All posts by hurdjp

About hurdjp

Christ-follower, bush pilot, teacher, writer, family man

WINGSPREAD E-zine for April, 2020

“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”

Contents

  • New story
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Puzzler
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Wingspread E-zine subscription information

*********************

New story: Bledsoe Arrives at TBI
(
Excerpted from my upcoming novel, East Into Atheism)

 At the first men’s devotions of the semester, Dean Puckett introduced Harold Bledsoe, the new men’s dean. Dashing Harold Bledsoe—bouncing on his heels, full of energy, he seemed to refract an alien light. Shawn McIntosh stared at him. He didn’t look very dean-like—seemed like a circle among rectangles.

After Bledsoe got settled in his tenth-floor office, Dean Puckett gave him campus block patrol. Torrey Bible Institute couples would walk the city block that circled TBI—traversing the cracked and broken sidewalk along the chain-link-fenced parking lot, then turning back toward the women’s dorm. The rule was—keep walking. The deans warned students not to linger in the recessed doorways of Moody-Sankey Auditorium. Bledsoe would cruise around in his big black Cadillac convertible with the top down heedless of the weather, shining his spotlight into the recesses, flushing out couples….
To read more, click here
:   https://jimhurd.com/2020/04/06/bledsoe-arrives-at-tbi/

 *Request: After reading the article, please leave a comment on the website. Thanks.

  

Writers’ Corner

Word of the Month      —     Pitch:
The act of trying to sell your book to an agent or a publisher.

Book of the month:     Jay Winik, April, 1965: The month that saved America. 2006. The month that ended the Civil War and turned the tide of the nation. A great, entertaining historical docudrama. New York Times Bestseller.

 Watch for my upcoming novel with the provisional title:  East into Atheism
After he lost his father and his girlfriend, Shawn McIntosh travels east to Chicago’s Torrey Bible Institute looking for answers to his faltering faith, but instead, falls into atheism. It’s a long, uncertain road back.

Punography

I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid. But he says he can stop any time.

I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.

The girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club. But I’d never seen her herbivore.

I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I can’t put it down.

I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.

A dyslexic man walks into a bra…

PMS jokes aren’t funny. Period.

I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.

What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.

I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

New puzzler

Assume that the earth is a perfect, smooth sphere. If you were to stretch a string around the earth at the height of two feet, how much longer would the string be than the diameter of the earth?

 Last month’s puzzler: How do you diagnose a dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac?

Answer: That would be a person who stays awake all night wondering if there’s a Dog.

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  

A memoir about how childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or order it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

 Subscribe free to this E-zine

Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to this WINGSPREAD E-magazine, sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Bledsoe Arrives at TBI

At the first men’s devotions of the semester, Dean Puckett introduced Harold Bledsoe, the new men’s dean. Dashing Harold Bledsoe—bouncing on his heels, full of energy, he seemed to refract an alien light. Shawn McIntosh stared at him. He didn’t look very dean-like—seemed like a circle among rectangles.

After Bledsoe got settled in his tenth-floor office, Dean Puckett gave him campus block patrol. Torrey Bible Institute couples would walk the city block that circled TBI—traversing the cracked and broken sidewalk along the chain-link-fenced parking lot, then turning back toward the women’s dorm. The rule was—keep walking. The deans warned students not to linger in the recessed doorways of Moody-Sankey Auditorium.

Bledsoe also flushed people out of Moody-Sankey’s balcony, one of the best hiding places at TBI. At random times he would burst in, shine his big flashlight and surprise couples in the act. He wouldn’t usually take down names, only kick them out the door with a warning. Shawn fantasized about the balcony; he had no girlfriend, but the prohibitions made the dark balcony attractive.

Bledsoe’s portfolio was dean of men, but several times Shawn had seen him chatting up the women students. They loved his California stories, loved his black convertible. On the nights that the deans spread out to sit at student tables in the dining hall, Bledsoe would often end up at the same table as Sally Wilberforce. His casual style, so different from the other deans, riveted her attention.

&

The next week, Shawn walked over to Moody-Sankey Auditorium and initialed his name on the sign-in sheet for mandatory chapel. Often, President Clearson spoke, or a visiting Bible teacher. But today it was Harold Bledsoe.

Shawn saw Sally signing in alongside another girl he didn’t know. They walked in another door, but Shawn saw where she sat—beatific, attentive, her big blue eyes focused on the podium. Serious, thirsty.

President Clearson introduced the new dean. He told the students that Bledsoe was born in Boston, then attended Stanford University where he did a B.A. in counseling with a coaching minor. He’d come to faith, Clearson explained, when teaching at Cuyahoga High School, Cleveland. Wearing a sports coat and light brown slacks, Bledsoe gave a touching testimony of his dissolute life at Stanford, his days in Cleveland, and his powerful conversion, then ended his talk with a call for commitment.

