~ Well expressed S!!
Felt, sensed, heard, seen, and believed.
If not, only void!
So much to disagree with in many of these postings. I could write for hours (not that I would necessarily be 100% correct, but I think I'd get some of it right.) Thank God for his love and for freedom that allows us to live by our own conscience.
...just think, our own Ray Bradbury used to live right here in ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO...
Christian Symposium on Aliens!?
Remember what Larry Norman said in the song UFO:
and if there's life on other planets
then i'm sure that He must know
and He's been there once already
and has died to save their souls
For those who care to read thru this, there a few of those online here who think finding God is an easy issue, a matter of belief without proof. So let me tell you how I came to know a personal relationship with Christ because of Ray Bradbury.
Have to turn back the clock to around 6th grade.
Around that time of my life, I walked into old Guttman Pharmacy, there on the southwest side of Chicago, on the corner of 63rd and South Pulaski, and headed straight to one of those revolving magazine racks you might have seen in a drugstore or newsstand. Glancing at the magazines one of them caught my eye, well, not exactly the magazine, something on the very top part of the magazine, a color I had never seen before, and right about the same instant, a sound, a hush, that was so unique that it could only hold permanently to your attention. The color, the sound, and then...a name, right there near the top, Ray Bradbury. Well, my infantile mind put the elements together and I figured on that if I got to meet this Ray Bradbury, I would discover exactly what it was I had just experienced in that momentary flash of colors I never saw before and a sound so quiet and still that it captivated the mind and soul and heart.
I didn't know it, but my life long adventure had just begun.
Yes, as a youngster, being raised a Catholic, I had that moral sense that I was a sinner, and had a lot of personal activities and shenanigans to prove it. Weighed down with this massive collection of darkness, I more than struggled with the wherewithal to do anything about what the next step might be in discovering for myself what it all meant, that experience in the drugstore. But so inept was I in doing anything about it, I must fast forward my way into my 2nd year of high school, where I find myself one afternoon on my way home, where I would occasionally stop off at Cameo's Restaurant and Grill, on the corner of 59th and South Western Avenue. It was a place to visit the extensive current magazine display while waiting for a connecting bus that would take me home.
Turning the pages of the new theater magazines, Huntington Hartford's SHOW Magazine, I came right to the large two page spread of a giant black and white photo of Ray Bradbury and the story behind his great talent and the editor's perception that here was a true genius. My heart sank. And in that very instant, without a question in my head or heart or mind, I knew, for all I ever knew, that hell would be my place forever if I didn't do something to meet this man. I had been forever, it seemed, pushing aside what I couldn't understand: what to do next. It may seem strange to someone. You might say, well, just go and meet him. But I could think that far. My "sin", which is to say the things in my life that prevent one from common-sense insight and rationale, was putting its hands over my eyes, inner, outer and all around.
So fast forward again, this time to my first year in College. A junior College on the northside of Chicago, Wright Junior, named after the Wright Brothers. You'd think that building would have been designed by some creative architects in the shape of something resembling wings, or a tail-section, fuselage, or anything airplane-like. But, no, a grand, just this large building, looking like every other massive school structure in Chicago. But it was there in my first year I joined the school newspaper and, eventually, published my first Sci-Fi story, Bird of Death. (SF for the traditionalists. But of course nowadays they want to change it to SYFY)!
Then I wrote a second one, The Dark House. Finally, I had an opening to contact Ray Bradbury. I can't recall how I ever did it, but I managed to get both stories over to Ray and told him to take note of my influence by him in the writing. He soon wrote back that all in all, I had to be my own person, and needed to develop my own style. I started sending stories to Avram Davidson, who was then editor of Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. He nearly bought one, and rejected the next two because he said they had became to windy, like breezy, tornado-wise. He also convicted me of pontificating.
Get in the time machine and boost ahead another 5 years. It's Los Angeles. I decided I MUST meet the man. I call him on the phone, and Ray cordially explains that he is busy, that call him next time I am in town, and plan for a lunch. Unfortunately, I throw in all the chips. I tell him I am staying at the rundown hotel until he can meet with me. And I am serious. I am in this for keeps. Several hours later I get a call back. Meet him at his office for a quick lunch tomorrow.
Finally, it was going to happen. I was actually going to meet the man. I knocked on the office door and this superbly hurried man on an emergency-run swung open the door with breakneck speed and took one long hard look at me that must have lasted a good hour but by human clocks a mere fraction of a second, and then literally burst out from the doorway and into the depths of his office. He was on the phone.
