Hillbilly Elegy

This book, by J. D. Vance, is a memoir of the author’s life: his young years, since he is only in his thirties as he writes! His grandparents came from the coal mining area of northern Kentucky. They moved to an industrial town in Ohio to find jobs. But their “hillbilly” culture came with them, as it did with multitudes who followed a similar pattern.

This is an intimate look at this culture, and how it has shaped American life and politics. Although written before the 2016 presidential campaign, the people Vance writes about are basically the ones who elected Trump as president.

When taken together with the people and culture demonstrated in the movie I reviewed just previous to this review, Hell or High Water, it provides insight into how people could come to support someone like Donald Trump. There is a deep-abiding suspicion of those in power. There is a need to be able to feel at some level of control of ones life and destiny.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis is a great book on numerous levels. On a personal level, it is a story of survival and success against unbelievable odds. That someone could come out of an environment like JD did is incredible. That he became a successful lawyer and is living as successful a life as he is makes it even more special. It really is a credit to JD Vance that he has made of his life what he has, so far.

On another level, the stories of JD’s family members is also very intriguing. Often times, and by many peoples’ standards, there was a lot of dysfunction in the various members of his family. And yet they got by, at some level. And they were able to install in JD values which, as he grew up, enabled him to rise above his environment. Vance gives such an informed view of the “hillbilly” culture. He was raised in it. He was raised by members of this culture. His “mamaw”, as he called his grandmother, was his primary caretaker during his childhood. And she seemed to be the epitome of the hillbilly grandma! She certainly outdid the sanitized view of the grandma in the popular TV series, The Beverly Hillbillies!! And yet she instilled in her grandson values of education, hard work, never giving up, etc, which allowed him to succeed as he grew into adulthood. Vance’s portrayal of his family-of-origin is both enlightening and personal. Deeply personal, as it is the primary environment which shaped him into the adult he is today.

On yet a bigger level, J. D. Vance’s story provides a glimpse into the wider hillbilly culture. So many small cities and towns in the so-called “rust-belt” were built up by migrations of “hillbillies” to work in the factories. But the culture of the coal-mining communities from where they came survived the migrations. And Vance is able to see this now, from his vantage point of a well-educated, intelligent survivor of this culture. Even though he now lives in California, he provides articulate insight into this large subculture of the USA.

He helps me understand the previously incredulous election of Donald Trump. I am almost completely unable to understand how anyone could have voted for such a despicable excuse of a human being. I know that many of my own family members did just such an action. But I do not understand it. Vance has helped me put this political debacle into some sort of perspective. If not yet completely understandable, it does help!!

I am thankful to J. D. Vance for opening up his personal experience to help us to understand a little better how a large portion of American society thinks and acts. Hillbilly Elegy is a very well-written memoir. It is an engaging read, both for its writing style and for its content. I urge any readers of this humble blog to search out this book and read it. You will not regret it.

Hell or High Water

My wife and I watched this movie not long ago. It takes place in the part of the world my wife was raised in, west Texas. As such, it shows a subculture she is very aware of. It is a life she would’ve been a part of had her daddy not ensured she got out of there.

As such, it is a riveting story of two brothers who hatch a plot to save their family farm. Essentially, without giving too much of the plot away, they start holding up banks to get enough money to avoid defaulting on their mother’s loans made on the farm before she died. And they specifically target branches of the bank which holds the loans, and who will get title to the land if the family defaults.

It is a very well-done movie, with well-developed characters, and a good pace. It shows well the character of that land, the often desolate landscape, and the types of people inhabiting that part of the country.

Highly recommended!!!

Nicolle Wallace

My wife and I both grew up in the USA. Therefore we are quite interested in US politics; we watched the fascinating campaign last fall avidly. Our favourite place for political news ended up being MSNBC. A frequent commentator there was Nicolle Wallace. I always appreciated what she had to say. She seemed very knowledgeable and insightful.

Also, as an outspoken Republican in a mostly liberal-minded environment, her take on events was a welcome alternative to the usual opinions. She was one of only a handful of Republicans regularly appearing on that network.

At some point she mentioned in passing  a novel of hers. Immediately my interest was piqued. I sought out the information on this and discovered that Wallace has written a trilogy of novels, all centring around the White House.