After the service Sally and her friend turned to walk out. Shawn saw how Bledsoe’s sermons touched people—Sally was blowing her nose and dabbing her eyes with her handkerchief. Shawn overheard her and her friends enthusing over him.

&

Two weeks into the semester, Dean Harold Bledsoe elevatored up to his Cromwell Hall office, rocked back in his desk chair, inhaling the smell of waxed oaken woodwork and feeling joyful. When he glanced in the mirror, he noticed his gold watch and dark brown pants and saw an eligible bachelor in his thirties, a bronzed god over six feet tall with a Roman nose, wavy dark hair and ears that clung to the sides of his head.

He quickly grew popular with the students but the deans did not always appreciate him, especially Dean Darla Dickenson. An office partition separated her from Bledsoe, but she thought he took up too much space—she could smell his cologne. She found Harold Bledsoe both repulsive and fascinating. In spite of herself, Dickenson secretly envied his self-confidence, his relaxed, joking manner, and especially, his Greek-god physique. But these very qualities fueled her dislike for him, he, with his black convertible and casual attitude. The mean little part of her brain grew jealous of the attention he paid to the TBI girls. She’d heard his conversion story and knew he wasn’t reared in a Fundamentalist church.

Bledsoe smiled a lot. Why does Bledsoe smile? she wondered. At TBI, smiling was mandatory—it was thought to radiate a “good testimony” to the world. Some people smile out of habit, Dickenson thought, some out of obligation, some because they see the ironies of life and some because they’re truly happy. Hard to tell with Harold Bledsoe.

Dickenson walked over to Dean Puckett’s office and whispered, “I don’t think Bledsoe is very TBI-esque. He’s too friendly with the girls. When he drives around the block, he shines his spotlight up at Hargreaves Hall and the girls open their windows and wave. I’m afraid he’s not a good role model for the boys, either. TBI forms serious, mission-driven men and women, not clowns.”

Puckett said nothing.

But Dickenson’s fears had some basis. Harold Bledsoe brought with him a tangled background and many guarded secrets.

Wingspread E-zine for March, 2020

“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”


March, 2020                                                   James Hurd    

Contents

  • New story: Sally Shows Up at TBI
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Puzzler
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Wingspread Ezine subscription information

*********************

New story: Sally Shows Up at TBI

(excerpted from my forthcoming novel, East Into Atheism)

Shawn returned to Torrey Bible Institute that fall. Running late for class as usual, his shoes scratched the rough tile floors as he sucked in the steam from the hall radiators. Swinging by the P.O.’s on the slim chance of a letter, he twirled the combination on his box, leaned down, peered into the empty box then turned to walk away disappointed. He remembered the bright vision of Sally on the beach at the luau two summers ago but he hadn’t seen her when he’d been home this past summer.

When he glanced up across the large room, contradicting everything he knew and believed, he saw a vision. As he blinked trying to clear his head he wondered, was it wish-fulfillment or was it really her?

“Sally! Is it you?” He ran to her. Why was she here? ….

 To read more, click here:   https://jimhurd.com/2020/03/17/sally-shows-up-at-tbi/

 (*Request: After reading the article, please leave a comment on the website. Thanks.)

 

 Writers’ Corner

Word of the Month:  Social distancing—-The practice of separating from other people during a time of contagion, such as COVID-19 virus.

Book of the month: John Grisham, The Brethren. 2000. A story about the gentle art of extortion. Grisham weaves a tale at once fantastic and believable, as if he were a criminologist.

Movie of the month: Midway. The powerful story, retold, of the decisive 1942 naval battle in the Pacific between the U.S. and Japan, six months after Japan’s Pearl Harbor attack.

  Watch for my upcoming novel: A young Californian travels east to train for mission aviation at Torrey Bible Institute, Chicago. One problem—he’s losing his faith, and after reaching campus, declares himself an atheist. (Presently in editing and revision.)

 

Puzzler

New puzzler: How do you diagnose a dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac? (Answer next month)

 Last month’s puzzler: A skeptic points out that in I King 7:23, Solomon’s brass basin is described as 10 cubits in diameter and 30 cubits around. The skeptic argues that this proves the Bible contains an error, since, mathematically, circumference equals pi times diameter. Therefore, a 10-cubit diameter demands a 31.4-cubit circumference. How might the biblical literalist explain this apparent biblical error?

Answer: The diameter might refer to the outside of the lip, and the circumference might refer to the inside of the lip. (I’m not making this up. I actually read this explanation somewhere.)

 

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.