We walked down to an open cafe on Wilshire Boulevard. Ray ordered a hamburger of some sorts and I remember looking over the menu and finally saying to the waitress, "I'll have what he's having." And our conversation was off and running. I wish I had a script of all that was said and how it was said. But I do remember what happened immediately after we said our goodbyes. I walked away knowing that every single moment of my life, everything I had ever done, was all going in the wrong direction. Nothing was right. Everything, and I do mean everything, had to be changed.
I got back on a plane, and went back home to Chicago, to my wife, and my young daughter.
I had just went thru a list of jobs: a magazine assistant Editor for a surgical trade association, an Art Director for several trade magazines in the Chemical and Food field, and an Art Director for a medium sized Convention consultant firm where we put on about 11 conventions a year and never slept. Fifteen, eighteen hours a day. Oh yeah, one more, a writer for a motivational research company, a one man effort to bring streamlined efficiency to the Chiropractic field. Hired as a writer, I didn't last that long, but I discovered one thing: I came down with nervous exhaustion.
Married, and with one daughter, I finally was forced emotionally to make a decision: I was going to be a writer, or at least give it a genuine try. So I would move to San Francisco and pick-up my fragile friendship with science-fiction writer Avram Davidson. He said he would read anything I wrote, but that I had to leave it with him, and on my subsequent visit, would critique it and we could discuss my manuscript.
Oh yes, I had a second reason for all this: I wanted to prepare myself spiritually to be able to meet Ray Bradbury again.
Getting on the bus, heading to the train that would take me to California, I cried on the bus all the way to the train. I didn't want to go, really. And on the train, I cried all the way to California. But there was no choice. I had to go.
I literally escaped myself to a small front room of a boarding house on Sacramento street in San Francisco, the first ad in a local paper for rooms for rent. (It was the middle of Gay town, but I never had clue, until the very last couple days I was there, some 8 moths later), figuring God was going to keep me from every sin I had ever fallen into before, or least the major ones, so that I would be pristine in heart and mind when I met Bradbury again.
I left morally successful, diverting my passions from such things as that beautiful young girl selling sex outside of Church one Sunday morning, or running of all places into an old girlfriend with whom I had been madly in love with in Chicago and now had to literally run in the other direction... plus all those other youthful distractions that are bent on exactly just that... 'distracting you'! But when I arrived back in Chicago, my marriage was in shambles. Oh, I had kept in continual communication with my family. Even got myself home for Christmas. But when May came around and I tried the key in the front door, the locks had been changed.
(more, next posting...)
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(continued from above posting)
Somewhere, around that time, I managed my way back to Los Angeles. Found a single room on Garland Street, near wild McArthur Park. Soon meeting up with Ray Bradbury. I recall attending nearly all of the 12 performances of the first production of his play, Leviathan '99. It was produced on an abandoned sound stage, which, years later, read about it burning down to the ground. I had to hold some sort of job while there, and not wanting to get emotionally attached to any one job and the people, I worked at approximately 15 jobs during the 3 months I was there. They were mostly printing jobs, having now changed professions into the more non-creative act of running printing presses. One day I woke up to go to work and couldn't remember where I worked. I walked up and down streets that morning and by 11 o'clock figured I wasn't going to find the place, and so by noon, had found another job. I remember the day I left Los Angeles. On an airport bus on my way to LAX I passed the place while on the bus and, looking forlorn as the building I had so earnestly looked for went by, said to myself..."Oh, there it is..." I often wondered thru the years for some reason, about that boss that hired me. I kinda liked him. He seemed a fine fellow. And probably wondered where the hell happened to the crazy kid. Well, that's what happened to him.
Back in Chicago, after a divorce, I settled with a small print shop in Chicago, Questar Printing (yes, named after the telescope company)...and began writing and self published three editions of a space newspaper. All were distributed at Science Fiction conventions. I recall the 3rd issue was a print run of 5,000 copies, all gone during the convention, especially since I gave them away free tho they had a 50c price tag.
I sent the three editions to Ray. Attending a writer's conference in Santa Barbara where Ray was speaking, I also remember meeting up with Don Congdon, Ray's agent, and giving him a copy of the newspaper.
Then there was those times of talking with Ray about moral issues. They were brief. I never really understood how he took my remarks. But I was already on some sort of mind-set. By then I was positive that a moral collapse of any sort was a deterrent on an enormous scale to creative, insightful thinking that had eternal consequences. I didn't quite get my arms around that concept yet, but it was there, right under the brain and soul lining.
Soon, I had to leave Chicago. I had been divorced three years and had to leave my job and everyone in the family, my Mom and Pop, daughter whom I saw several days a week, I had come unglued. My moral compass was spinning without a magnetic focus, my head was whirling, and had to meet back up with Bradbury. Soon, my life came to a halt. I literally ran off to Los Angeles. Soon I was attending Bradbury plays, sitting in lectures where I would cry profusely at his words. One time he spoke a poem about not being another, be not grandfather or mother, for God thumbprints thee, Be not Another. I was weeping silently and tears were rolling my cheeks. I remember one of the guys sitting to my side taking a long side-look at me and probably thinking, "What's up with that dude?"