These three novels are titled, Eighteen AcresIt’s Classified, and Madam President. They follow the same characters through several years. They are a fascinating peek into the life of a president and White House staff.

When I began to realize that Nicolle Wallace herself had spent numerous years in the White House and was intricately involved in Republican politics, I give the stories a lot of credibility. She knows whereof she speaks!!

She was a White House communications director under George W. Bush. She served as a senior advisor for the McCain-Palin campaign of 2008. Her husband is a former ambassador to the United Nations.

So I’d say she is eminently qualified to speak of Washington politics!!

I will not go into any detail of the contents of the trilogy of novels. The books should be quite accessible; I had no trouble accessing them up here in Canada!!! But I will encourage anyone with even a bit of curiosity of what goes on behind the scenes in the White House to check these books out. They are well worth it. They are not long; they are written in fairly light style. An average reader can breeze through one in a day if you wish. And they are that gripping. Once you start, you are hooked!

Behind the Flying Saucers

This book, by Frank Scully, written in 1950, begins the story of the crash and subsequent recovery of unidentified flying objects in the state of New Mexico. It led to the research and publication of more information on these crashes, one in particular, by Scott and Suzanne Ramsey in the 1980’s and ’90’s. The incident with the most information occurred in Aztec, New Mexico in 1948. The Ramseys published their research in a couple books. The one I have read is, The Aztec UFO Incident.

Another book I want to include in this summary is, MO41: The Bombshell Before Roswell. This book outlines the scant information on a UFO crash in Missouri in 1941.

If we take a look at all of these incidents, alongside the Roswell incident of 1947, there are numerous similar details. All of them were quickly taken charge of by the military establishment. The military moved in, removed any materiel and bodies, and swore any onlookers to secrecy under threat of death. Only recently, as some of these witnesses neared the end of their natural lives were they motivated to share what they had seen many decades before. They thought that this was information which needed to be more widely known. They understood the profound effects this could have on society, and did not understand why military organizations wanted to keep the information secret. Most of them felt it was very wrong to have been kept from public perception.

None of these books about early UFO crashes are particularly well-written. But the information they outline is so fascinating it is worth a look. It is, after all, where it all began!!

What we hear coming out now is that the information retrieved from these crashes has been reverse-engineered and is now the basis for a rapidly growing secret space program. If you read David Wilcock’s latest book, The Ascension Mysteries, you will begin to see the extent of this vast program, involving thousands of people and incorporating technology beyond most of our wildest imaginations.

I do not understand where this is all heading. But writers like Wilcock and others think that some level of disclosure will occur soon. No one can predict what effect this will have on society but there is widespread agreement that just about any level of information regarding this will have quite a profound impact. I, personally, can hardly wait!!!!

 

David Wilcock

The Ascension Mysteries, written by Wilcock in 2016, is a much better read than his earlier books. I find David Wilcock difficult to read, overall. He has incredibly fascinating material to present, stunning revelations, very important perceptions, but he is so extremely intelligent, has so much information in his head, that he has difficulty, in my opinion, in getting it out there in a form that is comprehendible to common folk such as myself.

This book I found to be an exception to earlier works. In Ascension Mysteries he becomes much more personal, telling a lot of his own development in the field of esoteric knowledge. Therefore it is easier to relate, to understand where he is coming from.

The subtitle of this book is, Revealing the Cosmic Battle Between Good and Evil. If you have read my previous review of the sci-fi novel, Sekret Machines, these books dovetail nicely, dealing with similar material.

Wilcock deals with this material from information he is receiving from insiders in the US secret space program (SSP). Over the years he has developed contacts with people who either have or are working with the US military and intelligence agencies on developing technology gleaned from downed alien spacecraft. At least, this is where it began, beginning in the 1940’s when a number of alien spacecraft were discovered.

But what has grown out of this is an incredibly complex and huge program involving information and enterprises which to us public are totally mind-blowing and impossible to grasp. The powers-that-be have been so successful in keeping this hidden from sight that we can hardly conceive that these things are even possible, much less happening right under our noses.

I must confess personally I have a difficult time believing half the things being revealed. But reading this book gave me much more trust in David Wilcock and his work. He absolutely believes in the authenticity of his information. He is very open when his sources don’t always agree on details, and lays the information out as such. Especially in this book, where David openly reveals his life to the reader, I find him to have complete integrity. He is certainly not trying to pull one over on his reading public.

