Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Where I was 10, 20 , 30, 40, and 50 years ago

I was at James Wiser's blog and surfed to Jeni's web site where the meme of the day is where one was 10 * n years ago where n = 1, 2, 3, ...

Ten years ago I was playing with some really bright light emitting diodes at work for exciting fluorescence from thermographic phosphors. I was running out of projects at work and it was getting kinda tight. The previous few months had been very stressful. I held on by doing various odd jobs and about six months later things took a turn for the better and they have stayed that way ever since. Older son marched in the band at football games.

Twenty years ago I was recovering from an infection that hit me while teaching a short course at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City on the effects of Nuclear Radiation on Electronics and preparing to go to do an experiment at Pratt Whitney in Hartford, CT that was later published in an IEEE journal. Read Jung's Man and His Symbols on the airplane there and back. My younger son was 3 months old and as some of you know that point in a parent's life is very intense. The older son was 5. Oh for those days.

Thirty Years ago I was on about the 6th draft of my dissertation and preparing to spend Thanksgiving in Oak Ridge, TN looking for a place to live. I had accepted a job at Oak Ridge. and we are still here! My wife and I were in our third month of living in her parent's camper trailer. Our lease in Charlottesville had ended that August. We were parked at an idyllic campground at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Took walks every day. Marvelous.

Oh no! Forty years ago I was a senior in high school in Rector, AR (population 1600) taking my first physics (there were 3 of us) and chemistry classes. The summer of love had just ended a way far away in San Francisco.

Fifty years ago, I was in the 2nd grade at Guyer Park Elementary School in Lansing, MI. and I can see in my head TV images of rockets blasting off and a cartoon depiction of Sputnik circling the earth.

In commemoration of this meme. Here are the Yardbirds doing "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" It came out forty years ago. It is the best piece of British psychedelic music there ever was.

Friday, October 19, 2007

August 1962 - Football and Salvation

Richard Beck has started an internet meme on his blog here. He begins it with a reference to me:

"Steve in his comment to my last post, tells a story from his faith journey when he realized that there were Christians beyond the borders of his faith tradition. I have a similar story. But before I tell it, I'd like to try to start my first internet meme.

There are some psychologists who suggest that our personality and worldview is influenced by and symbolized by evocative childhood memories. Primal memories often loaded with emotion, good or ill. Some have suggested that these early childhood memories affect our theological beliefs."

Then Richard requests we reply to his post with links to our stories on our own blogs. He says

"So, here's the meme. Tell a story on your blog (or here if you don't have one) that you consider to be a primal theological memory in your life. The rules:

1. This should date from childhood to adolescence.
2. It should be a memory that you think symbolizes or has directly affected your theological development. And this could be theological movement forward, backward, sideways, or just different.
3. Encourage others to share their memories."

I have another memory to relate. It was August of 1962 and I was not quite yet 12. We were sitting in the car outside the gym watching senior high school football players emerge from the building. It may have been that we were waiting for them to finish so that we junior high kids could go in and get our uniforms. We had Junior Highs in Arkansas and I was a 7th grader and so the football adventure was just beginning. I recall the star fullback walking out and possibly my Dad commented about him. The young fellow would go on to rush for over a thousand yards and the team would go 8-4. It would be the best year for the Pocahontas Redskins until my youngest brother, then 2, would, as quarterback and safety, lead them to the State playoff semifinals 15 years later. My Dad loves his family and the Lord and just behind that he loves sports. He was leading the state in scoring for this our home town 7 games into his senior season before an ankle injury took him out the rest of the season. At this point he was 32 and could have still shown those football players a thing or two except that a collision that involved an asleep-at-the-wheel trucker ruined Dad's right knee two years earlier. Even now, all these years later that incident still has effect. He had a hip replacement recently and is due for new knee when he can get around to it. He has been quiet about it, but he loved us so much that he endured great pain to pitch us batting practice growing up and even play a little basketball.

Sitting there in the car, Dad began talking about spiritual matters and his desire to teach everyone the truth. I can't remember specifics. That is something he did and does often. He may have said something about desiring that all those healthy young men be taught the truth and be saved. That's part of the gist. It was a heady time for the churches of Christ. We had been growing rapidly for several decades. Not sure where I got this but my impression is that there were 16 congregations in that county of 12,000 people at about that time. And we were beginning to make a splash in the culture. Pat Boone had another hit song that summer, it was about Speedy Gonzalez. This was before he transitioned to a more charismatic style of Christianity, eventually identifying with an ascendant evangelicalism.

It was a great time to be alive. Well, for most everyone, their youth was a wonderful time. Life was so immediate and analog. John Glenn circled the earth 3 times. The Telstar satellite enabled the first live transatlantic broadcast very close to the day I'm thinking about. And I was becoming a big boy, going to high school (grades 7 to 12 in the same building) and was going to play football and march in the band. Guys were talking about girls more. That mystery was beginning to beckon as it never had before.

Its hard to not project back my present feelings to that moment so I won't elaborate too much. But I'm pretty sure I remember feeling some pity for these fine young men and discomfort or puzzlement at the justice of it. And I wondered at my good fortune at being in the right spot to get the right teaching. For sure, I have replayed that scene in my head often in the intervening 45 years. So it was important whatever my first impressions and however my memory may have augmented the situation. It must've been significant in my life and develoment because after so many years a conscious vestige of it is still with me.

What's yours?

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