How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or order it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

 

Just For Fun

Things to think about:

  1. What if my dog brings back the ball because he thinks I like throwing it?
  2. If poison is past its expiry date, is it more poisonous, or not poisonous at all?
  3. What letter is silent in the word “scent,” the S or the “letter C?
  4. Why is the letter “w” in English called double u? Shouldn’t it be called double v?
  5. Maybe oxygen is slowly killing you, and it takes 75-100 years to work.
  6. Do twins ever realize that one of them was unplanned?
  7. Every time you clean something, you just make something else dirty.
  8. The word “swims” upside down is still “swims.”

 

Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/wingspread-ezine  to subscribe to the WINGSPREAD E-magazine, sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Sally Shows Up at TBI

[Excerpted from my novel, East Into Atheism, forthcoming.]

Shawn returned to Torrey Bible Institute  that fall. Running to class, late as usual, his shoes scratched the rough tile floors as he sucked in the steam from the hall radiators. Swinging by the P.O.’s on the slim chance of a letter, he twirled the combination on his box, leaned down, peered into the empty box then turned to walk away disappointed. He remembered the bright vision of Sally on the beach at the luau two summers ago but he hadn’t seen her when he’d been home this past summer.

When he glanced up across the large room, contradicting everything he knew and believed, he saw a vision. As he blinked trying to clear his head he wondered, was it wish-fulfillment or was it really here.

“Sally! Is it you?” He ran to her. Why was she here?

She flinched, then raised her eyes. “Hi, Shawn….”

Her visage seemed darker, transformed from the high school girl Shawn had talked to over a year ago. Was she ill?

“Sally! Why did you leave Biola? Why did you come without telling me? Are you okay?”

She shriveled under the barrage of questions. “I don’t know…. I don’t want to talk about it. Spoken hesitantly, her eyes cast to the floor. “Shawn, I’m so sorry I didn’t let you know…. I dropped out of Biola last November, moved back to my apartment in Costa Mesa, went back to work at the Jolly Roger down in Balboa.”

“But what are you doing here? Why didn’t you write me?

“I made a quick decision. I just felt I had to get away, far away, from California and my old friends.”

“Well, it’s sure great to see you.” And then Shawn thought about Reggie—-sophisticated, fast-track, confident, outgoing. Sally had worn Reggie’s varsity sweater. Shawn knew Reggie was dating someone else but didn’t know if Sally was still interested in him. “How’s Reggie?”

“Oh, I don’t know; okay, I guess,” Sally said. Her eyes focused on something distant in time and space. “You heard we broke up last August. We’re not dating or anything now.”

She seemed polite, but her heart appeared shut up like an insect in amber. Shawn’s mind churned. Is she running away from something? he wondered. He dared not think she had come to TBI because of him.

“I don’t understand it but I’m glad you’ve come, Sally. It’s so great seeing you. You’re one of the few people I know at TBI from Southern California! I hope we have some classes together; I hope we can see each other.”

“Yes… I hope I did the right thing in coming. But after Reggie and I broke up, I just lost interest in dating. I hope you understand. I hope we can talk sometimes, though.”

He watched her disappear up the stairs ghostlike, toward the Cromwell Hall classrooms. He wondered about her troubled, averted eyes, full of nostalgia for something she’d lost.

 

The days passed and Shawn hardly saw Sally, but one Wednesday evening he happened to walk by the Muslim Prayer Band room. There she was—-all tan-sweatered, full-skirted, wearing brown flats. She didn’t notice him staring.

Why had she chosen Muslim? Shawn wondered. The most admired mission field was Africa, and northern Africa &&was Muslim—-hard-core, resistant. Maybe she’d joined Muslim Prayer Band for the challenge.

For his part, Shawn didn’t attend a prayer band. He found them boring, and anyway, he didn’t understand how prayer worked.

Despite his unbelief, that same night he walked into Norbert Hall prayer room, knelt and tried to pray out loud. He prayed for his family, for Sally, for his roommate, for poor and suffering people. Kind of vague here—-he wasn’t much in touch with the suffering world. He never prayed for Muslims, though, because he couldn’t imagine Christianity would interest them.

How does prayer work, anyway? God already knows what you need, he thought. Why do I need to remind him? And God will do what he wants to do anyway. I wonder if my prayers will escape this small room, or if they’re only my own thoughts bouncing off the walls to mock me.

 

One cold, rainy October morning Shawn jerked awake; then yelled over to Fulton, who was still sleeping, “We’re late for devotions!” He jumped up, threw on shirt and pants as he spit on his hand to smooth his cowlick. They ran out of their dorm room and joined several guys running down the Norbert Hall stairs.

As they jogged along, Shawn’s thoughts drifted to the previous summer with Betty. He realized he hardly knew Betty, except physically. He’d told her he loved her, tried to talk himself into loving her, but only because he wanted to justify their intimacy.

Sally seemed so different from Betty—-more complex, more substantive. Why had Sally come? Is she running away from Reggie? I’m glad they broke up. Dare I think she came back to TBI because of me? She talks about California and her friends but never about me. I don’t know how I could ever deserve her.

