Friday, 28 October 2011


In previous blog posts, I've written and provided book excerpts about the cultic church I once attended. Though its members wounded my spirit many times with criticisms and assumptions about my supposed moral failings, they did help me from time to time as well. From How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity, here is one example where the church leaders came to my rescue.


The elders of Thee Church likewise demonstrated their care for me by celebrating my eighteenth birthday. After supper one Wednesday afternoon, Sister E handed me a bulky package. Inside it was a greyish-green down-filled winter parka with a blond fur trim on its hood.

"You looked so cold in that old, brown jacket your dad gave you so we bought this for you," Sister E said as I admired the coat.

"Thanks," I said as gratitude overwhelmed me. "This is really nice." When I tried it on, it fit well.

"Brother H also wrote a poem for you in this card," Sister R said as she handed it to me.

In my room later that evening, I opened up the envelope, pulled out the card, and studied it under my magnifying glass. Inside a boarder of flowers, Sister R typed several verses of Brother H's doggerel. Though he wrote about facing the trials of life, I burst out laughing at one line which read, "At least we know there's a man in there."

This act of kindness touched me deeply. In spite of Sister R's perennial criticism and Brother H's claim that I chose to have poor sight, the church leaders showed they cared about me.


How I Was Razed is the testimony of how a cultic house church misled me, how I turned my back on God after I felt he perennially failed to heal my eyes, and how he graciously brought me to my senses. Feel free to click here to e-mail me for more information about my books.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011


One thing I never understood when I was young was why everybody could ask my age but I couldn't ask how old a grown-up was. This hypocrisy was dramatically brought to my attention when I was sent to Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind. I lacked the space to include this story in Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) so I'm relating it here.

I forget where we were headed that hazy Saturday morning in October of 1964 but I remember that I and the others were going for a walk around the grounds with Mrs. Sandyford. She was our weekend supervisor. As we walked, she asked our ages.

Knowing little of the social morays of adults at the time, I innocently asked, "How old are you, Mrs. Sandyford?"

"You should never ask a lady's age," she admonished. "It's not polite."

"How come?"

"Well," she faltered, "you just shouldn't, that's all. Women don't like to be asked how old they are."

"How come?" I insisted.

She turned to another child and began talking to him. The way she wouldn't look at me and the tone in her voice suggested that I was being a naughty boy. I decided not to ask her any more questions.

Though women today are more open and less vain about their ages, I still am cautious about asking such personal questions. It really doesn't matter how old a person is in years. Maturity of attitude is the important factor in a person's character. I've met some mature children and some immature adults in my five decades of life. My hope is that I'm one person who others feel has learned wisdom.

Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. Click here to read more about this compelling story. You're also welcome to contact me directly.

Friday, 21 October 2011


In past posts, I've mentioned my passion for radio. It began with my discovery of distant stations on my dad's car radio when I was ten years old and continues to this day. Because my memoirs deal with subjects other than distant signal reception, referred to by radio aficionados as DX, I haven't been able to write much about this infatuation.

One aspect of hunting for DX is travelling to remote locations that are free of man-made interference. When I learned that my cousin, Wayne, was going hunting near Lodgepole in October of 1984, I begged a ride with him.

In a clearing along a cut line, I erected a seventy-foot-long wire antenna and connected it to my general coverage receiver which I powered with a car battery. While Wayne hunted moose, I tracked down exotic stations. Just as the fresh autumn air invigorated me, so did the crystal-clear reception of stations which I could barely hear back home.

At our makeshift camp site, I often let my cousin listen to the radio. This occasionally lead to some strange situations. As we ate breakfast early one morning, I tuned in a station from Papua New Guinea. To my astonishment, the announcer began playing country music. There we were, two Canadians in the Alberta wilderness, listening to American country tunes from a station on the other side of the Pacific ocean.

Another memorable radio moment happened one night when I picked up a coast guard station in contact with a ship somewhere in the Pacific. Somebody on board it was hurt and needed a doctor. The radio man could barely speak English and the American on shore could barely understand the sailor's accent. If it wasn't a serious situation, it would have been comical.

My uncle, Bob, who hunted in a different part of the forest, met us one evening as we relaxed by the fire. When he asked what I was doing with that fancy radio, I showed him by tuning in Deutsche Welle, Germany's international broadcaster. Uncle Bob gawked at the set and listened in awestruck silence for a minute. "I can understand that," he exclaimed as a news announcer droned on in German. "I can understand everything he's saying. How can you pick up a signal all the way from Germany?" he marvelled.

I couldn't even begin to explain the intricacies of F2 radio wave propagation to him so I said, "Signals like that always come in like that on the short wave bands."

I felt sad at the end of the week when we packed up and drove toward Edmonton. Though Wayne came back empty-handed, I had the fulfilling experience of listening to far away stations free of annoying buzzes from TV sets and power lines.