I couldn't help it. And didn't know God was working me over. One day I visited Ray at his office. He was always the cordial welcoming person, giving you a seat to sit instead of stand, and asking you how you were doing, how were things going for you. But on that one Saturday morning, as I left his office, I started crying, and walked off to the side somewhere in the hallways away from his office, and came upon a large fuse box likely for the entire floor. I do';t know why, but I wept and wept as my hands fell repeatedly on the door of the fuse box. Soon afterwards, I felt released. I went home unnoticed by anyone.
But then came one visit to Ray's office, a number of months later, that would change everything. I had taken a stock of where I had been going. I knew God had put it into my heart and mind and soul that there was no other option of where I had to go. Anywhere else would create a sense of shame, of an awakening of a conscience that said without a question about it ...that this was the right way to go ...and any other way was the wrong way. But on that particular visit to Ray's office, I stood talking with him face to face, and thought that I had done everything I knew I needed to do, and where was I now?Where had I come to be...Here? Talking "stuff"? Was that it? This was the end? And suddenly, I felt this enormous rift appear between Ray and myself, like a great gulf that separated the both of us from each other, and it was would be unable to pass over to the other side. I went home, unable to understand what to do next.
I had started going to a small Christian outreach group, connected with several colleges in my area in Fullerton, California. It started like the time while in San Francisco and visiting Berkeley, and a couple girls on a Christian outreach asked me if I knew God, and I perked up and said, "Well, of course, I'm a Catholic." I remembered they giggled, but I took them up on their offer to attend a meeting with a free lunch. So it was something like that here, in Fullerton. I had been out in the park one Sunday afternoon because it was a 104 degrees that day and was a littler cooler in the shade while I read a Ray Bradbury book. Three people totting Bibles came up to me and asked me some questions, and invited me out to their meetings. They were cordial, and I took them up on their offer.
So it was, this one week after sensing this great gulf between myself and Ray, that a strange thing happened. Sorry, but I must give you the shortened version, but, by this time, you'd probably welcome it if you read since this far. But on my way to a Catholic Church several blocks away, to perhaps get some counseling from who I found was a leveled headed priest who taught there, I passed by the little building where those 3 people who met me in the park had invited me to a meeting. One of the guys was attending to a bit of trimming the hedges when I asked him if a "such and such" person was home. He then asked me how I knew this person and I mentioned I had talked to him before and then he asked me who I was and suddenly, without any warning, I had this full 100% sense that I was being visited by an angel and that every word out of my mouth would be my judge. I stood in the doorway with this fellow, who stood next to me, and I felt that i had been enclosed in some invisible enclosure, that there was absolutely no escape, and that I was now going to be on a place of life and death. Where we stood, we both faced the street in front, a quiet neighborhood street. But something was happening to that street. It was coming alive. Something that looked like a churning mixing of the asphalt in the middle of street started to swiftly take to moving, and there was this strong sense of depth in the middle of the street, as if the bottom suddenly fell out. To add to this experience, the sidewalk I was standing on, right in front of the doorway, started to tilt towards the street. I realized that someone wanted me to see what was in the middle of the street and the tilting gave me a sense to look forward and down into the street from my position. And there I sensed souls, nameless countless people endlessly trapped in a place where there was no possible escape. I could almost see them but I could not see them. I knew they were there. All the while this fellow next to me is asking me questions. Do I know I am a sinner? Have I accepted Jesus? Do you want God to forgive all your sins right now? All that came out of my mouth was, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" In a moment afterwards, the sidewalk tilted back to the right place, and the street started to fill back up with a covering over the asphalt churning and all slowly become less active until it took its rightful place as a regular neighborhood street.
I thanked the fellow. He prayed a bit over me, and I left that night heading to that Church I had originally intended to visit. But I didn't. I wandered the streets that night in a daze and hardly slept at all that night.
Fast forward one week:
Am in my little two-room rental house, sort of a student's crash pad, and I am getting the laundry ready to go out and get done. It's warm and sunny outdoors, a great day. While I am doing this, suddenly, the windows flashed with the most glorious light I had ever seen, the air was saturated with a sense of great freedom and joy unexpected. I knew right away: THIS is what I had been looking for. This was a heavenly experience. This sense that God has come to visit at last and I could experience it. I didn't know it at the time, but I had the born-again experience.
Ray was the first person I told, actually. He said he was happy that he could be a Christian influence on my life. One thing I knew for sure: That gulf between myself and Ray Bradbury was crossed. And it was God that did it.