WINGSPREAD E-zine for July, 2019


“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”

July, 2019                                                       James P. Hurd       

Contents

  • New story: Leaving Lancaster County
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Puzzler
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Wingspread subscription information

*********************

 

New story: Leaving Lancaster County

The Saturday after that wonderful Thanksgiving of 1959, Alex drove Shawn around Lancaster County.

“Let’s stop and buy some venison,” he suggested. The Oldsmobile’s tires crunched on the crushed limestone farm lane as they pulled up to a house and found Ruth Hostetler standing in the kitchen doorway.

“Where’s Seth?” Alex asked.

“He’s still sleepin’.”

“Oh, don’t bother him; we want some venison but we can come back later.”

“That’s all right. Chust come and sit here in the livin’ room and I’ll go up and get ‘im.”

They sat down, calmed by the smell of the hot woodstove with its black chimney. After about ten minutes Seth walked down the stairs in his long underwear. Ignoring the boys, he leaned over to tap out his pipe at the woodstove, his bare rear end peeking out through the undone flap. He refilled his pipe, lit it from the stove, sucked on it, then turned toward the boys without smiling…..

 To read more, click here:   https://jimhurd.com/2019/07/12/alex-and-shawn-leave-lancaster-county/

 (*Request: After reading the article, please leave a comment on the website. Thanks.)

 Subscribe free to this E-zine: 

Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to the WINGSPREAD E-magazine, sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Writers’ Corner

Word of the Month:  Logline: A one or two-sentence summary of abook.

Book of the month: Summer of the Danes by Ellis Peters, 1991. Benedictine monk Brother Cadfael is pleased to join a mission of church diplomacy to Wales. Travelling in the safety of the Prince of Gwynedd, they face unexpected dangers when Danish longships beach at Anglesey. They seek to protect a young Welsh woman from harm. Set in 1144.

 Watch for my upcoming novel: Atheist in the Institute. A young graduate travels east to train for mission aviation at Torrey Bible Institute, Chicago. One problem—his childhood faith is dwindling away. After failing to qualify for the flight program, he declares himself an atheist.

Presently in the “edits” stage. Target publication date: Spring, 2020.

scrooge grammar

Every author’s nightmare

July puzzler: 

I King 7:23 says that Solomon’s brass basin is described as 10 cubits in diameter and 30 cubits around. The skeptic argues that this proves the Bible contains an error, since, mathematically, circumference equals pi x diameter. Therefore, a 10-cubit diameter demands a 31.4 cubit circumference. How might the biblical literalist explain this apparent biblical error?

 Answer to June’s puzzler: 

Recall that the contest was a kite flying contest. The first person to be able to get his kite to land on the other side of Niagara Falls, won.

After one little kid was successful, the  engineers then took that kite string and attached to it a rope that was slightly heavier than the kite string. They pulled that rope across and they attached successively stronger ropes, until they finally had one strong enough to pull, what? The first cable of the bridge spanning the gorge!

 

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or order it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

Alex and Shawn leave Lancaster County

The Saturday after that wonderful farm Thanksgiving Day of 1959, Alex drove Shawn around Lancaster County.

“Let’s stop and buy some venison,” he suggested. The Oldsmobile’s tires crunched on the crushed limestone farm lane as they pulled up to a house and found Ruth Hostetler standing in the kitchen doorway.

“Where’s Seth?” Alex asked.

“He’s still sleepin’.”

“Oh, don’t bother him; we want some venison but we can come back later.”

“That’s all right. Chust come and sit here in the livin’ room and I’ll go up and get ‘im.” They sat down, enveloped by the smell of the hot woodstove with its black chimney.

After about ten minutes Seth walked down the stairs in his long underwear. Ignoring the boys, he leaned over to tap out his pipe at the woodstove, his bare rear end peeking out through the undone flap. He refilled his pipe, lit it from the stove, sucked on it, then turned toward the boys without smiling.

Alex inhaled the sweet tobacco smell, then introduced Shawn. “This is my friend Shawn from the Bible Institute, Seth. We were hoping to buy a couple pound of venison.”

Seth looked to be in his mid-seventies, balding, a long gray scraggly beard, no mustache. Said he’d lived here on this farm all his life. Other than asking Shawn where he was from, he seemed un-curious about him.

Shawn had a hundred questions but didn’t know if he should ask them. Alex had cautioned him, “Don’t ask about doctrine; Amish people don’t talk theology.”

After Seth sat down on a stool across from them, Shawn asked, “Do you use candles at night?”

“No, not usually. Some Amish use kerosene lamps, but in Lancaster County we use propane.” He pointed to a lantern atop a long metal pipe that disappeared into a small wood cabinet. When Seth lit it, it whooshed up a propane-smelling ball of flame. “It gives all the light youse need at night.”

