard stories that Wildwood is at the bottom end of a cycle to renovate and resuscitate its former greatness. The home where we used to stay is on a block in very serious need of renovation. The house itself appears to be uninhabitable at the moment. It was all very sad to see, as this was a nice neighborhood in the past.

And then there was a restaurant where we always visited most evenings. Like the name of the people from whom we rented rooms, we ate most dinners at Johnson’s – which is now a pancake house of a chain of such eateries. I asked the owner about this, and he showed me how they had preserved the sign from the former establishment.

Even the beach is all different. Whereas it seems that most shore communities regularly battle to keep their beaches from washing into the ocean, at Wildwood the beach has doubled or tripled in size …. So walking to the actual ocean is now a major trek across the sand. And in the years since we went there, the city has built a convention center on the very spot where I spent so many happy days of my childhood at the beach.

This fishing pier called “Dad’s Place” was exactly that for my dad. He loved fishing there – never caught much, but, just being there instead of the office was enough to make him happy.

So though it was nice for one day to have Nate and Allie and the grandkids come down from Allie’s family’s homes in Ocean City, NJ, I drove out of Wildwood with the posture of permanently closing that chapter of life. It cannot be recreated in any way. I don’t intend to ever go back.

I Have Lost My #1 Blogs Reader

I Have Lost My #1 Blogs Reader

My dear friend Jack Corderman died this week. I will have the honor of hosting and speaking at his service tomorrow morning at Tri-State Fellowship.

I have often seen and heard people register a “huh!” of surprise when they find out that we were pals and Tuesday lunch-mates for many years. We don’t immediately seem to have a lot in common. Our backgrounds are very different. Jack was a Democrat (though he changed later) state senator, judge, and lawyer – working in the most secular of jobs. I have been a Republican Party Chairman and have spent my life in the most non-secular of jobs. Jack was in earlier years a heavy drinking and bombastic fellow full of strong opinions. Though my New Jersey opinionated verbiage has at times gotten me into trouble, by comparison I am surely a much more reserved, guarded person … and from a family of non drinkers to the extent that an ancestor is the ultimate originator of the 12-step program concept. Jack travelled somewhere around the USA almost every weekend; I go months at a time without ever leaving Washington County. And the biggest: he is a multi-generational local, whereas I just recently stepped off the bus 18 years ago.

In my early years here in this community I knew Jack very causally through Rotary and through his occasional visits at my church. Dave Swacina – our other lunch partner – was warmly acquainted with Jack dating back to Jack’s survival of the letter bomb attack upon his life. Those two guys were already meeting for lunch on Tuesdays at the China King. Apparently one day Jack said to Dave, “Who does Randy have as friends he can really open up with and talk to? We should invite him to join us.”  That was about 13 years ago – at least.

So most weeks we have gathered at the same table – first in the old restaurant location north of the Hagerstown Police Department, but since in the new location on the south side of the same. We’ve all become good friends as well with the Chinese owner – Kevin – an American success story and all-around good guy.

For all his gruff and crustacean exterior, Jack is one of the most kind and warm-hearted fellows I’ve ever known.  He is also a bottom line guy. In the book of Proverbs it says that Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Jack was a faithful friend who would tell me what I needed to hear, not what I wanted to hear. That is an invaluable person to have in your world – given the self-deceit and the self-everything we are prone to accumulate in our natural state.

Jack Corderman’s friendship was a watershed event for me. Just before coming to TSF and to Hagerstown in 1994, I had graduated from my doctoral program that Spring. What followed was an exciting time of establishing TSF and moving us to our current facility, building a house, and watching my kids become high school runners at a high level of success. But I was sick of books. After a 9-year college/seminary program with the doctoral addition not long after, I had seen about enough books for a lifetime. I stopped reading other than what I had to for the job. But Jack was always reading something and talking about it. I was ashamed of myself for not knowing what he was talking about. So I started reading again, and we began to exchange books and book suggestions. He got me back on the track I needed to be on – that of a lifelong learner. I was back to a life of reading, writing, researching … including my Antietam associations (which Jack so encouraged and enjoyed) down to the writing of these several blogs.