But this is just the beginning of knowing Jesus Christ. The initial joy eventually wanes. Sin and temptations rise their head. They come in force. And now learning about how God works has begun. A battle begins to understand and fully experience that it is "... no longer 'I' that lives, but Christ that lives in me'.
(more later....of How I tried to tell Ray how it all began, and what I needed to tell him, and how Ray didn't believe any of it...)
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Not sure whether to put this in the religion or politics thread... I came across this article, and got to thinking this sort of thing is EXACTLY why I'm all for separation of church and state. The far right Christian groups in this country just seem to continue to get more insane by the minute.
Speaking to Fox News Radio, loony evangelical radio host Pastor Wiley Drake said the he is praying for the death of President Obama.
Pastor Wiley Drake prayed that abortionist George Tiller's wife would become a widow. Tiller is now dead. Drake claims that his death is an answer to imprecatory prayer. Now he is praying an imprecatory prayer for the death of our president. Imprecatory Psalms are psalms that contain curses or prayers for the judgment of a nation's enemies, invoking evil upon them. Psalms 7, 35, 55, 58, 59, 69, 79, 109, 137 and 139 are ones that Drake finds his prayer material in. Drake repeats words from the book of Psalms in his imprecatory prayers such as Psalm 109:9 where it is written "May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow." This is what he prayed for the late-term abortionist before he was murdered. He says that it is our Christian duty to pray along these vengeful and vindictive lines for religious, political, and personal reasons when other means for change have been exhausted.
Last August, Drake prayed for the deaths of the leaders of Americans For Separation of Church and State. In fact, he issued a press release calling for their deaths and Christian News Wire published it. Pastor Drake, Dr. Tiller's killer, the Holocaust Museum shooter...where is this all going?
A couple of the comments made about the article appear below, and I have to say, I can certainly see the point these people are making.
It's interesting to note that he was a vice president of the Southern Baptist convention. He's not a member of some fringe pentecostal sect, but a leader within a major US protestant group. Why haven't reigned him in, or do they tacitly approve of this man's rhetoric and behavior? A Southern Baptist leader calling for the death of the first black president? WTF? This isn't viewed as a big problem within the denomination?!
This is why recent polling indicates a rise in the number of people claiming to be of no religion. The God these people believe in is a hateful and frightening being bent on destruction and condemnation...who wants to worship that? These people will ultimately be responsible for the rejection of faith and of Christianity in the world. Religious extremism is a dangerous and unacceptable ideology and intelligent people ultimately reject it.
These people are an affront to God and everything Christ sought to teach us. From Pat Robertson to this Drake loon, there is nothing Christian or Godly about them.
I think 3/4s of the time you don't know what you are talking about. The other 1/4 of the time I couldn't tell at all.
Nard, finish your post. Captivating.
Nard, life altering!! I find the rapport narration between you and Mr. B quite intriguing. Some of his early stories with spiritual allusions are so concise to the RC faith and teachings. How is that?
I am currently reading a collection of books by Norman Vincent Peale. His philosophies are deeply rooted in Spiritual awarenesses and, thus, daily living. Your words ring similar.
Bizarre. What was difficult to understand about his post?
Doug Spaulding, not worth the time or trouble to explain. Guys on the radical fringe of religion are best left alone to their own devices.
K. That's what I figured.
hmmm....That was a very captivating and inspiring story Nard. Best of all it's true; you should make this into a story and publish it. I give it 2 thumbs up. Hahahahahaha!!!
Hey Mr Doug! I don't know... It's kind of dangerous to ignore the extreme radical (and unbalanced) right, whether they be religiously or politically motivated. Light needs to be shed on the beliefs and actions of such people---the general public needs to know what they're thinking--- before tragedy ensues. (Such as the recent murder at the Holocaust Museum.)
Drake sounds like he's practically insane, and yet this fellow is a pastor of good standing in the Baptist church ?
Pat Robertson is another one who seems to me to have gone off the deep end quite some time ago. I've been reading up on many of his past statements, and much of the material is ridiculous beyond belief. Just came across the following today, in fact. (Wait a moment---since what God told him was going to happen in fact did NOT happen, doesn't that make Robertson a false prophet?) I can't see that either of these fellows have anything to do with true Christianity.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - In what has become an annual tradition of prognostications, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson predicted Tuesday that a terrorist attack on the United States would result in “mass killing” late in 2007.
“I’m not necessarily saying it’s going to be nuclear,” he said during his news-and-talk television show “The 700 Club” on the Christian Broadcasting Network. “The Lord didn’t say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that.”
Robertson said God told him during a recent prayer retreat that major cities and possibly millions of people will be affected by the attack, which should take place sometime after September.
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