Seth handled English well, but his speech betrayed it as his second language. He said saeys instead of says; pungin for pumpkin, fortnight to refer to a two-week period. He referred to his wife as “she,” never using her name.

After leaving Seth’s, they drove back to the farm to present the meat to Alex’s mom, then walked in the cold November day out to the barn to help with the milking.

The Monday after Thanksgiving, Shawn and Alex left Lancaster County headed back toward Chicago. They overnighted in Ohio with one of Alex’s Mennonite uncles, then continued west. The snow had turned into a cold misty rain when they pulled into an Indiana truck stop for food. The parking lot smelled of diesel exhaust. The place was populated mostly by truck drivers—-solitary,  untethered men, bleary-eyed from long hours over the road.

They sat down at the lunch counter next to an old trucker who looked like a character from a Marlboro ad. “Bud” had two days growth and a black bill cap that read “True Outlaw Country.”

“Where’re you guys goin’?” Bud asked, putting down his egg sandwich.

“Back to school in Chicago,” Alex said. “Torrey Bible Institute. We’re just stopped here for gas and food.”

Bud’s smile widened. “Well, watch out for them lounge lizards. They’re jailbait.”

“Lounge lizards?” Shawn asked, in-between bites of his muffin.

“Short skirted, big-breasted lounge lizards. Them skags hang around truck stops and chase truckers who got them new sleeper cabs. But they’ll pick up anybody.” Bud saw himself as the seasoned sage as he passed valuable counsel to two naïve teenagers.

“Okay; we’ll be careful,” Shawn promised, as he noticed a well-endowed young woman walking through the restaurant. He thought himself bulletproof against sexual temptation. Foolish boy. They paid and drove away.

It was now evening, the rain had stopped, and Alex was driving. They had the windows cracked and inhaled the crisp winter air. It was 1959, the cold war was at its height, and talk turned to the draft. Shawn said, “The U.S. has 2,000 military advisers in Asia, and Russia’s building a hydrogen bomb. What do the Mennonite boys do about the draft?”

“Well, they classified me 1-A,” Alex explained, “so I talked to my bishop and he wrote my draft board. They reclassified me 1-O, Conscientious Objector, because I was in the Mennonite church. Mennonites don’t join the army.”

“Wow! They classified me 1-A in September, right after I started TBI. I talked to Dean Winters and he sent a letter, so they re-classified me 4-D, ministerial student. But if I leave TBI, they’ll probably draft me and send me to Vietnam or something….”

Alex pulled away from the signal light. “Vietnam? Where’s Vietnam?”

Wingspread Ezine for June, 2019

“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”


June, 2019                                                              James Hurd    

Contents

  • New story: “Working on Campus”
  • New novel: Atheist in the Institute
  • Puzzler
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Wingspread subscription information

*********************

New story: Working on Campus

One day at Torrey Bible Institute, Shawn McIntosh and Darrell Reardon were walking in a cold rain, pushing a dolly with a big desk on it across the quad toward Hargreaves Hall. Cloistered Hargreaves Hall stood as a mysterious, gated nunnery, making the coeds there more remote and exciting.  Rather than buzzing in through the double doors and stomping with wet feet through the lobby, they took the freight elevator. They rolled the table onto the platform and descended into the tunnel system with its moist wheezing steam pipes.

After checking in with the front desk, they elevatored up to the eighth floor. Darrell told Shawn, “No guys enter these halls unless they’re cleaning or maintenance.”

They pushed the dolly out onto the floor and Darrell yelled, “Man on the floor!”

They heard a muffled voice, “Grab ‘im!” Then giggles….

To read more, click here:   https://jimhurd.com/2019/06/21/working-on-campus/

 (*Request: After reading the article, please leave a comment on the website. Thanks.)

 

Watch for my upcoming novel

Tentative title: Atheist in the Institute. A young Californian travels east, loses his best girl, loses his dream career, and is beginning to lose his faith. Then grace happens. Progress: Beta version sent out for reading today! Target publication date: Fall, 2019.

 

New puzzler (from Car Talk)

Some engineers were contemplating building a suspension bridge across the gorge at Niagara Falls. So, you’ve got a raging river below, and you’ve got to get cables for the suspension bridge from one side to the other. But, there was no way to get the cables across, because there was no boat that could fight that current.

The engineers and builders figured out how to do it, and they staged a contest on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The contest was open to the public, and the purpose was to help get these massive cables across the gorge.

The contest was won by a young boy. And shortly after the contest was completed, they were able to run the cables from one side of the gorge to the other.

What was the contest?