Jack was my #1 reader of the things I write. I’d sit down on a Tuesday at lunch, and one of the first things he would talk about is something that I had just written about the Civil War or another topic – even the mundane or humorous things I often include in this blog column. Those of you who’ve read this blog of mine know that I’ve located some long lost family from my biological past before my adoption. The last time I saw Jack (who had advised me on how to approach a relative who had no idea I was out there and who would be obviously skeptical), I told him about this and he was so fascinated by the results of my search.

So we were friends – even though I’m 13 years younger. And honestly as I ponder it, this is the first loss of my inner circle of closest guy friends and associates – though I continue to miss my right arm in the 2010 passing of Beth Ostoich. Yes, I’ll miss Jack terribly. I am sure that every Tuesday at 12:30 for the rest of my life I will think of him and fondly remember the ways he enriched my life through our conversations.

Occupy Buchmanville

My chickens have become a bit famous at church. Along with a manger scene appearance on Christmas Eve, they produce quite prolifically with the biggest and best brown eggs in the history of eggdom – Caleb thanks all his weekly customers – buy early, buy often! (The price of chicken feed increased $3.00 a bag in one week due to the drought.)

Well, there is a wrinkle in the henhouse right now. One of the hens has decided to stop laying and resort to sitting. In the world of poultry raising, this is called a “broody hen.” The latent natural desire to make a nest and sit on eggs until they hatch takes over the otherwise happy and content coop camper.

But here is the problem – along with no production or work on her part – she spends all of her time finding eggs in other chickens’ nests, claiming them as her own, and sitting on them until forcibly removed. She did not make those eggs, does not own them, has no right to sit on them, but squats there nonetheless. This a case of literally stealing someone else’s nest egg!

I’m calling this fowl activity “Occupy Buchmanville.”  It has many similar features as the other Occupy Movement – squatting, foul/fowl smells, pooping in the place you sleep, trespassing, stealing, arrogance, anger, squawking, and logic the size of a chicken brain. It does little good to evict her; she just waits until I walk away and goes back to occupy the same “spot n’ squat.”

There are some remedies that might work, and perhaps there could be some application for authorities beyond Buchmanville…

1.  I could cut her head off and eat her. This seems a bit like overkill, but would effect a permanent cure for the problem. But my few experiences with animal slaughtering revealed to me that I have little interest in beastly blood and guts. If I had to do such to have meat, well … I’d probably end up vegetarian. Though some authorities might like the human application of this technique, it is probably not especially legal, except maybe in parts of Texas.

2.  The poultry books say to take the broody hen and put her in an uncomfortable and isolated cage by herself, and she’ll soon lose interest in nesting. Well, I don’t readily have that, so, the solution is almost more trouble than the problem. The authorities actually use this technique quite a bit with the Occupy Movement – it is called “jail.”

3.  The poultry books also say that an old-timers solution to this problem is to take the hen and dunk her in a bucket of cold water. Apparently an elevated internal temperature stimulates and continues this problem. I would do this, except the neighbors might see me; and at least one set of them are liberals and may call the SPCA on me (like some church person did a few years ago when I gave a sermon illustration about my goat being tied by a rope … I’m not making this up!).  Actually, the police also use this wet technique with the Occupy Movement – I think the tool they employ is called a “water canon!”

I’m going to give Henrietta a few more days to fix her own problem before making a choice from the list above. But surely you have to agree with me that the similarities between Occupy Buchmanville and the Occupy Movement of other places are quite amazing!

The Summer of 72

It is amazing how 40 years can only seem like no more than even half that long ago!

The summer of 1972 was between my 11th and 12th grade years of high school. I had spent the previous two summers working at a Christian camp in southern New Jersey – called “Ha-Lu-Wa-Sa.”  I cannot for the life of me remember why I did not do the same in 1972. It might have been that there was a sense I should be earning some money for the college years ahead.