What he is trying to do is to prepare us, the human race, for a shift in consciousness he calls ascension. He expects this to happen in the next five years or so. The timelines are not always super clear, but it is coming, and it is coming quickly, in his estimation.

In the last chapter of this book, Wilcock writes about some personal revelations he has received through his own meditation practices. A lot of this, apparently, happened during retreats he took in Banff, Alberta. This is close to where I live, and I can completely understand receiving divine inspiration while in that area. My wife and I were in Banff yesterday; it is truly a magnificent, spiritual, and magic place upon our Earth!

Some of what David received while in Banff was information that he is a hybrid, a term I am familiar with from my own soul regression work and readings. A hybrid soul is someone who has had many, if not most, of their previous incarnations on another planet or planets. His incarnations on Earth are recent; he has not necessarily lived many lives on our planet. But he has agreed to come here specifically at this time to assist our human race to achieve ascension.

From my own exposure to soul regression work, I have absolutely no trouble accepting this. I have understood there are many, many souls who have incarnated here for this precise purpose, at this time in our history, to assist us in ascension.

In addition to his spiritual experiences, David is also very aware of a lot of scientific knowledge. The Earth is currently close to entering a phase in its life where there will be a cosmic shift in its existence. This has to do with the rotation of the galaxy, with alignment to the centre of our galaxy, etc. No one knows for sure exactly what this might entail, but there seems to be quite widespread knowledge that something very significant is right on our doorstep. This may not be entirely pleasant to live through; it might mean societal and environmental upheaval, but the end result will be a much more peaceful stage of existence.

David also has recently been reading ancient writings, such as the Bible. He quotes extensively toward the end of the book from biblical prophecies regarding all these events. He grew up with a decided anti-religious bias (his mother had come out of a conservative, fundamentalist upbringing). And he clearly recognizes the great harm organized religion has done in society over the centuries, but he is also beginning to see that religion has recognized that much of what he is talking about is expected. David might use different language than religious people are used to, but he is projecting similar occurrences.

Since I also have come out of a very conservative, fundamentalist view of the world, and feel I have a much more open stance today toward things spiritual, I found his own journey into the scriptures completely fascinating. I myself have not turned my back on the Bible in any way. I have merely grown away from the orthodox way of interpreting the scriptures and rather see them in the light of knowledge I have been gaining the last number of years. Because of this, I identify with David’s journey to a great extent.

I encourage anyone with a bent to seeing and hearing things from a new perspective to check out this book. Fortunately Wilcock’s books are much more accessible than the Sekret Machines book I reviewed previously!! I’m sure you can find The Ascension Mysteries in most libraries, bookstores, and certainly online.

Sekret Machines

An astounding book!!!! And I discovered that the Sekret Machines franchise includes a number of works in the planning stages. The book I read is a novel titled, Book 1: Chasing Shadows, by Tom DeLonge and A.J. Hartley.

This is a sic-fi novel of the highest level! It is well written and well conceived. Part of this expert conception is no doubt attributable to the fact that it is based on fact. Tom DeLonge had an experience where he proverbially happened to be in the right place at the right time. He gained access to insider information about the secret space program (SSP) of the USA. So the novel is based on real events. A series of events, really. And because they are based on real events, they sound convincing. These aren’t stories emerging merely from the mind of an author holed up in his basement office pecking away at his keyboard. These things really happened. The authors merely have to flesh them out.

The format of the book is to follow about four main characters. As it jumps back and forth between them, I had to get used to paying attention to who was being talked about, what the time frames were, what locations they were in. It took me a couple chapters to get used to this format, but once in, I was hooked!!! I read this 680 page book in two days straight! I had not done this type of concentrated reading for years and years! Admittedly the type-face is quite widely spaced, and the pages are not nearly as large as many books. So the pages flip quickly! Please do not allow your initial shock of the size of the book to put you off. It will reward you if you are brave enough to enter its pages!

I will not spoil the contents for anyone interested enough to track this book down and read it. It certainly is worth doing that, but I will warn you it may take some effort to get your hands on a copy. My local city library did not have a copy; I had to get it through in interlibrary loan. (I have submitted a request to my library to purchase a copy, as everyone should be reading this story!)