(Answer in the next Ezine)

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or order it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, and @hurdjp on Twitter

 Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to the WINGSPREAD E-magazine, sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Working on Campus

One day at Torrey Bible Institute, Shawn McIntosh and Darrell Reardon were walking in a cold rain, pushing a dolly with a big desk on it across the quad toward Hargreaves Hall. Cloistered Hargreaves Hall stood as a mysterious, gated nunnery, making the coeds there more remote and exciting.  Rather than buzzing in through the double doors and stomping with wet feet through the lobby, they took the freight elevator. They rolled the table onto the platform and descended into the tunnel system with its moist wheezing steam pipes.

They elevatored up to check in with the front desk, then continued up to the eighth floor. Darrell told Shawn, “No guys enter these halls unless they’re cleaning or maintenance.”

They pushed the dolly out onto the floor and Darrell yelled, “Man on the floor!”

They heard a muffled voice, “Grab ‘im!” Then giggles.

A girl in her bathrobe walked past them down the hall, self-conscious with her hair askew and unmade-up face. What if a girl walked out partially clad? thought Shawn.

After work one afternoon in March, Shawn walked with Alex Byler to Chicago’s “L” and rode it out to the end of the line. Then they hitchhiked out to Naperville Airport just as the afternoon sun was nearing the horizon.

They each took a lesson in a J3 cub, an aircraft that has no electrical system, no navigation lights, and hence cannot fly after dark. FAA regs specified they must be on the ground one hour after sunset. So sometimes they only got in a half-hour of flying. But Shawn was thrilled. He loved the feel of the control stick in his hand, sitting behind the instructor in his canvas sling-seat. He worked hard to keep the stick still and not overcontrol.

Working at TBI on the maintenance crew took Shawn all over campus. Once he and Darrell delivered a small cherry dining room table to Dean Darla Dickenson’s apartment across LaSalle Street where she lived in a second-floor walkup. As they pushed the table through her front door, Shawn noticed the crown molding around the plastered ceiling, and the crystal chandelier. “Wow! It’s really compact, but neatly furnished,” he said as he closed the door behind him. “Old furniture, lots of polished wood.” He straightened up. The very space braced him, drew him to a higher standard.

Like Dickenson, the whole place screamed discipline—clean, sparse, organized, and classically beautiful, like an art museum. A Chippendale straight-back chair sat at a dark maplewood writing desk that held a typewriter. She only had a couple of chairs; probably didn’t entertain much. One overstuffed chair. A small kitchen adjoined the living room. Above the sink, lace curtains partially covered an opaque blind pulled half-way down. They sat the small round table down on the plush carpet at one end of the living room.

On a wide shelf next to her typewriter, a cloth concealed something bulky and angular. “I wonder what this is, Darrell?” He hesitated, then he pulled up a corner of the cloth, revealing a small TV!  No student was supposed to have a TV in their dorm room, and staff were discouraged from having them. Darrell smiled. Maybe Dickenson is human after all, Shawn thought. The discrete TV was the only visible concession to sensual pleasures.

Dickenson struck fear on campus, even among the men’s deans. She could negotiate, cajole, persuade; she could make grown men cry. I guess a Bible institute needs a few people like that, Shawn thought. But some of the students whispered that her shadow poisoned the ground she walked on.

The next afternoon Shawn hand-trucked a filing cabinet up to the President’s office. He punched the button on the Cromwell Hall elevator with its brass panel overhead reading, “Otis Traction Elevator.” Moses, the operator, opened the scissor grating and steel doors. When he reached the twelfth floor, Moses jiggled his lever up and down to level the car, then opened the doors.

Shawn pushed the cabinet down the hall, and knocked at the door with a brass plaque—–“R. Albert Clearson, President.” Shawn wondered why so many of these men used a single initial for their first name.

“Come in,” Dr. Clearson said. Shawn trundled the cabinet into the office with its dark wood trim, wainscoting and subdued sconce lighting that glowed amber on the thick carpeting.

Shawn had never met the president; he’d only heard his chapel sermons—stentorian, expository, authoritative, doctrinal, and most of all, Fundamentalist. Here he sat rotund in the rarified atmosphere of his lofty perch, working at his typewriter amidst a sea of books, many of them open, with his little desk lamp illuminating a note pad. He wore a dark blue suit, white shirt, a navy tie anchored with a little silver cross, black shoes and socks. About 60 years old, Shawn thought, with thick, graying hair. He looked like an updated version of Ebenezer Scrooge, but more pleasant.

“Excuse me, Dr. Clearson; I’m delivering your file cabinet.”

“Thank you.” Clearson stopped typing, took off his reading glasses and squinted. “Just put it in the corner there. What is your name? Your major here?”

“Shawn McIntosh. I’m pre-flight, hoping to go to flight camp next year.”

“Good; are you from the Midwest?”

“No; California.” He carefully maneuvered the filing cabinet into place, wondering what Dr. Clearson thought of profane, ungodly California.

“Well, welcome,” Clearson said. “I hope TBI serves you well as you prepare for Christian service.”

