Thursday, 18 December 2014

Look Mom, I'm on YouTube!

When I was a child, I thought it would be cool to be on TV.  In fact, I often fantasized about having my own television channel.  Though some people felt angry when I bought a black and white video camera more than two decades ago, being that I'm legally blind, I made good use of it to create videos for my electronic music compositions.  I also bought a PXL-2000 Fisher-Price camcorder and enjoyed using it.

Thanks to YouTube, anybody can have their videos viewed around the world.  I regret that I didn't sign up for it years ago.  Friends kept sending me YouTube links but I didn't know how I could also participate.

When Writers Guild of Alberta members, such as Simon Rose, used YouTube to promote their books, I gave serious thought to making my own promotional book ads.  It took me more than a year to actually sign up for the service.  I had a notion that it would be difficult to do.  The relief that it wasn't hard at all felt like coming to school for a test and finding out the teacher canceled it.  I had already signed up with Google so joining YouTube was easy.

I have many videos on YouTube at the moment but that number might grow as I search my drives and disks for more of them to upload.  Though longer ones take a lot of time to put on the site, I can always use my old DOS computer and write while the file is being uploaded.  You can see my music videos as well as "footage" of my bunnies, at the VE6XTC page.While you're at it, why not check out my Bruce Atchison's books page? Additionally, my latest book, called How I Was Razed, is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

BEETHOVEN'S BIRTHDAY, EH?

Thanks to Charles M. Schultz and his Peanuts comic strip, I always remember today as Beethoven's birthday. Of course I don't care for classical music but the fact of this day being the birth date of a famous composer is stuck in my mind.

What turned me off of classical music was the insistence of the music teacher that we listen to it and like it. My classmates at the blind school all loved rock music but Mrs. McMaster was horrified. "How can you listen to that horrible racket?" she'd exclaim when we begged her for it. She promised us that we'd grow to love the music of Bach, Beethoven, and the rest if we just listened to it. That was no comfort at all to us.

Worse yet, the school forced us rock-loving boys and girls to attend operas. As the men on stage bellowed and the women shrieked on stage, we cringed in our seats, wishing it would end soon. We had to spend hours stuck in a boring concert hall listening to music which we despised.

As an adult, I've had people try to convince me to enjoy classical music and opera. Not to be rude, I went along a few times with them to concerts. Try as I might, I just couldn't get into that music. Opera was even worse. It still sounded like a lot of shrieking to me.

I wonder if I might have liked classical music if it hadn't been forced down my throat. It's been my experience that I've never grown to like any music that people insisted I listen to. I've found that I choose the music which moves my soul rather than whatever is popular. That's why I enjoy electronic music and a few jazz-rock bands but I don't care for jazz or classical music.

I had many acrimonious arguments with the elders of my church over my love of rock. To them, I was listening to the music of the Devil and I might even get a demon possessing me because of the beat. I wrote in detail about my struggles with such people in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Far from falling into Satanism or the drug culture, I was led by God's awesome providence to a much greater understanding of Christianity. You can read more about this glorious memoir at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books

Thursday, 11 December 2014

EXPLORE STATES AND PROVINCES WITHOUT LEAVING HOME

This time of year isn't the best for traveling in North America. Snow and freezing rain make highways treacherous. Inattentive or reckless drivers make the difficult journeys even more hazardous.

For people who just want to experience new regions of the country, there is an easier way to travel. An ordinary AM radio can tune in stations from thousands of miles away during the long, dark nights of winter. By merely tuning the dial between local stations, you can find all sorts of interesting programming.

Local news is particularly interesting. From what you hear, you can compare your local government with that of other municipalities. If there's a disaster in a certain part of the country, and that location has a powerful radio station, you can get details from their news cast which are missing from local stations. It also is helpful for those of us who came from other parts of the country to hear about what is going on in our former home town or city.

Sports fans have plenty of programs to enjoy. A casual cruising of the dial will bring up many sports commentary shows, as I found out recently. In fact, I was amazed at the number of different shows devoted to sports.

Talk shows are not as popular on the AM broadcast band as they were a few years ago. Even so, I've picked up many conservative programs and one liberal one while tuning the dial before bed.  These shows often feature popular topics but they also have some unique interviews or discussions of topics you might not have thought or known about.

At sunset and sunrise, an even more interesting phenomenon takes place. Stations along the line between daylight and night are easier to pick up at those times than they would be normally. This grey line propagation, as radio aficionados call it, often allows normally weak stations to be heard at great distances.

In my more than four decades of Am dial listening, I've been able to receive stations from remarkable distances. For example, I've heard WWL in New Orleans from here in Alberta. It's difficult to pick up these days due to a local station right next to the frequency it's on. KGO in San Fransisco is another distant station I hear quite often. There was one rare night in December of 1976 when I picked up WNYW in New York. A cold snap had hit the state and announcers were advising citizens on how to dress for the cold. Being from Alberta, that was old news to me but interesting to hear none the less.