But a general overview is that the story deals with details of the US SSP over the years. The time span goes back to WWII years, up into the present. The story gives snippets of interactions of the US military/intelligence agencies with extra-terrestrial beings, and mostly with the reverse-engineering of alien technology. There are also scenes of corporate interests in the SSP. There are stories of how the ruling elite try to keep a cover on these stories, how they attempt to keep their hold on secret power and technology. All of this makes for an extremely page-turning thriller!

Following up on the publication, in 2016, of this first in a proposed trilogy of novels, will be non-fiction accounts covering the same material, but in a more factual, complete treatment. The non-fiction series is titled, Sekret Machines: God, Man and War. The first book will be, Sekret Machines: God. It is expected out this spring, the spring of 2017. I can hardly wait! As I also eagerly anticipate the publication of the second novel in the Sekret Machines series. More information can be found on the website: tothestars.media. (Personally I did not find the website particularly helpful, but it is interesting to visit.)

But seek out the book! You will not be sorry!

I’m Back!

After a six-month sabbatical the Monk is back!! I had never before taken more than a month break between posts to the Urban Monk website. I can’t explain why, necessarily. I suppose I just didn’t feel I had a lot to say about things.

The US presidential campaign captivated a lot of my attention during the fall. I was very disheartened to see Bernie Sanders fall by the wayside leading up to the Democratic Convention. Very reluctantly I swung my support to Hilary Clinton. Like Sanders, I felt any option was preferable to Donald Trump. I watched his growing support with a sinking feeling of dismay in my heart, even when I didn’t think he had a chance to win.

On the night of the election I was absolutely gobsmacked as the counts began to come in.  Clinton won the election, yes, but Trump was winning the archaic, outdated institution of the US electoral college. I must confess I learnt more about that feature of US politics than I ever learnt growing up and being educated in the USA.

It was with heavy-hearted irony I heard Trump saying just days before the election that it was “rigged”, setting up the scenario of saving face when he lost. After he won, of course, we heard a different story from him. Then the process was not at all rigged.

As with the above, all throughout the campaign, I realized that whenever Trump criticized someone or something (like the media), he really was projecting his own insecurities onto others, a practice common to those who suffer mental illness or dysfunction. As a deeply spiritual seeker, I have learned that placing blame for shortcomings onto sources outside myself is as damaging to my soul as any addiction. Trump seemingly knows no other way of being.

Anyway, the election results sent me into a bit of a tailspin. I was quite depressed, for quite a long while. The hoped-for second coming of Trump (“he just says those things in the heat of campaigning”; “he will be different once he’s in office”; etc, etc, etc,) did not materialize, of course, as everyone can now see. I grew more and more fearful as I saw him gather some of the most dysfunctional, immature bullies around him during the transition. The element of fear as control was never more evident. Trump continued to bumble from one disaster to another. Every day’s news brought new stories of mishandling and mismanagement. It was clearer and clearer that he had no clue what he was doing, and was unwilling to listen to anyone else who might have had some clue how to handle the reigns of assuming power.

It was therefore with absolute delight that we began hearing rumours of protests as inauguration approached. I was at work on the Saturday after, but my wife continued to send texts of the enormity of the protests of the women’s marches happening across the country and around the world. As everyone now knows, the protests attracted many times the numbers of people that organizers had hoped for. It was leagues and leagues beyond anyones grandest hopes.

And there my view of things in the world began to shift. I began to see that some good could emerge from the evil of the Trump world. If it stimulates people to speak up and get involved, that is a good thing. Trump’s abject disregard for anyone else’s good beyond his own (and maybe his family’s) might yet reveal to the world the darkest side of American power. And with those revelations being so stunningly clear people seem to be motivated to respond in positive ways. Out of darkness comes light!

Hope grows!! I do not necessarily expect dawning to happen quickly. Things will undoubtedly continue to get worse as the Trump administration is revealed to be more and more criminal. But dawn will come! Good will prevail. We can endure. We can change things. There is hope!!

Bridge #3 (cont)

Some more thoughts on being a bridge in the church/christianity area:

I want to make it clear that I have not turned my back on the Bible. I stated that I have not turned my back on organized religion, but this may not have been clear regarding Christianity’s holy scriptures, the Bible. I still value the ancient writings. I still go to them on occasion. But what I am saying is that the Bible is not the first place I go when I search for truth.