When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) and Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) contain more examples of my love affair with radio. Click here to read more about these compelling memoirs. You may also contact me directly for further information about my books.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


When children of middle income families apply for welfare because their parents are too stingy to give them enough to live on, it's disgraceful. Though the Bible does teach that we should honour our parents, it also says that a person who doesn't care for his own is worse than an infidel. At the risk of dishonouring my father, here's why I ended up on the dole.

In October of 1974, I visited the Alberta Social Services office. The woman who interviewed me that afternoon began by asking why I was applying for Social Assistance. I explained that I attended a high school in edmonton that had special counsellors. They were tasked with helping visually-impaired students by reading assignments onto tape and assisting them in filling out test papers. My parents lived in Fort Saskatchewan, twenty miles north of the city. Due to the rapid rise of inflation the previous year, my allowance from my father barely paid the rent or bought enough food to fill me.

I gave her my address but when she asked for my phone number, I admitted that I couldn't afford one. After she sent another woman to visit my tiny furnished room to ensure that I was telling the truth, she gave me food vouchers and a cheque for the next month's rent.

I felt humiliated the first time I purchased groceries with a voucher. People behind me sighed and shuffled their feet impatiently as the cashier filled out the form and had me sign it. In spite of that humiliation, I finally had enough food to satisfy my teenage apatite.

Once I cashed the cheque, I set about to make my life easier. I had a telephone installed, bought an orange cardigan, and began buying fresh produce rather than the cheapest items in the store. No longer did I have to buy mint jelly because it was twenty cents cheaper than a jar of jam. Meat became a regular part of my diet. I could even afford the occasional block of cheese. Though I was dependent on the government, having money for the good things in life cheered me greatly.

In my Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) and my upcoming How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoirs, I mentioned my penury during those high school years. In upcoming blog posts, I'll be writing about topics that I could only hint at due to space limitations in those paperbacks. Read more about these compelling memoirs here. You're welcome to contact me directly for more information about my books.

Friday, 14 October 2011


Perhaps some folks will disagree with me but I believe having partial vision is, in many ways, worse than being totally blind. Fully sighted folks seem better able to comprehend total blindness better than poor vision.

Throughout my life, I've had to explain my level of vision. Neighbourhood kids, mimicking parents and other sighted adults, held up fingers and asked me to count them. I hated that. It made me feel like some sort of freak. They also threw stones at me while calling, "blindie, and "four eyes." No wonder I often played alone.

My school days were likewise filled with incidents where pupils and teachers felt uncertain about what I could or couldn't see. At first, I was allowed to draw pictures and play with plasticine because the teacher believed I couldn't possibly be taught anything. When I started learning aurally, she showed me off to the principal as if some sort of miracle happened.

My freedom came to an end in 1964 when a government agent convinced my parents to send me to Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind. They, never suspecting the institution's endemic sexual harassment of deaf children, sent me there for six long years. I only came home for Christmas, summer, and three Easters. Because the bar magnifying glasses they had there weren't of any help to me, somebody decided I should learn braille. I objected since I had enough vision to read with an eight power magnifying glass. My teachers soon gave up on me and let me read large print.

On September 16, 2011, I blogged about the pathetic vision aids that were provided to me by my parents in junior high and high school. My visual arts teacher gave me the first decent magnifying glass, a type similar to what jewellers use. Though some thug cut the combination lock on my locker and stole it, along with the monocular which I read the blackboard with, I managed to find similar visual aids through the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).

I've also experienced similar challenges to my truthfulness in several workplaces and in personal relationships throughout my adult life. These are too numerous to mention here.

The crux of the matter is that people feel a sense of unease about me until I demonstrate how much or little I'm able to see. As I've explained in Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) and to a lesser extent in When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies), I see well enough to get around but I can't see details. I have to go close to something to tell what it is. I've also learned that there are always work-arounds to my difficulties. As long as I can, I intend to live as independently as possible.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Self-delusion is a frightening force. It makes normally-rational human beings do the most irrational and monstrous things. From the followers of Jim Jones to the Taliban, the world has witnessed behaviour that no sane person would ever think of doing. Deception results in less-harmful irrationality but its grip is no less powerful.

I'm ashamed to admit it but I was deceived by the name-it-and-claim-it crowd. Not knowing any better, I joined a charismatic cult and became convinced that if I only had enough faith, I would be healed of my poor vision. Even when my left eye hemorrhaged in 1988, I still clung to a faint hope that the Lord would reward my faithfulness by performing a miracle.

From How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity, here is how the illusion of vision in my left eye was shattered by an ophthalmologist's diagnosis.