Shawn was in awe, feeling like he was meeting God’s older brother, a person different from himself, removed, a warrior of many spiritual victories, knowledgeable of arcane theologies, champion in biblical debates. He imagined President Clearson had no doubts, that he could answer any question about God, and Shawn had many questions. He also feared that some of Clearson’s best answers would not satisfy his heart and mind.

“I hope so sir.” He exited flustered, trailing the hand truck behind him.

WINGSPREAD E-zine for April, 2019

“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”
April, 2019                                                                                          James Hurd    

Contents

  • New story: “The Snow Sermon”
  • Writer’s Corner (New contest, upcoming new novel)
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Wingspread E-zine subscription information

*********************

*New story:

 The Snow Sermon

                               Grow old along with me!
                               The best is yet to be,
                               The last of life, for which the first was made:
                               Our times are in His hand
                               Who saith “A whole I planned,
                               Youth shows but half; trust God: See all, nor be afraid!”
                                      —from Robert Browning, “Rabbi Ben Ezra”

“Barbara, the snow’s late this year.”

She looks up from her pie crust work. “Yes, it’s only five days ’til Thanksgiving.”

But today, the wind chills. Gazing out the window I’m surprised by the fine flakes falling here in Minnesota, hundreds of miles away from my California childhood.

Our first snow is inevitable but still a surprise. We turned the clocks back just two weeks ago (“spring ahead; fall back”), but today, less than a month from winter solstice, the sun appears tardily over the far end of the pond. It will rise in its low southern arc and set early.

We are the shrouded ones, billeted in carpentered cocoons….

 To read more, click here:   https://jimhurd.com/2019/04/04/the-snow-sermon/

*This story is excerpted from my book Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying. 2016

 (*Request: After reading the article, please leave a comment on the website. Thanks.)

 

 Writers’ Corner

A contest for you:  Send in your best palindrome (that is, a phrase spelled the same backwards and forward. E.g., “Madam, I’m Adam.”) It can be borrowed, or original. I’ll choose the one I like the best and publish it in this E-zine. If you send in a palindrome, I’ll send you one of my unpublished stories. Deadline: May 15, 2019. Send to: hurd@usfamily.net.   Have fun!

Word of the Month:  Trust. The writer must trust her reader, allow her reader to fill in the picture. Don’t over-describe. Suggest, hint. Let the reader’s imagination do the rest.

Author of the month: Charles Dickens. (1812-1870). Oliver Twist (1839), The Old Curiosity Shop (1841). A Christmas Carol (1843), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Dickens paints well the tragedy and poverty of the Industrial Revolution in England. Memorable characters.

Book of the month: Bleak House by Charles Dickens, 1853. Vintage Dickens—several sub-plots, amazing character development, and descriptions of early 19th century London. How an interminable law case in Chancery Hall (Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce) wreaks havoc and ruin on many people. Only recommended for the long-suffering reader.

 Watch for my upcoming novel: Atheist in the Institute. A young Californian loses his girlfriend, travels east to Torrey Bible Institute, Chicago, but fails to reach his dream job. Oh¾he’s also losing his faith, and soon declares himself an atheist. Spoiler alert—it does not work out well. Presently in the “edits” stage. Target publication date: Fall, 2019.

 Answer to last month’s puzzler: Which is the only planet in our solar system that circles the sun on its sideUranus. It is tilted 98o. Jupiter is tilted 3o, Earth, 23o.

 

LEXIPHILIA – WHO ON EARTH DREAMS THESE UP? A lexophile, of course!
(A lexophile is a lover of words, especially in word games, puzzles, anagrams, etc.)

I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid, but he says he can stop any time.

This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.

Venison for dinner again? Oh deer!

I tried to catch some fog, but I mist.

They told me I had type-A blood, but it was a Typo.

Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.

If you don’t pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.

I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can’t put it down.

I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.

Did you hear about the crossed-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn’t            control her pupils?

When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.

 

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or order it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

 Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to the WINGSPREAD E-magazine, sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

The Snow Sermon

 

                               Grow old along with me!
                               The best is yet to be,
                               The last of life, for which the first was made:
                               Our times are in His hand
                               Who saith “A whole I planned,
                               Youth shows but half; trust God: See all, nor be afraid!”
                                      —from Robert Browning, “Rabbi Ben Ezra”

“Barbara, the snow’s late this year.”

She looks up from her pie crust work. “Yes, it’s only five days ’til Thanksgiving.”

But today, the wind chills. Gazing out the window I’m surprised by the fine flakes falling here in Minnesota, hundreds of miles away from my California childhood.

Our first snow is inevitable but still a surprise. We turned the clocks back just two weeks ago (“spring ahead; fall back”), but today, less than a month from winter solstice, the sun appears tardily over the far end of the pond. It will rise in its low southern arc and set early.