I believe that I am holding the biblical writings closer to the way they were intended to be viewed, not in the way the Church has proclaimed they should be viewed. They are stories, stories of people trying to make sense of the divine. They are inspired (although from a purely biblical point-of-view the inspiration can really only be applied to the Old Testament!).

Much of the way the Bible has been proclaimed by Church has been in order to strengthen Church’s hold on peoples’ lives. If “salvation” can only be gained through Church’s involvement, then Church grows in importance. If however, people come to see that knowledge and experience of the divine can be achieved without the help of Church, then Church diminishes in importance in society. Therefore we can be assured Church will fight to the bitter end the sorts of views I am espousing.

Some of the shifts in belief this has led to in my experience are as follows:

  1. There is no judgement! God does not judge. And therefore we are not to judge–ourselves or others! This is huge! Especially in the conservative circles in which I have spent most of my life. Rather than judgement, the divine realm teaches. God wants us to progress in our spiritual life. “Judgement” implies failure or success. Not in heaven! Rather, there is evaluation. Did that particular decision result in growth? Or did it set you back? We incarnate in order to learn certain lessons. At the end of each life we take a look and see how we did with those lessons. Did the accomplishment of a particular task lead us to moving on to the next step in our spiritual growth? Did a not-so-successful lesson mean we will have to learn that particular lesson in another life? It is not so much a “do-over” as it is a learning environment. We are shown our past life in a completely, overwhelmingly loving way how we did. And we get to participate in the evaluation and decisions about what needs to be done next.
  2. The entire question which obsesses Church and its people is that of redemption. Church teaches that Jesus “died for our sins”. His death and resurrection was for our salvation. This entire area of doctrine I leave to others to discern! I don’t know the answers. I believe that Jesus was probably an historical figure. And likely was crucified. But the whole dying for our sins bit I have serious questions about. That doctrine seems entirely too, too close to what I mentioned above–a way for Church to have power over peoples’ lives. There are exalted beings in the Spirit realm. Of that I have no doubt. I’ve met some of them. And I believe Jesus was one of these. But certainly not the only one. If he has some preeminent position above all other spirit beings, I concede could be possible; of the higher levels of heaven I have limited knowledge. But I know Jesus is up there among the most powerful and wise beings in the divine realms. He still speaks today. To many of his followers.
  3. Regarding the written scriptures, one more point: whenever spiritual messages, God’s “word” if you will, get written down, it is almost impossible to continue to hear God speak. This has happened over and over again throughout history. Consider the Jewish scriptures. For several centuries, over many generations, God spoke through wise beings usually called prophets. If you read the Hebrew scriptures, these prophets were often very dynamic and interesting people. They proclaimed the messages of heaven to the people. Mostly these messages were transmitted orally through multiple retellings of the stories. When these got written down, roughly around 500 years before the time of Jesus, the dynamic, personal, exciting messages largely ceased. By the time Jesus lived on earth God’s word was largely discerned through a study of the written-down record of what he had spoken many years earlier. Then consider the Christian writings, the “new” testament. Jesus lived a few decades on earth; he gathered some followers. They told and retold the stories they had learned from Jesus and had experienced through sharing life with him. Again, as these original followers began to die off, their followers decided they needed to preserve these stories. So anywhere from 30 to 70 years after the time of Jesus, and the following two to three centuries many accounts were written down and circulated among groups of followers. There were incredibly diverse interpretations of what and who Jesus was. But at some point around 300 years following Jesus’ time on earth, Church leaders held conferences to decide which of the these writings were to be preserved as a record of the history of Church. The writings they rejected were largely destroyed, in order to present a unified picture of who Jesus was and who his followers were and were to be like. In the period following, in which we still live, nothing was permitted to be added to these writings. The Bible, as it came to be called, was complete. All of our messages from the divine were to be discerned through studying the scriptures. Do you see the pattern? They followed almost precisely the pattern of their Jewish forebears. After writing down the scriptures, direct messages from God ceased. Heaven became silent. It fell to study, discussion, proclamation, arguing, etc, to determine what God says.