Radio has been my lifeline to the outside world, especially when I attended a residential school for deaf and blind children. It was also responsible for teaching me about the Bible and the true character of the heavenly Father. Check out How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books to learn more.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

THE INTERNET OPENED THE WORLD TO ME

Remember what life was like before the Internet was opened up to the public? I certainly do. Though it has its bad aspects, such as child pornography and scams, society has benefited from easy access to information.

I certainly have benefited from my nineteen years of Internet use. When I took a business writing course in 1995, I was able to use the public library's bulletin board service for my research. I had taken distance-learning courses before but using my computer to glean information made the process so much easier for me.

The addition of e-mail in November of that year helped even more. Being on disability, the savings on stamps helped me buy food and other necessities. In fact, I became angry at magazine editors who refused to allow work to be sent in on magnetic media or via e-mail. Things are much different now. It's rare when editors expect writers to send in paper copies of their work to a magazine.

Newsgroups were a big help to me in my writing as well as for personal interests. Though trolls often made a nuisance of themselves, I still enjoyed the ease of posting to my friends regarding my favorite subjects. Additionally, I received some good leads from writers to magazines which I could query regarding my article ideas.

Accessing magazine web sites also helped me greatly. Instead of pouring over paper magazines to find out which sort of stories they liked to publish, I could download their guidelines at home. Though I used to spend afternoons at the public library, I saved some time by checking out publications on the web.

For my writing and personal endeavors, the Internet has been a boon. Through it, I've been able to research article ideas, query magazines, and even upload my books to the publishers. I would hate to go back to the days of having to visit a library to do research and sending out paper correspondence. Thanks to this wonderful technology, I can sit at home and have more time to work.

All three of my paperbacks were uploaded digitally to the publisher's web sites. The first two memoirs are available from the Bruce Atchison's book page. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is for sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books.

Friday, 5 December 2014

MIND OVER MOOD, SOMETHING WE ALL MUST EXERCISE

While listening to a recent edition of the radio program Grace to You, John MacArthur mentioned that we need to practice mind over mood. By this, he meant that we mustn't let our emotions rule our lives but use our brains instead. Otherwise we'll end up blundering from one wrong decision to another.

This makes a lot of sense to me.  Much of the world's violence would be quelled if people would only think rather than react. The riots in Ferguson, Missouri are a case in point. The jury which acquitted officer Wilson of murder for shooting Michael Brown because they studied all the evidence available and concluded the police officer shot in self defense. Stories of Brown being shot in the back as he raised his hands in surrender were proven false by the autopsy. The coroner found that Brown had been shot with has arms down as he charged the cop.

Instead of people waiting for the verdict, they went on rioting and looting sprees. Instead of peacefully protesting and making their case to the public in a rational way, they rampaged through the city. While it's tragic that Brown's life was taken, the officer had no choice but to use lethal force.

I've also read stories of how activists from other states came to Ferguson to protest and stir up the people. Having heard statements from these protesters, I can well believe that somebody is organizing them.

There's also the matter of the National Guard not being called out on Monday night, November 24th, when the verdict was announced. According to a WND story, troops were deployed in other parts of the state but were absent when the rioting and looting began.

I don't doubt that there are a few rogue cops. What I dispute is the number of real police brutality cases. Officers have to deal with plenty of insults and threatening behaviour. Those citizens privileged to ride along with officers certainly understand the situation. But many feelings-oriented people react to the alleged incidents of abuse by police as if it was a proven fact. This leads to violence and all sorts of retaliation.

I've had many situations in my life where I could have flown off the handle at perceived slights and apparent discrimination against me. Having thought things over, I've saved myself trouble for not having made a fool of myself. If only more people would stop and think instead of exploding in rage.

I wrote of many unfair situations in my life. My Deliverance from Jericho memoir shows that some of those incidents were my own fault whereas others were proven to be true acts of unfairness. Check out my Bruce Atchison's book page for details.

Likewise, I found the same to be true of How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. While elders of a house church abused my trusting nature, I also caused some of my own trouble. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books distribute my story of God's marvelous, providential leading.

Monday, 1 December 2014

REFUTATION BY DENIGRATION

In October, the local library liquidated their collection of cassette books and gave them all to me. As I sifted through the stack, I found a book called Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays by Stephen Hawking. Being interested in science, I listened to the whole book. As I played one tape, I heard how Hawking had suffered what he called "refutation by denigration" as a result of his theory that black holes emitted particles and eventually vanished. Instead of basing their criticism on flaws they discovered in the theory, Hawkings' detractors used insults to discredit his work.