We are the shrouded ones, billeted in carpentered cocoons. I belong to a bookish breed. We inhabit an indoor world full of the smell of classroom chalk, students to-ing and fro-ing in the halls, and all this experience seasoned with specialty coffee and good conversation. Even at home, my fingers rest on computer keys, pretending that the seasons never change.

The seasons never changed in the California of my childhood with its palms, eucalyptus, magnolia and orange trees. But today the Minnesota sun hangs low on the horizon and the spruce branches slowly whiten. The harbinger snow warns, “Nothing is forever.” Almost for the first time, I realize that what is true for the seasons is also true for my own life.

Last summer, here at 45 degrees north latitude, the sun rose straight out our east window and brought slow-motion dawns and leisurely dusks. Now the luminous light of late afternoon dims, along with my mood.

I reluctantly relinquish the long, languid days of summer, but I want to grasp fall forever—her wild rains and winds, her stratospheric flocks of geese, and her small, furry creatures that scuttle across our narrow strip of pond-side prairie. Last week, the colder winds encouraged the top-branch leaves to redden, turn brown, then relax their grip. They fell to the lawn, rendering their last sweet smell of decay where they clustered downwind of the tree in a burnt-red and yellow oval. I smelled the still-unfrozen leaves and wondered, Where was I when these fell? These days are precious, and we all face the south sun. I didn’t notice fall’s warning—the browning tips of the tall red-top grasses, the drooping prairie flowers. But first snow means that fall is fading.

I step out the door onto virgin snow that overwhelms the green stems of cut grass. No animal tracks blemish the pristine whiteness—only my footprints.

The crystalline flakes arrive mute, indiscriminate, taking their time to land, more comfortable on the skin than fall’s stinging raindrops. I pull my coat around my chin and think, I need a hat and gloves.

Our marigolds glow deep maroon in the lambent light. Their tendrils still climb the iron shepherd’s crook, but with looser grip. The hostas along the house that shot out long exuberant spears now wilt, their energy spent. In the garden, the bottoms of the tomato stalks are turning brown. The broccoli survives first frost, then fades. Even the deer shun the dying plants.

I lie down spread-eagle on the lawn and stare up into the falling flakes. A light wind blows the snow slantwise through the maple’s witch-finger branches. I cannot feel it as it whitens my hair and clothes, but I taste it and smell its freshness. The snow stifles all sound except the distant cry of geese. I’m glad to be alive today, to see, to taste, to experience heaven’s bright herald of winter.

Pleasure Creek pond lies still, but somehow it senses the weather’s shift, anticipates the icy patina that will soon obscure her face. The geese swim carelessly, agnostic about their future, congregating with cocked heads, assaying the season. Snow sifts down into the bordering, browning prairie grass, whitening the tiny husk of each shriveled prairie flower. Milkweed pods burst open and spew their filaments.

The seasons teach me the cycle.

Hopeful spring says, “Start, take heart, scatter abroad, be reckless and wild.”

Ebullient summer says, “Work, sweat, thrive; strive while you’re alive.”

Savory fall says, “Gather, rejoice, revel in the harvest.”

But winter’s annunciatory flakes say, “Get ready! Check the snow shovels. Drain the garden hoses. Secure the patio furniture. The weather is changing. Treasure what you have. Embrace your now.”

I realize for the first time that I’m in the early winter of my life. I have a new appreciation for Woody Allen’s words—”I don’t want to achieve immortality by my work; I want to achieve immortality by not dying.”

My branches are still sturdy, but they feel more the winter’s winds. Some of my life-leaves have fallen. More and more, conversations drift to health matters. I’m learning new words—mitral valve, atrial fibrillation, gout, LDL, neuropathy.

The snow carries a severe mercy and an unexpected grace—”I make all things new. I erase, cover the dirt of your past. I shroud sorrows and heal wounds. I redeem. Savor me. I’ll blanket you with bitter white, but I’m preparing you for glorious spring. Trust what you cannot see. Weeping lasts for a time, but joy comes in the morning.”

Can I be thankful for winter’s snows? There’s a light at eventide that illumines winter’s day, that shines softer, deeper, more faithfully. As Gerard Manley Hopkins writes, “And though the last lights off the black West went. Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward springs…”

Winter enforces a pause—”Cease, withdraw, retract. Listen, read, pray. You can hear God better in your quiet.”

I must let winter do its silent work. The first snowfall helps me focus, makes me grateful for what I have. Like an unexpected hospital stay, it sharpens my joys, helps me to value life more, helps me to see how precious it is.

I’m so thankful now, in the early winter of my life. I wish to pay attention, to read the seasons, to prepare well for my own winter and beyond. Before I return to my fireside, I say, “First snow, I welcome you. Teach me well the wisdom of winter.”