In my personal journey with God I have moved beyond the need for Church and its doctrines. I will listen to God’s word wherever and through whomever I encounter it.

Bridge #3: Church/Christianity

Years ago, when moving to a new city and connecting with a new church, a leader in that church stated, “We are not biblicists.” I had not heard that word before. I had a sense what he meant by that, but certainly not a full idea of what it meant to be a “biblicist” or to not be a “biblicist”. That concept is much clearer today than it has ever been, in my life. I most certainly am not a biblicist!

I think I was a biblicist in the past, for much of my life. Truth was determined by what the Bible said. In earlier church experiences we would spend huge amounts of time and effort in studying the scriptures and hearing God speak through them.

Just a few years back now, as I was visiting with a friend who I knew as a fairly conservative evangelical Christian, I made the statement that I no longer went to the Bible as my first source of truth. “What?” he screeched (pretty much, anyway!!!). It is inconceivable for conservative Christians (“biblicists”) to entertain such a concept. Indeed, for me, in the past, this was inconceivable.

And I have to admit, it has taken me decades to get to this point: past the point of being a biblicist. My development has been painfully slow. I do not learn quickly, I guess. I do believe, and believe very firmly, that it has been God who has gently and slowly, at my own pace, led me to this point of belief. It is God’s Spirit who has led me beyond biblicism.

I use the term “God” here, only because of my past experience. That is how I viewed the divine for most of my life, and it still feels the most natural way to refer to the Spirit dimension. But be aware that my view of “God”, of who God is, of how he/she operates, has changed radically over the years. My former, biblical, view of God is rapidly disappearing. This view is being replaced by my experiences of God, the divine, the spirit realm, the universe.

Although it is very simplistic to say it this way, my view of God has gone from being a mostly intellectual exercise in studying the scriptures to being an experience, a knowing. A few years ago my wife shared with me a video of Carl Jung being interviewed late in his life by a BBC reporter. The reporter asked him, “Dr Jung, people want to know if you still believe in God.” The wise old psychologist was quiet for a bit. His reply was something like this: “Believe. I have trouble with that word. Believe. I know that God is. I know God. I don’t have to believe.”

Wow!! I could immediately identify with that idea. I have experienced the divine; I have experienced the spirit realm. I don’t need to believe. I know!!! And that is so much more powerful and real than any intellectual exercise in understanding God through written documents. Does that make me a “gnostic” Christian? I’m not sure. It’s not a really important question to me. [If you read the “Out of Winkler” section of this blog site, you will understand a little of what I have been through in my journey to arrive at this point in my life.]

It has been an exciting journey to get here. And “arrive” is not the correct term, either. Because I am still walking the walk! I am still on the journey. And I expect I will be for the remainder of my eternal existence. In fact, this journey has me in a bit of a conundrum right now!

When looking back on my life, there were times when I thought I knew pretty much. I thought I had it together. I had answers for most of life’s difficult questions. And especially was this true in the area of faith and theology. Now, I have experienced so much more; I know so much more than I ever did back then; I have grown so much, and am so much farther ahead. And yet, I feel in a way that I know so much less. Thus the “conundrum”! Because a large part of my increasing knowledge includes a vastly increased understanding of just just how much I do not yet know! So while in the past I felt I knew a pretty large percentage of what there was to know, now, though my knowledge is greater, I am aware that what I know and have experienced is just a small percentage of what there is to know (and experience!).

So how does this make me a “bridge” in this area of my life? I feel I have moved beyond orthodox religion and am now a more spiritual person. I have moved beyond a book religion to a personal experience of the divine. I have moved from learning from predecessors (including the biblical writers) to learning first-hand who “God” is, and what the Spirit realm is all about.

I have not turned my back on organized religion. I still value my upbringing in the Church. But I no longer feel a need for Church. I occasionally attend; I am a member of a local congregation in Calgary. But not because I need Church for any sense of “salvation”. I just like the connections. I enjoy the people who are part of my local congregation. I like the pastor (who, by-the-way, knows where I stand on this issue!!).