This happens far too often in the political world, particularly from socialists. Conservative leaders, for example  have been labeled as racists for wishing to get rid of affirmative action programs. Many of President Obama's opponents have also been accused of racism simply for finding fault with his policies.

Canada isn't immune to refutation by denigration  either. The Wildrose Alliance Party formed in 2008 to oppose the wasteful spending and high living of the Progressive Conservatives. The party was immediately  tarred with the epithet "upstart" and was often labeled as "right wing extremist" by many political commentators. Instead of examining Wildrose's fiscal and social policies at their face value, the media editors prejudged the intent of the policies and impugned the reputations of the Wildrose leadership.

Sadly, this happens to evangelical Christians as well. A small group of vocal atheists have written hateful books which make irrational claims about God and his followers.

Likewise, any professor doubting global warming, now called climate change, have been censured and discredited.

Additionally, those believers who oppose abortion are automatically tarred with the epithet "deniers of women's rights" simply for proposing that life begins at conception. No matter what scientific studies have found regarding fetal pain and the development of the baby in the womb, these vocal opponents continue to call Christians derogatory names. Detractors seem unwilling and unable to examine anti-abortion arguments dispassionately.

People who oppose homosexual and lesbian behaviour as being abnormal also come under fire by a small band of activists. Though Scripture makes it clear that the activities of these people is perversion, adherents of Christianity are charged by Jesus Christ to love sinners. Opponents often point to the Old Testament injunctions of the death penalty for breakers of God's commands without realizing those were for the time when Israel was a theocracy. The Lord gave the commandments because of the weakness of the Israelites toward copying the wicked deeds of other nations. Now that Christ has shown God's compassionate wish to save all who would believe in him, his followers are compelled to love sinners but oppose their sinful and self-destructive ways.

While it might be a human trait to call people names and attach negative attributes to others, it still is inexcusable. For many years, elders in a house church accused me of lacking faith to be healed of poor eyesight, harboring sin, lusting for sight, and having ancestral sins that blocked my healing. I found out later that my detractors were wrong. What a relief that was, and still is, to me. You can read the glorious journey God led me on in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

SN1987A AND THE AGE OF THE UNIVERSE

How old is the universe? Scientists and Christians have debated about that question for the past two hundred years or so. Scientists estimate that the universe is approximately fifteen-billion years old while many Christians believe that the Bible indicates it to be almost seven-thousand years old. So, who's right?

As far as I can tell, empirical observations demonstrate that we live in an old universe. Since the laws of physics operate throughout  space in the same way, we can deduce through starlight how far away those light-emitting bodies are. If the Christians who hold to the young universe paradigm are right, there shouldn't be any stars further away than seven-thousand light years from us. The data gathered by astronomers demonstrates that there are stars which are billions of light years from our planet.

Does that mean then that the Bible is wrong about the age of the universe? Absolutely not. Scripture was written to instruct people on the character of God and his redemptive plan for humanity. It wasn't designed to tell us the methodology of  how God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis also must be read in a literary, not literalistic, fashion. The days of creation are a mnemonic device to show the increasing complexity and importance in the created order of things. The first three days were for the forming of the heavens and the earth and the last three days show the filling of both. This explains why, for example,  there is light on the first day but the sun, moon, and stars were created on the fourth.

Those who insist on holding to the young universe paradigm have to use some fancy footwork to get around the paradoxes of an apparently old creation. If everything just looks old, it makes God out to be playing a trick on us. After all, what about supernova 1987A? That star exploded  one-hundred-and-sixty-thousand years ago but we only saw its brilliant flash on February 23, 1987. If the universe was only seven-thousand years old, it would indicate that the laws of physics don't work way out there like they do here. Furthermore, God would be at best a prankster and at worst a liar for presenting to us a fake universe. Our observations actually show that light does indeed travel at a constant speed, though it's frequency can be changed by the emitter of the light moving toward or away from us. Light can also be bent by strong gravitational fields but it never slows its speed.

I believe that the reason Christians cling tenaciously to the young universe theory is because they assume that all science is evolutionary in nature and therefore tainted by it. This is most certainly not so. Pure data takes no sides but it just is what it is. Though evolutionary scientists struggle to fit facts into their theory, facts are still facts. When researchers follow where the data leads, rather than trying to mangle it, the truth of an old creation emerges stark and clear.

My thanks go out to Hank Hanegraaff, R. Albert Mohler Jr, John MacArthur, R. C. Sproul, and others for teaching me how to read the Bible in its intended fashion. Because of my desire to help others do the same, I wrote How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. It's a tour of how badly unscrupulous people misled me and how God  rescued me from their wicked doctrines. Please visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books for more information.