"Your hemorrhage is much worse," the doctor said in October. "I'll give you an alcohol block. That will kill the nerves and you won't feel any more pain after that."

"Won't that ruin what little vision I have in it?" I exclaimed

"You don't have any vision in that eye. It's blind."

"It can't be! I can still see light and dark with it."

"I'm telling you, Bruce, it's totally blind. Look," he said as he shone a flashlight in it. "Can you see anything?"

"No," I admitted with great reluctance. "Isn't there any sort of operation to fix it?"

"I'm sorry to say this but it's too far gone. You'll never see out of that eye again. Your pupil doesn't even dilate. Come in next week and I'll inject alcohol in that eyeball."

When I arrived home, I conducted an experiment to find out if the doctor was right. I stared at the chandelier when it was lit, covered my right eye with my hand, and switched off the lights. My left eye still saw a glow for a few seconds. My heart plummeted as I realized the horrible truth. My brain compensated for the blindness by imagining that the eye still saw light. Any hope of it seeing again died that day.


How I Was Razed is the testimony of how a cultic house church misled me, how I turned my back on God after I felt he perennially failed to heal my eyes, and how he graciously brought me to my senses.

Friday, 7 October 2011


People generally don't realize that rabbits must keep food flowing through their digestive systems. When they stop eating, toxins build up in their gut, leading to death. I made the mistake long ago of doing nothing about a bunny who stopped eating and he paid for my ignorance with his life. Spurred on by this tragedy, I learned techniques from my PetBunny and alt.pets.rabbits friends that would stimulate a bunny's apetite.

In my When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) memoir, I wrote about the time when one of my long-eared friends worried me when he became gravely ill in 2003. This is what happened when he refused to eat.


In September, Harry developed his own case of gastro-intestinal stasis. I tried all the home remedies I could think of, but bribing him with lettuce, force-feeding canned pumpkin and rubbing his belly didn't help. The poor guy refused food for a week and I was sure he was going to die.

Then one morning, he had diarrhea. What a relief it was to see! It may sound strange to rejoice over liquid faecal puddles, but the diarrhea indicated that Harry's gut was working again. Of course, the downside was cleaning up the mess and enduring the smell. Still, it was a relief to see him eating heartily. And as a precaution, I made sure he had plenty of fresh hay in his litter box.

The diarrhea continued and poor Harry needed a severe cleaning. In spite of the expense, I took him to the vet for a haircut. He sulked for hours after that, but I felt good that he was free of his matted coat and fouled rear end.


When a Man Loves a Rabbit contains many more fascinating stories of life with house bunnies. These range from the tragic to the hilarious. Click here to read more about this book and to order it. You're also welcome to click here to e-mail me directly for more information.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


In the previous post, I described how my house rabbit became alarmed when I put an exercise bike in my bedroom. The sudden appearance of this large foreign object in the place he considered safest completely flustered him. The thought of Gideon's astonishment still makes me chuckle. It reminds me of another time when an innocent prank caused a certain squirrel extreme consternation.

In the autumn of 1975, I boarded at the head office of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind in Toronto. After the weekday training and mobility course sessions, our instructors allowed us an hour of leisure time before supper. A fellow student casually remarked to me one afternoon that squirrels lived in the park behind the training centre. Having never seen those animals in the flesh, this gave me an idea. I bought some unsalted peanuts from a local convenience store, went to the park before supper, and scattered a handful around the bench. Then I sat down and waited.

After a minute, I heard rustling noises amid the leaves above me. Two black squirrels climbed timidly down the tree trunks, snatched the peanuts, and ran back up. They soon learned that I was harmless and that I provided a feast whenever I sat in the park. Before long, they not only stayed on the ground but boldly strolled within a foot of me.

My following of bushy-tailed freeloaders grew until I had half a dozen black squirrels, a few grey ones, and a tiny tawny fellow dining confidently at my feet. Encouraged by their acceptance of my hand-outs, I decided to test the limits of how hard they would work for treats. I placed peanuts on my shoe, on the bench next to me, and tossed them directly behind their tails. Finally, I placed a few peanuts in a paper bag and waited to see what would happen.

One bold black squirrel sniffed at the opening, then crawled inside to seize a peanut. Feeling the paper enveloping him, he panicked. The other squirrels scattered as a white object with a black behind zoomed across the lawn, spurred on by my raucous laughter. The moist grass weakened the paper so that it tore, freeing the frightened rodent. He raced for the nearest tree with all thoughts of peanuts forgotten. Though I hadn't intended to "bag" a squirrel that day, the trick provided me with a memorable highlight of my stay in Toronto.

Likewise, I treasure the memories of those pranks I once played on my house rabbits. Many hilarious vignettes, similar to this post, are included in my When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) memoir. Click here to read more about this book. You're also welcome to contact me directly for more information.