And I do not know what my place in all this is, or will be. My transitioning to this new position is currently pretty much a private one. And I am very happy for it to be this way. I have quite dramatically switched my view of myself in relation to the divine. But I have no drive to force this view on others. I am content to live my life quietly, contemplating what Spirit might be doing in our world. I seek wisdom from various sources. I pray daily. I listen to what heaven is saying to me personally. But I do not sense any earth-shaking role in helping others make a similar transition. I do not foresee this changing in the future. But I am open to whatever comes. If my being a bridge will help others, I would be very glad and willing. But I don’t know if that will ever occur. We will see!!

Bridge #2: Class

It has been quite awhile since I blogged “Bridge #1”! I live a busy life: what can I say?!!!

I am on holidays this week, sitting in a fancy hotel in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico! What a life! Santa Fe is absolutely, stunningly beautiful! While I have travelled through the state of New Mexico numerous times in my life, I had never been to or through Santa Fe. What a blessing my life has been. I have experienced so many things, have been to so many places, know people in many places, and in various walks of life.

This contributes to the view of me being a bridge between classes. I grew up in a working-class family. My father was a farmer, then turned to welding as an occupation. He then became a maintenance foreman, later a maintenance electrician. He could fix anything. He had an appliance repair business for awhile. I relied heavily on him to fix things around our house whenever he would come to visit. But he never finished high-school, at least not until later in life. And I grew up with a strong identification with working-class people. People who wore hardhats, carried lunchpails to work, were often found in dirty coveralls and with dirty hands.

I myself have dabbled in various trades. I operated machines in a book-binding shop. I worked for awhile as a mechanic’s helper, doing light mechanical work. (I have done a couple motor overhauls, which is a bit above “light” mechanical, but overhauling was never a huge part of any job I had.) I helped erect a metal farm shed; I have worked at several locations in construction, helping frame houses, pour concrete, etc. I have painted houses as a job. I have driven truck for periods of time. One summer I spent on a wheat-harvest crew, driving truck and combine from southern Oklahoma to northern Montana.

And I have gone on to obtain a Master’s degree. I have worked in several professions, including assistant nurse in a hospital, residential treatment facilities, church leadership including pastoring/preaching, suicide prevention coordinator giving educational presentations to schools and various professional and corporate agencies, chaplaincy in both hospital and correctional settings.

And currently I am a city bus driver, very much a “blue-collar” job. I have been doing this for nearly twenty years, and love it!!

I especially love driving in industrial areas of the city, taking people to their jobs, then home in dirty clothes, smelling of hard labour. I can easily talk to them about the travails of working for a living, finding a job, dealing with bosses, balancing family life with work, you name it. I’ve done most of that, and can relate readily.

But I can also mix easily with professional people. Because of my education, because of my experience in various professions, I can talk to professional people on their level. Not, of course on a technical level, but at a collegial level.

What all of this past experience in various levels of working class and professional circles means to me, I am not sure!! But it has been an incredibly interesting life; I have seldom been bored!

Having jumped around at various occupations and jobs, means I have never followed one career track for very long. Which means I have not advanced nearly to the level of many of my peers. It is tempting sometimes to look at my life as not very successful. But I don’t. I have very few, if any, regrets about my past. I made decisions at stages of my life using the best knowledge I had at the time. Sure, as we can all say, if I had it to do over again I’d make different decisions. But that sort of attitude usually results in thinking that if knew then what I know now. . . Which, in the end, is futile thinking. I did not know then what I know now. But I trust that back whenever, when I was making a certain decision, I had the knowledge to make the best decision I could at the time.

So this week I am in New Mexico, mixing with colleagues of my wife, all of whom have degrees, most of them with graduate degrees, some, like my wife, with post-graduate training and education. They are all attending an academic conference of Jungian psychology. And I feel completely comfortable rubbing shoulders with them. I don’t feel inadequate or less-than. I know that whatever level in life a person achieves, whether academic, financial, occupational, etc., everyone has similar struggles. I guess that is one advantage my very varied life has given me: a perspective to view life from different angles, from different strata if you will. For while western civilization likes to pride itself on being relatively class-less, there still exist class distinctions, like it or not.

I have experience in different classes within our society. I have experienced life at various socio-economic levels. And it is all good. There is no one class which is “better” than another. Earlier today, at a lecture at the psychology conference which brought us to Santa Fe, the speaker talked about material “success” not necessarily bringing happiness and satisfaction with life. I have the latter; I don’t necessarily have the former! And I am totally okay with that!