The central high-roofed section was a one-room schoolhouse that my grandfather converted and expanded into a gristmill operation.

I spent some of the early part of the summer working for my uncle and repainted the building in which he had his milling business.

But around early to mid July, the pastor’s son of our church (a guy who is a pastor now himself) got me involved in working for the remainder of the summer at a hotel in Cape May, NJ. It was at a place called the “Christian Admiral” and was an 8-story grand hotel on the ocean that had been turned into a Bible Conference location.

This facility was ground zero headquarters for a fiery preacher named Carl McIntyre – a staunch conservative fundamentalist and anti-Communist political activist. My family knew well of this man – whose pastoral career was in Collingswood, NJ near Camden (more on Collingswood later). McIntyre was a great radio preacher and Bible expositor, though his downfall was too large of a dabbling in matters political and a penchant for fighting every cause to the death!

So my family, my church – all knew of him, though were not supporters and followers. However, the grandfather of my friend – the pastor’s son – worked for McIntyre in finance and accounting, and swung a deal to get us hired for the summer. Hey – a summer at the beach!  Cool! (Although most of the time I was working when the sun was up!)

My friend Dan was a cook and had some experience working in the kitchen the last several years at the same Christian camp I mentioned. Me? I was assigned to busboy duties in the dining room. However, after one meal and numerous complaints from the clientele, I was banished to the dish room! My offence? My hair was too long! Understand, it was NOT too long – by 70s standards I was a total geek since my hair was so short. But it was thick and curly (take that on faith!), and these people were as far to the right as you could get (the “anyone to the left of me is a flaming liberal” types!). Anyhow, I liked the dishwashing job better!

If you go to Cape May now, it is a beautifully restored town of colorful Victorian architecture. In 1972, it was a dump – well before community renewal efforts. Carl McIntyre had purchased a large number of the grand old hotel types of buildings in town – most of which were foreclosed upon or later sold off – but he did end up saving many from destruction (though the Admiral is now gone).

There were separate smaller old hotel residences for boys and girls that housed the workers for this Bible Conference. These places were total dumps – barely livable. There could not have possibly been building inspections in those days. The one I stayed in was called “The Virginia House.”

The Virginia Hotel today – nothing like what I remember!!

And here is what made me even think about this summer and start writing about it. We are going to Wildwood for a few nights later this summer, and in looking for places to stay, I saw the Virginia Hotel in Cape May advertised – FOR A HIGH PRICE!  Clearly it has been renovated and is now a somewhat elite place to stay! Amazing!

My friend and I were the only high school guys there. Most of the workers were college students – mostly from two very, very, very conservative colleges – one in South Carolina, and the other in Florida. These are colleges FAMOUS for their strict rules for students. Well, let me just say that I learned more about sin in a few weeks there than I had in all my previous 17 years. These fellows truly made up for their school months of monastic life in a big way over the summer! Fortunately I was too young and unknown to them for fellowship in much of their debauchery.

About the worst thing I did was help another guy re-paint the “The Virginia House” sign – which was made of raised black letters on a white background. He got some white paint and we simply covered the “I” and the “A” letters … and then sat innocently on the porch to listen to the remarks of people walking by “The Virgin House!”

Actually, my most enduring memories of the summer there involved a couple of big stories in the news: the massacre of the Jewish athletes at the Munich Olympics, and violence at national political conventions in Miami.

There was also this very pretty blonde-haired high school girl from the Philly suburbs who came as well to work at the Admiral as a waitress. We became friends and often got together over the next several years. I’ve met few people in my life who have had such a passion for Christ and for evangelism – a total heart for lost people and desire to see them come to faith.

Oh … about Collingswood … the first year that Diana and I were married (77-78) we lived in Collingswood, NJ. Here is a picture of that house. An elderly man owned it. He used the parlor room in the very front for an office and lived upstairs. We had the entire rest of the downstairs as an apartment… for the rent of $125 / month!  However, our entire income was $165 / week.